Tag Archives: family

Family Chore/Job Center & Chalkboard Door

Some time ago I decided I needed to do something different for our chore charts. I wanted a job for hire board. I thought about checklists to help the kids remember the daily things they needed to do. I thought about regular rotating chore charts. It seemed like a lot of different charts to have to make. I looked all over pinterest and nothing stood out to me until I found this amazing idea. It seemed pretty involved as far as making it, but I loved the look and a lot of the ideas behind it – especially because it had all the charts I wanted in one place. I decided to see what Paul thought, since I would enlist him in building it, and he agreed. After a few months (mainly because we had so many other things demanding out attention that we kept shoving it aside) we finally got it completed today. I had a number of requests on Facebook for more details and some close-ups, so I obliged.

First off, here is what the whole thing looks like:

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The ladder was not hard to build and Paul has a saw and  such, so I put him to work. He cut and sanded and painted. We have two pieces running along the back that we fixed the head board and all the smaller ladder boards on. I don’t really know dimensions – we just looked at the picture I found on pinterest and then we figured how big we wanted to make ours for the space where we wanted to put it.  I could have done it myself probably, but power saws and such make me nervous (I mean, good grief, look at what I did with a lawn mower and my toe in high school, lol).

Then I got to do the fun part.  I’ll start from the bottom up.

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We talked about a bunch of ways we wanted to do the kids chore chart & checklists, and finally I decided I liked the clipboards the best for a number of reasons – namely they required the least amount of extra work.  These were plain brown boring ones I got at Staples for $2 a piece. I painted them to make them more interesting.  On the bottom is their daily checklist – it’s fixed permanently onto the clipboard. These are the things we expect of them daily simply because they are alive.  They are all pretty self explanatory except possibly “Your Stuff” which means to make sure your stuff is gathered and put away from around the house & “Observe” where we want them to observe 1 thing in the house that needs to be done and then do it without being asked. I laminated the cards so they can mark them off each day with a dry erase marker. If they complete their checklist for the day, they get to check the day off up above. Once a week I will give them a ticket for each day they completed their checklist.

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The top card on the clipboard is the rotating chore job. They have 2 chores each week: a kitchen chore and a household chore. Those are laminated for durability and get moved each Sunday. On them I listed what I expected to be done daily & weekly in each chore area.

The next section of my board consists of a row of buckets. Target has adorable buckets for $1 I love color so I got colorful ones (and I might trade them out if other more colorful ones appear). You will find them in the $ section close to where you walk in. The buckets are utilitarian in purpose – that’s where we put the tickets they earn and store the dry erase markers for the kids to mark their checklists with.

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Finally comes the upper section:

Just above the buckets is a little picture frame where I can write (in dry erase) the date of the next reward day (we will probably have one about once a month or so) and a list of what they can order with their tickets. We will probably change this up from time to time, but it’s a way to use incentives to motivate them. Then we have the Service bucket. Paul and I decided we wanted to have a spot where anyone could put in service they see needs to be done or would like to have done. The kids can pull out an act of service and complete it. Also in the service bucket is a dry erase marker & a regular pen (we though we might have an issue with ticket transference from one kid’s bucket to another, so the idea was proposed by our oldest to write names on the tickets so there can be no confusion). Finally is a little box where we keep help wanted chore cards and we might poke an eraser in there for chart cleaning, etc.

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Across the top and above the little black box are our chore for hire cards. These are chores above and beyond what we would typically ask and are willing to pay for. We are pretty cheap parents and don’t pay much (mostly because we can’t afford to shell $10 out a kid each week, heh), but it gives them an opportunity to learn to work for a wage. We sat down and made a list of what chores we felt were above and beyond and the amount we were willing to pay and I made a set of cards. I’m sure I will add on to them as time goes and we think of more things. As we see or feel the need for certain jobs to be done we will clip them up – they are first come first serve and the child will bring us the card when they are finished. We will inspect and then pay them. Some people keep the money with the card – we don’t because #1 it can be a temptation to wander away with sticky fingers & #2 many jobs are under $1 or depend on how much is done (such as cupboard washing – we pay 10 cents a cupboard so it all depends on how many cupboards they wash). Finally, on the end is the roll of tickets. I think I mentioned earlier that these can be earned (1 each day) by completing the entire check list on the the clipboard.

At some point we will put some cute saying, quote or maybe just Chore Center in the black above the work for hire section, but I haven’t decided what I want there yet.

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SO there you have it – our chore center largely copied from the one I found on Pinterest with a few things changed to fit our family personally. We screwed eye screws into the back and strung picture wire between them for hanging. When we put it up, we rearranged things to have our FHE chart, family clock, and blessings board (a really cute present from an awesome friend) all nearby.  It’s beside our front door and takes center stage in our living area to help us all remember to actively do our part in helping the home run smoothly.

Do you have a chore chart you love? How do you involve your kids in daily household doings? Share your success/fail (because we all have those too) stories in the comments!

I recently chalkboarded the door too, so it has become a center of family fun as well.  We did it with DIY chalkboard paint!

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This was super easy and cheap to do. To make your own chalkboard paint in any color you want all you have to do is add 2 tablespoons of unsanded grout to 1 cup of paint and mix it really well. I chose a dark brown color (I felt black would be too dark) and since I was just doing 1 door, I bought a sample from Lowes for $3.50. Add the grout in just before you are ready to paint as it will gradually thicken and get clumpy after a time (a friend gave me her box when she was moving, but it’s not terribly expensive and lasts forever – so ask around if you know anyone who has grouted recently, or get a box to share because all of your friends will want to do this when they see your awesome door! lol).

Once your door is painted and completely dry, prep it by rubbing white chalk all over it in circular motions, then go back and erase it in circular motions and then voila you have an amazing chalkboard door that will be the hit of your home!

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We celebrated our 18th anniversary on Monday! Woot! Robert was very proud of his “first boat ever, Mom!”.

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Filed under Every Day Life, Family, Getting Crafty

Love At Home

I love summer.

I love being with my kids all summer.

But, I always know when it’s time for school to start –

it’s not a yearning for them to be away

or a desire for a mommy break

it might be a little of a desire to have a cleaner house

or a more set schedule

but what it really is

is a realization that the kids are fighting nearly non-stop and need a break from each other!

The last couple weeks have been rough. REALLY rough.

And not just on the fighting kid front – a number of other things have thrown their hats in the ring that have made me rotate between wanting tear my hair out and sob non-stop or laugh insanely at the total wackiness of life.

Let’s say, I’ve laughed a lot – or at least tried.

Anyway, the other day I remember hearing someone somewhere say that in order to raise happy healthy children their parents need to tell them they are loved on a daily basis.

I agree with that – and my husby and I make sure we tell them (& we tell each other) numerous times a day how much we love them. But, I wasn’t convinced that it was helping much on the happiness level – especially when listening to the 5-year-old howl because the 8-year-old won’t stop staring at him – as though his eyes were burning a hole into his forehead and sucking out his brains!

But then, last night when one daughter was having a really rough time with one son it hit me.

I might tell them I love them all the time – but are they telling each other?

I hear constant barbs and mean words tossed about among occasional kind phrases, but after listening for a while it hit me in the gut that they don’t tell each other “I love you.”  At least, not very often. Could those three little words really make that much of a difference coming from a sibbling?

I decided to test it out. I snagged my 13-year-old and whispered a few moments with her about my plan and challenged her to be sure each day to tell every one of her siblings “I love you” and I encouraged her to use their names in the phrase too. I asked her to try it out on her brother whom she was struggling with at the time and see what happened.

She looked rather dubious – after all, this was some crazy Mom scheme- but being a good sport she gave it a try – it was even heart felt! Her brother looked a little surprised. I encouraged him with a whispered “what do you say when someone says ‘I love you’?”

A little smile played around his lips, and he said, “I love you too.”

The grin on the 13-year-old was amazing. The 8-year-old was beaming and neither remembered why they were so angry in the first place.

Then she tried it on her sister who had the same surprised reaction. Again, I gave the gentle prompting and the love was recipocated with grins from bother girls.

This was too good to pass up! I challenged all the kids to tell each of their siblings “I Love You” every day.

On the way home from Stake Conference as the 2 older boys were going at it, I reminded them of the three most important words they could ever hear or say. Before I knew it they were giggling and tossing back and forth numerous “I love you”s to each other.

I can feel a difference.

It’s only been a couple days, but the feeling in our home has completely changed.

There has always been love in our home – but now it is being more fully expressed by our children – and that is making all the difference. There are still squabbles and fights – but at least they know they are loved by each other.

The greatest gift a family can give to each other is love.

It’s not enough for just the parents to express their love on a regular basis to each other and their children  – or for the children to express their love for their parents. To truly have love at home, they need to express it to each other too – every day.  I feel so blessed to have that little nugget of wisdom. It seems so simple – yet it is making such a blessed difference in our home.

There is truly beauty all around when there is love *expressed* at home! 😀

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Filed under Children, Parenting

Refreshed

I feel refreshed.

This weekend was WONDERFUL.

I’ll write more and post more photos, but for now I’m just going to ramble about how wonderful it was to get away.

The thing with loosing a child is that there is a constant reminder.

You can’t get away from it.

I’m a Mom – that’s my job. It’s the best job in the world. I LOVE being a mom.

I’m a Mom(and wife of course) first and a piano teacher, writer and anything else second.

I go to work in the morning by opening my eyes.

My family is my most wonderful work and there’s someone missing. Not a second goes by where she isn’t in my thoughts and hardly a second goes by where I don’t miss her and notice her absence. She is a part of us. I saw that adorable face every day – more hours than not – for almost 14 years and all of a sudden that adorable face is no longer there.

There’s no distraction from that.

I can’t throw myself into my work as a distraction – my family is my work. SHE is my work.

I can’t throw myself into some fantastic hobby as a distraction – how can I possibly neglect the rest of my amazing family, and my husband? They are my work too.

There’s no easy or simple answer and it’s an uphill battle. And not only do I have to figure out how to deal with my grief and my emotions, but those of my children – and be considerate of my husband.

I found myself craving more and more a chance to get away. A break from life. Something where for the first time in 10 months I could focus on me.

That probably sounds horribly selfish.

But, as a mom we rarely focus on what we want – and that’s as it should be. Our focus is on the children and their emotions and needs. Oh, there are times and moments in the day when we get away and get to focus on ourselves, but not often and not long.  The idea of an escape from the pressures of life sounded wonderful.

And impossible.

But then I realized it may not be so impossible and due to some wonderful caring friends it happened sooner than I ever expected, but I think at the time it was most needed.

I felt like I was crumbling. Barely able to hang on to my sanity and process my own emotions, let alone help five children grapple with theirs. And I felt so very tired – if you recall my tired post. 🙂

This little get away was just the thing to rejuvenate me. For the first time in my life I took a 2 hour long bath! I just relaxed and watched a chick-flick while I soaked. I’ve never been SO self-indulgent. And, because I was away from home with no responsibilities for the weekend, I didn’t feel guilty about it!

For the first time in 10 months (and longer, really) I completely relaxed. It was wonderful having no demands on my time and being able to do the things we (my husband and I) wanted to do.  We were definitely ready to come home and get back into routine, but the break was so wonderful.

Missing Lizy was lessened a bit. Since we were missing (and maybe even not missing, lol) all our kids, it wasn’t so heavy on our hearts.

For the first time since the accident, Paul and I had time to sit down and really talk about it all. What happened, how it happened, how we felt, what we’re feeling now. It was wonderful. It drew us closer together and I think I burned through an entire box of kleenex. And that evening as we drove through the foothills of the smokey mountains, the sunset turned them pink and I had to smile at our little Lizy gift.

And how do I feel today, now that I am home and back into the every day routine of things?

I feel more calm and at peace with things than I have felt in a long, long time.

I feel refreshed, rejuvenated, and renewed.

I feel like I’m ready to tackle real life head on.

It feels good.

It’s been a long time since I have felt this way.

I feel like I have a little of me back – my old self.

And that feels good.

I still miss her dreadfully, the pain is still there.

But, I feel like since I took a break this weekend, I am more able to face it, handle it, cope with it.

While I was away I took it for a stroll and let it be my companion for an hour or so while I talked with Paul.

Now, I feel like it can be put away a little while so I can focus on my many other responsibilities. It’s still there – always will be. But at least for the moment I have a grip on things and don’t feel quite so tired. 😀

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Filed under Child loss, Family, Parenting

A Perfectly Imperfect Christmas

I woke up Christmas Eve morning, my entire body feeling heavy, like it was difficult to breathe.  My heart felt like it was  broken and trying to pump lead . Some days over the past months are easier than others and that day, it just plain hurt. It had been building over the weekend. The family had been fighting more and I found myself wishing that things could just be easy, for a few minutes if nothing else. In a spot in life where remembering to be happy and to smile can be hard, some days, I just wish for easy. I sat in the bathroom sobbing. All I wanted was to have everything back to how it had been before Lizy died. Sure, life would be far from perfect, but it wouldn’t be impossible.

But, it was Christmas Eve day and dinner had to be made and all the other preparations and I couldn’t let my family down. I struggled through the day. We all did. I think we fought more than we ever had. I cried more than I ever have. Everything felt broken. Nothing seemed to work right. And I caught myself thinking numerous times, “How can we hope to be an eternal family and see Lizy again, if we can’t make it through a few hours without a major fight.” I sobbed, I pounded on my husband’s chest and soaked his shirt with helpless tears and no clue how to fix everything that was broken, because it wasn’t the kind of broken that could be fixed with some duct tape or crazy glue.

I pulled my self together for the fifth or sixth time that day, smeared my tears away and ran a last minute trip to the store, trying to collect myself, knowing that when I got back our adopted grandparents would be there and the festivities would begin. I cried some more in the car and hoped my eyes didn’t look too red. I tried my best to wish the cashier a cheery “Merry Christmas.” I don’t know if I was convincing or not.

Sure enough, as I arrived at the house they were there. I walked in and my heart lightened. It was Christmas Eve. It would be perfect, and even though we couldn’t see her, I knew Lizy would be there.

We ate dinner and acted out the nativity – the kids insisted on Lizy being the angel and we draped the white lab coat (angel costume) around her picture. We made it through, I laughed and had fun – the kids were so cute in their costume and we felt the spirit and Lizy’s presence. Santa came and brought pjs and we tucked the kids into bed.

We spent the next couple hours cleaning up and getting ready for Christmas morning and then, as I stood there and looked at the fully packed stockings and Lizy’s rather lacking one the tears hit again and all the missing came back.

I cried myself to sleep.

I awoke on Christmas in a post-cry haze to the sound of the girls whispering excitedly. The day progressed remarkably smoothe – I was wrapped up in the joy of the children. I didn’t mind the crazyness and the mess. There were a few tense moments,fights and one rather large explosion at one point, but I managed to hold it together some what.

Evening came and we sent the kids off to bed and I stood staring at the fireplace mantel where all the stockings, now empty, hung. All but one. Lizy’s sat on the hearth still waiting to be opened. We brought the kids back down and sat on the floor by the tree. I shook out her stocking and paper after paper tumbled out. Paul and I began to read – our Christmas gifts to Lizy. Most were acts of service or kindness carried out by our family, but some were by others – even a neighbor down the street had dropped some by. We read, and read and read. Often times our voices cracking with emotion.

As we finished, Emily climbed, sobbing, into my lap. “I can’t believe all the service that was done for her.” She choked out. We cried together, all of us – Dot and Dad, Jacob, Em, James, and I. Robert looked on in bewildered 2-year-old innocence. As the tears dried I looked at the family. I knew Lizy was there too. It was perfect – a perfectly imperfect Christmas. And for that one little moment I caught a glimpse of heaven. A glimpse of what it’s all about.

We might fight, we might argue, but we also love. We love deeply and eternally.   Our dear sweet kids have struggled and strived and done hard things – some of the hardest things they may ever have to do. My husband has been my solid rock. My littlest boys have been some of my greatest comfort. Last night as I glanced around at the messy house and the toys and wrappings scattered about all I could remember was the happiness of the day, the gratitude in my heart, and the joy that I had a family and friends who cared so much that they filled Lizy’s stocking with service that took us well over thirty minutes to get through. And that time when I cried, it wasn’t so much tears of sadness and missing Lizy, as it was an overwhelming feeling of gratitude.

I knew Lizy was thrilled and I knew that no matter how hard, how much we fought, how impossible it all felt and seemed, that we would make it through – we’ll have a lot more rough patches to still make it through – but we’ll get there one way or another. I’ll fight for it, our family will fight for it, and we might mess up big in the process, but that’s what this season is all about. A celebration of the birth of the one person who made it all possible – Jesus Christ.  With His help, and only with His help can we do it, – and we will. I know it.

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Filed under Child loss, Family, Lizy, Parenting, Religion

Thoughts

It’s been a while since I’ve sat down and written. I try to keep my posts upbeat, or at the very least positive in nature and it’s been rather hard the past few weeks. I have found myself missing my Lizy so much that sometimes it’s excruciating and I have to remember to breathe. But, while I miss her, I also find and have joy in my five wonderful, living children and my most amazing husband.

To say life these last two months has been a roller coaster ride is a bit of an understatement. Paul is starting a new job – it’s wonderful, an answer to prayers. He will have better hours, better pay, more vacation, more holidays, better benefits. Such a blessing, and the change will be a good thing, especially for him, helping him to take another step to “moving on”.

I have a new calling at church – I am the Young Women’s president (that means I work with the 12-18 year-old girls at church- planning activities, etc.). While I am a bit overwhelmed, and feel completely inadequate, I love these girls. I can’t help but think, while Heavenly Father had to bring my Lizy home to him, he gave me eleven beautiful young women to watch over in her place. I will be busy, and busy is good.

Lastly, my father, who has been battling brain cancer, passed away this past Friday. I will miss him, I already have been missing him these past few months, but I know he is with Lizy and so many more family members. I smile as I picture the joyous return and reunion he must have had. I am grateful he didn’t suffer longer than he had to. I am grateful family has been able to be there to help him and my mother through this time. And I am so grateful to be going to Oregon for his funeral. It will be the first time in 13 years (do to geographical locations) that all of kids will be together.

It’s hard to describe how I feel about things. So much has been happening, life altering things and I go from being happy one minute to in tears the next. But one thing I do know, and that is that we have a loving Heavenly Father who is aware of what we are going through and showers us with tender loving mercies. I saw a saying recently that I have come to love:

“Sometimes God calms the storm…sometimes God lets the storm rage and calms His child.”

I feel at peace. I feel His love. I know families are eternal and that while the years ahead will be hard without Lizy and my Father, I know I’ll be with them again at length. Some might say life is unfair. That too much has hit our family. I say life isn’t about fair or unfair. It’s a series of challenges that will help us to learn what we need to know and to develop the strength we need to prepare us for the next stage of our eternal existence. Each of us is different, and our challenges and tests are different. Only He knows what we need to reach our full potential. I think often of this quote by C.S. Lewis:

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace.”

The challenges we are given are uniquely fit for us, and just because ours may be more visible than others, they are no more important than the many trials and challenges faced by others. Heavenly Father will give us all the strength we need to overcome our personal challenges in life, no matter how unbearable they feel. We can learn from them and find beautiful things admist the thorns. Each of us has the potential to become that beautiful palace if we let the Master do His work.

And, even in the dark hours, there are many beautiful things. Today is Paul’s and my anniversary. We have had fourteen wonderful, marvelous years together and look forward to so many more. Paul is my rock, my strength. When I flounder and feel weak, I can lean on him. He loves unconditionally, and is a marvelous father to our amazing children. I love him with all my heart and admire all that he is.

Even in the hard dark moments, I am surrounded by many beautiful things –

namely my family.
I am SO blessed.
Every hour.
Every day.

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Filed under Child loss, Family, Opinion, Philosophy, Religion

Our First Annual Lizy Day

I remember holding you when you were first born. SO delicate, so tiny. I had never held a baby so new from God before. My heart was filled with awe and amazement that you were mine. I held you so close that first night and you snuggled in my arms. Falling asleep to the beating of my heart. You enchanted me and made me yours.

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Over the years you grew into a charming young lady and a friend. Your smile enchanted our hearts and brightened our days. Your desire to live righteously guided those around you. I have felt and continue to feel honored to call you daughter.

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You loved your family and protected them, taught them, showed them a loving example. We will always hold wonderful memories of your laugh, your lizard tongue, our hikes, plays, games, and music together. You enriched our lives and will continue to not only enrich our lives, but the lives of many to come.

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We love you so much, Lizy, and miss you terribly. Today was so hard, not being able to celebrate your 13th birthday with you, though I know you were with us in spirit. We laid flowers on your grave and celebrated all things pink – just for you! Thank you for blessing our lives and the lives of so many others.

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Filed under Child loss, Children, Lizy, Memory, Parenting

Planting Lilies for Lizy

lillies for Lizy

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Filed under Child loss, Children, Family, Lizy, Nature, Parenting