Tag Archives: parenting

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

Finding the Joy

Ah the Goof

is

BACK!!

Here I sit with my foot wrapped and propped up. (It’s looking like a sprain and is already feeling better than it did this morning)

Sitting around – especially on a beautiful day – is not much fun, but it gives plenty of time for thinking.

And I found myself thinking about how lucky I am to have such an amazing family and how proud I am of the choices my kids are making.

I first thought of it when James wandered up from the basement in the late morning. He didn’t say anything to me, just walked to the dishwasher and quietly opened it. I thought he was getting a drink when I heard the chink of dishes, but as the chink lasted longer than a few seconds I realized he was quietly unloading the dishwasher. No one had asked him, he just decided to come upstairs and do it for mommy.

And I smiled and thought of all the joys of parenting.

Sometimes we get bogged down in the negatives – I know I do – how hard it is (after all – being a parent is one of the hardest jobs we’ll ever do). And I wondered if I told my kids how much I look up them and how they set amazing examples for me.

Almost every night when I go into Jacob’s room to tell him lights out he’s sitting on his bed reading his scriptures.

Emily frequently goes out of her way to help friends, siblings,  parents, and teachers. I often hear her ask, “Anything I can do to help?”

Even Robert sets an example with his loving hugs and willingness to help pick up toys.

And Dot – I  am often so amazed by my Dot. She seems fearless and is so courageous when it comes to standing for what is right. The other day I picked her up from Stage Band and asked her how her day went.

“Good,” she replied, “but I think my whole science class hates me now.”

I of course asked why and she explained that the class before hers – or maybe it was hers had angered the sub so much that he had walked out. Not having a teacher, Dorothy got up from her seat to report the situation to the office. The class members told her not to go – “We can have a party” they said. But Dot went anyway, informed the office of the situation and a sub was provided for the class.

To me that was pure bravery. That was awesomeness. I am in awe of the courage and example that she set. The youth theme for this year for our church is “Stand Ye in Holy Places and Be Not Moved” – she embodied that to me and I couldn’t have been more proud of her.

Sometimes I want to stand on top of a mountain and shout for all to hear

“MY KIDS ARE AWESOME !!!!”

Sure, kids are hard – and I know many stories of how difficult teenagers and preteens can be – but there are SO many joys. It’s worth it. Those moments when you see and hear of your child making the hard choices and doing the right thing – standing up in the face of possible ridicule to do what’s right – standing up for other kids who are being made fun of – not being afraid to live up to their standards and not compromise them. Sure they will make mistakes and maybe they won’t do all of these things all the time – but the moments they do should be celebrated and remembered. I hope I can remember to focus on all the good my kids do and not get bogged down in the negatives of parenting.

There’s so much negative in the world today – we don’t need more. My kids make plenty of mistakes and poor choices and it’s easy to think that’s all they do and then I remind myself that they do just as many good things if I’m paying attention. Most people are eager to point out how hard parenting is, how tiring, how difficult – how awful the dreaded teenage years can be – most people know all these things.

But, how many point out all the joys, the rewards, the pay offs, that come with it? I can’t count how many times I heard the words loaded with negativity “Just wait until their teens” when I talked about how good or hard my young children were. How discouraging those words felt. We don’t need to be told and tell other parents how hard things are – or how hard they may get – I think most of us already have a pretty good idea of the heartaches – just check the news – what we really need to to remind each other of are the things that make parenting joyous.

Let’s not be so eager to point out all the negatives – let’s encourage, lift & celebrate all that our children are and can do. I know I have hard years ahead – what stage in parenting doesn’t? But I know for every battle lost or mistake made there are many battles fought and won.

Celebrate the amazing in your kids!

And who knows – maybe it will give them the courage

to be even more amazing than they already are.

MY KIDS ARE AWESOME!!!

AND YOURS ARE TOO!!!

(I think this calls for an ice cream party – and when asked why, I think I’ll just say “Because you are all AWESOME!!”)

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Filed under Bobert, Dot, Em, Jacob, James, 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

The Effect of a Typical Day

Today’s post is brought to you by my

Husby

and his

SMILEY FACE MUG!

He had a little fun taking photos of it and using those photo warping apps on it….

A fresh new day!

Full of possibilities, enthusiasm, the world is yours!

No dish will be left unwashed, no corner uncleaned, no job undone!

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And then the effects of the typical day,

whether at work

or at home chasing children

(which is a ton of work, by the way)

take their toll,

the day wears you down,

and your left feeling just a little….

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Luckily, you know that after a good nights sleep,

and quite possibly a hefty dose of chocolate therapy,

you can feel like this again in the morning…

Smiley 1

READY TO CONQUER THE WORLD!!

(or at least the two-year-old)

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Filed under Humor, Parenting

Fernside

I dimly recall, either shortly before or after Lizy passed away, one of the doctors or nurses or maybe both, talking with us about Fernside and how it could be benneficial to our children. I didn’t pay much attention. Actually, I’m sure I paid attention, I just wasn’t capable of absorbing any more information.

When we met with the funeral director, he mentioned Fernside. A little more information soaked in that time.

A day or two after that, a friend asked if we had heard about Fernside. I told her that I dimly recalled hearing something about it and she told us more – actually, it was probably all the same information we had heard before.

After the funeral was over and family was gone and things were quiet and the numbness of the last two weeks began to ebb, I received a call from a stranger. She’s not a stranger any more though. The funeral home we chose provides follow up care. This lovely woman asked to meet with me to provide some information concerning, not only how adults grieve, but how children grieve and how to help them. Again, Fernside was mentioned.

Information came from the hospital, including a large packet about Fernside.

Finally, I wrapped my brain around the fact that Heavenly Father was sending us a message that this was something we needed to do.

“So, what’s Fernside?” You’re probably asking.

Fernside is the nation’s second oldest children’s grief center.

That’s right it’s for children! Ages 3-18.

They are a non-profit organization that offers peer support groups for children and their parents. They divide the ages into separate groups, and the parents attend their own group. They work with the children on expressing their feelings & emotions. They help the children express and share memories. They do art, games, talk.

It’s a wonderful group.

We sent Jacob, Em, and Dot to their one time summer camp this summer and it was wonderful. Because of it we found out that Em was carrying a huge burden and we could help her and resolve parts of it. Because of what they do, projects they create, it opens up conversation and things come to light that kids may not talk about otherwise.

They take a break for summer, so we didn’t start attending their regular meetings until things started up at the beginning of the month.  We attend sibling loss night – which meets twice a month. It’s been wonderful. We have wonderful conversations as we drive home with the kids as they share what they did and what it means and how they feel.

While the kids meet with their groups, Paul and I meet with some of the other parents. I was unsure at first, but I think it’s good. I think maybe I can help some of them some way, and they can help me. It’s nice having others who understand a part of the struggles and pain you face. The facilitators are great and encourage those attending the groups to find positivity, overcome guilt,etc.  and help provide tools to those who need it.

We’ve only attended two meetings, but already we can feel how much our entire family will benefit from this.  I never knew such places existed. I never needed to know. But I am so grateful that we were steered many times to it.

Out of curiosity I searched for Child Grief Centers on the web and there are lots all over the country. Fernside doesn’t just deal with sibling loss, in fact, that’s their smallest group, they deal with significant adult loss ( a parent or very close grandparent) too and other situations as well.

I think it’s a wonderful tool.

It’s so hard to know what is going on in those lovely kids’ heads.

It’s so hard to know how to help them.

And I am so grateful to have extra help, being sure we make it through this the best way possible.

 

 

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Filed under Child loss, Parenting

My One Real Regret

If I have one regret so far in life, it’s that my journal keeping skills have been rather haphazard.

Oh, I have some in books, some on the computer, some blog post, some facebook statuses (actually, i should find a way to gather all those up – I think that would be my most comprehensive journaling to date – so sad), but nothing like I wish I had now.

I suppose, with all the things I had to do in life, writing in my journal seemed less important. Now, praying, and scripture reading, and child rearing received top billing, and rightly so. But journaling was cast by the way-side. If I was going to take the time to write, then it was going to be on my books, etc. There were so many other things to do that were so much more important than keeping a consistent journal.

I was wrong.

So very, very, wrong.

I would give anything now to have a record of Lizy’s life and my memories of her. The few I have, I cling to, afraid the memories will slip gradually from my fingers leaving me with nothing more than a gaping hole in my heart. I devour every word I have written about her, conjuring up the images of her through the years. And how I wish I had written more. SO much, much more.

Since I wasn’t big on journaling, I didn’t push it either. Oh, I gave them journals, but I only encouraged them a little, and now, I wish I had made it a bigger deal. The first thing I did was scour her room looking for anything in her own hand expressing her thoughts and feelings so I could feel close to her. I found some, but I wished for more.

It does little to lament the past. I can’t change it. I can’t make words magically appear on paper from years past, but I can learn from it and change the future.

I am going to be a devoted journal keeper. I won’t let the days slip past without writing about the wonders of the days, my feelings, the amazingness of my children.

My father has brain cancer. I think I mentioned that before. They suspect he has less than a month left and the one thing I am so grateful for is that I have a record of his life, his experiences, his adventures. Robert won’t ever meet his grandpa in person (just over skype) but he can still know him because he has faithfully kept a journal.

I want my kids, grandkids, great-grandkids to know me. I hope I never have another experience like Lizy, but I don’t want to take a chance. I want a record of their amazing lives and experiences – both from me and from them. I yearn and crave Lizy’s words and memories. I want to wrap myself in them. I miss her so very much. I am grateful I have what I have, but so disapointed I didn’t write down more.

I know I can write now, and I will, but it’s not quite the same – remembering rather than being in the moment, but it will still be something.

President Spencer W. Kimball said, “I promise you that if you will keep your journals and records, they will indeed be a source of great inspiration to your families, to your children, your grandchildren, and others, on through the generations. Each of us is important to those who are near and dear to us and as our posterity read of our life’s experiences, they, too, will come to know and love us. And in that glorious day when our families are together in the eternities, we will already be acquainted.”

Please, if you are inclined, learn from my mistakes. Tragedy can come when least expected. I would hope that it evades you completely, but don’t take the chance. Keep a journal. Write down everything you can about you, about your children, you family, your experiences, your adventures. I promise it will be a comfort to you if tragedy strikes and it will touch the lives of those who will read it in the future.

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