Monday, April 30, 2012

How's it going - week one

So far the jar thing is going well (for me, not for them!) - they were so excited to get their 'allowance' at the end of the week and found there was about half as much in there as they started with. But, they knew they hadn't done all their stuff either, so it wasn't like they expected to get the full amount.

The BEST part was when I tool their short list of chores (pathetic, really) and said "OKAY, so who helped me do the dishes once without asking this week?" *crickets* I pass around the mom jar and they all put in one of their quarters. Same for the other three chores. Madeleine had done two of them so she didn't have to pay in. That made a very big impression on the ones paying.

So after that, they had even LESS. I don't want to be buying rolls of quarters so I got them to put their remaining quarters back in their jars, and gave them more quarters from the Bank of Mom so they're all starting off with the same amount this week. I am stealing a page from my friend Heather's book and just keeping a list on the fridge of money they have. That's what she told me she does when her kids get/earn money, instead of giving it to them she puts it on a list on the fridge so they both know how much they have. So they're each starting the week with a jar full of quarters, and what they earned has been deposited in the Bank of Mom. And it is paltry.

So, then by Tuesday of the second week, the girls had each done all but one of their weekly chores, and the older two fought over who would get to set the table the other day, meanwhile Evan set it and they were outraged. Well, get it done before I have to ask you! Lesson learned!

This morning, my three year old came down stairs and told me he'd already made his bed.  "Mom!  I makea my BED!   I a good boy!   I get some moneys?"   So at least one of the kids is motivated.   I could pay Evan in pennies and he wouldn't care.   I'm so glad I involved him in this 'system' - he's good at a lot of things like folding wash cloths, feeding the dogs, etc. and is so happy to have jobs to do.  Unlike his grumbly older sisters who have been getting away with doing nothing for so long.

Monday, April 16, 2012

new something

I have something to write down and didn't know where to write it, except a blog I haven't updated in a year and a half. Oh well!

I'm starting something new with the kids and I hope it will be a good idea, or it might fall by the wayside (like, say - blogging?) but it might work and then I'll be glad I'm writing it down.

I have decided it's time to have the kids do some chores, take some responsibility and this laissez-faire way of doing things has been more laissez than faire. I realized, they DO help when they are asked, they are capable, but I am just finding it easier to do things myself than be responsible for making them responsible.

I pondered this for well over a year because I recall having conversations with my friend Christy about whether or not to tie chores to allowance (she is firmly in the NO camp) and I agree with her that children should just be responsible for chores because they are members of the household/family, they shouldn't require payment for these things. And that allowance is paid to them because they are members of the household/family, not because they are hired hands.

However, there is the age-old question of how to get them to do anything without payment, and how grouchy parents get about handing over allowance to lazy kids who have done nothing to earn/deserve it. Not to mention the keeping track of who gets what and who does what and all of that. It's more work for the parent, right? I've looked at all kinds of chore charts and reward systems, using buttons and rocks and marbles and stickers and whatever. It all looks like work. I saw one that used pretty stones and jars but I do not have any pretty stones. Then it dawned on me - if these stones represent money (because, who are we kidding? It's going to add up to money...) then why not just use money in the first place? What better way to teach them the value of a dollar than to substitute pretty stones for actual money?

Finally finished pondering, I have a solution. The kids are getting their 'allowance' in quarters. It goes into a jar with their name on it. They also have a list of simple things that they are expected to do as members of our family. There is a third jar with more quarters in it. All of this kept out of reach. I'm going to put their allowance in every week, in quarters. I told them, instead of reminding you to do stuff or not do stuff, I am just going to take a quarter from your jar and put it in the middle jar. Then I'll remind you to do whatever it is, because you are still responsible to do these things. At the end of the week whatever you are left with is your allowance.

Then, I have another list of things I need help with that I would like them to do. I decided they can earn quarters by doing this stuff without being asked. If I ask them, they still have to do it of course, but no quarter.

So, technically, they are getting paid not to do their chores, because they have to do them no matter what. They're just getting paid for me not to have to waste my time nagging them. They are getting paid for BEING RESPONSIBLE.

First Step - Implementation

So, here we go starting with the money jars, and already there is a ridiculous situation involving the choice of the little baskets I bought them to put their money in. The oldest child is having an emotional breakdown despite the super-duper fair pick a number between one and ten method to decide who gets to choose first, she gets to choose LAST, and does not get the one she wanted and is scowly. However the discussion of the system, the list made of chores and painting of the little baskets all continues as planned, despite one very sulky individual.

Day 1

I wake up this morning to the 6 year old all dressed and ready, her room spotlessly tidy, bed made and eager to have help with her first chore which is to let the dogs out every morning. So far, so good. The two older girls have been working on their room, and the sulky oldest declares she did not have time to make her bed, because she was cleaning. Other bed is made. Everyone gets to school.

I go in the kitchen and there are four dishes of cereal still sitting out, despite the fact that it is clearly on their list of responsibilities to clear their dishes in the sink after eating. This is completely new to them, because I am ashamed to say I've always done it. So I don't blame them for forgetting, and didn't I say if I have to remind them, I will take a quarter?

Okay, so here is the dilemma I think most parents face, the temptation to let something slide. We think, hey, maybe they didn't understand the rules, they need to get used to this new world order, we'll give them a chance, let them know they *could* have lost their quarter but don't take one yet, etc. We live in a world of expecting warnings, alternatives, second chances, etc.

I am NOT going to be tempted! NEW RULE! I have decided that is a huge weakness in my parenting. They don't not understand the rules, they understand them just fine. It's me (the parent) who is deciding rules can bend and don't need to be followed. How the heck can I expect them to figure out that this is Serious Business if I am caving on day 1? It's a freaking quarter!

So that is one huge important part of any plan - to make sure that as a parent, I will not be afraid to go through with any consequence I invent. If I will be tempted to do a "okay, just this once, but NEXT TIME...." then obviously I didn't do a good job picking a consequence for that action, if I am reluctant to apply it.

So. Quarters taken from four dishes. One extra quarter removed from the girl who 'didn't have time' to make her bed because she was cleaning her room. I am not starting this out with excuses and exceptions! It will be doomed to failure!

Friday, October 08, 2010

Evan at 22 months

I have 5 pictures like this and the dog's eyes are closed in all of them.

What is this? An update??? Since I'm hopelessly behind on my 365 right now it seems easier to write an update here than to get caught up there. And I'm feeling lazy this morning. We finally found a TV program that Evan will sit still enough to watch for a few minutes: Waybuloo - and so I bought a DVD with a few episodes on it. Just knowing he's in the living room and not escaping the house or teetering on the edge of something for 15 minutes is so relaxing, I can sit here in the recliner with him watching Waybuloo, and even enjoy a cup of coffee before it gets cold. Waybuloo is very annoying, though - the kids have a theory that the reason they float is that their heads are big and full of air like balloons. Which makes more sense to me than the program's description which is that they do 'yogo' which is like yoga to reach a state of "buloo" so that they float. Uh, I'll take the balloon head theory, thanks. And we worry about exposing kids to drugs, etc. on TV. Try preschool programming. Seriously, I dare you to read the description here: Waybuloo and come to any conclusion other than the developers and writers are high.

I wanted to write down all of Evan's words somewhere because my previous experience says that sometime in the next few months he'll go through some 'language explosion' where he'll know so many new words and learn so many more each day that it will be impossible to keep track. In the past month or so he's started using a lot of the same words regularly and it's surprising how much he can tell you with just the same 10-20 words. I'll try to remember what all of them are.

Grandma and Grandpa (gamma, ganpa)
Memere and Pepere (mama, papay)
Madeleine (malala)
Dog, Pup, Beau, Doggy

Notice he has four different words to refer to the dog, and only one word for a sister, even though he has three of them. Even though Madeleine's name should be the hardest to say, he's making an effort and I guess the other two simply don't rate. He knows their names (will point to the right sister if you ask "Where is Annique?" but he's not going to repeat them.

Po-po = potty

All of the toilet-related words are great, because he's telling us when he has to go, when he's gone already (unfortunately) and has been taking all of the initiative in that department. While I'm not going to get my hopes up that he'll be fully trained anytime soon, I'm glad to see he has an interest in the toilet long before any of my girls did. When he says he wants to go - he usually goes. My big girls had a lot bigger vocabularies when they started training but still seemed unable to tell me before they had to go and it was all a bunch of guessing and waiting. I still have video of Cecily singing her ABC's and other songs while she was sitting on the toilet. I am sure she'll appreciate that as she gets older. Until she was about three, Annique would just stare blankly or ignore any mention of anything toilet-related because she had no intention of using it.

dodo (sleep)
la (means EVERYTHING)
tickle (dee-go, dee-go, dee-go)
peek-a-boo (a-boo-boo)
baloo (that stupid show)

and of course - TA-TA. I always said I'd never teach my kids to say ta-ta, because wouldn't it be more polite to just teach them to say "please" if they want something? How hard is that? Please, please, please. For everything. What polite children I'd have. Sometime after the second child I realized, ta-ta is not a parental invention. It's not something you teach your children to say. It's something they teach you. It means I WANT THAT. And when you have a baby like mine who doesn't say anything else that means anything, and the meaning of TA-TA is crystal clear, you don't argue. It is a little bit classier than uh-uh-uh or crying, so I'll take it. Please can wait.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Day 6

And you ask, why is my van so dirty? Would you want to wash this off? Maybe it's a little bit Blair Witch Project, but I like it.

That's Day 6 of my 365 that I started again, so if you're interested in checking it out, try the link on the right.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Christy made me

Christy says that November is some sort of national post more on your blog month and so I am supposed to update my blog. Normally, I'd be suspicious but I've never known Christy to lie.

Today's updated is on H1N1. I took my two youngest kids to get the shot because they are on the priority list, and unlike everywhere else in the country - it seems our area has some sort of sensible non-panic plan to get the shot into the arms of those who need it. I simply called a 1-800 number last week, somebody answered on the second ring, and so I gave my kids names and ages, and was booked for an appointment today.

The actual clinic was set up in the gymnasium of an elementary school and it was so well staffed and organized that had I left my children at home, I might have imagined it to be a spa day. I likely could have sat and read magazines in peace for an hour and a half. But snapping back into reality - the reason I had to be there was to bring the two youngest for their shots, so it was certainly no picnic but that wasn't the fault of the H1N1 planning people. Our appointments were booked for 4:25 and 4:35 and there was a bit of a wait, and then I had to listen to an explanation about the shot, effects, give your kid tylenol, etc. We went with Annique first because I knew Evan would cry and then Annique would know it's supposed to hurt. She sat on my lap and the nurse told her to sing a song - she sang Twinkle Twinkle little star, and by the time she was done the shot was over, without even a twitch or tears. Evan was another matter - he was pretty insulted about the whole thing but they gave him a cookie after so it was all good.

Then they make you wait around for 15 minutes to make sure you don't have a reaction to the shot, so we didn't get out of there until 5:48. I set a new land speed record getting both of my kids into the grocery store and was able to load up a cart and spend $125 on groceries AND take Annique to the bathroom before the store closed at 6:00.

So that's today's update. Tomorrow I think I will tell you about my dog.

Monday, October 19, 2009


Sept. 20, enjoying the heatwave

First weeks of October - the sub-zero temps and snow seemed to be here to stay

October 18 - and it's 20+ degrees again!

Mother nature seems to have her seasons screwed up - we are having the weirdest weather lately! Usually we get some decent weather the last week or so of August and then when school starts in September, the long-sleeved/sweater weather starts and I can pack away all the shorts because the weather turns just that fast. This year, it was so different - we had a serious heatwave mid-September and finally enjoyed the hot weather that never really happened all summer.

We were supposed to start building the cabin the last week of September, and Serge and his dad were out working on the foundation in the ridiculous heat and we were hopeful that the weather would still be nice and they'd get a good start on framing and have it all shingled and closed in before winter. But there were a number of delays and in a few short weeks we went from 'too hot' to 'snow and freezing cold' - and after two weeks of snow and below-freezing temps we didn't have much hope that we'd be able to get a long enough stretch for them to get it framed so we just tarped everything and they'll start in the spring. Disappointing, but at least we're not worrying about what the weather does anymore.
Tarping everything and waiting for spring

What's missing? Oh, just a cabin.

This weekend, for example - Annique's birthday - the whole week was snowy and cold, and while I was hoping to go to the pumpkin patch to celebrate her birthday - it had been below freezing for 2 weeks, the kids were going to school every day in snow boots and winter jackets and mittens, and it seemed winter was settling in early. I seriously doubted the place would even be open, and how much fun would it be? So we planned a little party at our house on Saturday and booked a kids' theme room at the CanadInn so they could go in the pool and on the waterslides instead of a pumpkin patch visit.

My birthday girl - 4 years old!

Loving her 'princess' room at 'the Canada'

And so Sunday arrived and the weather was just beautiful - so we decided to swing by the pumpkin patch to see if they were still open, and it was the perfect day for it! So we did that too - thank goodness it was so warm that the kids didn't need jackets or sweaters, because all we had in the van was their winter coats! It was hard to convince them after 2-3 weeks of cool/cold weather and snow that they could actually GO OUTSIDE without coats on. Leave your coats in the van. REALLY. You won't need them!

Beautiful day at Meandher Creek!

Loving the warm sunshine and blue skies

Racing ducks

This morning, the kids left for school in their winter jackets and mittens again. GAAAAAHHHH!!!! At least I didn't have to unpack their spring/fall jackets. Yet.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

GAAAAAHHH! August again!

You know I'm obsessed with sunset pictures, and so here's my top three sunset/beach pictures so far this summer:

Madeleine and Kayla on the dock
Campfire on Craig's beach
This one is actually a sunrise - thanks Evan for the wake-up call!

Where does July go? No, really - what the heck happens to July? June, I don't miss. I love finding myself at the end of June when it seems like June just started yesterday. But I hate when that happens with July. One day you're thinking "I can't believe it's July already! It's really summer! We're here!!!!" and the next day you wake up and it's - you guessed it - August.

My second daughter has it figured out that since her birthday is at the very beginning of August, and her mother thinks August sneaks up on everyone - that her birthday gets thrown together in a panic when suddenly the days in July start with 3, and that means her birthday is in a few days, and nobody bought presents or sent out invitations and they swear they'll do a better job next year. No, this year - she caught on and started warning us when July was in the teens, that her birthday was going to be SOON. And July being like it is, I said - oh, no darling! Your birthday is in August. July just started, that's a long time from now. Don't worry, you'll have an awesome birthday!

The ugliest birthday cake ever, but the kids liked it!

And sure enough, the last few days were a blind panic trying to pick a day and get people together and a cake and presents and... we had her birthday. One day late, but we managed to have a wonderful time and most of her favorite people there with her and some presents. I made a whirlwind trip to the city yesterday for a few last minute gifts and paper plates and treat bag candies and cake decorations, etc. We mini-golfed, built sand castles and played on the beach. It was a good day.

When June and July flew by, so did a pile of milestones for Evan. One day we decided to see if he could sit up, and what do you know - he could! He was a little shaky so we put pillows behind him for awhile but he was amazingly stable pretty much from the start. He still doesn't roll over but he sits like a champ.
Sitting, with pillows for protection. It was also handy having sisters to sit behind him and catch him before he toppled over.

Evan went to school for the first time at 6 months old - Madeleine brought him for show and tell. It was hard to stand at the back of the class and just watch - but both Madeleine and Evan did a wonderful job. I have video if anyone is interested in listening to show and tell in French, but otherwise, here's a photo or two.

all of the kids lining up to see our baby - it was also pyjama day in case you're wondering

Evan rocking the visitor's pass - school is serious stuff!

He also tried baby cereal and baby food for the first time - and wasn't loving either option. He went to the summer fair and watched his sisters go on all the rides, eat mini-donuts and hang out with goats in the petting zoo.

Madeleine on the giant swing

And mini-donuts, of course!

Evan had his first boat ride, and went fishing for the first time. The fishing trip was short lived, not only because it's crazy to be in a boat with three kids, one baby and four fishing rods, but because there were dark clouds gathering. Yeah, that's why we went in so soon. It was the clouds.

Getting ready to go in his 'Gone Fishin' with Dad' shirt and his fishing hat!

Loving the boat ride! (see? Clouds!)

His first tooth broke through the first week of July, and a second one followed about a day after the first. I remember this because my girls were having an incredibly rainy and awful and windy and cold week of swimming lessons and there was nothing like a bit of teething to add to the misery. Annique took lessons for the first time and freaked out about the weeds touching her feet - which is awful I admit but would be the least of my worries if I was freezing cold in the wind with massive waves splashing about my waist and somebody expected me to put my face in the water and blow bubbles. I don't tell the kids that, of course.

The first day (and only nice day) of swimming lessons

The rest of the days were more like this, and worse. Sometimes they couldn't even go in the water!

There was also a first for me in July - my dad bought a pair of jet-skis because one obviously isn't enough. So I had my first ride on a jet-ski, and also got dumped off for the first time. Apparently these particular jet-skis really are meant only for one person, so jumping on as a passenger isn't a good idea unless one or both of you weighs less than 100 pounds. And I obviously don't. The kids love the jet-skis, even though Madeleine had a scare when my dad rolled one of them with her on it and it was swamped so they had to swim to shore. She was really good about it but now has no doubt about the importance of life jackets.

The jet-ski purchase coincided with my dad's 50th birthday and we had a big party with an amazing seafood boil and fireworks on the beach. That was Evan's first experience with fireworks and he didn't freak out about it even though some of them were incredibly loud. Which is odd because now he'll freak out if I start the vacuum cleaner in the same room.

Evan had another immunization and visit with the health nurse, and weighed in at 22 pounds! I guess I don't have to worry that he has no interest in real food yet - he's obviously not starving!

Look at those legs! HUGE!

I think this summer is flying by even faster than usual because we're also up to our eyeballs in plans to get a new cabin built across the road from my parents' cabin at the lake. The lot was cleared last fall but we needed to bring in a bobcat and get all of the brush out, pull the roots and dig a big hole for the crawl space. We have our building permit and approval to go ahead! If all goes well we'll be framing it this fall.

We're making a few changes, but this plan is what we're starting with.