Tuesday, September 27



I've been thinking long and hard and trying to come up with a system that works for us. And one that I will stick to, because even though I HATE to admit it, I'm the one who usually fails these systems. I just stop doing them or am not consistent.
So I needed a new one, one that was easier for me and simple for the kids.
After seeing how they did things in Daughter's class, I got an idea. I came home and pinterested away a million ideas and then came up with my own with the things I had so I didn't have to get dressed and go to the store for supplies.
Yah, It get's that bad.
I'm not a liar. 

Anyway, we needed one system for monitoring TV. So I came up with a really simple clip system. I painted four clothespins. Two pink, two teal. And then I labeled two "TV" and two "Game" for computer or video games. Each clip stands for one show or twenty minutes of time. They only get two a day, they can lose them due to poor behavior and they do have the chance to gain one extra clip of their choosing. Once they're gone, they're gone. They just remove the clip and drop it in the jar when they're ready to cash in. Oh and of course they are only allowed to use their clips with chores, homework, help for mom and reading is done. It has worked marvelously. They don't argue anymore...there's no more one more show or five more minutes. I LOVE it.

This is a behavior chart. They each have four clips daily and in this order: green, blue, yellow and red. They start on green every day (I just clip it to the top of the clipboard) and depending on behavior, they have to change their clip to the next color each time they are naughty. At the end of the day green gets three stickers, blue - two, yellow - one, and red gets no stickers and loses all Tech Time priveleges for the rest of that day (if they haven't used them yet) and the next. Every certain number of squares I made one square more distinguished and once they reach that square with stickers they get to pick something out at the dollar store, stay up late for a movie night, go get ice cream, etc. Oh and if they stay on green all day, besides the three stickers, they also get a "bonus" clip that they may use for an extra tech time the next day.

I also use Behavior Bucks to monitor behavior and chores. We just cut rectangles out of scrapbook paper and decorated them with stickers and happy faces. They earn the bucks randomly for being sweet, talking nicely, sharing, good manners, listening, helping, good days at school/church, any behavior can really earn them, but not every behavior always does. It's just random. They also can lose them by having poor behavior, arguing, not listening the first time, sibling bickering, rude behavior, etc. I require them to pay me for things like trips to the park, going to a birthday party, etc. I also "charge" them behavior bucks (and sometimes real allowance money) for certain things. For example, we have an end of the day clean-up. I set the timer for 20 minutes and they have that time to go around and clean up all the messes they didn't keep up on throughout the day. I only ask once. When the timer beeps, I grab my big cardboard box and put anything that's not put away in the box. Those toys are now mine and they have to buy them back from me using behavior bucks. They keep their bucks in a plastic cup that they decorated for themselves.

I give daughter five dollars a week for allowance. I don't make her earn it by doing chores because I feel like chores should just be part of being in our family and keeping up our home together. I give her allowance to start teaching her the importance and value of money and wise habits. I don't tell her what to do or not to do with it. So she gets $5 a week, but she can lose her money by doing certain things. For example, one time we were at a friend's house and she didn't want to clean up before it was time to leave. I told her that she could clean up or I would clean up, but she'd have to pay me $3. She thought about it and decided to save her money. Same idea with staying up too late. If she infringes on mom and dad's time after bed, I charge her. It comes in handy having the allowance to work with. Also when she wants something at the store, she is free to spend her own money on whatever she wants. If she doesn't have it, then she usually tries hard to save up for the next wk or so to earn it.

So these are a few of the systems that we've been working with this year and so far they are working great. I got a lot of them from trial and error, the book Parenting with Love and Logic, and various ideas I've seen on the web.

So what about you? What do you do to help keep your kids on track? How do you discipline?

Monday, September 26

Gifts 860-906

Watching the sunrise moment by moment as it creeps up and through each cloud in quiet morning sky
majestic horses running free
amazing thunder storms
hours of playing outside with nothing but nature
safe travels
welcome home greetings
hearing about our trip from my kids
meeting a new blog friend
a lingering summer
waiting for fall
deciding on a name
bickering with hubby
saying I'm sorry
pondering what God didn't have to do = grace
shuddering at what He should have done = mercy
giveaways, so generous
my favorite verse: Exodus 14:14
a growing belly
the times when my back isn't hurting
shoe glue
missing Oklahoma
children's books
watching Daughter read!!
The tale of Loveland
having a sister...help me love her more
fishing with my family
catching a fish or two!!
dragonflies of all colors
pears...how I love pears
little girls worrying about marriage
teaching them to be children
smudges on the mirrors
handprints on the window
growth spurts
homemade gifts for family
dreaming of Christmas
oatmeal cookie oatmeal
Daughter's sassy attitude and hot temper
long eyelashes and
wide eyes
hair so soft like velvet
seeing armadillos! lol
a friend expecting a little one
banana smoothies
Trader Joe's vanilla wafers-OMG

Sunday, September 25

Boo/Autumn Tree

It's almost done! YAY!

What do you think?

We had a fun afternoon of crafting and decorating before Hubby went to work tonight. Nothing sexier than a man glueing pipe cleaner spiders ;)

Daughter had fun making a little cemetary

And Son made a bat or two

And Baby, well, Baby just kept the dogs busy ;)

I bought a few of those cheap foam craft kits at Joann's and added ribbon to hang them from our tree

 Besides the craft kits and a few small "ornaments," I pulled from a lot of things I already had to keep this project really affordable. First up, Mrs. McKaffie moved from her perch on a shelfto help snazzy up our Boo Tree. BTW, I told the kids that was her name and that she watches them all the time and reports back to me whether or not they should go trick or treating. ;) They ate it up.

I mixed Autumn decor with Halloween and I really like the way it turned out. I've always been a bigger fan of Autumn/fall decor than Halloween, but with the kids it is a lot of fun to bring in the spiders and spook. Plus, ever since I found Mrs. McKaffie last year, I have a soft spot for darling old witches. :)
In fact, I found her sister today, Mrs. Dunthrop. lol
I found quite a few of them at Homegoods and it took every drop of self-control to stop myself from buying them all! But I do officially now have a collection starting. ;)
Not a good picture, sorry. Try again tomorrow. 

I had these old wooden frames on my craft table waiting to be repainted and thought they'd add something kinda fun. So I hung a few on the tree and had some of those spiders Hubby made hanging out of them. 

Some rafia hangs down all over and I wrapped it in purple in orange tulle. I also used some fall silk flowers and leaves, pumpkins etc and stuck them in randomly to fill in space. I still have some things I want to put in there: I want to find some sticks and paint them black and just keep my eyes peeled for something else. And I might find myself picking out another witch doll because I'm not sure I can stop myself. :/

I've NEVER had this much fun with Halloween or Fall before. I may have to add a full size Christmas tree to every holiday ;)

Saturday, September 24

Friday, September 23

Day Two

The morning was so nice...we woke up nice and slow, had a leisurely breakfast with Grandma-mother and got dressed whenever we felt like it. Once we finally got up and going, we headed out to visit the zoo.

After first attempting to enter in the service entry (dumb navigation) we wound up walking up and over a cute wooden bridge, pointing at the turtles and fish filling the stream below us.

The zoo had received great reviews and is supposed to be one of the larger zoos in the country. It was definitely cute, but in an old fashioned, adorable and quaint, country kind-of-way. I suppose I've been spoiled, growing up near San Diego zoo, Wild Animal Park and Los Angeles zoo, so I was slightly less than impressed. Still, at only $8 per adult and much less for kids over three, it was perfect for a couple hours of walking around, saying hello to a few animals and riding the train.

Speaking of the train, that was by far our favorite part, and the sweet man hosting the train tour allowed us an extra ride around the park just because. After the train, we hopped right on the carousel, which never disappoints. ;)

Then we decided to wander around, checking out exhibits and seeing a few animals. The giraffe exhibit was really neat because the zoo had a pavilion with a raised platform so that you were right at eye level with the giraffes, who were so friendly and walked right up to the railing. You could feed them and everything, so it was a really neat way to interact with the animals first hand.

It didn't take long before our granola bars were no longer quieting the rumble in everyone's bellies, so we took a vote and headed out of the zoo to get lunch. We headed over to Whole Foods, which I had on my list of things I wanted to see/do. I don't have a Whole Foods and had really been wanting to check it out. They have such a great fresh deli and cafe, with tables set up inside and outside, games and books for kids and adults, a cozy fireplace for cold and rainy days, microwaves to heat cold foods and a seemingly endless array of fresh, whole and organic foods to make the most delectable lunch. 

We sat inside and enjoyed our lunch of organic chicken breast and homemade macaroni and cheese, spicy mozzarella penne pasta salad (which was my pick and was TRULY amazing), smoked chicken tortellini salad and broccoli salad. It was all so heavenly.

As far as the store, the selection was grand and the layout was enticing; the food looked fresh and the people were kind. But the prices seemed a little steep and all in all, I'd take my Henry's and Trader Joe's any day. But then again, I'm loyal to a fault. ;)

After we had stocked up on fresh produce, juice and granola for the week, we headed back home to enjoy the sunshine before the day got away from us. Grandma-mother blew up a million inflatables that she had been hoarding in her garage and the kids threw on their suits stripped down to undies because I forgot their suits (except for Daughter who insisted on pj's because only undies looks like a boy) and jumped in the pool. For those of you who know us personally, you know that this is never a fun way for us to spend our time. My kids hate the water, worst than a Persian cat. They truly hate it for anything other than bathing. But there was something in that Okie air that just got them all into it and I couldn't get them OUT!

They did so great (for them anyways) and swam for almost four hours. I was amazed, and thrilled beyond words. Every day for the rest of the trip they begged to go swimming, but that first day was the only day quite warm enough.

Part of the backside of my parent's home

We came inside and Poppa helped Daughter with some homework.

We played LOTS of sidewalk chalk ;)

Funny Story: When I took the kids outside, I told them I'd be right back with my camera. Well, Daughter, frantically asks
"What if a tomato comes??!"
She nervously scanned the sky as I told her that it wasn't "tomato" weather right now and explained how the sky and weather would change before a "tomato." 
When I went inside I told my dad about her concern for unexpected "tomatoes" and he went outside and showed her the "tomato" cellar (below, that door in the ground) and how she could just climb right in and be perfectly fine. It was hysterical and we called them "tomatoes" the rest of the time we were there. We may just call tornadoes, "tomatoes" forever. It's kinda catchy, huh?

Enjoyed beautiful sunsets and scenery

Fed the horses a little treat of carrots

Played the old passed down family piano that I played as a child

Said hello to Bently, my mom's new puppy

Admired my mother's GORGEOUS basil plant

We wrapped up our day with a yummy dinner at home and watching old home videos to show the kids what mom and Auntie were like when we were little. They got a total kick out of it and passed out early from their busy day.

It was a fun day filled with simple pleasures and joy. I loved watching our old home videos, memories recorded. One of the videos we watched was a family birthday party at my Auntie Susie's house, where we celebrated three birthdays. I loved watching how we all used to interact and be together, the smiles and laughter, bountiful and contagious. In that video, we saw my Uncle Whitey, Uncle Dennis and Grandpa Carlos. Three men who have passed away in the last ten years and have been sorely missed by our family. In that time, my parents also moved out of state and now our family just seems to be missing that spark, that life that once defined us. Watching these videos brought all those memories and emotions flooding back.

I found myself desperately missing my Grandpa, a quiet old man, stuck in his ways and stubborn bad habits. A man that was more of a closed up mystery to me. His face always seemed to have a story to tell but rarely revealed any. He had experienced and done things that he chose to keep to himself, things that a Grandfather doesn't share with his granddaughter. But he loved us. He loved me. I think that grandchildren helped soften him just a bit, cracking the hard and cold shell he had worn for so long.

My Grandpa Carlos with my cousin

And my Uncle Dennis, a man with a smile that truly lit up a room. A gruff exterior, his skin was tan and weathered, scarred and wrinkled prematurely. His hair was always long and in a ponytail at the base of his neck, the same color as honey. His eyes danced when he talked and the wrinkles showed the memories that he held inside. I loved him, in his tank tops and eighties shorts. I loved his rough hands and how easily he'd get down and roll around on the floor playing with us kids. He was quick to help or give what he had to anyone. He was funny and lively, never skipping an opportunity to tease. We miss him terribly.

Uncle Dennis is in the tank top and Uncle Whitey is the white one with no shirt ;)

Ahh...Uncle Whitey. He died shortly after Daughter was born. He was an amazing man. He and my Aunt Susie sometimes seemed like the central hub of the family. They eagerly hosted every family holiday and birthday and were the epitome of a warm home. Always available with a cheerful smile and warm hug, Whitey was kind and loving. He was sweet and had a soft voice but a crazy sense of humor. He was the guy that would walk our wearing a depends at an all ladies baby shower or nothing but jingle bell boxers and a Santa hat on Christmas. He was always up for a laugh, a game, anything to live life to its fullest. I miss him dearly.

It was a lovely day, fabulous to be spending it with loved ones and remembering passed family also. Great to see my kids soaking in the new sights and experiences. 


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