Sunday, May 29, 2011

Chores, Chores, Chores

I think we've finally done it.  We've implemented a chore plan in our house.  In the past we've had a lot of failures when it came to a system that actually worked.  Usually it was my fault because I had a hard time being consistent with it.  

It's been 2 weeks and we're still going strong--that's a record!  I've seen so many awesome chore plans out there but I chose this one for now.  It could very well change in the next little while but for now, we're sticking with it. 

I have looked at that chore plan on Confessions of a Homeschooler for awhile but I changed it a bit to work for us. 

I printed off a bunch of the chore cards and picked and chose which ones my family would use.  I laminated them and also a few blank cards so I could write in some of my own. 


So here's what we do:  Every night before I go to bed, I decide what chores I need the girls to do the next day.  I really like the flexibility of this since we don't run the dishwasher or do laundry everyday but when we do I can add in those chores: empty the dishwasher, fold and put away laundry, dust, etc.  Each girl has a few chores that stay the same everyday then they usually get 1-2 more that changes daily:

Natalie: make bed, take a nap, pick up dirty clothes, pick up family room
Cyrena: make bed, read for 20 minutes, pick up playroom, wipe the kitchen table

As they finish their chores, they move the card to the ALL DONE! row.  

 Then right before bed, we check to see which chores are done and if they are ALL done they pick a sticker to put on their reward card (what Natalie is holding).  If they haven't completed all their chores, they do not get a sticker for the day. The reward card has 6 spots and when it is full they get to pick a prize ($1 store items, gum for Cyrena, etc).  

There are also "Best-'bee'havior cards." For our family, you can trade in 3 full reward cards for a bee card.  The bee card gets them things like: ice cream with dad, a playdate, cooking with mom, etc.  They can also earn a bee card if they meet their goal which I will explain below.


Another thing that we started are GOALS.  It's hard for them to hear, "just be good, ok?" They need something more specific than that.  So for Cyrena we picked a behavior she really needed to work on.  She was constantly 'roaring' at Natalie and making her scream.  It was becoming a bad (and not to mention annoying!!) habit.  So her goal this past week has been, "I will not roar at Natalie"  She's been amazing and has met her goal as of right now.  We're going to officially evaluate tonight.  She is so excited to earn her bee card! 

Natalie's goal was "I will poop on the potty" since that's been her biggest struggle lately.  And she's done really well! It's so funny because sometimes while she's playing I will hear her repeating "I will poop on the potty....I will poop on the potty"  

It's been great to have a visual reminder of their goals, we refer to them very often. 

The third and final thing we started are screentime tickets (the pink tickets next to their names).  It's been hard for me to keep track of how much screentime (t.v. and computer) they are getting.  It's harder for Cyrena since she is home all day and doesn't nap.  I figure she is awake and home for about 13 hours a day and it's hard to keep a 5 year old entertained that long!  The tickets are in 30 minute increments so as they watch a show (or Cyrena plays computer) we just move a ticket down to 'all done'.  I also purchased a small digital timer so Cyrena can set it while she's on the computer.  That has made a huge difference!  She uses it for her reading time as well.  And she also uses it when I say, "I'll play with you in 5 minutes"......it can work against me. :)

Ok, does that sound overwhelming??  It's really a lot simpler than it sounds but it's hard to get it all out of my head into comprehensible text. :)  I know most of you already have an awesome plan in place.  For right now my girls need something tangible and broken down like this but I'm sure eventually we can go to some kind of checklist.  

How do you handle chores at your house? 

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Nature, FHE, and Potty Power

Nature:

We've been overrun with bird nests this spring.  We're renting so the handyman usually takes care of the nests.  However, he's been out of town for family emergencies. As a result we've had a few baby birds to observe.  Here's a video of one trying to learn how to fly, but actually just running away from us.  You have to listen to how Natalie talks to the bird toward the end of the video. 


Also anytime we're in a hurry and we tell her to 'grab shoes' she picks these ruby red slippers...she loves them and they fit her personality well. 

 
Family Home Evening:

I love my new primary chorister calling, it's so much fun.  This past Sunday I had an activity for the kids to do that involved hiding magnetic letters in a bucket of rice.  They dug out each letter, put it on the board then we sang a song about a corresponding gospel topic.  For example. r=reverence.  For senior primary I had them tell me what the song taught them about that specific gospel topic.  Then when all the letters were on the board we unscrambled the letters to make a word that had to do with the monthly primary theme ("restored") and had a quick mini-lesson.  It was a fun activity. 

Since I am basically a pretty lazy person I wanted to get more mileage out of this activity.  So we used it for FHE the next night.  The topic was prayer because we've been feeling like the girls are using a lot of 'vain repetitions'  We didn't expect Natalie to really understand too much, and she didn't.  But digging out the letters kept her engaged.  



Potty Power:

   Well I guess the third time's the charm in our house.  Anna is a wonderful third baby, David loves his third job out of college, and our third attempt at potty training Natalie has been successful.  She's proud to wear panties and has been very good with few accidents.  Oh but those accidents can be doozies....I won't go into detail.  I think it's been successful this time for two reasons.  First, her obsession with princesses has grown exponentially so princess panties are a huge hit.  And second, this video that was recommended by a friend:

Natalie loves movies and music so this was perfect.  It had catchy songs that she memorized quickly, real kids sitting on a real potty, and a fun princess fairytale at the end.  She related and has done amazing well.  Pass on the Potty Power!  I checked it out from the library. 

Big Girls and Baseball

Our firstborn is sure growing up!  It's a bit overwhelming at times.  

Cyrena just finished her first season of coach pitch baseball.  Of course she loved every minute of it, even sliding into home plate just to get her pants dirty. Cyrena had great coaches and if they coach again they're going to let us know so she can be on their team again.  She was the only girl with about 8 boys.  They accepted her as 'one of the guys' and always made sure they said good-bye to her after each game.  Too cute.

In line to bat

This coach was so darn cute with her.  He was always cheering her on and calling her 'sweetheart'

Cyrena was one of the only kids that was always in the 'ready' position.  The coaches used her as an example often.

Here she is in the outfield talking


We all spent the majority of the time in the shade of a tree or under an umbrella.  We lucked out that we had a beautiful spring so it wasn't unbearable

Playing first base
Cyrena always got a hit and loved running the bases.  She has a long way to go on catching and she definitely throws like a girl.  She's so technical and doesn't allow herself to follow her instincts. She's so much like me!  So even though the boys were more natural baseball players, I think she had the most heart.


Yesterday Cyrena had her preschool graduation.  David was able to slip away from the office for the 20 minute program.  She has loved the independence of going to preschool.

I will willingly admit that I teared up when she walked out with the cap on...I'm weak when it comes to things like that!  Many times this girl and I butt heads so it's good for me to see her in a different light sometimes.

We're so proud of our little graduate

Cyrena's teacher, Miss Tawna.  She was a great influence on Cyrena's confidence and made her feel safe enough to head off to Kindergarten!  Miss Tawna let all the kids have a swim party which was so nice of her!  The girls enjoyed every minute of the morning.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Termites, Moms, Music and more

1.  A couple Friday's ago, Ashley discovered a scorpion in the girl's bedroom.  Needless to say it made me really upset and I hardly slept that night. Pest control came first thing that next Monday and they saturated our house inside and out with eco-friendly products. :)  While in the process he discovered termite tubes in our garage.  Great.  I notified the landlord and another pest control company came to give us an estimate.  Of course the girls and I shadowed him as he walked the property.  Cyrena listens to everything so she asked who 'Mike' was after the pest control guy said he'd call 'Mike' about the estimate.  Here's the conversation:

Cyrena: Mom, who's Mike?
Me: Mike is our landlord
Cyrena:  What's a landlord?
Me: A landlord is someone who owns a house but lets someone else live in it
Cyrena (wheels are turning): Oooohhhh....
Cyrena: You mean like Jesus is our landlord because he created the Earth but we live on it?
Me (stunned):  Well, yeah actually he is like our landlord.  He helps us when we need it but we live here and take care of the Earth he created.  
Cyrena: Yeah Jesus made the earth with Heavenly Father and blah, blah, blah (those who know her can fill in the blanks, she went on and on for about 10 minutes).   

You should hear her lecture on Satan and the solar system, it's riveting.

So I think she's ready to read and analyze Jacob 5, what do you think??

2.  I had a wonderful Mother's Day, I hope you all did as well.  David did so much for me, it was wonderful.  He even made me a homemade chocolate cream pie...YUM.   I haven't felt like the best mom lately so it was nice to feel so loved and appreciated.  I feel like I have so much to live up to because of the wonderful moms I know.  My own mom, mothers-in-law, my sister and sisters-in-law and all my great friends.  I'm lucky to have a support system that I can go to for those days when nothing is going right and all of us are grumpy!  All those moms help me put things in perspective....tomorrow is a new day and I can always start over.  

3.  Our ward boundaries got rearranged last week.  We were sad to see some of our friends taken away from our ward.  My callings (I had 2 since our ward was small) technically weren't going to change but they did anyway.  Now I am the Primary chorister!  I'm excited because I had this calling for just about 5 months when Cyrena was 1.  I really liked it and was sad when I was called to something else.  This past Sunday was my first day and it was a lot of fun.  The primary president said she thought I did well and she was so glad to see that I wasn't a pushover.  I reminded her that I taught 2nd graders so that strict side of me tends to come out when I'm with kids! :)  It will be a fun new adventure.  David kept his calling as the YM's secretary.


4.  Natalie is now 2 1/2.  I think she's going to be 2 forever.  David and I were both saying that it feels like she's been at this stage forever.  Diapers, sippy cup, booster seat, mischievousness, bib, lisp, etc.   Anyway, she's a cutie, super cuddly, hard to understand sometimes, sick often, and is very very very very busy.  Consequences mean nothing to her; everything is in one ear then out the other.  I dread her teenage years.  At least she'll have straight arrow Cyrena to look up to. For Natalie's half birthday I made peanut butter cheesecake brownies.  And she finally got her bed.  We got another twin bed to match Cyrena's.  This was very exciting!  As a result, we were finally able to put Anna in the crib and she's now officially unswaddled and stretched out!

5.  David is looking forward to Memorial Day.  The man never takes a sick or vacation day so Memorial Day will be his first day off this year!  He works so hard for us, we're very blessed.  Now we'll need to do something to celebrate that day that is special for so many reasons.
We've had some beautiful weather here this week.  In fact, I think I have tennis elbow from pushing Natalie on the swing so much.  She never tires of it.  

 This is Natalie singing part of the new song for this year's primary program.  She learned this just from Cyrena constantly singing it at home. 


The Deans

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Life as we know it is full of laughter, fun, stress, love, faith and surprises. What more could we ask for?