Friday, May 31, 2013

The Points system, and Finger Chores

I had my baby in his car seat in one arm, and 3 little girls to usher to the van, to get my daughter to school. Keys in the other hand, and my back holding our storm door open. To get the front door closed so I could lock it, I would need to step up and put my whole body back in the doorway to even reach the door, and then try to squeeze back out, without letting the storm door slam shut on me in the process. So out of desperation to get one of my busy girls to help out, I said "Who ever wants a point, will you please get that door for me?" Suddenly to my surprise two of the older girls came running and fighting over who got to get the point! Did they know what it meant to get a point? Probably not, but it was like getting an invisible treat. :)
"Wow!" I thought, I may have just discovered a new trick! I tried it again later, telling my daughter who was torturing her 2 year old sister with mean words, that she just lost a point. "Sorry" came out of her mouth! Wow again!
Ya, this points system, whatever it was turning into at that moment, definitely needed some considering and refining. :)

We have been using the points system since, and I have been fixing up the official rules over time. It has been working miracles, and I am a happy, happy mom! I finally got a piece of poster board, and laid it all out.

Here is a picture of what I came up with.

I apologize for spelling the word privileges wrong on this poster.

In this blog post Here by me, I explained how we were doing finger chores. I still love them, because they are so easy to remember, and it puts chores into the "fun" category.

On the hand charts, each child has a velcro piece with their initial on it, for each chore, on each finger. When they complete that finger chore, they move the velcro piece over to the other hand, for when it comes time to do those chores.

EXAMPLE: Its morning time. Adria gets her hair brushed, so she can move the velcro piece on the pinky for "brush your hair", over to the night time chore hand.

At night, while they do their night time chores, they move the velcro pieces back to the morning hand for the next day.

On to the points system. 

Each box in the columns underneath their name represent a point. They each have a push pin, that they move up and down during the day when they lose points or get points.

The black C box, represents their finger chores. They can not have any points above the black line in the morning until their morning finger chores are done. Once they have their morning chores done, they can have all the privileges listed above the black line, except those with a * next to them.

The privileges with the * next to them, can only be obtained if they have extra points above the C box.

Throughout the day they lose and earn points. They can only gain extra points, once their finger chores are done.

How do they Lose points:

Points are taken away for actions such as, not listening to mom, not obeying mom 1st thing, fighting or arguing with a sibling, back talking to Mom or Dad, using a privilege before its earned, Breaking the 10 commandments, you know.....stuff like that. :)

When they lose points and end up under the black line, they have to do an extra chore to earn it back. Sometimes, this chore is just simply saying sorry, and doing something nice for someone else, if the reason they lost the point, had to do with wronging someone else.

How do they earn points?

They must first complete their morning finger chores, before they can earn any points.
Extra points above the C, are given out, when they are caught in the act of good service and good doings. They can do chores for extra points, show good behavior, and things like that.

After dinner each night, I move everybody back to under the C box, for night time chores. The faster they complete their night time chores, the more privileges they have before bed, such as watching a movie or show before bed, having a snack before bed, library time before bed (believe it or not, that is a huge one lately), or computer time before bed. They have to have their night time chores done by 8:30 pm, for bed time. 

What are the finger chores:
The morning finger chores are, get dressed, make your bed, brush your teeth, brush your hair, and do a toy sweep through the house (go through each room in the house and make sure all of your stuff is out of them and put away.)
The night time finger chores are, take a shower, get into jammies, brush hair, brush teeth, and pick up 10 toys in your room. 

I hope this all makes sense!
It has been working so great lately! Even my almost 3 year old loves moving over her velcro for getting her chores done. My 5 year old, who is my most difficult lately, has responded greatly to it all. There has also been less yelling, and less of a power struggle from me too. My kids have been listening pretty greatly, and they are getting a long sooo much better!

You can change up your rules how ever you want, but this is a basic idea that you can use. 
Feel free to leave comments and share your ideas, and if you have questions on how it works, ask away!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Learning the violin!

I am sooo excited! A few months ago, I decided to buy a violin. I have wanted to learn to play one since I was little, and just never did. I fell in love with singing "Amazing Grace", and could picture myself whipping it out on the violin too, even though the only clue I had about playing one, was that the bow goes back and forth. :)
I searched for a good deal on a used violin, and didn't really find anything, and so I searched Ebay after that. I found a source that sells Mendini violins in different colors for $55! They had a white one, that I fell in love with, so I took a chance on buying it. It came with rosin, a bow, a case, some extra strings and parts, and a metranome/tuner. I bought the 3/4 size according to a chart I found online to help me figure out what my arm length would be most comfortable with. I also bought a little fingering guide, to help me know where to put my fingers for the different notes. 
When I got my violin, I was clueless. I knew the rosin needed to be put on the horse hair, but I didn't realize my bow wouldn't play anything, if there wasn't rosin put on first, lol. I learned through trial and error a little bit, how to set my violin up. 
My first sounds on the violin were pretty silent. Then I put the rosin on, and I could get a clear/un-tuned sound. 
I have searched the internet for free violin lessons, and found a couple of sites that I learned a few things from. Like how to tune my violin, proper posture and holding of the bow, and how much pressure to put on the strings. I also learned to never touch the horse hair on the bow, the rosin, or the strings on the violin where the horse hair would touch, to keep it from getting oils from my fingers on it. 
When I started learning a few things, I sounded horrible, lol! Then I went and visited my brother in law Brian, who has taught himself to play the fiddle. He helped me learn the basics of "Amazing Grace", and gave me a jump start in my confidence. I can not wait to see him again and play while he plays his! 
I have since gained confidence in playing amazing grace by memory, but I still didn't know the notes very well. 
I grew up playing the piano, flute, guitar, and harmonica. I also love to sing, so I do know the scales and things, but it has been so long, I have had to relearn them. 
I figured out where middle C is on the violin, and started to match up the notes from there. I was able to slowly and squeakily play Silent night after that. When I did that, finally, I started to remember what the letter notes are on the scales, and in church on Sunday, while we sang, I imagined myself playing the violin to the notes. 
I pulled out my violin tonight, and my progress shot ahead it felt like! I played a few different hymns, and kept up a good tempo, and learned to keep my notes together, and smooth. On, you can pull up sheet music for the hymns, and it will play piano music to it. I learned to play to "I know my Redeemer Lives", "Be still my soul", Abide, tis even tide", and my favorite "Nearer my God to Thee". I got so good, I started to memorize where each note was, and no longer looked at the sheet music while I played a long, and kept up with the tempo! 
My baby needed to go to sleep, so I had to stop. I can't wait to practice again tomorrow. I can't wait to get some lessons going from an instructor. The one thing I can't figure out so far, is how you get the notes to have vibrato. My hand doesn't want to work that way. 
Anyway, if I can figure out how to get a video posted on here sometime soon, I will be sure to show my progress. 
One of my biggest excitements, is when I will be able to play with my sister who plays the guitar and sings. It will be soooooo fun!!!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

1 Sad and 2 Happy-Help your child Express themself

Discover how brilliant your little one really is.
Sometimes I think If I only knew exactly what was going on in my child's thoughts, maybe I could help direct them better. Maybe I could be more patient with them. Maybe I could have a better relationship with them. Maybe they could tell me, what I am doing wrong, or right, and what I can do better. 

Having children is a privilege, not a right.:)

They are their own little selves, full of just as much worth as an adult. They have brilliant little minds, and if they are encouraged to express those little minds, they will become the people they have always had the potential to be. 

So I picked up this idea from a group on the website FaceBook. The group is for those using "The Child Whisperer" methods. "The Child Whisperer" is a wonderful book written by Carol Tuttle, who is also the wonderful author of "Its Just My Nature", and "Remembering Wholeness".  Three of my most favorite books. 
The idea I am about to explain, was suggested on the group, and I thought I would try it. I didn't realize how much my kids would love it, and how much I would look forward to it each day. 

The woman who suggested it, actually said they write it in a journal, which I want to start doing too. 

When I put my kids to bed at night, we have a routine that can sometimes last an hour, but it closes our day with family closeness, and good memories. We have been doing this routine for the last 7 years, every night, since my oldest was born. 
After the kids have gotten in their jammies and brushed their teeth, and completed their night-time finger chores, we all sit down and listen to "Daddy" read a book to us. Then we have a family prayer, and then we read out of the scriptures together. 
After all of that, we tuck each kid in to their bed and have a little 1 minute personal talk, garnished with loves, kisses, hugs, and usually tickles. :)

The suggestion that we have added recently is called "1 Sad thing, and 2 Happy things". I ask them during our personal talk-
"o.k. What was 1 sad thing that happened to you today?" 
They answer with something like this: "At school, I asked my teacher if I could read with her and she keeps telling me no. I have asked her Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday! All the other kids get to just go and ask and they get to!", or "I never got to hold Christian today", or "I had to wash walls today" and when my 5 year old is in a silly mood and just can't think of anything sad that happened, she'll make something up like "I didn't get to climb on the roof" :). Sometimes you'll be blown away by their answer, and think, "I had no idea that experience affected them that way".
When you get an answer for the 1 Sad thing, NEVER try to explain "why" if it is something you have done, that made them feel bad. Do not be defensive, only understanding.This is their time to express themselves and tell you what you can do better. The only thing that needs to happen, is to have their feeling validated. Simply say "I am so sorry that made you feel sad" or "oh how sad, I am sorry that happened to you!" and "oh that is sad!"
If it is something that happened at school or somewhere that you are not around, this is your chance to ask them what they think they can do to make the situation better. Trust me they have thought about that too, its in their little minds, and they thrive off of confirmation on whether what they think would work or not. Sometimes all they need to hear, is that they are capable of problem solving on their own, to have confidence on whether they really do need to do something about it, or if they should just let it go.

Part of the reason I only do 1 sad thing, is because I don't want us dwelling on sad things for to long, and we like to end the night feeling happy about things.

After we talk a little about the sad, I then say "o.k. now tell me 2 Happy things that happened to you today"
I get all kinds of great answers to this.  My favorite so far has been "I got to ride on your back down the stairs".It totally melted my heart. :)

The little things mean so much to them, and they will tell you! It's amazing, how great this has been. When I ask my kids sometimes, "how was your day?", or "what did you do in school?", I don't get very clear answers. When I ask them about a feeling though, it triggers memories of things and I learn a lot about them. I love it! It also helps them know that I care about the little things, or big things they have experienced and that I want to know how they are feeling about them.

Since I was pregnant with my first child of 4 altogether, my husband and I have been keeping a journal for each of them. Its been great because we can write about the things they are learning to do or say on a daily basis. I have expressed my thoughts and feelings about all kinds of things to them in their journals, and my husband likes to write about things going on. I haven't been as good about it as I would like to be, with writing on a daily basis, but I want to try harder. I think writing down their 1 sad and 2 happy's each day will be a great addition to their journals. 

What kind of ideas do you have about helping your children express themselves better?

Monday, February 18, 2013

On a Budget

I have to write this down to help me stay committed.
A few years ago, on the news, they talked about a blogger who had made the commitment, for a whole year, to not spend money on anything that wasn't needed.
I am tired of living paycheck to paycheck.
I used to have a blog called Budget Guru. I was obsessed with budgeting. I had it down to the penny what we would spend in the month, and how much would be saved. We did quite well.
My husband had a good job, and I ran a daycare. I actually brought in just about as much as he did with my daycare, as far as income. Then I had my 3rd baby and I decided to take a rest from daycare, to focus on just my own little family for  a while. I don't know why, but since then, I have been such a slacker when it comes to budgeting!
I tried to get set up on YNAB. I love the program. Everything is budgeted down to the penny, just like I had it on paper. I was just horrible at keeping up with it.
This last January, we spent a horrendous amount of money, haha. Oh it makes me sick to think about it! It seems like December and January will always wipe our account out. We have Christmas, an anniversary, 2 birthdays in our own little family, and a few in our extended family.
We have always put aside a fraction of our Christmas spending each month of the year leading up to December, so we will have it all saved up by then, but I am thinking we need to start doing that for January as well. February is a little crazy too.
It's a really sad day when you find out you have wiped out your overdraft as well.
So, in order to gain back my control over all this, I have decided I need to crack down on myself.
The best way to do this, is to plan.
I have my YNAB accounting set up again, and I plan on balancing everything on it, each Monday.

Next, I need to figure out what little things I can cut out of my spending that are not needed. Little things always add up to a lot.

Kids snacks, I think are a huge issue. I go shopping on Mondays, and have to take the 3 youngest kids with me. Every store we go to, they are begging for snacks.
From now on they will be getting allowance (from doing chores) each week, and if they want a snack, it comes out of their pocket.

Mommy snacks- Yep I end up snacking too. I am starting a yeast free diet though, and can't have refined flours, sugar, and dairy, so cutting out snacks for me is a must on a few ends. For me, I am going to need to make sure I get my fill on the greens, nuts and seeds, and raw veggies instead. Cutting out the chip bags, and Hershey's cookies and cream chocolate bars, I am sure will add up too. :)

Clothes- We have done this before, where we have a specific month that we can buy new clothes for everyone. This usually ends up being at the beginning of the school year in August, and at the beginning of spring, when the warm weather clothes come out. I haven't been very strict on this the last couple of years, but this year I am going to be. I plan on not allowing each person to have more than 7 outfits, so when a new outfit comes in, an old one goes out. This helps to keep the laundry down as well.

Less driving- We live within a mile of my daughters school, and could walk there on the warm days. It is starting to get warm outside again, so I am going to start eliminating my driving time. Gas adds up when you are driving a mile in the morning and another mile in the evening, every day. My husband already rides the train to work, so we save on gas money there, but then spend about $73 for train fare each month. In the warmer months, though, he often rides his bike to and from work, so that helps a lot. It's definitely doable, its  about 20 miles round trip for him.

Anyway, so those are some of the things I will be doing to cut my budget down this year. Do you have any other ideas on how to save on spending? I would like to try coupons, but we eat a lot of produce, and they don't have a lot of good coupons for produce for some reason. Feel free to comment away on your suggestions!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Jacob 1:19 Be found spotless at the last day

For my own ability to mentor, I feel I need to be knowledgeable in the scriptures myself, so I can teach and mentor my children as they learn the scriptures and gospel too. So one of my books to write essays on, will be the Book of Mormon. I am starting over again in Jacob, because I feel like I always start at the beginning in Nephi, and I haven't read the rest of the book enough. 
I really liked this verse in Jacob chapter one. 
It popped out at me for some reason. This last year I have really felt the responsibility in keeping my children innocent. This doesn't mean sheltering them necessarily, but they are not accountable for their choices until age 8. I believe age 8 is when they become accountable, because before then, they just really don't understand completely between right and wrong. 
Their environment, and the examples they see everyday from those who are accountable, are how they learn what choices should be made. It is our responsibility as their parents to "labor with all our might" at being a good example of all things, and teaching our children and others the gospel, that they might choose spiritual happiness and joy over the temporary temptations. 

I will strive to "magnify my office" by studying the scriptures, using prayer in all things, going about my callings with a happy heart, loving others unconditionally, and serving others. 
I will "teach them the word of god diligently" by having morning and night devotional, and using parables in all their life experiences. 
If we do not do this, when they sin after the age of accountability, they will choose their weakness over their strengths because they were not taught, and it will not be their faults because they do not know any better.

Jacob 1:19
"And we did magnify our office unto the Lord, taking upon us the responsibility, answering the sins of the people upon our own heads if we did not teach them the word of God with all diligence; wherefore, by laboring with our might their blood might not come upon our garments' otherwise their blood would come upon our garments, and we would not be found spotless at the last day."

LDS faith, Are we Christians?

A lot of people question whether the LDS people are Christian. I know they just don't understand the religion, and that is totally fine. 
No judgement here at all, I just came across a scripture this morning that I loved, and would like to keep in my heart. 
I just wanted to share :

In the Book of Mormon, there is a book written by Jacob, an ancient prophet. He puts it very well. 

Jacob 1:7
"Wherefore we labored diligently among our people, that we might persuade them to come unto Christ, and partake of the goodness of God, that they might enter into his rest,"

Then my favorite part:
Jacob 1:8
"Wherefore, we would to God that we could persuade all men not to rebel against God, to provoke him to anger, but that all men would believe in Christ, and view his death, and suffer his cross and bear the shame of the world;"

This is the foundation of our religion. I love my Savior, Jesus Christ, and I am grateful for his example he gave throughout his life, but most of all I am grateful for his unconditional love and atonement for my sins. He is my brother. He is my Best Friend. He is my mediator. He is my master. 

Finger Chores (children chore motivation)

Need help getting kids to do their chores? Here are a few tips I have figured out, that I wish I had learned when I started out with my older kids.

Finger Chores-
I don't know if "Finger Chores" is the best way to describe this, because I tend to think of chicken every time I say it.haha I don't know why, I just picture greasy Kentucky fried chicken when I say it.

This is how I get my kids to remember what is expected of them every morning before they can have any privileges for the day. 
It works great! 
I like chore charts and all, but they always somehow end up ripped off the wall, or colored on by certain little people, to the point we can't read them anymore, or they are even forgotten about. So I came up with a different solution to helping my kids remember. 
We have been doing this for a while now, and I love that the kids still love the concept. It just kind of stuck with us. Probably because our fingers are stuck with us too. :)
I even like to have my own "finger chores". 

Above is an example of my 5 year old daughter's finger chores. They are they same for all of us, except she gives the cat water in the morning. 
My 7 year old lets the dog outside. 
My 2 year old does "mommy's finger chores" with me. 
We also do night chores, listed in the white in the picture. The black ones are for the morning. 
These chores teach good hygiene and responsibility, and they are so easy for little people, and it gives them a sense of being "big". 
I love what my sister wrote in her blog the other day, that her kids know she will help them if they put forth the effort. 
I always felt like I was doing things for my kids to get their chores done, because they weren't motivated. Like literally brushing their teeth for them, putting their clothes on for them and such. Ugh so frustrating!
 Since we started this though, they  have gotten so much better at doing it themselves, and it makes it easy for me to reward them with their daily privileges. 

FlyLady taught me to have a morning routine, and I like my kids to have a morning routine too, that way they grow up in the habit already. Teach your child that for each finger on the right hand, they have a morning chore. It may take a little while to help them memorize the chores, but with a little prompting each day, and keeping it fun, they will eventually remember them. 
The left hand can be night chores. My kids fingers talk to them and say "Get dressed!" or, "Make your bed!" :)
If they can associate something with their chores to remember what they are, without having to look at a chart, it will become habit for them easier too. 

I learned the privileges technique from a book I read and loved called "A House United" by Nicholeen Peck. She has some really awesome ideas.
Privileges for our family include

  1. Playing outside
  2. snacks
  3. movies/t.v. (although we don't watch t.v.)
  4. games
  5. coloring
  6. and our MobiGo and VReader

Make sure you have lots of privileges for the kids to look forward to being able to do freely once their chores are done. Also, make sure they know you expect them to get their finger chores done before they can do anything else, and let them take their time so they aren't feeling forced. Forcing them to do chores, especially when they are little, will only cause them to not like chores even more their whole life. 

Remind them gently, that they don't have any privileges until their chores are done, if they try to do a privilege before they have earned it. I say GENTLY, because if you raise your voice, or demean them in anyway about their chores, they will feel like a failure before they even have a chance to feel awesome. 
Give them a high 5, and a "You did great!" when they complete them, to help them feel awesome too :)
You can also let them put a star on their chart to earn a reward.

Something I have tried to have for the last 7 years of parenting, but I only have really grasped why its essential until this last year.
My kids are good kids. They have their rebellious moments, and their tantrums still, but overall they are good kids. I would like to tell you your kids are good kids too! :)
I know this because, when they were born they were all perfect. Environment, and example are the only things that effect their personal choices until they are at the age of accountability, which I believe is about 8 years old. 
I have learned, that I can't punish my kids if they do not understand accountability yet. In fact I don't think punishment works for anyone, and anyone old enough to be punished for something really bad, was probably punished for the wrong reasons when they were first learning right and wrong.
I use consequences and rewards, but not punishment. 
Consequence is something that happens naturally after a choice is made. Believe it or not, kids will respond to a natural consequence better :)

Consequences- In our home we have 4 consequences that my husband and I and my kids have discussed. Our kids helped us decide them. (which is important to do too). 
They happen in degrees, according to the behavior that was displayed. 

  • 1st degree-Lose a privilege for the day (unless they work to earn it back)
  • 2nd degree-Extra chore (ours is usually washing walls, until the wall is clean) 
  • 3rd degree-time in their room, minimum time coordinates with the childs age. My 7 year old would get  at least 7 minutes, and my 2 year old would get 2 minutes. With my 2 year old though, I would not go over 2 minutes, until she is 5 and understands a bit better.
  • 4th degree-lose a privilege for the whole day

If they choose to not do their finger chores, they do not earn their daily privileges. 
If they call their siblings names, or initiate arguments, they get to wash walls. 
If they use physical violence towards siblings or friends, they get to wash walls also. 
In church if they choose to not be reverent, they get to spend reverent time in their bedrooms when we get home. 
The consequence can be given according to the negative behavior that was chosen also. 
We hardly ever have to do time in their room, or lose a privilege for a whole day, because losing 1 privilege until they work for it back, and washing walls works so well.

Nicholeen talks about privileges and consequences in her book too, and the ideas above came from her suggestions. They work really great. 
We make sure to talk about it with our kids first, so they can know what to expect if they choose to do something that would have a negative consequence. We also have positive consequences, like high 5's, star sticker charts to earn a party, and Daddy dates, and Mommy dates. 

Anyway, those are some things that have really helped us to have a more peaceful loving home. Patience from the parents is Key to all of it. Keeping a low voice, and quick responses to the kids, also helps the kids to know they are loved, and important, and first priority. Those were hard things for me to do for a long time, but I am getting a lot better, and my kids behaviors are improving. I love it, and just wanted to share! :)