In a homeschooling house full of 7 kids & 3 guniea pigs....there is never a dull moment! A lot of people show genuine concern for us and want to know how we are doing, as the road we've left behind was not a pleasant one. So, here I am, to tell some of our stories...share some of our days...and open up a part of our world to you! Come join us on our journey so you won't miss the moments that take our breath away!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Facts about snacks, Picky Eaters and Refusing to eat

Ok, so around here....we are going back to scheduled snack times.  This has been an on again/off again kind of thing around here.  I go from one extreme to the other, either I am a big fan or not a big fan.  I just really hate when my kids don't eat a good meal and when I blame it on tends to make me hate snacking, kwim?  Though, here we are at a point where snacks are absolutely necessary for our little Duckling and for meals and everything inbetween, we need to pack all the punch we can in every food she eats.  So, I pulled out sheets and sheets of calorie boosting tips and informational handouts I've collected along the way.  This is not a new road for us, but yet one we keep veering back to.  I know that we are not the only one's out there with a toddler who won't gain weight and I know how frustrating it is trying to put weight on these types of kids and since love doesn't make them grow...I thought I'd pass along the tips that we are lucky enough to have ahold of!

To start, here are some facts about snacks that I have taken from a handout printed by the Department of Health.
  • A snack for an adult is often a treat, but a snack for a young child is important because children don't eat much at meals.  They need snacks to grow.
  • Snacks are best about 1 to 2 hours before the next meal.
  • Serving foods high in protein will keep your child from getting hungry again soon.  Serve foods such as milk, cheese, yogurt, meat, chicken, peanut butter or eggs.
  • Snacks are small meals so serve the same foods that you would give at mealtime, or better yet...serve leftovers!
What about those "Picky Eaters"?  Here is some information taken from another Department of Health Handout.

Every child goes through a stage like this!  A picky eater will eat just a few foods and does not want to try new foods.  It is especially hard if the child's growth slows down, too!  Every child is different.  Some need the extra attention they get by being picky, others are just being 2 and some really do hate the taste of certain foods.

Don't pressure your child too much, it's their job to eat.  Your job is to provide healthy foods at regular meals and snacktimes.

So, what can you do for your picky eater?
  • Expect battles but don't be too strict or too easy!  Your child will use food to try to get some control over their world.
  • Expect children to eat small amounts of food!
  • Do things to slow children down before meals...try a story or quiet time.
  • Serve a very small amount of a new food next to a favorite food.  Don't worry if they don't try it right away, they may need to see the new food a few times first.
What not to do with your picky eater!
  • Don't make eating a battle
  • Don't beg your child to eat
  • Don't threaten your child with what you will do if they don't eat
  • Don't cook something else to get your child to eat.
If your child is refusing to eat, here are some questions you need to ask yourself:
  • Are they too tired?
  • Are they sick?
  • Do you think they want to show you that they have some control over something?
  • Do they know they will get a cookie in a half-hour?
  • Do they want to find out if you will make them somthing they like better?
  • Have they had a snack or drink?
  • Do you think they like the attention they get when you fuss over them not eating?
  • Is mealtime pleasant?
  • Am I putting too much pressure on my child to eat?
  • Does my child eat well for other people?
  • Do I feel like my child is saying no to me?
  • Am I expecting my child to eat more than they really need?
The best thing you can do for your child is to stay calm, even if you aren't!  Relax and don't put pressure on
your child to eat, your child may actually like seeing you get worried.

Coming up next....hiding extra calories with great tasting calorie boosters!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Eagle is breathing like never before and it takes my breath away!

I know I promised a different post next...but sometimes things come know, those moments that take my breath away, and today I had one of those moments! 

For once we went to a specialists office and left with incredible news!  Eagle went for a follow-up appointment with his Pulmonologist (Lung Specialist) today and even the doctor was amazed with Eagle's progress over the course of the last three months. 

Three months ago when we were in his office, my son's lung condition was so bad that he should have been hospitalized.  It was thought that he must have some other condition, syndrome or disease that was attacking his lungs and that he didn't have Asthma at all.  He was tested for Cystic Fibrosis, and considered to possibly have Lupus (both of which do run in my family). His Cystic Fibrosis test was negative (as we expected it to be, since I was genetically tested before undergoing infertility treatment and so we knew I was not a carrier of the disease) and Lupus is so difficult to test for, we decided not to do the test.  At their best functioning level the large branches in his lungs were only functioning at 18% and the small branches were only functioning at 44%.  His condition was literally life threatening, as just losing 10% of his lung function during an Asthma attack would have cost him his life!  His condition was also chronic and this was the way my son had lived his life for the past 6 1/2 years since he was 2 years old.

Today, his lung specialist looked at me with the biggest smile and he said "To say I am pleased is an understatement, I am beyond impressed".  Even he didn't think my son would ever have "normal" lung function.  At best he hoped to get him into a safe level of lung function, so that the slightest change in his breathing wouldn't be so life threatening for him.  Three months ago, he told me that my son wouldn't be able to play basketball this year because he didn't have enough lung function to make it down the court.  Today, he explained to me that my son's lungs are 15% bigger than a "normal" child's lungs because of the inflammation and that when he's breathing his best...he's probably breathing better than anyone on that basketball team!  Now both sets branches in his lungs are each functioning at 118% (that's 400% better than they were functioning at his last visit) and he now ranks in the top 10th percentile of "normal" lung function for kids his age.  Furthermore, he explained that there is not one medical study that supports the theory that allergy shots have any effect on an allergic reaction in the lungs.  Therefore, the choice of whether or not he will endure weekly allergy shots is entirely up to Eagle because getting allergy shots would have no direct impact on his well being, but would rather only make him more comfortable (less stuffy, less puffy).  The Pulmonologist does not want Eagle exposed to allergins that we know trigger a response in his lungs, as just one set back could be very costly for him!  Our own pets are not a concern as far as his lungs are concerned, as he would not have made this improvement if they triggered an asthmatic response, but he will still not be able to visit our friends who have cats as this is one of his biggest known asthma triggers. 

In three months, we will return for another check-up.  If he does not have a flare up within those three months, we will then attempt to lower his dosage of this miracle drug.  This new drug does come with it's many risks and our hope is that we will not have to keep him on this particular drug for a very lengthy amount of time.  The longer he goes without an episode or flare-up, the more the inflamation in his lungs will go away.  If he stays stabilized for a year and has no setbacks, it is possible that his condition will be very mild or better yet...gone.  We know it's a long shot and we know with his history anything can happen.  There is also a risk that his lungs will become immune to this drug and his condition could deteriorate very quickly.

Today, I feel such a relief and I am breathing easier myself.  I think of what we have gone through all of these years.  The times he had to be rushed to the hospital or to his asthma specialist's office because the hospital never seemed to think he was having an asthma attack.  I replay those most frightful the day he grabbed his throat as if he were choking right before he collapsed on the ground unable to breath, or the time his lips were gray and he was vomitting thick mucus....the number of times he had a mucus plug blocking his airway or most recently the sheer panic he would experience when he couldn't breath and the anxiety he has now developed because he thought he was dying during the last few attacks he had.  I remember the fear I had with each of those attacks and how hard I tried to always stay calm and reassure him that he was ok, even if I wondered if he could be nearing his last breath.  I think of the years and years of frustration and how I fought to get family members to believe he had anything wrong with him and to take his condition seriously.

Just as we do with everything else...we take one day at a time.  Today, that specialist saw a completely different child than he saw three months ago.  He saw a child who has been reborn...a child who has recently discovered what being able to breath is like...a child who is breathing like never before.....and this is definately a moment that takes my breath away!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

If only love would make them grow...

Emu and Duckling have both had issues with growing...or actually...not growing!  Each having their own completely different unrelated issues! 

For Emu, his height growth halted when he turned 2.  Now, at 4 years old, he is the same size he was a few years ago.  He is a few pounds heavier, but he is still the same height!  He can wear some size 3t without tripping over them, but he still sports quite a few size 18month and 24month pants.  At his 3 year well check it was thought that he hadn't grown over the course of his last year.  His pediatrician decided that possibly there was an error in his measurement somewhere and decided to "watch" him, rather than put him through testing quite yet.  As she requested, I took him back 6 months later for a weight/height check.  After comparing his growth charts, she said he had grown and she had no worries, even though he was still very small.   At his 4 year check up, he checked out healthy (still questioning Autism Spectrum or ADHD, or as his "daddy" says, he's full of energy) but, it was then discovered that he had "shrank" and was back to the same height that he was at that 3 year check up a year before, so apparently...he was acually mismeasured at that 6 month check up appointment and he hadn't really grown at all.  He was sent for a "bone age" xray and those results were "borderline abnormal", which was not a good thing, because this meant that he would NOT be expected to "catch up" later and have a major growth spurt.  He was then sent to the same Endocrinologist that Duckling sees.  At his initial appointment, I requested that due to his history...we get right to testing his growth hormone.  I was familiar with what to expect because we had gone through this with Duckling just 6 months before.  I had actually refused this testing initially with Duckling, but intuitively felt that is was necessary for Emu.  She instructed that we could discuss the possibility of testing his actual growth hormone at a later date, but first had to do the initial workup then go from there.  I always thought something just wasn't right, but people tell me I tend to worry too, I hoped that this time, I was wrong...and after all...Duckling is small too, so maybe it was genetic!  When the phone rang today and Hawk said it was the Endocrinologist...I just knew.  She said everything came back ok, except his "growth factor" was very low.  This indicates that he actually does have a growth hormone deficiency.  So, for him...growth hormone testing is necessary.  So, now we await his day long visit to the hospital so that he can have his actual growth hormone tested.  This is a 4-8 hour process in which they draw his blood every 10 minutes.  They have to do this because the growth hormone changes constantly!  If it is confirmed that he does have a growth hormone deficiency, then they may look at possibilities of other syndromes being the cause, but regardless...he would have to have growth hormone (daily shots) in order to grow. 

It's amazing how things like this don't upset me.  I feel somewhat guilty for not being upset, but...I know that no matter what is wrong...we will get through it.  He's healthy and thriving...he's just small.  I will do the same as I always do...I will research and learn everything that I can about what is wrong, so that I can make an educated decision and do what is best for my child.  As I talked to my brother about Emu tonight, we were able to laugh and joke about Emu being 40 years old stuck in his little 2 year old body...riding down the road in his little Razor motorcyle.  He was glad to see that I could laugh about it rather than being upset and crying.  I guess you just become this way when you've been through all the things that we've been through.  Small things like this, don't seem to be such a big deal.  It's kinda the same as when Duckling was born and I found out that she was deaf in at least one really didn't matter...she was healthy and she was here...that's all that really matters, the rest is just about adjusting to their differences and coping the best we can.

Duckling has always struggled with her weight.  When she was just a week old, she was hospitalized for having a dramatic weight loss...dropping down to just 4lbs. 8 oz.  She wasn't dehydrated so they knew she was getting enough to eat...they couldn't find anything medically "wrong" with her and she was released after a few days.  She always struggled with getting enough liquid intake, then when she started solid foods she had issues with projectile vomiting and numerous ALTE episodes.  She was then diagnosed with numerous food allergies and later went on to have problems feeding.  She was in numerous therapies to "learn" to eat and for her multitude of delays.  Her high chair had to be specially adapted for her due to her small size and motor delays.  She saw specialist after specialist...never getting any "real" answers.  Just as she got to the point of needing a feeding tube, she came around on her own, but just barely keeping the GI specialist from tubing her.  As she was months away from her 2nd Birthday, her GI specialist still wanted her calories to come from her special formula and only wanted her to eat enough food to not loose the skill of eating..this was not a practice that I was ok with, so we stopped going.  We moved and started all over with different specialists.  Her new GI, and Nutritionist agreed that "she's just genetically small"!  She was sent to Endocrinology and her workup there showed no syndromes or genetic disorders causing her to be so small.  It was possible that due to her unusually small size, she may qualify for growth hormone, but I initially refused growth hormone testing and agreed to have it done if she didn't grow in a 6 month period.  When we went back for her 6 month check up with Endocrinology, she had grown in height but not weight.  Since she had grown in height, it was not necessary to do the growth hormone testing on her, but her weight (just 23 pounds a month shy of her 3rd birthday) is still a concern.  We met with one of her nutritionalists the other day and according to their scale...she is gaining weight...2 lbs since they last saw her.  Since her food/fluid intake is so small, they are really pressing for us to give scheduled snacks in between meals.  She said that she can't possibly gain weight in the small amounts of foods that she eats for her 3 meals.  We had cut snacks around here out of fear that it will ruin their appetites for dinner.  They didn't have a lot of tips to offer, just the basics...add butter, powder milk, peanut butter, yogurt, whip cream, cream chese, etc. etc. to any foods we could.  I came home and researched her theory on toddler snacking and couldn't find one article or website that disagreed with her.  So, I dug through my file cabinet and found all of the useful handouts we got from one of her therapists on adding calories when she was just an infant struggling to eat anything at all.  Back then, the GI doctor was trying to have me add oil to her formula...seriously, who would drink that and it just didn't seem healthy.

We've tried most of these things in the past and surprisingly the kids love quite a few of these things.  So, for now...we will go back to scheduled snacks between meals and I will make a point to make at least 1 or 2 snacks a "Calorie Booster" packed with a punch!  After all...every calorie counts...even though they won't help Emu grow!

In the next few days, I will work on putting toghether all of the great ideas for adding calories for those kids that struggle with weight gain....

.......if only love would make them grow!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Versatile Blogger Award

I received a Versatile blog award from Renita at Krazy Kuehner Days.  She does an amazing job blogging about all of the awesome things they learn about and I absolutely love her "weekly wrap-ups"!!  I have to admit, I loved their recent trip to Israel and how they learned about the Deep Sea (a place I'd love to see).  I'm new to following her blog, but everyday I find more and more awesome ideas or links to other wonderful blogs...i have literally just found myself lost in her creative ideas...and ONE of these days I am going to have a "sensory box" like her! 

I've always had a passion for writing and since I never pursued any opportunities with this talent of mine, blogging is a great outlet for me!  It's so great to see my group of follower's grow, it shows me that this blog is worth the time I put into it and it was so neat to be recognized with this blog award!  So, thanks to all of my readers, whether you "follow" or not and thanks to Renita for my cool little award :)

I hope to find time to blog more often...I know how inspiring it is to read other blogs and I like knowing that people actually "get" something from visiting mine. 

On to the "rules" of this award:
1. Thank and link back to the person who gave you the award
2. Answer 10 questions
3. Pass it along to 7 blogs you've recently discovered and enjoy
4. Leave your recipients a note, telling them about the award

The 10 Questions...

                                                      1. Why did you create this blog?
I created this blog because people are always asking things about us.  We left a painful road behind us and people have a genuine concern and want to know how we are doing.  Blogging was a great way to keep everyone in the know and I have hopes of sharing our story again some day and give other women the courage to make the same choices that I have made.
In addition to that...people are always asking me questions about organizing, homeschooling, breastfeeding, cooking for my large family, parenting topics, how I run my household, etc.  
Overall, blogging was a way to share what's going on in our family, how I hold it all together, to be an inspiration and support to those who need it and to share all of the things people are constantly asking me about :)
2. What kinds of blogs do you follow?
Mostly, homeschooling and large family blogs but I also following a few people on their journey after suffering a traumatic experience and of course...I follow my flock, lol.
3. Favorite make-up brand?
Oh...I remember make up!  I always wore Clinique, but in the most recent years, I have become a Mary Kay girl...ahhh, if only I could afford it now.
4. Favorite clothing brand?
Is "pajamas" a brand, lol!  Well, occasionally when I have to leave the house, I can be found wearing an outfit from New York & Co. or Old Navy.
5. Indispensable makeup product?
 Without a doubt, Mary Kay full coverage foundation...Beige 400 to be exact (in case someone special wants to remember me on my birthday or something).  I have HORRIBLE skin and this actually covers it up :)
                                                                  6. Favorite color?
Actually, I love darker colors (browns, maroons, etc.).  I don't really have a favorite...although, if "sunlight" was a color...I'd choose that, so maybe...yellow!

                                                                7. Favorite perfume?
For the past 12 years or's been the sweet smell of a new baby, lol.  If only someone could bottle that smell!  On the rare occasion that I try and cover up that smell, it's usually with Ceasars for Women.
                                                                     8. Favorite Film?
Wow...when is the last time I could actually watch a movie, let alone remember it as my favorite... "The Green Mile" was prolly my to "Dying Young" and  "An Officer and a Gentleman"....Most recently...I'm such a kid at heart...I love "Twilight".  I'm sure there are many others....I love movies, just wish I had more time to watch them nowadays :)
9. What country would you like to visit and why?
I would love to travel the world, but I can't veer too far from home, as leaving the country is not an option for I really have no desire to think about going somewhere if I could.  If I did, I wouldn't be able to pick one that I would most like to visit anyways.  I would love to float in the warm, salty waters of the Dead Sea which I think is located between Israel and Jordan.  Years ago, a local news anchor took her daughter there for medical treatment for a skin disorder and I followed her blog for a while.  I was always so intrigued about it and it looks like such an amazing place.  I've even lost my dream of traveling to Venice, Italy...which was always a lifelong's funny how times change things.

10. Would you rather forget to put mascara on one eye or forget blush on one side of your face?
 I wish I needed blush..but my cheeks are so rosy anyways...I don't even own, since you wouldn't notice anyways...I'll go with blush! pass an award to 7 blogs that I enjoy (in no particular order)....

 Roscommon Acres

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Allowance, "The Duty Jar" and Auctions

This is all new for us, as I am always trying to improve our failing, here's how this new system works:

Just as everyone else, we have certain "Household Duties".  Everyone in our house has a "JOB" and I'm not talking about chores!  I'm talking about working and getting paid for it and in my house, my kids don't get paid for doing their daily, weekly or monthly chores!  Around here, each member of the family has something they are responsible for and everyone is expected to do their part.  I feel very strongly about not being paid to do your fair share and cleaning up after yourself.  While their chores must be completed as assigned, they won't go without reward for completing their chore.  We don't have a complete reward system set in place yet, but currently, when their chores are complete, they earn a "free pass".  This "free pass" is good for up to two hours for any activity (video games, blogging, etc.).   

They do, however, get paid for a hard days work.  Just like anyone else in the workforce, upon successful completion of their job, they will be paid.  As homeschoolers, the current salary for their "STUDENT" position is $20.00 a month and they will be paid bi-weekly.  In order for their job to be considered complete, they must:
  • Clock in no later than 8:00a.m.
  • Clock our no sooner than 2:00p.m.
  • All daily assignments must be complete
  • Attend all required online classes 

...and so we call it, "The Duty Jar".  Ha, yes...I said "duty"!  Pay a duty or get a duty, when you do a duty :)  Just what is this duty jar anyways? 

Each month I will put $5.00 to the jar (a gallon size glass jar).  Any money that is found throughout the house, in the laundry, or in the van, etc. will be put in the jar along with any money we get from recycling our aluminum cans.  When someone has to "Pay a duty", it goes in the jar.  When someone earns it, they "Get a duty" from the jar. 

Basically, someone has to pay a duty when they break a household rule.  Here is our curent list of fines:
  • $.05 for saying a bad word or for substituting a bad word with a similar word (ex. freak, freakin, witch, son of a ___)  using an appropriate alternate word is ok
  • $.25 for hitting
  • $.25 for not being in bed on time or for not staying in bed
  • $.05 for tattling after bed time
  • $.10 for being a bother after bed time
  • $.25 for screaming in the house
  • $.10 for other personal offenses (name calling, teasing, making faces, being disrespectful, rudely interrupting)
  • $.10 for throwing items in the house
Rules for paying a duty:
  • If you can MUST pay!
  • If you are unable to must work off your debt.  You will earn $.01 per minute for each additional minute of school work you complete.
  • If your debt accrues to more than $5.00 or you are in debt for longer than 2 have to do any/all paid chores for FREE and loose your "free pass" for one day.
There are a variety of chores that I am willing to pay for.  These chores will be put up for auction on an as needed basis.  I will start the bid with the highest amount I am willing to pay for each chore to be completed.  This duty will be paid out of "The Duty Jar". 

Here are the rules for "Get a Duty":
  • You have until the listed expiration time to bid on each job.
  • If you win the bid and do not complete the chore within 24 hours you must pay the next bidder their bid price to complete the chore.
  • You will immediately recieve payment upon successful completion of the chore.

Now, we have only been using this system for about a week and I will say, as with any system...there is room for improvement.  All-in-all, it seems to be working and if it fails....we'll change it :)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Teaching my children about responsibilities, working together and finances.

Paying for chores...seriously?  I can't believe how many parents do this! 

I feel that it is important for my children to learn financial responsibility.  However, I don't feel that they should be paid to do their part in the household.  I am a single parent, living on such a limited income that I really can't afford to give them an allowance.  So, where is the happy medium? 

My children have never received an allowance and quite frankly, they've never really had a need for an allowance.  After all, every need and want has always been catered to.  Beginninng early on, a trip to the grocery store results in treats of candy, snacks, or small toys.  Lord forbid the ice cream truck drive by without my kids lining up for a treat.  We often visited local museums, aquariums or the zoo and what is a trip to any of those places without visiting the gift shop.  Then there are the countless trips to an arcade, indoor amusement park, go-cart track, indoor bounce houses, etc. etc.  Let's not forget about shows such as Disney on Ice and Dora.  Then of course, amusement parks, water parks.......not to mention a trip to the toy store after a difficult medical procedure, test, or illness.  Ahhhh....and ALL of the holidays, Valentine's Day, Easter, Christmas, "just because your my kid day" (I'm sure there is one, lol), just to name a few.  You see where I'm going with this! Sometimes they receive a few dollars here and there for different reasons, from their grandma.  Maybe it's their birthday, or for a job well done in school, a get well soon wish or even "just because".

There was a time when I would be accused of "taking" their money.  As young children, they seem to not get the concept of being out somewhere and seeing something they want and chosing to pay me back for something they want to buy with the money they have at home.  Sometimes, they would lose their money and this too, was of course, my fault.  To remedy this problem, years ago...I purchased my older three kids a checkbook from Learning Resources.  They each had a ziplock bag with their name on it.  This was their "bank account".  All of their money went into their bank account.  Each time they received money, no matter how big or small the amount...they would have to fill out a deposit slip and deposit it into their bank account and log the balance in their check register.  When we were out somewhere and they saw something they wanted to use their money for, they would have to write a check.  I would purchase the item and they would keep the reciept and log it in their check register.  I would then take the amount out of their bank account.  This taught them the concept of having to pay for something and I was no longer accused of stealing their money.  We used this system for quite some time, but I think Cardinal was the only one old enough to gain anything from it.  She has in turn become very responsible with her money and she is very careful with what she spends money on.  She thinks twice before wasting every penny she gets, unlike Hawk or Eagle who rush to the Dollar Store to spend every penny just as soon as they get it and it's usually spent on candy.  After all, what do they care...they get everything else they want anyways, so why save their money for anything.  Cardinal rarely buys herself anything, but occasionally she does splurge and buy herself something.  She takes so much pride in saving her money and beginning about 3 years ago, she began purchasing all of her siblings a gift for Christmas.  This past Christmas, she not only bought nice gifts for her siblings, but she also bought for her grandparents and all of her cousins.  She got so much more joy out of giving than she ever could buying herself anything.

For about the past year, my children have been begging for an allowance.  Lately, I've pondered and looked into the different online programs that are out there and I've read all of the different ways that other parents handle chores and giving allowances, etc.  So many parents seem to pay their children for doing chores and contributing to their household...I personally, just can not justify that!  I want my children to respect our family unit and that we need to work together as a family to make our house a nice, comfortable place to live.  I want them to stop expecting someone to do everything for them.  I want them to learn to be independent and be willing to help others without expecting something in return. I don't want to instill the "instant gratification" factor in them!

I do want them to learn that in life, we do have responsiblities, both at home and in our job.  I want them to work for things that they want and I want them to experience a reward when their hard work pays off.

I have started off the new year with lots of re-organinzing in our house.  I started with organinzing the house (not yet complete, but sooooo close to being done).  Then I came up with a new chore system...and that has led to the question of "allowance".  When I did our chore system, there were certain chores that I was willing to "pay" for.  Things such as:
  • cleaning the yard
  •  mowing the grass/ pulling weeds or shoveling snow
  • cleaning/washing the van
  • giving the dogs a bath 
  • cleaning the animal cages
There will be no "set" amount for these things, as they will be negotiable each time.  Some times, I may be able to afford to pay more than others.  The household chores do not go without reward...we will once again be able to enjoy so much more quality time game nights, movie nights, going to the park, sled riding, bike riding, visiting the museum...all the things we enjoy doing together as a family.  They will also earn "time" for things such as video games, computer free time, etc. (after all...they do need "some" incentive to do chores).

So, what about that "allowance"?  Well.......they need to earn money somehow, I know, I know! So, I think to myself...I'm "training" them to become the most responsible adults I can help them to become...right:?  So, I have to ask are they going to make money when they become these wonderful, well adjusted adults that I want them to become?  Cardinal has high aspirations to be a vet, Hawk ????, Eagle wants to be an engineer and Macaw wants to be a mommy, but in due time, she will learn that my job doesn't pay much and hopefully she will take that dream a bit further and be able to provide for her family much better than I have proven to be able to!  Nonetheless...they will all be working! Ahhhh....a "JOB", they will all have a job!  Ha!  Isn't that something...they currently do have a "job".  This is definately a topic for another blog!  But, for now...I will say that yes, my children will earn their "allowance" by doing their job AKA their schoolwork.  This is in definately in the planning stages...but, initially, we are thinking of about $5 per week (or maybe $10 month??? just depends how much I can squeeze into my already thin budget).  There will be a bonus offered for year end completed coursework for which subjects they advance to the next grade (thinking $5 per subject).  How will I fit this "allowance" into my budget?  I will go above and beyone to provide and make sure my children have everything they "need", but I will no longer cater to every "want".  All of the "extra" things that they "want" they will have to learn to responsibily handle their money, so that they can have the reward of things they want.  Batteries to play a video game, treats from the $1 store, $ to play games at a carnival or a special treat from the ice cream truck...these are all some examples of things they will have to provide for themselves.  

For pay for our "paid chores", we will start with "The Jar" which has yet to earn an official name, lol.  Where will the money in the jar come from?  Basically, I will start each month by putting $5 in the jar (this allows for $1 per paid chore per month).  Also, any money that is found around the house or when doing laundry, cleaning the car, etc.  it will go in the jar.  Money that we get from taking items for recycling will go in the jar and lastly, (blushing in shame) I will pay $.05 for every "bad" word that I say :)

So, there you have it....this is how my children will be learning all about being responsible, working with others, completing their "job", managing their money and reaping the rewards from learning these lifelong skills!


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Our Schedule

Many homeschoolers work on a strict schedule.  We don't stick to ours as we should, but we do work much better this way!  This is the schedule that works for us...sticking to it is a different story.  With the new year and re-organization...we are going back to our schedule.

Our Schedule

6:00am-7:00am                        Mom gets up, prepares for day & laundry

7:00am -7:30am                       Kids get up/get dressed/brush teeth
                                                Make bed

7:30am -8:00am                       Breakfast

8:00am -11:30am                     School time

11:30am-12:00pm                    Break/Free Time

12:00pm-12:30pm                    Lunch

12:30pm-1:30pm                      Chores

1:30pm-3:00pm                        (A) Little kids down for nap
                                                       Big kids School time
                                                 (B) Off to park, museum, YMCA, etc. if school work and chores are done
3:00pm-4:00pm                        Free time

4:00pm-5:00pm                        Prepare dinner
                                                Finish school work or Free time

5:00pm-6:00pm                        Dinner
                                                Clean up kitchen
                                                Tidy assigned areas & personal space  

6:00pm-7:00pm                        Family Time (games, park, etc)

7:00pm-8:00pm                        Little kids bedtime routine
                                                Big kids clean room/prepare for next day/free time

8:00pm-8:30pm                        Big kids bedtime routine
                                                Little kids quiet time

8:30pm-9:00pm                        Little kids bedtime
                                                Big kids quiet time (read, tv, etc.)

9:00pm                                     Big kids bedtime

9:00pm-12:00am                      Mom prepares for next day (laundry, cleaning, prepare
                                                 food, school work, etc.)

*On Mondays and Wednesdays we attend homeschool open gym from 12:30 until 2:30 and on Fridays we meet with a homeschool group from 10:00 - 12:00.

Our Chore system

I am an organizational freak, however, in a house of 6 kids, my house does not stay very organized.  I can't even keep one room clean for more than 5 minutes.  Since our lice epidemic a few months ago, I have yet to get caught up with the laundry (almost, but not quite).  If I don't keep on top of things around here, everything piles up very quickly and soon gets so far out of hand it takes weeks to regain control.  Living in such a mess, really does drive me crazy and in turn, I turn into a grump!  I hate being too busy to do things with my family and I hate my family getting angry with me because I'm too busy to do things with them.

I will never forget when my oldest kids were 2 and 3 years old and someone brought it to my attention that they thought it was awful that my 2 and 3 year old children had chores.  Granted, their chores consisted of things like matching socks, putting silverware away and setting the table, but still...those were things they were responsible for.  As my kids got older they graduated to higher levels of chores, at 9 and 10 they were doing laundry, dishes and mopping the floor.  A few years ago, when we had to move in with my parents, we lived under a different set of rules and my children were no longer allowed to do their chores.  We've had our own place now for more than a year, but despite numerous efforts of giving the kids chores again...we are still stuck in the rut of mom doing everything.

I "can" do it myself, but there are so many reasons why I shouldn't!  I basically "let it go" around here because I spent more time on things that were more important (such as de-licing, schooling my children, etc.).  Even still, I just don't have enough time to spend time with my family and I am treated like a slave around here.

My biggest problem is, I'm simply too picky!  I don't want help because I have a certain way that I want things done.  I've always had to have my house "perfect" before I could assign chores, that way everyone knows what I expect and how something should be done.  I've spent the last few weeks "re-organizing" my house once again.  I finally have it close enough to my expectations to begin a chore system again.  Our last chore system didn't work (each child had one daily chore and one weekly chore).  So, we will try a different chore system this time.  Each child will now be assigned an area (Kitchen, Bathroom and Family Room).  They will be in charge of their area for a month.  Each area will have "Daily, Weekly and Monthly" duties.

Each child will be responsible for keeping their room clean (this will take a lot of learning to work together, since they share their room with 2 siblings) and each person will be expected to put their dirty clothes in the hamper and put their clean clothes away.  Each of the big kids will be assigned a main room (Bathroom, Family Room, Kitchen) and each big kid will have a small kid helper.  The daily pet chore's will be shared, but mostly will be a responsibility of the smaller kids.  In each room, there is a chore checklist for that below if you'd like to view or print our checklist.  Once you view the checklist, you will have to hit your back button to get back to my blog.
Our "checklists" are all stored in protective sleeves so that each task can be marked off with a dry erase marker and wiped off at the end of each day.

Yes, even my 2 year old will have chores because believe it or not...she too will someday be all grown up.  I want her to be a responsible adult and learn these life skills just the same as I want my 12 year old to!  They will not get paid for their chores, it will be expected that they do their part as a family to hold our house together, so that we all have a clean and comfortable place to live!  They will instead  "earn" time to spend doing things that generally take them away from helping out (playing, video games, computer time, blogging, going to a friends house, etc.) and time to enjoy doing all the family things we enjoy (game night, movie night, going to the park, museums, etc.).

There are a few chores that I'm willing to pay for, these are indicated with a $ and are on the Monthly, Yard and Pet checklists.  My next blog will be about teaching my children to be financially responsible and ways that my children have been and will be taught this important aspect of life!