A Refreshing Summer Bucket List

It’s that time again!  Our local weather keeps teasing us with hot days that make it clear that summer is just around the corner!  I’m depending on my Summer Bucket List more than ever this year, as my children have reached a whole new level of fighting that I am certain will send me to the loony-bin if I don’t have a clear plan of attack.  That clear plan of attack comes in the form of my Refreshing Summer Bucket List. Continue reading

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Chore Board for Kids

Huzzah!  Remember my last post?  How I said I had three items on my Task List that I had begun to ignore, as they had been on there for so long?  Well, guess what?  I did one of them this week!  I was so thrilled with finally accomplishing it that I’m sharing it as my First Friday Find!  A while ago, I saw this idea for a chore board for kids presented in different ways on Pinterest, and I finally got around to completing my version!

Chore Board for Kids

Let me start by saying, I hesitate to give my children money for chores.  Both my husband and I try to instill in our children that they are not entitled to any money by helping around the home.  We want our children to know that some things get done simply out of respect for their living area and things.  So, making any sort of system that created an allowance based on chores was a hard sell for us.  However, I can understand how they might like opportunities to make money.  That is why I created a chore board for them that includes tasks above and beyond the other chores that are expected of them as part of our family.  As their part in sharing the load in our home, my two eldest are responsible for doing the following without rewards: clearing the table, sweeping under the table, emptying the dishwasher, taking out the trash, cleaning up toys/books/clothes/crafts/etc, bringing laundry down, putting laundry away, and more.  As my boys grows older, their load of responsibilities will increase.  I may ask more or less of my children than most, I don’t know.  But, for now, this is working in our home.

With my daughters getting older though, their abilities to help around the home have increased.  As a result, our chore board for kids is FINALLY going to come to pass.  I have 8 clothespins on our chore board.  The current list of chores include: dusting upstairs ($.50), dusting downstairs ($.50), vacuuming upstairs ($1), vacuuming downstairs ($1), cleaning downstairs bathroom ($1), cleaning upstairs bathroom ($1), washing windows in our TV room ($1), and parent’s choice ($1).  I put cleaning specifications on the chore tags to avoid any shortcuts being taken.  I also noted that on “parent’s choice” it may involve more than one chore to earn $1.  This may not seem like much money, but, again, they have a responsibility to be a contributing part of our family first and foremost.

In an effort to keep some sort of order to this system, I have a few plans in mind.  First, they will need my approval of their work before they receive the money.  Second, I am going to ask that they write their name on the back of the paper so that I can keep track over a longer period of who is doing what in our home.  If it turns out that washing the windows is the coveted chore, I don’t want to find that one of my daughters is always snagging that chore first.  So, to be fair, they can’t do the same chore twice in a row.  Lastly, I plan to refill the money in the chart every two weeks.  This will slow down the rate at which they try to earn money and keep my husband and I from going broke.  I can see my second oldest dusting every single day, if it meant more money.  She actually enjoys that chore.

Chore Board for Kids WIP

As for the making of the chore board for kids, it was really quite simple.  I picked up a decorative piece of wood at Hobby Lobby and used some paint, clothespins, and tacky glue that I had from home and VOILA!  I wanted to come up with a catchy title at the top, as I still regretted not putting “Seeking Sole Mate” at the top of my Lost Socks craft.  So, while many other websites called their system “Work for Hire,” I settled on, “Earn more by doing a chore.”  I love how my eldest questioned where I got the line from, not believing that I was capable of such creativity.  I managed to paint the letters freehand with the printed version as my guide.  You can see by the picture that I had a change of heart during my creation from sizing down on WAY TOO big a font to switching out the word “make” for “earn.”

Chore Board for kids back

Once the craft itself was complete, I picked up Sawtooth Hangers from Hobby Lobby, snack size bags from Target, grabbed some small bills, and typed up the chores on card-stock paper for durability.  Once I finished it, I couldn’t wait to hang it in our laundry room/mudroom over their filing bin.  That hanging filing bin was another lifesaver in our home.  I was so sick of seeing the girls papers and random drawings on scrap papers, that I finally made them in charge of deciding what papers and drawings were worth keeping in their designated space.  That may sound heartless, but my second eldest is notorious for writing made-up song lyrics, menu items, directions for x-y-z, and more.  The clutter adds up fast.

2016-02-03 21.33.50

So, there you have it!  This month’s First Friday Find is a combination of finding a morsel of my mojo and sharing a crafty find I stumbled upon years ago, but only recently made a reality.  I know my kids are especially grateful that the chore board for kids is complete, and not just something I keep promising them will be implemented at an undetermined date.  Here’s to my hired help making my life a little easier.

First Friday Find: JustServe.org

It’s the first Friday of the month, which means it’s time for me to share something cool that I’ve discovered that can benefit the lives of others!  The moment I learned about this site, I knew it had to be my First Friday Find for December, the month of giving.  I want to share this First Friday Find: JustServe.org for a two-fold purpose.  Awareness of this site provides opportunities for non-profit organizations to be served and the community to be of service.  First, let me explain a little more about what First Friday Find: JustServe.org is all about.

JustServe.org

The About Us page on JustServe.org can give you more information, but the gist of the site’s purpose is simple, “JustServe.org links you to service opportunities in your community so you can make a difference wherever you are and however you want to serve.”  When you arrive at the Home page, you can enter your zip code to find service opportunities that have been posted in your area.  For example, in my area there are currently 11 opportunities to serve.  Projects posted include helping the Ronald McDonald House Charities, a ride match program to provide rides for disabled or low-income individuals, opportunities for teens to teach seniors how to become tech savvy, and more.  There is a chance that this website has not expanded to your community as of yet, but if it has made it to our neck of the woods, the likelihood is that it’s made it to yours as well.

As I mentioned, there are 11 opportunities posted in the area for our community, but I know there are more opportunities to serve that have not been posted.  That’s why I want more people to be made aware of this site, particularly those who are in need of service.  From what I have read, whatever project you need assistance with does need to be submitted for approval first.  I don’t know how extensive the process is, as I do not have a company myself.  However, I do have a house that’s in need of cleaning.  If only…nope.  This site is for legit service needs, but it cannot help an organization if they don’t even know the site exists.  Help me get the word out there for companies in need of helping hands.

Being that I do not have a legit need for service, my love of this site comes from the opposite end.  Not only do I want to serve my community, but I want my children to understand how important it is to look beyond themselves.  One of the cool features that the site offers is having a little icon on projects that indicate if a project is friendly for all ages.  For example, our city’s beautification program and local cat rescue can use helping hands of all sizes.  What a great chance to offer your kids (and yourself) the joy of service.

During this month where we celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ, what a wonderful gift we can give by following His counsel to “Love thy neighbor as thyself.”  First Friday Find: JustServe.org is a helpful tool to make serving easier and more custom-fit to your family’s abilities.

 

 

Elephant in the Dark

I truly enjoy reading books with my children.  This should come as no surprise after my Read to Your Child post.  Picture books with a good message are my weakness.  One of my favorites is a Cautionary Tale of Flattery called The Spider and the Fly.  On my last trip to the library, I had the pleasure of finding Elephant in the Dark.  Prior to reading it, I knew nothing of this book nor the story it was based on, which is commonly called “Blind men and an elephant.”  It’s truly a fascinating perspective, and ironically, once I explain the gist of the story, it has several different interpretations.

There are several variations of the story, as I’ve learned from my Google research.  Seeing as how the version of Elephant in the Dark by Mina Javaherbin is the one that piqued my interest, I’ll summarize her version the best I can.  The story begins with Merchant Ahmad, who brings a mysterious creature back from India.  The news spreads in the village and everybody wants to see the creature, but Ahmad is too tired from his journey, and explains that it is too dark in his barn to see the animal at this time.  The villagers, not taking no for an answer, decide to sneak into the barn and take a look for themselves.  One by one, they go in, and each of them touches a different part of the elephant (a tail, a tusk, a trunk, etc.).  Since they each only touched one part of it, they come back out reporting the creature was like something completely different from what another person had declared.  Then it reads, “All day long they called each other names and fought to prove each other wrong.  Into the night no one listened, but everyone shouted and shoved.”  Then, the next day Ahmad awakes and takes the creature to the river, which we now see is an elephant, but the villagers are still too busy fighting to see the creature appear.  The last line reads, “And no one noticed they each knew only a small piece of the truth.”

Elephant in the Dark

As I finished reading Elephant in the Dark, I concluded that every adult needs to read this book.  My Facebook has become so cluttered with who’s right and who’s wrong, that it’s disheartening.  I realize you already heard my rant on this topic in Accentuate the Positive, but this book just brought it to the forefront of my mind again.  It also reminded me of this quote I read by the US Secretary of Agriculture and 13th President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Ezra Taft Benson.  He said, “Pride does not look up to God and care about what is right. It looks sideways to man and argues who is right.”  Religious or not, the idea that being right is more important than the whole truth gets us nowhere as a society.

Sometimes I feel bad that I don’t have an adamant opinion on all things.  Starting this blog made that more evident in my life.  I knew if I had a more extreme opinion on a matter, I could draw a larger audience.  Shock factor sells, right?  At first I thought I was just too ignorant to form an opinion on hot topics.  Then I realized, it’s that I can see where others are coming from, for the most part.  I’m not perfect in this way by any means.  But I would like to believe that I don’t just go into the barn, feel one part of the mysterious creature, and assume I know all based on that single instance.  I have opinions on all sorts of things, don’t get me wrong, but I also understand that it’s my opinion.  Some of my opinions have facts to back them up, some don’t.  The last thing I want to do though is ever express my opinion in such a way that demeans somebody else’s viewpoint.  I don’t want to fight about who is right.  I’m okay with learning more about the whole creature.  But, I’m also okay with being considered wrong in someone else’s eyes.  On that same note, I’m also okay being wrong in my own eyes.  For me, it’s not about who is right, but what is right.  Because of that thinking process, I’m not afraid to learn more.    I want to understand the whole creature.  Period.

I love one of the interpretations of this story, made into a poem by Rumi, a 13th-century Persian poet,which Elephant in the Dark is based on.  Rumi’s poem ends with, “If each had a candle and they went in together the differences would disappear.”  I think of that line and wonder what our world would look like under those circumstances.  I imagine, as it pertains to this story, we would all be unified in understanding it was an elephant, but we would still have our opinions on the creature.  Perhaps one person would find the elephant ugly, and another would find it breath-taking, but both would agree it was an elephant. Neither person needs to be wrong in their feelings towards the elephant.  We can respect differing interpretations of the creature, while simultaneously agreeing that there is a greater truth that there is no disputing.

Oh, how I hope I was able to express my feelings on Elephant in the Dark and it’s greater meaning.  The concept was over my toddler’s head, as I read the book to him.  But, I’ve found myself reading it over and over on my own.  There is much to take away and ponder about this story.  Take a moment and reflect on the story, if you have some time.  I would love to hear other’s feelings on the matter.

Read to Your Child

One of the biggest reasons I started this blog was to keep things real.  That being said, I’m really not feeling positive these days.  I’ve actually been hitting up old journals with therapy notes and re-reading my own posts for some inspiration and pick-me-up.  Maybe the change that comes from a move is affecting me?  Perhaps it’s the sadness of knowing that another one of my littles is off at school a couple of times a week?  Or possibly I am entering the lovely world of lows that come with Bipolar II?  Who really knows?  Regardless, it seems foolish for me to write something upbeat, when I’m hardly feeling that way.  I’m not going to get all Debbie Downer on you, but no real words of encouragement this week.  Nope.  Today is a simple reminder about the importance of reading to your kids!

At the end of the day in our home, my three oldest kiddos get to have down time while I put my baby to sleep.  Customarily, this equates to TV time where they argue over whose pick it is to choose the show.  Last night, my second-grader said she didn’t want to watch TV and that she wanted to snuggle with me instead.  What mom can say no to that?!  Then she asked if I would read books with and to her?  Even better!  She is so good about reading on her own and already reads so much for her school reading log that I forget to take a moment and read to her anymore, it seems.  So, we snuggled up and read books together taking turns reading out loud.  My other two littles had just reached the end of their show and bedtime was nearing.  However, my daughter and I were still in the middle of a book, Mr. Pine’s Purple House, and I was just as excited to finish reading it as she was.  Soon my toddler and nine-year-old huddled around my daughter and I.  I continued reading on, not before noting the beauty of the moment I was in.  Here I was a mother of four, with one baby peacefully sleeping, and three beautiful children sitting around me all listening as I read about Mr. Pine’s desire to simply have his home stand out among the other fifty white homes on his street.  Those are the moments I cherish.  Those are the moments that make me realize that perhaps my life isn’t really all that boring, but merely simple.

Earlier in the day I had already done a bit of reading with my toddler so that we could fill up his reading chart, and my girls had all met their reading quotas and then some.  There has been an increase of reading in our home since school started back up, and I’m loving it!  The greatest part is that my baby, well 15-month-old, has a love for books already also.  One of his first words was “book,” and I couldn’t be happier!

Read to Your Child

I’m reminded of the picture I saw on Facebook posted by Southport Branch Library that read, “There is no app to replace your lap.  Read to your child.”  Reading to my nine-year-old, as I did last night, has become more rare as she develops as a reader.  But, I truly believe that all of those many years that she sat on my lap as I read to her have helped her love for reading blossom.  And now, four kids later, I’m realizing that no matter how busy life can get, the time spent reading to my children lifts each of us up in so many ways.  There really is no app to replace my lap, and how grateful I am for that!

Accentuate the Positive

Lately, the amount of negativity in the world has left me unsettled.  Social media and the news being the biggest irritants on the matter.  Surprisingly, neither of those were the source, when I became truly fed up with this issue.  The other day, I saw a bumper sticker that read, “Not a Liberal.”  Simple statement, right?  Not much worth fussing over.  However, I was struck by the verbiage of that remark.  Why say, “Not a Liberal?”  Why not state that you are conservative?  My takeaway was that this driver is so against being liberal, that he would rather state how much he is not liberal, rather than celebrate what he is supporting of in life.  I see no benefit in shaming another point of view to state the beauty of your own.  This is the way life seems to be delivered to us now.  We’re given news through a series of one liner blurbs that either leave one feeling great about who they are or shaming them for their opinion on a matter.  Why can’t we simply “accentuate the positive,” as Gordon B. Hinckley states in his book, Standing for Something: 10 Neglected Virtues That Will Heal Our Hearts and Homes?  As much as I would like to copy and paste the entire chapter, Optimism in the Face of Cynicism, from this book, I will refrain.  But, oh, what beautiful things we would see in our world, if people took the time to nurture the ten neglected virtues mentioned.

Accentuate the Positive

The concept of focusing on the positive first struck me when I was kneeling in prayer with my husband years ago.  He was saying the prayer and asked that our children be protected from harm.  Perfectly normal thing to pray for and I echoed his words in my heart.  However, I began to realize that when he asked that they be protected from harm, my mind drifted off to the terrible harms that could potentially come their way.  When it was my night to pray, I began to switch around the wording to ask that our Heavenly Father watch over our children or keep them safe.  Omitting the word “harm” kept my mind in a more positive place.  I do the same with my children now, as we kneel in family prayer and it’s my turn to say the prayer.  I ask that they all have sweet dreams and get a good night’s rest.  Whereas, when my children pray, they ask that they not have any nightmares.  We want the same thing, but the manner in which we present it makes a difference, I believe.  One of my daughters will sometimes even pray that, “no fires will burn our house down and no bad guys will steal [them].”  I want to be fire free and kidnap free even more than she does, but those words trigger dark images in my mind.  Our words have a great impact on our attitudes and outlook.  Such a simple change in verbiage can either lead me to greater peace or greater anxiety.

This topic of optimism is so far-reaching that I don’t intend to wrap all my thoughts into one post.  Tonight, I simply wanted to encourage us all to contemplate how we are approaching our daily activities and experiences.  Are we expressing ourselves in a negative manner or potentially conjuring up negative thoughts by the words we use?  Are we stating who we are by stating who we’re not?  I’m a Christian woman with the understanding that we have a Father in Heaven, a Savior, the Holy Ghost, and then Lucifer standing on the opposing side.  I don’t give Lucifer the privilege of crediting his name by saying, “I’m not with Satan.”  Instead, I say, “I know my Savior lives and loves me.”

A relevant and real life example of the change we can make in our approach is how the city of Roseburg, OR handled the recent mass shooting at Umpqua Community College (UCC).  The community asked that the gunman remain anonymous.  Instead, the focus was shifted to Chris Mintz who was noted as a hero for having been shot seven times, as he was rushing the UCC shooter.  This is a tragic event that I cannot comprehend enduring nor do I intend to discuss further.  I simply find the action of accentuating the positive virtues of one man, in the face of calamity, as admirable and inspiring.

I’ve learned that changing the wording of my prayers has brought me greater peace.  I no longer use verbiage that amps my anxiety or lets my fears take over.  Now the goal for me is to understand where else in my life I may be expressing myself in a negative fashion.  As I sit here contemplating where I can improve on this matter, I’m reminded of the quote by Tom Peters that I shared in Musings of a Mom, “Celebrate what you want to see more of.”  Perhaps it’s time that I see how I can uplift my children more by accentuating the positive rather than focusing on the negative?

As I mentioned, this topic of optimism could infiltrate so many aspects of our lives, and tonight is not the time for that.  Tonight, I close with a plea for each of us to accentuate the positive!  If you have an experience where you made this shift in your own life, I would love to hear about it in the comments below!

Happy Weekend!

Never Give Up

I was helping my second grader with her reading homework the other day.  I was assisting more with her understanding the meaning of a verb, rather than intervening.  It’s important for a child to do their own work and come to their own conclusions.    Of course, it’s tough for me not to swoop in and direct her to the right answer, but that doesn’t allow her to learn and grow.  Plus, it gives me no indication of where she is academically, if I’m doing it for her.  And, I’m so glad that I got to listen to her thought process as it pertained to the open-ended questions.  Her assignment was based on Aesop’s Fable The Tortoise and the Hare.  A common one for sure, with a moral that “slow and steady wins the race.”  However, that was not how my daughter saw it.

After she found her verbs and circled her adjectives, she came to the open-ended questions.  The first question was, “What did you learn from this fable?”  She was quick to answer with, “Never give up.”  I thought about trying to have her think more about the story, but then I realized the question wasn’t, “What do you think Aesop meant for the moral of the story to be?”  It was, “What did you learn from this fable?”  And she learned a powerful message.

Never Give Up

It got me thinking how both the tortoise and the hare finished the race.  They had different approaches and there was only one “winner,” but they both finished.  The Hare didn’t wake up and say, “Screw it.  I already lost.”  Neither of them gave up.

Now let me add, before we focus too much on the word never, that I know it’s not right to speak in absolutes, such as always and never.  There are things in life that may seem to be giving up (such as divorce), but may instead be one or both of the people deciding to not give up on themselves.  Not that I am pro-divorce.  I am simply stating that I recognize that there are instances when “giving up” is a healthier solution.  It’s these instances that I am not speaking about today.

Today I am speaking about never giving up on yourself.  Having experienced multiple times when giving up on life sounded like the optimal solution (a post for another day), and seeing what blessings have transpired after those dark and dreadful moments, I feel confident on this matter.  I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter if I’m the Tortoise or the Hare, as long as I finish the race by crossing the proper finish line versus creating my finish line.

On a much less depressing note, I am learning to never give up on other matters in my life that could use a little extra focus, love, and appreciation.  This blog is one example of that.  I have wanted to throw in the towel in regards to this blog more times than I can count.  While there may come a time when that is what is best for myself and our family, today is not that day.  So, stay tuned, and never give up!