Tuesday, February 28, 2012

my job chart....

Chores are a part of growing up.  Helping out is being part of a family.  Parents want it and really kids need to learn how to help as part of their growing up. We started using a website called "My Job Chart" to help manage chores and allowance in our house. So far I love it!  I use it to manage the chores and jobs that the boys could get paid for (mowing the lawn, cleaning the car, pulling weeds, etc). In our house, you don't get paid for cleaning up after yourself (bedroom and bathroom) but for bigger jobs that are not specific to your mess. Since my boys need a lot of positive reinforcement, we also use it for that (wake up to your alarm, brush your teeth, read a book, etc).  But we also use it as a consequence. If they do not obey or if they provoke one another, they can lose points. 

The kids earn points for each job completed.  They have their own login and they are responsible for checking off their completed jobs.  Then once they start earning points they can start redeeming them for things.

You as the parent setup all the jobs/chores.  You can set their frequency and their value.  For example, I made each point worth ten cents.  I pay 100 points for mowing the lawn (ten bucks). I pay 2 points for getting up to your alarm without assistance (20 cents) - this has worked like a charm by the way. Since I started this, I have only had to go in once to get one of the boys up.

You also get to set the rewards.  The kids can save their points for money.  They can share them and give money to a non-profit.  And they can spend them.  You can create rewards for them to spend their points on like more computer time, an ice cream cone, extra alone time with a parent, etc.  Or you can put rewards on their from Amazon.com.  So when my boys ask for something video games, Bey Blades, Legos, etc.), we put it as a reward on their job chart.  Once they have the points, they can go in and redeem them.  You will then get an email saying what your child wants.  If it is a reward from Amazon, you can just click the link and order it. 

It is a really easy system and it has worked well for us far!  They even have an iPhone app (which is kind of lacking, but I am sure will improve).  The boys like it too. They like feeling responsible having their login and earning their own rewards.  I hope that they are also learning about working and saving.  But for the time being, I am loving having my yard mowed, car cleaned, and floors cleaned.

Sunday, February 26, 2012


I am an outside kind of person so I am determined to help my boys love the outdoors too. From what I can gather, they have not had much of a chance to play outside.  So we have been trying to come up with fun creative outdoor activities.  One of my favorites is geocaching and my iPhone has made it so easy. 

Geocaching is like a treasure hunt.  Someone has planted a cache at certain coordinates and you have to find it.  You need a personal GPS or an iPhone to do it - most car GPS's are not specific enough.  Some caches are big and some are tiny.  We have found some that were the size of large bullets, film canisters, or old ammo boxes.  Most of them have logs that you sign and date.  Some of the larger caches have a trinket item for you to take as long as you leave something in its place.  Parks usually have several caches.  My boys really like this. I not only like it because we are outside and it is free, but because it helps them learn skills like reading a map and a compass.  It helps them explore and use their imaginations.  Some caches will have clues that you have to figure out that help you locate the cache. 

If you have an iPhone there is a free app called "Intro to Geocaching" that makes this super easy.  There is also a $10 version, but I am not sure what all it does.  But it is easy free fun with a little sense of adventure.  You should try it!

This cache is the biggest we have found so far.  It was a story cache, meaning that there was a small notebook inside the ammo box with a story in it.  Those who find the cache are supposed to add to the story.  My boys had little interest in writing more of the story, they wanted to find the next cache, so we just signed it and moved on.

This is one of the smaller caches we have found.  It is in my 14 year old's hand on the right.  On the left, my 11 year old has the log that was rolled up inside. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

trust the sunrise...

Since I get up so early these days, I get to see lots of sunrises. most days I am too grouchy to appreciate them, still mad that some morning person got to decide that the world would run on their schedule.  But sometimes they are a sweet reminder.  The Bible talks a lot about the sunrise, the dawn, and morning.

    “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
    Thus says the LORD,
    who gives the sun for light by day
        and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night,
    who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar—
        the LORD of hosts is his name:
    “If this fixed order departs
        from before me, declares the LORD,
    then shall the offspring of Israel cease
        from being a nation before me forever.”
(Jeremiah 31:31-36)
Through Jeremiah, the Lord is telling the nation of Israel about the new covenant. He is promising to restore them, because at the time this was written, they are a broken and exiled nation.  He tells them that as long as the sun is coming up and the oceans are roaring, He is still on the throne. The fact that the sun rises every day is a reminder of this covenant.

The promise is the same for you and me too. All of the restoration of the new covenant has not come yet.  Part of it yes. Jesus has come, but there is more to come.  As long as that sun rises, it is a reminder that God is still keeping his end of the covenant. I am His.  He is still in control. He is still on his throne.  He is still working things out for the good.  He is still restoring what is broken.  He is still holding me up and holding me close, even if I cannot feel it.  No wonder my soul is in awe at the sunrise.  It's beauty is not just in its colors, but in its reminder.  I can trust the sunrise.  You see because as surely as the coming of the dawn each morning (Hosea 6:3), my Lord is returning.  He is working. He is faithful, just as the sun is faithful to rise.  And these days, I need any reminder I can get.

Monday, February 20, 2012

hanging in there...

This past week was the hardest week for us by far.  We had a court date that stirred up all kinds of anxiety and fear. I hate that as 11 and 14 year olds they have to worry about things like where they are going to live or how their parents are behaving or if they are going to see friends again.  All this fear and anxiety manifested in lots of anger, tantrums, and fighting - even in this momma!  I lost it one day and yelled at my youngest - which is never good, but it was heart breaking to watch him cower and cover his ears and respond in more fear - the exact opposite of what I was trying to accomplish.  We saw a lot of regression in behavior this week. But somehow, we have made it to the end of each day.  There is just enough grace for all three of us to make it.  We are hanging in there.

Friday, February 10, 2012

10,000 Reasons...

Many of you have been asking how we are doing.  To be honest I don't know how to answer that question.  We are doing well. Yes that it is true, but that implies that this is easy and things are great in our home.  This is far from the truth.  But if I give some statement going off of my feelings (tired, stressed, scatterbrained) or details of our day (tantrums, fighting, wetting, hitting, kicking,  etc), then you are going to think that I regret my decision or that things are awful.  This is also far from the truth.  We are making it.  That is about all I can say.   We make a few steps forward and in the same week or day, we may take 10 steps backward.  But hey, at least we made it a few steps forward.

How am I doing? I am weary, but somehow there is still enough energy and grace to make it through the day. Perhaps this is the closest I have been yet to being poured out like a drink offering.  How do I do it?  I don't .  When I do it, I lose my cool and yell in anger and frustration.  I start thinking about all the things I miss (like my friends and reading books) and I start throwing a pity party.  I really am painfully having to lean on and trust in the gospel.  I say painfully because although it is so good, it is so hard and painful.  I am now more than ever, thankful for a Savior who endured the horrors of the cross that I might know him.  I all too often forget that my salvation cost Jesus his life, why would I expect that loving these boys would cost anything less than mine.

This song has been on repeat this week. The Lord has used it to encourage me and remind me of his goodness.  And it is a good for me to remind me of all that I have to sing about.

"10,000 Reasons (Bless The Lord)" 

Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul Worship His holy name
Sing like never before O my soul
I'll worship Your holy name

The sun comes up, it's a new day dawning
It's time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass, and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes

Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before O my soul
I'll worship Your holy name

You're rich in love, and You're slow to anger
Your name is great, and Your heart is kind
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find

Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name
Sing like never before
O my soul I'll worship Your holy name

And on that day when my strength is failing
The end draws near and my time has come
Still my soul will sing
Your praise unending
Ten thousand years and then forevermore

Bless the Lord, O my soul
O my soul
Worship His holy name

Sing like never before O my soul
I'll worship Your holy name Jesus,
I'll worship Your holy name Lord,
I'll worship Your holy name

Sing like never before O my soul
I'll worship Your holy name Jesus,
I'll worship Your holy name
I'll worship Your holy name