Sunday, January 11, 2009

Excuses, excuses, excuses...

When ever Kendall (the 4 year old I tend) doesn't want to do something, such as clean up after herself, she always says "I can't!". We then have this conversation about how she can do (what ever), she just doesn't want to do (what ever). "Remember, your Super Girl!", I say. "You can do anything you want, you just need to find away."

Quite frequently my own children will come up with a ton of excuses on why they didn't do something they should have done, or why they did something they shouldn't have. Their excuses drive me crazy sometimes! I now realize: that's what I must have sounded like when I was younger.

I remember being teased by my family for always having an excuse for everything. "Excuses, excuses, excuses!" they'd say all the time. Looking back, I now realize that semantics was also my issue. What I thought meant "excuses are worthless" really meant "quit always looking for an excuse for everything".

Now that I understand, I see how the types of excuses a person gives shows where his/her priorities lie, as well as how hard that individual is willing to work to overcome any obstacles in his/her way. So now, when ever an excuse comes to mind, I have to figure out what my real issue is: A) Am I too lazy to do it? or B) Why is this particular thing so low on my priority list? By looking into it that way, I not only learn a lot about true self, but am better able to tell when I need an attitude adjustment. You should try it sometime, it really works.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Helpful weight loss tactic.

With our family's Biggest Looser competition going on, Jenny encouraged me to mention what has worked for me in case it can help others looking to increase their percentage of fat loss. All though I didn't loose the most weight, I fared about average (4lbs.). Considering I am not breaking my back doing anything very strenuous or drastic, that's not too bad.

Normally I would do lots of cardio, as that is what works best for me, but I have a foot injury that doesn't allow me to do that. So my solution has been simple: eat smaller portions and drink plenty of water between meals. (I usually eat more than 3 times a day too.) If I don't feel full, then I just wait 10 or so minutes to make sure. Usually by then the food will have registered with my system and I will finally start to feel satisfied.

I know it's not a lot, but the fact that it is so simple makes me less likely to quit or get tired of my new routine. Beware once my foot heals though, I will squash the competition! :) Happy weigh-in!

Monday, November 24, 2008


1. What time do you wake up? On school days I get up around 6:00AM to wake up the kids. I then go back to bed and keep waking people up every time snooze goes off 2-3 times before I get out the squirt bottle. (Just having it in hand usually does the trick.) On weekends I usually sleep in as late as possible, so it depends what we have going on.

2. On a good night, what time are your kids in bed? They are in bed by 8:30PM, but the boys usually fool around in their room for at least another 30 minutes or so. (On a good night, that is. You don't even want to know what happens on a bad night!)

3. How long have you been a mommy? A little over 11 years.

4. How old were you when you became a mom? 25

5. What is your favorite chore? That is a tough one. I would have to say it is usually doing what ever needs the most attention and makes the biggest difference in our homes appearance. I do have an odd sense of appreciation when ever windows, mirrors, or any other reflective surfaces are spotless however. I also love the look of polished wood.

6. What is your favorite meal to cook? If we are talking about mealtimes, it would be dinner. If we are talking about dishes, it would be cheesy bean burritos or sloppy tacos.

7. What meal do you cook most often? Lunch and dinner are a pretty close tie.

8. What are 5 things about being a mom that make you smile?

1) Seeing my children happy and excited.

2) Watching my children doing nice things for others.

3) Seeing my children happily learn and excel in a new task or talent.

4) Witnessing my children grow up and accomplish their dreams.

5) Seeing my children enthusiastic about the wonders of the universe.

9. If you could take your kids anywhere, where would it be? On the vague side, it would be everywhere possible that would provide good learning experiences. On the more specific side of things, they would love to go to England.

10. When was the last time you went out without your kids? Dave and I went grocery shopping a few weeks back without the kids. As far as having a date, it's probably been a month or so.

11. What is your most heartbreaking moment as a mom? I have to admit, we have been fairly lucky and blessed when it comes to having these kinds of moments with our kids. No stitches or broken bones for us so far, thank goodness. They all had a pretty bad sunburn one time that was rather sad to witness and they all screamed bloody murder when they had to get their shots when they were younger. Seeing Christina struggle with her Dyslexia and ADHD has been rather difficult to deal with at times though. I would also say that I was pretty scared the one time Nolan fell off the bunk bed and passed out from crying too hard. I wasn't sure if it was because of the crying or because of a serious injury. He was only 1 year old.

12. When was the last time you told one of your kids I love you? I tell my kids I love them every time I drop them off at school and when they go to bed.

13. When was the last time you were told I love you? Christina tells me she loves me all the time. The boys usually tell me that they love me after I have told them that I love them first. Dave is the same way for the most part, though he is more creative and funny in his responses, imitating movie lines such as "I know" (Star Wars), "ditto" (Ghost), or other ingenious phrases that don't actually use those 3 precious words but mean the same thing.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Congratulations Matthew!

This past Wednesday night, November 19TH 2008, Matthew was presented with his Webelos badge and his Arrow of Light (the highest honor available in Cub Scouts) as he said "goodbye" to Cub Scouts and "hello" to Boy Scouts. I must admit that as his mother I have seldom been more proud of Matthew, not because he just received these awards, but because he really earned them without us having to nag him much as parents.

You see, Matthew is a strong willed child, who often doesn't even do the things he wants to do if he feels he is being coerced or manipulated in any way by others. We have found it difficult to be there for him, to offer him help when needed, and to encourage him to do the things he should without overstepping the boundaries of productiveness. As each deadline approached to earn a new rank, Matthew would drag his feet until the last possible moment. Then, only when he realized both parents and leaders wanted him to earn his badge, were willing to help, but weren't going to force him, would he put his foot to the pedal and finish in the nick of time.

Yes, Matthew was blessed to have good leaders like Brother Lloyd, Brother McFaddin, and Sister Goltz etc..., a good home teacher like Brother Essarine, and parents who were both able and caring enough to assist where necessary. We are grateful to them all. (No boy could get far without at lease one of those.) But, despite all of this, Matthew still had a choice. Some boys aren't left with the option to fail like Matthew was, and only a few of those that are given that privilege fulfil their requirements. That is why I'm extra proud of him! He chose to go the distance every time; Bobcat, Wolf, Bear, and now Webelos and Arrow of Light. Way to go Matthew! (Sorry, no pictures yet. I will be sure to post them as soon as I have them ready.)

( Arrow of Light, the only honor that carries over from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts.)

Monday, November 17, 2008

Visual aid for "Leadership"

In case you can't read what the picture says, it reads: Always remember that fear and intimidation bring immediate results.

Friday, November 14, 2008

What the heck?

While searching for a picture of a child with a runny nose for one of my previous blog entries, I came across this disturbing picture. I couldn't find an explanation though. Is this even possible, or is this some sick joke? Ewe!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Teaching Money Management to Kids

Today's frequent use of credit cards, debit cards, checks, and ATM's often give kids the subconscious idea that money merely spits out of machines, or that it comes from some other magical, renewable source, rather than having to be earned by good, old fashioned, hard work. Of course most kids have been told that it's not all that simple. Many can even explain how all of the before mentioned processes really work, though it probably seems surreal to them.

It's as if some magic trick has been performed before their eyes. They've been told it's just an illusion, but the flawless performance throws them off. The conflicting messages causes their minds to be wary and unsure about which source they should trust; their own eyes, or the words of others. Mix all that with the fact that magic is more adventurous, romantic, not to mention less work, and "presto!", there you have it: A youngster who subconsciously believes in unlimited resources and minimal consequences to some degree.

Though growing up dispels some of the myths children learn while in their younger years, others are so deeply rooted that they may become a life long struggle for them and their loved ones. Those that know better try to help the rest, but it is a long, hard journey belittled with mixed results. What exactly should be taught? How do we approach such taboo topics? Is this person open to learning such matters? What is the best way to learn these lessons? Should people be bailed out ever? If so, where does the line between giving someone a fresh start and enabling them fall? What are our duties as loving friends and family members anyhow?

Although I don't know the answer to all of these questions, I've learned a few things from both ends of the spectrum which can be useful to those searching for ideas. And, though the answers vary according to the individuals involved, there are a few sound fundamentals which I've learned that can at least help us better prepare the rising generation for their financial future. After all, our kids will never be more malleable than they are now, nor the consequences as benign.

Like most parents, Dave and I have tried various systems over the years to provide our youngsters with opportunities to earn money because we felt it necessary to start practicing young. The children mostly spent their money, and we seemed to be making little headway. We assumed that we just hadn't found the right reward system and tweeked things a few more times.

Then we started having problems with the kids' school meal accounts, as their lunch money would be out before it was supposed to be. We tried punishing them, reiterating the rules, and we even had them pay us back from time to time, but the problems still continued. It became evident that their money troubles ran deeper than we thought.

It became clearer that consistency was part of the problem, so Dave and I worked out a uniform consequence. We also realized that this type of discipline needed to include a way for our children to make the necessary reparations, as well as supply additional reproof until they had done so. We settled on having them bring sack lunches to school until they had paid us back in extra chores. This was a slow process, and though we saw some results, we didn't think that they were enough. The kids weren't passionate either, or trying to fix things that hard. They reacted like a dog tucking it's tail between it's hind legs; obedient, but dejected.

We wondered if there was a better way. Then we read the following article in Scouting Magazine, which got the wheels turning some more: (Although I highly recommend you read this report, it isn't necessary to understand what I'm about to say. It does have some additional useful tips though.) It talked of not just giving kids money, or having them earn it, but of having an age appropriate responsibility go hand in hand with it. Something that will automatically provide the child with a natural consequence should he abuse his funds. The expert used the example of supplying younger children with snack money with the understanding that they are to buy their own snacks whenever they go to the movies, or other family outings. If their money is all gone when a particular event comes up, they participate snack less. Teens could be given a clothing allowance with which to buy their school clothes etc... The frequency of these payments should also be age sensitive, but there should be absolutely no loans or bail outs!

After discussing how we would apply this principle to our own family's situation and needs, Dave and I sat the kids down to a family council. We then announced that instead of putting their lunch money onto their meal accounts like before, we would give each child their fair share in cash every weekend. They would now be responsible for deciding how they would utilize that money. Because we also wanted to encourage them to learn how to sacrifice, save up, and be thrifty etc..., we told them that they were welcome to take sack lunches from home free of charge for now, but that there would be no complaining at the monotony of their selection. We told them no loans or advances, and that we wouldn't replace lost or stolen money either.

Well, you should have heard all the "whoops" and "yippees" and seen their bright smiley faces! You would have thought it was Christmas! LOL So far the system is working, though I am sure we will need to tweek things from time to time. In fact, now that we have had this system in place for 3 weeks or so, Dave and I are now going to require them to buy their own sack lunch supplies. They will get an additional dollar too. This way they aren't getting anything even remotely close to a bailout, and they can also learn to make sacrifices in order to pay their tithing and save.

The nice thing is that this doesn't really cost us anything either. In the long run it will probably costs us less, by the time you figure in how much extra they spent on second helpings and treats, not to mention the stress of dealing with it all. Now the kids are their own bad guys (ie...the one's enforcing their own rules). If they don't like a decision, well it's on them.

In conjunction with these hands on opportunities, we are going to be starting a series of FHE's that don't just teach the kids the how's and the why's to money management, but other practical exercises that lets them see it's effects. (Stuff that we didn't completely understand very well when we were little: such as how advertising works, interest, and how long it really takes to pay off a credit card and so forth.)

Dave also found a cool game online that we would love to get, but seeing as we have our own lessons to learn... well, you get the idea. Although the adult version is nearly $200, here is the link for the kid version ($40) if you are interested: (It better be a good game for that kind of price!) Between all of this, we are hoping that our own kids will grow up to be even more savey and better prepared than we were when we first got married.