Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Trickery and rewards...

How is your summer going?  By now you've probably heard the "I'm bored" song one too many times.  Your kids are probably begging to stay up later.  You're begging them to PLEASE work on their summer reading programs...

Today, I want to share with you a couple of tips that I've found extremely helpful this summer.  A Facebook friend posted a plea for help and advice and it started my little mind a'thinkin'.  

Tip one: Don't be afraid to use trickery. You can call it creative parenting if you like, but I kind of like calling it trickery :)

Like many of you, I have one child that doesn't want to do anything except read.  She would be content to sit in our recliner and read from the moment she wakes up - til the moment she goes to bed.  And then, like many of you, I have another child that is less than motivated to read unless his life is severely threatened...not that any of you would stoop to such measures {insert cheesy grin.}

Here is how we are tricking our son into reading.  Yes, I said trick... I'm not above trickery - don't judge me.  At the beginning of summer my 8 year old wanted to stay up later than his normal bed time.  Granted, he doesn't have to get up at the crack of dawn, but dog-on-it, bed time is MY time... It's quiet.  It's peaceful.  I get to RELAX... 

On the other hand, his 12.5 year old sister gets to stay up late...{insert lightbulb} in her room...reading!  Yes, self.  That's right.  She gets to stay up late so she can read...

Ah-ha.  Let the trickery begin!  Why yes, son.  You MAY stay up late like your older sister.  But she stays up late in her room so she can read.  Would you like to stay up late in your room so you can read, too???  

Well, let me tell you what!  The little guy fell for it hook, line and sinker!  While he was busy jumping on the bed with excitement, I ran straightway to the basement to find the boy a bedside lamp.  Bingo!

Now every night, he goes to his room at 9:00 as always, and he reads until 9:30... It's win-win.  He gets to stay up late, I get my peace and quiet.  AND I tricked him into reading.  {insert maniacal laugh.}

Tip two: Make them buy their time. Almost everything in life has a price.  Candy bars, soda, groceries, gasoline, clothing, shoes, and time.  Yes, time has a price, too.  At least in our house.

Again, like many of you, I have an 8 year old who is less than motivated to pull himself away from his ipod game Minecraft.  And he's also addicted to Gilligan's Island.  However, everything in moderation, we like to say.  Therefore, we have recently insisted that our son "purchase" his iPod and tv time with reading minutes.  What does that mean?  If he wants to play Minecraft on his ipod for 30 minutes he must first read for 30 minutes.  If he wants to watch an episode of Gilligan's island, he must purchase that with reading, or by completing a chore from his list. 

Our children see their parents heading off to work, working around the house, doing lawn jobs and completing daily tasks BEFORE they sit down to watch tv, or get on their electronic devices.  We want to teach them that hard work allows us to enjoy the fun stuff.  NOT that fun stuff allows us NOT to work.  

If you're in the middle of the summer reading slump, try one or both of these techniques for a week.  See if they work for you.  If so, let me know.  I'd love to hear your story.

If you have other ways of motivating your child...let me know that, as well.  I'd love to hear from you!

Only By His Grace,


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Keeping it positively real...

Many of you know that I'm taking the summer off from typical blogging topics.

Yes, I'm still an over-the-top in love with cleaning and organizing kind of gal.  Yes, I'm still obsessing over dusty baseboards and ceiling fans.  Yes, I'm still irritated over the dust-bunnies accumulating in the corners of my basement family room.

However, this summer, these things will just have to wait.  If you come by to visit me, please don't expect a clean house.  I haven't mopped my floors in three weeks.  I haven't cleaned my ceiling fans or baseboards in longer than that!

This morning I even forgot it was trash day...first time I've done that in a very, very long time.

Instead, I'm investing every spare minute I have in my children.  They are growing up so quickly.  They are so much fun and want to play Uno and Foosball.  They want to go camping with me.  They want to take a walk and ride their scooters and roller blade.  And I wouldn't miss it for the world -- especially if the trade of was a sparkly clean house.

So this week's challenge of The Mom Challenge has been  Keeping it Positive.  I must admit, I'm a bit of a scheduler - and a task setter - and a check-list-maker-checker-off-er.  Sometimes I get in a hurry and find myself in less than a positive mood.

This week I've forced myself to slow down, breathe deeply and stay positive.  

It's been a ver positive week.  Oh...the dishes weren't always done before bed, the bed's didn't get made every day, and the sofa pillows stayed in the floor a few times...but I didn't nag, or yell, or fuss...It's been positively fantastic!

Are you following along with The Mom Challenge?  I encourage you to do so.  You'll not regret it!

Only By His Grace,


Saturday, June 8, 2013

Keeping it positive...

I love people who "keep it real."  I don't like phonies and I don't like fakes.  On the other hand - Debbie Downers are, well, downers.  

This week on the Mom Challenge the focus is Keeping it positive.  Here's what Amanda has to say about this week's challenge:  

"This week it’s about staying positive.  After all – staying positive is one of the keys to success! Children – and adults – need positive attitudes and lots of praise.There are many benefits that praise and positive attitudes have.  Behavior can improve, children feel better about themselves, children adopt the positive thinking ways.  Plus if you use positive words and a positive attitude to your relationship with your children you better believe that it will spill over to other relationships!  Nothing makes you feel better or less stressed that a positive attitude!" 

This week I'm taking the keeping it positive challenge.  I'll let you know how it goes.  Keep your fingers crossed for me!

Only By His Grace!


Realistic Expectations met...

I must say, this has been the most I've ever accomplished in the first week of summer break.  I've had the best time!  Let me give you a quick review, and then I'll give you what you're waiting for: PICTURES!

     1) Worked from home:  I must say I met this with trepidation.  Usually, working from home when my children are present presents it's own challenges.  However, this time I out-smarted them!  I committed to getting up at 5:00 a.m. and starting work by 5:15 - 5:30.  I worked until my kiddos woke up -- usually around 8:30 or 9:00.  That's 1/2 a day's work, folks!  Then, when they went to bed, or started calming down to read, I would finish out my work day from 9:00 p.m. til 11:30 - 12:00.  I found myself getting so much more done than had I been in our office - in fact, my 17 hour week ended up being closer to 25.  Not bad if I say so myself :)   Work from home: check!

     2.)  Organize the left-over school supplies:  Yes, I do this every single year! The first week of summer is organize the school supplies week.  Why?  Because I hate dried out markers, broken pencils and crayons.  Plus I despise one big bin of art supplies.  That's just crazy-making in my humble opinion.  Therefore, I take an hour and sort each into its own respective pile.  I also keep a trash bin close at hand so I can quickly toss anything that is not keeper-material.
           Then, I find bins, boxes, and containers to fit the pile I'm working with.  Pencils and colored pencils get sharpened.  Every marker gets tested.  Crayons?  I'm ruthless!  If it's not sharp or nearly sharp, I toss it.  NO BROKEN CRAYONS in the bin!   
            Then once everything is sorted and organized, into the art supply drawer it goes.  I also sift through notebooks and book covers to see which ones are still good for next year.  Organize the school supplies: check!

Here's the finished product.

     3.)  Enjoy some down-time with the kiddos:  This week my husband was away on business.  I decided to take my kiddos camping at a local state-park. Alone.  All by myself.
In a tent...  Must say... it was a blast!  
Camping with the kiddos: check!

     4.)  You get a line and I'll get a pole.  We'll go fishing at the....well, you know the rest.  This week I also took the kiddos out to my dad's pond.  Must say, I should have done it more while he was still with us...but I was always too busy and he was usually playing golf.  I spent a good 3 - 4 hours with my sweet step-mother and my sister.  Kayla caught 12 fish; Austin and I together managed to catch...1.  It was a catch and release kind of day.  But we had a great time.  It's just strange being there and him not sitting on the front porch with his cross-word puzzle book in hand.  Anyway... it was a good time by the pond. 
Down time with the kiddos: check!

We've had an excellent week!  Summer is turning out to be great, so far!

How is your summer going?  What fun things are you planning?

Only By His Grace,


Monday, June 3, 2013

From Slowing down to Realistic Expectations...

I cannot tell you how glad I am that I found the Mom Challenge. I have been having the best time!

Scripture tells us to "Be transformed by the renewing of your mind."  I find this especially true this time of year; when school is freshly dismissed for summer break, I'm still in working-like-a-banshee mode and desiring to be the mom I know is hiding somewhere deep inside.  I have to focus on switching gears this time of year...and I have to be transformed by the renewing of my mind.  It is a conscious effort for me to not be a task-master.  I have to keep myself from driving my family crazy with things-to-do.

The Mom Challenge has been good for me because it helps me to focus on one minor change at a time.  The first week's challenge was eating dinner as a family for 3 nights a week.  This one wasn't much of a challenge for me. This is priority at our house.  We do it nearly every night, unless my husband has a late meeting (which is rare).  We eat together, as a family, No TV, no iPod, no phone calls, no texting, almost every single night. Of this I am happy!

Last week's challenge was to slow down.  Yeah.... this one was hard.  I'm an up-at-the-crack-of-dawn gal, and 15 minutes later, I'm working my list like a rock-star.  I am driven by my yellow highlighter, by which I get to mark off my task list.  I'm addicted to completing tasks.  So slowing down...not so easy for me.  But here is what we have been up to slow down around these parts. 

1) We bought a boat...sort of.  It's a 2 man inflatable raft.  There is a small fishing lake near our house - and the weather this day was perfect.  We took snacks and lots of pictures.  And surprisingly, no one fell in :)

We built a fire pit:  It was simple, really.  $42 worth of supplies and an hour and a half of manual labor.  1) cleared the area with a weed eater.  2) tilled up the soil so I could clear and level it.  3.) placed first layer of bricks, tamped down with a rubber mallet, checked for level, 4) laid second layer of bricks, 5) filled with pea gravel.  

(Note: If you choose to do this project, please check with your local fire department for local regulations)

We cleared the creek bed in the back yard... this is what we see now, from the fire pit :)

And we went fishing in the pond behind the house. It's located right behind the brush row in the photo above.

And now that I've learned to slow down - this week's challenge is realistic expectations.  Yes, I like to-do lists and I love a good project.  But I need to set realistic expectations, too.

Back story: I am working from home this week.  I work 3 - 4 days outside my home.  But this is the first week my kids are out of school.  Local child care doesn't start until next week, my husband is out of town on business, my mother-in-law is helping with my 2 week old niece, and my neighbor is on a mission trip.  Meaning...I'm stone cold out of luck on child care this week.  So I'm trying to get a few things done remotely.  We'll see how that goes.

However!  I do have expectations for my children this week, as well.

1) test the markers and sharpen colored pencils.  This may seem a little absurd to you, but we have hundreds of left-over school supplies; not all of them are in proper working order.  So this week, the little people will sort out the markers, crayons and colored pencils.  They will test the markers.  If they work we keep them, if they don't, we toss them.  Any broken crayons get thrown away.  All colored pencils get sharpened (we have an electric sharpener, people!)  When boredom strikes, we have art supplies at the ready.

2) clean out all clothes that my kiddos can't possibly wear.  That includes their closets, drawers, under their beds, hiding in back packs, stuffed in the toy bin, and shoved in the corners.  

3) shop for summer clothes that fit!  My daughter is going to summer camp in a few days and she has "nothing to wear!"  Skrreeeeeeaaaatttttcccchhhh...  Oh goodness...whatever shall we do? {interject sarcasm, here} We can't have her going naked at church camp!  {insert eye-roll, here}

And so, I think those are pretty realistic goals for a whole week at home.  

How have you been focusing on slowing down?  What are your realistic goals for this week?

Only By His Grace,


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