Clever is in business!

My eldest son, Clever, 8 1/2 (officially) has been hired.  His first job.  His father and I are his employers and we could not be more thrilled with our new employ.

We never really did the allowance thing with our daughter.  It just never came on our radar.  We presumed we would skip it for our final 3 as well, but these times and people are different.

We realized the need for an allowance with Clever a few weeks ago.  He paid his younger sister, Spicy, $23 to switch dinner glasses with him at supper.  “Okay.”  We said to ourselves.  “Someone needs to learn and appreciate the value of money. ” So I decided to come up with a system.

Here is what we did.

First, I wrote an iron-clad contract!  🙂  Clever, his father and myself signed it.  It states what his job duties are AND what is expected of us as employers.  It states payday is every Friday.  It also states that of all the monies he earns, he is to split it the following: 50/40/10.  50% Save, 40% spend and 10% Give.

Second I went to Staples.  I bought a binder.  Its the color GREEN for MONEY and is labeled “Woolford Bank and Trust”.  I also bought a calculator and an insert for the binder that had a velcro flap and 3 sections to it.  This was to break down his money each week into his Save, Spend and Give sections.

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I scooted over to our bank and asked for a mound of Savings Deposit Slips so we had plenty on hand for when we were doing our banking.

Next I went online to look for a kid-friendly bank register.  I mean, what’s the point of teaching him about money unless I teach him how to balance his “checkbook”? Am I right?  I found one I liked online.  It is from Moritz Fine Designs, LLC.  I liked this particular register because it provided big enough spaces for my 8 year old who still writes big and also has Save, Spend and Give (Donate) broken down so he can easily keep track of each “account”.

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Now to the job/work.  Clever already has regular chores he has been doing.  We consider these things he does to contribute to our family and household.  Things like making his bed, bringing down his laundry, bringing trash cans in, etc.  He now ALSO has a list of 5 additional chores that he gets $10 each week to do. Bam!  That is his allowance.  Every Friday he gets his “paycheck” in $1 bills presuming he has done his job well.  So far so great.  I decided to pay him in $1 bills because it is much easier for him to break down into each account (Save, Spend and Give).

There is an additional things we do as well. I wanted to teach Clever one step further with this lesson.  As it is in life, you can do what is expected and you can earn your paycheck.  You can also be a “go-getter” and earn even more on top of your base.  So I created “The Jar of Opportunities”.  This is a glass jar that sits next to the Woolford Bank and Trust binder.  It is filled with popsicle sticks that have various jobs written on them as well as Yard Sale stickers that show what each job is worth. Clever can earn even MORE in his paycheck if he does MORE work.  Crazy idea, right?  LOL   He can choose to do them all or do none.  It is up to him.  Luckily for me, my Little Alex Keaton wants to work hard and get the most money that he can.

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Every Friday, he gets paid his Base Salary and whatever extra money he earned from the Jar of Opportunities.  Then comes the fun part, I sit with him and we break the money down into each account and he has to figure the balances as well as count out the money to make sure it matches.

This is proving to be such an awesome experience.  He is learning so much about money and our fiscal system.  We went shopping the other day and he learned about Sales Tax.  He learned that the list price of something is NOT its actual cost because of taxes.

This helps him with his Math skills, with using a calculator properly and the proper way to balance a check register.  The life skill of being practical with money.  All things that sadly are not often taught and so desperately need to be.  It also teaches him that if you WORK for something, you EARN it and there is a great deal of PRIDE that can be taken in that.

Of course, now my younger two are dying to hit the pavement for work but I told them , you have to be 8 1/2 to get hired.  I need time to work with each child independently to be sure these important life lessons are soaking in.

XOXO

Wonder Wednesday 02.28.18

I suspect most of the wonders I seek this year will be hidden.  Will be things that I need to take a second or third look to see and find.  That is part of their wonder, true?

Today, I found wonder in an obvious place.  Some would say easy even.  I don’t care.  My goal is to delight in wonder all year long, where ever I should find it.  Even when I don’t have to look far at all.

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Look at her.  My eldest child, Studious.  She is my wondrous find today.  I often marvel at how she has grown.  How she has navigated this life to find her own place in which to stand and grow.  She has faced adversities and she always and repeatedly rises.  I am so proud and so in absolute wonder that I had anything to do with this.

In this photo, we were on a recent trip to NYC – just the two of us.  It was such an amazing gift from my husband.  It was perfect for too many reasons to list here.  In this picture, she is standing on the top of the Empire State Building (which needs to Go Gold for Pediatric Cancer- seriously, their refusal infuriates me BUT that is for another time).  She is standing overlooking NYC and I am in awe of her.  The old adage of ‘The world is her oyster’ is so true and she is so lucky.  And what makes her so full of wonder?  She knows this.  She knows that she is a participant in this world and she was not just put here to pay bills and die.  She has goals and aspirations and she will leave a positive impact on this place.  She is so wonderful or rather WonderFULL.

When I look for things or moments this year to encapsulate wonder for me, I will look broad and far.  However, today, I recognize that when someone you have known their whole life, still takes your breath away- you call it what it is and you celebrate them.

I am so blessed to be on this journey.  I am so blessed to be a mother.  It is the greatest role in life.  I will stop to see it and I will do my absolute best to recognize and delight in it.

Thank you to Studious for constantly showing me wonder.  For 21+ years I have been in awe of you, your dedication and determination.  I love you.  XOXO

Christmas Spirit Fail

Not feeling like such a hot parent today.  I had big plans.  I was going to pick up my children early to surprise them and take them to the new Christmas movie, Star.  I thought it would be a fun moment for us as we get ready to swing into the holiday season.  After all, Marlin (our Elf on the Shelf) will be here this week and we are psyched for his arrival….

Then, today, my children did this cute little thing they do some mornings.  I don’t know if any of yours do this.  Ah, its the BEST!  See if it sounds familiar….

“AUUGHHH!”

“HE touched me!”

“She is looking at me!”

“It isn’t MY job!”

“You need to come because now its getting physical”

“AUUGHHHH!”

“Why can’t we have Halloween candy for lunch?  Seriously, Mom!  You are such a fun ruiner.”

etc, etc, etc,  (all actual quotes here).

Surprisingly this doesn’t have me feeling all the feels if you catch my drift.  It has me thinking, “The only star you are going to see are the ones twirling around your head like a cartoon character…” just kidding about that part but COME ON!  A Fun Ruiner?? I am like- the QUEEN of Fun!

I am now sitting at the library working on a writing project but I keep coming back to this morning.  I keep coming back to the fact that despite it all, I STILL want to surprise them and pick them up and share this magical moment with them.  Am I delusional???

Then, now that I am calming (writing does this for me), I am forced to remember some other things that ALSO happened today that I had forgotten when I let the negativity take over.

“Spicy, you can go first.  Ladies first- Always.”

“Thanks for recording the Steelers for me mom. I can’t wait to see if they won.  Don’t tell me, I want to be surprised.”

“I’m going to love nature A LOT today in Environmental Science class today. Like more than normal.”

“I’m going to ask my Spanish teacher to help me write a book in Spanish.”

“I love you, Mom” – times 3.

I love you all, too!  I love it all.  The Christmas spirit isn’t failed here like I thought.  I just need to embrace it all and remember that its tough sometimes; being a parental unit.  But, if you just keep your eye on the Star (the good), you’ll find something that makes all the travels worth it.

XOXO

 

 

Back to the Core

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We always hear, “Write what you know.”  Perhaps that is why I was so quiet for so long.  I wasn’t sure I knew much at all.  I was never focused on one thing long enough to speak, er, write about it with any sort of intelligence or wisdom.  I go from the time I wake until the time I collapse.  Swimming, hockey, ballet, scouting, play dates, church, school trips, school volunteering, all household task, etc. etc. etc…..

Here it is.  I am a wife.  I am a mom.  And these people I made are getting older.  They are getting busier.  The more involved they become in their lives, the less in touch I become with my own.  I’m aware this is not a huge revelation and I know from speaking to my sister, its normal. But why?  Why does it have to be?  Why does helping them find their way mean I must lose mine?

It doesn’t. IT DOESN’T!

And they aren’t asking that of me.  My husband isn’t asking that of me.  I am doing it to myself.  How many stay at home parents do that to themselves?  It doesn’t make me a hero.  It doesn’t make me a martyr.  It makes me less than what I am called to be and that serves no one.  Not my husband, my community, my children, my God nor myself.

I am getting back to the core of myself.  I am vowing to myself and this little piece of space I have in the great ether that I am going to carve out time- for me.  I am going to take care of me.  I will practice my craft and make time to do what I love.  I used to see that as selfish.  I don’t anymore.  I need to take care of my WHOLE self so I can wholeheartedly be an asset to my family and their lives.  So I can be me.

So I am going to write.  Create.  Get back to my core.

Are you?  Are you doing what you are called to do?  If not, please do.  The world will be a brighter place when we are ALL our Authentic selves.

 

 

 

I figured something out…

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Maybe it isn’t anything earth shattering but it is important to our family and I am willing to bet, it may help yours as well.

Our eldest daughter Studious has always loved to read.  I mean ALWAYS.  No surprise there with me as a mom.  We spent hours each day getting lost in books.  It was what I was most proud to have passed on to her.  I still am.  There is nothing like the gift of being able to read and travel to the endless possibilities of the mind. I gave that to her.  Parental win for sure.

Lately I was looking at our final three and while they do love being read to, they did not have the deep desire to read that our eldest did.  I thought maybe times were just changing.  Maybe society was creeping in more than I realized.  I mean, they did just decide to shut down the circus – WHAT?!  Maybe reading was next on the chopping block.

Then I realized, the problem may quite possibly lie with me.  You see, the reason our daughter wanted so desperately to read all the time was because I was.  I was reading all the time and she was doing that thing our children do that we forget most of the time.  She was watching.  Like a hawk.  She wanted to emulate me and the desire grew until she took it and made it her own.  Separate from me.

Now you may ask, “Did you stop reading when Clever, Dapper and Spicy came along?”  The answer, of course, is no.  Not at all.  But HOW I read changed.  I got a Kindle and then I have a Kindle app.  I was reading just as much (okay- maybe a little less since I had 3 instead of just 1 kiddo) but I was reading.  The difference was, I was reading the books on my Kindle App on my phone.  Picture that in your mind.  What do you think my children saw?  Do you think they realized I was reading books or did it just look like I was playing on my phone?  How could they emulate my love of reading when they didn’t see me doing it?

This is not an anti-kindle or other e-book post.  This is merely an observation and a truth I have made and discovered in our home.  Children will model us.  What do we want them to model?  Are we giving them the right things to model?  In my case, I wasn’t.  I was still reading but my children were not seeing it.  Trips to the library were few and far between because I had everything I needed on my app.  BUT THEY DIDN’T SEE THAT!  They saw their mom sitting quietly with her iPhone up to her face.  A lot!  Lets face it, I love to read so you can imagine how often they saw this…

So now, recently?  I have gone to the library over and over and then back again.  I have stacks and stacks of books that I am touching in my hands and actually holding.  You know what else I realized? I had missed the tangible books as well.  The smell, the textures, the actual sight of seeing words on an actual page…It has been a coming home of sorts.  I didn’t even realize I had stepped away.

But the best thing?  I have turned this parental fail into a win.  In the short time since I have altered this behavior, I have noticed a change in the final three.  They are emulating me with stacks of books of their own.  More quiet time is being spent curling up with pages and words and all is right again.

XOXO you fabulous models!

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Dear Melissa Graves,

One week ago at around the time I am composing this post, the unimaginable happened to your family.  I have been thinking and praying for your family since the news broke that evening that your son had been taken by an alligator at Disney.  I prayed harder than I have in some time.  And as hard as I was praying, I am sure it could not hold a candle to your pleas with God.

Here we are, one week later.  I am angry at God for your son not being found healthy.  This is one of those times that make me question so much.

Many times this week I found myself tearing up for you, a total and complete stranger.  Words truly cannot convey how so sorry I am for you and for your husband.

I wondered a few times this week why this was affecting me so differently than so many other horrific stories brought to us daily by the media and I realized, it hits close because it could have just as easily been me.   We were in Disney just a few short months ago.  I remember the joy I had in telling our children we were going to the most magical place on earth.  I remember being excited myself as a 39 year old woman because I knew- at my age- that it really is a magical place where dreams come true and good always wins.

I have tried to think of ways to help your family.  Some small token to let you know that my family felt your loss.  Across this great country of ours, we have felt for you.   We still do.

I have decided to donate several children’s books (classics and new releases) to our local libraries in Lane’s name and honor.  Inside each book, I will have a label explaining that the donation was made to honor Lane Graves, a little boy taken from his family and encouraging the adults reading these books at bedtime to snuggle a little closer and love a little harder.

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I encourage everyone reading this blog to please do the same and comment to me that you are.  I hope this small gesture brings you a smile during this unimaginable time.  To know that your boy is remembered.  He is being thought of and his life is mattered.  That because of your little boy, libraries across the USA (hopefully) will receive numerous donations and that countless parents will read the donation label and will give their little(s) an extra squeeze.  Hug a little harder.  Appreciate a little more what we all take for granted.

Please know that your little boy will be remembered and thought of in Maryland.  And so will you.  I will continue to pray for you and I will forever be sorry this happened to you and your family.

XOXO

The Creative Spark…

I share the belief with many that we are all creative beings.  Each human has the capacity to make, create, build and dream a little piece of the world for themselves.  Do any of us know a child who doesn’t color?  A child who doesn’t imagine mystical realms?   The truth is we are all creative but we are not all brave.

Creating takes Courage.  It requires that we muster up the toughness to fight off our insecurities.  Insecurities that present themselves as inner voices we hear that tell us we don’t have the ‘right’ to make whatever it is we wish to make.  The self-whispers that tell us there is no one out in the world who wants what we have to create.

Children don’t care.  They are brave without even intending to me.  They haven’t been pushed down by society yet to think that any art they create may be “bad”.  To their eyes, each paper they paint, color or tear is a masterpiece.  Seems to me that this realization proves children are not only brave, but extremely smart as well.

If you are lucky enough to have a creative child, which is to say, you have children- let them create.  Encourage it. Support it.  Embrace it.  And believe in it.  Your positive words and actions will foster their creative spark and will let it catch fire.  Anything else would be a huge disservice to them and to the world who is waiting for more awesomeness to be created.  And while you are at it, go create something yourself!

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