Saturday, December 30, 2006

Kids' Vacation Budget.

How did we get to the place where our kids are taking the family on vacation?
They had been saving for a puppy.

In spring of 2005, Dave told them they could buy a puppy if they saved $200. At that time they thought it was impossible. Then in spring of 2006, they realized they were just about $20 from their goal. I was anxious and Dave was adamant - the time for the offer had expired. However, he hadn't told them there was a time limit. What's a loving parent to do (when you REALLY don't want a puppy?) We decided to divide and conquer.

Mama - "So, what would you do with your money if you didn't get a puppy?"
Kids, flatly - "We're getting a puppy."
Mama - "Well, but let's say you already had a puppy and you had this much money. What would you want to do with it?"
Ds4 "Go to Chuck E. Cheese."
Dd10 - "Buy books" (that's my girl).
Dd8 - "Go to the dollar store" (her dream store).
Ds6 - "Get a puppy."

So, then it was just a matter of getting them to dream of their individual goals rather than their group goals.
"Wow, Chuck E. Cheese would sure be cool." , "What's a book that you'd really like to own?"...
Ds4 was the easiest to break. "Your little brother has decided to take his money out of the puppy effort and go to Chuck E. Cheese. Once a person breaks from the puppy effort, the deal is then expired for that person."
Dd10 agreed, "O.K., I'd rather buy books."
Dd8 chose candy at the movies.
Ds6 was nonpulsed. "That's fine, I'll just save for a puppy on my own." Given enough time, he could have done it. So, Dave and I tried another tactic with him.

"Someone is giving away hamsters for free, so you could have a hamster, if you bought all the accessories to take care of it. I think that would be about $50." That did it and we've had no more serious puppy discussions.

This vacation will be our traditional January visit to our favorite state park inn. We stay in a suite that sleeps 6 at the 2-for-1 winter special they have going from Dec 1 - Feb 28th. I didn't think we'd be able to go this year. Dave's emergency appendectomy this fall put a crimp in our financial style. So the kids counted their pennies and asked me to add up the credits they had on their chart that wasn't in their money cups yet. They were thrilled to discover they had around $250 if they added it all up together. They'd been saving money from July - December througout 2006. Well, ds4 wanted the family to go to Chuck E. Cheese, so he took $25 of his money in June or so to do that. And Dd 9, spent around $10 at various dollar stores and another $10 or so buying sweets at the dollar movie this summer. Ds6 bought a hamster cage, toys & bedding for $50 this fall.

$25.00 - Tithe
$120.00 - 2 nights at the Inn
$50.00 - Dog Sitting fees for 6-7 visits to our home for provisions, potty & play
$50.00 - 2 Craft Room Visits for 4 kids
*Groceries for vacation to eat in the room $50 - Mama & Daddy
**Meals out ~3 $100 - Mama & Daddy

*Eating out of our room is so much cheaper. The room has a mini fridge & mini microwave. The room also had a private exterior patio and door. Last year, I thought I'd be smart and pack a cooler with more fridge supplies like cold meat slices & cheese and leave it outside on the patio without ice - it is winter in Indiana, after all. Can anyone see where this is going? (I didn't). Well, I guess racoons are really good at opening coolers and there was no food in the completely opened, overturned cooler that was dragged off the patio by the morning. It was that next morning that Dd10 told me she'd seen warning signs at the nature center about not leaving coolers outside overnight due to smart racoons. She hadn't said a thing the night before when I told everyone my brilliant idea.

**Eating at the restaurant at the Inn is REALLY pricey!! So, we don't do that. But the little town just outside the park has several restaurants, so we do get a few meals there after all my ice has melted in the cooler.

We ususally have the empty Inn and full-sized pool and hot tub almost to ourselves. We take sleds and boots for snow play. We buy flashlights - we never seem to keep one intact year to year - for evening hikes (I stay in the room and start the hot chocolate - I'm not an outdoorsey girl). We swim and go to the nature center where the naturalist focuses on our children, who are the only ones at the center. We bring one family read-aloud and laze around in between trips to the gameroom and craftroom. It's 2 1/2 days of lazy quiet. The kids still talk about the year we did an indian unit study while we stayed there and the things they learned.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Lovely Gift Idea

I'm sure the last thing you want to think about 2 days after Christmas is more gifts! However, I thought this one was worth considering as a 'throughout the year' gift (Birthday, Anniversary, etc).

This is lovely gift idea. You could use photos or kids' drawings .... just a darling little rememberance for an inexpensive "I love you" gift.

Thursday, December 21, 2006


We do give our kids allowances (as evidenced by the fact that they're spending it to go on vacation for a couple of days). They have to tithe off what they earn, but then the rest is theirs.
  • They have certain jobs they do that aren't for pay : cleaning their rooms, making their beds, folding and putting away their own laundry, etc.
  • Then they have assigned jobs that they have to do that they can get paid for if they do the job joyfully: taking out the trash, sweeping the kitchen, emptying the trash, doing laundry...
  • We also have a list of jobs they can earn money for if either I ask them to do it or they choose to do it.

We do this on a sliding scale and give credits for jobs done. Each credit is worth a quarter until they have 10 credits in a week. Then we double it and each credit is worth 50 cents until the end of the week when they start over again. We want them to be eager to work hard. On weeks that I highly encourage them (like we're having a Christmas party) and they're not doing school, dd10 has earned $14 in a week. Her average is about $2, though - she ususally doesn't quite reach 10 credits in a week. The younger kids tend to earn less as money isn't as big a motivator to work for hours at a time. Our credit system used to just sort of work, but as the kids are getting older, they are utilizing the ability to make money more often.

  1. I went through each room and wrote down all the jobs I was willing to let the kids do (they aren't allowed to clean out the fireplace no matter how many times they ask).
  2. Then I assigned how many credits each job is worth. For example in the kitchen, washing down all the counters with bleach water is worth 1 credit. Moping the tile in the kitchen & dining room area (which is joined together) is worth 2 credits. Scrubbing the tile on their hands and knees with a cloth is worth 3 credits. Also, jobs I intensely dislike they can earn alot of credits for because I'd rather pay them than do it myself. (I despise matching socks, so 10 matched pairs out of our overflowing large basket of unmatched socks is 1 credit).
  3. Finally I decided if they could do that same job daily for credits, weekly or monthly.
  4. Then I posted a chart organized by room.

My house still isn't the cleanest or most organized on the block, but this system has worked really well for us. I have a different chart we put with our calendar with columns of the kids' names at the top and rows of weeks and months listed. Then we use tally marks to keep track of credits.

If you'd like copy of any of my charts, just e-mail me, and I'll send it!

Christmas 2006

At the MNI (Mom's Night In) I was working on an evening's work, while I teased everyone in the room. Ruthann is such a good sport. I gave it as a Christmas present before anyone got a chance to see the finished project, so I thought I'd show it to whomever cared. The middle flower is actually a baby blue, but the colors got messed up in the pictures somehow. It looked even cuter on my neice. This is the pattern I used from Lion Brand Yarn. I crocheted from about 8pm - 1pm (poor Lisa - I didn't leave her house until 1pm!) Dd10 suggested I sew a vine going around the crown of the hat. I liked the idea alot! (What a creative girl!) My FIL posed for a picture with the hat - he didn't quite do it justice...

This Christmas I've been wrapping presents in all my dad's paper and his cheesy stick-on bows that I inherited from his house. It's with joy of the continuation of his life and sadness at my loss and hope for the future that I do this. Every wrapping session has brought tears and lots of emotion. Each time I stick one of those bows on (I'm a curly ribbon kind of girl myself) I can't help but think of him. I've got one more session to go, and I'm sort of putting it off.

All this emotion has really helped me examine my own parenting and focus on the areas that are lacking. So far, I haven't made much progress which is emotionally draining to see all my faults and not be able to push past them to "just fix it". I am continuing to pray about it and am confident that Jesus will walk hand-in-hand with me to accomplish this most overwhelming task of learning to love as He does.

We are doing the O Antiphons, but I couldn't find a house to do it with, so we're just singing them with our Advent Wreath lighting at dinner. It's a lovely prayer - finding new (although old steeped in tradition that I never knew - so, new to me) names for Jesus. www.wdtprs.com/blog/
There is a little-known fact about the order of these ancient O Antiphons. This
is not apparent in English, but it can be seen clearly in the official language
of the Roman Catholic Church: Latin. The Latin versions of each of the titles of
the Messiah: Sapientia (Wisdom), Adonai (Lord), Radix (Root), Clavis (Key),
Oriens (Dawn), Rex (King), and Emmanuel (Emmanuel). Take the first letters of
each of the titles and write them backwards, thus counting down the days of the
feast: EROCRAS or "ero cras." This means in Latin "I will be (here)
tomorrow".The song "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" is simply a slightly modified sung version of the seven O Antiphons.

Many questions have been going around about Christmas plans. We usually have Christmas with Dave's family early because one of his brothers takes his family out of state. We did that one last weekend (thus the hat). We'll try something new and see if it works for us. Dave and I will split up for Christmas Eve. I'll take the girls to my step-dad's family and Dave will take the boys to his Grandma's celebration. There's things we each like about each of the parties, but going to all of them is too much for us. I'm not exactly sure why, but I've been better at saying 'no' this season to all sorts of things. I think I'm still pretty busy dealing with pain from my dad and only have so much space in my brain to care what anyone thinks - therefore I end up with what I think is best weighed with what I actually want. Trying to please people doesn't even weigh in this year. Good or bad? I'm not sure - but more relaxing! I'm not sure if we'll go to Christmas Mass (it sounds so redundant since the original meaning of the word Christmas was really Christ's Mass) before we open presents or after - or in the middle. After Mass and presents at our house, we'll end up at my mom's about 3pm. Dave has the next day off, so we can rest and enjoy each other. Then we have a Christmas party with my extended family the next weekend, friends over New Year's Eve and my neice will spend the night that week before school starts.

So.... we're not as busy as in past years, but still a little busier than Dave and I prefer. It makes January a lovely month, along with the fact that dd10 will become 11! OH, and we'll take a few days up at an Inn that we love then, too. Actually, the kids are paying for it with their combined allowances they've saved since July.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Shhh...Christmas presents

Thanksgiving was WONDERFUL! Everyone had a lovely time. I ended up with a cold that went into my chest and I ACTUALLY had to go to the doctor. Did you know that if you are a healthy person who doesn't need the doctor often (I went 4 1/2 years ago?) that they drop you as a patient after 3 years? (I thought doctors strove for healthy people!) I'm all better, now, however.

We've been spending lots of time doing advent activities and crafts... I'll post more about that later.

For Dd #2's Christmas present, I'm crocheting her an apron & hot pads
and I'm making her a little sweets cookbook of all our family's favorite recipes. I'm adding food jokes and sifting through lots of other jokes to find them. I liked this one

Bad joke of the day:

What's the best thing about Pagan friends?
They worship the ground you walk on.