Would you like to translate this into another language?

Monday, April 30, 2012

Thirty Years from Now

I have a child who (do you just cringe when you see me start a blog post like this?) conveys the feeling that mom and dad are evil and out to get said child. Where does this come from?

We sat at Family Home Evening this evening, and I just knew it had to be addressed. We were nearly done with the lesson, and I asked if I could have a few moments to bring up a point.  I was granted that time, and dove in.

My question..."What do you picture for our family? I mean really off in the distant future."

One child responded: "Together in heaven."

I shared that I felt that was great, but I wanted something a bit more reachable.  Something that would happen before that time arrived.

I asked them to look forward thirty years.  It took a few moments to regain quiet as everyone had to share how old he/she would be to everyone else, but once composure was regained, I asked, "Okay. It's thirty years from now. You receive an invitation to come to Thanksgiving in this very house. Let me tell you what it looks like. You enter this very room, and there's a table that runs the length of the room. Who will be at that table?"

Each replied with "I will."

I interjected: "Only you?"

It was quickly shared that they would bring their wives/husbands and their children.  That picture alone brought my heart near to bursting. I could practically see them. How exciting that will be!

I asked each child individually, will you be there?  Will you bring your family to my house?

They each assured me that they would.

I shared with them that the time to prepare for that Thanksgiving thirty years away begins now. That Thanksgiving will prepare us for living together forever.

Earlier in the meeting, #1 had been called upon to share a scripture. She shared Moses 1:39--"For behold, this is my work and my glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man."

I shared with our children that in this scripture lies our motive as their parents.  Our job, as their parents, is to help with what that scripture is saying. My purpose as a mother is to guide them, teach them, and direct them toward eternal life. The reason I breathe, the reason I get up every morning and make the decisions I do is to help them attain eternal life. I assured them that I'm not perfect. Even though I have many years on them, that advancement in age in no way makes me infallible. I have a long way to go just like they do. I told them that I would quickly forgive them for their mistakes if they'd also forgive me.

Then I lowered the boom. I asked them what we would be like when we died. Were we suddenly going to be perfect and happy with everybody? Were our personalities going to change in the blink of an eye? I assured them that they would not. The feelings we have when we die are those we will have when we cross over to the other side. Our bitterness or our happiness will remain the same.

That being the case, shouldn't we strive everyday to do better than we did the day before? Shouldn't we try to be a little more patient, a little more loving, a little more forgiving? We discussed this for a little while.

That Thanksgiving thirty years from now can be heavenly if we learn to have heaven here now. It's now our challenge to make our home a heavenly place. A place that if we were suddenly to find ourselves there, we wouldn't know the difference. We wouldn't know we'd even left.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Grateful for Showers

Life is just amazing! If you read this post, you know that I've had some struggles lately. The month started out so bleak financially, that I neglected to withdraw the cash for the month.  It just wasn't worth it. That's how little was left in the budget after the bills were paid.  We decided we'd live mostly off of savings this month.

Teachers have a union, but school administrators don't.  With the school budget being what it is in the state of Oregon right now, administrators don't get raises.  It's been a few years since the Warden's had one.  When there is a furlough day, which happens a few times during the year, he also doesn't get paid. Just thought I would explain this in case you weren't aware of these little facts.  We're getting hit by the economy just like everyone else.  I don't think I mentioned this in the above linked-to post.

The main issue was that we were majorly required to walk by faith and trust that if we did our part, God would bless our lives with what we needed.

When the purse was stolen, my checkbook was in it.  Because of that, we had to completely close that account and open a new one.  When we did, we were told that they would take care of everything and that everything would be restored as it was.  I thought this would include new checks for the new account.

I waited and waited for the checks to arrive.  I gave them a few weeks and then called.  They had not been ordered, so I went ahead and ordered the checks.  They arrived just before payday.

So, here's the big deal....I use those checks to write our monthly tithing payment to the church.  I was taught as a child that that's the first thing you pay when  you make money.  I believe strongly that doing so brings blessings--some that are clear and apparent and some that I'm not even aware of. I believe strongly in the challenge give in Malachi 3:10.

We found ourselves, this month, with the need of paying two of those checks--last month's and this month's.  That's a sizable amount of money.  It left us with very little after bills were paid.  Gas money?  Grocery money?  The only thing we could do was dip into savings, which we try to do very seldom--only in emergency cases.  This was one of those.

Not wanting to dip into it, hoping that some other option would come up, I didn't withdraw the monthly cash.  Doing so, would symbolize a lack of trust that paying the tithing would bring the blessings we needed. On the morning of the 19th, when I figured out the budget for the month, I knew we were going to need some kind of miracle before too long.

Later that day, I graduated.  I watched BYU's commencement exercises online, and as I did so, during a lull in the proceedings, I switched over to Facebook--just one of the blessings of not taking the walk.  There, on the wall, was a friend who was looking to hire two freelance writers for his business.

What?!  I couldn't believe my eyes.  This was absolutely perfect for me!  I contacted him and asked a few questions about the job.  Was it something an at-home mom could do?  Did it require a huge amount of time?

He assured me that I could do the job he needed done.  He asked me to write a cover letter and resume and take a writing test.  Having not done a resume or a cover letter in quite a long time (except for my last class at BYU), I was nervous.  He had posted the listing on Craig's list, so I was sure there were many, many applicants, and I was sure I wasn't going to be chosen, but I was pretty sure that I wanted it and was more perfect for it than anyone else who would be submitting a resume.

I hurried to get those things done. I took the writing test, and it was SO FUN!  I loved it!  This was just such a perfect match for me. How could he not hire me?  But, I haven't really spoken with him in twenty years, and he doesn't know that I'm perfect for this job, so why would he hire me?

Those were the thoughts that went through my mind.  On Monday mid-morning, I saw a chat box pop up on my computer.  He wanted me to call him.  What?  Really?  Was he just going to laugh at my sophomoric attempt at a resume?  Was he going to say, "Umm. Yah. Nice try, but no."

I called him right away, and guess what.  He wanted to hire me!  For real!  I now have a job.  It really is perfect for me.

The first deadline was last night. There were seventeen articles to be written.  Knowing that, since I was hired on Monday and the deadline would be Wednesday, my family would have to sacrifice just a bit more this time through. In the future, I'm thinking there will be more notice when a deadline is approaching, so I'll be able to pace myself a bit more judiciously.

So, my parents were right....Pay your tithing first.  I'm so extremely grateful for what's been provided. Something tells me, though, that the open windows of heaven may not be done showering down yet.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I'm a Working Girl

I got a job yesterday as a freelance writer for a health newspaper. Tomorrow is a major deadline, so although I've been neglecting this blog, I will be back soon.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Genealogy Fan Chart

Genealogy Fan Chart

Cry Baby

Ugh!  Today was one of those tip-the-scale kinds of days.  You know, the kind where if someone looks at you wrong--in a good way or a bad way--the feelings in your heart come leaking out of your eyes.  That's how church started out.

It started with the musical number in sacrament meeting.  The Elders Quorum (the men's group) got up and sang "Called to Serve."  In case you aren't familiar with this song, here it is for you....

I was impressed with the men standing in front of the congregation.  Some of them knew this song inside, outside and upside down--in Chinese, in Afrikaans, in Portuguese, in Spanish.  It's sung frequently when groups of missionaries get together.

Some of the men sang without books, some sang with books but never even looked at them (used them as a security blanket of sorts, I guess).  Some of them clung to them and intently followed each word.

I was impressed that no matter where these men were in their understanding of the significance of this song, there they were standing in front of us singing their hearts out.

"Onward.  Ever onward.  As we glory in His name."

I became grateful for missionaries who taught my grandparents and my mom.  I became very aware of how some of these men singing had been those who had taught some such as my family and how some had been taught.

I was also acutely aware of the fact that it's almost like missionaries are hand-picked for those who learn from them.  At least that was the case in my family.

My dad shared with me that it was the humor and a practical joke that one of  the missionaries pulled on my grandfather that helped him join the church.  It changed my family's life.  How would that missionary have known that unless he was inspired of God?

As I have come to understand more of my grandfather's story and the very difficult times he endured in his teen years, I now know the significance of some very directed missionaries.  I believe my grandfather's understanding of the gospel helped him to be able to forgive what may have seemed unforgivable before.  It was the catalyst for healing.  That healing benefited my grandfather's family, my dad's family, and now my family.

I am grateful for inspired and dedicated missionaries!

"God our strength will be.  Press forward ever.  Called to serve our King."

Thank you for your song today, gentlemen.  You touched my heart.

Hittin' It...Soon?

I keep thinking....This HAS GOT to be rock bottom.  Then I go a little further, and I think...No.  THIS has got to be rock bottom.

Lessons to be learned, by friends...lessons to be learned.

Hard Times - Be Ready for Some Whining

I'm having a tough go right now. I'm kind of keeping it to myself, but I have to get a job. I have to.

Increased car insurance with a new driver in the house and another one soon to come, which will increase it further. With the stolen purse issues, we've had to add some identity theft security to our lives as well which costs additional money each month--money that we didn't have before. I wish we didn't have to, but without it, there could be some really uglier, nastier things in the future. Wish I had a crystal ball right about now--don't we all?

School administrators have been on pay freezes for awhile. There is no raise year after year, and there are furlough days that he doesn't get paid for, so just like everyone else, the economy makes life tricky for our family too. Prices of things go up, but the dollars entering the home stay the same.

I'm really struggling with this. I want to do something that I can do at home. I applied for a job the other day that I'd really love to have. I think it'd be perfect, but we'll see how things go. Pray that I get it, will you please?

We're just trying to do the right things in hopes of receiving blessings for doing so. He's never let us down before.

Friday, April 20, 2012


I've really got nothing to write about today. It's been a couple of days, and I'm wiped out, so I thought I'd share a few of our family's favorite videos.  I guess you'll see how truly irreverent we are around here....

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Madhouse Munchings: THE Bread Recipe

When I started making bread a week or so ago, I didn't realize that it would turn into a daily event at our house.  Each member of the family loves walking in to the smell of fresh baked bread.  It's LOVELY!

So, I use this recipe, but here's an easier version for you.  If you're a novice at making bread, like I was, you may want to use the original site.  If you are a little more confident, here's a more consolidated list of instructions (or as we say at our house... "destructions").....

In a large bowl, pour one package of yeast for every loaf of bread you want to make (right now, I'm up to four) and 1 cup of warm water (not too hot) for each loaf too.  Stir until the yeast is fully dissolved.

Here's the rest of the instructions for one loaf of bread but triple, quadruple, whatever for however many loaves you want to make:

Stir in:
1 1/2 Tbsp. butter or margarine, melted
1 1/2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/4 C. milk
2 1/2 C. whole wheat flour

Slowly add (about 1/4 C. at a time):
2 1/2 C. white flour

I usually add 2 cups and use the last half cup to dust the dough as I knead it.

Pour the dough out onto a floured surface and knead it for 10 minutes.  This is my favorite part.  Such a great aggression release.

Spray the bowl with non-stick cooking spray, put the ball of dough back into the bowl, cover it loosely with plastic wrap and let it sit in a draft-free place (I put mine into an unheated oven or the microwave--not turned on, of course) for 1 hour.  The dough will double in size.

After the hour, take the bowl out and punch the dough down.  Lay it out on the floured surface again.  If you're making multiple loaves, cut the dough into however many loaves you're doing.

Roll the dough out so it's as wide as the bread pan, but longer than the pan.  Roll it up and fold the ends under.  Place it in a greased bread pan, cover it lightly again and place it back in the non-drafty place (if your place is the oven, don't pre-heat the oven until the bread is out--I probably didn't need to say that, but...just in case).  Let it sit for another hour.

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees and bake the bread for 30 minutes.  You know it's done if you tap on the top and it sounds hollow.

I spread butter over the top crust just to make it softer and give it a little flavor then I tip it out immediately onto a wire rack to cool.

I'm sure this dough could be used for all kinds of yummy things--scones, cinnamon rolls, monkey bread, etc., so have fun experimenting.  You can also tweak the amounts and kinds of flours you use.  The original recipe just called for white flour, but I was striving for something just a bit healthier.

This bread also makes FANTASTIC toast.  Enjoy!

The Year of the Upward Spiral

 Back in January, I declared 2012 the year of the "upward spiral."  I'm trying to focus my life on things that will bring positive change, and I'm working hard not to sabotage my own growth.  I just ran across this quote that struck a chord with me....

"Salvation is an eternal goal we gain by a process of  
constant upward change.  
Doubt is spiritual poison  
that stunts eternal growth. 
We must first feel our way before we can see it with any clarity. 
We prove ourselves 
by making numerous correct decisions 
without being absolutely sure; 
then comes a greater knowledge and assurance,  
not before. 
Happiness is created. 
 Love is its center
Its principal ingredients are 
sincere faith
true repentance
full obedience
and selfless service."

~Richard G. Scott, "Happiness Now and Forever", Ensign, Nov. 1979

Monday, April 16, 2012

Whose Responsibility is it Really?

I'm really trying to get to the bottom of my feelings in regard to the presidential election.  I have posted a question or two on Facebook and have received some really good answers from friends.

One friend sent me a couple of links to figure out where I stand politically.  You take a quiz, and it sorts you out.  I think I prefer this quiz, though.

I have to say I answered about five questions and was baffled by the stupidity of the questions on the first quiz...

"Some people should not be allowed to reproduce."

What?  Who should get to decide that one?  Yikes!  I'm sure I'd be on LOTS of peoples lists. 

"Access to healthcare is a right."

Hmm.  Interesting.

"Government should do something about the increasing violence in video games."


I just don't get this quiz.  I guess I figure if people are governing themselves responsibly, we shouldn't need government to do all of this for us.  For example, why do we need someone to step in and regulate pollution?  Umm...because we're too careless or it's not a high enough priority for us as individuals or we are selfish or....The list could go on and on and on.  Really, though, when it comes right down to it, if we were truly responsible people and cared for others as well as ourselves, wouldn't this be taken care of?

If I feel violent video games are bad, shouldn't I take some responsibility over what I can control in that area of my life?  If I don't like them, then maybe I should stay away from them.

I don't know.  I guess I just felt most of these questions exist as a result of people acting irresponsibly.  Maybe I'm simplifying this far too much, but if me or my company is dumping disgusting stuff into a river, wouldn't I know that that's not good for anyone and find a way to stop doing it and find another way to do what I need to without causing so much damage?

I'm having a hard time getting to the end of the first quiz.  It's making me crazy.  Why would anyone want to be president?  If these are the kinds of things they're dealing with, then it just sounds like glorified babysitting.  No thank you!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

For Crying Out Loud

A friend posted a question on Facebook about getting little ones to sleep through the night.  This got me thinking about what we had done.  I thought I'd share it here for anyone who might be struggling with this.

We started letting our kids cry it out when they were about 8 months old or so.  First, we'd make sure they were fed enough, dry enough and warm enough, so that we were sure that none of those things would play a factor in the tears.  Letting the kids cry would make me crazy. I doubt there's a mother out there who likes to hear their children cry, but having read up on things, I felt this was the solution to our problem.  It taught a child to calm him/herself.  It proved to do the trick for our family.

The first night, I'd go in and check on the child every ten minutes if he/she was still crying. I would set a timer. When it went off, I'd walk in and say "Goodnight" and walk back out without touching the child (unless, of course, I needed to lay him/her back down).

The next night, I'd go to twenty minutes. The next night 30. You get the idea. Usually by that third night, though, I wouldn't have to; the child would settle him/herself down before I got to the 30 minute time. Really, checking on the child was for my sake not his/hers.

Sometimes, because patterns are pretty well set, it may take a bit of time to build new habits, which is a total drag for a mom, but that's kind of how human nature is. So much of dealing with children is undoing old habits and replacing them with better ones. That's all that this is doing. It sometimes just takes a bit of perseverance and patience.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Friday the 13th

Years and years ago, my dad handed me a small, simple, wire-bound black book.  It ended up being one of my mom's journals.  It just happened to be the journal she kept from the year I was born.  As I read, I found that we really had very parallel lives.  One of the first things I wanted to see was how she had spent her birthday that year.  I loved reading about all the sweet things my dad had done to make her feel special.

Someday, who knows, my children might wonder how I spent my birthday.  So, for future reference, here's how the day went....

Friday the 13th is a great day to have a birthday.  Wow!  I can't believe how much I ate.  Ugh!

I was supposed to clean the garage that day.  That was my plan.  Umm...yah right.

I really had no other plans until the day before.  My sister-by-marriage (my traveling companion to Spokane last year) contacted me about getting together the night of the 12th.  At that very moment, a wonderful friend contacted me too, so we all three made plans together and went to the Cheesecake Factory.  While my friend and I were in the car, she asked if she had met my sister-by-marriage before.  It was then that I realized that they had on another birthday:

Kind of fun, huh?

We stayed out late and talked about all kinds of things and had some amazing cheesecake.  I had the Godiva chocolate cheesecake.  YUM!  I ended up taking half of it home.

In the morning (at 6:30, believe it or not), a friend came by to get me, and we went to breakfast.  This friend is one like I think everyone should have.  If you don't have a friend like her, pray for one.  She's been a God-send.  Any time I need last minute help, she's my go-to girl.  She will sacrifice in any way she can to help.  She makes herself available to watch my kids or come over and talk or whatever.  She's kind of like how my mom would have been if she were here.  Sometimes I wonder if my mom might have had a hand in the making of this friendship.

We had a great breakfast at Biscuits Cafe.  I had the sweet potato pancakes.  They were very good.  We talked over kids and life and getting and staying on track.  Then we talked over an invention I've been mulling over in my head.  Her husband's an engineer, so we're thinking the three of us might just be able to do something with this concept.  Fun!

I got home and interacted with my family and responded to facebook birthday greetings and then ran off to the Claim Jumper for lunch with my new and wonderful friend Bobbie.

Bobbie came all the way from Sheridan (an hour and a half away) to have lunch with me.  I love this woman!  We talked and talked and created some wonderful plans for the future that I'm SUPER excited about.  This is going to be a GREAT year!

When I got home, my friend Rachel had been by.  She had made Birthday Trifle (a tradition at her home) for us.  We had had this once before (see this link).  My love for Nutella is no secret.  Rachel had also made Nutella homemade ice cream.  Wow!  I was so sad I'd missed her.  What a great sacrifice for a woman who has had sick kids and has had all kinds of health problems since the birth of her last child.  Thank you, Rachel!  I wish I'd been there to thank you in person.

Again, I responded to some facebook greetings, watched Sesame Street with #6 and #7 on my laptop (on Netflix), did some indexing and ran off with #1 to go give blood at the blood drive that was going on at the church.

The Warden and I used to go give blood on a regular basis.  We would always race to see who would bleed faster.  Yesterday's blood-letting only took five minutes.  Beat that Mr. Hess!  HeeHee.  In the past he'd also gloat about how many more times he'd given than I had.  There were times when I was pregnant that I couldn't give, so he'd go without me.  Now, though, I have him beat big time.  He can't go any more, so I'm on my own.  I'm not sure if I've passed him up yet, but I think I'm pretty close. 

Lynne, the woman who took my blood, handed me a birthday pin.  That was fun!

On the way to the church for the blood drive, #1 and I had taken the top off the car.  That's how beautiful the day was.  As we walked back out, big ol' drops of rain had just started to come down.  Ugh!  We ran to the car to put the top back on (No, I hadn't left my purse in it; although, jokingly, I had told #1 I was going to before we went in.  At least I'm getting so I can joke about it now.  I'm thinking that means I've come a long way).  We got the top on just in time, but it poured down.  The day had started out so beautifully.  Such is Portland, I guess.

We went home and hung around for a bit while #2 went to basketball practice.  #4 also had a campout to go on, so he left in the mid-afternoon.  When #2 and the Warden got home, we took off for dinner.  We went to Applebee's, which I thought I loved, but I guess not so much any more--small portions for a big price.  The food was adequate.  #1 and I shared the spinach artichoke dip, and I had shrimp and chicken.  They gave me a free dessert--a chocolate mousse with oreos in it.  I shared it around the table.

The funniest thing about dinner was just after we pulled up and parked in the parking lot.  We got out of the car and started walking on the sidewalk toward the front door, and as we looked in the windows at the diners, they were (at three different tables), literally turned around in their chairs gawking at us.  No joke.  We bought our van three years ago (on April 12th, by the way), but I have to say, in that amount of time, I've never felt like such a freak show.  I smiled and waved at everyone, but they really unabashedly continued their wide-mouthed staring.  Amazing!  Was it my driving?  Or maybe it was our breathtaking gorg-e-osity.  HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!  Yup.  That has to be it, right?

An old friend, Megan, was hostessing.  She was in #1's Girl Scout troop years ago.  We followed her to our table.  #7 danced, beebopped and lip-synced to the music in her high chair the entire time.  #5 and #6 got dancing too.

We got home, opened presents and headed to bed.

What a great day!

Thank you to everyone who made it a special day!  Thank you to those who took the time to be with me and for all of my Facebook friends who sent love and wishes .  Thank you particularly to the Warden and our children for being patient with your old mother and for partying with me and  making me feel special all day long.  I love you!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Only One Chance to Make a Difference

Back in the day, I worked at a company that sold flower seeds and distributed them all over the United States.  I was, as yet, a young, unmarried, 20-something working girl.  Many of my co-workers were young married women, and they all seemed to get pregnant with their first child at about the same time.  These were great people.  I loved being around them.

They all went and had their babies, and one by one, all but one, returned to work.  One of the first to have her baby, had her and then returned to work the following week.  Her intention was to take a six-week maternity leave.  We were all surprised to see her return so soon.

As she entered the door that morning, she announced that motherhood was "Boring."  She was so bored she had to come back.  Her mother was home with the baby.

I remember looking at this, me, as a single woman, and clearly it left an impression because I still ponder on it all these years later.  Motherhood....Boring?

I has just returned from Japan where I had seen mothers, when their children were very young, teaching them, singing to them and doing all that they could to build their children.

Boring just wasn't going to be part of my life, but I knew that was up to me.

I've been going through boxes in the garage.  What a fun project, huh?  Well, yesterday I ran across a box that contained old Franklin planner pages.  What I found were the pages from the days when I was a mother to one and then two children.  Fascinating!  I had forgotten what those days were like.

Every single day had a plan--a class here, a trip to the library there.  Seriously, not one day was empty.  I had forgotten that focus.  I wanted to do it right.  I was only going to have this child to raise once. and I wanted to enrich their brains while they were mold-able.  Anything but boring.  I remember reading a lot and searching for ways to form my children into good people.  I knew that eventually they would make their own choices completely and break out on their own, but for that short time in their lives, I wanted to make a difference.

Motherhood hasn't always been exciting and scintillating, as you can imagine.  Changing diapers for ten plus years straight, was anything but fun.  There have been days of emotional melt-downs for the children and me.  There have been days when I've longed for adult company, but would I change that for anything in this world?  Would I trade it for the money I could have had working during that time?  No way!  Because it was so much more than diaper changes, and I still hope that my work and planning and sacrifice in these years at home will pay off in the future in the lives of my children.

Have we struggled?  You'd better believe it.  Have we contemplated sending me off to work?  The Warden hasn't, but I have.  To be honest, on one of our first dates, the Warden said, point blank, that his wife would be a working mom.  I smiled and said nothing but thought I wasn't the woman for him.  Being raised by a caring, loving at-home mom, I knew that was what I wanted for my children, so it was worth the sacrifice needed to make it happen.

Timing is a funny thing.  Just yesterday reliving those early days in the planner pages and then today, I ran across this.  I would love to be able to embed the video for you to watch here, but that option didn't exist.  Sorry.

I'm sure that Ms. Rosen intended to aim it specifically at Mrs. Romney, but it strongly reeked of opposition to mothers staying at home to raise their children.  In other words, I took it as an attack on mothers, like me, who have chosen to stay home and raise their children.

Mrs. Romney, at one point shares that her husband used to say, "Ann, your job is more important than mine."  This, I believe, is the viewpoint that the Warden has taken.  I'm pretty sure he wouldn't trade places with me and that he wouldn't trust the raising of our children to anyone else as long as he can help it.

Ms. Rosen is highlighted a number of times during this broadcast, the second time she speaks, she starts with, "This is not about Ann Romney..."

So, although Ms. Rosen came right out and said, first thing, "Ann Romney,"but  this isn't about Ann Romney, I guess.

She continues:

"This is about the waitress in a diner in someplace in Nevada who has two kids whose daycare funding is being cut off because of the Romney/Ryan budget, and she doesn't know what to do.  This isn't about whether Ann Romney or I or other women of some means can afford to make a choice to stay home and raise kids.  Most women in America, let's face it, don't have that choice."

If Mitt Romney has told his wife that her job was more important than his, then doesn't it follow that he would feel that way about all mothers and children?  Doesn't it also follow that he would try to make that a possibility for all families?  I'm trying to keep religion out of this, but these are the values he was raised with.

"He seems so old fashioned when it comes to women, and I think that comes across, and I think that that's going to hurt him over the long term.  He just really doesn't see us as equal."

I think I look at this statement from a different angle.  If Mitt is distant with women, I get that.  Completely, but this is just my opinion.  It is similar to how my husband, as an elementary school teacher, couldn't ever be in the same classroom alone with a female student.  We have had past presidents who have been too familiar with women and have gotten into trouble.  I believe Mitt keeps a respectable distance.  This has nothing to do with his "old fashioned" views or treatment of women. Unless "old fashioned" means avoiding any appearance of evil.

Okay, so Ms. Rosen has just blown HUGE holes in her whole beginning argument.  I believe she started out her comments with "What my wife tells me is that what women really care about are economic issues, and when I listen to my wife, that's what I'm hearing."  Then she goes on to say that he treats women as unequal.  If anything, it looks to me like Mitt puts his wife's opinion as utmost in his life.

From what I've heard, it was listening to "his wife" that got him into this race.

Maybe it's Ms. Rosen who doesn't see US (working moms and stay-at-home moms) as equals.  Hmm....

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


I haven't felt like myself lately.  It's starting to feel like it's been so long since I've felt normal that I'm starting to wonder what I'm doing wrong.  I decided yesterday that my problem must be that I'm becoming too self-absorbed, so I must need to take more chances to serve others and reach out more.  I got on my knees in the morning and asked for some opportunities to reach beyond myself.

It was an amazing day.  Service opportunities presented themselves.  One would end and another would begin.  It was a great day full of stretching, reaching, and drawing closer to others, but by the end of the day, I was ragged and still feeling not quite right.  Had I barked up the wrong tree?  No, I had done some very good things with my day.  This wasn't wrong, but I believe it helped lead me to what was really wrong....

The Warden and I lay in bed last night talking about life.  He shared the fact that I've been REALLY scattered lately (I mean more than normal--scary huh?)--losing things that I wouldn't normally. That kind of stuff.  Important things.  I'd be too embarrassed to tell you what, but just believe me...Important.

I pondered what he'd just shared and then combined that with the knots that have existed continually in my stomach for the past three or so weeks.  It was then that it occurred to me....

Do you see Maslov's Hierarchy of Needs above?  Well, yah.  I'm typically at the top of that pyramid.  I'm sitting there in the sunshine.  Well, my friends, not any more.

In the past month, I have dropped a couple of rungs, and rather suddenly.  See that umbrella?  Well, that seems to be where I'm currently hunkering.  I, to be honest, find myself worrying about things I've never worried about before.

I don't expect you to understand this because I haven't shared what's still missing from the collection that I called the contents of my purse.  But, I hope you'll use your imagination when I tell you that some very important things are missing.

My brain is so stuck in safety and security that I'm having problems rising toward the sunshine.

It kind of ticks me off that the insurance company is going back and forth about one of the issues--a $3600 issue that MUST be taken care of for part of my feelings of security to return.  I'm hoping that these issues are resolved soon.

I expressed to the Warden that I feel very alone in my fear.  I try to express it, and he and the kids think I'm way overboard in my safety measures--I'm doing what I can to keep them safe.  Darn!  I wish I could tell you so you didn't have to imagine.  They're not crazy things....Just common sense things that we didn't do before.  Anyway, I think they think I've lost my mind.

Being the great man he is, the Warden asked me what the issues really were, so I listed them for him.  I hadn't realized, until I did that, just how much emotion is wrapped up in those things.  He then asked what I felt needed to be done in order to have them resolved.  I was able to tell him everything in detail--all things outside of my control, but I have spent that much time pondering on them that I was able to just spout them all off in a matter of seconds.

This morning, the Warden called me from work.  I think he'd been there for about an hour.

Last night, when we were talking, the lights were out.  He wrote nothing down, but when he called, he went down the list and enumerated all the things he had done and all the people he had contacted to take care of my issues.  WOW!!!  He'd really listened to me.  Not only did he listen, but he put it all into action so quickly.

I feel so loved!  I'm looking forward to moving back up that pyramid some time soon.  Thank you Warden, for bringing that a bit closer.

I must add, though, that I am aware that there are people in this world who exist where I am now, yearning for safety and security, and even down to the bottom of the hierarchy, every minute of every day of their lives.  So sad!  I feel for them.  I am grateful for what I have, but I also recognize that those things I've been blessed with are to be used to help those who feel as I do now.  Where much is given, much is required.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Just the Way It Is

I got nothin' today.  Just feeling grumpy and kind of useless.  Not sure what's gotten into me, but there you go....that's the truth.  I'll be back when I'm in a better mood.  Wish I could share more about the incidents of the past few weeks, but I don't dare, so there's no way you can understand right now.  **sigh**

Trying to rise above, and at times I'm successful, but it's still got me.

Sometimes I guess you just have to give in for a few minutes and throw yourself a good ol' pity party and move on.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Tender Mercy: Hosanna!

Yesterday during Primary, the children sang this song.

 I had just asked one of the four-year-old boys if he would say the closing prayer. The boy originally assigned was home sick, and this little guy, it was visibly apparent, was more than excited to be asked to pray. He came up front just before we did our closing song and sat in the "prayer chair" to await his turn.

As we got to the part of the closing song, he turned to me and asked, "What does 'Hosanna' mean?" I realized that I didn't really know.  I told him as much but explained that I thought it was something like, "Yay."

He said his prayer. He did such a great job, and shortly thereafter, the little kids went off to classes.

The older kids came in. We went through the entire meeting and then sang the same song. As we finished, just before the assigned child prayed, a nine-year-old boy, who was sitting in the front row, raised his hand. This is a boy who is not a member of the Church, but I don't think any of the kids know that, and most of us adults forget that fact too. He asks lots and lots of questions. I love kids like this!

It would have been so easy to have passed over his raised hand at this point in the meeting because it was the closing song, and the prayer follows it immediately, but we have a wise chorister. She turned to him, and he said, "'Hosanna' means 'Save us.'"

Wow! Out of the mouths of babes!

I'm so grateful to know this. I feel like this was my tender mercy yesterday. I needed this information as a reminder.

My mind goes back to those people in the time of Christ. Many of them knew His purpose. They believed Him.

This is my challenge too. When times get tough, I must remember His purpose.

He will save me--not only in the eternal scheme of things, but here and now. The challenge is to lean and trust.


Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Fun Theory

Have you been to this site?

Oh my goodness!  BRILLIANT!!!

Here's one of the videos for you....

...And "The Speed Camera Lottery..." What a genius idea!

So, it's Saturday morning, and my children are dragging themselves around the house attempting to do the drudgery of cleaning their rooms.

After seeing this, I HAVE to make the Saturday clean up more fun. What should I do?

Hmm....This has my wheels turning.

Do you have any good ideas?

Chuck It All!

Have you ever watched the show Hoarders?  I'm not a T.V. watcher, but I'm loving watching Hoarders on Netflix.  If you have seen it, don't you get done watching an episode, and just want to throw stuff away?  Man, oh man, I do!

I am not a hoarder, but my garage says otherwise.  It is an ongoing battle.  As I watch the show, my garage lingers in the dark recesses of my brain.  I know that if I can get it all cleaned out and orderly, life is good.  If I only get it part way cleaned out, watch out!  If I don't get back in there for awhile, the piles will grow again, and let's be real here, how often do I get out and have that kind of time in my garage?  It's so easy to put stuff out there and have it out of sight.

This has been the pattern for the last few months.  With only being able to spend a few hours at a time (if that) out there, I can only get partially done each time.  I would say that I go out there every couple months and try again.  The problem is getting the time to walk back out with little children in the house.  When am I ever going to get back in there and take care of it?  All of it.

Although I know everyone is different, there seem to be a few characteristics that the show illuminates.  Here are a few of what I think are my non-hoarder-esque characteristics....I have no problem chucking things.  I actually LOVE doing it.  I also don't need someone to tell me to do it.  I'm motivated.  I would LOVE to have the time to get out there uninterrupted and just tackle it.  It would be wonderful.  That just seems to not be my season in life (I hate that term, by the way).

Also unlike hoarder's tendencies, I'm not a big shopper.  I'm kind of the opposite.  I'm the kind of person who, if left to walk around the store long enough, will put whatever I intended to buy back on the shelves or racks.  I hate having stuff.  The less the better, in my book.  You've read my stuff on minimizing and my great desire to do so, right?  So where does this garage thing come from?

So how am I like the hoarders I see on the show?  I have a tendency to think or hope that someone's going to come along and do it for me, but along with that comes some amount of anxiety about having someone else come and take care of it for me.  What if something important gets thrown away?  I also feel that I have to go through each and every thing a piece one at a time, and I'm the only one who can do that.

I think of the amount of time I think it's going to take me to get it done, and that alone overwhelms me.  I am not at a place in life in which I can go out there each and everyday and do "just a little bit."  It really is an all or nothing proposition.

Also, if given the chance to hang out with my kids or be in the garage cleaning, I'm sure you already know who or what's going to win that battle.  Actually, that's no battle at all; that's not even a minor argument.  But really, what mom, in her right mind, would choose a messy garage over her little darlings?  Definitely not me--darlings win every time.

I think my garage affects my life.  I think it is continually on my mind--way in the back, but it's there nonetheless; maybe this is just an affect from watching Hoarders.  But, I really do think that if it were clean, it would help me feel more motivated to do other things.  It would free my brain up from some of the space it currently occupies.

Tonight, I watched an episode about a guy who isn't yet a hoarder but is working his way there.  The psychotherapist said that hoarding is a progressive disease.  Yikes!  Does this mean that if I allow my garage to overwhelm me too much, I could get depressed and let other parts of my house fall into the same pattern?

Anyway, tonight, I approached the Warden and asked for two days.  Two days in which someone else would keep the children busy so I could focus on the garage.  I told him that I need to clear the shelves and label them each so that they would hold particular things so that as I go through the boxes, I will have a place to put the things that we need--camping equipment, sports gear, emergency supplies, etc.

The other challenges are having a place for garbage, recycling, stuff that needs to be shredded, etc. while I'm working.  Those items will need to leave immediately.  If any is left at the end of the experience, the stuff will begin to grow again.  I know this from past experience.

The next day off from school is this coming Friday.  I figure the Warden can keep track of the youngest kids so I can get out there.  Give me Friday and Saturday, and it'll be done.  Friday also happens to be my birthday, so he thinks I'm ridiculous for asking such a thing, and maybe I am, but it would be so delightful to be free of it.
This is how I think I'll feel after its done--so worth it!

At this point, we have a car parked in there, so it's not dreadful, but it would be nice to have two cars in there.  That will be the goal--the car, no more piles and orderly shelves.

Boy, if I keep watching this show after the garage is clean, I wonder what place'll bug me next.

The happy thing is that I feel like we've hit a good spot with the rest of our house.  Once all the kids are home each day, I call them all together and set a timer for 15 minutes.  I ask them to work hard on the area of the house that's been assigned them for the week for just that length of time.  It works beautifully, and the evening is much more orderly and peaceful.

I really do feel for these people on the show.  One of the women said, "I knew I needed help.  I just didn't know who I could go to."  Sad!  They claim that three million people suffer from hoarding.  If my partway messy garage bugs me and makes me feel this way, I would hate to feel what they feel.  Just so overwhelming and despairing.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Good Friday

On Facebook this morning, a cousin reminded me (and the rest of her FB friends) that today is Good Friday.

I don't celebrate "Good Friday" and to be honest, don't really know what that means, but I'm pretty sure it's the Friday before Easter and has something to do with Christ's death and His body being placed in the tomb.  Am I close?  Maybe I should research things before I blog about them, huh?

As I read her reminder today, I was astounded by the fact that I am reading the PERFECT chapter for this season--the season of Easter--the time of the resurrection and Atonement of Jesus Christ.

When I was a missionary, Ed J. Pinegar was the President of the Missionary Training Center (MTC).  Each day, his voice would come over the P.A., and he'd give us missionaries a little mini-devotional.  I loved hearing his fatherly voice.  It was so wonderful to hear his uplifting messages.  One thing I remember particularly, because I wanted to do it and be touched by it like he said I would, was to spend an entire week just reading and pondering 2 Nephi 9.

I tried it.  I really did, but I didn't get it any more than I had in the past.

This is where I've found myself for the past three days.  Yesterday I got up to verse 20, and today I progressed an entire five verses in a half hour.  Tomorrow I will start on verse 26.  I didn't go into this chapter consciously thinking I would follow President Pinegar's admonition.  As I progressed so slowly through the meat of this chapter, I looked to see just what chapter I was studying; it was only then that it dawned on me that it was that chapter.

Here I am, more than twenty years later, finally getting what President Pinegar meant.  Some of us are a bit remedial.

This chapter is steeped in the Easter message and what it means to us individually--not just to those of us who are baptized members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but to us as members of the human race--as God's children.

Today, as I finished verse 25, I concluded that this life is all about only one choice.  One!  My notes now read:  "The Atonement: take it or leave it."

Take a minute and read 2 Nephi 9.  It puts the entire issue in black and white.  Wonderful!  While you're at it, take a look at Mosiah 3:19, which I have referred to a number of times while reading these past couple days.  It especially ties in with 2 Nephi 9:19 (it defines what a saint is and therefore, defines what The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints means--just in case you were wondering).

Happy Easter!  He is risen...that we may too.

Thursday, April 5, 2012


Check it out!  I made this today.  Yesterday's bread turned out okay, but I inadvertently turned what should have been one loaf into two, so they were two small loaves.

Here's the recipe for today's bread.  I made a white loaf, and then I made two wheat loaves in my bread maker with a different recipe.

On yesterday's post when I said I hadn't made bread in a long time, I guess that's not exactly true.  I make cinnamon rolls, etc., but I always cheat and use my bread machine to make the dough.  Today and yesterday, I decided to make it completely by hand.

If you decide to use this recipe, just make sure you throw a cup of warm water in with your packet of yeast first and let it sit after you stir it together for about 15 minutes or so.  This activates the yeast.  The recipe says to follow the directions on the yeast packet, but mine didn't say anything, so I just used the cup of water and a packet of yeast, and it worked great.

I swear, there's nothing like a fresh, warm piece of homemade bread.  YUM!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Homemade Bread

I got home from my shopping trip a couple weeks ago and put the bread away.  Before I did so, I checked the nutrition label and the ingredients.  High fructose corn syrup?!  Really?!  No, I don't think so.  How long's that been there?  How long have I been buying this bread?

Last week, I decided to check labels a bit more closely.  I found some without corn syrup in them.  I paid a bit more, but I went for it anyway.

Today, though, I'm giving up on the stores.  I've decided to make it myself.  My mom used to say she wasn't a bread maker.  She was just never successful at it, so she didn't do it.

In high school, I took her words as a challenge, so many Saturdays I'd make bread.  It was fun, and it turned out good every time.

It's now been years since I've made bread, and to be honest, I've kind of given in to my mom's attitude.  That's not me, that's her.  I have to keep telling myself I can do this.  I'm using this recipe.

Wish me luck....Here I go.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Envelope System: Month #6

I've been putting this post off, but I need to write it so I can document the mistakes and successes from this past month.  In other words, I can't put it off forever.

The day the Warden got paid, I emailed him the cash amount and denominations we needed, and he stopped at the bank on his way home to pick them up.  He's right up around the corner from the bank, so it just made sense to have him do this.  It also gets him involved a bit more.  Up until now, it's just been me.

That night, after dinner, I sat down with the list and the envelopes and distributed the funds.

There are two things I want to do with this system that I haven't implemented yet but will soon:

1.  Have a weekly meeting with the Warden to discuss where we are financially.
2.  Have a spreadsheet in which we jot down how much is in each envelope and update the amounts each month.  For now, I only have what I put into that envelope each month not the accumulation.  With the new spreadsheet, I can keep track of the total amount and know if any goes missing.

One of the things I originally did with this system was to put my debit cards away in another part of the house.  I'm not sure why, but as time has passed, these cards have crept back into my wallet even though they went unused.

The day after the money was distributed, my purse was stolen.  I had just cleaned my purse out that afternoon, so I knew exactly what was in it.  The good thing was that I had started to leave most of the cash in envelopes outside of my purse.  The bad thing was that I still had the month's medical/dental/pharmacy budget, the first week's grocery budget, the money to spend on clothing for the month and the gas money for April in my purse.  Needless to say, that money is now gone.

With the rules of the envelope system, you're not supposed to "rob Peter to pay Paul," but it can't be helped this month.  I should, at this point, take another look at the different budgets and reallocate funds, and I think that's exactly what I'll do.  I just haven't been able to bring myself to do it yet.  It was tough enough deciding on the budget originally and getting everything just right.  Now, to have to do it with less to work with, that's a tall order.  I just need to get past it, and do it.

Anyway, this is all about this month--not last month....

Last month was a tricky one.  Two kids were signing up for high school track, so I pulled out the spring sports envelope and had all but $20 for that.  One thing I hadn't accounted for was my non-high school child wanting to run track too.  There was no money left for her, but she walked in the door with a flyer and told me that she didn't really want to run track, so it was okay.  She shared with me why she felt it was a rip off--too much money for too few meets.  I should have known, by the way she brought the flyer in, that she really wanted me to say that she should do it anyway, but I didn't argue with her.  I just let it go.

A week later, one of the high school track runners  had been injured and things still weren't getting better.  We decided as time passed, that that child was going to have to withdraw.  Sad because I looked forward to seeing both my kids run this year.  In the meantime, that child has gotten a job and is earning money toward college, so it really was a blessing.

Because of the withdrawal, we received that child's portion back from the high school, and we now have the money to pay for the other child to run and for her younger brother to play spring soccer.  After the money was returned, I approached that child and asked if she was sure she didn't want to run track this season.  She, very enthusiastically, shared how she really had wanted to run, and although I hadn't said anything, she was concerned that there wouldn't be enough money to sign up with.  It really is quite expensive considering it's middle school track, but I feel badly that she jumped to this conclusion without even asking.

Where does one strike that balance between kids' activities and the money required for such activities?  This is a very frustrating thing right now.  Our kids don't do an awful lot of after school activities--just sports during part of the year, so when they come forward and show interest, I want to be able to say yes.

At this point, I am working on a post about what to do if your purse or wallet is stolen.  I really have gained a new education this past month.  The individual(s) who stole mine were pros.  There's no question about it.  I'm pretty sure they waited for a chump like me to show up.  The surprising thing is how many people I've spoken with that have had very similar things happen to them.  Wow!  I had no idea.

I'm still dedicated to the envelope system.  Maybe more than ever.  Even though a portion of it was stolen, it could have been much worse.  We still had cash stowed away elsewhere for other things--Peter's still waiting there and willing to give to Paul as needed.  PHEW!  Had all of our money been in our bank accounts, all the thieves would have had to do was use those cards as Visa purchases and not had someone check their signatures or used the checks in the purse, and it would have all gone away.  Then we would have REALLY been hurting.

Another really good thing is that we aren't credit card users, so there wasn't even one of those blasted things in the purse.  Phew!

If you haven't started the envelope system for yourself, I highly recommend it.  Here are the previous posts:

FYI:  Envelope System
Month 1
Months 2-6

#4's Dinner

#4 has a thing for making homemade pizza.  His dinner night is Monday, which perfectly coincides with Family Home Evening.

Last night, the Warden got home all fired up to watch the NCAA final game, so we had Family Home Evening early.

#4 had made one batch of dough in the bread machine in the morning before he left for school and had to throw the other in when he returned home.  The dough finished in perfect time.  #4 and I sprayed four pans and divided the dough into nine pieces.  We stretched them into circles and laid them on the trays.  #4 went around and spread sauce on each, and we sprinkled each with mozzarella cheese.

We called everyone in and had them decorate their pizzas however they wanted to.  For toppings, we had:

  • pepperoni
  • sausage
  • pineapple
  • mushrooms
  • olives

We couldn't possibly fit all four pans in the oven at the same time, so we cooked the larger pizzas first for 15 minutes and then threw the smaller ones in for 12 minutes. 

While they baked, we had Family Home Evening.

Dinner was FANTASTIC!

Here's the dough recipe we used.  Like I said, we used the bread machine, so we put all of the ingredients in in the exact order listed.

1 C. water
3 C. flour
1 tsp. salt
2 Tbsp. oil
1 pkg. yeast

We put it on the French bread dough setting.  I took about an hour and 38 minutes to finish the setting.

There's just some amount of satisfaction that what's being served is fresh and not filled with all kinds of additives and preservatives.  There's also a wonderful feeling knowing that the kids finish their night feeling capable.


The last talk at General Conference ended with the encouragement to be positive about life. This morning, as I opened the scriptures, the first thing I read was 2 Nephi 8--talking about looking to God in all the ups and downs of life. I went to Facebook and found a comment from a friend in regard to last night's post about March being so "hideously bad." He shared that he and his wife and the Warden and I had gone to dinner twice and to a broadway show in March.

Wow! Yah! March was a ridiculously GOOD month. Isn't it amazing how good life is--even in the hard times.

Even my hard times weren't that hard when I look back. I learned A TON from them.

I'm grateful for a stolen purse, a dead dishwasher and some difficult challenges with a child. I'm grateful for what these experiences have taught me and how they've helped me grow.

I'm grateful for good friends who have been and continue to be tender mercies in my life.

I'm grateful for a life full of variety. It's definitely not boring.

I'm grateful that God is aware of me. I'm so glad to be able to look back and see that He didn't leave me comfortless.

Yes, March was a VERY good month.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Time to Celebrate!

March was a hideously bad month. I'm, to be honest, very happy to see it go. It went by rather quickly too, which I think was a very tender mercy. Good riddance, March!

So, now we're into April and so far, so good. This month, there are things to celebrate. My birthday is the 13th (yes, Friday, the 13th). The years my birthday has landed on a Friday have actually been my best birthdays, so I'm not complaining this year at all. Along with it being a Friday, the kids'll be out of school, so I'll get to drag them off to my favorite place in the world (I hope) if we end up not heading to Spokane, which at this point, doesn't look all that good.

The other thing to celebrate this month is graduation. I'm sorry, did I not say that with enough emphasis? Let's try again...GRADUATION! April 19th is the day! A Thursday. No, I'm not going to take the walk. Too boring for my kids to sit through to just clap for me for ten seconds, but I want to do something that night that will make it memorable.

So...plans are underway. I'm not sure what it'll be yet, but it WILL be something. Be watching for details.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Getting them to Clean Up

In the last post, I mentioned having the kids help clean up the house and giving them a Brownie in a Mug for doing so.  That particular day we played "Magic Scrap."  We don't do this very often any more, but it's a really fun way to get kids to help clean, and in the list of topics from friends, the topic posed was--"How to motivate children to work/complete their chores," so here goes....some ways we clean the Madhouse.....

The best way to get kids to work is to start them young...as young as possible--while they want to help.

We didn't have official jobs (I don't call them chores because of the negative connotation of that word) until a few years back.  We always just asked the kids to do things spontaneously and taught them that that was what was expected.  The assigned jobs have complicated that a little bit.  Kids now, from time to time, will say, "But that's not my job."  Ugh!  I hate that!  I work really hard now to teach them that that's not the right answer.  When they're asked to do something, it's still expected that they will do it.  They're coming around to understanding that again, but it's taking some time.  I think if I had my druthers, I'd choose to go back to the old way.

To get them motivated, I will often say, "As soon as _____ is done, you may join us for ______."  Even with the assigned weekly jobs, the kids know that these must be done before they can join us for dinner.  We have also assigned jobs for before dinner and after dinner that rotate weekly so that everyone is involved with getting dinner on the table and the clean up after.

When I was going to college, I had to find a magazine article dealing with education and report my findings in a paper for a class.  The article I chose was on rewarding children for tasks completed.  The findings were that if a reward was promised and expected, as soon as the reward wasn't given any more the behavior would stop, but if the reward wasn't expected and was done only from time to time, it was more likely that the behavior would continue.  That's how I work now.  I try to vary things in how we work, and how we reward.  That is if I choose to give something as a reward at all.

Most of the time, the kids have their own area of the house that they clean each day.  Those jobs rotate weekly on Saturdays.  Sometimes, though, usually when no one seems motivated, we go around the house together, and I direct the kids on what they need to do.  I pick up along with them because I know that I need to set the example and there are times when I need to train a child on how to do a particular job.  This is my favorite way of cleaning.  As an example of this, I ask one child to scour a toilet, one child to pick up the towels and put them in the laundry room and yet another child to clean the mirror.  Each child does something different, but I'm right there.  We move from one part of the house and clean up in a very orderly way.  The kids would prefer to do their assigned jobs, but like I said before, this is my favorite way to clean house.  The other way we clean is with this game of "Magic Scrap."

Magic Scrap was something I saw a teacher use in her classroom when I was volunteering one day.  The Warden used it in his classroom when he taught elementary school too.  The one thing you must have with magic scrap is a reward for the winner.

At our house, I go from room to room with a piece of paper and pen before the game begins and choose one, two or three items that I designate as the magic scrap for that room.  I write them down on the paper and move to the next room.

When I've jotted down scraps for each room, I share the rules with the kids.  I explain where we'll be cleaning and how many scraps there are.  When I'm working with older kids, sometimes I make it so that the scraps aren't "things" at all, they're jobs.  For example, in a bathroom, it might be emptying the garbage or scrubbing the counter.  I don't tell them if that's the case, I just simply explain that in each room it might be a scrap or a job.  With little kids, I make sure it's only items to pick up.  I also share with the kids that there will be a reward in the end.  That reward might be anything from a treat to time on the computer.  If I know that the reward is something that will really motivate them, I'll share the specifics of what the reward is; otherwise, I just simply tell them that a reward is awaiting them but nothing more than that.

We start in one room.  The kids get moving.  As soon as the scrap(s) is/are found or completed, they're done with that room.  Even if the scrap is the first thing found, that's it; they're done.  Needless to say, I try not to choose easy scraps, but I also don't want to completely discourage them by the scrap being too hard to find.  That last time we played, I chose to pick a scrap in the pantry.  #4 found the scrap within the first two minutes in there, and we were done.  Bummer!  But those are the rules of the game.

I jot down who found the scrap, but I don't give credit to the finder until I'm sure the thing has been put away.  Sometimes I'll ask the child who just had the scrap in his/her hand where he/she put it when he/she returns to the room.  If it's not put the right place, I'll say, "Try again with that" and allow him/her a moment to get it right.  Sometimes another sibling will rush out of the room to go find the thing that's been put in the wrong place and put it in the right place.  If they can get there before the first child, great!  Whoever puts it in the right place gets the credit for it.

One thing I learned pretty quickly was to not give clues.  If you say, "It's a big thing," the kids'll only pick up the big things.  If you say, "It's on the counter," the kids won't pick up anything on the floor.  Don't tell them it's blue or round or soft or has wheels because you'll end up with happy kids but a disappointed you when all is said and done.  Your room'll be messy but free of anything blue, round, soft or wheeled, and if that's what you want, hey, go for it!

In the end, it's good to reward all of the workers, but I reward those who found the magic scraps more.  Last time, when I promised the Brownies in a Mug, I told the kids that the person who found the most scraps would get a bigger brownie.  I also promised that the hardest worker would get to choose the movie we watched that night.

I don't tell the results of the game until all is said and done.  This is because if #5 knows that #4 has found six and he has only found four and there are still two left, he will get very discouraged and will quit.  So, make sure that you not only don't tell them who's ahead, but praise them for their great work even if you know that they haven't found a single scrap.  They don't know any different anyway.  If you praise them enough, they may even think they're rockin' it and that they have the game in the bag.

Typically, when it comes to work, I don't believe in rewards.  I tend to allow the intrinsic reward of self-confidence do the teaching.  I also believe that praise (and in many cases over the top praise) does a lot more than we give it credit for.  My kids want to make me happy, and when I show them that I'm the happiest woman on the earth because of something they did, life is not only good, it's GREAT!

If you haven't started your child young, don't feel like I do at this point in my life about ever becoming a championship figure skater.  It's never too late to teach a child to work.  Start now.  Take baby steps.  I think teaching a child to work requires us to take the time to teach him/her just how to do a task and how we expect it to be done.  I also believe that teaching a child to work is a wonderful opportunity to teach a child respect.  My children work because they respect me, or they learn to as they do the jobs I normally do.  They learn that it's not fair to leave all the work to one person, and they learn to respect themselves as capable people who can do hard things.

Most importantly, we are preparing our children for the future.  We are showing them that we trust them and that we think they're capable people with something to offer.

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