Friday, September 30, 2011

The Entitlement Trap


I've been seeing quite a lot of hype about this book in blogland, so I was excited when I was asked to review it.

I have devoured it. Devoured. And I am excited to implement the principles I've learned in my own household.

In the introduction, The Eyres explain how entitlement is the "one reason parenting is harder today than it has ever been." And then they go on to explain that entitlement comes from a lack of ownership. Children are given so much and little is expected of them. It took much more work to keep a household running 50 years ago than it does today, and children really had to help out.

Even though I feel like there is no way I can run my household effectively without help, and I do try to involve my children in the work, I realize that I don't expect nearly enough of them. I find myself justifying this because they have so much homework, music practice (which is a priority in our house) and other activities to do. But after reading this book, I am realizing that my girls don't take ownership of nearly enough.

Each chapter addresses ways to give our children ownership and a sense of equity in the family. I liked the focus on children having an inherent sense of justice, and that they do need to feel that they are equal members in the household. Giving them ownership helps them feel that, helps them to avoid feelings of entitlement, and to boot, helps me. Definitely a win-win situation.

Some of the chapters include:

Ownership of their own money
Ownership of their own stuff
Ownership of their own values
Ownership of their own goals
Ownership of their own bodies
Ownership of education
Ownership of relationships and conflicts

I am really big on personal responsibility in my house, just ask my children. I never allow them to blame others for their actions. But this book has made me realize how much further I need to go with personal responsibility and ownership. I loved it.

And, lucky for me, it goes really well with this week's goal in my Project Walking into a Hug: Create Work. Having specific responsibilities in the household will help my children to feel ownership. I have gone through so many freaking systems and lists and charts to get them to do their chores, but I haven't been able to come up with something that really works. There are good ideas in the Eyre's book, and I will keep on trying until we find the magic thing. And I will keep on making my children work.

The thing about these systems is that I have to also be on board and willing to do whatever it takes to make them work, and that is perhaps why they haven't worked so well in the past. I have said it before, and I'll say it again: I hate schedules and charts and stuff that makes me feel beholden to schedules and charts. But I am working on it. I am happier when I get things done, therefore I am happier imposing some sort of order and schedule on myself.

And, huh.  Probably my children will be happier, too!

Go figure.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Whatever I Want


Sophia and the Chicago Skyline...yes, I'm still sneaking vacation photos into my posts at every chance I get!

A few months ago, Joel told the girls to go upstairs and do whatever they wanted.  Mostly, he was just sick of them asking for ideas of what to do because they were so bored (it was still summer then).  To Bria and Chloe, this simply meant, "go watch TV for a while," and that is exactly what they did.  Sophia took it a bit more literally and she stood there for a while ruminating the permission her father had just granted her.

"Even punch holes in the wall?" she finally asked.

(cue laugh track.)

So Tuesday is my free day.

I decided that, in order to preserve what little mental health I have left, I would have one day a week on which I would not schedule anything.  I would do my projects and get stuff done and read and do whatever I wanted to do without being beholden to anyone or any schedule.

Last week, I used that time to stay in bed and read for most of the day.  Sa-weet.

But then I felt bad because I didn't get anything done really. Like laundry. Or dishes. Both of which I have nightmares about when I'm not on top of them.

Yesterday, since I could do anything I wanted, I came up with a good list. I was going to finish the tutu ensemble I'd promised to make for my niece (wanna see an adorable picture I took of her while I was in Utah? Clicky-click here) for her first birthday. I was going to put together and deliver some General Conference kits for the Primary kids.  I was going to run errands--things like paying the water bill, depositing checks at the bank, taking the recycling to the transfer station, and replacing the M&Ms that I had purchased for the PTO Ice Cream Social which somebody (a male somebody) in our house ate.  I was going to put together the bench I bought to go with the homework table that's coming soon.  And I was still going to keep up on dishes and laundry while doing it all.

Oh.  And I was going to start painting my playroom.

Yes.  I recognize that I have a problem with making really long to-do lists.

But, guess what?  I did every darn thing on that list PLUS made dinner (lemon chicken and sweet potato fries)(thanks again Pinterest). Except I didn't paint the playroom.

And that's because I went to Chloe's classroom to help with reading centers instead.

Because I forgot I signed up for that.  And now my free Tuesday is forever beholden to Chloe's third grade classroom.

Le sigh.

But it made Chloe happy and I actually had a bit of fun doing it, so it's totally worth the unpainted playroom.

Which will be painted soon.  Maybe even today.

We shall see.

*****
PS:  Here's a picture of the Tutu ensemble I made for my little niece....thanks to my friend Trisha for coming over yesterday morning to help me learn to applique.  Also, I'd made the tutu a couple weeks ago, it was the applique-ing that I had to do yesterday.  And finishing the hat.


Project of the Month

PPS: Just so it's clear.  I am usually not quite so productive.  It's already 10:23 a.m. and I've spent the morning dinking around on the computer and I have a lesson coming in 1//2 hour.  I still haven't gotten ready for the day and my house is kind of a mess.  So, I guess I better get off my duff now and do something!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Giving Thanks

Dear Pinterest,

Thank you for having a million or so very creative users.  When I sit down for five minutes at the computer and scroll through all of the amazing "pins," I am overwhelmed with the myriad projects, tutorials, photos, recipes and quotes.  Now I have so many ideas to try, I'm set for pretty much the rest of my life.

And on top of that, now that it's autumn, your users are pinning lots of autumnal type projects, tutorials, photos, recipes and, well, maybe not so much quotes.  Naturally, this means pumpkin.  In fact, there were so many amazing pumpkin recipes that I had to create a board just to hold the 59-and-counting pumpkin recipes I've pinned.

I really like pumpkin.

And I really like you.

Sincerely,

Lara

*****

Dear WalMart.com,

While I'm generally not in love with WalMart as a whole, I don't have a whole lot of choice where I live.

I've been looking for the perfect table for my daughters to do homework on.  One that is small enough to fit into my already crowded office, sturdy enough to handle the inevitable craft projects (the ones I found on Pinterest!) that will be done instead of homework, cute enough to appeal to my aesthetics, and cheap enough to fit into my budget.

I found such a table at WalMart last month, but my budget was still recovering from things like car repairs and family vacations.  So I waited until yesterday to buy it.  Of course, when I got there, the table was out of stock.  But, I was able to hop onto your website and have it ordered with your free site-to-store shipping within minutes.

I'm really excited for it to come.  I have had wonderful fantasies about this table making my life easier in the insane afternoons.

It probably won't really happen, but at least you have helped my fantasies move that much closer to reality.  And you've made my life a little easier, too.

Thanks again,

Lara

*****

Dear Steve Jobs,

Thanks for inventing the iPhone.  Now that I have one, I'm not really quite sure what I would do without it.

I mean, I can play Words With Friends while I am waiting at the doctor's office.  I can also check my email, look at Facebook and Pinterest, read my scriptures, and check my blog comments (even though I don't get very many anymore)(probably because I don't have time to comment on anybody else's blog).

I can also order and pay for the homework table I've really been wanting while I'm still standing in the furniture aisle at WalMart looking at the empty space where that table once was.

Also, I can do all of those things while snuggled comfily in my bed.  It's been pretty cold lately and it's nice to read and answer my email, watch Netflix and play stupid games from the warmth of my down comforter.

My husband really likes his MacBook, but I haven't really cared one way or another until now.

But I'm kind of in love with my phone.

So, thanks for that.

Lara

*****

Dear Mother Nature,

Thanks for raising the outdoor temps a wee bit for the coming week.

It's been pretty cold in my house lately.  Like, 57 degrees or so.  We've been wearing our wool socks and sweaters, but my husband says we can't turn on the heat until at least October.  I've been trying to bake a little more often just so I can use the oven to warm my home, but it's still pretty cold.  My fingers are numb as I type this, in fact.

But, it looks like the sun'll come out tomorrow.  And so I'm hanging on.  And thanking you.

However, no matter what happens, on October 1st, I'll be turning up the heat.

(That doesn't give you permission to snow anytime soon, though.)

With love and admiration,

Lara

PS  I'm really looking forward to the autumn colors.  You do amazing work!

*****

Dear Melanie,

Thanks for writing books (and blogs).

I downloaded Not My Type to my Kindle on Friday and had it read by Saturday afternoon.  I really needed the lightheartedness and the smiles.


I've been reading a bunch of heavy and somewhat depressing books lately and I couldn't bring myself to read one more novel like The Glass Castle or Jane Eyre (even though I do like them) until I could let my brain rest a bit.

Your book was just the ticket.  I'm sure you already know, but you're a pretty darn talented writer.  In general, I just roll my eyes at books that might be classified as "fluffy chick lit," but something about your humor, your realness, and the fact that I really do learn stuff from your books (like how to write thank-you notes) makes it kind of a guilty pleasure for me.   

In my humble opinion, you beat the pants off of Stephenie Meyer.

Anxiously awaiting your next book,

Lara

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength


After three weeks of my children being in school, it's clear that my willpower has been depleted.

I know this because I have forgotten about some important things, despite the many reminders and writing them in my new, awesome planner.  Because I yelled at all three of my children last night while we were working on homework.  Because I have no motivation.  Oh, and because I haven't been to the gym since the second day of school.

In the book Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength by Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney, I learned that what we call willpower is not something I have in unlimited supply.  In fact, every single thing for which I must use self-control depletes a little bit of that willpower until it's just plain gone.  I read about study after study (and I must say, these authors have a way of making scientific studies entertaining--I loved reading them!) which discovered this fact.  Which basically means that it's much easier to focus your willpower on one thing at a time.  So go on a diet, get out of debt, or write a novel--just don't try to do all three at once because you're more likely to fail at all of them.

I've definitely noticed this in my life.  New Year's Resolutions have made me so very angry when I can't seem to muster up the willpower to accomplish more than one of them.  It always seemed that one rose to the top and the rest fell off, which I suppose is better than failing at all of them, but it still made me mad.

I was doing so well at the whole weight loss thing this past spring/summer until the opera started.  Then, suddenly I was faced with memorizing difficult music and the focus of my willpower switched from making myself go to the gym every day and eating right and tracking my food to spending long hours sitting at the piano, going to rehearsals and eating all the licorice people kept leaving in the green room.  I made a mediocre effort at my previous weight loss, then went on vacation and am now completely off of the wagon.

Since school started, my willpower has been entirely focused on making myself get out of bed at 6:00 every morning (which, for me, requires pretty much my daily supply and does not really bode well in the willpower department for the rest of the day), getting Bria to practice her violin for an hour before 7:00, making lunches, getting everyone looking presentable, and getting us all to the bus on time.  I have found myself plopping in front of the computer as soon as I get back from the bus stop instead of going to the gym like I WANT to.  I just can't find the wherewithal.

Or the willpower.

So, enough about me.  Let's talk about this amazing book.  Like I mentioned before, it's full of fascinating case studies regarding willpower and how it works in our brains.  And then it gives practical advice for finding the willpower to do whatever it is you need to do.

There is also a great chapter on teaching our children self-control (aka "willpower"), which is excellent.  Study after study has shown that willpower/self-control is the single best predictor of how successful a child will be in her adult life.  It is something we need to be teaching our children, and we need to especially remember that self-esteem comes from self-control, not the other way around.

I was so appalled when, in the introduction, the authors mentioned that there are some scholars who would like to do away with "the outdated notions of free will and responsibility."  Say WHAT?  No wonder our society has so many problems!  And nearly every one of those problems--debt, obesity, crime, divorce, etc.--can be traced back to the lack of self-control.

Excellent book.  Please read it if you feel you have "weak willpower."  You'll love it.  And, even better, you'll learn how to strengthen that willpower muscle.

As for me?  I think I'm going to try to get to the gym before I have to go to work this morning.

(How weefy does that sound?  Just remember.  My willpower is DEPLETED and I'm trying.)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Teaching Them to Fish. Or at Least Cook.



I stole this sign from this etsy shop.  In case you'd actually like to purchase it, instead of steal it.  Like I did. 


First of all. Love at Home. I think it's going well. Sophia told me that I don't even yell anymore (not entirely true), and Bria and Chloe are loving the lunchbox notes every day. To be honest, I wasn't sure what Bria would think about them, being in middle school and all, but it seems she looks rather forward to them. And Chloe, of course, LOVES them. As she does nearly everything in the world.

The next step is Self-Reliance.

I mean, I'd like to think that my kids would be able to survive without me, but I'm pretty sure that at this point in their lives it just wouldn't happen. Bria is actually getting there with cooking, because she is very interested in it. She really loves to cook. I don't know if she could do laundry, though. Or the dishes (we don't have a dishwasher, so it's slightly more difficult at our house).

So, as far as this little task goes, I've tried to give them a few more things. Like, since Bria is now in middle school it is high time that she learn to do the dishes. So she does them every Tuesday night as of last week. This was not something she enjoyed hearing (or doing), because she has quite a bit of germaphobia going on, but she did it. And she will continue to do so.

The other girls have some new things to do as well.

I will admit that the hardest thing about this particular challenge is that it is so much easier to just do things myself. So I have to constantly remind myself that teaching my children is more important than perfection, or time, or whatever it is that holds me back from requiring them to do certain things.  I've heard the saying "Give a man a fish and he eats for a day.  Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime" millions and millions of times.  But the application? 

It's hard.

So, what kinds of things do you do in order to teach your children self-reliance?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Celebration of the Family

I was very honored when Cocoa from Chocolate on my Cranium contacted me and asked if I would write something for her Celebration of the Family this year. I remembered the Celebration from last year, and I thought it was wonderful. The Family: A Proclamation to the World is such a wonderful and inspired document, and it always serves as a wonderful reminder to me every time I read it. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the document, it can be read here.

Cocoa and three other bloggers (Welcome to the Madness, We Talk of Chirst, and The Redheaded Hostess) have all done some very amazing things on their blogs this year regarding the Proclamation. Take some time to hop around and read some very inspiring words.

I was asked to write on a specific paragraph in the Proclamation, and it just so happened to be that it's one that I've been thinking a lot about in the last few months as I've worked on my Project Walking Into a Hug. You can read my post on the sacred duty of mothers (and fathers)(but mostly mothers, 'cause that's what I am) today at Chocolate on my Cranium. Click here to read.

And I promise that next week I'll have a Walking into a Hug post up. With school starting and the insane scheduling shifts, I've barely had time to sit down. Which is kind of sad, because I haven't been able to really get into the whole family celebration this year. But I have looked around for a while this morning (Fridays are totally free, although I probably should be grocery shopping) and I am loving everything that I read.

So, what are you waiting for? Go celebrate the family!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Kindergartner at Last!!!

IMG_1021 Kindergartner web
Sophia has been dying to go to school since she was 18 months old. Preschool was pretty great, but she hated that she only went a few days a week and especially that she didn't get to ride a bus like her big sisters did.
IMG_1015 Sophia first day web
Then she finally got to start Kindergarten, but she still had to watch her sisters go to school a day before she got to. It was pretty hard on her. But when the morning of her first day of school came she was READY! She moved so fast and was so excited to get going that I barely got her to stand still for a few pictures.
IMG_1028 Kindergartner web
Back in the spring, they did Kindergarten readiness testing for all the children born after a certain date (which I don't remember, but Sophia had to do it). The Kindergarten teachers at the Elementary school performed this testing and Sophia fell in love with the teacher that worked with her. She talked all summer long about her teacher and how pretty she was and how she couldn't wait to start school. I didn't have the heart to tell her that she wouldn't necessarily be in that class, and I breathed a huge sigh of relief when we got our teacher assignment last month and she was signed up with the teacher she loved. Hooray!
IMG_1024 Kindergartner web
Of course, she chose a Princess backpack.
IMG_1032 Sophia first day web
For Sophia's first day, Chloe helped walk her to her classroom. I wish I could explain to you just how thrilled this child was to be in the big school. Not one ounce of trepidation!
IMG_1035 Sophia cubby web
We got to her classroom and I had time to take exactly one picture of her next to her cubby and then she was off to recess with the other kids. I had to run after her to get my goodbye kiss, because leaving her at Kindergarten was a heck of a lot harder for me than it was for her, apparently!
IMG_1037 Sophia first day web
I snuck around and watched her on the playground for a while. I just love this picture...it is so Sophia. She is probably telling the aide how she lost her tooth or some such thing. Then, when I left the building, I cried. I kind of hate dropping my babies off at Kindergarten. And she's my last one! How could this happen?
IMG_1046 Mornning bus web
The next morning, Sophia got to ride the bus to school with her sisters. Our morning bus takes all high schoolers, middle schoolers, and elementary schoolers at once. I haven't loved this in the past, but now I am happier with the arrangement since it means Bria is still riding the same bus. Riding the bus is the BEST part of Sophia's day. She thinks it's the greatest thing EVER!


Around noon, she gets dropped off right at our front doorstep, which I love. Actually, Bria's middle school bus does the same thing in the afternoon, so I only have to walk up to meet Chloe's bus. And yes, same bus in the morning, but three different ones in the afternoon. Again, she thinks it's the greatest thing ever to be on that bus and you've never seen a happier kid when she gets off.

And I hope that excitement never wears off this year. I just love it.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

My Crazy Third Grader

Here we go with the dramatic head tilt again...


Chloe started the third grade a week ago today. This is my kid who just LOVES school (except when she hates it). She LOVES her friends, LOVES school supplies, LOVES eating lunch, LOVES recess, LOVES to read, LOVES math, LOVES her teacher. LOVES LOVES LOVES. So she was one excited little girl when the time to go to school on Tuesday afternoon finally rolled around.
IMG_0983 Chloe first day web
She is so excited to have her best friend in her class this year, so she was particularly loving the idea of school. Also, I should have trimmed her bangs for the first day of school. She is my first child to ever have bangs, and I was a little scared about trimming them myself. But I also don't have the time or the money to haul her somewhere every three weeks to have it done. So, I braced myself and trimmed them the morning of picture day, which was Friday. I think they look pretty okay. I will say that having bangs makes her hair much easier to deal with. She has more hair than the other two (inherited the mop from me, and I am sorry for it) and it just gets pretty unruly all the time. I am impressed at how much the bangs help. So trim them I will.

That was a digression.

ANYWAY...
IMG_0987 Chloe first day web
The one thing about school that is difficult for Chloe is getting out of bed in the morning. She'd be a lot happier if school hours were from noon-7 pm or something. But, once she gets going, she's pretty happy. But she is grumpy at breakfast, and grumpy for getting her hair done, and grumpy until we start walking to the bus and then she starts cheering up. Maybe a morning walk is the secret to her happiness.
IMG_1003 Chloe first day web
Do you think she likes her backpack?
IMG_1011 Chloe first day web
Here she is at the front of the school. Gotta love those freckles! And that it was such beautiful and sunny weather last week! Today it is chilly and I fear that warm weather will not grace our presence again until sometime in the spring.
IMG_1014 Chloe first day web
The little scholar at her desk. Oh, and she LOVES her desk, too. It opens from the top and that is the coolest thing ever.

Just like Chloe.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Middle Schooler

I don't know how my life got to this point.  I mean, Bria was just a cute little two-year old with the biggest vocabulary around.  Wasn't she?  Man, do I miss that two-year old!  But I have to say, I do like the middle school version of her rather a lot, too.
IMG_0973 Bria first day web
Bria and Chloe had their first day of school on Tuesday, the day after Labor Day.  Sophia had to wait an extra day, but she eventually got to go to school, too, even though to her that extra day seemed like a year or so. Anyway.  This post will be all about Bria.  I'll do the other two in the next couple days. Bria has been totally nervous about going to middle school.  She had an orientation that helped alleviate the nerves a bit, but as I was driving her to school on that first day she told me she felt like she was going to throw up and that she didn't think she could go into school and be okay.  Then she begged me to please walk in with her and help her with her locker and everything.  This also meant bringing her two little sisters in with us, but she didn't care.  She didn't care that I was the only mom in there, either.  It's definitely nice to feel needed!  And wanted!
IMG_0980 Bria first day web
School was only a half day, and she didn't want to ride the bus home so I picked her up.  She was in pretty good spirits, but then she started talking about her day and her worries came spilling out and she cried.  I know it was hard for her, but I also know how strong she is.  She has been fine the rest of the time and I really think she is going to enjoy sixth grade. She brought home an assignment to fill out--a sheet of paper that had prompts like "I enjoy...." and "I am happy when...."--and one of her answers was "I can do hard things."  It made me smile to realize that she is already internalizing and working on our family theme for this year.

And I know she can do hard things.  She'll be an amazing middle schooler.
IMG_0981 Bria first day web
She sure as heck looks like one!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Saturday Stuff

Things are more than a little crazy over here in our overstuffed household.  School started on Tuesday (and you'll notice I haven't even posted Back to School pictures yet, which is absolutely unlike me as they are some of my favorite pictures of the entire year) and I have been getting up at 6:00 in the morning and crashing around midnight and still don't feel I have enough time to do all that needs to be done.

I'm not on the preschool board this year.  I'm not helping with the pancake breakfast.  I'm not doing a lot of the things I did last year, and yet I feel busier than ever!  I guess it's just part of kids growing up.


Anyway, I'm hoping to get my life in better order this coming week.  I'm slowly checking things off the gigantic to-do list I have created for myself, anyway.


One of the things on my list is to announce the winners of the two giveaways I've recently held:

Laura from Living a Big Story is the winner of the book What Language Is by John McWhorter.

Kerri from The Greenhouse is the winner of the lunchbox love notes.

I'll contact each of you for mailing info.

And then I'll be really happy to check that off the list!  (Why did I procrastinate?  That was about the easiest thing I've done all day!)

Have a wonderful weekend!


Monday, September 05, 2011

A Romanian Feast and 2011-12 Family Theme

I was going to put "O sărbătoare românească," but my title font wouldn't allow it. And then I wasn't even sure if that's the right translation anymore. My Romanian has gone downhill...



Anyway! Tonight we had our annual Back to School Feast and introduced this year's family theme. This year our theme is focused on doing hard things. It's for me as much as it is any of the children, but I thought of it after Bria had a little meltdown last month about going to middle school. I thought about how many times we are all asked to do--and expected to do--difficult things. And then I thought about the scripture in 1 Nephi 3:7 which says:


"And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them."


So the theme for our family this year became I Will Go & Do.  Besides the scripture in 3 Nephi, we are also using one from the New Testament found in Phillipians 4:13:


"For I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me."


We are hoping to really help the girls understand that when they have to do the hard things in life--be it math or making new friends or getting up early--that they never have to do it without help.  The Lord is always there to strengthen and prepare a way for each of us to accomplish our difficult tasks.

So why did we do a Romanian feast?  Well, one day a couple weeks ago as I was cleaning the kitchen, I put away a cookbook that Joel had found at the Goodwill called The Art of Romanian Cooking.  Both he and I served LDS missions in Romania, so of course the country and its food are close to our hearts.  But as I put away that cookbook I had a flash of inspiration:  Missions are hard stuff.  Wouldn't it be fun to center our feast around something hard that Joel and I had done?
Sarmale et al
So we planned our menu of sarmale (stuffed cabbage rolls), salată de boeuf (yes, that is the French word for beef, no there is no beef in the salad, it's more like a potato salad, and no, I have no idea why!), pâine (bread), and a prăjitură (cake, not anything like American cake) for dessert.  And then we used Romanian stuff we both brought home with us from our missions to set the table.

Feast 2011
It was a hit.  Of course, we already make sarmale often enough that the girls love it.  But they loved everything else, too.  Except for dessert.  I think I was the only one who liked that.  Oh well, you can't win them all!

We can do hard things
Each of us had a place card that announced we can do hard things.

Hard things
And we each had a little list next to our plates to write down some of the hard things we know we're up against this school year.  We had a really nice discussion about them during dinner, too, and I'll put the lists up on the bulletin board so we can remember.

I fancied up some dollar store party hats for the "crowns" this year.

Middle Schooler
Here's my beautiful and brand-new middle schooler.

Third Grader
And my adorable third-grader (who thinks she has to tilt her head drastically for pictures).

Kindergartener
And my Kindergartner!  Would these kids please stop growing up?  It's killing me.

Kindergartner sans tooth
She even lost another tooth this week.  (Le sigh.)

OOF Girls
Finally, a terrible picture of the three of them.  They were just so excited about everything that pictures were pretty much a bust.

After dinner, we had our traditional back-to-school Father's Blessings from Joel.  That's my favorite part.  As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are thankful that all worthy fathers hold the Priesthood and are able to use it to bless their family members.  A Father's Blessing is a blessing of guidance and comfort, and many LDS families do as we do and make sure that the children get one at the beginning of each new school year.  It's a wonderful way to start something that is as potentially hard as school can be with a little extra peace in our hearts.

And that does it for the Back-to-School Feast 2011!

Now for actual school....

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Love at Home

How to engender more love in the home by showering your children with "I love you."

Do you like how I keep putting our vacation pictures into posts that don't really have anything to do with vacation? It's my sneaky plan of somehow putting all the pictures on the blog since we all know I'm not going to actually blog about it until Bria is in college....Anyway, this is my mom and the girls and the Chicago skyline. Lots of love here.
 
I know I skipped last week, but I am still totally on the Project Walking into a Hug wagon. Do not fear!

So, last week's goal was to consistently administer consequences (found in the Family Rule Book) without emotion.  Now, I know this is really going to surprise a lot of you, but I am a very emotional person.  It is hard for me to do anything without emotion.  Naturally, when my kids are being less than the little angels I know they are, it is especially hard to remain unemotional.  So this has been really good practice for me this week.

And hello?  I knew this, but it's nice to have empirical data to prove that not getting upset or over emotional when you are disciplining the children totally works wonders.  While I have had to bite my tongue and take deep breaths about eleventy billion times this past week, the results have been so very worth it.  This afternoon I even heard Bria and Chloe working out a little argument that they'd had, and they were calm about it (mostly).  While I was eavesdropping on them, it really hit me that if I am going to freak about everything, so will they.  And when they have a mother who has been striving to "Keep Calm and Carry On," then they will start trying to do that as well.

It isn't rocket science.

But it isn't exactly easy, either.  (My tongue may have sustained permanent damage this week, and I probably got a better oxygen supply than usual.)

This week's goal is Love at Home.   We are to shower our children with "I love you."

This one isn't too difficult for me, luckily, but I am really going to step it up a notch.  I plan on telling them much more often and leaving them notes and things all over the house.

One of the things I did a little bit last year and plan to start up again this week, is a love notebook for each child.  I will just write a little love letter in the notebook and leave it on her bed while she is at school.  Then, if she wants, she can write a note in the book for me and leave it on my bed.  Chloe especially (she is definitely my love note writer) really got into this.

Another idea is to leave notes in their lunchboxes.  I have seen numerous free printables on Pinterest (holy cow what a fun website!) for cute little lunchbox things.  (Click here, here, here, here, here, here, and here to see them.) Also, when I was in Utah this summer I went to Deseret Book three times and dropped a small fortune there (apparently I am very deprived of Mormon merchandise!).  Part of that fortune was spent on these cute Lunchbox Love Notes and I am super excited to always leave some sort of fun note or something in their lunchboxes this school year. 

I have an extra Lunchbox Love Note pack, and I would be happy to send it to one of you!  It isn't much, but they are really cute and fun.  Leave a comment and tell me some of the things you are doing to "shower your children with love" right now.

Tomorrow we have our Back to School Feast....pictures to come!

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Good Bye Summer

Sailboat
A Sailboat on Lake Michigan in Chicago.


Welcome September.

I am having mixed feelings about leaving summer behind this year.  It's very strange, because normally I am so excited for September to arrive, for school to start, for the first BYU football game of the season, for autumn weather...

...this year I am kind of dreading it.  But only because that means that winter is close on its heels.  And I'm not ready for winter!  I didn't get enough summer this year!

On the other hand, I really am excited for all of the above mentioned things to happen.  Something about August tends to turn me into a big old bump on a log who sits around doing nothing.  The arrival of September usually pulls me right out of that and gets me off my duff and sticking to a schedule and doing things again.  And this year is no different.

My new planner arrived yesterday.  I'm so excited to have a brain again!  And to fill it with stuff.  And yes, I am aware I have a smart phone, but what I don't have is a creative phone.  I think that's why I insist on the paper planner.  It's pretty to look at, I can draw pictures and doodle and cross things out and journal, and I just don't think there's an app for that.

I have been working hard on our Back-to-School Feast.  Joel and I have come up with a theme for the year that we feel our family needs.  I've made the sign and plan to get the crowns done today or tomorrow.  We have the menu ready to go.  I'm excited!  The day before school starts has become one of my favorite days of the year thanks to this tradition.

I've been a little nervous this year about how many students I will or won't have.  I'm kind of worried I'm not going to have enough to cover the new fridge I just bought.  (Oh yeah, my fridge died, and it's not like you can really live without one, so I bought a new one.)  Students are trickling in, though, and I just have to trust that the Lord will take care of us, just like He always has, even though I am biting my nails a lot.  Sometimes (like right now) paying tithing hurts a little, but I know that those are the times that we can see the blessings even more clearly than usual.  So I'm trusting.  And trying not to worry.

I have a list a mile long of things I need to accomplish this month.  It's daunting, but I am excited to send my children off to school so I can be productive again.  Does that sound awful?  I do love being with my children, no question about it, but I think I'm ready for them to go to school, for a more rigid schedule, and for the strange power the television set holds over them to be vanquished.  Even if that means I have to get up at the crack of dawn to make peanut butter sandwiches...

I guess I'm glad about September being here, after all.  Just as long as winter can wait until after Thanksgiving this year.

Please?