Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Another someone has a birthday

5 years ago today, my second child, my sweet, snuggly little boy was born.
Then colic hit and I wondered what happened to that sweet baby.  Fortunately, after about 5 months, my sanity was restored and my happy baby returned once again.  I blinked my eyes and he turned one.
As you can see, cleanliness has never been high on his priority list.  But smiles, laughter and snuggling have been.
At two, if it didn't roll, he wasn't interested.  Apparently, that goes for cake as well.  His focused playing and focused mind showed up this year and his love for snuggling continued.
Three brought preschool and with it a longer attention span.  He learned to love puzzles and games - and still loved snuggling.
Four was the Chuck E Cheese party.  He was dubbed "Smiley" at school and oh, how he loved all the girls!
Now you're 5, my baby boy and growing up fast.  You're going to start Kindergarten soon and I will have to realize that you are just going to keep growing up - never stopping.  But, please, dear one, don't stop snuggling with me just yet.

Happy Birthday, David!  I love you!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Someone has a birthday today!

My beautiful baby girl turns 7 today!

From the moment she was born...
 She captured my heart.
By the time she was 1, we already saw so much of her personality.  Her stubbornness (or determination), her non-conformity to others (who cares if every other baby on the planet is trying to walk, the floor is just fine for me), and her independence.
She breezed through the "terrible twos" (and actually ate her cake that year).
Then she hit the horrible threes - maybe the "defiant, independent threes" would be a better name.  But still so cute through it all.
Four was a fun year - preschool, children's choir, dance - and lots of smiles.
Five brought Kindergarten, learning to read, loosing teeth and a wonderfully active imagination.
Six has been first grade - new teacher, new friends and a little girl who is growing up too fast.
Happy 7th Birthday, Julie!  I love you!!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Blue-eyed Girl

Back in our crazy, busy May, Julie finished off her dance career with her Spring dance recital.  She did a tap routine to "Brown-Eyed Girl" as well as a dance with her daddy to "Men in Black" (do you sense the color theme?).

The week of the recital was very long with 2 dress rehearsals, Thursday and Friday nights, leading up to the recital on Saturday night.  The recital was at 7 PM and lasted about 3 hours.  Since everyone was in the finale, that meant my 6 year old (along with all of the little kids, some much younger) has to stay up until 10 to dance in that.  When we got home Julie told us that was the latest time she had ever seen on the clock.

Because of this, and many other reasons, we will not be doing dance next year.  It was fun while it lasted and I think she will have fond memories of her dance classes, but it's time to move on to other activities.  Luckily, I got tons of pictures of her looking adorable in her recital costume - for posterity...and the scrapbook :).
Julie and her daddy in their "Men in Black" dance costumes.
My blue-eyed "Brown-Eyed Girl."  Isn't she cute!?
The night of the recital.
Supportive younger brother.
Post-recital flowers.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Summer Chore List

Everyone knows how LONG summer days can get.  Us moms are trying to get cleaning done and our kids are playing/whining about being bored and always wanting to go "do" something.

This year I decided to do something about that.  I created a summer chore list in a little bit different way than I ever had before.  I tried to take a picture of it, but didn't turn out well, so I'm just going to explain it instead.

To begin with I came up with 4 things that my kids had expressed interest in doing (and that I was OK with us doing) and put those in a column on the left side of the paper.  The 4 we chose were: go to Books-a-million, go bowling, go to Chuck E Cheese and go to a wildlife safari near our house. 

Next I decided how many chores each place would "cost" the kids.  For instance, since Books-a-million (BAM) is free (the kids just like to play with the train table there), I felt like it was worth 4 chores.  Bowling is not free, but isn't too expensive, so it costs 10 chores.  Chuck E Cheese will set me back a little bit more and require a little bit of planning so it's worth 15 chores.  The safari is actually quite expensive and is an hour away, so it's 20 chores.  I put the required chore amount next to each reward so they know what it takes to earn it.

Then I came up with a list of chores that they can do to earn rewards.  These are not chores that they normally do, but extra ones that may be new to them - such as dusting a room, vacuuming a room, sweeping the garage, etc.  I tried to make them age appropriate but slightly harder than their normal chores.  (They do have to EARN the rewards.)  I cut the chores apart and put them in a cup.  Then they can choose to do a "cup chore" during the day, randomly drawn from the cup, of course.  After they do it, it has to be approved by me, then they can put a sticker by the reward they want to earn.  Once they both have the required number of stickers next to a reward, we go and do that reward.

It sounds very complicated, but the kids caught on really fast and have been very receptive to it.  As a bonus, I feel like it teaches them so many great things.  First of all, both children have to earn the required number of stickers to earn a reward.  For instance, to go to BAM, they both have to do 4 chores and get 4 stickers on the chart by the BAM choice.  That means they have to work together for the same reward to earn it.  If David is putting all his stickers on BAM and Julie is putting hers on the safari, they won't earn either.  So this teaches them teamwork and compromise.  It also teaches that rewards are tied to work and that usually better rewards are tied to a larger amount of work.  And the obvious lesson, they learn how to do a whole bunch of new chores. That will benefit ME in the future.

So far they have earned their BAM reward.  They did that within 2 days (I was actually worried that I had made it too easy).  Since then their enthusiasm has waned a little bit.  They are currently working towards Chuck E Cheese and should reach that in about a week after we get back from vacation.

I have just been so pleasantly surprised by how well this chore/reward system has worked so far.  The kids are both very excited about it and are making lists of what they want the rewards to be on the next chart I make. 

So, tell me, how do you handle chores in the summer?  Any new or different strategies?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Vacation

Guess what? I'm on vacation.

Yes, I know what you are thinking - "You have been on vacation for almost a month now - no posts, no pictures, nada."

If you were thinking that, you'd be right...about being on a blogging vacation, not a real one.  Remember how crazy May was?  I thought that when school got out at the end of May, things would lighten up.  Well they did, kind of.  But then I had both kids at home with me all day long and absolutely NOTHING got done.  So I guess it takes a vacation for me to find time to blog. 

I hope to update you on all those busy events in May soon, but for now, let me tell you about what might be Julie's most favorite day of her life so far.  You see for about a year she has been begging us for something.  And for about a year I've been telling her she can get it when she's 7.  She'll be 7 on Thursday and my original plan was to get her gift next week after we get back from vacation.  But then I remembered when I was little and wanted that same gift and how hard it was to wait.  She had waited for a year, fairly patiently, so I relented and she got her gift early.

The whole family packed into the van, camera in tow and we took off to the mall.

Waiting patiently in the chair.  (We had to do a special hairstyle to keep it all up and off of her ears - hint, hint.)
Before.
Look at that excited expression!  Not a tear was shed - just smiles for the rest of the day!
There's those beautiful pink earrings on some newly pierced ears!  All day, she would see new clothes in pink and tell me that she "needed" them to go with her new earrings, since, "you know, they have to stay in there for 8 weeks."  Then I would kindly remind her that we chose pink because most of her clothes are already pink.  But I did indulge her with a new pink outfit yesterday at the mall on the way to the beach.  So now, she can really match her earrings!

So I'm curious.  How old were you when you got your ears pierced?  I was 11.  My parents wouldn't let my older sister pierce her ears until she was 11 and, of course, to be fair, I had to be the same age that she was.  If you have a daughter with pierced ears, what age did she get them pierced?

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