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Monday, March 21, 2011

39....

Another year was kissed goodbye today... A few days ago, my daughter looked up at me and said "you are about to turn 39!" Well, now that you mention it, I am. I have always known 39 comes after 38 so I am not sure why I was surprised but I guess I still feel pretty good for my age. Maybe my younger kids keep me going especially when their peers have moms around 26 ;) that I enjoy spending time with!

But about this past year. I feel that I have grown and stretched beyond belief. Right about this time last year, my husband was starting a new job up here in NC. We were fortunate enough to have 3 months of maternity leave from our old job so we had a great time of getting used to life in NC. Together.

Soon after our move, he went to work full time and I have done the stay at home mom thing and I have gone full throttle. Going from a Momma who loved spending her days with her husband and kids all day to now finding peace in making her house a home, cooking dinner and cleaning while her husband worked long hours. Sometimes (actually most the time) it means dealing with daily tasks by myself, such as meals, school, scrubbing the toilets, folding laundry and bedtime routines but I am thankful. Thankful my husband provides for us as a family and I feel full because of it.

I just came back from the Southeast Homeschool Convention where I was encouraged beyond belief. Mostly I was again reminded of why we homeschool and it cemented the very things we do on a daily basis in our homeschool. But this year was different. I was able to really connect because now I was 100% committed to homeschooling and being a stay at home momma! One of my sweet friends has entered into the homeschool circuit and I was able to hear her share her heart on homeschooling but as she started her talk, it occurred to me that ANY mom could gain so much insight into her wisdom. She focused on Proverbs 31:10 in the Message which states "...She senses the worth of her work..." and for us as women, it is so easy to stray away from the worth that we have at home. We need to find contentment in our jobs as wives/mothers/homemakers!

Now I could go on with this subject forever because it is something I am very passionate about... And I might hear the voice in your head totally going against what I am so excited about! Life should be 50-50 with your husband yada yada yada. But for us, it works. Do I work hard? You betcha. Do I get the thanks and props from society? Oh heck no. If you ask my kids in 20 years, will they ever regret the life they are living now?

Seriously though, I am a tad selfish because when Jon walks through the door at the end of the day, he is able to pour into ME, not having to worry about dishes, cleaning etc. We can connect and enjoy each other thus filling me up, allowing me to do it all again the next day.

So my birthday? It was spent doing what I usually do. Changing diapers, tending to sibling squabbles (almost like mini therapy sessions today! WHEW!) doctoring skinned knees and digging holes out in the yard. But it was full. Rich. Life.

She senses the worth of her work... I pray that you find the worth in all that you do.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Spring Treasures!

Thanks to my neighbors house, we have a wonderful view of Spring in full force. And yes, I stalked their yard while they were gone... Hee hee!



And then I ventured over to another bush they have in their yard... I am a self proclaimed freaky neighbor as I have outed myself since the owner of this bush does read this. Doesn't she?? Oh well... I couldn't resist taking a closer look at this beauty.



After all of this excitement, I fed my poor son some food and moments later found him like this. Guess all the fresh spring air had gone to his head. Peaceful sleep!


Gonna put the little one to bed then back outdoors for me. Almost shorts weather! YAY!






Friday, March 11, 2011

Accountable Kids!

A little over a year ago, our family picked up and moved to North Carolina. Not only was it a move of distance, but also a huge change in my life. See, my husband and I had been together raising our kids at home for 7 years! Now he was going to leave me at home with the kids (one new one at that) and I was going to be responsible for them all, AND the house too! While I was excited at my new stay at home status, I felt a lot of pressure as well. I had expectations for myself that were HUGE!

As weeks and months went by, my expectations of myself were being destroyed. How I wanted to have a peaceful home! But instead, I felt overwhelmed by the amount of chores that were waiting for me every day. I felt like I was nagging the kids ALL.THE.TIME to get up, brush teeth, get dressed, brush hair, clean your room blah blah blah. The whining, the crying, me raising my voice to get them to listen, you get the picture. Just not a happy home that I had envisioned.

Since I also homeschool the kids, I felt that the only positive time I had with them was the time where Jake was asleep and I was "doing school" with them. I noticed that because I wasn't having positive time with my kids, their behavior was suffering. I wanted to be the cool mom who sat down with them and met them eye to eye. Playing games with them. Smiling more with them. But I wasn't. When they asked to play with me I would say, "not now honey, I have to go clean." It broke my heart.

Finally I had had enough. I have a friend who has used Accountable Kids for a few years now and so I called her up. I spoke with her about the program and also heard some positive things about others that have used the program. My main selling point was that they have stuck with it year after year! It was not a fad and it really worked.

I poured over the website http://www.accountablekids.com/ and read testimonial after testimonial.

And then I read the summary:

Accountable Kids is a unique parenting program designed to teach accountability and responsibility in the home. It is a back-to-basics system which includes essential parenting principles and concrete stepping stones that strengthen relationships and build a foundation for success; an ideal program for ADHD natural treatment therapy. Children learn to balance choices and consequences in a fun, productive manner. They experience the joy of being a vital, contributing member of the family and develop confidence and self-worth. The Accountable Kids program includes a book, Quick Start DVD, Progress Board, 50 Reminder Cards, 3 blank Reminder Cards, 10 Tickets, 10 Bonus Bucks, 3 Special Date Cards, 4 Best Behavior Cards, and 2 Privilege Passes, and 2 sticker sheets. The Accountable Kids program provides everything parents need to maximize efforts and bring structure and harmony into the home.

The bold writing were the words that spoke to me the loudest! How I needed structure and harmony in my home! I was tired of reminding my kids to do simple tasks. I was tired of the messes that I had to clean up. Basically I was just tired! So one late night, I ordered it.

When the UPS man delivered our box, I was thrilled! It had everything I needed to get started with the program. I had ordered the Basic start up kit for two children which included the Accountable Kids book, Quick-Start Video, a natural wood Progress Board, 60 Reminder Cards, 3 blank Reminder Cards, 10 Tickets, 10 Bonus Bucks, 4 Best Behavior Cards, 2 Privilege Passes, 3 Special Date Cards, and 2 sticker sheets. The kids hovered around as I opened it up and of course, they wanted to start right away. I told them I would have to read the book first and then we would start. Still they pleaded so I satisfied them by watching the video.





The video gave a great rundown of the steps of the program. One great thing of AK is that you don't have to implement it all at once. Whew! We can all get accustomed to it one step at a time. Then when we have a good feeling for the step we are on, we can move to the next and implement that. Because of the video, the kids were chomping at the bit to start with the first thing - the decorating of the boards.

They picked out their own colors and designs and started at it. Now if you don't want to get all crafty, there are a lot of other options like stickers and such. Then we hung them up on the wall thanks to my handy husband!



After I poured over the First Step, I felt confident enough to start the program. Step 1 consists of the Reminder Cards that help the child go through their day routine of chores. This has been a great help to me as I don't need to constantly remind them to do their basic tasks. They get up and begin their day by brushing their teeth, getting dressed, eating breakfast, making their bed and cleaning their room. After they have completed their morning chores they get a ticket which can be traded for a privilege. Their favorite right now is 30 minutes of media time. We have also used them to play board games, painting, outside time and playing with friends. Then later on in the day they have their afternoon chores and their evening chores which then they can earn two more tickets. No tickets = no privileges so they have to figure out a way to entertain themselves and it motivates them to finish their set of chores for privileges. They are also able to earn a Best Behavior Card if they exhibit a positive behavior trait like sharing, being kind to others etc. This isn't to be used all of the time but in very special occasions. They can use that card like a ticket. I was able to see an immediate change in our kids as soon as Step 1 was started! They were happily going about their day and I wasn't exhausted from telling them what to do all day! It was working like a charm and instantly calm came over our home. Seriously.

Step 2 by far has been all of our favorite. If the kids earn all of their tickets for the day, they earn a star on the Special Date Card. Once the card fills up, a date is scheduled for the child and the parent. I don't know about your family, but one on one time is pretty rare. This has made it so easy to carve out special time for all of us and we can tell the kids have felt more secure in our relationships after dates. So far we have gone out to a special dinner, bowling, ice skating and a movie. We rotate which parent goes with which child and it has been a blast for all.


Oh, and do you see that Privilege Pass? That is the magic card! I can target one behavior to extinguish it. Like Kylie getting up in the middle of the night? Gone. She earns the Privilege Pass if she doesn't get up. Luke's behavior is sitting at the dinner table until excused. No more getting up and wandering around for him! YAY!

Before you say, well I have an incredibly strong willed child and it won't work. I will reply well yeah, so do I! I remember reading a statement in the book saying sometimes behaviors can get worse before they get better and they were right. Kylie blew a gasket about week 2. She flat out refused to do the program and totally shut down. But I stuck to it and if she didn't earn a ticket, then she wasn't getting a privilege, period. It was ugly but it was necessary! After many a tear and a lot of yelling about the woes of Accountable Kids, the light bulb went on for her and for 2 weeks straight, I have had a totally different girl. She is back to being agreeable and productive. Actually, she is a lot more sure of herself and pleasant to be around.

Overall, this program is really simple to stick to and use. On a rating of 1-5, 5 being the highest, we give it a 6! The book gives step by step instructions about how to deal with every situation and helps you with parenting certain behaviors. There are two other phases with extra chores for other rewards and the starting of a Family Forum. It has been fun to implement and not overwhelming at all since it goes in steps instead of all at once. The book tells you exactly what to do and when and as you continue, it is not labor intensive for me at all.

Let me know if you have any questions! We all love talking about Accountable Kids!




Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Spring!

Ok, before you guys get all technical on me, I know that Spring doesn't officially start until March 20th. And in my mind, it really starts on March 21st since that is my birthday and I feel that I should have been born on a really fantastic day.

But why do we have to wait until the official day to celebrate spring? Gimme one warm day and we are outta the cold humdrum of our house and out into the great outdoors. Off to the Greensboro Botanical Gardens we went while Jake was fast asleep at home with Dad.


Something about getting outdoors and exploring springs new growth is pretty exciting. It was like we were on a treasure hunt looking for all things new.

We found this really cool bog garden which kinda reminded us of the boardwalks of Florida. Luke was our official leader to find a cool waterfall at the end of the walkway.


Of course the kids had to peek at the flowers which were all newly planted. The warm weather was all a teaser as I know we will get more crisp days. But this was a wonderful excuse to get out and enjoy the day. Happy Spring!





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