There's a Snake in My Bed!

So for Christmas, Princess M received one of these.  It's cute and not too loud, which means she can use it around her dad.  She loves it and carries it around under her arm and to bed at night.  Until last night.  Last night around midnight she must have brushed the sensor on Chippy's back and he went off.  All heck broke loose. 

I ran into her room and she was standing on her bed screaming uncontrollably.  I didn't know what she was screaming about at first.  I finally got out of her that there was something moving in her bed.  Even in my half awake state, I quickly determined the culprit was Chippy as I heard him chirping.  I picked him up and moved him over to the other side of the room.  I figured with him gone she would settle back in.  No siree Bob!  Though she acknowledged that the chipmunk was moving, she insisted that what she felt was a snake in her bed.

(Side note - when I was a little kid of four, I used to have reoccurring nightmares that there were snakes in my bed.  My mom would have to come into my room, pull back all my covers, and show me that in fact there were not any snakes in my bed.   So to my mom, I imagine this is a bit of a repayment.)

Finally, after five minutes of cajoling, I removed everything off the bed and laid her down.  She didn't want the covers, lest any snakes climb in under them I suppose, and I figured we were done and I could sleep.  Every hour and a half she started crying about the snake in her bed and I had to go back in there and lay her back down all over again. 

Needless to say, with the lack of sleep, she has now napped for almost three hours on top of an empty bed.  I'm hoping that she doesn't remember the whole incident by bed time.

Accountable Kids - First Check In

We've been using this for two weeks.  Here's some initial thoughts.

First, if you considering using this, starting it on the onset of a two week Christmas break is probably not the way to go.  For some reason my princesses seem to think that a "break" for them means a break from every responsibility they have in life.  Not so - my dearies - not so.  It has been two weeks full of reminding them that they have responsibilities to attend to and they do not yet have free time.  "But we're on break," they replied in whining voices.  When mom gets to take a break from every single responsibility in life, then you may do so also.

Second, I was a bit optimistic, I think, in putting up a board for Princess M.   I figured she wanted one like her sissies, which she does, but she has managed to lose one card already and chewed on two others.  They're sturdy, but not that sturdy.

Finally, overall I am pleased with the system.  At this point, all the princesses and mom know at any given point in time what responsibilities are finished, and what needs to be done.  We're working on remembering to move the cards over when complete (princesses) and checking on the finished chores and handing out tickets in a timely fashion (mom).  I'm anxious to begin this during school next Monday.  After a couple weeks of using it during a normal school schedule, I'll post again on our progress.


Kid Funnies

Princess S spent part of her day with a friend.  She went with them to a hair salon as the friend, her sister, and the mom had appointments.  At dinner, Princess S said to me, "Hey, Mom! We should start going to that salon.  They do haircuts, perms and broiling."  Uhh - that would be foiling dear.


Accountable Kids - The Method

After making the decision to purchase the Accountable Kids program for the princesses, I knew that to make anything work, I would need to make it work for us.  When I received the box in the mail, I went through the book first.

The book included a quick start DVD to help learn the basics of the program.  Since I had devoured everything on the website first, I skipped this step as I felt I already had a pretty good idea.

The main part of the program revolves around the Progress Board.  This is where the child is given his instructions as to what are her responsibilities.  The suggestion was to have the child decorate their own board, and I may yet do that once we have the program more established, but for now I used some 1 1/2 inch letter stickers to personalize each princesses board.  You will notice the cards hanging on the board.  I'll get to the specifics in a moment, but the cards that will hang on the board are the reminder cards to be done, the finished reminder cards, any earned and unredeemed tickets, the date cards and any cards done for payment.  Here is Princess E's board.


I also purchased the mini board for keeping track of all the tickets, bonus bucks, best behavior cards and - how I tweaked it for us - the chores that can be done for money.  Here is a picture of it.


I decided to put all the boards up on the wall next to our whiteboard in the school room.  That way it was easy for everyone to see what has been done, and what has not been done yet.  I measured twice and drilled the holes in the wall.  I put the included anchors into the wall.  When I went to put the screws into the anchors, my holes were about 1/16 of an inch off.  I ended up putting the screws in at a slight angle.  Thankfully, they included wooden screw covers that hid the fact that they are in crooked.


Now I will show you some of the tweaks I did to make this system work for us.  First, I decided which tasks needed to be done because they were a member of the family, and which tasks I was willing to pay them to do.  I decided that on the cards that they could earn money for, that I would write what the expectations were.  Some of the cards had to be done on specific days.  Second, I had to decide what time of day each of the tasks needed to be attended to.  Each card comes the same length, but there are five horizontal colored bands that you can use to assign a timeframe to each chore.  When a chore is completed, they take the card and rehang it up facing backwards on the board.  This lets me know they are ready to have the chore inspected.  (Because you cannot expect what you are not willing to inspect!)  When they have finished all of one color group of chores, they will earn a ticket on their board.

Here are the morning chores that are required.


The next set are chores that need to happen before there can be any free time.  It is preferable that they be finished before dinner.   They also must accomplish all of these before they are allowed to do a chore for which they could earn money.


They also each have an after dinner chore that has a blue band.  Next come the chores for which they can earn money.  Since we live in a split level, I divided the cards up and labeled them upstairs or downstairs.  I also listed the steps for each chore on the back.  Here's a slide show of some of these.

One special note is the laundry card.  The two oldest princesses have been trained for several years now in how to do their laundry.  For about a year and a half, I have attempted to assign a laundry day to each of them.  However, it was happening all too frequently that they would start a load, and then forget about it.  So it would take them days to finish.  I was never able to do my laundry, DH's laundry, or the other two princess' laundry.  So a few weeks ago I told them it was up to them to have clean clothes.  If they didn't have clean clothes, then they wouldn't be allowed to leave the house until they did.  What ended up happening is that they would have dirty clothes overflowing in their hampers and they would do one small load - just enough to get a few pairs of clean underwear and socks.  The rest of the clothes would stay dirty.  So to encourage them to take responsibility to do ALL of their laundry instead of just a small load, the laundry card is something they can hang up if they can show me that all of their clothing except that which is currently on their person is washed, dried, folded, and put away in either their drawers or their closets.  If they can show me that they will earn both a star for their date card, and $1.  I decided I had to limit this to once a week, because it is only a matter of time before one of them figures out that they can wash everything up and then proceed to do a load each day.  For the rest of the chores they can earn money for, I put them all up on the mini board and when all other cards (except the blue dinner card) are done, they may choose as many as they would like to do.  They place the chore on their board when it is ready for inspection.  Once a week I will pay out money they have earned.

We needed to decide what they can earn with their tickets, as well as how to utilize the date cards.  We decided that tickets can be redeemed for personal TV time and play time with friends.  We have several old TV series on DVDs that we watch as a family on some evenings - Little House, the Waltons, Andy Griffith, Cosby Show - and we decided not to count that family time in the ticket requirement.  Also included in the system are the date cards.  You can decide how you want to incorporate these for your family.  I decided for now that if they earn all three tickets in a day, they will earn a star sticker on their card.  For now, I just want to focus on completing the requirements within an  acceptable amount of time.   Later, I will change these up.

There are two other types of cards - Best Behavior card and Privilege Passes.  I told the Princesses that after we have the system up and running I will add these in.  These can be used to target certain behaviors.  You can reward them for choosing a desirable behavior instead of an undesirable one.  I'm going to have to think on this for a while to figure out where to start with these with each princess.

We had a family meeting to explain how this would work.  Princess E was excited.  Princess S was aghast.  Princess L just loved the boards.  Princess M ran away because she didn't understand any of it.  Princess M will be just learning about these.  We are just now starting to train her on the morning tasks that she needs to do to earn her tickets.  She will get a lot of leeway.  I'll be reporting back in another week or two with how they are doing with this system. 


Accountable Kids - The Need

Why do we need to have accountable kids?  One reason is that we are raising the future leaders of our world.  If we look at the mess that America is in right now, we can conclude that one of the big reasons we are where we are is that we have a boatload of citizens (and illegal immigrants) who do not believe they need to be accountable to anything or anyone.  You could call it the "entitlement problem".  As Christians, we believe that everyone - parents and children alike - are accountable to God for our words, thoughts and deeds.  Children are also, as part of their accountability to God, accountable to their parents.  For some reason, it is very easy for parents to remind children of that fact.  But what many parents forget, or excuse, is that they are accountable to God for the training and disciplining of their children.  God put on parents the responsibility to make sure that what their children see, hear, and experience are those things that are good and pleasing to Him - those things that will be used by Him to mold our children into the person that He desires them to be.  Too many times in today's society, we see parents making excuses for their children's behavior and taking no responsibility for the behavior themselves.  Then they look to the teachers, daycare workers, pastors, and government to solve the problems for them.  But we can clearly see in the Bible that it is the parents job to instruct and discipline their children.  For example, in 1 Samuel we see God telling Samuel that there will be punishment for Eli's sons because of their wickedness.  But their punishment is shared by their father for his lack of discipline of them. "And I declare to him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not refrain them." 1 Samuel 3:13   Now, to be clear, I am not saying that everything a child does is a parent's fault.  But I am saying that when our children behave in a manner that is not acceptable, that it is up to the parents to exact a consequence on them that will prevent them from repeating that behavior. 

So that is why I felt we needed to try something different.  After several years of having the same responsibilities as far as chores are concerned, I reached the breaking point at our failures.  I grew tired of reminding kids of what chores needed to be done (even though they are all listed out for them,) calling them back to the chore when they got distracted, having them take FOREVER to complete the chore, then calling them back when they failed to complete the chore to the standard that befits their age and training at the chore.  Also I grew tired of the disrespectful attitudes  and responses that were given to me.  So after seeing my online friend Linda's review of Accountable Kids, I ruminated for many weeks on it.  I finally decided that we needed to give this system a try.

We definitely have our work cut out for us.  We've tried many different systems before.  But the thing I like about this one is that it puts the monkey on their backs, not mine.  All I have to do is check that the chore was done properly and hand out tickets when necessary.   And then I need to try really, really, really hard not to remind them to check their boards.  I'll address how the system works, and how I tweaked it to fit us, in another post.


December Photo Update

I decided to put in some photos of the last month.  The first photos are of Princess M who just turned three last month.  You'll notice the boo boo on her nose.  That would be what happens when you stand too close to mom when she's trying to reach things down off the storage shelves in the garage and she has a split second to decide whether to reach for the heavy box about to land on the hood of dad's car or the car seat that's about to land on your head.  Thankfully, it wasn't as bad as it could have been - thank you Jesus for the save!  Notice the new big girls bed!  She was so excited, though she was sad to return the toddler bed that she was very happy with.  The quilt was a present made by my mom - Nanny.  Princess L got one last year and this was Princess M's turn.  The pattern is called Sleep Over.  Finally, a shot of Princess M making lunch for everyone.  Next we move to Princess L.  First a shot of the first top tooth with a tongue through the window.  Next, a photo from her God's Praising Princess graduation ceremony where she received a princess crown.  Finally, a shot with both teeth gone.  The last shot is a picture of the quilt that we finally got hung in our entry way at Thanksgiving.  It was a gift made by my mom for our wedding back in 1997.  I've had the quilt hanger for about five years, but we needed to paint the wall before I would hang it.  So DH finally did that before Thanksgiving, and my step dad helped me to hang the quilt when they were here.  I absolutely love how it defines our entry way!  The pattern is called Love Knot.

Word(Tooth)less Wednesday


 Guess what she wants for Christmas!


Thinking Out Loud

You really are happy that you only have a 20 year old 3HP snow blower that was given to you.  Because if you didn't have it then you'd be shoveling all that snow.

You really are happy that you have sidewalks that must have the snow removed via city ordinance.  Because if you didn't then the kids wouldn't have anywhere to ride their bikes or walk safely.

You really are happy that the radio stations keep playing the song "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!" over and over and over.  Because if they didn't then you'd have to listen to "You're a Mean One Mr. Grinch!" played over and over and over.

(Just trying to be a little bit Pollyannaish on our extremely snowy day.  Going to go out to rid the driveway and sidewalks for the second time - even though the snow isn't even close to stopping.  Because if I don't then it will take me even longer when I get up at 1am to do it so that the hubby can go out into the unplowed streets to deliver the newspaper to a bunch of people who don't seem to care that we have the snowstorm of the decade they just need their newspaper delivered by 6:30 am on a Sunday morning.)


Merry CHRISTmas 2010

Every year I take the princesses to get Christmas photos taken to give to the Grandparents and relatives.  Here's a slideshow of the best ones.

TOG Year 4 Weeks 16-17

It has been a busy two weeks.  Princess L was down with a stomach bug one day, but thankfully it didn't spread and was over in less than 24 hours.  We took a field trip to the MN Orchestra.  Princess E had been to the orchestra before with DH, but this was the first time for Princess S and Princess L.  (Princess M got to spend some quality time with Grandma!)  We visited during a Young People's performance of Sleigh Ride.   We were taken around the world through the holiday sleigh ride music from various countries.  The final song was Ode to Joy done with a local string school and the stage and aisles were filled with young violin students.  It was a lot of fun, and the girls really enjoyed it.  Because of the Thanksgiving holiday break, we had one less day to complete week 16.  But we needed to keep at it because of our co-op schedule. 

Princess E - 6th Grade - Dialectic
Latin for Children Primer A: Lesson 20 and begin lesson 21
Math-U-See Delta: We have finally continued on and she has completed lesson 26 and began lesson 27. 
IEW: We did Lesson 7 which had us writing a story sequence outline for "The Boy Who Cried Wolf".  Both girls chose to change up the story a bit.  They certainly enjoy more creative writing as opposed to more formal "scholarly" writing.
Foundations 1:  Finish UN- + -ABLE.  Begin UN- + -ING.
MCT Language Arts:  Read Sentence Island pgs 176-188  We also completed a writing exercise.  Practice Island 18-21.
Spelling: We did not do a spelling bee this week.
Science:  We began the next book in the series - Our Planet Earth.  We got through the first two lessons.
TOG Yr4 Wk12-13: Timeline; SAPs; AQ/TQs; Reading - Joseph Stalin, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Idiot's Guide, Usborne Intro to the Second World War, Tortured For Christ (because I couldn't get the assigned book and our Pastor loaned us this one), The Gift of Music, Lord of the Flies

Princess S - 4th Grade - UG
Growing With Grammar 4: Chapter 3 Review to Chapter 4.5
Math-U-See Gamma: Finish lesson 25 and do lesson 26.
IEW, MCT Language Arts, Spelling and Science: same as above
TOG Yr4 Wk11: Quizlet vocab; important people; SAPs; Reading - War, Peace and All That Jazz,  Homer Price, Winston Churchill, Pippi Longstockings Corrie tenBoom, All the People.

Princess L - K - LG
We began MFW First grade this week.  We are going through two lessons per day as a review.  I am not doing any of the science, but I am doing some of the suggested math.  We are continuing with the games from Winter Promise. 
Math-U-See Primer:  Continue Lesson 26.
Awana Sparks verses: Princess L is now working on her review book.

Princess M - PreTOGger
We are working on the short little song that she has to sing for the Christmas program.  Princess L sang the same song two years ago, so it helps that the whole family knows the song.  Princess M, however, does not seem to like the song and would rather sing Jesus Loves Me (as both songs have the same tune).

We have a two week break coming up after week 18.  I have a few changes that we will be implementing but I have to find the time to work on them over our break.  We will be scheduling several play days with friends we've not seen in a while.