Responsibilities and Allowance

Monday, December 28, 2009

I am often asked my thoughts on this subject. This is how responsibilities and allowance work at our house...
Each person in the home has a main responsibility. Father – to work and provide for our family; Mother – homemaker, the one who manages our household; Children – to learn and grow, get an education. Each member of a household also has other things they must do to contribute and make the house run. These basic tasks are done because of the pride in he family and home.  No payment is earned.

"The Continuum Concept" is Jean Liedloff's observations while she lived with Stone Age Indians in the South American jungle. This became a cult parenting book appealing to many of those who believe in Attachment Parenting. One of the things she talks about is the Indians' attitude towards work. She writes,

"There appeared to be no Yequana concept of work similar to ours. There were words for each activity that might have been included, but no generic term."

Liedloff continues to discuss how these people simply went about doing their daily tasks and chores without the dread that we have come to develop in our society. Gathering water and such were simply things that needed to be done in order to live. (You can read more about this in the article WHY WORK) I knew I wanted to adopt this attitude in my own household…

Household tasks are called responsibilities. Awsumb is given new ones each year as he grows and learns to do things on his own. Also expected as a member of our family everyone helps when asked .  I have also teach him to look for things that need to be done. If we want to live in a clean, organized happy home we must ALL do our part. Awsumb is expected to help with anything that we ask such as: cooking dinner, unloading things from the car, special projects etc.

Working side by side
is a very important opportunity for teaching children about responsiblities. A good friend of ours spoke in church about a time that while working in the garden, he had a wonderful discussion with his son... one that might not have come about in any other circumstance. While I am sure that his children may have sometimes complained, I have personally worked side by side their children and experienced their willingness to fully engage in the task and enjoy being together.

Start early.
Since we have been doing this from the beginning our son has grown up with the attitude that it's fun to help out and even when it's not fun, that it's simply something that must get done. Awsumb started helping around the house as soon as he could walk. Even if that meant I had to slow down or he was just following me around. I have noticed that Awsumb is able to find joy is being part of simple tasks and family projects especially when working alongside elders. Do you remember a time that you might have felt accomplished and important working alongside a parent as a child?

DO NOT tie an allowance or reward system to jobs. Because we all have things we have to do around the house to keep it in order, we do not get paid for doing them. No one will pay Awsumb to clean his room when he is in college or when he is married! And who needs to take out the trash to earn $ .50 when Grandma just sent $20 in the mail? How hard you work is not always connected to how much you make. I believe being responsible for basic household tasks gives children personal responsibility and gives them a sense of pride.  When we reward them we can interfere with their feelings of personal worth.  (Read Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars.)

Everyone earns an allowance simply for being a part of the household. To determine how much to pay your child you must first determine how much your child needs based on what you expect him to do with the money. Awsumb earns $1 a week per year of age (this could also work once a month). So right now he gets $8. He is expected to tithe on his money, save some and the rest is spending. He spends his allowance on books, small toys and saves up for larger items. Sometimes he spends his money on activities like going to the movies with Dad. He often puts money towards gifts. Over the years we have also watched him donate money to causes that were important to him.

If there is something special he needs to earn money for we can then help him find ways to make money either by providing special things in our own home or looking for jobs in our neighborhood. Awsumb also has a lemonade stand in the summers and has done odd jobs for small change from the neighbors.

If you want children to keep their feet on the ground, put some responsibility on their shoulders.

How do allowance and household tasks work in your family?

The Sounds of Christmas!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

I admit it, I am totally tone deaf! But I love music and I love to sing. Even though it's usually the wrong words to the wrong tune. One such incident of note still haunts me to this day.

About 12 years ago we were playing Cranium. If you haven't discovered this one, it was a favorite around here and we had fun introducing this mix of trivia, pictionary, name that tune, etc. to our friends. So one night we had some new friends over to play and of course I end up with a "humdinger" card. The song was Somewhere Over The Rainbow, but I hummed Kermit The Frog's Rainbow Connection and I didn't even get that tune right! So, of course my team totally lost out on that one. To this day my friend's husband will play that made up tune on the piano whenever he sees me and we all get a big laugh out of it.

That's why when it's my choice and we play name that tune I always choose Jingle Bells!

Nevertheless, I often sing silly songs around the house. Last summer when a friend was visiting I freaked her out a little when upon waking I started singing Beautiful Life at the top of my lungs!

So when it's time to break out the Christmas music it's a pretty exciting time around here. And of course, being as sassy as I am, I am also picky about what Christmas music we listen to. This past year my favorite was Relient K - Let It Snow, Let it Reindeer!, a Christain rock band Kenneth discovered. Because we coulnd't find the perfect Christmas book, we choose this one to send to all our siblings this year. This may have to become a new tradition! The best song is Celebrate The Day. Click to the link to check it out!

Some of my other favorites are Straight No Chaser (Acapella group... You may have seen them on You Tube), Maybe This Christmas (various alternative artists), Barenaked For The Holidays, The Forgotten Carols (and just like the little Angel that wasn't good enough to sing in the Angel Choir, "I will be heard!"), A Very Special Christmas (various artists, vol. 1-7, some songs better than others), A Music Box Christmas (I just LOVE music boxes!).
What's your favorite Christmas Music?

A Virtual Christmas Card

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Nativity by Awsumb

From Our Family To Yours!

A Christmas Story

Thursday, December 17, 2009

For a few years now we have sent a Christmas book to our siblings and their families each Christmas. So today I thought I would share a few of our favorite Christmas books.
Red Ranger Came Calling is the story about a little boy that no longer believes in Santa, if he ever did. Until he calls on well, Santa. Set in the depression about a little boy on Vashon Island. You may recognize the author Berkeley Breathed from the funny papers. The book is hysterical and if the performance by Book-IT theater in Seattle even better!

I have seen many versions of the Nutcracker, but none of them is as good as the production by the Pacific Northwest Ballet. The sets are all designed by Maurice Sendack. This book combine E.T. A. Hoffmann's origional story and Maurice Sendack 's art. LOVE IT!

Mr. Willowby's Chrsitmas Tree by Robert Barry is one of my favorite simple stories to read to little ones. Follow the discarded tree top as it brings joy to everyone who finds it.

A Charlie Brown Christmas is a beautiful book for anyone who is a fan of the classic TV Special. The art of Charles M. Schulz is vibrant and beautiful.

If you haven't read How The Grinch that Stole Christmas you must be live under a rock. Even though it's a classic story, who doens't love Dr. Seuss?

Every year my father read The Night before Christmas by Clement C. Moore. The version we read to our son is illustrated by Mary Engelbreit. Oh, if I could only live in her artwork! Many of her Christmas cards and art appear in Believe Christmas Treasury. Including classic stories such as The Gift of the Maji, poems and the verses to favorite Christmas Carols we reach for this oone over and over again during the season.

A Creature Was Stirring is a silly story about a boy waiting up for Santa told along with the classic version of A Night Before Christmas. Totally cute.

One of Kenneth's favorites is My Penguin Osbert about a boy who writes a letter to Santa asking for a real Penguin from Antarctica. The boy gets a little more than he baragined for.

Wherever the idea of Santa came from, however paegan the symbols of Christmas might be I Believe in Santa Claus is a wonderful book telling us why we should believe in Santa and continue the tradition. As the author simply says teaching children about Santa teaches them about the spirit of giving, "From Santa we learn to give and receive. From Jesus we learn to love and be loved."

I sure you have read or at least know the story of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. One that you might not know about is, The Life of Our Lord. Dickens' testimony of Christ written for his very own children.
(Awsumb as Baby Jesus in the Church Nativity 2001)

And how could I leave out THE Christmas story found in Luke 2. I read this to Awsumb every year and have fond memories of his re-enacting the story with his Little People nativity and telling the shepards, "don't be afraid!"

This year Awsumb and I are reading The Best Christmas Pageant Ever...or as Awsumb likes to point out The WORST Christmas Pageant ever... beause we all can imagine a family such as the Herdmans and what it might be like if they took over the Christmas Pageant. I haven't read this one in a long time, but Awsumb is the perfect age for it and loving every chapter.

On my wish list... a book of beautiful illustrations that retell the story of The Little Drummer Boy, a favorite of mine since childhood.

What's your favorite Christmas book?
I love seeing the way other people decorate for Christmas. So just for you, check back for a few pictures of our home all ready for Christmas.

Celebrating Christ

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I have mentioned a bit about scrupulocity being a strict regard to religious morals and beliefs such as in the book The Devil is in the Details. I related to this Jewish girl because as a Mormon I often bring on my own guilt about religious specifics. After I was diagnosed with OCD I began to separate things that actual mean something from things that are just a form of superstition of scrupulocity. But for someone who is religious and has OCD, there is no difference. The anxiety is the same.

A simple one I have been thinking about lately is writing Xmas... Yes, I just deleted and forced myself to retype it! Call me superstitious, but I just feel like it is disrespectful to use an X to write Christmas. I remember as a young child working on a needlepoint that called for this combination of letters and having a total mental block and not being able to continute. I could not force myself to permanately stitch such letters... leaving the Christ our of Christmas? How could I?

A few years ago I started spending time with a new friend. Our boys were the same age and we went to classes together. When Christmas time came around I was suprised to realize that she celebrated Xmas, but not Christmas. What I mean by this is that she loved the holiday, decorated for it, celebrated Santa, etc... but Not Christ. She was athiest. I remember feeling so because for me, there would be no celebration for me without the Christ. For Christmas that year I gave her a small framed photo of the baby Jesus and shared my feelings about why he is so important in my life.

The celebration is about the gift that Christ gave us, the give of the atonement. And without that, there is no way back to our Father in Heaven. The gift is not from Christ, but through him from our Father in Heaven. In my faith we often refer to Jesus as our older brother. Being the oldest in my family I never had an older brother to look out for me. Even better than borrowing an older brother's jacket or tagging along with him for ride in his cool car, we all do have an older brother that gave us so much more.

So, I hear a lot of people talk about putting the Christ back into Christmas. How exactly can we do this?

A few years ago my mother in law told me that her goal for the month of December was to go to the temple. Each week as other seemingly more important things came up, she knew she just had to get this done. It was one small gesture that she felt could be her gift.

The Relief Society sisters in my ward have a tradition of going to the temple together in december and calling it, "A White Christmas." Because the temple is a place where we make covenants with our Heavenly Father, this is a perfect place for us to remember to put the Christ back into Christmas.

Howard W. Hunter said "Let the temple be a symbol of our membership." At Christmas time there are many symbols all around us. And I love this quote because it reminds me to think about my personal covenants, which include following Christ's example of charity and love.

Christmas time is really a gift on it's own... an opportunity for us to serve others. Even in small ways, small acts of kindness put the Christ back into Christmas.

How do you and your family put the Christ back into Christmas?

The Present

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Every year I look forward to a package from my Aunt Laurel because I know it will contain Christmas ornaments!  For the millenium she sent this Lenox porcelain gift box.  Inside she tucked a note that reads,

"The past is history, the future is a mystery.Today is God's gift, that's why it's called The Present."

I have learned many lessons from my Aunt over the years about commitment, family and love... each time I read this I know just where I should be right now. In the present. In a world of past pain and future uncertainty the comfort of the present really is a gift from God.

This holiday season I hope we can all focus less on the presents and more on His Presence... to do this we must live in the present and be present for our children and loved ones. To me this means we must stop rushing around and spend an evening home with our families. Really being present with them is the biggest gift we can give them.

This week we had a wonderful week of quiet evenings at home. Some evenings involved no television, computers or even Ipods, but a family giving the gift of themselves and their time to eachother. To really be present in our children's lives... to play with them, to teach them, to talk to them and to listen to them is something that can last even after the Christmas decor has been put away.

What does being present really mean to you?

Deck The Halls!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

My heart has grown enough to declare Christmas as my most favorite time of the year. And like many people I love decorating for Christmas. The colors in our family room coordinate with Christmas so well (This was planned of course! Pear, crandberry red and green...) that it is only when the room is decorated for Christmas, that it finally feels complete.

The tree is my absolute favorite part of Christmas decor and the focal point of my family room. As we add new ornaments to the tree each year it becomes even more a part of us and our reflection on the celebration of Christ's love.
I also love the Willow Tree Nativity my parents sent piece by piece over the years. I searched for years for the perfect nativity and never found just the right one. So the first year they began this tradition I was thrilled.  I might not  have ever picked this myself, but I absolutely love the soft lines of the simple and beautifully plain figures.

My Aunt sent the most precious advent tree with tiny jewled Lenox ornaments. Awsumb received his own quilted advent tree from his Grandma Thomas and he loves buttoning on each ornament every morning when he wakes up. But, when I informed him that I would do the fancy tree from Laurel by myself he pouted! Awsumb just loves helping me pull the small ornaments out of the drawer to count day the days of Christmas.

But all the festive lights and fancy decorations fade into the background when I read the little quotes that my sister and friends have given me. The first simply says..


A couple years ago my sister sent me "The Magic of Christmasis Not in The Presents, but in His Presence."

And finally, "Wise Men Still Seek Him"

When the days seem short and life is busy these items make me stop and think about seeking out Christ's love and sharing it with others.

I love looking at photos of everyone's trees and other decor on all of your blogs! From the simple ones, with kid proof ornaments, to the fancy ones - I just love them all!

How do you deck your halls?

The Unmedicated Child

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

I saw this episode of Frontline a while ago..

The Medicated Child

You can watch the entire program online.

Kenneth just rediscovered it and of course it led to ongoing discussion in our home about this topic. I know that this is a very complicated subject. But I do think that we are medicating kids too fast. I know in my own situation we have done everything possible to keep me off meds. There may come a time where I do need them for a while. And I am not opposed to getting chemical help when needed. But I do feel like it should be the last resort.

If you have never thought about this issues or if you ar struggling with this decision in your own family I recommend this program and the discussion that will follow.

Ironing Party!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Years ago I actually used to love ironing. Maybe because it was so repetative or something... I don't know what it was exactly, but it was a task that I didn't mind. I always try to make everything fun. So, I would make an evening out of it and watch something I had saved on the DVR or a movie. I didn't every really have an "ironing pile" because I mostly did things as I put laundry away... often donning my super cute laundry fairy costume!

Then, sometime around the end of my pregnancy I was ironing a shirt, real quick for Kenneth and burned my tummy... HOT steam... yeah, that one hurt! After the baby came... Well, there are a lot of things you can do with a baby in a sling, but ironing is not one of them! And eight years later I find myself out of the habit and dreading the task.

So that's why I am throwing an ironing party.
And your invited!
My house.
Wednesday, December 2nd.
B.Y.O.B. (bring your own board! LOL!)

A few laundry tips for you...

Pull things out of the dryer while they are still just a bit damp... works great! Thanks Martha Stewart for that one! Martha also taught me (yes, me personally during my tutelage with her every afternoon during the early years of my marriage) that using an ironing board with a thick pad makes your work much easier!

Do you have trouble ironing around the buttons? Flip the shirt over and iron on a thick pad or towel and the buttons will nest into the padding. For items that are really wrinkly (also works on static items) put them back in the dryer with a wet washcloth and a dryer sheet for a few minutes.

Don't get steamed! Get pressed!