Daddy’s Girl

As I said when I described our trip to Maine last week, Little H was not very fond of the water.  While she was dipping her toes in for the very first time, Jax came running toward her full force shrieking his head off, and after that she has held true to her constant explanation, “I don’t like waves.”  Even to cool down a little or during low tide, she wanted nothing to do with the ocean and preferred a bird’s eye view to her feet in the sand.  I think it had something to do with the company.

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Half the magic of vacation was Little H’s refrain, “Dada no go work today?” with a big old smile on her face.  No work, more time to spend on his big strong shoulders, her favorite place to be.

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I’d like to say she warmed up to the water over the course of the week, but that didn’t happen of course!  When Daddy sets a precedent like this, why would she?

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One of my favorite duos to photograph, at home or away: Daddy and his kiddos, but especially his baby girl.  These two melt my heart, but mostly because I can tell she has him wrapped around her little finger.

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Love those big strong shoulders and sandy toes!

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Raising Good Humans

Truth: Summer is coming, and with it three little humans who will be home with me all day, every day.  I am excited to have nowhere to rush off to, no lunches to pack, no gym shoes to remember and no schedule to adhere to.  But at the same time…nowhere to be?  No schedule to adhere to?  Suddenly the weeks of uninterrupted time alone with my children sounds a little more…daunting.

Truth:  I need a schedule.  In fact, I thrive on it and I believe children do, too.  Add to that equation that both Jax and I are a little Type A and the need for a bit of structure to our summer is real.  Jax has already asked me if we can make a daily routine chart like they have at school (you know, breakfast play snack play lunch play read play dinner bed).  But he wants it on a posterboard written in permanent marker so that he knows what is coming next.  I guess we both need a bit of a plan.

Truth:  I get a lot of stuff done when the big kids are at school and Little H is napping, and I’m not going to give that up just because it’s summer.  I can either give the kids lots of time to play independently (sign me up) or I can include them in the getting-stuff-done process (sounds good).  I decided I would do both, and so the internet/Pinterest/Etsy search for a chore chart was on.

The search brought me to Fisher Kids, a company you can check out here that has a philosophy on parenting I can get behind.  They are called Fisher Kids because they want to teach kids to fish, to provide for themselves, and thus become functioning humans in society who don’t need their Mommy or Daddy to hold their hands at every problem.  Fisher Kids also believes that kids need not be rewarded or receive accolades for every little thing they do in life. “There is a need for children to have intrinsic motivation to succeed. Our stations are designed to teach children that there are some things we do simply because we want to help the family team. These are not “paid for” chores, simply deeds we all do around the house to keep a healthy, happy, high-functioning home.”  You don’t get a trophy for just showing up here, kids.  You’d better work.

Fisher Kids has a whole responsibility station you can purchase and it looks great and comes completely set up for you.  My only problem was we don’t have a ton of wall space so I wanted a chore/responsibility system that was more three-dimensional.  Plus I love jars.  But I did buy the responsibility magnets from Fisher Kids, one for Jax and one for Em.  I put them on our refrigerator and assigned them each two “deeds”–jobs that they have to do just because they are functioning members of our family who help out.  They get those chores for a week.

Responsibility & Chore Chart @ Rub Some Dirt On It Responsibility & Chore Chart @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Then I bought a $3 jar at TJ Maxx with a chalkboard label on the front to hold a colorful array of “chores”–things the kids can do to make money if they are feeling particularly industrious–and “deeds.”  The brown/plain sticks are the “deeds” — Dishwasher Duty, Set the Table, Sweep the Kitchen, etc.  They have a deed on one side and “Thank you” written on that back  That’s all they get for participating, but being polite and thankful are important things to learn, too.

The colorful sticks are “chores” and are more specific–Wipe Down the Counters, Tidy and Clean the Coffee Table–and have a monetary value written on the back.  These range from 10-50 cents, depending on how labor intensive the chore is.  Just making them colorful made them appealing to the kids, and the fact that they are learning how to add money (so they can write down the commission earned each day and the total for the week) is an added bonus.  If you need a place to start for your chores, I love the list provided here.

Responsibility & Chore Chart @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Basically, the kids don’t make any money if they just do their deeds and don’t do any chores.  They get a hearty “Thank You” for your help and we’ll see you next week.  BUT the chore jar is going to be the first place I send them this summer if they give me the dreaded, “I’m booooooored…” at which point they will be bored no longer because I will be having them do chores for free.  I can’t wait.

The other element of Fisher Kids I like is to teach them not only to be helpful members of our family, but also contributing members to our community.  The kids are going to give a percentage of their wages to a “Give” jar, which we will let build up and use for some kind of contribution, donation, or random act of kindness.  Having the money be earned instead of given to them will really help them build some sense of ownership in the process, and I look forward to brainstorming ideas about how we can help our community over the course of the year.

Responsibility & Chore Chart @ Rub Some Dirt On It

The last thing I am going to do is start rewarding the kids for good behavior and exhibiting qualities I try to encourage in them.  For example, yesterday Em dropped her cup of graham crackers and without me having to say anything Jax came over and gave her some of his.  That sort of kindness should be acknowledged and rewarded; so once they reach a certain number of beads for their Caring Jar, we will have some kind of family reward, like going to get ice cream or making s’mores.  Something fun that celebrates the kids being well-rounded, kind people.  That’s my goal in life, anyway: to foster that in them.  And to have as many uses for jars and beads as possible.

Responsibility & Chore Chart @ Rub Some Dirt On It

Lastly I got two small swingtop jars at Walmart for Jax and Em to put the money they make into–we’ll separate it into money to spend and money to save, and hopefully we can make a decent amount to open a savings account at the end of the summer.  I put it all in a pretty crate that is now my Command Center and smiled like crazy about how happy being organized makes me.

Responsibility & Chore Chart @ Rub Some Dirt On It

 And raising good humans.  That’s pretty important, too.

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6:15 Stream Of Consciousness

6:15 on a school night and Mommy and Daddy really just want you kids in bed but oh crap they are really filthy okay let’s just put them in the tub together we won’t even wash Em’s hair here are your toothbrushes no don’t spit on each other that’s it you’re out

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just sit quietly while we get your brother and sister dressed please don’t pee on the floor yes you can wear the purple ones have you seen her binkie yes I know we have to get rid of it soon but not tonight let’s just get out of here

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nope sorry just one story tonight okay yes I will leave the bathroom light on no you may not get another book lights out in ten minutes yes ten okay sweet dreams I love you goodnight

…lights out!…

goodnight.  yes we love you, too.  goodnight.

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Taken For Granted

When your child is sick, you take for granted that with a little rest, TLC, and maybe some Tylenol, they’ll be back to their old selves again in no time.

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Even when they’re really sick, and they have to sleep in bed with you and you are changing sheets and holding hair back at three in the morning for the third hour in a row, you take for granted that you are the one who is capable of making them better.  Especially after three kids.  You got this.

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But after three days of honest-to-goodness sickness, you and your husband look at each other and acknowledge, we can’t fix this.  So you grab a bucket and her Blankie and head to the hospital where, you take for granted, they can fix everything.

And they do.  One IV, two bags of saline, some medicine and several hours later, you have her back home again, where she is tired and snuggly but healing.  When you put her to bed that night, in her own bed (granted, with a puke bucket beside her), you get a good night’s sleep, too, because of all the wonderful advances in our world that can heal the sick and return your little girl back to her old self again.

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And when she wakes up in the morning and declares, “I’m hungry!” you are thankful and grateful and happy to give her anything in the world at your fingertips, which is a lot.  And you vow never to take anything, not matter how small, for granted again.

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Bouncing Around The Room

Sometimes you just have to let them be crazy.

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Because they’re going to do it anyway.  You may as well join in!

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Parenting Survival 101.

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Being “That Kid”

In the perfect world, all of the steps JDubbs and I have taken to create kind, well-rounded kids will have paid dividends when we see the cool, confident people they become as they get older: comfortable in their own skin, marching to their own drummer, being true to themselves.  That is one part of adolescence that I could never get a handle on, and it wasn’t until much older that I understood who I was and was content with my “self,” in the whole sense of the word.  I never would have purposely stood out in a crowd, or would have chosen to be “that kid” under any circumstances.  So, sometimes when I look at Jax and how his confidence cup runneth over, I can’t help but be impressed.  He’s fine to be “that kid,” and to hell with the rest of us if we don’t like it.

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He is kind, and happy.  He makes friends easily and is quick to share and says hello to everyone.  In fact, it is hilarious being at school with him because he literally knows everyone, from kids several grades above him to every adult in the building.  He is just comfortable being Jax, confident that people will like him just the way he is.  I pray to God he never changes.

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Yes, sometimes that confidence turns to bossiness, and sometimes being bossy is a just a step before being a bully.  But Jax knows that that kind of behavior will never be tolerated, and we encourage him to just worry about himself and have fun.

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I’m not too worried about it.  If he knows how to do anything, it’s have fun!

Never change, Jax.  I love how confident you are, how outgoing and how friendly.  I hope you are always kind and always true to yourself.  Because your self is a pretty cool thing to be.

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And don’t forget, your sisters are always watching you, taking notes and hoping to be just like you.

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Show them that being “that kid” is the best way to be.

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Smiles Beget Smiles

My kind of parenting is treading water, making messes, reading stories and lots of hugs.  My favorite kind of parenting is having the presence of mind to realize when my kids are having a perfect moment, with all the stars aligned into quiet joy and happiness all around, especially for me.  When all that good stuff comes together just right, I take a moment, savor it, then try to capture it if I can.  I store it in my mind for another day when things gets tough and I need to remember how very good this life is.

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Smiles beget smiles.  So do crayons.

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And toes.

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Savoring like crazy over here.

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