I am a Mormon stay-at-home-mom of six. Yeah, I know, "that's a lot of kids"! Sometimes it truly is A LOT. Most of the time it's not. It's simply put...our normal. On my page you'll find spiritual thoughts, tales of trials, happy moments, recipes, funny stories, and more. Enjoy!!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Thursday's Thoughts

Chore Charts

There seems to be a a silly notion in the world today that kids shouldn't have chores or responsibilities.  Why? I do not know! My children come home talking about how unlucky they are to have to do chores and how their friends get to play on their Xbox, Playstation 3 or other gaming devices for as long as they want to after school.  At first I would like to shake the parents a little and knock some sense into them, but then I become rational again and  I remind my boys that these are the rules in our home and I can't control the rules in other's homes.  Sometimes they argue and bit more, but they soon swat the thought away and move on.

I have learned that EVERYONE needs to learn the value of work.  Every child NEEDS to learn this skill.  It's essential for them to learn that when doing a job or chore they should make sure to do it completely, thoroughly, and efficiently.   This requires that they learn the proper way to do a chore and how to do it in a timely manner.  Learning to use time wisely is a wonderful skill!  Where else can they learn these skills better than in the home? No where.  Teaching at home becomes the best school in the world!

It can be very overwhelming, frustrating and confusing to know where to begin.  Our family has created many a chore chart, but the one we are currently using has worked the very very best for us.  This is what I did:

*Depending on the size of your family, get a medium to large sized white board that is magnetic or make one of your own.
*On printable magnet sheets (I've used the Avery brand from stores like Staples and Amazon like these: Magnet Sheets)
*Make a list of chores that need to be done around the house.
        Examples: get the mail and put it on the table
                         sweep the kitchen floor
                         unload the dishwasher
                         put away clean dishes
                         clean the bathroom
                         vacuum living room
                         feed and water pets
                         water plants
                         wash dishes
                         do laundry
                         take out the trash
                         mop floor

*Type your list into a Word document and make space enough in between each one so you can cut the strips apart.  Print them on magnet sheets. Cut them out.
*Print out names of each person in the home or print pictures. Cut them out.
*Make sure to give the adults chores as well.
*Have the family members take turns picking chores. You could spread them out "memory game" style and have them pick randomly or they could choose which chores they want to do.
* I made 3 categories: Daily Chores, Weekly Chores (only need to be done once a week), and Meal time chores.  I printed each category onto the magnet sheet as well. Cut them out.
*Place the names or pictures along the top of the board or along the side...you choose!
*Under or next to the names/pictures place the chores they chose to do.
*when they complete a chore they could flip the chore upside down so you can see that it is complete.
*Inspect their work and take the time to point out to them the things that look good, that they did well, and teach them how to do the things they missed.  Be patient with them while they learn.

It's okay if you have to adjust the chart a few times.  That's the great thing about this chart...it is easily adjusted to fit into any family's busy life.  Do what works for your family.   You may find that you forgot some chores OR you might find that there isn't enough time every day to complete all the chores you thought you would.  That's okay.  You can always print out more chores.  ;) Or take away chores that are too much for a person.

My sister-in-law has her kids choose new chores each week.  Her chore list is different than mine.  Many of her chores she broke into steps, for instance cleaning the bathroom was broken into smaller chores like clean the toilet, wash the mirror, wipe the counter, and clean the tub. That works great for them and has given me good ideas for different chores.  Sometimes kids get bored doing the same chores over and over, so switch it up.

Above is a picture of ours.  It might look a bit crazy, but we understand what it all means.  I have circled in red where I placed the category strips.  You can see that the adults are over to the side along with the baby. We all have chores assigned to us....except for the baby. ;) Below you'll see how I rearranged the chore chart.  The categories are along the top.  The pictures run along the sides and their chores are in the row beside them.

If you try it one way and it doesn't work, try again.  You'll eventually find what works for you!  Be consistent.  Set your rules and stick to them.  Our rules are that there is no TV and no video games until the chores are complete and up to my specifications.

Happy Chore Chart making!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Wednesday's Wonderings


Have you ever watched your child struggle through a trial and wondered if you have failed them as a parent?  Have you taught them the right things? Have you spent enough time with them?  Have you empowered them with enough knowledge and life-skills to be able to make good choices?

These same types of questions plague us when our kids hit milestone ages too. These are normal things to ponder.  And when we ponder them, we are taking a closer look at ourselves.  We see those things that we could improve upon.  We see those things we should put a stop to. We see those things we are doing well.  And during this time of introspection we should take an opportunity to focus on what we have done well.  Have we loved our children and expressed it daily? Have we taught them to be good, kind people? 

We should NEVER beat ourselves up over mistakes.  When we do, we are letting Satan win. The best parents are those who see their mistakes and fix them!  

When your child struggles, make sure they know that you are there for them.  Talk with them without judging them or being critical, or correcting them. Share your wisdom with them, kindly.  I am not always the most patient person, and at times, have not wanted to wait for them to say what is one their mind.  When I have let them think and then speak, we both have felt better about our conversation.  Use kind tones and kind words.  Talk to them the way you would want to be spoken to.  Find good sources with sound parenting advice.  I like going to the Lord in prayer and reading the scriptures.  I also like going to lds.org to find articles and talks on the topics I need.  Find what works best for you.

A great book I have read parts of is called "Teaching Your Children Values" by Richard and Linda Eyre.  

This month's Ensign has a great article called "Raising Resilient Children".  It has good, sound advice for raising children.  

The key is to remember that non of us are perfect.  We try each day to become better people and over time we improve and are becoming better. Focus on the positive.  Point out the positive.  When you see that you are making mistakes, stop them, correct them and move forward.  When you do these things you can find peace in knowing that you're doing your best to be a good, righteous parent.  

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tuesday's Topic

I am not a poet by any means.  ;) These words were running through my head while I was shoveling this second round of snow in less than a week, and I thought they might be fun to share.

Oh Snow, why do you tease me so?
With your fluffy white mounds,
covering the ground.
Oh how I wish I could play
and make snow forts and snow men all day.
As I scoop another shovel of snow
I remember those days long ago.
Your sparkly white blanket
Is so beautiful to see.
But my back and my hands
are making demands
to lie down and rest, you see.
So, I will dream of a day,
when I can go play,
in your fluffy white mounds again.
Until then I will sit,
and snuggle my babies instead.

It's so important to take the time to sit and snuggle our children.  Even those that are teenagers.  They might not want you too now, but eventually a pat on the back may turn into a hug. Remind them of how much you love them.  Hug them.  Tell them how proud you are of them.  They need to hear it!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Monday's Marvelous Memo

Perspective and Words

As you can plainly see...I skipped writing on Sunday.  That will be my routine with this blog.  I will write Monday through Saturday...barring any unforeseen circumstances.

Over the weekend I was pondering frequently on the topic of "perspective".  One of my favorite things to say, as of late, is, "It's all about perspective".  It's very very true.  Life IS all about our perspective.  We respond according to how we see the situation.  Sometimes the way we see a certain situation can be a little bit skewed or off or not very realistic.  When we try to see things in a new light or from a different angle, we may be shocked at the difference in how we feel about an event or conversation.  Especially when dealing with another person, we can never really know what they are thinking or what their perspective is unless they tell us.

This is something that I can apply to my daily interactions with my family.  If I can try to see things through their eyes, I might be a lot more understanding of their choices or actions.

While watching a movie last night, something one of the main characters said really hit home for me. I was watching The Letter Writer. It's not the best acting but the messages that are taught are awesome.  (Here's a trailer for you... The Letter Writer trailer)

The character, Sam, was talking about the words we use and how they can effect another person. Words are extremely powerful.  I love words.  I've always loved how they can paint a picture in your mind. They can be used in a variety of ways. They can be kind, beautiful or lyrical.  They can be harsh, cruel or mean.  They can be used to lift another person up and "fill their bucket" or they can be used to tear another person down and "dip from their bucket".

Our perspective on a situation can effect how we use words toward another person.  We need to be careful how we use our words so that we can have a positive effect on others.  When we change our perspective to a more positive view we may also choose different words to say too.

This last summer I was able to participate in a parent training with Tough Point Autism Services.  My case manager taught me a great deal about Autism.  She helped me see a new perspective.  A huge lesson I am continuing to learn is that when working with a child with Autism you must be very careful with your wording and phrasing.  You must be direct and clear.  There can be no insinuations.  Nothing can be vague, with unspoken meanings. Sarcasm is lost on them. Talking to them is like relearning how to speak.  It's a daily struggle to reword everything you are in the habit of saying.  But when I realized that these individuals don't have the capacity to understand the words we are saying, my perspective changed and I have a great desire to change the way I communicate with my son.

My son does not deal very well with his dad traveling.  He gets angry and lashes out.  He has been doing better with his dad's traveling, but recently when his dad left on a business trip he got very upset.  He was pushing, hitting, growling and yelling at his siblings and me.  When those types of things are happening in the middle of church service, it's quite embarrassing.  I'm so thankful for the inspiration that changed my perspective immediately.  I was able to choose my words more carefully and address the true reason for the outburst.  I was able to be very direct and kind. The remainder of church went well.  The outbursts continued at home, but once I was aware of his perspective, I was able to handle the situations better.  

Next time you encounter a situation that is stressful or hard, try to see things from a new, more positive perspective.  Adjust your responses so that your words are more kind and uplifting.  Watch and see how a change in your perspective and your words can make a huge difference in your life.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Saturday's Scrumptiousness

I love food.  I love trying new food.  I love finding new recipes to try.  So, today I'm going to share a recipe given to me by my grandmother.  It's a healthy way to make really delicious chicken.  I LOVE fried food, but when trying to keep your weight down after 6 children and the age of 32...well...one cannot always indulge in the foods they always used to.  We must make some adjustments to our food intake.  Putting it simply...it really stinks to be an adult, sometimes.  ;)

Oven Fried Chicken

1-1 1/2 pounds of chicken breasts (whole or cut into strips)
1 cup flour
1 tsp. salt (original recipe calls for 1-2 tsp salt)
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 tsp. paprika (I heap the teaspoons)
2 tsp. olive oil per chicken breast

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Pour olive oil onto baking sheet. Place flour, salt, pepper, and paprika into a bowl.  Stir until all ingredients are blended well.  Place flour mixture into a gallon sized zipper seal baggie or large bowl with lid. Add chicken.  Close bag or bowl and shake until chicken is coated well.  Pour entire contents onto baking pan, spaced evenly.  Bake for 15 minutes for strips or 30 minutes for full breasts and then turn each piece over.  Bake another 5-10 minutes for strips, 15 minutes for full breasts or until chicken is cooked through and juices run clear.  Serve with rice or potatoes, and a side of veggies or a salad.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as my family does!  Happy Saturday!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Friday's Fact-Finding

ADHD and School

After reading a post written by one of my friends on Facebook, I figured I might put some thoughts out there on the topic.  I have a son with ADHD.  It's a daily struggle; even a moment to moment struggle. Not just for him, but for me and his dad as well. The school staff are not exempt from this struggle either.

If there's one thing I have learned, it's that an ADHD person's brain functions differently than others.  Tiny little things can distract them from their task; small noises, flashing lights, a pencil dropping to the floor, the click of the keys on a calculator, the sound of crumpling paper, someone fidgeting in their seat, a backpack being unzipped and many others.  It's endless.  They can't walk through a room where a TV is on without stopping and becoming transfixed.  It almost takes an act of congress to get them to un-glue their feet from the carpet and keep walking.  By that time they have forgotten what the task was that you sent them to do.  This creates frustration for the parents.  But it makes the individual with ADHD feel awful.  They feel like they aren't good enough, aren't smart enough, aren't responsible enough, and they beat themselves up for it.

School becomes extremely difficult for them.  They can't concentrate while other students are sneezing, someone walks down the hallway, or another sharpens his pencil.  They forget what the task was that they were supposed to be focused on.  They sometimes throw up their hands (figuratively) and give up.

Many teachers do not want to deal with a child with ADHD.  In fact, some are downright rude to them.  And yet there are those angels who are kind and understanding.  We all hope for those kinds of teachers for our children.  If you aren't fortunate enough to have teachers who are good with your child who struggles with ADHD then you have your work cut out for you.

Here are some things I have learned from working with schools:

1. Communicate on a regular basis with your child's teacher.  Some children have a small notebook that is sent back and forth between the teacher and the parent.  Others are better at emailing a quick note once a week.  If you're the type of parent to prefers the face-to-face communication, make sure you're in your child's school on a regular basis.  By doing so you will develop a relationship with the staff and they know that you mean business.

2. Keep a copy of all communications with your school.  Make a file and start saving things.  If you speak to a teacher over the phone, make notes, date them and save them in your file.  You never know when they could come in handy.

3. Don't wait too long to address a situation.  For instance, if your child complains that the teacher yelled at him in front of the class, make sure to contact the teacher the next day.

4. Be prepared and armed with information.  Know your rights as a parent.  Research and find out what kinds of services are offered or allowed for your state.  

5. Go in to meetings with a positive outlook and speak with kindness.  Be prepared to bring out the "big guns" ONLY if the staff is not willing to work with you.  Remember that there are only certain things that staff are allowed to do.  Many times when the school staff realizes that you mean business they will settle in and get to work to help you and your child.

The one thing that I struggle with the most is remembering to compliment my child.  They need to hear it every day.  Tell them what a good job they are doing. Point out the positives.  This may take some effort at first, but will be well worth it. It will help build their confidence and reassure them that they ARE the amazing individual that Heavenly Father created.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Thursdays' Thoughts

Snow days and Rainy Day activities...

This morning we woke up to blowing white flakes falling quickly from the sky.  The school cancellation came last night when the weather forecast called for 100% precipitation.  My friend, who is very creative, asked me what our plans were for the snow day.  Her equally creative children we planning their fun filled day.  I had nothing...absolutely nothing.  Well, let's see, we plan to sleep in, eat breakfast, do chores, and then watch TV all...day...long.  Now, doesn't that sound like loads and loads of fun?  That's what I thought too!  ;)

The trick to keeping the boredom at bay is to be prepared.  I like my friend's idea to create boxes that are filled with supplies and instructions for crafts and other mind stimulating activities.

Some of the things that I remember best from my childhood were fairly simple, like making a tent in the living room with chairs and blankets.  Kids seem to find hours of enjoyment and imagination-stretching-fun with a simple blanket tent!  Old cardboard boxes can become shields, masks, houses, puppet shows, etc.  Soda cans can be cut into flowers and painted.  Drawings can be made.  Dig out the playdough, sculpy or other clay and make magic wands, turtles, apples, mushrooms, dragon flies, or even a playhouse for your squinkies or other small toys.  If your kids eat the playdough or are allergic to wheat, get out the ingredients and make some.

Get the kids involved and come up with something they will be excited about.  Here are a few links with ideas:

Rainy Day Activites on Pinterest
Crayon Crafts on Pinterest
Homemade Playdough Recipes
Gluten Free Playdough Recipe

Happy creating!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wednesday's Wonderings

Electronic Devices

The alarm buzzes softly in my ear and I groan to myself, "I don't want to get up yet." I hit the snooze button and my eyelids slide back into place while I catch a few more zzzzz's.  Five minutes fly by too quickly.  The alarm buzzes and again and I force myself to sit up, swing my feet to the floor and stretch my stiff neck and shoulders.  I stand, stretching a bit more and begin dragging myself to the kitchen to make lunches for the kids.  I go to the cupboard and retrieve the bread, peanut butter, and jelly from the fridge and get to work.  My mind starts working...pondering...and I'm drawn by an invisible force to the computer.  I turn it on, waiting impatiently for it to boot.  I go back to making lunches while it boots.  The pull gets stronger as I think about logging on.  What have they been up to?  What have they commented on?  Finally it's ready and I click on the internet logo.  A few comments spark my interest.  Some make me laugh.  Some I skip over.

I go back to the lunches, packing them into their boxes and then stuffing them into their backpacks.  The pull is strong this morning; it sucks me in like a vacuum.  Logically I know I have better things to do with my time.    And when I finally drag myself away from the screen and focus on what needs to get done my head is fuzzy, foggy and a strange disconnected feeling takes hold.  I feel tired and lazy.

There are so many ways that computers make life convenient and easy; less complicated.  And then in other ways it's almost an addiction that we need desperately to recover from.

I see these same things happening to my children as they play on their touch screen devices, PS3 gaming systems and while watching TV.  They too are sucked into a vortex of pleasing, sense dulling, entertainment.  At times it alters behavior negatively.  So what can we do to help reduce this effect on our families?

This is something that I work on regularly.  We set time limits and rules.
1st: the chores must be complete, to my specifications, before they can start any games or TV.  I reserve the right to say that they cannot play that day.
2nd: they can only play games on Tuesday, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays...when time permits.
3rd: When it's nice outside they need at least 30 minutes of time breathing in the fresh air and running free before sitting down to a game or TV show.
4th: They each get 30 minutes of game time each day and must set a timer.

Every family is different and needs to create rules or boundaries that fit them.  You can get great ideas from others, but never feel pressured to do things exactly the way another family does them. Take those ideas, ponder on them and the needs of your family and carefully create a plan that fits you and your lifestyle.  Take notice of how your children respond to different shows, movies, games, etc.  At times we have had to eliminate certain games or shows because of the negative effect it had on one or more of our children.  For example: one of our boys would get very violent after watching The Power Rangers.  The kids can no longer watch those.  Another son has severe meltdowns after playing or watching any Mario games.  The kids no longer play any Mario games.

When making decisions concerning our family, we take time to pray about it so that we can be better equipped to make a decision that is good and right for our family.  Work together to come up with a plan that works for you!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Tuesday's Topic

Teasing and Bullying...

Every time I hear these two words I cringe.  I picture kids who have been verbally and/or physically tormented until they think they are worthless.  Some of these kids bottle it up inside, thinking that it'll just go away.  While others lash out at others who are weaker than they are.  We have heard stories of mass shootings that were carried out by kids who were tired of being bullied.

I was teased a lot when I was a kid.  I hated it.  I have always made myself an easy target for those who are quick witted, by the things that I say.  I used to come home in tears because of how another person made me feel.  I have learned since then to laugh at myself.  When I make a silly mistake or just say something foolish, I laugh.  It's not worth dwelling on.  I have also learned to give pretty good "come backs".  When I do, the person is usually a bit shocked!

I have tried to give my children the tools to help prevent bullying but there are simply some personalities that are great targets.  These days you can't be smart, treat adults with respect, or be good at anything without someone disliking it and therefore you.  Others don't like a "goody-goody". Their distaste comes out in verbal taunts and sometimes physical violence.

It's one thing to be teased...it's a whole new ball game when it's your child receiving the torment.  If there is one thing I have learned, it's that they don't want to tell an adult for fear that they will be called a "snitch" and teased even more.

*If you have an inkling, a feeling, a clue or an impression that your child is being teased, don't hesitate to take action.
*Help your child feel comfortable and safe so that they will more easily share what is happening to them with you.
*Stay calm.
*If it's happening at school, call and speak to the guidance counselor, teachers or principal.  Create a plan to stop the inappropriate behavior.  Follow up with the school and make sure that the situation is improving.  *Talk to your child on a regular basis.
*Help them to feel comfortable talking to you.
*Be aware of signs of depression in your child. If you notice anything that concerns you, talk to them and, where appropriate, seek counseling for your child.

In every situation a parent must make decisions based on what will benefit their child the most.  Heavenly Father placed within you a parent's intuition.  Use it to help guide you.