The truth about kids and chores.

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I love chores.

No, no, no… i don’t think you heard me. I love them. It’s weird, As I type, it is 7:00 am and I have already made breakfast and lunch for my man, kissed his sweet face and sent him on his way. I’ve swept, mopped, done dishes, stirred lunch, done one load of laundry and taken out the trash.

It’s bad.

If you come to my home mid-afternoon {when and if} there is nothing to do… I’ll have created something to do. I will be cleaning baseboards, closets, raking leaves, mowing the grass, or maybe even starting a new paining project. It is something I have to surrender every.single.day,

being busy.

My kids? Hmmm, for some reason, they can find other things to do; sometimes that gets on my nerves. I mean come on, they make most of the mess, don’t they care?

I remember one day this past winter when we were doing chores around the house before school. I had just configured a new chore chart and it was going to be a history maker. This was going to solve all our chore problems. My kids were going to love doing simple chores and they were going to do them really well. I mean come on, we always have the music turned up loud during chores, we’re all happy here, right?

Well, this momma walked into the bathroom after my little Jordi was sent to clean it and it was not done well. Immediately, frustration took over me.

Look at this, she doesn’t even care.

Look how lazy.

Uh, she didn’t even look behind the door.

Now, before you start feeling all sad for her– honestly, she has swept the floor enough times to know you remove the trash can and sweep behind it and you get the yuckies from behind the door. BUT, on this day, the lesson wasn’t for her, it was for me.

The truth spoken to my heart that day was simply this,

Chores are not given to replace mommas job, but rather build character.

Oh man, I had to re-sweep the floor.

Now, there are days when my kiddos halfheartedly do their work and I have to kindly remind them to give their best, encouraging them they can do better. But for the most part, I usually need to manage my expectations. My goodness, the war of expectations.

Here is the way it works in our home. You probably have a better way, I am sure. I’m sure your children’s names are America, Liberty, Justice, and Peace. In fact, I bet they all say Yes, Ma’am every time you ask them to do something. Yup! I can imagine it now: they are probably only eight and ten and make dinner for your whole family while quoting whole books of the Bible. Actually, if that is you, could you please email me some advice?

For the other one percent of you who are like me and need a bit of encouragement from time to time on the matter,  here are my countless two cents =)

In the morning after breakfast, we do check lists. I have gone back and forth over the years with this method, trying to move past it. However, the truth is– it just works and it works well, for us.

Now, when my children were all young, the reward for finishing your list was just a kiss from mom. However, as they get older, I have added incentive in the form of a quarter. This works good for them because they all put their quarters into the family fun jar which helps us go on fun trips. We don’t have allowance in our home, if our kiddos need money, they ask for jobs but as far as a weekly payment for contributing to the family? We don’t go that route.

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You will notice it says, today’s daily chore. This is based on the child’s individual abilities. I usually try to have these on the board in the morning. Otherwise the children are coming to me asking me what their daily chore is and I have to think of one real quick.

Some days, the chores are a bit harder and I have to get smart. =) For instance, the other day Jordan’s chore was to scrub some spots out of the carpet. For my oldest daughter, this wouldn’t be an issue. She is so type A, she wouldn’t have just cleaned that area, she would have continued throughout the whole house. (not a good thing, mind you–being type A like me =( poor girl) As for Jordan, she just likes to get the job done. So, with a job like this, we make it a game.

I say, “Go outside and knock at the door; we will pretend you are a carpet cleaner”

Anything imagination gets Jordan.

“Ok, Mom, my name is Mrs. Courtney.”

So she comes in the house and explains to me what she is going to do. She then asks, “Are these your children? Meaning Judah and and Emmyn. To which I reply, “Yes” She then tells me, “Well, they are welcome to help me if they would like.”

Of course they wanted to play the game.

Jordan getting Judah’s carpet cleaning belt all ready =)

I know what some of you are thinking, you want your children to enjoy doing chores without a game. You are worried if you make it a game they are not going to have a good worth ethic when they grow up, you fear they won’t ever take initiative. Well, here are our choices right now mommas:

Joy or Hatefulness

One choice is happy, makes it fun. The other yells and makes them work hard.

One child is more likely to love chores when they are older. The other hates them and does everything for their kids because their mom was always so mean.

Think of it this way, it’s a Mary Poppins approach.

“In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun and snap!  The job’s a game.” -Mary Poppins

Right now, little Judah gets a chocolate chip for each check on his list to keep him focused. The big girls have to write their beginning and end time on their list. Tomorrow, it will be something totally different to keep them going. But for the most part? We’re happily working together to get the job done.

Joyfully managing expectations right there beside you,

Kati

Because they’re all here now: who knows for how long

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Something I wrote almost five years ago came back into memory today on this snowy, Monday afternoon. We’re making stories mommas… and we never know for how long.

from February 15, 2010:

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We have great neighbors. Just yesterday while talking with friends at church the topic of neighbors came up and I have to admit, I love mine. Wouldn’t change them for a second. But you know what? We have a favorite. =) Ms. Renee and Mrs. Cotton.

Renee takes care of her mom, Mrs. Cotton. Cotton is in her 80’s and is as great as can be. Renee is a blessing to just be around. They are the first neighbors I’ve said: “Hey, I have to run to this place real fast can you watch two of my kiddos, I can’t fit them all into the truck.” Or, “Hey, I know it’s 9 o’clock at night, but can I borrow some coffee?”

Alli reads to Mrs. Cotton each week. In the spring and fall they sit outside in the nice weather, talking mostly, not doing much reading. In the hot summer and cold winter they read more, play puzzles and talk about the most interesting things.

Oh, I don’t know why I mention all of that; it really has nothing to do with what is really on my heart, just a sweet foreword, I suppose. =)

On occasion, this past fall Renee and I would jog from our houses down around the river and back. I remember one day while jogging and chatting she mentioned all of her children by name, one given Beth. I had never heard of Beth before. Puzzled, I asked… “Beth?”

“Oh, yes.” She replied. “She’s past away now.” 

I forget how long ago she had passed, but it was on December 10th; I remember that because it’s our Jordan’s birthday. She went on to tell me all of Beth’s problems from birth and how challenging it was. She ended by saying:

“She’s in a much better place now, her pain is gone.”

All of Renee’s children live close by. They are always over during the summer, swimming, eating Sunday dinner, sitting outside with Mrs. Cotton. That is why I was so surprised when I heard the name, Beth.

It makes you think. She’s not here now. She was then, but she is not now.

Life is different.

We make big deals out of such little things, don’t we? I think of my children and how I make such big deals out of the little things with them. I am just sure I was stressing about something three years ago, something that doesn’t even matter now. Something I can’t even remember.

A couple of weeks ago I went to lunch with a friend, leaving all four children at home with Dad, for the first time. When I returned home, only one hour later I was greeted with this:

Three.

Snowman Jordan

Snowman Alli

and Snowman Judah

And I am sure, knowing my Alli, if they had not been called in for lunch by their dad, there would have been a “Snowman Emmyn.”

There they are. Alli, Jordan and Judah. They’re all here now. It may or may not always be that way. One day, when I’m 60, jogging with my 26 year old neighbor she might say, “Alli? I have never heard of Alli?”

The list goes on and on.

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They are here now, not guaranteed another moment. God is so good to bless us with such treasure. Straight from his hand, the Maker. They are his, given to us to teach, train and raise in righteousness.

It isn’t always easy, it’s easy to give up. Sometimes, it’s hard to keep going.

But what a wonderful treasure it will be to stand before our God and hear him say, “I saw each and everything you did. I saw when you didn’t give up. I saw when you prayed for them, taught them, held them, showed them patience, told them no when it wasn’t “fair”. I watched as everyone thought you were not doing things the right way, yet you followed my call. I saw each time you failed and started all over again.”

“You took good care of that which I let you borrow”

It is a good reminder, I may have a Beth someday. Most of the problems of today aren’t that big.

God is so good, to teach us such good things.

Loves today, friend.

Kati

The day my nine year old was picked up by the police: When people think you have it all together

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“I don’t want to live here anymore.”

“I.want.a.NEW.family.”

Stomping her feet- right there in the middle of her bedroom, surrounded by all who love her; she had made up her mind- it was time to leave.

And what do you do when something like that happens?

Because when you’ve grown up being tossed around from foster home to foster home- from institution to institution when things get hard; of course you want to leave.

So, she left. And I followed- all secret agent like. Parking behind trees and in peoples driveways. It’s true. I simply hid out as I watched my little girl skip around town- thinking all was right with the world; thinking she had won.


Some days, I want to skip around town- thinking all is right with the world, thinking I have won. But the truth is: I’m a broken mess.


I followed her for an hour before the city police finally came and picked her up and drove her home. All the while I thought, “And people think we have it all together.”

This is the truth, friends.

None of us have it all together.

I have sat with mommas who have tried to take their lives; mommas who I thought had it all together. I have sat with women whose marriage I envied; only to find they were nearing divorce. I have wished upon stars for your picture perfect child to influence my not-so picture perfect child; only to find your child is no-so picture perfect after all. I have hoped and dreamed for the homes of many- only to see those homes be taken by the bank or cause a divorce over finances.

My nine year old just wanted a new family. And when the police picked her up? Well, she didn’t care one bit. She told him she ran away because she didn’t want to do her math problems and she wanted a new family. Well, in orphan world- police take you from families to make you safe. She thought he would just snatch her up and move her to a math-less world. So, when he said, “Next time, I’m taking you to juvie.” She wasn’t too impressed.

So, how do we: moms, dads, sons, daughters, co-workers, bloggers, foodies, grandmothers, men and women– how do we show the love and grace of Jesus in a true and genuine way? Because as Ann Voskamp sweetly reminds us:

“Aren’t we all really like Peter– cowards and liars and deniers and absolute messes? I am.”

I am.


And when one runs away or one hits another child, or one does something unthinkable, I simply am reminded. We all need Jesus. A suit, tie, and seminary degree, all packaged with a big smile aren’t going to change the fact that I am a broken mess and so desperately in need of a savior.

And hopefully? By leaving all of that religious, “I’ve got it all together” facade aside, this desperation can speak loud into the lives of my children. That life is hard, and days can be crazy. But Jesus is loving, and grace filled- no matter what.

Then, when we break at the feet of Jesus,  we’re just a bit like my nine year old- who, hours later– even hours after being toted home in a patrol car- finally broken, collapsed in my arms and said,

“I’m sorry mom and I love you.”

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“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God.” 1 John 3:1a

Lavished by the King- and so desperately in need of Him–

Right along side of you, friend.
Kati

Similar Post: Do things that make the white guy in Walmart say, Da** girl; how many baby daddies have you had?


Some of you have asked how to receive posts in your email: it’s simple. On the lower right hand side of the screen there should be a “follow” button. Click and enter your email. It’s totally safe.

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Um, yeah… is there an ad below here? A creepy ad  (yes, directly below here, some strange video, perhaps?) I didn’t put it there

= / And I didn’t choose what it will advertise. Sorry about that.

this helped my children stop complaining.

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It’s the sigh I hate most.

I don’t know why it always grabs me the wrong way, making my tongue want to leap out of my mouth like a snake–

When they complain.

It’s the fastest ticket to this mommas nerves. I don’t know why. Sometimes I think it’s because I have a go-getter attitude, “get it all done yesterday” =) Or perhaps because I’m an adult and I see a need and meet it.

However, as sure as the sun is rising this morning my little heart whispers to me, yet again:

“It’s your flesh”

Ah, yes. That sneaky ‘ol thing again– trying to ruin the sweet fellowship between me and my kiddos.

Sometimes it’s a quick trip to the table for sentences. Right now, it’s the complaining jar.

As soon as that sigh or words of complaint come from those sweet lips of theirs– my tongue doesn’t have to whip out like a snake, I have a plan.

A solution.

I think as a parent, most of my frustrations, doubts, and sleepless nights come from having no plan– no solution. So then, I am left to worry and parent out of fear, rather than love. Fear of what consequences they will face as a result of their choices. Such as, complaining when someone askes for their help.

Now, I know your children don’t struggle with this, they do twirls and sing hymns while they gladly help with everything you ask.  And my kids do that too– when we’re on our way to get ice-cream ;)

For when we are at home and I’ve asked maybe one too many things– when they give me the sigh, (my littles mostly) I simply reply:

“Oh, you just complained, I’m sorry– you have to go to the complaining jar.”

And then this little momma has to follow through with the consequences =(

 

But when they choose Grace–oh happy day!

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One day, it will all be just a memory.

Breathe deep today, mommas. Remember, they’re all here now.

And they’re watching you. =)

Holding my tongue daily,

Kati

Have you heard how to trick your kids into love? Oh yes! It works too!


 

Some of you have asked how to receive posts in your email: it’s simple. On the lower right hand side of the screen there should be a “follow” button. Click and enter your email. It’s totally safe.

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Um, yeah… is there an ad below here? A creepy ad  (yes, directly below here, some strange video, perhaps?) I didn’t put it there = / And I didn’t choose what it will advertise. Sorry about that.

Could my bad mom moment help you?

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We all have that child.

Well, at least I tell myself we all do. Maybe it’s only me.

In this home of half a dozen children- the “that child” always changes.

But lately? It has been the same one.

over

and over

and over

again.

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Last night, all of my kiddos were tucked into bed.

Sneaking one little guy a banana I thought, maybe I should give his brother one too.

“No, he doesn’t deserve a banana.”  I thought.

He yelled at me.

He hit his sister.

He did that thing he does- again.

Then I heard it.

“I’m watching the way you treat him.”

It came all over me like a flood. You know, the way God does? Just says six little words that rock your world?

Yeah. That God of ours. He did that.

Again.

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Compassion, Kindness, and Love.

Within five minutes, all of my littles had a banana; all giggling under their covers at the idea of a late night, sweet snack.

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So, I wrote it down. Right there in the hallway– where we write prayers.

He’s watching.  And He notices when it’s hard. He hears when you pray again out of frustration. He is planting little seeds in my little man’s heart each.time.i.choose.to.love.

no matter what.

Sometimes, I don’t deserve the Fathers love. But He gives it still.

May we be a person with the mind of Christ. To love even when we’ve been wronged. Even when they’ve done it again. Even when it seems like they’ll never change. May we sneak a little bit of sweetness into their hearts so they know we love them still.

Because He’s watching the way we love them. And the thought of seeing my Father look upon me with a smile of satisfaction?

Well, that’s beautiful.

Learning Daily,

Kati

A winning way to reward kids this summer (and always)

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Everyone likes to be noticed.

Especially kids.

Especially when they do something right.

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Each day, the kids do checklists. Checklists keep this momma sane.

When they finish their checklist- they get tickets. Finish first? You get the most tickets. Finish last? You get the last, lonely ticket.

If I catch them loving – I notice.

“Judah, that was very kind… go get a ticket.”

If I see they picked something up in the yard or off the floor– just to be a help.

I notice.

You get the picture.

We never, ever take tickets away.

We draw a winner each Sunday afternoon.

There is a grand prize winner box and then the five remaining children have numbers drawn and get to choose from the runner up prize box.

The grand prize winner throws all of that weeks tickets away and we start new on Monday.

It’s fantastic.

You know what? (you’re fantastic too!)

Loves,

Kati

PS: A special thanks to all of you who have contacted me about my dad and his fight for life as mentioned in this post. Strangers and friends alike, you have blessed my life by your sweet words and prayers. He is still fighting.

Making sweet love on a bad day

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“Finding myself, this morning struggling with the beginning of my day, I was reminded of a story from a few years back. From a time when my littlest one was usually naked, and my oldest one was still learning multiplication and I did the usual thing  I do when I’m struggling. 

Lost it. In one way or another.

If you are finding yourself like me this morning, or any time at all, really… struggling to get yourself together – perhaps my broken life can lend a little hope to yours, and help your day shine bright.”

February 2011~

Today was a bad day. I was a very cranky momma.

Oh, it’s hard to pin point the exact reason. I started the day out “by the book,” up early, before the kids. Time in the word, time with my man, I made a sweet little homemade breakfast, read to the kids. It should have just worked out right; right?

Wrong.

And looking back, I can’t quite figure out what finally made me snap. Oh, it could have had something to do with the three hours it took one of my children to be ready for her day and start school; just too many rabbit trails to find herself on. Or, it could have something to do with the extensive handwriting lesson one of my other children had to do because her brother almost suffered a concussion when he hit his head on the coffee table during a fun pushing game.

Or it could be the 100th phone call I knew I had to make to AT&T because they can’t seem to bill us correctly and they like to make me sit on hold for 20 plus minutes each time. Maybe it was because I am crazy and allowed my children to get three kittens for Christmas?

Perhaps, the wonderful cold snow isn’t so wonderful anymore; or maybe it’s because we just moved to the town I grew up in and I’m secretly afraid someone will knock at our door and see that it is absolute chaos, and I’ll have to use the line… “Hey, at least we’re learning.”

But then again, It might just have been one. of. those. days. But, perhaps I could just chalk it all up to a girl thing and blame it on my psycho thyroid and the fact that I have yet to find a doctor down here to get it under control.

Whatever the reason may be, I lost my temper, yelled at the kids. Felt the sweet momma in me run dry and went into my room and cried.

So then, I dried my eyes, gave myself a little pep talk, realized that I’m a total worthless parent without God and continued on with my day, teaching Judah the letter X, helping Jordan read the word, frog; again, talked to Alli about how Italy is shaped like a boot, and put Emmyn on her sweet “big girl time blanket” to play with blocks.

At lunch, we talked about Making Sweet Love.

As the children ate, I put before them, four little cups.

One overflowing, three empty.

We talked about the marshmallows, how yummy and sweet they are. They resembled our sweet love. The love we have to share with others. I asked the kids, how can “Mommy share this love with each of you?” They said things like,

“snuggle us”

“kiss us”

“read to us”

“take us places”

with each thing they said, I gave them some of my “love.”

Eventually, their little cups were full of love and mine was empty.

I said, “Oh, no… look! Where is mommy’s love?” (Of course, Judah reaches into the bag of marshmallows, grabs a big handful and says, “Right here, mommy!” But the girls understood. “You’ve given it all out to us.”

Then I told them about how a mothers love is like Jesus, it never runs out. But unlike Jesus, mommas get tired and need some love.

I perked up, “SO! Who has some love for momma?”

“I do!”

“I do!”

“Here is a kiss”

“Here is a thank you”

… the list went on and on, they were racing to see who could fill it up quickest. All of a sudden we all had plenty of love, to equally share. And we were all happy.


And Jesus Said, 

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.  John 15: 12-13

Oh, The day carried on like normal, we got on a good track, the house was a complete disaster, we learned, played, laughed, got in more trouble, made really delicious chicken and noodles, and after we were all finished,  sat and rested a while during tea time.

We sipped on coffee, nibbled on egg whites, and enjoyed a glimpse of summer with delicious juicy oranges while we listened to a story, my very favorite story of all.

I haven’t read it since March. Unable to handle the truth of it all, afraid I would come unglued. Each time I read it, silly I know; but I feel like it was written just for me.

And I was right, my eyes filled with tears, my mind filled with thoughts and it was almost more than I could handle.

I. read.very.slowly.

Breathed.very.deeply.

Max Lucado writes:

“He deserves lots of dots,” the wooden people would agree with one another. “He’s not a good wooden person.” After a while Punchinello believed them. “I’m not a good Wemmick”, He would say.

Judah asked, “Momma, those real tears?”

I paused, “Yes, Judah they are real tears.”

I continued the book. Reading about Eli, the Maker.

Eli explains, “The stickers only stick if they matter to you. The more you trust my love, the less you care about their stickers.


“I’m not sure I understand”, Punchinello says.

I understood today.

I asked the kids, like I always do, “Do you ever feel like you have a lot of grey dots?” I continued, “Mommy does.”

I said, “Like when momma yelled today…” “You see,” I said; “When momma does that kind of stuff, I spend the whole day feeling terrible,  like I am not a good mom, like I’ve let God down in the job he has trusted me with.”

I continued, “But, that isn’t the truth is it? That isn’t trusting God’s love, is it?”

Oh mommas, it is a hard day sometimes. Always wondering if we’ve made the right choice, always regretting something we’ve done or said. Battling things from the past, hiding emotions we are having and putting on smiles for our little ones. It isn’t always easy, and it doesn’t always happen. And when our little cups run dry of marshmallows and we cover ourselves with gray dots… all we can do is fall back into the arms of our Maker and let him stand us back up straight ready to right the good fight for one more round.

Eli smiled. “You will understand, but it will take some time you’ve got a lot of marks. For now, just come to see me every day and let me remind you how much I care.” 

-Max Lucado

Alli whispers to me afterward, “Mom… thanks.”

And she gives me a wink.