Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wonder-Full Wednesday: Chores

Today, I want to share something that is working rather well for us: Chore Sticks.  Like I have said before, I am not one to have too many original ideas, so I cannot take full credit for this one, either.  However, it is a compilation of ideas I have seen/heard here & there. 

That's usually how I work....

Hear something, tuck it away
see something else....tuck it away
Have a need....recall....adapt...put into practice

Sometimes it's a raging *success*....sometimes it's an epic *fail*!

That's life, I suppose.

So, here's the general idea:
*We have a house
*It needs cleaned
*We have 10 people making messes
*We should all pitch in
*Money isn't needed
*Good ideas are

I have tried all kinds of plans, tricks, name it.  And, it all long as I'm ok with reminding everyone to do it (which I'm not...but I'm coming around).

The newest adaptation started with me dividing our home into "zones".  I feel sure I heard that somewhere.  Here are our zones:

*Living Areas
*Laundry Room, Car, Porch

I didn't want to add stuff to the weekend, because we just never stick to it.  NEVER.  Then I get frustrated, and have to get pushy....the kids get pouty & ornery...the hubby has to give me the "just relax" talk....NAH...why go through all that???

So...these zones correspond with the days of the week.

I taped a reminder for myself as to what days
are what I knew I probably wouldn't remember!!

I bought a huge pack of colored popsicle sticks at the $1 store.  Then, I assigned each zone a color. 

Next, I thought up one word categories of cleaning such as:
Just to name a few.

I wrote a category at the tip of one side of the stick, turned it over & put what I wanted them to wipe/empty/polish etc.... Making sure to keep all writing at the same end of the stick.

Now, here's the part that seems to be the most appealing to the kiddos:  they do not have an assigned chore, it's just luck o' the draw!  Each day, following lunch, I grab all of the sticks for that day, make sure the words are tucked in my hand, fan them out, & let them pick sticks.  So far, I've been going oldest to youngest (5 years is the youngest in this case), and they draw til the sticks are gone.  Some get more chores than others...but no one has complained.  The funny part is:  the 5 year old had to scrub the tub, sink & toilet on Monday!  Ha!  I have no delusions as to actually having sparkling clean tubs when he does it, but HE sure was excited! :)

The stipulations for putting their stick(s) back into our handy little bucket are this:

-They have until 5 p.m. to complete the jobs they drew (no one has pushed this, so I haven't added an "or else" yet.)
-They must bring the stick to me & report in, so to speak.
-I give them permission to put the stick back in the bucket.

Here's our belief on chores:

"We all make the messes,
we all help clean them up."

Once again, since this is my blog...I can elaborate on a couple of possibly controversial things related to chores. 

The first one is:  All children should have chores in some form or fashion, and they should not be "gender specific".  Here is why:

*It teaches a cause and effect type of idea.  You make a must be cleaned by someone (preferably you). 

* Helping = privileges.  In our home, privileges aren't a given...they are earned.

*It prepares children for adulthood.  In my humble opinion, there aren't too many things more pitiful than a young adult who knows nothing about work or how to run a home. 

*It fosters gratitude (in theory) for the privileges they reap from a job well done.

*They learn to enjoy living in a tidy, and fairly clean environment (the idea being: they will carry a desire for that on to adulthood).

My kiddos pretty much run the gammut on chores.  Girls empty garbage cans, boys wash dishes, they all put away their own laundry (and I pray I never have to look for anything specific) get the idea.

One other thing we do not do is pay our children to do chores.  Keeping the house orderly & neat is not a payable job, it's a necessity.  Again, we all make the mess, therefore, we should all help to clean it.  With that said, I will now say that we DO provide ways for the kids to earn a bit of pocket cash with "Money Chores".

A money chore is something that is extra...beyond the everyday needs.  For example, we live on 10+ acres, & it needs mowed.  If one of the older kids take a notion to hop onto one of our 3 mowers & ride around for awhile, they can earn $5 per hour.  Pretty good, huh?

One way I pay out is to have someone dust my bedroom or clean my bathroom.  These two areas are my responsibility & do not appear on the kiddo's chore lists.  However, I don't like to do it, so I am willing to pay some green to get out of it. 

Other money chores may include:
   *thoroughly cleaning out the refrigerators ($5)
   *Taking down the curtains, washing, drying, ironing & re-hanging them ($15-$20 or maybe a certain amount per window)
   *wiping baseboards ($3)
   *cleaning mini-blinds ($5)
   *washing window sills ($3)

On a final note: don't underestimate your children.  All ages can help.  A toddler is fully capable of putting her own clean socks in the drawer.  The trick is to not overwhelm them with an entire basket of laundry at one time.  A three year old with a rag can do some real damage to your dust.  A damp rag in a short-ish person's hand can clean all sorts of low places that my knees don't want me to get to.  Door knobs, walls, light switches can all be cleaned by a toddler.  Lots of praise will be the only fuel needed!

Now...grab some kids & go clean some house!!!  :)


If you would like to submit a question, you may comment here or send me an email to:

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Wonder-FULL Wednesday: Tears & Faith

Once again, I am a bit late getting the Wednesday posting out...but hey, there are still a few hours left in today :).

Here are today's questions.  I lumped them together because, basically, they are intertwined.

Do you ever sit down and cry for a bit or
are you past that stage now?

How has the Lord helped you keep it together
when otherwise you would've given up?


In response to the first part of the question, um....Is the Pope Catholic???  HAHAHAHA!! 
Yes, I do sit & cry a bit now & then.  Crying is NOT one of my favorite pastimes (I've been known to hate on a person who knowingly made me watch a movie for which I needed a tissue), so I don't do it very often.  I tend to bottle my emotions up for a long time, then explode like a volcano full of all kinds fun stuff!  As much as I would like to insert a *JK* here, I'm not.
If I cry...I'm done in.
But, I do cry.  It's so....cleansing.  Sometimes, it's just the thing.
As for the part about being past that stage...I have been a parent for nearly 18 years, and I have cried, recently, regarding the oldest child!  So, I am thinking that there is no "stage".  As a parent, I believe we will cry forever when it comes to our kiddos.  After all....Jesus wept regarding His kids....just sayin....
There is nothing wrong with crying or feeling frustrated or overwhelmed.  It happens. 
However, if it happens A LOT, then there may need to be some soul searching.  What is the source of your tears? 
Notice I did not include any outside sources in this list.
I did that on purpose.
See, there is only one person for which we are totally responsible for, & that is the one in the mirror everyday.  Yes, outside sources are often a reason for our tears, but HOW we respond to those events/people is entirely up to us.
I've been depressed.  I know that tears coming from depression seemingly have no source.  Those tears need help.  Don't be ashamed to ask for it.  Your family needs you whole & it for them.... has the Lord helped me???
I think a better question would be:
How has He NOT helped me???
As I've mentioned before, I never signed up for this life....He saw fit to give it to me.  So, I have relied heavily on Him to supply my strength.  After all, He promised NOT to give us more than we could bear (through Him...always a catch...), and I, for one &  am holding Him to that promise.  The Bible says that children are a blessing, and they are.  If I begin to feel that they are, shall we say: less than a blessing, then it is usually due to something I am doing.  Maybe we are over scheduled...or under scheduled.  Maybe I am hormonal, & therefore *gasp* irrational.  Possibly I am expecting too much from the kids or even myself. 
When God began dealing in my heart to home school my children, I truly did not want to.  I was scared.  What if I screwed them up for life??  Whew...let's let someone else do that...then we can blame them!!!  LOL  Anyway, I learned quickly to ask His opinion about how our days were to run.  While I never woke up with my lesson plans miraculously filled in through divine intervention, I did have an occasional stroke of genius or come across someone or something that was just what I was needing at the time.  In other words, He always provided.
I am not homeschooling right now, but I still ask for His help every day.  I specifically ask for wisdom & strength to get through whatever the day will throw my way.  I can truly tell a difference from the days I forget.
I don't know if I've ever felt like giving up, but I have felt woefully under trained & very inadequate for the job He has set before me.
I'll close with a scripture that He laid on my heart a few years ago as I was REALLY struggling with my lot in life:
"I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me"  Philippians 4:13
I would love to hear from you, whether it be a question or a comment, so feel free to either leave a comment here or drop me an email at:
I look forward to hearing from you....

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Wonder-FULL Wednesday: Are We Done Yet?

Question:  How do you know when you're finished having children?

Answer:  WoW! What a question!

Luckily, I received this question in plenty of time to think about it (and pray, too).  This is a question I think probably most parents face.  I mean...who wants regret???  Not I!!! 

Since I am neither God, nor your spouse, I can only tell you what we did & opinionate to my heart's content  *for whatever that's worth*.

Let me first tell you a bit of our story:
As I have mentioned before, we didn't set out to have 8 just happened.  We thought 3, maybe 4, would be just fine.  God felt differently.  Now, I know that there are some folks who roll their eyes at the thought of God even caring how many kids we have, but I know FOR A CERTAINTY that He cared about the size of our family.  When we started out, we were like millions of other families...planning each birth as it seemed convenient for us.  The first two are just over 2 years apart...both girls...couldn't have planned it any better!  Our first son was 3 1/2 years later.  That was great timing, too!  Both girls were potty trained & on their way.  Baby #4 was also 3 1/2 later.  Still good.

From this point, it gets crazy!  When I was pregnant with #5, we made a major move (would NOT recommend that!!)  BTW.... there are only 14 months between #4 & #5.  Life was starting to get really busy.

***May I pause here to insert that, after each birth, we kinda felt out our hearts to see if we were finished, and each time, we agreed that we just didn't feel our family was finished yet.  So, we did nothing to change things.  This does not mean that I (me, personally) wasn't tired & very weary....I was, but God held me.***

Then came #6...the pregnancy was different from the beginning.  I had some medical issues that I hadn't faced before, and...not terribly surprising...we ended up with an emergency C-Section, and a baby in NICU for a week.  This was the point at which we began seriously discussing being finished.  However, we did nothing at that time.  For a year & a half, we prayed.  We talked.  We prayed.  We discussed.  We prayed.  We searched our hearts.  We prayed.  We made a decision.  We prayed.  We followed through with it.  We prayed.  We felt good about our decision.

I became pregnant.

What????? was true. 

Well, I admit, I was a tad excited.  After two boys, I was hoping for another girl to dress up.  We just figured that this was just a fluke, after all we were done. #7 was born (a girl).  She became the family princess.  The pregnancy was rather rough with health issues, and we had some issues after the birth, but she was our *The End*, so it was ok.

Fast forward 10 weeks...

Me:  "If I didn't know any better, I would think I was pregnant.  I feel awful.  Probably getting the flu."

Hubby:  "Yeah, probably."

A few more days later...

Me:  "It's totally crazy, I feel like I do when I'm pregnant!"

Hubby:  "Better check."

Me:  "Nah...not possible. (truth: I don't want to know)

A few MORE days later...
I am popping my non-pregnancy safe blood pressure pills in my mouth & it occurs to me:  If I AM (by some strange stretch of the imagination) pregnant, this pill could harm the baby.  UGH.  So, I did what I thought I would NEVER do again....I bought a test....and stared at it in complete & UTTER DISBELIEF as it went from pink to blue ( or whatever it did).  NO WAY!!! NOT POSSIBLE!!!!


I was.

So, 10 1/2 short months after baby 7 came baby 8.  God's final gift to the Young family.  She is a story in herself, but that's another blog posting.  Because of some serious health concerns as well as another C-Section, we had an additional procedure done at the same time.

Were we planning on those final two sets of little feet to pitter-patter around the house?  Nope.  God did it.

Do we feel like we made the wrong decison after baby #6?  Nope.  We feel like we did exactly what we were supposed to do.  God did it.

Ok, that's MY story.

Now, here's my advice about making a HUGE decision...

1.  Do NOT make a decision while you are pregnant, most especially during the first trimester!

     This would constitute as an emotional decision, and one that you may very well regret later.  During this time, extreme fatigue, nausea, emotions, extreme fatigue, emotions, extreme fatigue, emotions....(get it?) cloud your ability to make a wise choice.  When you are so tired or sick that you cannot even keep food on the table or clothing washed, it is next to impossible to imagine that adding another person to the family will be anything other than colossally impossible!!!  But, remember....this feeling passes.  The baby will grow.  The other children will grow.  You WILL (I promise) get your energy back....and then, when your baby turns 1 or 2, you will begin to stare longingly at every baby you see, wondering if that momma would think you were insane for asking to hold it. 


You won't.

Which leads me to....

2.  Do NOT make a decision during the first year after you have a baby.
     If you pass the first birthday mark & still want to curl up in a ball at the thought of having another one...then you may want to start praying.

Do NOT make a decision on a day like this!!!

Which leads me to....

3.  Do NOT make this decison without God.
     Pray.  Pray.  & pray some more.  Ask for direction.  Ask for peace.  Ask for strength.  He will lead you, if you ask.  He DOES care.  You are raising children for HIM (hopefully), so of course He cares if you have more.


"I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."  Philippians 4:13

He promised, so, if He has chosen you & your spouse to raise children for His glory...well, He will help you do it!  I know how humbling it is to think that He cares about our family to that extent or that He sees us as worthy of the responsibility He has given us.  But, it's the only way I see to look at it!  I can also attest to the fact that, as long as we hold His hand, He holds ours.  When we try to do it alone, in our own wisdom, we struggle miserably.

4.  I advise you to NOT try to convince your spouse.  If they aren't sure you're family is complete, then you must respect that.  And vice versa.  Again, this is where prayer comes in.  If you feel that you are done, then ask for God to change your spouse's mind as a confirmation.  Be willing to wait.  God tends to be pokey (sorry, Sir).  If you want more & your spouse doesn't, pray the same prayer as above.  Having children is not a one-person decision, it's a 3 person decision.  Please, leave no one out.

5.  Stress does not lend to good decision-making.  'Nuff said :)

Yeah, you guessed it....
don't make a decision on THIS day, either.

I hope that I have offered some insight that you may not have thought of before, but more importantly, I hope I have been able to stress the importance of keeping God in your decision-making process.  So many people pick & choose when He is to be included in their life, tending to leave Him out when they are afraid He will not agree with what they want to do.  If you don't like what God is asking of you, then I suggest you ask Him for a change of heart/mind & for the strength, mercy & wisdom to carry out what He is requiring.

HE WILL!!!  :)

****Great question!  If you would like to send me a question for Wonder-FULL Wednesday, you may either leave a comment or email me at  photographer(at)kidshots(dot)net.  Or, if you know me well, just text me.  LOL  ****