Penny Jars

One of the things Mark and I have noticed lately is that our children have been struggling to obey "right away, all the way, and with a happy heart".

Here's a for-instance: Our older three will be playing in the living room, and Mark and I will be in the kitchen. We will say, "Okay, it's almost dinnertime. Please come in and set the table."

What we expect: three cheerful children to show up in the kitchen, and get to work setting the table.

What we're getting: nothing.

Okay, that's not entirely true. Sometimes one of them Ella will head in to help.

Or one of them will come, but reluctantly, or with a disappointed-to-be-asked-to-leave-their-play sigh.

But more often than not, lately it seems as if I'm/we're speaking and they are simply not paying attention. Which means I am continually having to repeat an instruction, and that leads to exasperation and frustration on my part.

Recently I was reading through the comments section of this post, and one of the comments there gave an idea, which we have since implemented.

Here's the idea:

Penny jars. We've told our kids that each time we ask them to do something and they respond with a cheerful and willing "Okay, mommy!" and then obey right away, all the way, and cheerfully, they can put a penny in their jar.

So far, so good.

I have three cheerful children, absolutely motivated to get pennies in their respective jars. And hopefully re-learning the habit of cheerful obedience in the process.

And I am thankful to be able to spend my days looking for ways to reward them, rather than getting cranky with them.

Plus: think of all the fun we'll have learning about money when it comes time to change out their pennies for nickels, dimes, and quarters!

He who scorns instruction will pay for it, but he who respects a command is rewarded.
Proverbs 13:13

Prayer today

Praying, today...

that I will face

every whine
every act of disobedience
every disagreement
every bit of grumpiness
every interruption
every accident
every complaint

as a challenge:

What will I do with this moment, right now, to honor and glorify God?

There are a lot of those moments in my day, just waiting for me to respond to. May I respond rightly.

I will pray it for you, too.


Mark had the day off today, and because of that, I was able to sneak off for about an hour to do a bit of sewing.

I used lil blue boo's Sundress Tutorial to make a little something for Audra.

About sixty seconds into the tutorial I realized that I really should have measured her. But she was sleeping, so that was out.

Oh well. I was going to carry on, anyway. I figured if it was too big for Audra it could become a shirt for Adelia. Then I got all excited about that idea: How practical! One sewn item that could fit both girls, but as a dress on Audra and a shirt on Adelia!


Were I to make this again, I would make a few changes:
1. Add elastic to make stretchy straps instead of the ties. (Yes, the ties are cute, but then you have to tie them, every time.)
2. Add about an inch to the chest measurement. (It works for Audra but it took a little squeezing to get Adelia into it.)
3. Add an inch to the length.

Ella's List

Mark and I have been so blessed recently by Ella's extra work around the house and yard.

Without ever being asked, she has weeded our garden several times, choosing to spend her quiet times out in the garden, quietly weeding a row or two of corn, or the cucumber hills, or the lettuce rows.

Last week she asked me if she could re-organize one of our bookshelves during her quiet time, and she did a wonderful job with what was getting to be a very disorderly bookshelf.

Ella is naturally a very competent, cheerful helper. She has the ability to see a need- or recognize when I am a little overwhelmed- and step in to help. Several times a day I will be tending to one of the girls and the other will begin fussing or whining. Before I can think of what to do, Ella is there, taking Audra into her arms, smiling at her and soothing her. Or lifting Adelia onto her hip and taking her outside, or into their room, and reading to her or playing with her. [I often think one of the reasons God felt we could handle these little girls just twelve months apart is because He had already given us Ella. ~smile~]

While she may enjoy weeding, (or maybe just the quiet that the weeding-time brings!) and organizing or tidying things, these things are a blessing to all of us, and we wanted to reward her somehow for the extra work we've seen her take on.

There is a doll Ella has wanted for well over a year, and she has some money (birthday money from grandparents) saved in her piggy-bank. We told her that as her reward for her extra service, we will match the money she has in her piggy-bank and then provide her with a list of extra jobs that she can do over the next several weeks (months?) in order to make up the rest of the money needed to get this doll.

This is sort of new territory for us, the thought of giving her money for extra work around the house. I admit that I was pretty reluctant to the whole idea, because my fear is that she will come to expect money given for things she might normally have done out of a servant's heart. [I don't want to do anything to ruin the good spirit of service we see in her!] Mark assures me that this will not happen, and so we have formed Ella's List, which has extra jobs on it for her to do as she chooses, for which she will be given money.

Most of the items on the list are for 10 cents or 25 cents, but some of the jobs that we know will take more time or work are a bit more.

We'll see how this all works out.

Blogging thoughts... and our day

One of the frustrating things about blogging, for me, is that I feel like I need to have some profound thought in order to post, or a topic to cover, or a practical, helpful thing to share, or at least an event in our family life to write about.

The thing is: I rarely, if ever, have a profound thought.

And my brain- when I sit down to write- isn't organized by topic.

And most days I have nothing practical or helpful to share. We may be doing things that I think are fun and or helpful to us, but it feels a little presumptious to think that others will, too.

As for family events, we have lots of those happening, but by the time I sit down to write about them- it's been several days, I have no photos uploaded or just didn't take any photos and my motivation to blog about it has waned.

Often I open up the little "New Post" window to write something and then sit there with the cursor blinking and the blank screen before me and decide I have nothing to say.

But I do have lots to say, it just doesn't seem "polished" enough for a blog post.

For the time being, I'm throwing anything remotely resembling a "polished" blog post out the window and I'm going to try to simply be me. Conversational.

So, today:

It's 8:38.

Ella and Adelia are still sleeping (!)

Isaac and Isaias are awake and playing downstairs- so as not to wake the girls. This whole system is working out quite well, and I am so thankful.

Audra is sitting beside me in her bouncy seat, squealing and happy. But she will be much happier when the rest of the kids enter the room. She loves her brothers and sisters, because they are a constant source of entertainment.

I was up at 5:30, went walking with my mom and then came back for my quiet time. I adore quiet mornings. And quiet evenings, for that matter. My days are never quiet. And as much as I love my children and this fun (but a little crazy!) season in life, I do love a little solitude, too.

Today is a normal school day. I realize most of you are on summer break, but we did so little school this past year what with my pregnancy and the first few months of Audra's life that it is now going to take us two years to do all that I had intended to do in one year. Literally. So we're schooling through July and then will take the month of August off, and then head back into it September.

Ella will be anxious to get done with school today and begin her List. I'll tell you all about that another time, because Ella is up and Adelia needs to get up, and it's time to call the boys up so that's all I've got for today.

Hope you have a wonderful day!

Audra outside, last week

Open House: Monday, July 6

I am wearing... jeans, olive green shirt, my hair in a ponytail.

I am listening to... Ella and Isaac whispering, playing Legos together for their quiet time. Also Audra's little noises as she watches them from her bouncy seat. And just now Adelia, murmuring from her crib, having just woken from her nap.

I am reading... The Hole in Our Gospel

I am looking forward to... Inspiration to hit for dinner tonight. (HA! It's 4:03. Perhaps a better use of my time right now would be to work on a dinner plan?)

I am thinking... I'll make pizza for dinner. I know we have ham and cheese. And olives. No pineapple, though. But pizza dough and sauce are easy to whip up. There. I feel better already.

In the yard/garden...
Lots of lettuce! We have about eight varieties of lettuce happily growing in our garden, which means lots of salads for us of late!

Our rhubarb is still growing happily, my basil looks great, the corn was *just* knee-high by the Fourth of July, the cucumber plants hearty, the carrots and squash also coming up.

Praying for... my little brother who had a bike accident last night and broke his arm, our friends who are adopting from Ethiopia, and whoever we draw out of our prayer bowl.

Thankful for...
*a fun and family-filled fourth of July~ with Mark's side of the family
*lots of birthday love on Friday to celebrate my 34th birthday. (Which still feels young to me. Especially since a few days prior to my birthday, I was telling people I was turning 35. By the time Mark straightened me out on my actual age, I was feeling a whole year younger!)
*the fact that Mark should be home from work within the hour
*a cooler day
*progress on the laundry today
*children who happily do chores
*and helped with much of the laundry-folding today
*after-naptime snuggles
{Which means I'm signing off. I just got Adelia up and am not gonna miss these sweet cuddles. She'll be off and running in a few minutes!}