Thursday, August 20, 2009

Kids and Money

Posted by Mandy at 10:20 AM 3 comments Links to this post

In today's crazy economic times, it seems like we parents are very aware of teaching our children all about money. How to earn it, how to save it, and how to spend it. I feel very torn on so many issues surrounding kids and money:
Is allowance a good idea?
When should they have to spend their own money?
Should they only be allowed to save it?
Is it totally up to them how to use it?
From the top: ALLOWANCE
Our children do not receive allowance. Not a dime a day, not a quarter a week.. nothing. I know many families love their allowance system and it works so well for them - but I cannot imagine it for us. It just seems as though children SHOULD clean their rooms and help with house chores because that's what families do; they help each other. I don't want their motivation to be $$... so far so good. Everyone is expected to chip in and help and it goes smoothly. (well, minus Samuel who is hit or miss with clean-up time)
Having said that, recently we were staying at my mom and step dad's house. Papa went outside to do some yard work and the kids and I followed because they really needed to burn off some energy. Carter chose, all by himself, to help his papa pick up sticks and such in the yard rather than play like Madison. When we went inside a couple of hours later, Papa gave Carter $3 for his hard work. Carter's eyes totally lit up! He was SO proud of his earnings! I couldn't help but be so happy for him.. he had learned that hard work equals earning money. That's a good life lesson! (I was also proud of Papa's strength to not also give Madison and Sam $3 just to make it "fair" when only Carter had helped.)
Clayton followed that weekend up by giving each kid $1 each for helping pick up trash (that someones dogs had drug up in our yard.. can't imagine whose those would have been..) and they were all just giddy!
Then comes the dilemma. Will they always expect outside work or "extra" work to be paid jobs? Will their only motivation be money driven? This is not what I want for them... yet I do like them learning how to earn money.
Then, the second question. What happens with the money they earn?
Many parents cite "learning money management skills" as the main reason to give allowances to children on a regular basis. To help teach them about the 'real' world on a kid level.
If that's the goal, it seems to me that the children should have to use their own money to buy things they NEED.. not to save it all to buy fun stuff and things they want. If we gave allowance, I would expect my kids to chip in on things like school supplies.. or small items they could purchase. This would definitely teach them how far a dollar doesn't go. If they had anything left, then they could possibly treat themselves with something. Isn't that how the real world is? Wouldn't that be a realistic way to teach money management?
What do you think? Do you think it's okay to give allowance for daily chores or do you also worry this sends the wrong message about why everyone helps clean house? What do you expect your kids to do with any money they earn?
I'm torn... help me figure this issue out!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Homeschooler at Heart Sends Kids Back to School

Posted by Mandy at 10:55 AM 5 comments Links to this post

This summer is already over... how can this be? I feel like we should have at least a month left before school starts, yet I took my two big kids to their classes this morning. What a bitter sweet day!

Back to school means back to a normal schedule, back to quiet time to get actual work done during Samuel's nap, and back to one on one time with my sweet curly head. It also means back to waking up at the ungodly hour of 6:15am, driving a ton each day, and missing my kids as they venture to the big world of public school.

This year, I'm sure, will be one of the best ever. After meeting both teachers and hearing rave reviews about them from everyone I know, I am super confident that my kids are in awesome hands. Madison has been in school with the same children for the past 5 years (including pre-k) and she is so excited to be back with her friends. Carter saw several of his preschool friends in the school on our walk to his classroom and he could barely contain himself!

"Look! There's Jessie! There's Chelsea! There's Jordan!"

Madison can't wait for REAL art this year. She is also thrilled about the greenhouse and butterfly garden available to her. I think she is really going to spread her wings and fly this year! Carter is just excited about everything. He loves it all! Reading, writing, art, computer, recess, lunch.. he can't possibly pick a favorite thing at this point.

Each year at this time I always have a lingering thought of, "maybe I should just keep them home and homeschool." I mean, it would be a heck of a lot easier than driving all day, getting up crazy early and go-go-going, and things of that nature. Plus, I'd know who they were with, what they were hearing, and each thing that happens to them each day. Then, my husband reminds me how not cool he is with that whole idea and all of the reasons we like public school for our kids.

My favorite thing about them going to school is watching them pick and choose GOOD friends. I am amazed at my kids' abilities to steer clear of the wrong people and hang with the nice kids.. right from the start! They have shown no racial preference, which pleases me to no end, and simply seem to enjoy the company of kids that are well-mannered, nice, and typically good in class. If this will continue throughout school - who knows. I'm enjoying it for now.

Another positive is I feel like there is possibly no better place for Christian children to share their faith and live a witness than at school with their peers. I can think back to many of my friends that had such amazing faith, from childhood, and how influential they often were with me. Of course, I was a rebel and made lots of bad choices.. but without their support and love, I wonder if I'd have gone down a worse path? I really pray that my children will be those kids for someone in need.

Being the social kind of person I am, I really love that they get lots of opportunities to socialize and come "into their own" without me always around. I've snuck up on them and watched them play in the playground before and things of that nature, and it's so reassuring to see that even in "the real world" with peer pressure and outside stimuli, they still make good choices. God, please, keep this going throughout their lives! Save them from the crap I put myself through trying to please people!

So, even though I do think I have the heart of a homeschooling mother... I proudly let my kids go off to school. I can't wait to pick them up today, having them so excited to see each other, me, and Samuel. I can already imagine the crazy chatter we'll have the entire way home - each talking about their favorite things, the kids they played with, and how their teachers were. Here's hoping they'll be excited to return tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Trials of Working from Home

Posted by Mandy at 6:17 AM 1 comments Links to this post
When I started my venture of working from home a year ago, I imagined it would be pretty easy. I'd call clients when Samuel was asleep, I'd keep books after phone calls, and I'd go to do home training sessions when the husband was home to keep the kids. It would be perfect!

At first, it was just this way. I had very few clients to start and it made it really easy to keep everyone straight, visit everyone when they requested, and board their dogs every couple of months. No big deal!

Now, the bitter comes with the sweet! The sweet is that my business is rapidly expanding! It feels like I just woke up one morning and the phone was ringing constantly and my email was blowing up. Praise God! Dog boarding is in high demand and since I also do training, a lot of people love sending their "problem dogs" to my house when they're going out of town for a while in hopes that the dog will be better when they pick him up than when they left. (this leaves me realizing exactly why Cesar Millan always says, "I train people, not dogs..")

I'm having a blast traveling around southeast Arkansas doing in-home training sessions and getting to meet all kinds of people with all kinds of dogs. Being the social butterfly that I am, this is so perfect for me! I've gotten to train huge dogs and their owners and micro mini dogs and their owners... what job could be more fun?!

Then, there's the bitter. Working from home isn't as easy as I thought it would be. Especially with the big kids being home from school this summer. It never fails that a client calls me right in the middle of a fight between the two big kids, or a screaming fit from the toddler. Many of them I know well enough by now that I can answer and explain to them that I can definitely still listen to them while locked in the bathroom while the 2 year old screams outside of the door. Others, I just let it ring and call them back in a few minutes! (can I say how much I love email for this reason?)

Juggling everything at home can be really challenging, too. I feel like the second I put my schedule book or something of importance down on the desk, I go to grab it and it's been moved. This is my husband.. not my children. He is the king of moving things and not remembering where he put them. Lovely when someone calls and wants to know what days I'm available to come train their dogs...

I actually have had to take a break from dog walking over the past month and a half. Partly due to an injury I had from over-exerting myself, partly because you really cannot take 3 children to walk dogs for 2 hours straight.. or longer. I will revisit this part of my business in a week when school begins again.

So, I'm learning. I'm learning that I cannot do everything I'd like to do with my business and still be the mom I want to be. Something always has to give, and for me it's just going to have to be work. For now I can fit in training sessions when Clayton is home with the kids and dog boarding I can pretty much do anytime.

I'm learning how to be more organized with a business schedule. I've never really had to plan ahead my days quite as far as I'm doing right now. I need to know on Monday if we're going to plan to do anything that Saturday or the Saturday after in case someone wants weekend training or boarding. If you know my family, we are fairly spontaneous. We tend to decide to go just when the mood strikes. Now, we're having to become.. planners.

The hardest "at-home" job I have, however, is the job from church. I plan the lessons for the children to do during Sunday School each week. It takes several hours a week to put together two classes worth of work for the big kids and the preschool class.. and that's the hardest time to fit in. I like to dig into a project and stay there until it's finished. I just can't do this in this case. I'm having to learn to focus, un-focus, and then re-focus later. ACK! My poor brain is having to make connections it never dreamed possible...

I definitely would never trade working from home for working away. I love that I can drop everything to get kids from school, have an impromptu walk or bike ride, or fix snacks for the kids. I really feel like I've got the best of both worlds!

Do you have any work-at-home tips? Share them!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Wishing it Away

Posted by Mandy at 8:44 AM 1 comments Links to this post
Having kids is hard. Having kids is a ton of work. Having little kids.... is hard. Having a 2-3 year old... even harder. They require lots of food, water, attention, love, and discipline. Some days you're totally on survival mode, just praying for bedtime to come soon. Some days you're enjoying them so much you realize it's 30 minutes past bedtime before you even begin brushing teeth. It's comparable to a roller coaster ride with all of its ups and downs.

Most days, I admit, I really like my kids. They're cute, typically well behaved, and their lots of fun! Other days, well...

When the five year old spills an entire cup of juice in the living room when he knows he's not supposed to take drinks in there..

When the eight year old disobeys you numerous times when she knows better...

When the two year old makes disasters constantly throughout the entire house of catastrophic measures... and whines and cries for what seems like hours...

It gets hard to enjoy them.

I can remember when each of them were newborns. Spending all night long fighting the urge to fall asleep while I nursed them sitting up in bed (before I mastered laying down nursing when they were a bit older) and I'd think, "this will be so much easier when you're older..."

I can remember when they got older but were still waking up at night to nurse thinking, "life will be so much easier when you're older and not waking up at night anymore..."

I remember once they got older and they hit the "terrible two age" thinking, "I CANNOT WAIT for you to be out of this phase!!"

Then, I remember reaching age 3 and really thinking, "Holy cow... please turn 4 already!"

Age 4 comes and it's a glorious age. Then age 5 sneaks right in... and I think, "No! Go back! I loved age 4!"

Age 5... the age of Kindergarten, the age of reading, the age of big-kid-ness setting in. The age of, "Oh my God, I want my baby back. Where did your chubby cheeks go? Where did your baby laugh go? Where did my sweet toddler go? Where did you go?"

Age 6 comes all too quickly. Speech is pretty down pat, people know what you're saying all of the time, and you know who you are. You have your likes and dislikes set in stone. Friends begin to become very important and you are learning how to pick and choose them carefully.

In no time you're 7. What a big kid... how are you 7? Weren't you just turning 1? I know, I know, you're too big for "that" and you're too old for "this." Are you sure you don't like Blue's Clues anymore? What do you mean you want to watch High School Musical? Where is my baby?

Age 8... the last age I can speak of for it is the age of my oldest currently. Age 8 is a wonderful age... as they all are. Age 8 is the age of awareness, at least for mine. The age of her own style, and not a cutesy "thrown together" toddler own style, but really - who she is. Preppy, jock, princess... she knows what she likes and that's what she wants. The age of REALLY thinking about what she wants to be when she grows up. The age of friends calling on the phone, coming over for "girl time" and giggling in the backseat of the van - whispering back and forth thinking I can't hear them in the front. (ha! I can!) The age of grown up teeth almost all in, rolling eyes at the "little kids," and needing your own time to yourself to think.

Weren't you just born? Wasn't I just wishing you would grow up? Didn't I just cheer because you slept all night? Didn't you just fit into my cradled arms? Where did you go? Where is my baby?

It is true. Life is so much easier when the kids grow up. Now that the youngest is 2, the middlest is 5, and the oldest is 8, we can go and do whatever we want most of the time. No one cries in the car, no one has to be fed and burped 30 minutes down the road, and everyone can walk to and from our desired play places. Now that my baby is 2 and my other babies are even older, I look at them and am astonished that it's gone. The babyness.. GONE. Did I wish it away? Did I not realize how precious those amazing short months were with them when they were so hard and demanding? Am I doing it now?

As the two year old enters super-hard-to-handle territory.. I catch myself thinking, "once you get out of this phase..." often. Then, at night, when I rock him to sleep and he lays stomach to stomach with me as I rub his back, I think, "I just love this phase." I love the toddler giggles, I love the 5 year old that's clumsy and silly, and I love the 8 year old that is learning how to be a young lady. Soon I'll wake up and they'll be all grown up. Maybe by then I'll stop asking where all of my babies went. In the meantime, I will try to stop and enjoy each phase the ages bring, because all too soon, life will be easier.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Debate: Antidepressants

Posted by Mandy at 5:58 AM 3 comments Links to this post
I haven't had a debate in a while, but I heard a startling stat on the news this morning that gave me the perfect idea for one.

According to the Today Show, 1 out of every 10 Americans is on antidepressants. The number is steadily RISING.

Now, I am certainly not a "Tom Cruise." I definitely personally know good friends of mine that truly suffer from REAL depression and they have had their entire lives changed by the benefits of the right medication. I also know a woman that was handed antidepressants one week after birthing her first baby because she was crying randomly throughout the day. "Umm.. it's called Baby Blues Doc... most women get that and it's NORMAL!"

This makes me wonder: "Should antidepressants be allowed to be prescribed without the patient also seeing a psychologist/psychiatrist?" Should any old family doctor be able to just write out an rx for any antidepressant he or she sees fit.. with no psych eval? Is our country combating it's crazy way of living by drugging itself? What say you?

Monday, August 03, 2009

Healthy Lunch #2 - Plus Dessert!

Posted by Mandy at 11:14 AM 0 comments Links to this post
This is a super easy, super healthy lunch and dessert combo! Many of you mentioned loving this quick and healthy meal yourselves, so I thought it was definitely one to post. PITA PIZZA!
All you need is:
*Whole Wheat Pita Bread (I could only find pocket pita bread, but some say it's best to use the non-pocketed type.)
*pizza sauce (or go super healthy and make your own!)
*grated cheese (I bought mine already grated b/c I'm lazy)
*turkey pepperoni (Hormel is my favorite brand!)
*any veggies you like! (I admit I hate veggies on pizza.. but it's so much better for you to add lots of veggies to displace the cheese if you like them.)

So, simple directions. Put sauce, cheese, and other topping on the pita bread. Bake in the oven on 350 degrees F for approximately 15 minutes, take out, cut up, VOILA! The pizza shown here is super filling (due to the whole grains and fiber and healthy protein!) and only 290 calories! (possibly less.. didn't add it all exactly)

If you're like me and dessert after a meal is your weakness, let me give you a great weight-loss and healthy secret. Keep non-fat Cool Whip in the fridge! Top your favorite fruit with it and you've got a completely guiltless dessert that is amazingly delicious! I also use this as a snack for that crazy 3:00 time of day. Everyone's hungry, school's out, but supper is soon... this snack rocks for times like that!
We chose to use peaches, strawberries, and grapes in our bowl-o-goodness. All fresh and all ripe right now! Get those peaches and strawberries NOW before they're back to being hard, green, and blah this fall. I just sliced it all up, threw it into bowls, and topped it with 2 tablespoons of non-fat cool whip. (and the no fat kind is GOOD! I just switched to that from light and it's great!) This dessert has truly almost no empty calories and is a great way to help keep your insulin levels at an appropriate level. (not great for most diabetics, though.. even natural sugar can be harmful for you guys and gals! Just go easy on it!) Who says healthy eating can't be super yummy?


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