Archive for August, 2010

We’ve been talking to the kids about scouting for ages.  Adam was a devoted Boy Scout through high school.  I enjoyed a brief stint as a Girl Scout.  But we have no interest in Derrick being a part of a program that openly spreads bigotry, and I think Girl Scouts are…well…boring.

So, what are we to do?

Invent our own scouting program, of course!

Adam still has all of his scouting books, and there are hundreds of companies that stock spiffy patches that can double as merit badges.  We presented our idea to the kids, and they are psyched!

Step one, forming the “laws” and “pledge” of our troop of pint-size viking warriors. That’s in the works…coming soon!


Read Full Post »

What fun! :o)

I got a chance to break out my glass paint that has been collecting dust all these years. I have to say that I’m excited that it was still usable.

I painted The Gem Bank…

The sort of fireworks thingies coming off of the “m” are glow-in-the-dark paint. Cool, huh?

This is Derrick’s creation:

And Kaitie’s…

Last, but not least…Gracie’s:

They look great! Now, it’s time to fill them up with hard-earned gems! You can do it, kiddos! :o)

Read Full Post »

Now that the kids are back from their kick-off-the-summer mini vacation, I wanted to try a new idea to reinforce their behavior and contributions to the household. In the June/July edition of Family Fun magazine, there is a Creative Solutions article by Malissa O’Brian. Her idea is to assign value to each chore or behavior, and kids can earn a gem or marble for their specially decorated jar.

I love it. Brilliant.

I like that it gives the kids more control over what they do. I like the healthy competition (“I want to do the 3 gem chore before Gracie does it today.”) . I love that they will learn that laziness does not pay (I suspect that lesson will be learned when sibs are off enjoying rewards without them).

So, I re-lined the white board in the hallway and put up the list of chores that the kids need to do and can choose to help with. Each chore has a value of 1 to 3 gems. Tomorrow, we are planning a trip to Michael’s to pick up some jars to decorate and gems to fill them with. I discussed the concept with the kids tonight, and explained all the ways that they can earn…or lose…their gems.

In order to earn gems, they need to complete chores from their list. They can also earn bonuses for “being caught being good”. Losing gems can occur when they choose to behave poorly. They were also told that stealing from others’ jars is completely unacceptable, and the thief would lose all their gems, to be divided between their sibs’ jars.

Once their jar is filled, they get to choose a reward from this list that I posted on their cork board:

What can you earn when you fill your Gem Jar?

Pick any ONE reward below!

(time and date of reward to be determined by Mom & Dad)

Taking a trip to the park

Spending the night with friends

Spending the night with grandparents

Going to a ball game, play, or concert

Playing mini golf with Mom or Dad

Eating out with Mom or Dad

Painting ceramics with Mom or Dad

Baking something in the kitchen with Mom

Planning a day’s activities for the family

Riding bikes with Mom or Dad

Going camping in the backyard with Dad

Going fishing with Dad

Staying up 30 minutes past bedtime

Going to the movies with Mom or Dad

Choosing the menu for a family meal

Going for a picnic with Mom or Dad

Going skating, swimming, or bowling with Mom or Dad

Ordering pizza…you choose the toppings

Going for a hike or letterboxing with Mom or Dad

Going canoeing with Mom or Dad

Choosing a special family breakfast

Playing a game with mom or dad

Getting an extra 30/60 minutes of computer time

Playing or renting a video game

Watching or renting a movie

Earning $10 to spend anywhere you want

Receiving a magazine subscription

Going out for ice cream with Mom or Dad

Going to the zoo with Mom or Dad

Receiving 5 scratch-off lottery tickets…you keep the winnings

Choosing a special dessert for the family

You are a gem! You can do it!

They are really excited about it! The questions were flying! What if we fill our jars at the same time? What if we choose the same reward? What if…? It was great to get them engaged in the idea. They starting choosing chores right away, and I marked their temporary gems on the whiteboard so I know how many to put in each jar tomorrow.

Here’s hoping this one “builds character”!

To be continued…

Read Full Post »

So, about three weeks later, the kids have earned back a few of their toys. I can’t say I’m all that impressed with their behavior since. I can’t say I blame them, though. I’d be all kinds of bent out of shape if that had happened to me. But, they have been making baby steps of improvement every day.

They have all spent the last week away…Derrick with his Mother, and the girls with their Gramma & Papa. I’m hoping that this coming week will be great! It would be wonderful for them to earn back some more toys.

Keep your fingers crossed!

Read Full Post »

Today was the day of the camel’s back breaking. They completely missed the point of the experiment. Sigh…

Yet again today we asked them to take care of their responsibilities (put away your clean clothes and clean your room before you go play outside) multiple times. I even stood in their room with them and pointed out each specific thing that they needed to take care of. Nada. We were ignored, as usual. I went into their room five minutes later, and the only thing they’d done right was put their toys away – the garbage still lay on the floor, the laundry basket had been shoved in the closet. And there they were, playing outside like it didn’t matter that they’d been deliberately disrespectful.

*insert long string of very colorful words here ala Yosemite Sam*

For some reason, our kids seem to like getting yelled at. They would rather play than be respectful of us or each other. Nothing we have done has worked. Nothing. Rewards don’t work. Punishment doesn’t work. Giving them responsibilities so that they can feel like important and valued members of the family doesn’t work. It was time for drastic measures…

So Adam and I got together to figure out what we could do to stop the massive disrespect problem. Because I’m very firm on the concept of natural consequences, we had to make sure that the punishment fit the crime. We eventually deduced that what was happening was that when we asked them to do something – regardless of what it was – they would choose not to do it because it was not fun and they would rather play. So, we stripped their room of everything except for their books and one stuffed animal each. We had a long talk with them (which was strikingly similar to at least a few dozen previously held conversations) about why their behavior is unacceptable, why their toys were being taken away, and what they could do to earn them back.

They are now sitting on their beds, contemplating what they can do to change their behavior.

To be continued…

Read Full Post »

Due to the unfair and disrespectful treatment of the parents in this house, the Parental Union is going on strike today! Yes, that’s right. ON STRIKE! We figure that if the kids choose to ignore us and be disrespectful to us and each other, it must be fun, right?

So, today, I am a Veruca. I made myself cereal, and they had to make their own. I made some yummy blueberry scones and didn’t feel like sharing. Later today, I will play with the Wii and not share because it’s mine and they might break it or something.

Results of the experiment will be shared as they unfold…

Read Full Post »

Part of being a Mean Mommy, as you may have already discovered, is the presence of rules that are consistently enforced. Because our little rapscallions consistently break said rules, I felt it would help if we had a contract with each other.

I started searching the net, looking for other examples to draw from. I found an outstanding set of rules written by Micheal G. Conner, Psy. D on www.crisiscounseling.com. I really felt that the points he makes in his article would hit home with our kids, so I edited it for our personal use. Here is the result, re-written in language that our 6 and 7 year old kids can understand:


The Truth About Families…

Truth Number One…Children are not grown-ups or parents. Children are never the boss of their parents. Children have some choices and some freedom but only what their parents say is OK. It is the responsibility of parents to teach their children how to survive and be successful.

Truth Number Two…Children have the right to healthy food, a safe place to live, education, health care, and clothing. Parents do not have to give their children anything else, including toys. Parents do not have to be generous.

Truth Number Three…Children are expected to follow directions and listen to their parents. Parents may sometimes explain the reasons but don’t always have to.

Truth Number Four…Children are not allowed to hurt anyone or try to make anyone to do anything. Children have consequences and lose some freedom, choices and privileges if they are not following the rules. Parents have to control their children more when their children choose not to follow the rules.

House Rules…

1. No Profanity. I will not use “grown-up words”. These words are also called “curse words” or “bad words”. I will use other words to express my feelings.

Reason: Using grown-up words can sometimes be unkind and disrespectful. Most people think grown-up words are ugly and they will think badly of you when you use them. It can become a bad habit to use those words, and you might become a potty mouth!

2. Be Respectful. I will be courteous to family members and guests in our home, treating them with respect at all times. There will be no rudeness, putdowns or insults. When I meet people I will say hello, introduce myself, and make guests feel welcome. If I hurt someone’s body or feelings, I will try to understand how they feel even if I don’t think I did anything wrong. I will always apologize.

Reason: Polite and courteous behavior is necessary in order to be successful at school, work, in friendships, and marriage. People do not want to be with someone who is not nice to them!

3. Clean Up After Yourself. If I spill or break something, I will clean it up right away. If I make a mess while playing or working, I will clean it up and leave it the way I found it. Messes in a family area will be cleaned up when I am finished. Messes in my room will be cleaned up before going to bed.

Reason: This behavior is necessary to get along with friends, roommates and your wife or husband. When you have a job, your boss will expect you to clean up after yourself.

4. No Hurting. Any family member who screams, hits, bites, pushes, breaks, or throws something in anger will take a mandatory quiet time out on their bed for ten minutes, then apologize, and then talk about it.

Reason: When you have a job, your boss can tell you not to come to work, or you get in trouble, or you may even be fired for bad behavior. Destructive and violent behavior is a crime and you can be arrested, go to jail or be fined. Giving yourself time to stop being angry will always help you solve problems in a good way.

5. Respect Property. I will ask before I borrow or take something that belongs to someone else. Borrowed things must be put back where they belong and be in good condition.

Reason: Friends, co-workers and family members don’t trust and will feel angry towards people who break or take things without asking. Stealing is against the law.

6. Respect Personal Space. All family members must get permission to go in someone else’s bedroom. If the door is closed, knock and wait to be let in. If the door is open, you must ask for permission to go in. Parents may go in without permission if the door is open or after they have knocked.

Reason: People expect others to respect their privacy at work and in their homes. Our bedrooms are our personal spaces and need to be respected at all times.

7. No Ugly Behavior. I will not get out of responsibilities or consequences for breaking house or school rules by pouting, whining, acting like it wasn‘t my fault, crying, being rude, or angry. I will not argue with my parents. I know that they value me, my thoughts, and my ideas, but arguing about it will not change their minds.

Reason: Trying to making others feel bad to get what you want is not acceptable behavior. When you are a grown-up, bosses don’t want people who act like this to work for them. Teachers will not pass you or give you better grades. People do not like to have people who act like this as friends. Making a point and discussing ideas with others is a very important skill to learn, but arguing is not a good way to do it.

8. No Hijacking the House. If I am upset, unhappy, angry or annoyed I will give myself a time out in my room so that I can calm down. I am not allowed to hijack the house with my negativity. I will talk with my parents, teachers,  or family members if I need help with a problem.

Reason: Friends, teachers, husbands, wives and bosses expect people to work their own problems out and not try make others feel unhappy, too. Bosses will fire you, your husband or wife might ask for a divorce and your friends won‘t want to be friends with you anymore.

9. Be Responsible At Home. I will complete my chores and daily responsibilities that my parents tell me to do. If they ask me to do something, I will do it the first time they ask without complaining.

Reason: Bosses and teachers will expect me to finish my work and assignments so that I can get paid or get my grades in class. Bosses don’t pay for half efforts and work that isn‘t finished. People don’t get paid for showing up – people get paid for working. Complaining to your boss about what they ask you to do is the fast way to get fired!

10. Be Responsible At School. I will complete my classwork and homework as assigned by my teacher. Mommy and Daddy will supervise my homework to insure that I am receiving the education I need.

Reason: The parents’ job is to help their children by guiding them and teaching them good homework management skills. It is not their job to give them answers or do their homework for them. It is also their job to make sure their children go to school.

11. Get Involved In Family Time. I will attend family dinners and family activities unless excused by a parent. I will interact, be polite and respectful. I will try my best to have a good attitude even if we are not doing something I enjoy. I will ask to be excused before leaving the table or any family activity.

Reason: Social activities, creating friendships, communication skills, cooperative and polite behaviors are essential skills for workers, bosses, parents and owners of business.

12. Tell the Truth. I will always tell the truth. Lying will only get me into more trouble.

Reason: Lying makes people not trust you. When people don’t trust you, they don’t believe what you say. People don’t like being friends with a liar. If you lie to your boss, you will probably get fired.

13. Be Your Own Boss. I know that I am the boss of what happens to me. I choose my actions, thoughts, and feelings. No one can make me feel anything that I don‘t want to. I am the only person who can control who I am on the inside. I know that making a choice to behave good or bad is the same thing as choosing good or bad consequences. I know that I can choose to be happy and enjoy privileges or be sad about getting in trouble.

Reason: In our lives, there are good and bad consequences for everything. People who choose to be mean to others will have no friends. People who work hard will have the chance at better jobs. People who treat others with respect and love will be respected and loved.

We have read and discussed these Family Truths and House Rules together as a family.  I understand the purpose of these rules is to help our family work together to create a happy and healthy home.  I understand that these rules will also help me to be to be a better person and be liked and respected outside of our home.  I promise to always try my hardest to make good choices and follow our House Rules so that our family can be strong and happy.  I understand that there are always consequences for my choices. If I follow the rules and make good choices, I will have more freedom and privileges. If I do not follow the rules, I will have less freedom and privileges will be taken away. Mommy & Daddy will always make sure that the consequences are appropriate and expected.



We sat in the living room together as a family, and I read the rules to the kids. After each one, we talked about it and came up with examples from our daily lives. The signed contract was placed on a clipboard where the kids can get to it and read it if they want to. So far, it has been great knowing that everyone understands the behavior that is expected of them. I plan on going over it again every so often to help reinforce the fact that respectful behavior makes us a stronger, happier family unit.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »