30 July 2015

Summer Jobs

The boys decided months ago that they wanted to attend skateboard camp at the skate park that is near our house. They oohed and ahhed over the tricks they observed each time we passed and set their hearts on becoming skateboarders.

Troy and I didn't want to just hand the equipment and experience over to them, so we told them if they could each earn a specific amount of money towards the camp, we'd supplement the rest. It is really important to us that they learn how to work hard. Working towards skateboard camp seemed like the perfect motivation for them to hunker down on their jobs.

I've used several different job systems to track their progress including checklists and zones and even a fancy magnet board with tiered levels. But the thing with systems is, over time, they lose appeal. I read a book recently called "The Parenting Breakthrough" by Merrilee Boyack. She echoed the idea that using the same method of assigning chores all the time is incredibly dull. We don't serve the same meal day after day or wear the same clothes day after day or see the same movies week after week, so it's no wonder the kids lose interest in job systems over time. 

All this time I've been on the hunt for the perfect job system that would last forever, when in reality, we're going to switch it up many, many times during these boys' lives. Given their ages and schedules during this particular summer, I took down our fancy magnet board and decided to simplify.
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They each have a clipboard that they carry around with them while working. I stick notecards with their jobs for the day in the "to do" envelope each morning and they move them to the "done" envelope when they are completed. That's it.
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Once all of their notecards are moved to "done" each day, they earn some money towards skateboard camp.
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Even though the system is simple and straightforward, I am still greeted with plenty of reluctance and complaining. Shocking, right?

That's where the job jar comes in.
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That thing works miracles. 

When the boys complain about a job, instigate a fight, talk back to me, use potty language, etc., I calmly tell them to go pick a job from the job jar. It saves me from nagging and yelling and reminds the boys to make better choices next time so they don't get stuck with additional jobs. And it makes our house a lot cleaner.

Most of the jobs are chores that involve cleaning a surface or dusting a piece of furniture or helping in the kitchen. I drew some very amateur pictures to help Nash, who isn't fully reading yet, decipher the tasks.
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But I had to sprinkle a few fun jobs in there for good measure.
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This one is my personal favorite:
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This is Blake's favorite. There’s got to be some mercy in there too, right?
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Blake and Nash been working hard to fill up their jars with hard earned dollar bills. They're even doing homework without complaining which is always a success in my book!
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These boys' expressions make me laugh.
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Skateboard camp, here we come.


26 July 2015

Basement Refinish

I happened to be thinking about the house we left behind almost six months ago (!) and I realized that I never posted about our basement refinish. We enjoyed the completed space for two of the seven years we lived there; not nearly long enough.

I think part of the reason I didn't post is because it never felt "finished." I meant to do so much more, but then two babies in a year and a half and a major move got in the way.

It was fascinating to watch the space transform from this:
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To this:
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To this:
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For months, our counters were covered with tile and grout and paint and carpet samples. Troy and I surprisingly made a good decision making team despite our very different styles.
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I had big plans to transform the open office space into something sleek and modern, where I could go to feel inspired to design. What actually happened was our black clunky desk got shoved into the corner and stayed that way for two years. However, I loved having a big closet to shelve our printer, kids' crafts, project supplies, etc. The closet wasn't in our original blueprint and I'm so happy we added it in as an afterthought.
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One of the main reasons for the refinish was to add in some extra bedrooms. Our contractor was racing the clock to get it all finished by the time Crew was born. We literally moved Blake's bed downstairs and shuffled all of the sleeping arrangements two days before Crew's arrival.
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I built Blake's headboard in our garage on one of the hottest days of the summer.
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The string art map followed much later, shortly before we moved away.
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We also added a guest room which all of the grandparents sorely miss now that we drastically cut our living space.
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We added in a full bathroom as well. If we were to do it again, we would make some different styling decisions. We got to the point at the end where we just wanted it done and we didn't have time to hum and haw over every little decision. And now that we don't live there any more, I guess those little decisions don't matter one bit.
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I have to admit, I'm getting a little torn up looking through all these photos of our old house. Every room has a hundred memories. I can picture Blake building machines in the open office area. I can see Nash jumping from the highest stair possible onto the beanbag. I can picture Crew tugging at the cords under the desk. I can see Troy relaxing on the guest room bed with his Kindle because it was the coolest room in the house. And I can picture Finn learning to roll over into the boxes as I packed it all up.

Don't get me wrong, we adore our new home and everything our new neighborhood has to offer. But we sure are missing that extra basement square footage.


24 July 2015

Finn | Ten Months

It seems like Finn has been reaching new milestones rather quickly over the last month.

At ten months, he is finally spitting up less and eating more. He only weighs 14 pounds which makes him a little peanut who still fits in six month clothing. But he is the happiest little peanut and I'm sure he'll start packing on some pounds now that he devours everything we put on his tray and keeps it down.

He keeps us on our toes with his lightning fast crawling. I live in constant fear that when I have him trapped in a room upstairs, one of his brothers will open the door and Finn will sneak out and tumble down the stairs.

He joins his brothers in the big bathtub and I actually got rid of our infant tub altogether. I rarely get emotional about eliminating clutter, especially when the item is taking up a significant amount of space. But it was hard to let go of that tiny tub where I gave all of my babies their first baths and hundreds of subsequent baths.

Finn gave up his dream feeding during the middle of the night which I should be happy about since I'm getting more sleep, but the truth is I miss the late night one-on-one snuggle time.

He loves to float in his inflatable raft in the pool, kneel against furniture, climb onto the dishwasher, eat real people food, suck his thumb, sleep in our closet where it is dark and quiet and watch his three older brothers' every move. 
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His poor feet have taken a beating from crawling on every possible surface. I never put shoes on babies during the summer, and even if I did, they would pop right off. But his poor tops of his feet are bleeding and scabbing so I've been trying to allow them to heal with band aids.
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Finn is so laid back and adds so much joy to our family. I'm not even going to think about how many months we have left until his first birthday.