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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Starting Them Young

Today Joshua came in the utility room while I was washing his diapers. I was loading them into the dryer and one dropped on the floor. Joshua picked it up and put it in the dryer, so I handed him some more, which he put in the dryer, as well. Yes, my one year old was helping me with the laundry! Granted, if I wasn't quick enough with the wet stuff, he'd pull items back out and throw them on the floor, but the intention was there!

I'm a firm believer in exploiting a child's interests. LOL

Jacob started doing "jobs" around the house and earning some cash doing them when he was 2 years old. He doesn't get an "allowance". Every cent he has, he earned in some way or received as a gift from a friend or relative. Unfortunately, with our financial situation, we haven't been in a place to "hire" him very often, but when he does get a job, he gets to divide his earnings up between his banks. I got these as a gift when I volunteered at the Dave Ramsey LIVE event in Dallas at the beginning of the month. Link to bank on Dave Ramsey's site.
The cup is so you can see just how large these things are!
Before the banks, he had envelopes with "Give", "Save", and "Spend" on them. The "Give" envelope, he would take to church and empty into the collection plate. The "Save" went into his savings account at the credit union. The "Spend" envelope would collect until he had $10-$15 and then he'd go to the store and get a new toy.

Don't get me wrong, we still get him little treats every once in a while, but for the most part, if we're at a store and he asks for something, we ask him if he has his money to buy it.

Being the lazy person that I am, you can see why I really enjoy this parenting technique. At six years old, Jacob can:

Do a complete load of laundry (washer/dryer/put away...folding still needs work)
Do a load of dishes and put them away
Sweep and mop the kitchen
Rake leaves and bag them (with help)

However, since we can't afford to pay him to do any of that right now, Chad and I are stuck with those particular chores.

We've also told him about things that are his "responsibilities". These include picking up his room, the playroom, and after himself in general. That means taking his own dirty dishes to the sink and rinsing them off, throwing away any trash he creates, and cleaning up any spills he happens to cause.

So, if you're wondering how to teach your kids about the value of money and personal responsibility, this is how we're doing it. Feel free to do the same thing and tweak it to fit your own family if it sounds good to you.

I just hope they remember these lessons in ten years. LOL

Monday, October 24, 2011

In My Own Backyard

I knew that moving out to the country would produce some interesting encounters. It seems that the most interesting ones occur when there's a creepy mist settled.

Scary fog!
I took Shadow into the backyard so she could go potty and I'm looking at the back of our house and spot this:

Find the stick bug!
Find the stick bug!
I don't think I've ever seen one in real life! Just to show you how much it looks like the sticks around here, I actually got a stick that I got it to climb onto.
Stick bug on a stick

I thought it would be fun to do some backyard exploring to see what else I could find.

Web of a Grass Spider.
Big old anthill

Moss and clovers 

Pretty flowers that just popped up.

Remnants of a cicada shedding

Shadow looking at me like I'm crazy. Probably because I am! LOL

Haunted Hayride


Grandpa and Spiderman on the hayride.

Every year, the volunteer fire department for a nearby city (Payne Springs) has a haunted hayride as a fundraiser. My dad offered to take us and my uncle out to it this past weekend. It was a long wait from the dusk start time that they claim on the site to when the hayrides actually started boarding, but they had a concessions stand and a movie playing so it wasn't too bad. We were the last group to fit on the trailer so we each wound up sitting on a different row. My uncle was in front of me, Chad was behind me, and Jacob and my dad sat in the very back. I had Joshua in the Ergo on my back so I wouldn't have to worry about him squirming out of my arms while the trailer was in motion.

We ride the short distance to the start of the woods and as we approach, the driver turns of the headlights. Since we are in the country, there isn't any light pollution. Looking up to the sky, I decided to break into song. "The stars at night are big and bright!" Of course, the rest of the trailer does the *CLAP CLAP CLAP CLAP* and we all start giggling. We pull up to a path marked with solar lights when the engine cuts out. The driver turned around and announces, "Oops! We're out of gas!" Jacob gets a very concerned look on his face. The driver steps down and lets us know that he's just waiting for the other group to start heading back before we can go in. Apparently, Jacob didn't hear this and his concern leads him to start freaking out. "What are we gonna do? We don't have any gas!" I took this opportunity to let him know that the driver was joking and to remind him that it's all pretend and just people in costumes. We start down the path and a sasquatch starts walking out of the woods and follows the trailer. Jacob turns around and, in his bravest voice, yells to the sasquatch, "I'M NOT AFRAID OF YOU!!!" This continues the entire hayride. Every single "monster" (as Jacob called them) got told off. I told the rest of the group that it's nice to know that he won't have to pay a therapist to learn how to face his fears!

We're on our way back to the fire station. We've waved at the group that was entering as we left. The family at the front of the hayride had 4 or 5 kids with them ranging from 3rd grade up to the teenage girl that my uncle wound up sitting next to. There were parts of the ride that the younger kids were still kind of freaking out about and one of the older boys took this opportunity to give them a hard time about it. Suddenly, two guys with chainsaw run out of the woods and jump on the front of the trailer. This boy freaked out. Of course, the guys pick up on that immediately and both stand over him revving their chainsaws. He's crying and telling them to leave him alone and, in their deepest, scariest voices, start saying, "COME WITH ME!" and grab at his arms. They tortured him for a good 2 minutes before finally jumping off. The boy was STILL crying and his younger siblings were cracking up laughing. "Stop laughing at me!!" Yeah, didn't help. All the adults were trying so hard to suppress our own laughter.

Since Jacob did such a great job on the hayride, my dad got him one of the cool shirts they were selling:


Teasing the Dog


The house we purchased was a foreclosure. Needless to say, it sat empty for quite a while before we were able to buy it and move in. In the time it was unoccupied, the neighbors' cats decided to claim it for themselves. They'd lounge around in our backyard, sleep on our front porch, and only seemed to go home to eat. Now that we have Shadow, they don't hang out in the backyard as much, but when they do and Shadow chases them out, they make it a point to tease her because she can't jump the fence. The other day, Chad told me to grab my camera (phone) and get some photos. Naturally, Shadow chased them out but once they got over the fence, they seemed to think it would be funny to lay as close to the fence as possible and stare at her while she tried to dig under the fence to get to them.
They're thinking, "HAHAHA...Stupid dog!"

Working on a hole.

Trying to climb the fence.

I'm starting to think the cats might be right...

Monday, October 17, 2011

Party Time!!

On Saturday, we had Joshua's 1st birthday party. I was thrilled to see how many of our friends made the long trek out here to celebrate with us! Some of them did manage to get lost, but everyone made it in one piece. My parents gave us a tabletop grill that they had won in a raffle and Chad was so excited to cook for everyone. He grilled up the burgers and hot dogs to go with the potato salad, baked beans, chili, nacho cheese, and bean dip that I made. We had mini pumpkins for the kids to decorate and they also had a great time playing baseball in the front yard.

When it was time for Joshua to get into his cupcake, he didn't let us down.

I want more cake!
All done!

Hi, Grandpa!

Yep, even managed to get the back of his head.
Happy birthday to my baby boy! Thanks to everyone who came out and shared the celebration with us!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Life as a family of 6

My little sister and her husband are going to a convention so we're watching two of our nephews, Gabriel (4 years) and Adrian (4 months). This also required us to borrow their van as our car only seats 5.

Tuesday, Chad dropped Joshua and me off at my sister's house. She and her husband needed to replace the break pads before I took it, so I got to hang out for a while.


Joshua learning all about brakes from his uncle.
Jacob was so excited to see his cousins when he got off the bus! The boys had a ton of fun playing together and all four fell asleep by 10.

Adrian loves this bouncy seat.

Don't worry, we moved him ;)

Jacob and Gabe in the extra-long twin and toddler beds, respectively.
Today, I had a great time dressing Adrian in drag. Chad said he looked like a Treasure Troll. I can see the resemblance.

Make a wish on my bellybutton!
 Jacob had Children's Choir up at church, so we loaded everyone up in the minivan and headed out! I like to call this 4-in-5 - Four boys in 5-point harnesses.

Adrian, 4 months, rear-facing in a Baby Trend Flex Loc Infant Seat
Joshua, 12 months, rear-facing in a Graco ComfortSport Convertible

Gabriel, 4 years, forward-facing in a Cosco High Back Booster
Jacob, 6 years, forward-facing in a Britax Frontier 85 SICT
Joshua has been totally enjoying the company of his cousins during the day. I think Mommy and Daddy just aren't interesting enough for him sometimes ;)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Fall Festival - East Texas Style

The Arboretum's 2011 Annual Fall Festival & Blackeyed Pea Cook Off

Jacob pulling the wagon as we entered the festival.

With us being out of work, we were financially unable to make it to the metroplex last weekend as we had planned. Luckily, DH found an awesome and, most importantly, *free* fall festival. The East Texas Arboretum and Botanic Gardens has this festival annually. Incredibly, they were also having a free dog show, so we brought Shadow along. The parking was a suggested donation of $5. We didn't have that much cash on us, so we gave them $2 and they gladly accepted that. DH only had $1 left on him and Jacob was able to use that to get this awesome face painting.

Jacob's face painter.
She used his hat as a guide.
Spiderman! In true Jacob fashion, he rubbed his chin before I got a pic.
They did a rendition of Mark Twain's "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County". It was really cute! They had the skinniest chick ever playing a frog and when the frog was supposed to have eaten so much it couldn't hop, they put some stuffing in her Spandex, but she was still much smaller than me!!

"Stuffed" frog
Joshua seemed a little bored with the play.
I knew I had to use this opportunity to get some fall pictures of the boys together. Apparently, Jacob seems to think he's a gangster or something.

Tha boyz

I swear I don't give him anything special to make him so happy!
Olan Mills moment
We checked out some of the vendors. One of the churches was handing out lemons that had soft peppermint sticks stuck in them. You bite the end of the peppermint stick off and then suck the lemon juice through it and the sugar dissolves as you suck, making lemonade! It was a really cool trick and a fun take on the old saying.

After we ate the lunch we brought, Chad took Shadow on a mile long hike on one of the trails while I took the boys to see Sonny the Bird Man's show.

I don't have a good zoom on my Blackberry Storm, so you can't really see what's going on in the other pictures I took so I won't bother posting them. He had a bird that could roller skate, one that could walk a tight rope with a stick of fire, one that could play soccer, etc. Jacob had a lot of fun and Joshua, as usual, seemed bored with the show.

They had this really cool playground and an even cooler slide that was built into a hill. Jacob and Joshua had a great time going down it.


Then, it was time for the dog show. While we were waiting for the show to begin, Shadow fell in love with an Akita named Moose. He was 10 months old and about the size Shadow will be when she is full size. Thing is, he wasn't HIS full size yet!

This dog is HUGE!
We entered Shadow in two catagories: Prettiest and Smooch Pooch (Best Kisser).

I know, I'm GORGEOUS!

Jacob trying to get Shadow to kiss him. It wasn't working.
While the judges were deliberating, Joshua decided to start up some mischief.

I wonder if anyone will notice if I steal this pumpkin right next to the stage.

We walked away with only a ribbon for participation and some booby prizes, but it was a bunch of fun.

Everyone's a winner!

Surprisingly, Joshua managed to stay awake the entire car ride home after he had taken a power nap during the festival. Jacob, on the other hand, didn't make it to the freeway.

Sure sign of a good day.