Archive for 2011

The Money Tree

Monday, May 2, 2011

I have a friend who has nine, yes nine lovely children. I remember years ago asking her how she got her kids to do chores and her advice was that you make a "chore plan," introduce it to the family, do it for awhile, watch it lose momentum, then lather, rinse, and repeat. She said the main thing was to realize that starting a new plan is not an admission of failure, it's just part of the parenting gig.

In that spirit, here's the new plan we're trying at our house.

I call it, (musical fanfare please) The Money Tree.

Like my nicely organized paper center?

The plan is for the smalls to track their chores on the kitchen chalk board and at the end of each week they can pluck their allowance off of the money tree.

Some parents are against in "why would we pay you to participate in being part of the family?" Or as my dad used to put it when I asked about allowance, "Do you like living here?"

Marc and I totally agree that kids really shouldn't be paid to do stuff around the house, but it turns out we were giving them all our money anyway, and at least this way they have to do some work before we fork it over. It motivates them and helps us feel better about never having cash.

Also, Marc likes saying "money tree." It makes him chuckle to himself.

Also, also, the older girls' allowance is fairly substantial. We are hoping to teach them some budgeting skills and whatnot so we're letting them manage their own clothing, entertainment and sundries funds.

In the end, I imagine this won't last terribly long, but, you know, it's a plan.

Mormon Helping Hands

Saturday, April 30, 2011

On Saturday Ellie and I cleaned up trash near the top of Mount Diablo as part of the Mormon Helping Hands project. The rest of the family was scattered to the winds with other activities, and I admit I was tempted to stay home and maybe snuggle and watch Pokemon with Ellie, but I decided "service is important," so we went and I am so glad we did.

You know how you never know which lessons are actually going to teach your children something? Well, this one seemed to particularly take with Ellie. When we got up the mountain (after a very long and twisty drive with Dayna and her girls) it was super windy and cold. The ranger was talking about hacking brush off of the trail and I was thinking "how can I get Dayna to turn around and take us home right now because Ellie is going to hate this and I don't want to deal with her?"

Such are my tiger mom skills.

But I knew Super Dayna wasn't going Then the ranger said if we weren't prepared to work with a pick ax we could collect trash. He gave Ellie a reacher thingie, and me a bag and off we went.

And boy, oh boy did we collect trash. Ellie was a machine I tell you what! Most of the trash was sneakily hiding where it had been blown into these large low thickets. I am too big to crawl in there, but Ellie just went for it-crawling on her stomach at some points to get tiny bits of paper and stuff like bottle caps.

The best part was to see how proud she was of herself for taking care of the earth. She mostly gets that from school assemblies, but let's pretend it's because Marc and I taught her.

At one point she stopped me and pointed out the wind blowing the long grasses up the hill from us and commented on how it looked like a silver ocean. Then she said it was like the grass and trees and even the earth was singing.
I felt so glad we were there to experience it together. After an hour or so we snuggled up in a little grove of trees that worked like a wind break and just watched the grass sway.

It was like a million times better than Pokemon.

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What's For Dinner? Chicken Tikka Masala!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

My general excitement level when it comes to preparing dinner is kind of low. Lately I've been focusing on quantity over quality-like it is more important to make 5-6 dinners a week that are okay than to make 3 really good meals but end up eating out the rest of the week. Why can't I make 5-6 great meals? Excellent question!

Last night I made a really scrumptious dinner though, and I am bursting to share; it's chicken tikka masala. I got this recipe from Katherine, the librarian at Ellie's school. She told me the ingredients and what to do with them, but no measurements. So here's what she told me-verbatim:

1. Saute the onions in butter until soft.
2. Broil the chicken rubbed with curry powder.
3. Add curry, chili powder,and a dash of ginger to the onions. Three parts curry to one part chili powder. Saute one minute.
4. Add one can of diced tomatoes with juice, chopped chicken, and half and half to the onions.
5. Simmer for twenty minutes and serve over Basmati rice.

Oh boy was this good! All my smalls liked it (except Ellie, she only eats white) and even went back for seconds.

I especially liked making this because I feel like an extra successful homemaker when I make foods from other countries and they come out well. Like if I make burgers, meh, who cares? But Chicken Tikka Masala...that's impressive.

Do I Stay or Do I Go?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Everyone already knows that I love to read, and usually I am totally out and proud to announce that I love kids books. I say things like, "I love juvenile literature." Firmly. Because I was raised by my parents, certainly, but also by Narnia, Oz, Middle Earth, King Arthur, Nancy Drew, Anne and Emily, Gulliver, and a host of other childhood friends. Add to that that one of the best joys of motherhood is access to the constant stream of books my kids bring home, from Ivy and Bean to Uglies and Pretties.

Yep, I'm proud of my affinity for all of the non-adult genres, but last week when I was happily browsing at the delightful downtown Barnes and Noble I really had to own it. There I was, blissfully perusing the jackets in the Young Adult section, when I looked up and noticed the sign above the shelves. It read, "Teen Paranormal Romance."

Oh. I know. I do like those.


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