Monday, January 24, 2011

Chores & Character Training

You've read the Michael/Debi Pearl "Train Up A Child" books (which I highly recommend). You've searched out and read all the Scriptures relating to child-training. You've read them to your children. You've prayed for wisdom. And patience. You've sighed. You've probably cried, too.

Still they huff. Still they puff. Still they fuss & fight 'till you feel like the walls are closing in all around you.

It's a day-to-day struggle. You never know what mood your children will wake up in, or which side of the proverbial bed they will get up on. But whatever their attitude, as a mother, you control the spiritual thermostat of your home--your reaction to their behavior sets the tone for the home.

One thing I've learned is that my children respond better to praise for a positive action or attitude than correction for a negative one. Now that I think about it, that principle applies to adults too :).

Children need a tangible sign that they are doing something right. A pat on the head and a hug aren't always enough to motivate positive behavior. Thus the heart chart.

I got this idea from a blog post by my friend Chrissy a month or so ago. It isn't anything special, just a white board with a little chart with their names and a place to draw hearts. It gets pretty messy with a 2, 4 1/2, and 6 yo drawing on it, but it does the trick. Whenever one of the children exhibit a positive character trait (working together, helping others, doing the right thing without being asked, etc.), they earn a heart. And they get to draw it themselves. Big plus :). Whenever the opposite, negative behavior is exhibited, they have to erase a heart. Or two, or all (depending on the severity of the behavior). Now I'm not talking about things they should do anyway--like taking their dishes to the sink after meals or cleaning their rooms before they go to bed at night. I mean going above and beyond and really putting effort towards genuinely exceptional behavior.

At the end of the week, if they have at least 5 hearts (one for each day), they are rewarded with a treat. Nothing expensive or extravagant, but things like:

* a trip to Kid City (a free open-to-the-public indoor playground at a neighborhood church)
*a Jr. Frosty from Wendy's (I have about three coupon books for free Frosties)
*a trip to Books-A-Million (our kids LUV to play in the kids' area)
*exemption from nap-time for a day (for the older two).

The amount of hearts for the week is optional--older kids could be expected to get up to 5 hearts a day, for instance.

You would not believe the difference in our home. Our children live to get a heart and are absolutely heartbroken when one is removed. They cheerfully and readily offer to help Mama with whatever I may be doing. School-time attitudes are better, and chore-time is definitely a lot smoother. DH and I have noticed that the positive behavior is getting to be a habit for them, and they are doing the right thing more and more without being prompted or reminded.

I just had to snap a picture of my two girls sweeping the floor this morning. I'm so proud of them!

Proverbs 8:5 says, "O ye simple, understand wisdom: and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart."

Proverbs is full of the promise of wisdom to those who seek it--even the simple can have wisdom! My prayer is to be endowed with wisdom concerning the training of my children. What they are allowed to be now are previews of who they will be as adults.

Do you have any successful training methods?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Figuring Life Out - One Thousand Gifts

Are you reaching for the Kleenex box yet?

If you've followed Ann's Blog, A Holy Experience, or participated in Multitude Monday, you've probably been excited about her book coming out. Well, it's out! I haven't got mine yet, but I can't wait.

It's only $10--wow! And #11 on Amazon's best seller list. Can't wait to get my copy. I expect to be touched, convicted, and inspired to live slower, simpler, and more aware of the little things that are the most valuable.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Elijah's Big Milestone

First he turned six, and now he springs this on me.

"Mom, I've got a loose tooth."

I wiggled it. Sure 'nough. "Wiggle it around and it'll come out in a couple of days", I said.

10 minutes later: "Look, Mom! My tooth came out!"

Indeed it did. That was fast. Slow down buck-a-roo. Stop growing for just a few minutes.

We had several phone calls to make:

Daddy, (who got a little choked up because his little boy is getting big faster than he would like)and then grandparents who talked up the tooth fairy til the boy thinks he's gonna be able to go buy out Toys 'R' Us tomorrow. Maybe they'd like to contribute to the tooth fairy fund? :)

Speaking of which, "fairy" sounds a little girly for such a manly little man. How about tooth frog?


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Homemade Granola Bars

A few weeks ago, DH brought home some yumm-o granola bars from the store. Packaged granola bars. The kiddos inhaled them. So, I went on a search for a just-as-tasty, but healthier alternatives.

We absolutely LOVED these:


* 4 1/2 cups rolled oats
* 1 cup all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 2/3 cup butter, softened
* 1/2 cup honey
* 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
* 2 cups miniature semisweet chocolate chips *I used raisins and pecans instead.


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Lightly grease one 9x13 inch pan.
2. In a large mixing bowl combine the oats, flour, baking soda, vanilla, butter or margarine, honey and brown sugar. Stir in the 2 cups assorted chocolate chips, raisins, nuts etc.
3. Lightly press mixture into the prepared pan. Bake at 325 degrees F (165 degrees C) for 18 to 22 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for 10 minutes then cut into bars. Let bars cool completely in pan before removing or serving.

As you can see, a third of these yummy bars were snarfed down before I ever had a chance to slice them up. After doing so, I promptly stored them in a Ziploc bag and put them on the top shelf of the pantry. Out of reach. This recipe makes a lot of squares--they lasted us a whole week, snacking on them 2-3 times a day.

I'm sure you can sub wheat flour for the all-purpose and make them even healthier. Or get creative and add dried cranberries or M & Ms. Umm...I'm hungry!

Either way, this is a yummy, healthy snack the whole family will enjoy and you will be satisfied knowing you kids are eating something good for them.

Oh, and we figured the calorie content on them--120 calories for about a 2-inch square. Not bad when paired with a banana or a cup of grapes for a snack.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

0 to 6 in 3.5 seconds

Six years ago, on a dreary, rainy, cold January day, we proudly welcomed into the world Elijah Cooper Acklen, weighing in a 7 lbs, 8 oz. The clouds opened up and the sun poured through. Our life has never been the same.

I remember the wonder of it all. The unbelievable heart-swelling sensation of a love I'd never experienced. That only a new Mama can know. The heart-wrenching worry when he lost more weight than allowable and we had to stay in the hospital a day extra so he could be monitored.

How he struggled to latch-on to his new source of nourishment and was fed through a syringe and a tube with mommy's milk. The feeling of accomplishment, a few weeks later when he graduated to a shield that fit perfectly into his little mouth--it was so encouraging. And then, even more weeks later, when said shield got lost and he and I both cried all night long in frustration and I almost gave up and just gave him a bottle. A bottle that would not give him the superior nourishment of mommy's milk. But by the time the night was over he was feeding on Mama au naturale, like a seasoned pro. We did it. The first obstacle; we conquered it together.

And on we trudge through life, each year bringing new obstacles to be overcome. Together we conquer, until the day comes when he slips out of the cocoon and tests his own strength, completely independent on me and, I pray, completely dependent on the One who formed him so mysteriously. Even then I will still pray over, fuss over, and probably pry into his life. But for now I am going to enjoy his quirky, adorably nerdy, but always sunny personality. I'm going to joyfully tie his shoes and cut up his pancakes and savor the specialness of each every-day moment of mothering him.

Thank you, Lord, for this gift of my son.

Happy Birthday, Elijah Cooper Acklen!!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

New Is Not Allowed to Wear off

Here we are, well into our second week of the new year. I don't know about you, but the new year and all in involves is good for me. I've got a new focus, new goals, and a refreshed determination. Just in time.

I didn't do a New Year's post, but I have set some unwritten goals for myself to reach for this year. I've considered pulling up last year's new year's post, just to see if I actually accomplished anything, but I'm afraid of the repercussions. No looking behind--only forward.

There are some changes, however, taking place around here that reflect these goals:

*No more processed foods. Good-bye chicken nuggets. See ya. Wouldn't wanna be ya.

*Hello in-depth Bible-reading schedule. 15-20 chapters a day. Smokin'. Go here for your own copy, if you think you can handle it :).

*Sorry, table salt. You've been replaced with sea salt.

*What's that? Is it the sound of a sewing machine?

*Yes, my children have an expression of dismay on their faces--their computer/entertainment time has been drastically reduced.

*Master bedroom, I think I love you. After 2 1/2 years of neglect, you now have a new comforter gracing your bed and some pictures on the wall. Get ready. Very soon you will be sporting a new paint color. And as soon as my thrift-store search for new night stands and a headboard is fulfilled, you will not recognize yourself.

*Speaking of recognizing oneself, who is that skinny person looking back at me in the mirror? Could it be me?? Snort.

*Sweet tea, it's over. I'm moving on. To water. He treats me with respect.

I love the new, new-year's feeling that's in the air. I refuse to treat it like a new toy that loses its appeal in a few weeks. Can't wait to share the results of these changes with you as they happen.

Happy New Year! (still).