Tag Archives: big brother

Kids in the Kitchen

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Kids in the Kitchen

Several years ago (before twins), my first two children enjoyed helping me cook, and I enjoyed teaching them. I took pictures of them and created a digital scrapbook with some of our favorite recipes at the time. I gave these to all the grandparents and great-grandparents for Christmas that year. We use this as a cookbook frequently in our home.

I had intended to create a new scrapbook each year, but life got busy, and we had more kids, and sometimes it was hard to cook at all. I had my son take this photo so I could look back on it one day and smile. It was so exasperating at the time to have two toddlers crying and clinging to me while I tried to cook dinner, but I knew it wouldn’t always be that way.

Once all four of the little people started asking to help in the kitchen with me, I was quickly overwhelmed. They all started doing different things, and I wasn’t ready! Oh, the messes! I was also stressed about not being able to keep an eye on each one for safety reasons. A wise friend told me she has her boys take turns helping her on different nights of the week. I need to work out a calendar for my children to take turns helping.

This evening, we had breakfast for dinner, and I decided to delegate some tasks to the kids. The twins went to the barn to get more eggs, and then they took turns whisking the eggs. Big brother wanted sausage, egg, and cheese burritos. The twins wanted pancakes, bacon, and scrambled eggs. (Big sister is staying the night with a friend.) Then the girls took turns mixing up the pancake batter and posing for some silly photos.

While the bacon cooked in the oven, I had the girls help cook the eggs in each pan. They swapped pans when the eggs were almost set. Silly girls! Big brother kept an eye on the bacon and removed it from the oven when it was done.

Once the girls had bacon and eggs, I started on the pancakes and let them start eating. It’s a little chaotic having two five year olds help with dinner, but their smiles make it worthwhile. Maybe I’ll start on volume two of our Kids in the Kitchen scrapbook series, but don’t look for it to be completed any time soon. At the rate I’m going, I won’t have enough photos for a cooking scrapbook for a few years! I need to get that cooking schedule for the kids figured out first.

Click here for a pancake recipe. We still use this basic recipe. Unfortunately, the girls prefer white flour and no flax seed in their pancakes, so we just use 1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour in place of the whole wheat flour and ground flax seed.

For the breakfast burritos, we use one pound of pork sausage, crumbled and browned on medium heat. Then we lower the heat and add a dozen scrambled eggs. Once the eggs are set, we add about 1 1/2 cups of freshly shredded cheese and stir until it starts to melt. Don’t cook it too long, or the cheese will melt completely, and you won’t be able to tell it’s in there. My son hates that. Enjoy!

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Family Fun

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Family Fun

My mom and step-father came to visit us today, and they spent some time with the kids in the pool. A couple of the kids wouldn’t cooperate for a group photo, so this was the best I could get. I’m glad they were able to come and spend the day with us.

This boy has had a growth spurt recently. He has grown two full inches since his birthday in January! He is now 5′ 4 1/4″, which means I’m only one inch taller than him, and he will be taller than me in a few months.

Big sister didn’t want her photo taken, but I was able to snag one with her carrying the watermelon ball. My kids love that silly ball, but they don’t play with it like the directions suggest. They like to play solo instead of a group game, which means they usually end up fighting over who gets to play with it.

Little sister was happy to pose for a photo with Grammy in the background. When we first started swimming again this year, the twins told me they needed more swimming lessons. They wore their puddle jumpers the first few times they swam, but they are jumping in and swimming across the pool now. They also love to throw dive rings and torpedos in the pool and dive to get them. Ms. Alisha taught them well the last three summers!

Sissy was too busy swimming and diving to stop for a photo. She kept asking me last week to teach her to swim on top of the water, so I tried helping her swim freestyle, but that’s not what she really wanted. Yesterday, I finally figured out that she wanted to learn to tread water and dog paddle. That was easy for her to learn.

Before we got in the pool, I asked my mom to take a photo of me and the kids. I had to convince big sis to change out of a hot pink shirt so we could all match. This photo shows the dramatic height difference between my oldest two children. They are only 2 1/2 years apart but 12 inches apart in height! Big sis is 4 1/2 years older than the twins but only six to seven inches taller than them. We literally take clothes from her closet and pass them directly to the girls now. I expect all the girls to be in the same size clothing at some point in the near future unless big sis has a sudden growth spurt.

We had fun as a family today. I hope you were able to enjoy some time with your family today too!

Daily Checklists to Teach Children to Manage Money

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Daily Checklists to Teach Children to Manage Money

When our older two kids were younger, I struggled with the idea of simply giving children an allowance (for doing nothing) or paying them to do certain chores (I don’t struggle with that anymore). I believe our children should contribute to the care of their home because they are a part of our family, but they are also entitled to a small portion of our income because they are a part of our family.  I wasn’t sure how to manage the children’s chores and allowance until I found an interesting blog through Pinterest. 

I love searching Pinterest for anything having to do with crafts, school, health, and food.  I sometimes use Pinterest instead of Google because I know I will be more likely to find the desired information.  One such search directed me to 71 Toes and their weekly checklists for children.  The concept is fairly simple.  Each child has a checklist of tasks to complete each weekday.  If they complete all of their tasks for the week, they will receive their age in dollars on Saturday or Sunday.  If they fail to complete one or two tasks, they will receive half of their age in dollars.  They will receive no money for not completing three or more. They are allowed to memorize a scripture verse or passage (parent’s choice) to make up for one task.


The four areas of tasks are as follows. 

  • Morning work:  make bed, pick up bedroom floor, brush teeth, eat breakfast, get ready to go (if necessary)
  • Reading:  read for a minimum of 15 minutes each day
  • Practice:  practice something for at least 15 minutes each day (examples below)
  • Zone:  clean one area of the house (see below)

Practice can be as simple as writing a letter to a friend or loved one, playing a game (Scrabble, Quirkle, Monopoly, Dominoes, Yahtzee, Uno, etc.), playing an educational game on a computer or iPad, practicing flash cards, or practicing spelling words.  Big Brother plays baseball and practices hitting with a pitching machine.  Big Sister used to practice her cartwheels at home for gymnastics.  The little girls practiced painting (fine motor skills) with Grandmother yesterday.  My kids usually check with me first to make sure something will count for their practice before they start.  As long as I can see some developmental or educational value in their activity, I usually approve–unless they want to do something extremely messy or that will require me to be involved for an extended period of time. 

We have only recently developed the zone into something that works well for our family.  At first, I only had the two older children completing checklists, so we only had two zones, which were usually 1) pick up the living room and 2) pick up the game room.  Those were the days when the twins were babies/toddlers and the floors were their playground.  When the twins were a little over three, we tried the checklists, but they were a little young to understand the concept.  They would complete a zone together, usually with my help.  I came up with five different chores that need to be completed more than once a week and put them on a wheel that I rotate on weekdays to give each child a new zone.  Today, the twins decided they each want a separate zone to complete on their own, so I have to create a new wheel.  


I started out with each child (the older two at the time) having a checklist on a half-sheet of paper like the mom at 71 Toes, but I didn’t want to tape or tack the sheets to our brand new (at the time) walls.  I created a family command center around this time and used a magnetic clip to display their sheets on one sheet of paper.  Once the twins wanted a checklist, I found a way to fit all four on one sheet.  They are small, but it’s easy to see who has empty boxes at a glance. 


 The purpose of the checklists is to teach children how to manage their money.  Big Brother can earn up to $10 a week.  He must save 10% and give 10% to our church, so he has a check register where we record his savings each week, and we keep that cash for him.  Big Sister can earn up to $8 each week.  She loves Starbursts and bubble gum, but she must buy those things with her own money, so she has to budget, save, and figure out tax on her purchase.  The little girls quickly learn that $3 doesn’t buy much, so they are learning the value of a dollar.  The family from 71 Toes requires their children to pay for half of all their clothing (except underwear, socks, and Sunday dress clothes) once they reach the age of twelve.  We haven’t reached that point yet, so I’ll update when we figure out if that will work for our family.  

I’m sure I have forgotten something to explain about this system, but you can ask me questions in a comment or go to 71 Toes to read her explanation and see what they do differently.  This is a wonderful system that works well as long as you (the parent) remember to have cash (plenty of ones) every weekend. Otherwise, your kids feel like they aren’t being rewarded for their checklists and quit completing their tasks.  (I know this from personal experience.) 

Summer Berries

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Summer Berries

Is it just me or do berries from your own garden taste better than any others?  We planted a thornless blackberry bush three years ago, and we got several berries from it last summer, but we are getting at least two cups a day now!  

There are only three of us who like blackberries (Big Brother, Little Sister, and me), but we have been able to eat most of them the day we pick them. However, we did not eat all the blackberries Saturday because we ate dinner out after church, so we had twice as many as usual by Sunday evening. I decided to make a small blackberry cobbler with them. I forgot to take photos, but I’m sure I’ll be able to make another one soon!

Our blackberry bush has grown so much that it was covering the end of one of our raised garden beds, and I couldn’t pull weeds under it or get to all the berries. My husband and I constructed two side fences to drape the vines over, so the vines stay off the ground, the berries are easier to find, and I can weed under the vines. It is working pretty well. 


 The only problem is that the fence is so tall that I can hardly reach some of the ripe berries in the back, but I couldn’t reach them before either.  It would probably help if we hadn’t put the blackberry bush between the garden and the wood rack or three feet from the pasture fence, but we are making it work.  Now if I could just stay on top of those weeds!

A Beautiful Country Morning

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The little girls saw their grandmother go into the pasture Sunday afternoon and thought they would get to ride her pony, Freedom, but she was working in the yard, so we made plans for them to ride at 8:00 this morning.   

They enjoyed riding so much!  Grandmother led the horse with each of them in the round pen.  Then she gave each of them the option to hold the reins themselves.  

 They thought they were such big girls.  They had a hard time kicking Freedom on his sides to make him go, but Grandmother stayed right in front of him, and he kept walking for the most part.  

 They each rode twice for several minutes each time.   

 Freedom is a large pony, but he’s gentle with the kids.  

 Big Brother and Little Sister enjoyed hanging out on the fence while waiting for their turns.  

 Big Sister wanted a turn on Freedom as well, but she didn’t want to hold the reins herself.  She’s more cautious than her siblings. 

 Big Brother also rode this morning, but he thinks he’s too big to stay in the round pen, so he took Freedom out into the pasture.  He did a good job on Freedom walking around the pasture.  

  We love living just down the driveway from my husband’s parents.  It makes these early morning rides very convenient.  My in-laws also have a mini that was a rescue pony, but he is so skittish that I was surprised to see him staying so close to where we were.    

 After the girls were finished riding, they went in the barn to look for eggs.  They only found one this early in the day.  

 It’s a beautiful morning.  I hope you will find an opportunity to get out and enjoy the sunshine today!

Scrambled Eggs, Organized Thoughts

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I had planned to scramble some eggs this morning for my seven year old daughter because she has been complaining of headaches mid-morning at school.  I believe she is hungry or at least having withdrawal headaches because she is accustomed to eating snacks, but second graders are not allowed a snack time at school.  However, Big Sister decided she didn’t want eggs this morning and chose another source of protein to go along with her cereal and fruit, but the little girls still wanted eggs.  I asked Big Brother if he wanted any, and he said no.  We only had seven eggs, so I scrambled them all, planning on eating some myself.  

As I was serving the little girls, Big Brother decided he wanted some eggs after all, and I felt it would be selfish of me not to share, so I gave him most of what was left.  Once the little ones had been fed and cleaned up and the big kids were off to school, I ate what little eggs were left in the now room temperature pan as I looked upon my son’s plate of mostly uneaten scrambled eggs.  I wondered why I had sacrificed for him and why mothers in general sacrifice so much of their wants and needs for their children’s desires.  Our children don’t seem to appreciate or even realize how much we sacrifice for them.  

This made me think of how much God has sacrificed for us–His one and only Son–and how, just like children, we often fail to appreciate or realize the cost of His sacrifice.  I can’t imagine giving my son’s life to save someone else’s life, but God did just that and provided a way for everyone to be saved if they will only accept His gift and acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord.   

Wasted scrambled eggs pale in comparison with His sacrifice.  

Country Life II

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This summer, I posted photos of young armadillos by our mailboxes and shared how Big Brother acted scared of them. Today, I was feeding the twins some lunch when my in-laws’ dogs started barking loudly, insistently, and very near the front of our house. I was concerned about an intruder because our front door was unlocked, so I went to check through the window and saw that the dogs had cornered something on our front porch. Worried it was a skunk, I peeked out the door, taking a small sniff before looking, and saw an armadillo.

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IMG_6883-0.JPG I had to go back to the kitchen to grab my phone to take photos, and the armadillo had moved to the corner by our front door, so I had to wait a minute to open the door. I didn’t want that wild animal in my house! The dogs chased it through our flower beds and across the yard. It tried to hide behind our rose bush in the corner of our flower bed, but the dogs wouldn’t leave it alone. I called my mother-in-law to get the dogs away from it, so it could go home. She was teaching my son and his best friend at the time, so they came with her.

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Over the last few months, Big Brother must have overcome his fear of armadillos because he wanted to touch this armadillo. I was holding both of the little girls, so I missed the photo/video, but it was hilarious. He knelt down to touch it while it was under the wagon and facing our front door. I think Big Brother was squatting when he touched the armadillo, and it jumped and kicked its back feet at him. Big Brother jumped/fell back almost to where I was standing on the sidewalk and took off running all the way down to his grandparents’ house. My mother-in-law and I laughed so hard! He was startled when the armadillo jumped, but he was just being silly by running. We laughed about it again when hubby got home from work. Country life can be extremely entertaining.

Last Friday evening, Big Brother saw a snake on our brick sidewalk. The snake had part of its tail in between a couple of bricks, so we weren’t sure how long it was at first. My son just sat and watched it for awhile. I even took the twins out to see it. It was just a garter snake, but I stayed well away from it. I gave Big Brother my cell phone to take photos, but most of them are blurry. These two are the clearest.

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It was a small snake, and hubby chased it over to the pasture, but I think it came back today. One of the dogs found a snake in our flower bed this evening and chased it around the yard, barking at it. I was busy cooking dinner and didn’t have time to watch the show or take photos this time, but I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of the snake(s).

We are enjoying living in the country and all that it entails (well, maybe not the skunks). In the second photo (above), you can see several aspects of our country life: firewood stacked for winter, a brush pile to be burned, the barn, the horses, tons of trees, and pastureland. Of course, most of that belongs to my in-laws, but we have our own firewood, brush pile, trees, and land, and we can enjoy the view of theirs. All of our kids love being outside, and I am happy that they can find plenty to do out here.

Baseball and Birthdays and Dance! Oh My!

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This summer seemed to fly by more quickly than ever before. It seemed like we were always busy, but I don’t remember what we were doing. I didn’t post often, so I’m really behind on sharing these photos.

Big Brother played baseball again in the spring and enjoyed playing catcher. He has had this baseball helmet for two years but refuses to take the MLB sticker off the brim. Goofy boy. He improved a lot this year, hitting, fielding, and throwing better. He is now swimming on a team at the Y instead of playing football (fall) and basketball (winter), but he wants to play baseball again in the spring.

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Big Sister took ballet and tap (Combo I) last school year and just started Combo II for this school year. She performed in a recital in June and looked so cute and sassy in her costume.

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In July, Big Sister lost her first tooth, began wearing a shorter hair style, and turned six years old. Whew! That was a busy month for sure!

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The twins turned 18 months old in August and would not cooperate for pictures. We were unable to get any of them together for the first time since they were born. Stubborn little girls! I think they were a little shy. They wanted me to stay right with them the whole time. The next pictures we have taken will be of our whole family, so their daddy and I can each hold one. Maybe they will cooperate if they are in our arms. I can hope anyway.

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My husband became the new chief of his fire department on August 1st. I think this is the best picture he has ever had taken. We are so proud of him!

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Our New Wheels

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If you know me very well, you’ll know I’m a runner, or at least I try to be. I began running regularly in the spring of 2010 and for the next two years, I ran everything from a 1 mile fun run to a full marathon. Then I found out I was pregnant with twins, and my doctor told me not to run during my pregnancy. Once they were born, there was no time for running! After we were settled in our new house last summer, I started looking for a good jogging stroller. A serious runner friend recommended the Chariot Cougar, so I looked for one on Craig’s List because those are out of our price range. I saw a few, but I was always the second or third person to contact the seller. I started researching similar bicycle trailers/jogging strollers and finally found the Allen Sports Premier 2-Child Aluminum Bike Trailer/Racing Stroller on Amazon.

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We’ve had it for almost a month, and we’ve been on several runs (less than 20 miles total) so far, and I’ve been happy with it. The tires are large and similar to bicycle tires, so it is easy to push, and I am able to use one hand to push until I get to a curve. The front wheel is fixed because this is a true jogging stroller, but it is so lightweight that it’s simple to push down on the handlebar and lift the front wheel to turn.

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We took it for a test drive down the driveway to my in-laws’ house, and the twins enjoyed riding in it. The stroller has two shoulder straps that hook onto a strap that comes up between the legs. There is another set of straps that fasten around the waist of each child. There are cushioned sleeves around the straps at their neck level and on the strap between the legs. Of course, one of my twins removed the lower strap cushions before we ever took the stroller out of the house, but I will be sure to put the cushions back on when the twins are no longer in diapers.

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There are three straps at the bottom, which allow you to carry one child alone in the center or two children side by side. My twins are tall for being 19 months old, and they have plenty of leg room and head room. The width is a little more snug, but they haven’t complained, and I bought the narrower stroller because it fits through doors. I plan to take this stroller to the arboretum, zoo, and anywhere else we will do a lot of walking.

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Big Brother and Big Sister go to school three days a week and complete assignments at home on Tuesday and Thursday. We have been going for “walks” on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday mornings right after the twins wake up, so they usually ride in their pajamas while eating breakfast. Most of the time, when I put shoes on the twins, they take them off unless they are running around outside. I have tried putting shoes on them before jogging, so they would be able to get out and play as soon as we returned home, but one day we lost a shoe, and Big Brother rode back down the street to find it, so now we just let the twins ride barefooted. All I can see when I’m running are their little feet, but they sure are cute.

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Here is a photo of all of my children on one of our “walks”. Obviously, I’m the only one who does any walking, but they continue to ask if we are going on a walk.

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After two years of inactivity, I am slowly starting to run again. I tried to run too much the first week and ended up with a pulled muscle. That has mostly healed, but now my heel hurts when I run, so I’ve only run a mile on each of our walks this week. I guess that’s better than what I was doing before we got the double jogger. Oh, I should mention that this stroller also attaches to a bicycle as a trailer, but I don’t own a bicycle, so I haven’t tried it out as a trailer. Big Brother wants to pull the twins with his bike, but I don’t trust him to be careful enough with my precious cargo.

Water, Water Everywhere

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Water, Water Everywhere

The weather the past couple of weeks has been very hot and dry, so we have been playing frequently in water to keep cool. Last Monday, we went to a children’s garden with some friends, and all of the kids had a great time playing in the water. Naturally, Little Sister was more cautious, but she jumped right in after her more adventurous twin. You can see Big Sister in the background, but Big Brother was running and jumping with his friends–too busy for photos but great for entertaining the girls! The little boy was no one we knew, but he made the water spray all over the girls, and Sissy tried and tried to do the same but wasn’t quite tall enough.
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The big kids have had swimming lessons last week and this week and have made a lot of progress. I got my hair cut on Thursday right before their lesson and snapped a photo while they were swimming to send to my husband, mom, and sister. It’s so much more stylish than the ponytail I’ve been sporting every day since the weather heated up.

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On Friday, we went swimming with some friends at their neighborhood pool. Sissy and Little Sister had their floaties on and were walking around in the water on the wide, top step while I was putting Big Sister’s hair in a ponytail, and the next thing I knew, Sissy just stepped right off into the pool and starting splashing around in the water. The nice thing about the Puddle Jumper life jacket is that it positions them correctly for swimming, and Sissy started kicking her legs and using her arms to swim. I was amazed. Again, Little Sister was more cautious and sat on the top step for awhile, but she did get in the pool now and then. I also snapped a photo of Big Sister and her friend, but once again, Big Brother was too busy with his friends.

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As if I didn’t have enough to do already, I started another garden on one side of our backyard for vining plants like cantaloupe, watermelon, pumpkins, and fall/winter squash. I planted all the seeds about four weeks ago, and God sent rain four days in a row that week! Our sprinkler system doesn’t extend that far, so I’ve been hand watering it every other day, and the babies often come with me. Saturday morning, I went ahead and put their swimsuits on because they usually get soaked. I saved and rinsed some milk jugs for them to help me water, but they usually just pour it out on the grass or on their own feet. They lost interest in helping me and walked over to our vegetable garden. Sissy brought me a tomato she had picked. At least this one was ripe! I bought some 18″ wooden stakes at Home Depot and used a Sharpie to label them and create simple row markers.

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We went over to the vegetable garden next so I could pull some weeds in the beds. I filled the water table for the girls to play in while I worked. The garden is shaded by the house in the morning, so it’s a great place for them to play. Sissy started helping me pull weeds and wanted to throw them over the fence into the pasture like I was doing, so she climbed to the top and then fussed because she couldn’t get down. After the third time, I realized what she was doing and told her to put the weeds through the fence like she was doing the week before.

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We have picked a few zucchini squash and over a dozen tomatoes already. The grasshoppers are eating our corn, but I think we will have plenty.

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There is finally rain on our forecast this week, so maybe we will really have water everywhere. We sure need it. Hope you are staying cool this summer!