Tag Archives: big sister

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.) 

Once upon a time…

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Once upon a time…

Big Sister was the little sister, and she had these two pair of pajamas that she loved to wear because they were comfortable and cute.  

She was two years old, and we weren’t planning to have any more children, so we gave away the pajamas and never thought about them again.  
Then, one day last week, my sister was at a garage sale and found some little girl clothes and sent them to our house with my mom who came for a visit last weekend.  The little girls were trying the “new” clothes on with Grammy, and they came into the kitchen to show me.  I couldn’t believe they had the same pajamas on as their big sister had worn five years earlier!  Sweet memories.

I couldn’t get the girls to pose for a photo together except to do this:  

They are so silly!

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!

Reflections on Our No-Spend Month

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Reflections on Our No-Spend Month

First, I want to explain why I haven’t shared what my husband spent money on this past Friday.  A couple of times a year, my husband, son, and father-in-law go camping for a weekend.  They had planned several weeks ago (before we decided October would be a no-spend month) to go this past weekend.  My husband took $60 cash with them and spent $22 on groceries, $16 for the campsite, and $28 at a restaurant.  They always go to a buffet on Friday night.  My husband spent a little more than what he had in cash, but technically, some of the campsite fee and groceries were for Sunday, November 1st.  So why didn’t I share that sooner?  When I am home alone with my kids, I do not want the whole world to know.  I feel safe where we live, but I would rather not announce to everyone that my husband will not be home all weekend, especially on Halloween.  It’s just my overprotective nature.  

Our no-spend month is over, and we only spent money out of our checking account on gas (3 times), copays at the doctor’s office (3 kids), prescriptions (3 antibiotics), and whatever extra my guys spent this past weekend.  We think we saved close to $2000 by not spending in October.  We sat down Sunday and planned our spending for November and came up with amounts for groceries and household items, personal care (haircuts, makeup, etc.), dining out,  office supplies, and clothing.  Now if we could just get to the bank to get some cash, we could implement the envelope system.   

our pantry before our no-spend month

  

our pantry at the end of our no-spend month

 
We went a whole month without eating out, except for Saturday nights due to our church schedule and the days my husband had meetings or classes.  That alone saved us at least $200 and 5,000 calories!  We were already eating at home most of the time, but I had to be more intentional about planning and preparing things ahead of time to ensure that we wouldn’t end up eating out.

My makeup and all of our other personal hygiene and cosmetic items (miraculously) lasted all month.  I ordered new foundation and scheduled a haircut for myself as soon as November started.  We ran out of black ink for our printer on Thursday, so I printed everything in color for a few days.  We used all of the napkins, and had to use paper towels or cloth napkins for the last week.  We needed more dishwasher detergent, and my mother-in-law gave us more than enough to last the rest of the month.  

We not only survived–we succeeded.  We saved hundreds of dollars.  We made things last longer than we thought possible.  We made use of all of our resources and refused to spend unnecessary money.  We convinced ourselves and the kids (at least for one month) that we could live without many things.  We discussed needs and wants and taught our kids lessons about materialism and entitlement.  I think this was a good experience for our family, and I would like to do it again.  My children still need to learn some lessons because they never want to be deprived again, which means we definitely need to do it again.  

Big Sister thought we needed to go buy her a crazy hat to wear to AWANA Sunday night. We were able to make one using things we already had, and she decided what we made was even better than what we could have found at the store.

No-Spend Month: Day 31

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I just took the October calendar off our command center and put up the December calendar.  I had written “No-Spend Month” in bright, large letters across the top of the October sheet, and it just hit me that our no-spend month is really over now.  I’ll post some reflections tomorrow after I have had a chance to reflect.  Lol. 

  • We ate breakfast and lunch at home.  I made more multigrain rolls for breakfast.  I think they were even better this time!  I ran out of yeast last week, but my mother-in-law had plenty.  I used the last of the honey in the rolls today.  I’m glad I will be able to go grocery shopping next week because we definitely need a few things.  Of course, “need” is probably not the right word.  We have been able to survive just fine without many things, but it will be nice to be able to shop again. 
  • We went to church this evening and skipped trick-or-treating.  We took the kids to Culver’s and bought them treats there instead!  Actually, I had a coupon for Big Sister’s frozen custard, so her treat was free!  
  • No one came to pick up and pay for their online garage sale items, so I wasn’t sure what we would do for dinner until I noticed our “respect” jars on the counter and realized they contained $10 worth of dimes.  Then I remembered there was a $5 bill in a desk drawer, so we had plenty for dinner. 

No-Spend Month: Day 12

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No-Spend Month: Day 12

Big Sister told us yesterday that her throat hurt, but she had no fever, so we thought it could just be allergies.  This morning she started coughing, and I just knew she had strep.  So we had to pay another $30 co-pay and a $10 prescription.   Someday, all of our children will stop getting strep so frequently.  (Big Brother has been healthy for a long time now.). I’m already missing our $0 co-pay for children, and the insurance just changed at the beginning of this month.  😕

Big Sister had a rough morning.  Just before we left for the doctor, she shut her fingers in the laundry room door and bruised/cut them, so we had to take an ice pack with us.  Her fingers were so swollen and looked so bad that the doctor was concerned that she might have broken them.  I took this photo after we got back home, and they weren’t purple anymore, but the two that she smashed were still swollen.   

 
She has been doing cartwheels this afternoon, so I’m sure she didn’t break anything.  She even worked on her math assignments and was able to write without my help. 

Our doctor’s office had fall decorations outside the front door, so we stopped for a quick photo. Sissy wasn’t sure about the big plastic tarantula sitting next to her.

  • I felt sorry for Big Sister and bought her a grape slush at Sonic after her appointment. We spent $2 in quarters.
  • We all had lunch at home today–saving money and calories!
  • I made Mexican skillet casserole for dinner but only used a 1/2 pound of ground beef since I wasn’t feeding Big Brother or my in-laws.  I’ll use the rest of the ground beef Wednesday in the stuffed bell peppers.
  • I borrowed a shirt from a friend instead of buying one to wear to school this Wednesday for a special dress day.
  • I cleaned out the girls’ stuffed animals and got two bags ready to donate and some other things set aside to sell.

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.  

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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