November 18, 2008

Welcome Winter

I woke up today to find that winter has arrived. The grass is covered, the car is covered, the trees are covered. It has been snowing most of the day today. It's amazing to me how you can go to bed in fall and wake up in winter. Now where did I put that snow brush?

Training Them to Work

I decided recently that it was time to assign jobs to the kids. Up to this point Katrina has been a half trained jack of all chores - with minimal proficiency she can do basic jobs such as folding laundry, putting clothes away, picking up toys, etc. She has been more an overall helper but with no real purpose. Alex has been coasting comfortably through life, being asked to help with toy clean up at most.
Many people I have talked to say that silverware is the first job they give their kids. As they are unloading the dishwasher, the child is set up with the silverware rack and the drawer and it is their job to put it away. I tried this - Katrina wasn't bad at it but it didn't seem in any way a help to me. If she was to do the entire dishwasher, that would be a different story. But to give her one section of a job didn't seem to make sense to me. If I am going to take the time to train the kids on a job, I want it to be a job that benefits me not just a job to have a job.
Alex seems to be last at breakfast so it seemed natural to have him in charge of putting the cereal boxes away. In most houses this probably wouldn't be a large task but for some reason Justin and the kids need to make cereal mixtures in the bowl so there are 2-5 boxes out every morning. Alex has been in charge of cereal for two weeks now. At first liked this job. I think then he realized that it is his job not an option and suddenly it wasn't as fun but today he turned around and did it quickly with enjoyment (and a little help from Katrina).
The question of what job to give Katrina was still stumping me until yesterday. Then I figured out something that would be both do-able for a three year old and helpful for me! I decided that she was going to be the dirty laundry collector. It is actually a two step job. The first part is to go room to room, collect up any dirty clothing or bedding (if it is a change the sheets day) and throw them down the stairs. This is the fun part. Then once the clothes are downstairs, the second part is to drag them to the washer. This is the not so fun part.
Yesterday was day 1 and part 1 was was accomplished with little resistance. Once the clothes were downstairs in a heaping pile, moving it to the washer was a struggle. At one point Katrina was lying in the pile content to stay there for ever if it meant not having to carry anything else the 10 feet to the washer. The entire process to about two hours. Yes I could have done it all in about 15 minutes but I reminded myself this is the training processes.
So today after breakfast I announced it was job time and off we went. Katrina went upstairs to begin. I fed Max while she got started. I went up stairs and checked her progress. She had gotten the clothes out of three of the five rooms before getting sidetracked - not bad for day 2 I thought. She got back on task and the rest of the laundry came tumbling down the stairs. Now came the dreaded part two. To my surprise this only took a few minutes. Yes, there was not nearly as much to move as the day before but she seemed to get the concept of finishing the job so she could go on to other things.
We'll see how the rest of the week goes!

November 12, 2008

Working with Daddy

Justin was home today working on our yard project. In early spring we began accepting dump truck loads of dirt (around 400 loads) to make drastic changes in our yard. We buried two foundations and increased the amount of flat usable yard on the both the creek and driveway sides. Here are pictures from the beginning stages:

Today, Bill Thomas was on the bulldozer spreading top soil over an acre of our land, Adam was hauling boulders, and Justin was hauling and directing traffic. Alex and Katrina, outfitted in coats and hats (to combat the cold) and boots and mittens (to combat the dirt), alternated between digging in the dirt with shovels and rakes and hauling rocks alongside Adam and Justin. They are at the age where working with Daddy is a privilege, not an obligation. At one point Katrina had filled a stroller with rocks and was using it like the guys were using the wheelbarrow. When Alex was brought inside he was exclaiming, " daddy...outside!" I hope their enthusiasm continues for years to come!

I feel so many good things happened today. To name a few:
1. The kids spent time with Justin.
2. They worked hard and contributed to family life.
3. They got fresh air.
4. They had fun.
5. Our yard is one step closer to being finished.