Thursday, July 29, 2010

It's not MY job!

I have grown tired of hearing it. Chores. Not many people love them, but they are inevitable if you want any sort of order in your life. And I love order! I have had the makings of a chore chart and an allowance system that would actually work for the better part of a year now, and I finally pieced it all together!

I don't know about your kids, but mine thrive in a routine. I think most people do. They want to know the How, What, Why, Where, When as much as I do. So, having a place to see what they need to do to get their day rolling has been so nice for them. They are up, dressed, and engaged in doing a job. Responsibility. We all need some.

I found some sheet metal that was about the right size. A board, some super-duper E-6000 glue, magnets, flat glass marble disks, fun paper, and OOPS paint from the hardware store. It was the minty blue-green that I love...and only $1! And maybe the MOST important component: MOD PODGE. The stuff is awesome.

I printed off chore pictures with some words and mod podged them to the backs of the glass disks...once dry I E-6000'd (super-duper glue) them to the magnets.

This is the EXTRA, EXTRA board (all sheet metal). I put mod podge on the back to position the paper and sealed the entire surface with it too. After I assign the kids their chores for that week and they have completed them, they can chose extras for extra $$$, usually .25-.50 each. One day, Savi earned $1 extra...and they don't have to save any portion of the extra cash they earn....straight to spending! It's super motivational, I tell ya!

The paper bows when it is wet, but once it dries it all lays flat and fabulous. It did freak me out a bit at first, but it was all good.

The allowance system is $1 per year of age. They don't have to do anything to earn it, it is merely their allotment as a member of the family. 10% goes to tithing, 40% savings, 50% spending. If they don't do their chores, they lose privileges. That way we don't have any bickering on payday (1st Sat of the month) about who did or did not deserve their pay. And so far, that method has been effective.

Ta-DA! Here is the finished product.

It is working well so far. It has been very interesting seeing how their purchase decisions change when they want a treat at the checkout stand or a toy from the dollar spot when it is their own money and not a hand out. We've also looked at their interest earned on the bank statements recently and they were pretty stoked to see that their money in the bank is actually earning more money for them. It spurred a trip to the local branch to deposit what they had in their piggy banks. They loved rolling all the coin and talking to the teller. The ladies there were really cute with them.

And we, the parents, are thrilled that the kids are learning a little bit about how to be financially responsible and how they should not spend more than they earn. As easy as it might be to front the kids some money for a desired object, it is a much greater boon to them to make them work, save and anticipate.

Isn't the anticipation always the most enjoyable part anyway? At least, it used to be...

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Mount Mitchell

Day 2 of our Asheville trip, we ventured on to the Blue Ridge Parkway in search of Mt Mitchell. Despite losing satellite to our GPS several times, we finally found it!

Mount Mitchell
is the highest peak of the Appalachian Mountains and the highest peak in the eastern United States. It was the highest point in any state of the United States until Texas joined the union in 1845.

This was at a visitor center on a peak on the way there, as we came out of the restrooms. I loved the grotto feel of it. The road is on the other side of the high wall.
And this is why it is called the BLUE Ridge Parkway. The mountains look so hazy in the distance.
We drove almost to the was only a short, steep hike to the overlook. Highest peak East of the Mississippi River! Elevation 6684 ft. The tomb behind us in the picture is the professor/explorer that originally discovered the peak. The mountain was named after Elisha Mitchell, a professor at the University of North Carolina, who determined its height in 1835 and fell to his death at nearby Mitchell Falls in 1857, having returned to verify his earlier measurements.
Our mountain goats LOVE this kind of hiking!
Overlooking it all...Savi and her Dad.
Sydney actually hiked a pretty good section this day. We ended up on a couple of different trails.
We had lunch in an open air cabin that looks like it was built at least 150 years ago. The wood logs were squared by an can see all the marks along it, incredible! Gorgeous spot, and perfect for picnicking! Lots of big, root-y trees along the way with clover, mushrooms and ferns. Moist cool climate up here. It was pretty nice that on a day it was 100 degrees in Charlotte, we were enjoying temps of 68-70. We loved breathing in all that nice mountain air!
Cool overhangs on the Nature Trail...there were trees up top growing out of this rock.
The top of the world, as we know it!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Sydney is our baby, as in, our last. She is sugar, spice, sassy and sometimes nice.

She and I have also had quite the battle for control going on lately...let's say, the last 6 months.

I knew she was ready to be potty trained. She was waking up dry EVERY morning. She toyed with the idea. First, it was, "When I am 3, I will GET ON THE POTTY TRAIN." That came and went, with nary an hour spent in panties.

I decided I wouldn't change her unless she was stinky, you know, #2. I didn't want her to be comfortable, no sir-ee. Didn't work.

I spoke with her pediatrician about it and she advised I just back off. "Drop it."

I'd been through this before. Twice, actually. When they are ready, it's easy. They basically train themselves. But even with my son, which supposedly take longer than girls, he was trained at this age..

SHE kept bringing it up. I would get really excited, but it would be over by lunchtime. The last couple of times she did it, I barely responded. I was so OVER it....I acted like I didn't really care. But she knew, and told her Daddy on several occasions that when she went on the potty, it makes Mommy happy.

So, what happens the afternoon before a week-long vacation?

You guessed it.

She declares herself "Potty Trained" and puts on the big girl panties. And then proves it. On vacation, staying in a hotel, out and about.

Big sigh of relief over here.

We're so proud of our Big Girl!

And now on to the business of finding where EVERY bathroom in EVERY store we visit is...TWICE.

By the way....we were in the business of changing diapers for nearly a decade!

Road Trippin': Asheville

Last week Chris and I celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary. It's become a tradition the last few years that he takes that week off of work, and we give each other the gift of (family) time together. Usually that week is our annual camping trip to Aspen Campground. However, given our new location, that was not possible this year. Camping in the summer in the Carolinas = heat, humidity, creepy bugs, and lots of them!

Second best? Exploring our NEW mountains! That's right folks, the family headed to Asheville!

Upon our arrival, it was shortly after lunch. We had a few hours, and didn't want to venture too far....or spend a ton on an attraction when we only had a couple hours before it closed. We decided to visit the Western NC Nature Center. Bonus: free admission as part of our Zoo Reciprocal Pass!

The kids were excited about the petting zoo. (which was really very small, but the rest made up for it) The center was located on a hillside, with switch back trails and stairs between 4 levels.

..and this is NEVER a good sign to see at a PETTING ZOO! Seriously?

They were nice little donkeys, and they let us pet them. We made sure to keep our hands above eye donkey bites! We also pet some black (and white) sheep, fed some cute little chickens and tried to stay as far away from the freaky goats as possible. (seriously, is it just me, or are those things evil?)

Poor Sydney was so sad her arms weren't longer!

The kids LOVED the Butterfly Garden! It was one of the largest and most beautiful I've seen since Costa Rica! The attendant even sprayed their hands with sugar water so the butterflies would land on them.
These huge moths were so cool, and really liked Gunnar!


This Black Bear kept hiding from us, we were above him on a wood walkway. SO COOL to see them in a more natural habitat than a traditional zoo.

I love turtles! I didn't get any pictures, but they had the coolest River Otters that were playing like the most energetic 3 year olds you've ever seen!

They also had gray and red wolves in a large natural habitat that we could walk around. It was hard to get good pictures through the glass and fence though.

And, of course, we had to take a group pic on the tractor! ;)

I was really surprised at how well put together this out of the way place was. Seriously! It's a gem! We'll be back next time we're in the area.

Stay tuned for Day 2, Mt. Mitchell!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Fireworks are Legal Here :)

Who doesn't love it when the fireworks light up the sky? It's something we look forward to every year!
All dressed up in our Red, White and Blue!

Friends, Fun, Fireworks. The best ways to celebrate our hard-won freedom!

The best aspect of living in a new place is building new traditions. With each FIRST holiday celebrated here, we are building more of them.

Our Stake puts on a fireworks show in Catawba, SC each year. It starts at 4pm with food, games, a bake-off, etc.

It reminded me of the block parties our neighborhood had when I was growing up. We would play all day. Tug-o-war, water balloons, have a pot-luck picnic, run in the sprinklers...and at the end of the night, the moms would pass out sparklers to the kids and the dads would light off some big fireworks.

We didn't make it there until right before the fireworks started this year, but it was still a blast. Literally! As in, fireworks blasting into the crowd on 2 different occasions. Nobody was hurt, but those brave families that had situated themselves the closest moved back in a hurry! It was kind of crazy, no firetrucks, no men with hoses....just a bunch of guys with lighters and professional grade pyrotechnics. That's South Carolina for you! (to be fair, we don't have the dry conditions here that we Westerners are used to...)

We almost made it away unscathed..Savannah had a hot piece of ash land on her chair. She jumped up fast enough to avoid burning her skin, but not fast enough to avoid singing the back of her shorts...and putting a hole in her camp chair. (I told her I'd put a cute patch on them and she was all smiles again).

She and her friend moved behind me after that little incident. Poor things. They were a bit spooked.
Sydney loved the whole thing though! There's something about fireworks with Dolly Parton belting it out in the background! She was hyped on candy and cuddles from her Dad and Mom!

And for our own private show on the actual holiday, behold the lot we scored on our way back from the beach last week.... We haven't played with the likes of these in more than a decade!

Happy Independence Day! Happy 234th Birthday, America!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Road Trippin' : Myrtle Beach

It was officially the first week of summer, and we decided that it was high time we take a trip to the beach, especially because it's only a 3 hour drive. Myrtle Beach is well known around here for being very touristy, but we thought, "we have to start somewhere".

Thanks to our frequently traveling Daddy of yesteryear, we have all kinds of Hilton Points accumulated and those perks are paying off big time. Especially for our first year in new territory. We were able to book a room at a really nice resort in North Myrtle, so the kids had their pick of several pools and a hop, skip and jump to the beach, literally.

WHY in the world do resorts put pools right next to the beach, you ask? I used to wonder the same thing. And now I KNOW why. Salt, sand and wind can cause an itchy situation, and sometimes, you just don't want to deal with it. You know?

BUT. It was a wondrous thing to see my babies being tossed to and fro in the waves, and squealing with delight every second.

We ended up going to one of the el cheapo bargain beach stores to get some more boogie boards the next day so the kids didn't have to wait their turn for our one and only (originally purchased to use on the snow hill). We also got shark tooth necklaces for all the critters for the amazing price of .69 each. Made in the Philippines! ;)

Digging for sand crabs. Sadly, we never did find any. Maybe next time!

This one. Ah! I can't believe it took us 3.5 years to get her to a beach. She was so sad when we were checking out of the hotel. She said she wants to live there forever. I asked her "Is it because you like that we're all together?" She says, "No, because it has a beach!"

We spent most of our last full day not at the beach, but at one of the pool areas....this fun water-park was included with our hotel stay. It had a fun lazy river, 2 slides and tons of water contraptions the kids could control. It was so perfect with the breeze coming off of the ocean, if you were wet, you stayed cool.