Moneypants Miracle?

I've had a really amazing week in a lot of ways. Woo found this Moneypants Solution that we've been doing for two weeks now and our house is a different place. The kids leave for school and... the dishes are done, counters and tables all wiped and sanitized, bathrooms cleaned, floors all swept, laundry done and put away, bedrooms cleaned, beds made, bedrooms vacuumed, dining room tables wiped off, garbages emptied... in short, they leave a completely clean house. Also, except for Sunday (which is chore free for us), they go to bed leaving a completely clean house.

And the kids are happy to do the work because we're paying them (so they can buy everything we'd already been buying for them before).

I've not lived in this clean of a house since we moved here. It's pretty amazing and really nice. My entire morning has opened up. Penelope and Archie play and I've dejunked, washed walls and now I'm up for painting the back bathroom.

Things are not perfect. We have a few kinks to iron out still, but the whole thing is really encouraging.

After Penelope goes to school, Archie and I go for a run. We still have the single stroller I haven't used since Herbie was a newborn and it still works great (after Woo put a hot wheels dirt bike tire on the front). Archie really liked our runs until he started to fall asleep during every single one. Now he associates them with napping, but I still take him because he needs a nap and this is an easy way to get him to sleep.

Archie whispering to himself while paging through a Book of Mormon in the morning:
The lamanites don't want us to go to church. Jesus wants us to go to the football game. Jesus wants us to go to church. 

Penelope loves school. She has lots of friends (she says everyone in the class is her friend), and is learning.
Penelope: Mom, do you know what I learned? 
Me: What? 
Penelope: I learned that years are longer than months. Because before I always thought months were longer.
(And it's true. She used to get in arguments with her brothers about which was longer. Sometimes it doesn't matter what your parents or siblings tell you; you'll only believe your teacher. Grrr... )

Penelope bought her own journal and colored pencil with some of her earnings, and it's her favorite at home activity (besides riding her bike). She likes to sing while "writing" in her journal.
Songs like:
Whenever I hear the song of a bird (from "I know Heavenly Father Loves Me"),
I run outside and catch the bird! (NOT from "I know Heavenly Father Loves Me.")
Linus is a natural at this Moneypants thing. He seems to already know everything we're trying to teach the other kids. He always does his best job on his chore. He always finishes before the timer goes off, in fact he loves doing it and sometimes starts early. He doesn't want to spend his free money on anything; he wants to save it to buy something bigger. He knows how to keep things (like his bed and room) clean so he has less work later. And he's the only kid who's never had anything collected by me for being left around the house that he has to buy back later.

Moses is doing all of our laundry. The entire family's laundry, and he's going to do it for a year. He's really gotten the hang of folding blankets. They look fantastic up there in their shelves. Socks though, he doesn't seem to see socks. This is something we need to improve. He's been spending his free money on Pokemon cards. He carries his money and cards around with him constantly and he's very attached to both of them.

Herbie has always loved work, but he feels more responsible being in charge of everything to do with the dishes, and the counters, stoves and small appliances. The home teachers brought over a microwave today as part of an object lesson and Herbie immediately jumped up to clean it because "cleaning the microwave is my job!" He wiped the whole outside and got something unstuck from off the top, but we stopped him before he went to work on the inside. The home teachers will have to do that themselves.

Ruby came home very excited one day because she'd been chosen to be on the school's Leadership Council. This is something she had carefully filled out an application for, submitted with her transcript and prayed that she'd be able to do. I said a few prayers for her as well, since it seemed like a great opportunity for her to build on her talents.  They had me at the duty--welcoming new kids to school and helping them feel comfortable at lunch and recess.

Also Ruby sure loved President Uchtdorf's talk last night. First off, it was President Uchtdorf, secondly, he talked about meeting Harriet, thirdly, missionaries were involved.

Woo got us all out for a fall hike to look at the leaves. The kids HATED it... they were so cranky, until we stopped by a wash full of rocks. Suddenly, everyone had their favorites, that they never wanted to leave, or must take home, or must visit again soon. Woo took a few pictures for memories, but the rocks had to stay.

Also, Woo was thrilled to have our first bumper apple crop--a whole box!

That is all!


Saturday is a Special Day

It's the day the marathon comes to town. The marathon is not actually the big draw (Yesterday Linus confessed he never wanted to run a marathon. I told him it was okay. I never wanted to either.); it's the fun run.

The kids really have it made--it's sponsored by Pepsi and they all get a free t-shirt, number and a drink, creamy and cookie at the end. What is there not to love?

Ruby has won it every year they've had it. We keep trying to discourage her, let some other kid have a chance, (she's already run the 5k) but then... we don't really care too much.

Herbie was the big surprise, coming in second, right behind Ruby. The most surprising thing is that he beat Ruby's rival. A kid in her grade who is always trying to beat her. Maybe he tripped or something. Or maybe Herbie really turned on the gas. I didn't see it; I was jogging with Archie, who ran the whole time, but rarely straight ahead.

Ruby got third overall in the 5k, but the competition was very sparse. Turns out when there's also a marathon, a half marathon and a 10k, the real runners go elsewhere. I got 6th.

Moses ran the 5k for the first time. He did it in about 31 minutes. I don't know exactly because he stopped at the corner and refused to run to the finish line. Apparently the very worst thing about the race for him was running in front of all those people waiting at the end. We eventually discovered we could get him to do it if I walked in with him while he hugged me and hid his head.

The worst part for me was all the professional photographers jumping in front of us to capture the touching scene. "Get up and win that race" was probably running through everyone's head.

Penelope rode her bike every spare second she had (frustratingly slow with lots of stops and starts to the 5k start), and by the end of the day... she had it! She's entirely self-sufficient, can handle turns, bumps, and other kids in the road. Up next on her agenda: one handed riding.

And then we finished off the day with the free tickets we got to the football game. Everyone watched football except Archie who watched the mascot and me who watched people.

Whenever Archie hears the name Henry he says very gravely: Do you remember Elijah's Henry?
Anyone: Yeah. 
Archie: I don't like him. He always kicks me.
I couldn't remember Archie and Elijah's Henry spending a lot of time together so finally yesterday I asked him: How many times has Elijah's Henry kicked you?
Archie: Ah. Once.
But it made quite the impression.

Mispronunciations of the week:
Herbie: Yeah! We should hire a limousine chaw-fer.

Ruby reading her new library book--The Book of Mormon Sleuth.
Woo: Ruby, what you reading?
Ruby: Book of Mormon Sluth.

Woo's been sifting through thousands and thousands of photos, identifying all the faces. It's fun and kind of addicting to look at all the old photos. Anyways, here's an old one of newborn Linus, just days old, before he could smile. I sometimes think if Linus had been in a different family or a smaller one, he would've been spoiled rotten. Instead he gets to endure us.

Oh and Woo and the kids spent a significant amount of time trying to set up the tent Woo picked up last week on his free binge. Ruby and Herbie actually held out to the end. I was surprised they had it in them. I certainly didn't.

Hope your week was great!


Kindergarten Days

Last night I was thinking... I'm always so beat on Sunday night. I should write my emails on Monday afternoons. But now that I'm here... I think Sunday nights are probably the best option.

I remember one thing from my first day of kindergarten and it's a song my teacher, Mrs. Hardy, taught us:
Today is a wonderful day 
For I am going away. 
Not to the circus. 
Not to the pool. 
Can't you guess? 
I'm going to school!
I've taught it to all my kids and they love it so much, we sing it every morning before they run out the door to the bus stop (until we ban it and tell them to pick something new).

But Penelope got a special chance to pick it even though we'd already outlawed it for the year, because it really was her first day of school. As soon as we started, she jumped out in the middle of the floor and did a crazy dance, laughing the entire time.

She comes home and teaches Archie all sorts of kindergarten sayings and rhymes, which he also sings frequently:
1,2,3 eyes on me! 
Crisscross, applesauce. 
Don't leave the line!  
(Best chanted while outside walking around the yard in a line.)
And... Write your name, write your name, or they all look the same!
Archie: Mom! I found this ball! 
(turning it around so I can see the label)
And it has my name!

Ruby also had the 6th grade Vegetable Zoo. Luckily, Grandma had a small watermelon for her to carve out a "melon shark." It's exactly the sort of project Ruby loves, and I was happy she'd spent so much time thinking about it, she knew exactly what to do, and had the whole thing done in 20 minutes.

For Labor Day we played croquet in the park. We've never seen anyone play croquet there before, but on the day we pulled our set out, someone else did too. The four oldest kids enjoyed it and improved significantly over the course of four games.

Herbie takes his games a little too seriously. He loses his temper and yells super loud if he's told he didn't go through the hoop or didn't get as many hits as he thought he did. He has probably the best skills of any of the kids, even got poison a couple of times, but he also got sent home before it was all over.

Linus plays croquet just as carefully as he does everything. I've started having him sweep the floors in the morning, because I knew he would do a careful, meticulous job. And he does. It looks like I've swept the floors, but he's still pretty slow. Hopefully, he'll pick it up here in a day or two.

Moses and Linus have overlapping recesses on the same playground this year. They play on the same basketball team when they're together. Moses is really enjoying being one of the oldest kids on his end of the playground. He tells me almost everyday how funny the 1st graders are when they play basketball and how easy it is to toss them out of the way when they're piled on the ball and hit the ball out of the hands of the one kid on the bottom. Then he shoots it.

Steven was driving home from a Saturday session of Stake Conference, when he was lured to the side of the road by free stuff. He loaded up a trunkful and then he regretted it. He snuck them out of van into the garage while I was telling kids goodnight, and into the basement while I was at the adult session. But from what I've seen so far, it doesn't seem to be too bad. He got two vacuums (which we needed) and a kind of fun chalkboard.

Well, that's it. Hope you had a great week!


50 Years is a Long Time

This was a big week for us: Penelope's first day of kindergarten, first full week for Ruby, Herbie, Moses and Linus and a couple days at Aspen Grove for Woo's parents' 50th wedding anniversary.

Here's some pictures...

That's all!

Testimony Below:

I used to hate school. I hated it because our usually calm and peaceful home was turned into a madhouse overnight. Mornings were the worst. There was yelling and screaming and sometimes even crying. I tried a lot of things: lists, consequences and more yelling.

Finally, one day I woke up a few minutes early, and even though I already knew I was going to read later in the day like usual, I decided to read the Book of Mormon. And that morning was great! I was patient and calm and everything went much smoother. So I set my alarm for a few minutes earlier so I could read the Book of Mormon in the morning and later.

But after a few days I realized that I was better, but the kids were not. And I knew if the Book of Mormon could help me, it would also help the kids. So I got all the school kids up early to read the Book of Mormon, by themselves, in the same room, even though we already had family scripture study in the evenings. And that first morning was the best school morning we had ever had. And I now know that it has turned our entire school year around.

The Book of Mormon does many things. It testifies of Jesus Christ and teaches of Him, but I also know that by just reading the Book of Mormon, even if you are too young to understand it, gives us power and strength to be more like Jesus Christ. This power comes from His atoning sacrifice.

I also know that when the things that have been promised to give us peace--things like prayer and scripture study and temple attendance and so on... I know that when these things don't seem to be working, it doesn't mean that we should toss them aside, but it means we need to dig deep and rely wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save. Even from school day mornings.

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.