Contention. Again.

Thursday and Friday last week were great! The kids were so good at being less contentious, a couple of times I was like, "This really is heaven on earth!"

But on Saturday and Sunday everything broke down. In pondering the problem I realized three things: It was time to reorganize chores; I need to compliment and praise more than criticize (a reminder I get every January... thankfully, I am a little better from January to January); and I had been reminding the kids every night to seek to know what to do better the next day to overcome contention, but neglecting to do it every night myself.

Monday was a new day, and Tuesday was also pretty good. Uping the thanks and praise was huge, but luckily, I also had bought a small bag of jelly beans and medium bag of pretzels (which the kids were surprisingly really excited about) that I handed out in tiny amounts for successes--almost as if I was potty training. I could not have predicted how motivational this would be even for the older kids.

Another was that I needed to teach the kids that you can't just get rid of a bad habit without replacing it with a good one. If you try to leave a bad habit, but put nothing in its place, that space is empty and you'll go right back to the bad habit.

For example, numerous people have overcome pornography by taking up family history, or stop drinking alcohol or smoking by reading the Book of Mormon every time they have a craving. However, those are not our problems. Our problems are contention and rudeness and I gave the kids the assignment to seek revelation on the good habit they should take up.

Linus's was that he needed to prepare better. Specifically, to read a chapter of the Bible and his father's blessings that I'd printed out for him every morning as soon as he got up. He has been doing this (with one forgotten morning) and it has helped him.

Herbie's was to compliment. He added a compliment row to his chart. His first round of compliments that first morning went extremely well with Moses.
Herbie (passing the kitchen): You're doing a great job with the dishes, Moses! 
Moses: Thank you, Herbie!
A few seconds later.
Moses: Herbie! You can wear my shoes whenever you want!

Unfortunately, Herbie has not been good at sticking to his new task, and Wednesday was back to square one for the whole household. From there we were better, but not amazing. This is definitely something we're going to need help with after all we can do, and is almost certainly going to take time.

We'd been working on contention and rudeness before, but in my head we were more on the 5-10 year plan. Woo's revelation made me think we were now suddenly on the 2-4 week plan. Anyway, we're not giving up however long it takes. We're fasting to overcome contention and rudeness today, and honestly a lot of help is what we need.

It didn't help that this week was dull and drizzly. We were literally living in a cloud. Everything in our house is damp (although the sun came out today). Often I could see a film of moisture on every single surface.  The ceilings and walls and closets all have mold again. Our laundry never dried (we line dry like everyone else here), and wearing damp church clothes to the temple was the cause of a lot of grief to Herbie. Moses bore it okay.

The weather seemed to somewhat irritate everyone except Woo, who continued to be chipper. I guess he's already wet a lot of the day anyway.

A notable fiasco was when Linus carefully painted all his styrofoam spheres for his solar system model. He left them in the middle of the dining room to dry (which they never did), and while Linus was in the shower, Archie walked in and kicked them all around the room. Understandably, Linus was very upset.

Archie was sick several days this week, but the lethargic, lay-around kind of sick, so he rarely was up for any contention at other times. I guess he had to make up for it on Saturday.

Usually, Ruby was fantastic at not only curbing herself, but also taking Archie or Linus under her wing to help them also. She helped Archie be more obedient on Friday night, invited Linus and Archie to paint with her on Saturday when the stuck-in-the-damp house got to be too much, and argued with Woo or I hardly at all. (never?! No, once this morning.) Now that I'm writing this, I'm realizing that's pretty significant.

However, she also got tired towards the end of the week. But this has been something Ruby has been working on personally for several months. Her relationship with Moses and Herbie has already vastly improved this year over last.

Moses also seemed to have gained power this past year to change a lot of his weaknesses as soon as they've come to his attention. He instantly changed for the better in a lot of ways the day Woo told us we needed to overcome contention and rudeness.

Except the evening Moses had been disappointed that the younger kids had forgotten to set the table when we got home from the temple. He later told me that instead of repenting of that right away, he had let it ruin his entire evening, and he shouldn't do that again.

Penelope stood up and said a great testimony today about how she is fasting to overcome contention and while reading her Book of Mormon she told us she'd gotten revelation about it and then read the verse again, but substituting our names into it. The gist of which was that we'd brought our contention upon ourselves--no one was to blame for the contention, but ourselves.

Last night during scriptures the idea again came up how people with the love of God in their hearts live peaceably with others and without contention. Penelope immediately said, "Oh! I'm going to pray for that right now!" And she bowed her head and said a little prayer.

Anyway, that's more than you ever wanted to know about our battle against contention. I hope you had a great week!