Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Allowance -- oh, what to do, what to do...

I've wondered about allowance for awhile.  Brewer is 6-years-old.  (Well, he'd correct you to say his is 6-1/2!!)  He wants everything he sees.  I want to instill the value of saving to him.   I believe saving for kids has two meanings:
1. Saving where you SAVE UP for something.  For example, you want a $50 Imaginext toy.  You have $20 from your grandma.  This means you need 30 MORE dollars before you can buy it.  So you'll need to save your $20 plus start to save other money you receive until you reach the $50.
2. Saving where you are actually putting money into a bank account, and saving it there.  This is not the type of situation where the boys would be allowed to go to the bank to withdrawal money.  This would be a true savings.  (No withdrawal system.)

So I started to research allowances about a year ago.  I still haven't found the "perfect" system.  Growing up, I didn't have an allowance.  The jobs we did around the house were expected, because we were a member of the family.  We were not compensated for these jobs.  I understand this school of thought.  And I've read plenty in my research of situations where others believe this as well.  However, where does the money come from when teaching a child to save?  In my research, I've seen all kinds of systems for allowance, dollar amounts, etc.  While searching and searching, nothing was perfect to me.  In the meantime, Brewer started asking for an allowance.  The timing of allowance was beginning to align.  I was researching; he was asking.

As we close this year and start 2012, it seems like a good time to start a new system in the house.  I modified a couple of different allowance systems I liked and came up with our own.  The majority of what we are doing is based on Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace Junior.  You can find out more about it by clicking {here}.  We have the full set from Dave Ramsey include the chore chart, the children's books, the three banks (giving, saving, spending), etc.  We aren't using all the pieces, as we are using what works for us.

I ordered chore cards from an etsy seller.  You can click {here} to see her listings.  Of course, I had to make changes to this as well so that I could really make it work for our family.  I requested she put magnets on both sides of the cards.  I hung the chore cards on a magnetic board in our kitchen.  When the chore is showing, this means the chore is available for Brewer to do.  When he finishes the chore, he can ask me for "approval".  Once I approve his work, he can flip the card to the star side to show he has earned the money.  Each chore card has a money amount on it.  He can decide how much money he wants to make in a day.  

There are three cards at the top of the magnetic board that do not have a money value associated with them.  These are jobs that Brewer is asked to do, because he is a part of our family.  We all have to do our part to help our family.  If he does not do these three each day, then at the end of the day he cannot get paid for the other jobs completed.

With the system set up right now, we'll have to pay Brewer at the end of every day.  I don't think I want to do this.  So I'm going to have to come up with some type of tally chart for us to tally his daily earnings; we can pay him on PAYDAY.

When Brewer does get paid, he'll have to take 10% of his total and put into the GIVE bank.  Then he'll take the remaining money and divide it in half.  Half will go into the SAVE bank and the other half will go into the SPEND bank.  I don't like that it is called a SPEND bank...as I want Brewer to realize he is saving this money too but that he can eventually spend this money.  Another part I still need to tweak to make work for us.  There is a workbook that comes with Financial Peace Junior.  So we worked on numbers today with it.  (Brewer loves math so this helped make it fun.)  In the workbook example, Dollar Bill (one of the characters in the book) earned $8.  We figured out that 10% of $8 is $0.80 and that money went to the GIVE bank.  This left Dollar Bill with $7.20.  We figured out that half of $7.20 is $3.60.  Therefore, $3.60 will go into the SAVE bank and the other $3.60 will go into the SPEND bank.  When the GIVE bank is full, we'll let Brewer choose a charity or our church to give the money.  When the SAVE bank is full, we'll take it to his savings account at Wells Fargo.  He will be allowed to use the money in the SPEND bank, when Lou, Brewer, and I agree on something that he wants to buy.

This is newly implemented in our home.  We'll see how it goes and make tweaks to it along the way.  I'm also willing to match Brewer dollar for dollar in his SPEND bank if he is working hard for a big dollar item.

What do you do for an allowance?  Any ideas to can pass along to help us in the process??

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Happy birthday to Jesus and merry Christmas from our family!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Advent - Day 28

Today advent comes to a close...tomorrow is CHRISTMAS!!  The boys are so exciting.  Our home is buzzing.  And I'm feeling a slight bit sad that it's coming to an end.  I just love the entire Christmas season. I love, love, love it!!

Our advent activity today is as old as I am.  I can't remember not doing this growing up, as a single adult, as a married adult and now as a mom.  We will go to church, out to dinner, and then off to look at Christmas lights.  As the evening ends, we will come home to prepare for Santa's arrival -- leaving out cookies for Santa and carrots for the reindeer.  We will leave notes for Santa and go to bed with much anticipation.  A great anticipation...similar to what I felt the night of June 22, 2005, and February 24, 2008, which were the nights I went to sleep knowing I would have a baby the next day.  I think of the anticipation Mary felt on that night when she was about to deliver the Saviour.  Oh, just to pause on this busy and exciting day and think about the whole picture of what Christmas did for me.  What Christmas did for you.  What Christmas has done for the world.  Because of His coming, we are free.

May you and your family have a wonderful, wonderful Christmas!  Blessings to you!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Advent - Day 27

Today for our advent activity we talked about traveling by car v. traveling by donkey.  What was it like?  How would you like to go to school on a donkey?  How did Mary feel pregnant on a donkey?

We are getting very excited about Christmas around here!  Our elf had a snowball fight with Buzz Lightyear last night.  What a fun thing to wake up to this morning!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Advent - Day 26

Tonight our church did a Christmas Eve (eve, eve) service.  This was our advent activity.  The service was followed with a birthday cake for Jesus, bouncey houses, and a hayride.  It was a lot of fun!  I don't have any photos since I'm not an advocate of taking pictures in church (LOL!).  It never occurred to me to pack my camera!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Advent - Day 25

Today we did a tradition that my brother, David, & I did as kids -- decorated Christmas cookies.  My mom likes to host this "event".  So we all went over and decorated cookies at my parents' house.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Advent - Day 24

Psalm 139:13-14 - For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.  I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  

We are special for lots of reasons, but the main reason is because God made us.  Our handprint is one of the special things about us.  Today we made our handprint out of a handprint kit.  This way we can remember the size of Brewer's hand at age 6 and Maddox's hand at age 3.

Now they have to dry overnight and then I can add the boys' names and make them into ornaments.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Advent - Day 23

As Brewer says to me sometimes, "They can't all be gems."  Well, this advent activity certainly didn't turn out to be a gem.  Our activity today was to make baby Jesus out of Wikki Sticks.  The idea came from an article in Family Fun.  They made baby Jesus out of yarn.  I thought we could modify it and make him out of Wikkis.  Um...not so much.

Thanks for sharing in our laugh tonight!
The middle photo is the yarn idea from Family Fun.
The left photo is Maddox's baby Jesus.  Yes, he decided Jesus should be wrapped in a hot pink blanket,
The right photo is Brewer's alien, oops, baby Jesus.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Advent - Day 22

Anticipation for the 25th is building in our home.  Is it in yours?  Sometimes waiting for something can make you feel like you are going to explode.  Today's advent activity helps to represent this explosion.  We want our boys to know that it is good to share the joy of excitement of the coming of Christ to overflow in every part of their life.  This was fun for the boys.  Of course, they thought it was "AWESOME"!!

Take a 2-liter of soda, add 4 Mentos, and move away.  You will see the drink explode and overflow.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Advent - Day 21

Bethlehem is where Jesus was born.  It was a small town and its name means "City of Bread."  No one really knows why it is named that, but maybe at one time the town was famous for its bread.  Over the years, people laughed a lot and did many fun things in Bethlehem.  Think about David and his seven brothers, or Jesus and his siblings.  I'm sure they laughed and had lots of fun in Bethlehem.  Today our advent activity was something fun for our whole family -- making gingerbread houses!  John 6:35 says, "I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thrist."  Bread of Life is another name of God.  The base of the house was made out of gingerbread to remind us of the City of Bread and the Bread of Life.  The houses are soooo cute!  This is one of my favorite things in advent to do with the boys.  
The candies and goodies were ready to be added to the houses.

What a fun morning it has been!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Advent - Day 20

A few posts ago, I told you how much I love children's Christmas books.  Today in the boys advent bag, they had an ornament of Santa kneeling by the manger.  They added this ornament to our tree.  Along with the ornament was a note saying we were reading the book, Santa's Christmas Prayer.  This story is about an unplanned Christmas Eve stop where Santa visits a country church, and he prays for the greatest gift of all.  I love the illustrations in this book as well.  They are bright and vivid.  If you are looking to add to your children's Christmas book collection, this is one that I would recommend adding.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Advent - Day 19

How can it be day NINETEEN in advent? This season is just flying, flying, flying by!!  Tomorrow is the boys' last day of school until 2012.  Unbelievable really!

Today for advent, we watched the movie, Why Do We Call It Christmas.  It is made by the same guy who did Veggie Tales.  It's an hour long, which I was concerned about for the boys.  But it's cute and it held their attention (for the most part).  It has lessons on the word Christmas, Jesus celebrating Hanukkah, the Christmas tree, Santa Claus, why do we celebrate on Dec. 25th, what's the deal with the stockings, and more.  Click {here} to find out how to order the video for yourself.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Advent - Day 18

Today was a Christmas book day.  I love Christmas books for kids!  We read Christmas In the Manger.  It is a board book that rhymes and is illustrated to share the Christmas story through the characters in the nativity -- animals, shepherds, wise men, Mary, and baby Jesus.  Brewer liked reading the book to us.  After we read the book, the kids made a nativity scene of their own with a felt set I purchased from Hobby Lobby.  (Have I told you how much I love that store???)  Here is a photo of the boys' art:

Brewer's is on the left; Maddox's art is on the right.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Advent - Day 17

Brothers are a gift from God.  They are very special and on Christmas our boys will give a gift to our brother. Tonight we went shopping so Maddox could pick out a Christmas gift for Brewer and Brewer could pick out a Christmas gift for Maddox.  (Each child went shopping with an individual parent.  Remember when we did this last year, and I lost Maddox.  Kohl's had a complete lockdown for me.  Yikes!  You can read about the leash I acquired due to that lockdown {here}. I'm happy to report that I didn't lose Maddox this year.  In fact, I decided we would shop together in the same store.)  The boys had a good time looking at things their brother might like -- or things they would like to see be a part of their playroom...LOL!

Brewer is checking out this Batman/Penguin/Imaginext piece for his brother while Maddox is checking out this pink car for his brother.  LOL!!!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Advent - Day 16 and Giveaway WINNER announced!

Matthew 2:11  On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him.  Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 

The wise men brought Jesus three gifts (gold, frankincense, and myrrh).  Santa brings our boys three gifts just like Jesus got three gifts.  Today in the advent, the boys found three pieces of candy for each of them to remind them of the three gifts Jesus received.

Thanks to all of you who entered my first GIVEAWAY.  The winner is:  
 Steph's comment #9. Here is her comment:

 Way To Go!  I have sent you an email so you can contact me about the $25 gift card to Amazon!!  YEAH!!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Advent - Day 15

God wants us to spend time together as a family. I'm under the belief that even if we're on electronics, as long as we are together & laughing together & encouraging one another, then we're good. Our advent activity today was playing games as a family. It's difficult to take photos when you're in the middle of playing. And in fact, I forgot to take any photos. But it was a fun day of board games, puzzles, & video games.  So I put a few of our favorite games together for a photo here.

Today is the LAST DAY to be entered for the $25 Amazon gift card. Check out the details by clicking {here}. Share it on your FB page so others have the opportunity to win as well. The winner will be announced in tomorrow's post.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Homemade Oreo Recipe

Here is the Homemade Oreo Recipe.   This recipe came from Janet's blog at Simply So Good.  You can link to her blog {here}.

Homemade Oreos
2 packages Devils Food Cake Mix
4 eggs
2/3 cup oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix until well blended. Roll cookie dough into 1 1/2 inch balls. (I use the large scoop from Pampered Chef.)  Place on ungreased cookie sheet.  Bake 8-10 minutes.  Let cookies cool 5 minutes on pan, then remove to cooling rack.  

I store in an air-tight container and wait a day before adding the filling.

1/2 cup butter, softened
1- 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
3-4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

In medium mixing bowl blend cream cheese and butter.  Mix in powdered sugar and vanilla.  Spread filling over the bottom side of a cooled cookies (I used a piping bag), then place another cookie over the filling, sandwiching the filling between the 
the filling between the cookies.  

I keep refrigerated since there is cream cheese and butter in the filling.

Advent - Day 14 - Kids' Christmas Party

It's one of our favorite events of the holiday season.  We invite our friends (8 years of age and under) and their parents to come celebrate Christmas with us!  This year it was an art themed party.
We had three art projects for the kids to do with their parents.  There was a wood ornament, a handprint potholder, and an accordion Santa.
Santa and Mrs. Claus came to have pictures with the kids and families.  They also shared the book, God's Christmas Gift, with us.  It reminded us of the real reason for Christmas, the birth of Jesus.

We also had cookies & milk with Santa.  Yes, I baked all of those cookies except the set of sugar cookies.  I had lots of friends share great cookie recipes...and my Kitchenaide was put to the test over the past few weeks.  I think it ended up being 400+ cookies.  The cookie table doesn't make it look like it was this many...but it was a lot of cookies!  I don't know if all the parents knew this, but on the party favor table I had recipe cards for all the cookies.  They were there for anyone to take if they had a favorite or many favorite cookies.  

At the milk bar, there were three type of milk and paper straws.  Paper straws make everything a little more fun!
Cookies & Milk with Santa

Remember the art palette invitation?  These cookies by Mary-Beth Smith are a replica of the invitation.  So CUTE!

A lot of my ideas came from the Simply So Good blog.  Her son had a milk and cookies wedding reception.  How fun is that?  Janet was so kind to give me pointers for this party.  The Homemade Oreo recipe came from her.  You can find the recipe on my blog {here}.  They were the first cookie to go.  People loved them!

I didn't realize the straws were covering the milks...but you can see the strawberry here.  There was also plain and chocolate.  They are in the containers behind the straws.

The party was a lot of fun.  I changed the party from a set two hours to a drop-in style this year.  It helped reduce the masses of people being there at the same time.  (We usually have 80 to 100 people attend.)

Don't forget today and tomorrow are the last days you have to enter in the giveaway for $25 Amazon Card.  What a great treat that will be for someone to win this holiday season!  You can find all the details {here}.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Advent - Day 13

My kids made Christmas cards for soldiers today.  I don't know if the boys get it.  I know that our freedom really isn't free...and I'm so appreciative for the sacrifices made.  Maybe these cards will be a small bright spot for a soldier this holiday season.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Advent - Day 12

Today we went to a local Publix with some of our friends and rang the bell for the Salvation Army.  It was a great way to have fun, help others, and serve.  This advent season has already blessed me tremendously.

GIVEAWAYS: There are couple giveaways that I don't want you to miss out on.
1. I'm doing at this blog for a $25 gift card to Amazon.  Click {here} for all the details.
2. On December 1st, I posted about Stick Figuring Through the Bible.  You can see the post by clicking {here}.  Two blogs are offering a give away for a free Birth of Jesus study.  Check them both out and enter.  The details for 1+1+1=1's blog are {here}.  And the details for Mama Jenn's blog are {here}.

And in case you don't win those give aways but you still want the study set, use the discount code Advent11 and you will receive 20% off on any item not already on sale from now until December 31 at GrapeVine Studies.  Click {here} to go to their website.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Advent - Day 11

Today the boys were given jingle bells.  And our advent activity was listening to Christmas music.  Nothing too exciting.  Both boys said their favorite Christmas song is "Jingle Bells." Then Brewer said, "And also any song that has Jesus in it."  I'm sure that was for my benefit.  He "gets" this year how much I want the focus of this season to be about the birth of Christ.

I warned you earlier in a previous post...I have a very busy week so these advent activities aren't anything major.  But what I love about them is that they still get the message of Jesus across.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Advent - Day 10

I love children's books.  I actually have a problem with them...owning too many of them.  My children don't go to the library with me.  The idea of borrowing books, keeping up with them, taking care of them, etc...STRESSED.ME.OUT.  Plus, I love them, so we take lots of trips to the book store and own bookcases of children's books.

Today for advent we read a book that isn't well known...but I like it a lot.  The pictures are wonderful.  It gets a point across without making it too long.  I feel it is a perfect book for both a 6-year-old and a 3-year-old.  Check out (if you can brave the library...LOL!), Mortimer's Christmas Manger.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Advent - Day 9

After all the kind comments we got yesterday regarding our RAK activity, today's advent activity seems so pitiful.  LOL!  We talked to the boys how life is like a puzzle.  It is easiest to put the pieces together if God is guiding us.  Then the boys each got a puzzle...a nativity and a Charlie Brown Christmas to work on.  This is a busy week for us me, so I planned this week's activities to be a little more low key.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Advent - Day 8

This morning we talked to the boys about how God believes all people are special.  We asked them what are some things that make them feel special.  We also talked about kindness and doing things for others that we would want to have done for us (spin on the "treating others...").  Then we told the boys that for today's advent activity, we were going to be doing Random Acts of Kindness "RAK" (we pronounce it "rack").

I used to do RAK with my youth group.  We would go out in the church van, jump out when we saw a person in need, and help them.  Not too much to it...easy way to help.  Then I read a blog post someone had made about her 38 RAK to celebrate her 38th birthday.  You can read more about her RAK {here}.  Now our kids are 6-years-old and 3-years-old, so I was afraid about being completely random.  I had a couple of things planned in case they needed some ideas.  But they seemed to do fine on their own.

Lou and I had decided that we would do our normal things during the day and find RAK to do while we were out.  After we told the boys what we were doing, Maddox decided to put two of his toys in the car to give to other children.  So the car was ready, and the RAK just happened.

We went to church....
1. Boys saw some trash on the ground and picked it up to throw away.

We left church and went to Walmart...
2. Brewer gathered shopping carts from the parking lot and took them inside.

Brewer and Lou collecting carts to take into Walmart.
3. In Walmart, we taped quarters to a soda machine with a note that said, "Have a drink on us and be blessed."  (I had planned this one and had quarters, a sign, and tape in my purse).

The sign didn't show up in the photo.  It's an index card that says, "Have a drink on us and be blessed. "  We put the quarters tucked in the tape.
We went to GameStop...
4. Brewer decided to hold to door open for a group of people leaving the store.  While he was doing it, he looked at me and said, "Mommy, Random Act of Kindness."  And then he gave me a thumbs up.

5. While in GameStop, I spotted Brewer finding things in the store that were misplaced and putting them back where they belonged.  I knew immediately what he was doing.
Brewer didn't know I was taking this picture.  I was capturing him putting things back in the store.

6. I heard a boy asking his mom for the Skylander PS3.  The boy could only find it for the XBOX.  Brewer helped him look through the boxes and they found the PS3 box.

We went to a toy donation (where they took used toys)...
7. Maddox unloaded his two toys and marched them in himself.  Then he told the man in his very Maddox way, "You give my toys to a kid who doesn't have any."  It is precious...my favorite moment of the day.
Look at him hauling this in!
I guess this will guarantee Santa is making him the new Batman cave
We were walking back to the car...
8. Maddox picked a flower, ran it up to me, and said, "This is a beautiful flower for you."

I was hoping we'd get to 13 RAK today.  (I have no idea why I had the number 13 in my head.)  But really...why does it have to stop today?  I hope my kids look for and quickly recognize opportunities for RAK!!!

You may get treated to a special gift too, don't forget to enter the giveaway.  The details are {here}.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Advent - Day 7

My boys at the candy store
We have a local candy store here that is great, cool, neat-o!!!  Its name is Sweet Pete's; they offer a candy cane pull.  You actually get to make your own candy canes from start to finish.  We went with 5 other families today for our advent activity of making candy canes.  If you want to know more about Sweet Pete's, click {here}.

At the store, the shop worker read, The Legend of the Candy Cane.

It's a great read with Christian meaning for the candy cane (staff shape, "J" shape, red & white colors, meaning of stripes).

A great time was had by all...the pictures speak louder than words on this one.

Some of the kids in our group

Mr. Pete adding the corn syrup for the canes.

Mr. Pete after he had worked the candy.  We picked grape flavored canes so he is adding the purple stripes to the canes.

And the first candy cane is made....WOW! 

The kids hard at work in making their candy canes -- and they each made a lot!!

Brewer even shaped his canes to spell his name.