A Cool Twist on a Hot Favorite

We’re having a heat wave, along with most of the country.  It is just downright uncomfortable, but I’m excited at the prospect that the cold front is coming soon.

I’m also excited that my baby is due next week and hopefully won’t be too late.  As part of my labor relief, I have always used hot rice bags on my belly and back during contractions.  The relief is amazing.  Unfortunately, my favorite rice bag got wet and had to be thrown away.  As D-day is approaching, I knew I needed to replace it, so I made a couple today.  

I went to put them in the hospital bag, when I thought…wait a minute!  And I turned around and put them in the freezer.  See, around here, we’ve been using small rice bags (about the size of bean bags) as ice packs for little kids who find real ice packs to be too cold, but still need something cold on a bump or bruise (or wounded pride).  Lately, we’ve been using those ice bags as personal cooling packs for nighttime in this stiffling heat.

So it really wasn’t a revolutionary idea, but let me tell you, it was AMAZING to put one of those COLD rice bags on my neck today!  And the girls all went to bed with their winter rice bags that are usually hot…straight from the freezer.

So if you have a rice bag feeling lonely and waiting for winter, pull it out and pop it in the freezer for some wonderful summer time relief!

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How Do You Teach Children to Earn Money?

My seven year old daughter has caught the money bug.  She wants to earn and spend money as fast as she can.  While she understands the value of money for the most part, she doesn’t understand it completely because she will want to spend it on gum and candy or cheap (expensive) toys in the checkout lane rather than save it for something bigger and better.  We are working on understanding the value of money, but that can be done better once children HAVE money.

So, how do your children earn money?

Many families use an allowance system. While I see many benefits in these systems (as long as they are not connecting regular chores to money or just seen as payment for being alive), they haven’t yet found a place in our family.  One reason for this is that our children are still quite young.  Another is that we can’t really afford to be doling out money each week to our kids just to have them spend it on junk or candy.  

We want them to learn to save, to pay tithing, and to spend responsibly, but we cannot always be their bank.  Especially when they want to save for something substantial.  

In the past, our daughters have earned money from our yard sales, lemonade stands, and doing extra, harder chores beyond their usual.  

After a big storm, for example, we’ll have them pick up sticks and pay them ten cents for a bag of sticks.  It gets the work done, doesn’t break the bank, and they are happy with earning dimes.  

Sometimes my husband will have them help rake, sweep, and bag the grass after mowing and trimming.  Again, ten cents a bag is good enough motivation at this age.  But it adds up VERY slowly. 

This week, my daughter fell in love with the American Girl Dolls.  Thankfully, she has willingly switched that love to the Our Generation Dolls available at Target for a third of the price.  But still, she needs to earn about $35 to cover the cost…but that doesn’t take into account 10% to tithing and 20% to savings.  So really, she needs to earn $50.  Which would be 500 bags of sticks or grass…Maybe she can buy the doll in 2 years at that rate.

This morning, I awoke to find her and my 5 year old collecting stuffed animals, drawing pictures, and putting price tags on things they were going to take to a couple neighbors to try to sell.  A small Care Bear for $5.  A drawing for $1.  This began a conversation about value of goods and market.  They weren’t too thrilled to learn their plan wasn’t going to get them far in their endeavors.

So we talked about the 3 ways to earn money:

  1. Work
  2. Sell
  3. Beg

We all decided begging was out of the question.  So we evaluated each of the other two.  They could do work (like bagging sticks) but mommy and daddy only have so much work they need the girls to do for money.  Most of the work we have needs to be done for free.  The same goes for our neighbors.  I explained how long it would take to earn money that way since they are too young to do work that will earn a lot of money, like babysitting.

That left selling.  We talked about yard sales and lemonade stands and how they have a place, but cannot be done too often.  We’ve already done one this year and that’s all we’re going to do.  We’re also not going to sell things that we own (like stuffed animals and pictures) that are better given away out of the goodness of our hearts, especially to 77 year old men who really don’t need Care Bears and would rather be given a drawing out of love.

So then we talked about combining work AND selling.  I sell products online, but I have to work to make them.  What can the girls make and sell?  Keara wanted to crochet bracelets and necklaces…but who would buy them?  Or, she wanted to make bracelets out of beads, but her designs aren’t likely to draw a sale.  I want them to succeed, but I want them to do the work.  

Thus was born the idea to sell baked goods.  They can certainly (help) make cookies, breads, and such.  They can certainly go to our neighbors and invite them to order.  They can certainly deliver them.  So we did.

I was grateful to see my painfully shy daughter (when it comes to speaking to adults she doesn’t know) give her “speech” because doing the work and earning the money was more important than being shy. We were out for almost 2 hours and she received orders totaling $63.  This allows for the cost of goods sold, tithing, and savings, with just enough for her doll.  

Now, we need to bake a few different kinds of cookies, several loaves of wheat bread, and roast some cinnamon almonds, then deliver them next week.  I’m glad this is a three step process, where she can see that money doesn’t just come to you, but you have to work and it takes time.  I hope that as she goes thru this experience, she’ll understand a little better how valuable her money is because she’ll know better what it took to earn it.

I sort of wish that she didn’t get so many orders, so it wouldn’t have been so easy, but for now, this is a good place to start.  We’ll probably do it again in the fall with our Caramel Apples, but we’ll see how this experiment goes first.

How do your children earn money?  

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Posted in All Writers, Budgeting, Cheri, Children, Chores, Family, For You, Goals, Money Saving Tips, Relationships, The Moms | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Music Machine–for music reading review

Music Machine for learning review

We recently had a neighborhood Music Camp at our house and used the Math Machine as a Music Machine and made flashcards that review basic music symbols and notes. It was a craft that took a good amount of prep, like saving up of milk cartons and cutting and measuring cereal boxes. But it was great to use recycling, my leftover craft paints, and the kids were impressed with how it worked.

music camp--Music Machine for music reading review

A note on the paints: I tried an acrylic poster paint, and it flaked off of the packing tape, while the craft paint in the little bottles worked great.  Though if you really want to not see through the paint, you’ll need time to let it try and put another coat on.  I found the kids didn’t seem to mind seeing through the paint a little anyway.

You can use the links below to make your own “machines” and flashcards:

How to make a Math/Music Machine

Math Flashcards

Music Flashcards

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The Cure for Cradle Cap is in your Kitchen Pantry…

You know the “have a penny, leave a penny, need a penny, take a penny” theory you see by some cash registers?  I’ve never been brave enough to actually reach in and use that money.  But I don’t hold back at all when it comes to seeking and sharing tips and ideas, especially when it comes to parenting 🙂

So when my 4-week old baby started showing signs of Cradle Cap (that scaly flaky skin on top of the scalp), I figured it was time to try what my Mom did, you know, back in the olden days, and I’m so happy to find that it WORKED:

  1. Using a soft toothbrush, massaged olive oil into her scalp where the scales are. The brush should be soft enough to not bother your skin as you rub it gently on your cheek.  
  2. As you massage the skin in circular motion, you will notice the skin starting to rub off.  
  3. Let the oil sit on the skin for 5-10 minutes.  
  4. Wipe off with a dry towel.  
  5. Repeat in some areas if necessary.  
  6. Finish by washing her scalp with baby shampoo.

I did it this morning and her head is perfectly beautiful again!  Now, if I’d only known this for my 3 older kids when they were this age…

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Happy Father’s Day

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Bedtime Math

Bedtime Math

I am a firm believer in reading, and a bedtime story is one of the highlights of the day. Lately we’ve been introduced to a website called Bedtime Math that has added a new delight to bedtime. 

We signed up to get daily emails, which helps me remember to take time for math. Then, if we are ready for bed on time (it turns out that Bedtime Math is a great motivator for my girls!), we pull up the email. There is always a bit of interesting information about anything from bees to noodles and then math questions that have to do with that topic.  For example, the other day we learned a little about robots, which included a link to a You Tube video we enjoyed watching as well, and then had math questions about robots.

Each days’ topic includes related questions for different levels: wee ones, little kids, big kids, and then often a bonus question. Scroll down, and the answers are all there, too.

They’ve made a few entertaining videos that ask math questions as well.  My 4-year-old particularly likes the Costco video, though it’s my 8-year-old who does the math.

They even have a Bedtime Math app!  One night my laptop was out of battery so we used the app on my husband’s ipad, and the girls loved taking turns touching the stars and such when they were ready to check their answer or were ready for the harder questions.

Now when the kids get tucked in bed, I regularly hear, “Let’s do math!”

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Life Doesn’t Come With A Manual…It Comes With A Mother

To my wife, to my mother, to the other of the Five Real Moms, and to mothers and mother figures everywhere – Thank You!

Life doesn't come with a manual...it comes with a mother.

There is a reason women have the gifts and natural tendencies you have.  You (and they) may not believe it sometimes, but you are the perfect mother for your children.  And the right person to offer motherly love to those you give it to that aren’t your children.

Several Christian faith groups have put produced a video for Mother’s Day to help remind us all of the importance of mothers and of families.  The title of this post and the image above come from the video. 

Thank you, Mothers!

-Written by Sunny’s husband.

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5 Tips for a Guilt-free Mother’s Day


How do you feel about Mother’s Day?  Do you love it or hate it?  Do you look forward to breakfast in bed and homemade cards, or do you see the day as one big reflection on your shortcomings and how your kids “deserve better than you”?  

Mother’s Day can be a mix of emotions for most Moms.  First, here’s a virtual hug to ALL you REAL MOMS that have good days and bad days.  Perhaps these 5 tips can lead you to a more guilt-free Mother’s Day, more of what it was intended to be:  an uplifting holiday honoring womanhood and motherhood.

1) Focus on the good you do!


Make a list of 5 things you are GOOD at as a mother. What makes your kids lucky to have YOU. Feel free to make the list longer :)  When that’s done, list another 5 things that you enjoy about being a mother. No need to wait until Mother’s Day to do this…in fact, some of you may find it easiest to brainstorm this beforehand, so you have it to refer to when your emotions otherwise may dip.  

2) Plan ahead to make the day as great as you want–  A day off of cooking or planning or changing diapers can sound good to any mom.  If it sounds good to you, and you are hoping that your husband will read your mind — stop right there…Men aren’t programmed to read our minds, and frankly nobody really is!  If it’s important to you then communicate it.

Tell your husband what you are hoping for (while giving him room to honor his own mom). If you really don’t want to cook, for example, have the shopping already done so he has all the ingredients ready.  Or if that’s not his style, make something ahead of time or plan a crock-pot meal so that you don’t have to spend the day in the kitchen.  If you’re really hoping the kids will just get along and be happy for this one day, sit down and spend time with them — make Mother’s Day crafts, play games, pick dandelions, etc.  The point is, if there something that you really want to happen that day, do your part to get it 🙂

3)  Know you are not alone — Pause to remember that there is no ONE RIGHT way to parent.  You are doing the best that you know how with the kids that you have.  If someone else took your place, they would have struggles that you excel at.  Do you remember your mom ever losing her patience, getting frustrated, or leaving the room?  She probably went to her own room to cry, scream in a pillow, pray, or wonder what on earth she should do with you.  This is part of parenting.  This is part of mothering.  
The truth is: you are the perfect mother:  you have good days and bad days, you have strengths that others marvel at, and weaknesses that keep you human.  And you have perfect kids:  They are perfect at doing just what kids should do:  having good days and bad days, temper tantrums and disgraceful behavior in public just to embarrass you, and moments of greatness that remind you that they aren’t little monsters.  But this is what kids do!  And your kids are perfect at it.  

4)  Focus on the other 364 Days — 

Instead of focusing all your emotions on this one Happy Mother’s Day, look for happy mother days throughout the year.  They happen unexpectedly, and are little rewards along the way for all your efforts.  Chances are, this Sunday might just be the day that someone in your family decides to be grumpy.  That happens.  So don’t let this one day spoil all the other 364 days of your best efforts and theirs.

5)  Focus on others

Is Mother’s Day only about You or about the Mothers around you, too? Take some time to honor your own mom, your mother-in-law, and the other amazing mothers that surround you: friends, sisters, sister-in-laws, neighbors, etc. that inspire you in your own mothering efforts.  Remember your children’s teachers at school, church, coaches, or other private lessons and how they help your children acheive greatness.  Then find a way to acknowledge them:

  • Call your Mom, and the other Moms in your life and tell them what you love and appreciate about them, and what inspires you to be a better mother yourself.
  • Write them an email.
  • Send a card to them that will brighten their day (See here for a tip on making a homemade card for super cheap).
  • Take a bouquet of flowers, a card, or a treat to a single mom you know, or an elderly woman whose family is all grown.

So while your young children may be inclined to shower you with a homemade card and flowers picked from your neighbor’s garden (*yikes!*), spend your time uplifting and acknowledging others: As you take your thoughts and focus off yourself, you will feel your own load lightened and will have a happier day!

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Teenagers and Mother’s Day

We received a great question from one of you readers:  When the kids are past that cute hand print stage, what are some good ideas for celebrating Mother’s Day with teenagers?

My style is to finally have a holiday that I don’t have to think about–it’s all up to my husband (poor soul) and the kids.  I don’t want to think about what we’re eating, I don’t want to plan festivities, and I DON’T want to do the dishes.  But I want them done.  And the sink and counter clean too, if that is within the requests budget.

Here are 10 ideas of celebrating a meaningful Mother’s Day with your teenager:

  1. Teens and older kids can plant flowers for mom. If mom goes out and buys her favorite flowers (or tells dad and the kids which are the ones she wants), they can spend the Saturday before Mother’s Day planting them in the garden.
  2. Dad and kids can go buy a bouquet of flowers for mom that represents the family (particularly good for large families or grandparents). My dad always bought one type/color flower for him and mom, a different type/color for the sons, another for the daughters, another for the sons-in-law, another for the daughters-in-law, another for the grandsons and another for the granddaughters. It’s awesome for them to see how their family has grown and added to itself as they see the variety of flowers and colors. Very fun and special.
  3. We also used to write a paragraph about why we loved mom and give it to her for Mother’s Day (also a great thing to do on birthdays or other special occasions). I cannot imagine a mother who wouldn’t love to receive a letter from her kids telling her why they love her!
  4. Write a letter to each of your children. Try it this year, and you will probably want to make it an annual tradition. Go ahead and tell them how lucky and proud you are to be their Mom. Be as specific as you can. You will treasure it, and so will they.
  5. If you don’t mind helping make your Mother’s Day dinner, get the whole family to do it together! Each family member can be in charge of a part of the meal…but they can also do all of the clean up while you put your feet up or take a bath or read a book. Just make sure you’ve written the shopping list so they can get the groceries ahead of time.
  6. Be Home, and tell your kids you want them to be home. Life gets busier and busier as the kids get older, right? One great gift teenagers can give their Mom on Mother’s Day is just a family day — with no other friends, errands, favors, texting, etc. Spend the day doing what your family likes to do — playing games, doing something outdoors, etc. Just having that one day to be together can mean the world to Mom. Mom & Dad — if you have meetings and such usually scheduled for Sundays, reschedule them so you can enjoy the time together.
  7. Here’s a great gift for a teenager to give: Do your Mom’s chores, either that day or throughout the week. Having the laundry done, younger siblings’ clothes laid out, maybe helping make the beds, church clothes ironed, etc…I believe ALL Moms understand the love language of service!
  8. Spend time watching home videos or looking through family photos. It is valuable to remember the together-times. Want to make it more interactive and creative? Re-inact some of those photos from long-times past. Pose the teenagers in the same positions they were in their toddlers pictures. Or make a new home video of you recreate a family memory of younger years (See Kid History on YouTube for some examples…and a good laugh)
  9. Another idea for a teenager: Let Mom have some “Me-Time”, if that’s what she craves. If she likes to read, make sure she has a cozy place to read and her favorite reading material handy. Reassure her that for the next hour YOU are in charge and will answer the phone, watch younger siblings, etc.
  10. Have your teens think about mothers that don’t have family around, including women that “mother” even if they haven’t had their own children. Can you do something that may help them know that they are remembered and appreciated? Check into nursing homes or maybe a hospital for someone who may really appreciate a visit and would otherwise not get one.

What ideas can you add?

*photo by Emery Co Photo

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Happy Mother’s Day.

 Mother's Day cartoon one vacation day a year

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