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My three Ragamuffins - LOVE THEM!

My three Ragamuffins – LOVE THEM!

I have never been traditional in the sense of being a “mother.” When I worked at a children’s home during college, I got my first sense that mother’s day wasn’t always a “happy, sweet day.” Following the rules of the children’s home, I had to take the children who were wards of the state to church. I received my first Mother’s Day card that day. I was only twenty-years-old and knew that card wasn’t meant for me but little James had no one to call “mother” and I was the substitute of the day. He is far from alone. I spent the three years after college being a “substitute” mother to so many precious children at a Children’s Home in California. I saw what my cottage of girls went through when it came to celebrating Mother’s Day in the schools. We had the option of making other plans for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day by avoiding churches. The sting was too hard for some to bear.

Since then I have been in so many different situations where it has been so hard to hear the words “Mother’s Day.” Friends who have lost their own mothers to death or having dear friends who don’t have mothers due to their mother’s life choices or abandonment, I have learned not to take my mother for granted. But this day can be a bitter reminder for so many.

The hardest “Mother’s Day” for me was in 1997. I had a miscarriage the previous September. I was unmarried (*shocking*) and I suffered through alone with only few friends because the judgment was so severe from some I had told. It was so hard suffering in silence and I am so thankful now that I don’t have so mourn her loss in private. My first child was Emily Grace. My children are comforted they have a sister in heaven who is with Jesus and has welcomed loved ones and pets that have gone on before us.

In 2002, I became a foster mom with three little ragamuffins. The first mother’s day was awkward because I was “only” the foster mother. However, I was thrown up on and had sick kiddos and ended up in the ER in the afternoon for a baby with pneumonia. I learned that day what Mother’s Day is truly about; a mother taking care of her children. There were no pomps and circumstance for me that year. And I imagine it was a hard day for the birth mother as well.

By Mother’s Day in 2004, I think I had learned what Mother’s Day for a single parent looked like. If I wasn’t going to do it, it wasn’t going to happen. I bought myself an new oven that year that made cooking for my family of four so much easier.

After adopting my children in late 2004 and moving in 2005, a dear daughter-friend, Abbey, would sneak into my house and awake my children and taught them to cook simple breakfasts in bed for me while making crafts with them to present to me. She did this several years. By her example, the kids continue that tradition to this day.

Mother’s Day is truly a day for my children. It is the one day out of the year they will set aside their differences and work together to honor me. There is no price tag on what they give me because they give me their hearts. I am blessed to be their mother everyday; not just today. But I love seeing them on this day because I do see a glimpse into who they are becoming. And I see a bit of their Daddy (God) in them especially on this day.

I pray my kids will always have their “Father’s Eyes.

THE Discipline Book: I am a doodler; not an artist.

THE Discipline Book (fifteen pages and counting). And note: I am a doodler; not an artist.

There are three sections in the “R-4 Games” that are evaluated. Those three section areas are: Family Rules, Chores, and School/Learning Rules.

    FAMILY RULES

Electronics:
1. NO COMPUTER TIME after 9:30 p.m. for people under the age of 19 years unless they have graduated from high school.
2. NO television after 11:30 p.m. for ANYONE unless it is with Mom’s special permission.
3. NO electronic toys, games, music, Kindles, DS, IPODS, or phones after 9:00 p.m.

The other areas included in the family rules are hygiene, physical aggression, name calling, the word “hate”, mean faces, rolling eyes, arguing, attitude, lying, loud negative exclamations towards each other, stealing, touching each other’s belongings, talking back to mom, asking mom for toys/stuff that has to be purchased, irritating tattling, and other areas that mom deems unnecessary. Mom decides “guilt” in unseen incidents based on severity and evidence. Truth-telling does have a reward.

Consequences for breaking the above rules.
Breaking ANY rules will cause the names to be submitted to the “reaping.” The “reaping” is a list of names that will be tallied EVERY Saturday evening by 9:00 p.m. and a steep consequence will be given to the person whose name is written down the most. If there is a tie, both individuals will receive a steep consequence.

Removal of Names from the Reaping:
Names can be removed from the “reaping” by completing a contracted “job” by mom without any other reward (i.e. monetary). Names can also be removed from the “reaping” by completing a charitable contribution (i.e. something for someone else that doesn’t benefit self or the household – examples: sweeping the apartment hallways, giving money to a cause, spending time with the elderly). Reaping removal chores and/or charitable contributions MUST BE COMPLETED BY 8:30 p.m. on Saturday night.

REWARD: Whomever has their name written down the least at the last night (9:30 p.m.) on the last day of the month gets a “date” with mom. If there is a tie, then both winners get a date with mom. The amount of the date is dependent upon the “date-chore-fund” that will be covered under chores.

    CHORES

Chores are distributed by mom based on age, maturity, trust, and ability. Chores are also correlated to the amount independence giving in activities.

Daily Chores: Daily/weekly chores for each child will not be published for reasons of privacy. But all daily chores WILL be completed by 10:00 p.m. daily unless otherwise designated by mom (i.e. dishes after meals will be completed promptly).

Weekly Chores: Weekly chores must be completed by Saturday at 6:00 p.m. Some activities and events may interfere with completing chores by this time so forethought is necessary.

Rewards/Consequences for Chores: Chore allowances will be given on every 16th of the month in dollars and cents. Chore allowances will be given in the amount of age:
Example:
Ethan, age 11: $11
Sydney, age 12: $12
Katyana, age 14: $14

Additional money can be earned by contracting a chore with mom. Those chores are separate from the chores to remove the name from the reaping. Payment for contracted chores will be agreed upon by mom and child.

Quarters will be put in a jar to represent allowance. Anytime a chore is not completed or there is resistance to completing a chore, a quarter will be removed and will be put into the “date-chore-fund” jar.

    SCHOOL/LEARNING RULES

Each child has an individual curriculum they are required to learn. Note: This will not be published for privacy. Each completed assignment can be redeemed for a certificate or reward. Certificates and rewards can be applied to things like computer time, game time with mom, Starbuck “Treat”, Pedicure/Manicure, Nerf gun war with mom, etc. The individual rewards are listed with each child’s curriculum.

GRADES: Every three months/quarter (last day of March, June, September, and December), grades will be totaled in three areas. These areas are:
*Average of all school work in all subjects.
*Average of daily attitude about learning.
*Average of daily effort.

Grades will be listed as follows:
A = Excellent.
B = Good.
C = Average.
D = Needs a lot of improvement.
F = Flunked… DO AGAIN.

If an “F” is given on ANY day, an “A” in that given area cannot be earned that quarter.

Grading Rewards: Each of the three areas listed above will be graded. The rewards per area will be given in this amount:
An “A” per area = $10
A “B” per area = $5
A “C” per area = $1
D’s and F’s are NOT rewarded.
So, per quarter, a total reward of $30 is possible.

    SPECIAL OCCASIONS/SICK DAYS/VACATIONS

Birthdays: Siblings will do chores for the birthday child. Every child will have a chore-free day/year.

Sick Days:
Family Rules: These must always be followed regardless of how one is feeling.

Chores: To be exempted from a chore, the child must be running a fever of 101 degrees or higher. However, two sick days are awarded to each child per quarter. Sick days CAN be carried over to the proceeding quarters.

Vacations: Mom will work out individual chores and school assignments during vacations. Family rules must be followed during all vacations.


"Exact Change."

The Reedettes and I have had a blast playing games lately. It helps that we have found a few that really work for all of us. Our favorite game now that has proven to have tremendous education and real living value is Exact Change.

We have spent many evenings playing this game. It has really helped (in a super fun way) to calculate change with coins and one dollar bills. I give this game two thumbs up as do my children! We love it! It has a  “UNO” feel to the game with a couple of twists. Good family game.

Rory's Story Cubes

Another game we recently began playing is Rory’s Story Cubes. What fun! My kids have loved playing this game. There are nine dice with different pictures on each side. The idea is to create a sequential story from beginning to end USING the pictures on the cubes.  Ethan and Sydney have blown me away by their ability to use some of the pictures as metaphors. Ethan’s humor comes out strongly, as do his fears of real things but his fears managed to find a positive spin in his story that lead to a great outcome. I’m very impressed. I think that there are endless possibilities for this game.


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