Wednesday, June 29, 2011

special visitor

When my friend Brittany's parents adopted the twins, we told them we would tend them while they went on vacation. Very sadly, one of the twins died a few days after being adopted. This family did all they could for him--they spent a lot of money trying to help him. His death was so hard for them and for us.

It has been such a blast having Charm around the last few days. He and Mama have had so much fun together. It was sad saying goodbye, but so nice to know he was going home to a wonderful family that loves him dearly.

Monday, June 27, 2011

"the challenge" and a parenting dilemma

They did it, and now they feel rich.

One year ago, while at a birthday party, Andrew and Bev heard about "the challenge" and asked us if they could do it.

Some kids at the party were drinking water instead of soda--the kids told us that their parents made a deal with them--if they could go an entire year with no soda, they could earn $100.

When they first asked, Mike and I didn't quite know how we felt about it. After a bit of discussion, we actually thought it was a good idea. I liked that they would learn that sacrifice pays off. I thought of this quote:

"The cause of most of man's unhappiness is sacrificing what he wants most for what he wants now."
-Gordon B. Hinkley

Mike thought that it could reinforce the need to "just say no." If they can say "no" to soda now, later in life they will be able to say "no" to other things that may tempt them.

Our challenge was that they could have no soda or sugary drinks. (We did allow some juice.)

They had been planning on how to celebrate their success. So, the day they completed the challenge, they both enjoyed some root beer.

They both immediately put the money in their wallets, neither of them knowing quite what to do with it. Now, whenever we go to a store, they bring their wallets. They don't get anything--neither of them wants to break the bill.

Here is my dilemma: they want to do the challenge again, and Christian wants to join in. We want to encourage them in their efforts to be healthy, and honestly, I think this could be a good thing for Christian. He is very interested in things that are not good for him. He is curious about smoking and drinks with caffeine. He thinks that he is going to love those Monster drinks someday. Whenever he gets a drink of root beer he calls it just "beer." We have some work to do.

But, the words of Alfie Kohn ring in my ears. In his book, Punished by Rewards, he argues that we tend to treat kids like pets--"do this and you'll get that."

He writes:

"While rewards are effective at producing temporary compliance, they are strikingly ineffective at producing lasting changes in attitudes or behavior. The news gets worse. About two dozen studies from the field of social psychology conclusively show that people who expect to receive a reward do not perform as well as those who expect nothing."

I have always believed that external reinforcers have a place--that, if used properly, they can help people gain the desire to do what is right and good--that people can transition from doing something for the candy or money or praise, to being internally motivated because doing it makes them feel good.

We want to let them do the challenge again, maybe just not for cash. I can only imagine how this would go--us encouraging them to do the challenge and offering up "a good feeling" as the reward.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

i will survive . . .

Cue Gloria Gaynor.

A bulletin board isn't big enough for all the notes I need these last two weeks of school. Having four kids in elementary school with all of the projects and reports and assemblies is kicking my trash. I'm not so much complaining as attempting to figure out just how to do it. It is now hump day of week one and I don't think we have missed anything.

Last weekend I made a big list of everything that the kids needed or needed to get done for that day. The list is long. There is a lot to get done. And in it all, I am reminded to keep my eye on the prize and remember that it is these four little people that matter--not the projects being perfect or my getting it all done.

I think they made this just for me this week.

Friday, June 17, 2011

it makes me want to sit right down and cry (like in a good way)

We love So You Think You Can Dance. Well, last week while we watched it, I fell asleep and missed the last number. But, in my sleep I heard Little Bird. When I awoke, I asked about it and planned on watching it the next day. Well, Mike didn't know that I love that song and deleted the show. So, I was forced to go online to find it. I share it with you now. In the last week, Jessi has watched it about 30 times.

I get sort of attached/obsessed with a certain song and for a few weeks I end up wearing it out to the point where no one in my family wants to hear the song ever again. This is one such song. In the last week, I have listened to it about 30 times.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

homes for kittens

The happy news is that all of the kittens have homes. The bad news (and it makes me cry) is that Mama Cat is walking around calling for her babies. She stands at the top of the stairs, just like she always has, and mews. When her babies heard her, they would eventually come to her. Now, after she calls for them and waits, she starts wandering around the house looking for them. She seems lost and it makes me sad.

(Every one asks what we are doing with Mama Cat and the answer is that Mike and I do not currently agree on the course of action to be taken. She has scratched the leather couch, so that's his issue with her. He suggested getting her fixed and taking her back to her "family"--you know the homeless cat colony. I told him that I can't do that and he then reminded me that she had at least one cat that loved her back in her old digs. He always lightens the mood.)

Now on to the happy part--the kitten's new homes...

Fluffy went first. He is now known as Bob and he went to a sweet woman Mike knows from work. We took a picture with each kitten before s/he went to her/his new home.

Another sweet woman from Mike's work adopted Racoony. She has a ten-year-old daughter who, we hear, is loving him. We took him to her at work.

(Poor Racoony is probably excited to get away from the head-smashing.)

We had five left and they were now nine-weeks-old and they started scratching the leather couches, so I posted an ad on ksl. A cute mom of three little kids wanted a girl and a boy. She ended up taking Penelope (who we think is the only girl of the bunch) and Ebony.

Kiki has LOVED Ebony from the beginning. He always picked him to hold and snuggled him at night. I prepared him as best I could. We talked a lot about helping the kittens become good pets for their new families by holding them and playing with them. Whenever we talked about them being adopted Kiki said that Ebony would not get adopted.

Well, the day came and when it was time to send him on his way, Kiki got him in a death grip and ran to the bathroom. I asked him to let go. I reminded him what our job was. I told him it was okay to be sad. I told him these people were in the living room waiting for their new kitten. Nothing worked. I finally resorted to distraction. I suggested to him that maybe we could go have some ice cream. He loosened his grip and I told him to say goodbye. I grabbed Ebony and we sent the two kittens on their way.

While this family was at our house, we got confirmation that the twins had a family, so that just left Harper. The next day we got a call from a woman who was interested. Her little boy had just had a birthday and he had been saving his money for a cat. They ended up coming that afternoon and adopted him. (Update: I got an email from this family. He is doing great and his new name is Dexter, which I think fits him perfectly.)

My dear friend Brittany has a sweet mom who said that the twins should just not be separated. I couldn't agree more. She is such a cute grandma, and is adopting them for herself, but also for her grandkids. She and her husband brought the grandkids with her to pick up the twins. They were so excited and cute with them. I took a picture of each of my kids with the twins before they went with their new family.

Bev shot this picture of me holding them while we watched Oprah: Behind the Scenes.

Like many adoptive families, we have requested updates on the little darlings. We all loved them--even Mike had a soft spot in his heart for them. Other than the Mama Cat issue and some scratched couches, this has been a great experience. It was a lot of work, but it was worth it. There is nothing like having little kittens in the house and watching them grow. It was fun watching Mama be such a good mama and take such good care of her babies. I loved watching my kids love and care for the babies. I loved meeting all of the wonderful families that adopted them. I know that these little kittens will make great pets and bless their lives, like they did ours.

Best experience ever!

And if you haven't had enough, enjoy this: (wait for the 30 second mark.)

We will end this post with this gem. (Thanks Randy and Sarah for sharing.)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

out of the mouth of babes: 5

Three things Christian says:

1. The kids had a sleep-over at Aunt Mimi's. Before they left, I had the "good behavior talk," where I encouraged them to be good, be grateful and be helpers. Christian came up to me after the talk and said, "Don't worry Mom--I will be Nephi."

Mike has taught Christian that he can be like Nephi and be an example to his older brother and sister. Whenever Mike sees him behave as an example he will say something like, "Good job, Nephi." Christian eats it up.

2. Christian also loves being Grandpa Peel's namesake (his middle name is Earl, after Grandpa.) Whenever we say we are going to go visit them he says, "We're going up to my namesake's house."

3. My kids love talking about the people they are named after. It has, at times, taken on a competitive tone. They all have first and middle names that are family names. Andrew Michael will talk about being named after Dad's little brother Joey, whose middle name is Andrew, and Dad. Beverly Gwen will then attempt to top him, being named after our grandmothers. Then Jessi pipes up, saying that she has two middle names (Hannah--my mom's aunt, and Patience--her birthmother.) Then Christian will say that he is named after Dad's best pal, Grandpa Peel and finish it off by reminding us all that he is also named after Jesus Christ. Everyone is sort of quiet after that--you can't really beat that one.