Monday, July 20, 2015

"Hiring" My 4 Year Old

Why is Started
So Xander has been in a Lego phase for a while now (let's be honest, it'll probably be a 10+ year phase).  Anyway, it had gotten to the point where every time we went to the store, he wanted me to buy him some Legos.  Obviously, that wasn't happening.  I'd always tell him that we were choosing to spend our money on other things, like groceries, the house, bills, etc, but e struggled to understand why.  Therefore, in order to help him understand the value of money and really the concept of limited resources, I decided to start paying him.

I know a lot of people give their children chores, but I always felt things like setting the table, cleaning up after themselves, and occasional helping out are just part of contributing to the family.  I really did not want to pay him for these types of things, because I wanted to stress the value of working together as a family.  After some thought, I decided that I had always told him his job was to learn as much as he could.  He always called our should time his "work," so I decided that seemed like a logical place to start.
The Job
While we don't do as much "work" as we did during out Tot School time, there is still some work I'd like him to do frequently.  I decided he would get one sticker every day he did the following:

15 minutes of Splash Math or Matific
All About Spelling lesson

If he does his work 3 times in one week his gets paid $2
If he does it 5 days in a week, he gets paid $4 on Saturday
As a bonus, if he does it all 7 days, he gets paid $5

Here's his calendar for this month.  As you can see, he has had some weeks where he has done great.  Other weeks he hasn't done all that much work.  Usually, the math on the iPad is easy, but since he doesn't like to write, he doesn't always want to do the worksheets.  I encourage him, but do not make him do it every day.  At the end of a week where he didn't earn his $4, we discussed how sometimes we don't feel like doing the things we have to do, but we then do not get the reward.  I compared it to me not wanting to work on the house, but since I wanted to move in, I had to do it anyway.  I never did it angrily, because it is a good learning experience.  He is the one who has to wait longer for what he wants.
The Goal
To help him focus, I let him pick out the Lego set he really wanted.  He decided on Gorilla Grodd Goes Bananas.  I made a sign for him to hang above his desk, to help with encouragement.  While the sign does say $50, we also had to have the discussion about taxes.  I really liked that he had a rather expensive set as his goal.  

Long Term Planning
When he was really close to his goal, he saw the Lego Double-Decker Couch for $15 at the store.  It was really tempting for him to buy it, since he already had enough money.  Since we didn't have his money with us, he couldn't buy it that day.  We got to talk about long term goals and how sometimes you have to forego something you want in the moment to help you work towards a bigger goal.  While he considered going back to get it, he decided he wanted the Gorilla Grodd set more.  I was very proud of him, because that is something that can be really hard, even as an adult.

The other thing I liked about the process, was that although he still asked to look at Legos every time we went to the store, he no longer asked for them, or other toys.
A Few Extras
In addition to his "job," Xander was able to earn a dollar or two here and there over the last few months by helping with other tasks.  For example, he helped me move a bunch of landscaping stones at the new house.  These jobs weren't very often and not at his request.

Ultimately, he ended up saving up enough to get the set.  I was so proud of him when we went up to the register and he was able to pay with his own money he'd worked really hard to earn and save.  He was pretty proud also!
Showing off his new Invisible Jet. 
Looking Forward
So has he completely learned to plan ahead and save, of course not.  However, I have enjoyed teaching him about prioritizing and working hard for what he wants.  He has already decided that the next goal is the Black Manta Deep Sea Strike, and his new goal sign is made and hung above his desk. 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Journey to Our New Home

Hello strangers!  I feel like it has been forever since I updated, and I sincerely apologize.  You may recall that way back in March I posted that I had purchased a house.  Well, in ordered to get a decent sized house in the school district I wanted, I ended up choosing a repossessed house.  Needless to say, it definitely wasn't move in ready.  My incredibly generous dad donated most of his evenings and weekends the last few months to helping me get it livable (which is why I haven't been posting lately).  We finally moved in last week.  Xander loves his new room and I am elated to be able to provide him with his own home and yard (not to mention, no longer living with my father as an adult!!!).

While ALL of the details of the things we had to do would be long and boring, I thought I'd share a few highlights.

So we got off to an exciting start.  Because it was a HUD house, they wouldn't give me the keys when I bought the house.  The realtor let me in long enough to start changing the locks.  Because it was a weeknight close, I only did the doorknob of the front door, figuring I would change ALL of the locks that weekend.  Well, when I showed up the next weekend, my deadbolt was locked.  There are only two ways that could have happened; from the inside or with a key (that neither of the realtors had).  Therefore, I got to have the exciting adventure of calling the police, who in turn, called the fire department to break in.  Then the police swept the place (much more exciting on tv than on the placing you're hoping to live).  All in all, it turned out ok.  The police, who were very familiar with the previous owners, decided that they'd probably come back looking for something.  I haven't had any trouble since.
The next big obstacle was the huge above ground pool.  It needed a new liner and pump, plus a lot of maintenance I didn't have time or money for, so I got rid of it.  It is a little more cleaned up now, but the deck and sand still have to go (anyone needing sand or landscaping stone, feel free to come get some!).
Next, the NASTY, stained, smelly carpet had to go.  BEST workout of my life!  I definitely couldn't lift my arms after.
My dad and Xander installed some laminate flooring.
For some reason, the previous owners liked a lot of crap decoration on the walls.  Unfortunately, the glued it all on.  I don't even want to think about all of the hours we spent scraping, sanding, peeling and fixing drywall.  Here's an example of just Xander's room.
Even Xander got in on the scraping action.
Here's his room after.  Such a HUGE difference!
The trim and doors may have needed some slight touching up.
Instead of doing some early learning work with me, this is how Xander spent most of his time during the process.  Reading or watching movies.
Here's the last before and after I'll show for now.  I'm sure eventually I'll post pictures of Xander's new room.  Anyway, the picture truly doesn't do the change justice.  Nasty, smelly, pee-stained carpet is gone. 3 colored walls are now a solid color. Window is refinished, all the trim has been repainted. No more holes in the walls. It smells much much better. Incredibly happy with how it turned out.  Can't wait to make many memories in our new home!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Lego Easter Egg Hunt

Since we try to eat pretty healthy and prefer to eat homemade baked treats instead of candy, I usually try to find a non-candy Easter Egg filler.  This year Xander is VERY into super heroes and Legos, so I decided to go with that theme.  I was originally going to go with these Super Hero MiniFigs, since they would easily fit inside an egg.  
I really like to encourage the building aspect of Legos, though.  What I ended up buying was an Avengers Hydra Lego set, mostly because it included super heroes, building and was inexpensive.  I also picked up The Lego Movie because it was only $7 on Amazon.
In order to still do I hunt, I opened up the set and put the pieces in individual eggs.  It came with two big packages inside the box (one for each vehicle), so I opened one and left the other in the box with the instruction booklet.  I put a few pieces in each egg and I made sure to count them, so that I know when they're all found.  One of the packages of tiny pieces, I just put into a bigger egg whole.
I wrapped up the box and the movie and plan to give him after his egg hunt is done.  Can't wait to see the look on his face as he opens each egg with more and more Legos!  He'll be even more excited when he opens the package and see the instructions (not sure why the little instruction books are so fascinating.  He will spends long periods of time looking through them).

What other, non-candy ideas have you done for egg hunts?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Spring Updates

Hello everyone!  Sorry it has been so quiet around here!  I had all these wonderful plans for Xander's school time, but honestly, my new job has been kicking my butt.  I am working most nights and weekends in addition to the normal hours, so I'm just trying to enjoy my time with him when I have it.
Recently Xander said to me "Mom, Duplos are for little kids.  Legos are for big kids, so we need to get some Legos."  Guess my baby is growing up.  I got him some Lego Juniors and some other "big kid" Legos because he really wanted the super hero ones.  He has been doing great; still needs a lot of help, but getting better.   I'm loving listening to him playing with his figurines!

He's still reading up a storm.
In bigger news, I just bought a house.  It is definitely more scary doing it as a single mom than it was the first time I bought a house.  I'm excited to be able to give him a home and a yard though.  It is definitely a fixer-upper, so I'm sure I'll have plenty of before and after pictures.  Maybe I'll even have a few DIY posts along the way!  We'll wait to move until this summer since I just can't make it happen with my work schedule.  Xander fluctuates between excited and apprehensive.  He can't remember living anywhere else and is going to miss his Grandpa.  I'm definitely hoping we find ourselves very happy in the new home! 

Saturday, March 7, 2015

H for Heart

Although we made it from A-Z in our Alphabet in Simple Science, I decided that I'd add some here and there.  I added this one to go with our Heart and Lungs Unit.  We also had a Science Notebook Page B is for Blood.
 Science Notebook Page (Click the picture to print).

Since we were learning about the heart and lungs, we went over how the heart is a pump that pumps the blood around the body.  The blood carries oxygen so that our muscles can work.  We also talked about how your muscles need more oxygen when they're working harder, so you heart has to pump faster.  The Magic School Bus Lost Works Out was a good episode for talking about the role of oxygen in the muscles and why the blood needs to circulate (on Netflix).  

Changing Heart Rate
Place to write results

We started out by using our stethoscope to measure our resting heart rates.  I did it by setting the timer for 30 seconds and multiplying by two.  You could also go ahead and do the whole minute if it would be less confusing for your little one.  Once we wrote our resting heart rates down, it was time for some exercise!  Xander ran around in circles, did jumping jacks and stayed really active for a 3 minutes and we took his heart rate again.  Then I exercised for the same amount of time and we took my heart rate.  When we were all done we compared the results.

(We'd been to a party that day, hence the Batman face painting)
The Conversation:
I tried to ask Xander what he noticed about the numbers, and help him get to the idea that the active heart rates were faster than the resting.  Then I asked him why the heart would need to pump faster (more times every minute) when we are moving than when we are resting.  I helped lead him to the idea that the muscles are working harder, so need more oxygen.

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