Tuesday, December 18, 2012

10 Strokes of Genius

These are 10 favorite parenting tools which I've stolen stumbled upon over the years.

1. The "Oh No You Didn't!" Jar
If you break the rules in some way, pull a paper slip out of the jar. We don't call it a 'job jar' because it is MORE than simply chores. For instance, the paper slips might say: 

    • Sincerely apologize for your behavior, and thank God for grace. No consequence.
    • Rub Mom’s feet for 10 minutes.
    • Windex every mirror in the house while singing a song.
    • Clean your brother's room.
Caution: we learned that you need an opaque jar for children who can read - even if the slips are folded. We also learned to keep the completed tasks in a separate bag so the 'easy' ones don't keep finding their way back on top of the pile.

 2. Handwritten Letters from Mom
To teach cursive, or not to teach...THAT was the question. My solution was to teach them how to write without being crazy about it. They each write their memory verse in cursive once a week, but the rest of the time they can print or type. (Yes, they are always lobbying for short verses. "Mom, I think our verse this week should be John 11:35, 'Jesus wept.'")
I decided our boys need to READ cursive more than they need to write it. So I started writing them a personal letter each week. Sometimes it's a letter to both of them, sometimes they get individual letters. Sometimes I hand-write the letter, sometimes I use a funky cursive computer font or have a different family member write a letter. It's genius because it forces me to sit down and encourage my children, to challenge them, and to love them...in writing.
 If they want to keep these memories forever and ever...they can. If they don't keep them, I take the really good ones and keep them anyway.
3. Scripture Memorization Box
I may have already mentioned this...but this thing is marvelous! (I stole it from Charlotte Mason, you can find the video here.) The family learns one new verse at our own pace by reading it twice daily. We also read a few other verses that we have previously learned (just for review). It is very little work. A minute or two of reading...and we review EVERY VERSE WE HAVE EVER LEARNED each month.
It gets scripture flowing through our brains for the each day. LOVE IT. Seriously, check it out.
We read a daily verse, a verse for the even or odd day, a verse for the day of the week,
and one (or two) for the day of the month. 
4. The best way to get my kids to eat healthy is to go on a very strict diet myself.
If I have measured, weighed and done the math so that I know EXACTLY HOW MANY CALORIES I need to write down in my food journal, my children will want to eat some of what is in my bowl. Every. Single. Time. (I just keep saying to myself: "At least it's good for them, at least it's vegetables, at least it's fruit. Don't cry because you get to eat even less than you thought you would.") If I get "smart" and make a double batch...they won't want any of it.

5. Vegetables get eaten better if bacon is added to them.  
Bacon Brocolli Salad,  Bacon Spinach Salad, Bacon and Cauliflower. BACON!!! 'Nough said.

6. Speaking of spinach, spinach can also be hidden quite effectively in yummy foods 
Especially in fruit smoothies. Can't. Even. Taste. It.

7. The best way to get our kids to do creative, educational activities (rather than play video games) is to do them ourselves...for enjoyment. 
My husband plays instruments, so my children play instruments. If I start to do artwork, my children tend to join me. *Don't get too excited. Most of the time, this does NOT work with chores. Believe me, we've tried. It's hard to make chores seem fun no matter how much you smile.

8. When my kids ask, "Can I have a pop?" or "Can I have a treat?" my answer has become, "How many waters, fruits and vegetables have you had today? Gotta balance it all out." 
They can't even argue with that. They know if they make healthy choices throughout the day, they get more freedom. If they don't...not so much. Isn't life that way? If I saved my money, I get to go on vacation! If I bought a $4 coffee everyday, I get to watch everyone else go on vacation. Now I just need a Mom to ask ME how many waters/fruits/veggies I have had in a day before I get a treat.

9 & 10. Facebook. 
While it may actually be the most frequent way I end up shirking my parenting responsibilities, it is also the only way I will remember all the funny things that happened in my house during these precious years. I counted this as two strokes of genius because it not only keeps me seeing the funny in everyday life (which helps me really like my kids); but it provides a way that my youngest son (the non-reader) might actually READ about his childhood someday. It is a record of short, funny blurbs that are entertaining...kind of like the Calvin and Hobbes comic books that he reads VOLUNTARILY on occasion. 
For example:

December 2009
Overheard this conversation...
Evan: Micah, remember the time we ate kleenex?
Micah: Yah, but I've eaten worse things than kleenex.
Clay: Really? What?
Micah: Broccoli

March 2010
I asked my 7 year old to list some of the rules at the elementary school. His first answer?
"You can't wear capes to school."

June 2010 
I am at the stage in child rearing where I can't ask the question, "You know what?" without someone saying, "Chicken butt".

April 2012 
My two VERY different little boys had to finish a simile: Reading is as enjoyable as _______. One boy said, "video games!" and the other said, "pooping out an anchor." *sigh*

Linked up to Top Ten Tuesday


  1. I like your scripture box idea. For my middle schooler, I called and got the scripture memorization list from a local Christian school. He has to memorize it each month or no X-Box. Works like a charm.

    And bacon? Bacon goes awesome with spinach. And on an egg (like this morning), especially with some smoked habanero cheese on top. Aye-yi-yi.

    1. I hope he loves the box.
      I have one box for the family and one for myself. Mine is the pretty one. ;)

  2. What an eclectic and fun list. Thank you for sharing. I may just have to make a jar like that.

    1. Keeps Mama smiling when it would be easier to frown.
      Also, my boys don't complain when they get punished.
      I think they are too curious about seeing what the consequence might be (and hopeful that they'll get off the hook.)

  3. This is a great list! I do the Facebook thing already, but now I'm ready for my girls to get a smidge older to complete this list.

    1. Don't wait too long for most of the list. I mean, it's never too early to hide spinach in food. :)

  4. These are all wonderful ideas. Oh, how I wish I had the strength to set a better food example for my kids. But I'm definitely working on that! I just love my sweets! The scripture box is an awesome idea! Glad I found your blog via No Ordinary Blog Hop.

    p.s. I get "chicken butt" a lot in my home, too! :-)

    Your newest follower,
    Denise @ Learning 2 Walk Again

    1. Welcome Denise!
      I've discovered that the healthy example works...but I didn't say I'm GOOD at being that healthy example. :)
      I am definitely working on it right beside you.


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