Mike and I got back from our cruise on Saturday. It was A-mA-ZING!!! It was so reasonably priced too! I always feel the need to mention that. $199 per person, this includes TONS of food, great shows every night, and of course the little itty bitty but very cute room for 5 nights! Growing up my parents owned a small grocery store. It was the only store in a very small town. Everyone thought we were rich. We weren't! To this day I have trouble with people thinking I'm rich (I'm not!-- well I am very rich, but not financially). Currently, I worry that people will think we're rich because we live in a pretty big house. We got a very good deal on it, just like the cruise. We're not rich, we know how to find a bargain! But I digress. We are definitely becoming "cruise people", even if it means people will think we're rich. It is such a great way to vacation. Extremely cost effective (did I mention $199 a person for 5 nights?!), so relaxing, and you are treated like kings and queens. Interestingly enough, I have no problem being treated like I'm rich, I just don't want people to THINK I am (cause I'm not). We're looking into options for the next one. This time we really will bring the kids and my parents.
We just finished the first month of our new chore system. It was a success, though definitely a work in progress. I'm going to miss Jonathan being "kitchen boy", now Jake is "kitchen boy" which really means Mommy's kitchen helper. Jonathan pretty much did all the kitchen clean up all month. I do feel the need to mention however, that while Jake is definitely a large part of that "work in progress" that I mentioned, he is far more involved in clean up that Jonathan was at his age. The moral of this story is that you don't have to "train" your kids when they are tiny for them to be very competent housekeepers in their teen/ preteen years. There is not a limited window of opportunity as some people would lead you to believe. It's never too late, take my word for it! Anyway, Jake is now kitchen helper, Madi is laundry (so while I will be doing much more kitchen work this month, I won't spend much (if any) time on laundry, and Jonathan is front room and family room (dust vacuum etc). Today Jake was "helping" in the kitchen and he noticed that Jonathan had organized the plastic container cabinet. Jonathan really did do a great job on this. Jake's comment was, "our house isn't fancy enough for this cabinet to look like this!" The kids get $5 a week each if all of this work is done to satisfaction and their rooms are clean, and they do any other menial tasks we might assign to them without a huge amount of griping and complaining. This might sound like a lot of money to some people (and now you're probably thinking we're rich), but the thing is our kids have to pay their own way for most of what they do (they have had to even before we started paying them). This includes T-shirts and other costume related stuff for theatre, plays, movies and other entertainment like Disney or Universal passes, certainly anything they want to buy and often most things they need like sneakers etc. Either way it's fairly cheap labor for us and very good experience for them. A couple times this week a kid didn't get paid, I won't mention names, but it involved two of the three kids. Today we added a new amendment, if you don't earn your money you also get basically no "screen time" for the following week (obviously there are some exceptions to this rule like virtual school). Not to mention you are still responsible for the work. The month long system is working well because it really gives a kid a chance to learn the jobs involved and also enough time to keep it up. Last year we did a similar thing and rotated each week, that wasn't enough time to get a job done and was often left for the next in line to deal with.
Jake and Jonathan got home at 11:30 last night! This being a part of the adult theatre is a big commitment!! It is really good for them though. Jake seems to be maturing daily. He's taking this very seriously. Yesterday I was taking down the snowmen decorations (more on that in a minute), and I was standing very precariously on the piano bench. At the same time, Jake was standing on a very small rocking chair. I suggested he get down because I didn't want both of us to fall and break our necks at the same time (we were the only ones home). I said I needed him to call Daddy and 911 if I fell and broke my neck. He got right down and said, "Mom, it would be bad if you broke your neck but it would be worse if I did...I'm not replaceable in Phantom!" (apparently as a homeschooling mom, I am fairly replaceable!). Both Jonathan and Jake seem to be impressing some adults some of whom don't even like kids. Yesterday someone told Jonathan if he was ever going to have kids he'd pick him. Jake even seems to be able to hold actual conversations with people when I'm not there to stand behind. He's gotten people to take them out to dinner and even buy him dessert! It is interesting to just let them go and see how they fly.
Today is the nicest day of the year so far (well, here I mean, not counting the cruise). All of the windows are open. AAAhhh, it's about time. Some far away readers aren't going to like hearing this as half the country is in the middle of a blizzard right now. My two best friends growing up both facebooked that their kids have a snowday today. They live 1500 miles apart! So anyway, we're enjoying the springlike weather here and the last of the winter decorations are in the process of getting shoved under the stairs.
As I am putting away the snowmen etc, I am once again reminded that we have far too much stuff. Even though it seems like we are always in the process of cleaning out, I am gearing up for a major purge! Last year in blogworld there was a lot of talk about purging 40 bags of stuff in 40 days of Lent. I am definitely up for this challenge! There is no way I'm going to be able to wait another month to do this though, maybe I'll make it a year of purging a bag a day. Sometimes I think I could get rid of 365 bags of stuff and hardly miss any of it. And we're not even rich, imagine how much stuff we'd have if we were!
This week there is a mission going on at my church. This means three days of talks in the morning and different talks at night. The priest doing it is really a fantastic speaker. Yesterday's morning topic was "every pearl began as a pain in the shell". Each talk could (and maybe will someday) be a blog post of it's own. For now let me just say that this quote immediately made me think of Jake. I came upon an interesting picture recently (on Tiffany's blog) that might shed some light on why Jake is generally the most challenging of my kids. I hope you enjoy analyzing this picture as much as I have...