(This is more like a “Friday Evening” Q & A since I forgot to schedule it to post while Elle and I were gone to camp. We just got home a few hours ago and wow, do I ever have a bunch to say about that…

…another time and another day because although it was an amazing experience right now I’m in a delirious stupor from a serious lack of sleep.)

Here are some Q & A’s:

I have never been that consistent with having chores for kids. Please can you tell me what child does what. That way it gives me an idea on what is acceptable at for their ages.. PLEASE LOL!!!

I realized years ago that I had to write down each thing my children do in detail for them to fully comprehend how to really finish a job. So every Saturday I pull up my file of “Saturday Jobs” on my computer and print it out. Each child gets a fresh sheet of paper with their jobs neatly outlined for them and a “bubble” for them to color in when they’re finished. There are about 8-10 jobs for each child on their job charts. There are the “regulars,” i.e. clean out drawers and make sure all clothes are folded (yep, every Saturday all of them do this one), dust dresser tops, vacuum, etc. And then each child has additional other jobs according to their age (I’ll try to remember to post these next week).

If you want to know what are acceptable jobs for which ages I would HIGHLY recommend a good summer read for you: “The Parenting Breakthrough.” I talked all about it a while ago back here. In fact, I need to brush up on that one. I wasn’t so much in love with the last half of the book, but the first half is amazingly inspirational for one trying to teach children to work. Hard.

We also have a rotating kitchen job sign posted in our kitchen. Each night the kids’ jobs switch to make it less monotonous. (Dishes, clear, set table and sweep). Lucy always empties the silverware from the dishwasher (although she’s had a bad attitude about it lately).

I am by no means perfect at getting my kids to do jobs, but Dave and I have learned over the years how incredibly important setting clear expectations is to get the results we want. Does that mean they never whine about their jobs or do a sub-par job? No way! It just means that we’re working on it, all the time.

I also think it’s essential to train, and to get in there and work together.

Tell me, do you make any goals for Lucy, or have her do any regular chores? My girl is about the same age I think (4 1/2) and we’ve decided to start her on regular chores and the summer goals this summer (good luck to us- I’m quaking in my boots just thinking about it, there will be some serious tantrums ahead, but I’ve realized she needs more structure).

Here’s another reason why I LOVE having a blog. When I got this question (and another one like it last week), I realized that in all my hyping the older kids up about summer goals Lucy had slipped through the cracks. (Not quite sure how that happens when she is yowling all the time lately.)

Lucy has goals through her IEP plans for school and therapy things, but she needs to feel like a “big kid” with her older siblings and work right along-side them accomplishing things.

So we whipped her up some summer goals:Yeah, don’t go thinking for a minute that she’s mastered that last one…she just generally can’t help herself when she sees something that can be colored in…

I think for her specifically it will really help on what I like to call her summer-behavior-regression. She does SO well when things are outlined for her.

So thank you, thank you for bringing that to my attention.

Can you share how you deal with the desert heat? Does that end up keeping your kids inside more than you’d like? Maybe that is why they are working out with Jillian Michaels? Surprises me for ones so young. Does Lucy have summer goals?

(Yep, there’s that summer goal one again.)

This is a good question for right now because man alive it is HOT here. Our kids are in and out of the pool probably three times a day. I am in love with it. I can watch them through the window while I make dinner and fold laundry. I love that it keeps them active. Other than that, we just brace ourselves for the heat and thank our lucky stars for air conditioning.

And then we go to Bear Lake and breathe for a while before coming home to endure more heat. Can’t wait.

okay so three questions {from Grace’s birthday post last week}– 1) how do you make that tie-dye cake? 2) how do you make that pinata – is it just paper maichee? and 3) how do you play the headbandz game – looks like oodles of fun!

1) you just buy the “real” food color gels at a place like Michael’s or JoAnn’s, mix as many different colors as you’d like into divided cake batter, and then spoon it color by color into the pan. Easy as pie (thanks for the idea, Claudia!), 2) we just rip up newspaper or magazines into strips and dip them in equal parts of flour and water, then wrap them around a balloon. When the paper mache part is dry we pop the balloon and paint our pinata, and 3) You just have a card on your headband and you can ask “yes” or “no” questions to try to figure out who/what you “are.” The first one to figure it out wins.

Do you ever speak to groups locally?

Every once in a while I do but not a whole lot. It just depends on where I am asked and whether I can fit it in.

I have seen the “cake float” tradition in some of your posts–could you share how that came to be? Thanks.

The answer to this one is in this post.

My question is how do you handle behavior issues with your children when you are in public? I have three young children and have recently had several experiences with my kids misbehaving/back talking/refusing to do what I’ve asked (when they should definitely know better!) in front of friends or neighbors and it’s embarrassing because I feel like I look like I can’t handle my kids. So, I was wondering if you can give any good advice about how to handle these situations?

Oh my word I can SOOOO relate to this! I could go on and on about this one for an hour and a half because I sure have thought about it a bunch. I have been so darn huffy about kids misbehaving in public I think onlookers may have seen those little cartoon-y angry steam puffs coming out of my ears. I used to get SO frustrated but I have learned through the years that I have to take my emotion out of what I am dealing with.

I have realized that when my kids act up I have a choice to make on how to react. I can 1) lose it and get super mad and either yell or cry, 2) bribe or threaten my trouble-maker-of-the-day to be good OR 3) I can take my emotion out of it and do the “Love and Logic” thing by letting natural consequences reign.

The first option is for SURE the easiest route and the one that comes most naturally. But in all reality it does NOTHING for my kids and only makes me more mad because then I get eben more frustrated because I’m mad at myself for how I dealt with the situation. In most instances I believe that getting angry doesn’t change behavior one ounce.

I try to stay as far as possible away from the second option because I don’t believe in bribery. Especially since bribery usually involves some sort of processed, artificially colored food or sugary treat that I’m so overly conscious about now that Lucy has joined our family. I’m not saying I don’t succumb to it here and there…sometimes I’m at my very wit’s end and it’s worth my sanity…but I still don’t believe in it. And I don’t believe in threatening either (again, not saying I never do it but I sure as heck try not to because it’s almost impossible to follow through).

The third option is what I really try for. I try to take every emotion away from the interaction because kids feed on that negative attention. I love my sister Saydi‘s wording best: be a “durable object” for a misbehaving child. Keep them safe but don’t give in to getting mad because in most circumstances it will just fuel the fire. I try to just calmly excuse myself and take them out of the situation. (and then get really mad). I kid…oh boy I sure sound like I sure have this thing figured out right? At least in my mind I do:).

I think one of the most important things is to take the offensive rather than the defensive and clearly explain expectations before going into the grocery store or meeting at the park with a friend, etc. If kids know what we expect of them they are so much more likely to adhere, and then be pleased as punch with the praise we can lather on after their good behavior.

I’d love to hear what others do about this as well…

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  1. Bine ai venit, Shawni! You are my inspiration!! Thanks for taking the time to answer all these questions. I look forward to reading about your camp experiences in a future post! Happy 4th to you and your darling fam! (Your posts on setting goals with/for the children got me thinking and we set a bunch of goals with my 5-yr old daughter. She loves working on them (of course sometimes with a little nudge from us! :))

  2. How in the world did you have time to answer all these questions when you just popped back into town a few hours ago. Amazing! Thanks for the info though. Loved reading it and learning from you!

  3. Thank you so much for answering these questions! I loved seeing your new goals for Lucy, and reading your thoughts on disciplining in public. I need to really work on that one.

    Now off to see if I can get a copy of that parenting book.

  4. WOW you hit the nail right on the head with the last question! Getting angry and frustrated is the natural response (natural man?) but certainly not the most effective or Christ-like! I have gotten much better at this through the years as I realize when I get mad or frustrated then my child's problem becomes MINE and they take the control of the situation!

  5. Love all these Q&A's!

    I have a couple of parenting questions for you… (1) what do you do about siblings fighting? Do you intervene or let them work it out (which is often more duke it out!)? If you intervene, WHAT do you do/say?

    and (2) do you make your kids keep their rooms clean? How do you enforce it when they are 4-6 years old? When my kids were toddlers, we cleaned their room together and they did great. Now they are 4.5 and 6, and getting them to clean up is a HUGE battle every day. It wears me out!!

  6. I am so excited to read your post about Girl's Camp! This is my first year ever going and I am camp director. We leave Wednesday morning and I am soooo stressed out!! ACK! Thanks for always inspiring!

  7. Your blog readers will so forgive you if you don't answer the Q&A on Friday when you are just recovering from girls camp. My goodness, what is with the youth staying up so late at girls camp and scout camp??? That is all the leaders in our ward have talked about this week is how they got no sleep at camp. When I was at girls camp we stayed up till maybe midnight, but that was it! I totally agree with you on discipline and love the book, "The Power of Positive Parenting."

  8. I am just DYING to know…
    what camera do you use (exact model name if possible, please)
    and which editor do you use (exact version if possibe, please)
    I admire you so so so much, I really do!!! I strive to be just like you one day! If you could answer this question, it would be a miracle! Thank you. You are my inspiration!

  9. Fun Friday questions! That last one…is a good one! I often see parents struggling in public with their little terrors. :-/ While packing for a move I ran across an old video, a couple weeks ago, of your family on Oprah. There was this segment where your Mom demonstrated this technique of asking a child to “start over” when they didn’t respond respectfully or otherwise. I thought it was an excellent tool! I’ve shared that idea with a couple of my friends and they BOTH reported back that this worked very well…especially in public because they are essentially calling the kid on their inappropriate behavior which makes them OWN their interactions with their parents. Great technique and life lesson!

  10. The cake float tradition is hilarious! Thanks for a good laugh. I'm a huge fan of that one.

    Love your blog! Thanks for helping me be a better mom and homemaker.

  11. Love, love, LOVE your blog. I check in everyday. You are so inspiring. Question: I've just started on my parenting journey (5 mths & 2 1/5 yr old) and was wondering what books you would recommend that have helped you through your own parenting journey?

  12. Thank you for all these Q&A's! I look forward to them on Friday. I love your idea of a chore checklist to check off every Saturday. We have a "travel checklist" we print off every time we travel for each kid and it makes a world of difference.

    I have a question:
    We bought the 5D Mark ii about a year ago and I finally know all the ins and outs. I'm wondering…do you have certain settings that are your go-to settings to taking your everyday family pictures?? That is my ultimate goal…to take great family pictures. Do you always shoot in manual? What is your favorite aperture to use? Do you use autofocus or do you always adjust your focal points? Do you always change your white balance or do you use AWB? AI Focus vs AI Servo vs one shot? Spot Metering? You get the idea…THANKS!!!!!

  13. I loved reading these Q/A and thank you for making the time to answer them so quickly. It really helps to know your family is a work in progress just like ours. I like that you stay on top of things and sounds like you really know each of your kids strengths and weakness spots also. Thanks so much for sharing with us. Love reading your blog.

  14. I kept thinking over your Q/A thru the day today and had 2 questions for you, please.

    1. I have 3 girls then my only son. He gets left out of everything and hates being the only boy in our whole family, even the rest of family is all girls. So when your kids were little like all under 10 did he feel left out or did you do something special for him??? Any tips would be great.

    2. You mentioned all the swimming your kids do, so do we. Where/what do you do with all the towels & suits in between swims?? They leave theirs all over the place and their suits end up wherever. Hope you have ideas to help on this.

    Thanks for making time for us, it's fun to read the comments.

  15. I love these Q & A posts, they are some of my favorites!I always tell me kids to "rewind" and start the "scene" again. If they are particularly tense or upset I'll make the silly rewind noise and that usually gets a smile. It's a simple way to let them know the way they are behaving isn't acceptable.

    I have a question for you-my oldest is 16 and the others are quickly getting older too-darn them! How do you know how much independence to give them? My instinct is to grab tight and just hold on, but I'm quickly realizing that in just over a year (gulp!) my oldest will be off to college. He needs to be able to handle life on his own-or mostly on his own anyways. I'm having trouble finding the line between "he's almost grown up" and "I'm still his parent."

    I know your kids are younger, but I'm sure your parents set an amazing example you'll follow-any tips?

  16. thanks! have another question and it might be a simple one, but blogger has been frustrating me lately. how do you make your own header on your blog – I love the collage of photos.

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