Tag Archives: children

Kids and Allowances: What Do They Pay For?

Allowance Game
Photo by Mike Baehr, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Yes, we give our kids an allowance. Yes, they also have chores – but the allowance is not tied to the chores (they lose electronics or other privileges if chores are a problem).

How much? Right now, our 9-year-old gets $5 per week, 12-year-old gets $10 per week, and 14-year-old gets $15 per week.

How do they get it? 12 and 14 get theirs direct-deposited into a bank account with a debit card. 9 gets $3 per week direct-deposited into savings (her choice), and $2 per week in cash (she doesn’t have a lot of expenses but likes the occasional candy or soda).

Now, my question to you, if your kids also get an allowance or have some sort of income, is what do your kids pay for vs. what you pay for?

Our kids can spend their money on fun stuff: candy, sodas, books, magazines, music, posters, etc. But they are also supposed to pay for things like birthday gifts for friends and smaller expenses at school (school dances, smaller field trip and supply fees, additional school supplies, drum sticks).

We’ve also started giving a seasonal clothing allowance for the older two, although I’m still trying to figure out what is the best amount. So they pay for their own clothes out of that, unless something comes up like an urgent need for a new winter coat, or having NO SHOES that fit any more.

OK, that kind of sounds like I have our system figured out. But I don’t entirely, and I suspect high school is going to shake things up a bit, and we’re going to have to figure out where to re-draw the lines between what we pay for and what they need to budget for.

What do you do?


Yes, it’s been a while. What have I been up to? Lots of hiking this summer. I’m hiking for my health and because I love it!  I post hike reports and photos at the Portland Hikers Forums (latest post). I’ve also been traveling with my family – family reunions, Yosemite, and the Oregon Coast.


Don’t Go It Alone: Important Parenting Addendum

I can’t believe I didn’t include this in my previous post, “The Kids, the Crazy.”

But in addition to “it gets better” I should have said “DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, FEEL OR THINK YOU HAVE TO PARENT ALONE!”

Because that way lies further madness.

We’ve got this idea in much of the United States that we have to be independent and handle things on our own. And in general, yes, we do have to learn to be responsible adults and not depend on Mom and Dad for everything. Many people do not even have the option of depending on Mom and Dad for support.

But the idea that you should be able to do everything on your own is just as ridiculous as expecting to be a child forever.

So if you have young children, and you are losing it, accept help or go looking for it! Ask someone to watch your kids for a couple of hours while you read a book or go for a walk or resolve some things with your partner or spouse. If you aren’t currently in need of this help, and you’re able to, keep an eye out for people who could use your help, because they may not ask. And they may not have families who can help out.

And if things are really desperate, there may be professional services available to you, from counseling to children’s relief nurseries. These aren’t just for people who have socioeconomic or other issues. They can be helpful for anyone. Google them. Also look for new parent support programs, playgroups, anything that will connect you with other people who can support you. I know church isn’t for everyone, but a spiritual community can also be a great source of support (as well as an opportunity to support others).



The Kids, The Crazy

BABIES. They’re a thing right now. Oh, I suppose they’re always a thing. But it seems like a lot of people I know are having them lately.

We are done having babies, even though I often think MOAR BABIES would be awesome. I mean, BABIES! Cute and cuddly and always learning new stuff, right? Oh, and always wanting to eat, and not wanting to sleep, and teething, and screaming for no apparent reason.

And despite what some people say, you really can’t do everything you used to do or that you want to do, because you have a baby to feed and change and hold and you’re too darned tired to do anything properly.

And if you’re really lucky, you fall into depression! You might get anything from a bit of baby blues from being to tired to full-blown postpartum depression or even postpartum psychosis. And if you’ve already got a tendency to depression, this is all the more likely.

AND, it’s not just the women who get depressed; it happens to men, too. Especially the good ones who actually help with the baby care.

Hey, I think I just talked myself out of those baby longings again.

So yes, I was frequently depressed when we had babies. I still get depressed, but those were definitely some of the hardest times. I first started taking medication when my depression was intensified by postpartum depression. There were times when I cried because the baby wanted to nurse AGAIN, after 20 minutes, and I was sore. Or when I just felt like everything was happening in slow-motion, and I couldn’t manage to get anything done. There were times when I just wanted to chuck it all and just do whatever I wanted to do for a day.

How do you deal with this without TOTALLY losing it?

I guess it really comes down to acceptance. You accept that you have to lower your expectations. You won’t be able to get as much housework done. You may not be as effective at your money-earning job, or anything else you have going on.

I set priorites for certain things that HAD to be done. For instance, I decided that no matter what, every day I would pick up any dishes, dirty clothes, and garbage that were lying around. And sometimes these things did lie around all day. But they got picked up at least once a day.

I eventually accepted that I would be spending a great deal of time holding, nursing, or lying down with babies. At first, I thought I would pop the baby in a sling and go on with life. It didn’t work that way. Sometimes it did. One of our babies spent hours in a sling while I sang in a church praise band. Our youngest spent small amounts of time strapped to my back while I worked in the garden. But I definitely couldn’t do this as much as I expected to.

However, I did make an effort to do things that made me feel more like ME. This included the singing and gardening, as well as exercising, reading, and meeting other parents on the internet.

It took me a long time to accept that I would feel depressed sometimes, and that I would come out of it. But it’s true. Sometimes, no matter what you do, you still get depressed. But you will get through it.

And that’s the other thing about babies: it gets better. Or different, anyway. Those first years are HARD. Many wonderful things happen, but at times, it’s hell. My youngest is seven, and it’s only within the past couple of years that I’ve started getting more sleep, having more energy, and being more effective in general. But it does get better.

I don’t know if “it gets better” is a very helpful sentiment for new parents! But it’s true. I’m proof.

This post was inspired by John Metta, struggling new parent of twins.



What’s For Dinner: Whole-Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes

My kids love pancakes, and they do make a cheap meal. However, when I make pancakes from a mix I feel like I’m feeding us empty calories, and I often feel sick after eating them. My husband feels sick enough that he usually won’t eat them.

Twitter friend Stephanie Stricklen recommends Bob’s Red Mill 10-Grain Pancake and Waffle Mix, and I have every intention of trying it at some point. But in the meantime, and in the interest of the family budget, I decided to try from-scratch whole-wheat pancakes.

I adapted this recipe from Cooking Light; I doubled it and added cinnamon and vanilla. The pancakes were delicious. They were light, fluffy and flavorful. The kids devoured them, although the eldest (13) suddenly developed an aversion to the flavor after I mentioned the whole wheat. This was after she’d taken a second helping, though.

The leftover pancakes will go into lunches tomorrow, with toppings. I got this idea from 100 Days of Real Food, where Lisa Leake often packs leftover pancakes and waffles for her kids.

Whole Wheat Buttermilk Pancakes
makes about 32 4-inch pancakes

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/12 cup whole wheat flour

1/3 cup sugar

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

3 cups low-fat buttermilk (or use 2 3/4 cup milk w/ 3 tablespoons of lemon juice or vinegar)

2 tablespoon vegetable oil

3 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. In a medium bowl, combine buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla, stirring with a whisk.  Add liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring just until moist (batter will be lumpy).

Heat a nonstick griddle or skillet over medium heat (I use an electric griddle at 350 degrees). Grease it with butter or cooking spray. Spoon about 1/4 cup batter per pancake onto griddle. Turn pancakes over when tops are covered with bubbles and edges look cooked. Serve with syrup and butter. Or applesauce and jam. Peanut butter and bananas!


Dear Family

Dear Family: Today I asked everyone to help pick up the house a bit. It’s not unusual. We ask for this most weekends. And many times, everyone works together and gets things done beautifully.

But today, there was arguing and complaining, and I think I’m still a little short on emotional resources from a stressful day yesterday, so I ended up wanting to cry myself.

And I’m not trying to guilt you into doing more. I just want to express how I feel.

When you argue with each other, and complain that you don’t want to do it, and that weekends are supposed to be a break, I feel like you don’t care about me. And I know you do care about me, and that it’s really not about me. But that’s how it feels. I want to get things done and then…well, I’m probably going to be getting a few MORE things done before I get to relax, but you get the idea. And when you’re not willing to help out, it feels like you don’t care.

I know all the parenting literature says I should just not take it personally. I should just tell you what I expect, and apply natural or logical consequences if it doesn’t happen. And sometimes I’m OK with that. But, like I said, emotional resources are low today, so it’s a little harder.

Thank you for getting things done in the end. I just wish it could have been a little easier.

A Week’s Biking In Pictures

I’m currently coordinating Walk and Bike to School Challenge Month at my school. Our bike rack is small, but mighty. We also have a lot of walkers!

Meanwhile, in interesting loads for the Xtracycle, I biked a fully loaded crockpot to work for a potluck.

And on Friday I biked both of my younger girls to their school, where we had an early meeting with a teacher. I really wanted to get an action shot of our shadow, but I didn’t quite dare try.

Tomorrow, we’re going to give Sunday Parkways a whirl — this is an event in Portland where they close off a number of streets to auto traffic and let the rest of us play! That’s my Mother’s Day treat.

Breastfeeding Is Not Sexy

Seen the cover of the May 21, 2012 Time magazine? No? Here you go:

So OF COURSE it’s controversial. That’s why it’s on the cover.

I’m all for breastfeeding, even extended breastfeeding. But I still hate the cover.

First of all, the breastfeeding. That kid is three years old.I breastfed all three of my kids until they were over two years old. In much of the world outside of the United States, this is NORMAL. They probably just call it “feeding.” No extended business.

YOU have no business telling this woman (who is a real mother and not just a model) or anyone else that it is wrong to breastfeed her toddler. Or preschooler, or whatever. Yeah, I think it’s weird when I read about children who are 5-7 and still breastfeeding. But I’m not that mom. It’s not my place to tell her what to do.

I also don’t have a problem with breastfeeding in public. It’s a baby. Eating. It’s not about OMG, BOOBS! It’s nice to be as discreet as possible, but if you’ve ever tried breastfeeding, you probably know that babies are not always discreet. And they’re not good about waiting politely until you get home.

HOWEVER. This cover seems to be perpetuating the idea the breasts are only sexual objects. Even though she’s not a model, what we have here is a  skinny, blonde woman in a sexy pose. That is not helpful at all. I find it weird, actually. And not really representative of the attachment parenting movement.

I haven’t had a chance to read the article or articles on attachment parenting, because the articles are not available online unless you are a subscriber. Anyone want to chime in about those? I might pick up a copy if I get a chance.

How to Balance Weight Loss, Family Time, Work and More? Just Dance!

“I signed up for a 1,000 points per day challenge on Just Dance,” I announced at the Weight Watchers meeting today. That’s about 4-5 songs per day, although you don’t actually have to dance every day.

“Does that fit into your lifestyle?” the leader asked.

Happily, I was able to say “Yes!”

If you’re working, raising a family and volunteering in a few different organizations, it’s not easy to fit in trips to the gym, or even walking and running outside (especially during these dark winter days). And of course, the comfy chair is always a temptation at home.

I do, of course, ride my bike to work (usually 5 days a week), which helps. But my weight loss has been stalled for a while, so I needed to bump up my activity levels.

When we received a Wii game console for Christmas, I knew I wanted to get some kind of active game for it. I ended up with Just Dance 3. The program includes Sweat Challenges. There are three options for a seven-day challenge: 500 points daily (equivalent to walking for 30 minutes a day), 1000 points daily (equivalent to running 30 minutes a day), or 3000 points daily (which they SAY is the equivalent of swimming 30 minutes a day). You don’t have to dance every day; just get the full amount by the end of the week.

So the game works well for physical activity. But what about the time and motivation to do it?

Well, I have three kids. They like to dance. They like to dance WITH me! So they make sure I dance.

For instance, tonight I got home around 5:00, and we were planning to go out to dinner (a fundraiser for Outdoor School) as soon as my husband got home. I could very easily have sat down with the computer to check Twitter and Facebook until then, but my daughter was already dancing and she handed me the other Wii remote before I had a chance to sit down. And we did 1300 points, easy-peasy, before dinner.

Oh, and the daughter? She’s doing the 3,000 points per day challenge this week!

FYI, the Just Dance games are also available for Xbox 360/Kinect and PlayStation/Move. And if you don’t have a game system (or if you just want to see what it’s like), you can play the Just Dance videos on YouTube and follow along (you just don’t earn points or compete with anyone).

My current goal is to lose 5 pounds by Valentine’s Day, and to have fun doing it!


Disclosure: Yes, those are Amazon affiliate links up there. If you buy something through those links, I do get a tiny percentage. Thank you!