Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Our Simple Pocket Money System

Over the past few months, we've introduced a very simple pocket money system for our girls, a way to help them begin learning about earning and saving and spending (in a basic way) and to be responsible for a handful of small chores that contribute to family life in our home.

A chart displaying daily responsibilities is pinned up in our kitchen and a completed chore earns the girls a colourful felt ball in their pocket money jars (which they keep safely guarded in their bedrooms). In the mornings, Grace and Sophie feed Asha her biscuits and put away the clean cutlery from the dishwasher.  After school, I now have help unpacking groceries, watering pot plants, helping sort laundry that has come off the washing line and the table is set ready for our dinner... all are quick and easy jobs for little ones to help with.  And while I often have to hunt through the pantry that bit longer in search of a particular ingredient or find my socks and underwear in the wrong drawers, it makes me smile to see the satisfaction my girls get from helping.

Come Sunday evening, felt balls are excitedly counted, each one earning ten cents.  Coins are then transferred to purses (kept on a high shelf in Sophie's case away from temptation's reach) where the girls keep the money they are saving for special items they hope to buy.

Our pocket money system is super simple, but for us at this point, it is working beautifully...

With our system, pocket money is not given for behaviour and is only allocated for the completion of jobs.
Responsibilities that are simply part of being members of our household do not earn money (eg. packing away toys, keeping bedrooms tidy...)  
It is up to the girls whether they complete their jobs but they know that no job equals no pay.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Welcoming Spring

The end of winter and the past few weeks have seemed to pass by in a blur of head colds, housebound days and irritability (from all family members).  We've ticked over into spring and yet have only been treated to sunshine and warmth on the odd day here and there.  Cloudy skies, lingering low temperatures and rain have been the norm.  But lately, especially today, I've felt winter's grip beginning to loosen... there's a change in the air, a change I for one am eagerly awaiting.  As much as I love winter and its cosiness (and know that I'll be wishing for cooler weather once the heat sets in and our garden begins to feels its effects), my body is definitely craving some sun and warmth.

Spring will see us spend more time outdoors, having riverside picnics and adventures and pottering about in our yard.  There will be a move from soups and cassseroles to salads and warmer weather foods. A family getaway will be had in the south-west.  A party will be planned and a third birthday celebrated.  Projects set aside over the colder months will be brought out again and hopefully completed. Energy levels will pick up and motivation to 'get things done' will slowly return.  This year, I am welcoming spring with open arms.

What are you looking forward to most about spring?      

Our garden has seen an abundance of bird life lately.  It's so lovely to hear them singing to one another during the day.
On Sunday, Paul accidentally startled a barely feathered baby honey eater, who them got himself wedged behind the vegetable garden and fence.
The four of us spent a good half an hour trying to free him and re-unite him with his mother and father.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Placing Importance On Memory Keeping

A little while back, Grace was watching an episode of Play School where the presenters were taking photographs of Jemima and Humpty and all of the other toys and compiling an album.  The show finished and she came running up to me with such a look of excitement, thrilled at the prospect of sharing what she thought was a brilliant suggestion.

“Mummy, Mummy, I’ve got a really great idea!  Let’s take some photos and print them out and then stick them into a book so we can look through them.”

I smiled at her enthusiasm and yet at the same time, felt horrified that the concept of a ‘photo album’ was so foreign to her.  Why did she not know what one was?  When did I stop printing out photos?  Why had she not experienced the same pastime I remember so fondly as a little girl?… flipping through my Mum and Dad’s albums, full of photos of myself and my sister as babies, of my parents and aunts and uncles as children, all of which led to lots of questions, the sharing of tales and plenty of reminiscing.  Photos that captured memories and milestones and the changing of eras.  Photos that embodied ‘family life’. 

I decided then and there that making time to start on some memory keeping projects was a priority. 

My first efforts have been spent on updating our hallway gallery where a collection of frames have displayed several wedding photos ever since we’ve been in our home.  While those photos were no less precious after all this time, somehow, displaying a handful of family snapshots seemed a better fit for this space now.  With a combination of frames from Country Road, Spotlight and op shops in white and timber, some favourite photos of us and the girls are now on display… a mix of posed shots and other more candid ones.  Not only is our new display more meaningful to the girls, but swapping the black frames for lighter ones has really lifted this space. 

Next up, I've begun to sort through our cupboard of haphazardly stored photos.  Cuddled up under a blanket on the couch at night with a cup of chamomile tea, I've been gradually going through our collection, sorting through one small pile at a time and putting them into bundles for projects I have planned. I’m going to finally  complete the girls’ traditional baby books as well as Sophie's first year album (like the one I made for Grace), begin an on-going family record of photos using Project Life resources (as well as on-going albums for each of the girls) and print out some photo books of holidays we've been on.  I promise to share these with you as I work on them…

How about you?  Do you still print out photos or have you too fallen victim to the digital age and the habit of viewing memories on-screen only?

Monday, August 4, 2014

Snippets Of Our Week...

1.  A morning tea stop at our favourite Cookie Dough Biscuits for a milkshake and cup of tea before running a few errands in Fremantle 

2.  A special after-school treat on Friday from the markets (not actually a photo from the past seven days, but still our same cupcake choices nonetheless)

3.  It was all about fairy flower crowns for the girls when it came to dress-up costumes this week (there were also lots of squabbles over whose turn it was to wear the 'new' garage-sale-find pink fairy dress)

4.  Words of wisdom (found online) printed out to bring to a friend's Blessingway... such a lovely gathering and a beautiful celebration of motherhood

5.  Outdoors, enjoying the winter sunshine (we bought the girls a swing-set a few months back and it has been such a great addition to our backyard)

Joining in with Em

Monday, July 21, 2014

Living With Loss... Five Years On

Every year, this date rolls around and I find myself thinking back to five years ago, to that morning full of heartbreak and saddness when I found out my Dad had passed away. I also use today to think back on all the happy memories, the fun times and the joy that my Dad brought to our lives.  I flick through photos, go through keepsakes and read over condolence cards with their precious words about the kind-hearted, caring man my Dad was.

One of the cards contains a few lines that always stick with me, a card from one of my best friends, with a quote by Morrie Schwartz written inside, taken from a book I had loaned to her, 'Tuesdays With Morrie'...

"As long as we can love each other, and remember the feeling of love we had, we can die without ever really going away.  All the love you created is still there.  All the memories are still there.  You live on in the hearts of everyone you have touched and nurtured while you were here."

It is a quote that comes to me often, whenever I find myself missing my Dad or worrying about how I am able to keep his memory alive (not only for my sake, but for my girls).

Today, I will sit here sipping my tea and enjoying Dutch Specular biscuits (Dad's favourites), remembering all the uncountable times Dad called in for a cuppa and a chat on his way home from work, just to check on me and to catch up on our latest news.  I will buy a bunch of red carnations, remembering Dad visiting me in hospital when Grace was born and bringing the same flowers to me... an unhealthy not-so-well-selected bunch that couldn't have looked more beautiful in my eyes because Dad chose them himself and they were given with armfuls of love. I will wear the necklace he brought back from Queensland for me, remembering the thoughtfulness he always showed, buying more for others than himself whenever he went on holidays...

I will hug my girls that little bit tighter and make sure they know just how much I love them, just as I did whenever my Dad gave me one of his big comforting hugs, remembering that life is precious and that my loved ones are my world...