Friday, August 24, 2012

Reviewing for Rewards

We finished up our homeschool year a couple of weeks before we left for our epic cross country trip.  I had grand intentions of spending part of each day of our "summer break" working on a few fun theme units.

But, well, umm...There was the exhaustion from the travel, and sharing a car and work space with daddy, and the crazy adjusting to being in a new place, and then the moving to a different new place, and well I have found it a bit of a challenge to work out any sort of routine or schedule.

And we don't work well without routine or schedule.  Well, we work fine, just not on structured things.  So I quietly released myself from summer school obligations and we have truly had a summer break.

About a month ago I looked at the boys and had terrible flashes of how it was going to be to try and jump back into the school routine upon our return to Alabama.  Which, incidentally I plan on starting 2 days after our return.  Go ahead laugh now or laugh later or both if you prefer.

However, without any of our typical structure or space I knew it would be a challenge to get them to "work."  I realized the boys needed some motivation to sit down and do some review work.  Nothing spectacular just some general practice moving a pencil across a paper.

We have never rewarded the boys with things or prizes for doing work, but I thought this was a valid reason to allow it.

I took the boys to a local school supply store and each of them got an age appropriate review workbook (also something they have never used).  They had both been desperate for a new Lego for weeks. The whining had gotten intense and we had simply said no new toys for a bit. This was a great time to lay down a rule like that, since you know, we are away from 95% of their stuff (ha, can you read the sarcasm? because it's there).

So we told them that when they finished their review books they could trade the completed book for a Lego set.

I estimated it would take the boys about 2 weeks to finish the books.  I told them they had to do 5 pages a day, but were welcome to do more.

Now, Eli and Walker are different (hello understatement of the year).

Eli was constantly, "I want to work on my book."  Walker was, "(whine, whine, whine) I'm never gonna finish. I'm never gonna get a new toy. My life is so hard."

Eli worked diligently and finished his book in a week.  Off we went to get his prize, a magnificent green Star Wars Lego ship. We spent the day building and Walker spent the day lamenting that he would neeeeever get his prize.

Working Hard
(He is making funny faces at himself in the mirror, bonus)

The next morning Walker woke up and was motivated to try and complete a few pages in his book.  He did and quickly, much to his own surprise.  He got a flash of an idea...And that boy sat there and worked for 7 hours only stopping for snacks and restroom breaks and he finished his remaining 75% of his book in one sitting.

Working Hard
(how much do you love his concentrating face???)

He was focused and determined.  I have never seen him work like that before.  Now he probably didn't get as much benefit from the review by doing it in this manner, but I wasn't about to squash his progress.

Working Hard
(the Ninjago rewards)

This little example just shows how Eli  has a natural inclination to take things on faith.  He believed we would give him the prize.  He didn't need to see it. Walker needs more evidence to believe. He needed to see Eli get the prize to believe it was coming.  One isn't better than the other, they are just different.

I don't intend to give rewards for regular school work, that should just be "what we do." But I like the idea of them "earning" for doing extra or to get something they want that is beyond the norm.

But then again I don't know, up to this point everything you do in our family you just do. And all the things you have are gifts.  You don't earn anything.  Mommy, daddy and others gift as the Lord enables and we don't do anything that makes us deserve or earn the gifts.  I like that concept weaving through life as eternity, but I also want to instill a work ethic in them.

What do you think? Do you give your kids rewards for tasks?  Do your kids respond well to rewards? Have you found the motivation wears off?  Do they work harder or is it just an extra hassle?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Our Favorite Little Kids Amusement Park

Gilroy Gardens
(My boys after an fun-filled, exhausting park day.)

We were able to make a couple of trips to Gilroy Gardens this summer. Even though the heat was intense (100F, we must have wanted to remember how to sweat), we really enjoyed the perfectly kid sized attractions.

There was driving.
Gilroy Gardens

And driving.
Shades of the future. @Gilroy Gardens today.

And more driving.
Gilroy Gardens

It is funny that kids loooove to "drive" anything and I would looooove to not drive for a bit.

There was boat riding (not as thrilling a ride as these fellows are presenting it). Gilroy Gardens

We found relief from the heat at the splash pad.
Gilroy Gardens

Gilroy Gardens

This is definitely one of our favorite spots in the area.  It is about a 45 minute drive and worth it.  We loved it last year, just as much. 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Daddy Love

Accidental/on purpose matching. Proof @jasonmccay loves me.

Each boy has gone through phases of preferring mommy or daddy at different times in their young little lives.

Colin has hung in the mommy camp longer than most, but now he is firmly in the all-daddy-all-the-time camp.

Daddy helps make me feel better about my recent abandonment by letting me dress them alike (on a rare occasion).


Makes the decision to spend the summer out here all together feel even sweeter.

I love all my boys, big and little.

Monday, August 13, 2012



We are in love with the mommas and the ducklings wandering around our little home away from home.  I mean everyone loves baby animals, right?

Each time we walk out of the door the boys beg to go and see the ducklings, and there are several sets so we are usually not disappointed.

The other night when we came home there was a momma and her seven little ones on our porch.  The boys were thrilled that they had graced us with the presence.  Of course it doesn't last long once the boys show up, but it doesn't quell their excitement.

There are several little ponds around the property.  The ducks clearly find the water is their safe place, where busy boys will not enter.

Walker is the most interested in the ducklings.

But they are all in love.

PS- I love how the momma duck has one different quack that signals all the ducklings to quickly follow behind her --- and they all the do it immediately. I need a "we are leaving the park" quack.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Santa Cruz with All The People

Santa Cruz

A couple of Saturdays ago we made the trip to Santa Cruz.  Last summer it was one of our very favorite things to do.  The forecast was sunny and warm, and we could think of nothing more fun than hitting the boardwalk.  Of course we were not the only ones with this idea. After our hero (daddy) miraculously found a parking spot we were off to enjoy the fun.

Daddy rode the roller coaster with Walker and Colin. (Eli declined)

Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz

And there was truck driving.
Santa Cruz

And helicopter flying.
Santa Cruz

And boat driving.
Santa Cruz

And plane flying.
Santa Cruz

There was cotton candy and there were icees.  There was ice cream and there were messes.  And there was a quiet ride back and memories of a great day with my four favorite fellas.