Now, y’all know that I love me some pie, I love to make it and have a slice (and one more the next day if there’s any left!) but, what you may not know is that I only make pie every now and then….maybe once a month, if that. I really try to limit the sugar intake in my household. I know that doesn’t sound like fun, but it’s also not fun if we don’t feel well (we all know that too much sugar can cause health problems) or if a few extra pounds have caused us to look plumper-than-a-summer-peach-ripe-for-the-pickin’ and we have to struggle to button our pants! (I know all about that!)

Fortunately for me, I have a small sweet tooth. If I have a craving for sugar, one or two Hershey Kisses with Almonds can pretty much handle it. I remember as a teenager going to the movies with my cousins, and hours after the movie, I reached in my little purse and pulled out half of a candy bar to take a bite, well, what a ruckus they all made! (For crying out loud!) They could not BELIEVE I still had candy left! My cousin Dena still teases me to this day (”Got any left-over candy bars in your purse?”) (I have a few things I tease her about don’t-cha-know! We were at Disneyland heading over to Tom Sawyer’s Island on the river-raft and she kicked some lady in the bee-hind thinking it was me! Oh! I do declare, that was the funniest thing my eyes ever did see!)

When I do have a dessert, (on occasion) it had better be good and worth the calories. I would rather slowly savor and celebrate one slice of real good pie than several slices of a low sugar, fat-free, and not so good tasting pie. I think something sweet and yummy every now and then, in moderation, is a happy thing. But that’s just me!

I do have to say, I have become more health conscious as I have gotten older, so when my apron-ed self plans the meals for the week, I make sure to have plenty of farm fresh vegetables and fruits on the menu……I am so looking forward to spring and summer when juicy strawberries, blackberries, watermelon and cantaloupe will be in season!

I have also cut down on beef to maybe once a week and prepare mostly chicken or turkey. I use Olive Oil for cooking, (except when baking, I go with vegetable or canola oil sparingly) and natural butter instead of margarine, I also try to stay away from shortening (the waxy white stuff), if I can help it ( I know that some really good recipes call for it, but I try to use an alternative, if possible). Although I am not much of a fish eater, (does Tuna count? I do like Tuna!) I want to start incorporating some Salmon in our diet.

I’m just trying to make wiser choices with what I feed my family and myself. When my 10 year old little Summer Rose comes home from school, I will occasionally treat her to milk and cookies, but on most days her after school snack is a healthy one.

I put together a muffin tin of fresh veggies, ranch dip, sunflower seeds, cheese and low sugar alphabet mini-cookies. On other days, she might find popcorn, apple slices with peanut butter, dried apricots, and orange wedges.

I like the idea of using a muffin tin because everything stays neat and tidy, rather than rolling around on a plate and maybe onto the floor.

It also transports well, if Summer wants to take it out on the front porch steps or into the family room, it all stays put. You don’t really need to use the paper liners, but it looks pretty and the clean up is a breeze!

Here is Summer dressed as Laura Ingalls (From Little House On The Prairie) for a musical tribute to Famous Missourians at her school. Kids came dressed as Walt Disney (one of my hero’s!!!) Brad Pitt, Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) Daniel Boone, Maya Angelou, Unsinkable Molly Brown, Calamity Jane…and many more….ain’t she adorable…love that little red-headed darlin’!

Some days Summer will fix her own snack, but she loves it when I have gone through the effort of preparing something for her….it makes her feel loved and cared for.

Another thing I do to keep things healthy, happy and homey in my nest is to give Summer a list of things she needs to be responsible for. Statistics show that children are more successful in life if their environment is in order, and they play a role in keeping it that way. It is also vital that the home atmosphere is emotionally safe and encouraging. Teaching our kids basic life skills, like taking care of themselves and the things they are responsible for, and maintaining a good attitude, is essential if they are to grow up with a healthy work ethic and appreciation for what they’ve been blessed with. Summer’s chore chart is titled “Summer’s Happy Day To-Do List”……

…because it’s a Happy Day when she gets her work done! Once her chart is checked off, she then has the freedom to have friends over, watch a TV show, play outside, do a craft and all kinds of fun stuff!

“Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

I just typed up a list, added some scrapbooking stickers, slipped it into a plastic page protector (this way you don’t have to keep printing up a new list each week, just use a dry erase marker and wipe it clean) and put it on a clipboard that sits on her desk. I also clothes-pinned a little encouragement card at the top.

This is a little library nook in our hallway,

a cozy little spot for Summer to do her homework.

Instead of my old version of a Treasure Box for her weekly reward for completing her chores, Summer wanted the “treasures” to be in a large jar… she’s titled it The Jar Of Mystery….you close your eyes and reach in and pull out a wrapped mystery surprise! I like that!

The “treasures” consist of (per the request of little Miss Summer Rose) “Puzzle balls, squishy rubber bugs, small teddy bear, lip gloss or Chapstick, clues of where something is hidden in the house… like a treasure hunt, rubber balls and candy…Snickers, Tootsie Rolls, Starbursts, Milky Way, Skittles and more.” These little treats will not break the bank, and if they add a little fun, excitement and anticipation to getting her jobs done, then it’s a good thing!

“The development of strong character must be emphasized and rewarded in the home.” ~Charles Stanley

My kids have had chores since they were very young. Before they could read, I took a picture of them putting away their toys, making their bed, putting dirty laundry in a basket, sweeping the floor with their kiddie broom etc…,I punched a hole at the top of the photo and hung it on board with five nails (for five jobs…) , each time they completed a job they would turn the photo around on the nail and there would be a cute sticker of a smiling monkey or dinosaur with the words “Good Job!”. They would get a “ticket” for each job completed. At the end of the week they got to redeem their “tickets” for a prize in the treasure box (an old picnic basket) they LOVED counting their tickets and picking out a prize!

As they got older, I used a lot of different ideas to delegate household chores. I would change it up, from time to time. One time we had a jar with chores on little pieces of paper and they would draw three jobs for that week. You just have to find what works best for your family. It’s important to make it clear what is expected of them, make it fun, be encouraging, show your appreciation for their work and be consistent.

Out of my four kids, I have some messies and some cleanies (these terms are from Sandra Felton…an author of some great books on getting your house in order). And they didn’t always clean like I would have, but they were kids, and as long as they did their best, I did not expect perfection. After a meal, everyone was expected to pitch in and clean up, and on Saturday mornings, we all got busy and straightened up the house before we went out for the day (Saturdays was always a Family Fun Day). I also had a rule about whining…if you whine about a chore, you got to do an extra one! Good attitudes were encouraged!

As my first three kids got older, and the treasure box wasn’t an enticement anymore, then they earned privileges, things they wanted to do and places they wanted to go. When I heard “Mom, can I….?” I would reply, “Sure, if your chores are done!” (that is, if the request is reasonable!)

A very wise author and speaker Josh McDowell says that Rules without Relationship =Rebellion. In other words, when we have a loving relationship with our kids (doing fun things with them, telling them how much we love them, are proud of them, taking time with them, baking cookies together, going for a hike, fishing, throwing a ball outside, playing hide and go seek, watching a movie, laughing together, talking about things they are interested in, going out for an ice-cream, doing makeovers, one on one tea parties, having family devotions and prayer, leaving notes of appreciation on their pillow with a chocolate kiss, cheering them on at their football, baseball or soccer games, having family fun time, etc…) they will be more apt to obey without rebellion. Without a loving relationship, nagging will only cause them to rebel.

“Anything you do to prepare your children for the future is a way of saying ‘I love you.’ ” ~Tim Kimmel

Just four years ago, when all four kids were home, life got so busy with school and church activities, sports….practices and games, moving a couple of times, then the College years brought boyfriends and girlfriends, and eventually engagements, which led to planning Weddings. We also designed our house and started building it in Missouri while we lived in California. We did a lot of traveling back and forth. Everyone seemed to be going in different directions. During that time, things were so hectic, doing chores began to get out of sync and the house started to get a little out of control. We regrouped and got back on the track. But that’s just life! It happens when you have little ones and it happens when they get big……You just do what you can do and “don’t sweat the small stuff” as they say!

(Now I am down to one kid at home and it’s a breeze, although I really do miss the whole brood around the dinner table!) Through it all, I am soooooo thankful that my older kids, who have flown the coop, are responsible, caring and creative adults working full time (one is still in College while working) and little Summer is on her way….thank the good Lord!

The most important things in your home are people.

~Barbara Johnson

Say gals, my good friend Cynthia from Cynthia’s Cottage Design is having a give away! Click Here to sign up…you better hurry…she is announcing the winner March 8th! While you are there, check out her absolutely adorable blog and Web Store, it is so full of charm and wonderful ideas. Cynthia’s Cottage Design is one of my all-time favorite blogs!!

Thank you so much for stopping by! I so appreciate your comments, thank you all for taking the time to sprinkle your kindness! God Bless you!

Ruthann

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