Summer Movie Reviews Weeks 2 & 3

Our local movie theatre (like many of yours, I'm sure), offers free summer movies on Tuesdays and Thursdays for children. (Each week, two movies are run -- you go see one on Tuesdays and the other on Thursday) We missed the first week because I forgot about the program. We missed the second week due to VBS. We missed the third week's movie because of a punishment I doled out to my son and had to stick to (I hate that! The two movies showing last week were Monster House and Akeelah & the Bee. I was outvoted two-to-one, so we saw Monster House). This week, we saw Dreamer and Happy Feet.



I will be reviewing all three movies. Next week, I'll post a review on Tuesday and Thursday.



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MONSTER HOUSE (PG) CGA -- DJ spends all of his free time staring out his bedroom window at the house across the street, home of grouchy Mr. Nubbercracker. Nubbercracker is so grouchy (how grouchy is he?) that he fusses at children who dare step on his lawn. As punishment, he confiscates their toys. When DJ goes across the street to retrieve his friend's basketball, Nubbercracker comes out, grabs DJ by the shirt and gives him a good what-for. Unfortunately, Nubbercracker dies and then things get really freaky. DJ, along with his friend, Chowder, and brainiac Jenny, believe that there is more the house than meets the eye.



I certainly don't want to give the whole movie away, but the plot was pretty transparent to a mom like me. (Hint: Misunderstood hero) The story kept the kids' attention, although there was quite a bit of adult-type humor that, luckily, went over the children's head. (There is reference to the uvula being a female body part as well as brief references to infidelity -- but you have to look closely.)



To the adult viewer, the story is one of true love and letting someone go. To the children, it's a funny movie with a happy/sad ending.



Mommy Review -- Thumbs up but I'd probably only sit through this once.

DJ/Lynne Review -- Thumbs up. They both said they would watch it regularly if we had the movie at home.

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DREAMER (PG) Non-animated -- Stars Dakota Fanning, Kurt Russell, Kris Kristofferson and Elisabeth Shue. Fanning, Russell and Kristofferson play three generations of horse lovers. Russell is a horse trainer who makes other men rich. He and his father don't get along so well and Fanning is the loving link between them. When Russell advises his boss that the prize horse, Sonya, not race, his boss ignores his pleas and commands him to get the horse ready. Sonya takes a terrible fall and breaks her leg. When the boss (played by David Morse) tells Russell to put the animal down, he refuses. He gets fired and makes a deal with the boss to take Sonya off his hands. What follows in this simple decision is a lesson about believing in those you love and making dreams come true.


The movie wasn't exactly action packed (save for the horse racing -- that's very exciting). Dreamer could best be described as a family drama -- but not so over-the-top that the littlest ones don't get it. (Fanning, for example, sneaks out of her room at night to feed Sonya Popsicles. All the kids in the theatre giggled as they saw the Popsicle sticks lined up.)


The movie, in my opinion, was excellent and not actually one I would have gotten at the movie store. I'm glad that I had the opportunity to see it. It was very good and I would recommend it to anyone. With the exception of a few mild curse words, there was nothing offensive in this movie to me. If you get the chance, I highly recommend seeing it.


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HAPPY FEET (PG) CGA -- Mumble is a penguin who (literally) marches to the beat of his own drummer. In his world, the Emperor Penguins sing to one another to find a mate. Those who are compatible, start singing their 'heart song' together, in perfect harmony. Well, poor Mumble. He was dropped when he was just an egg and as a result, he can't sing -- at all! But, he can dance up a storm. His mother embraces his uniqueness and his father wants him to conform to the rest of the group. What's worse, the fish population is disappearing and the elder penguins are convinced that it's Mumble's fault. They are convinced that his dancing has upset the Great Guin. Mumble sets out to prove them wrong, convinced it is the work of the Aliens.
The movie is full of songs -- both newer and older. Several of the songs are suggestive but most of them are just plain fun. I didn't notice any cursing or any mock cursing. (ie in Hercules when Pain and Panic say "Oh my gods." Or in Madagascar when Marty says 'sugar, honey, iced tea"). Also, there is no death in the movie. The only questionable thing I would caution parents about is the group of rag-tag penguins (Adelie penguins) Mumble hangs out with once he's banished from the land (oh...I guess that was a spoiler, huh?) The Adelie penguins are portrayed as Hispanic and there is brief reference made by one of the elders about their character. Again, you have to really look to catch the various references.
I have to admit that I was very excited about seeing this movie -- especially after I had read a very unsavory review about it on a message board. There is no denying the global impact that the Aliens have on the penguins land. The mentor, Lovelace (a Rockhopper penguin), has a soda ring around his neck and through the whole movie, huge glaciers are constantly breaking into the water. They even come right out and talk about it toward the end of the movie when the Aliens (btw, the Aliens are humans) are discussing what should be done about the various projects destroying the penguins' food supply.
All in all, it was a fun movie. The music was great and it was fun to figure out which songs were being sung. It's definitely not a movie I would watch again unless forced (although, to be fair, I feel that way about most movies). DJ said he would watch it again while Lynne asked to go home in the middle of it.
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Next week, I'll review Charlotte's Web and Zathura. I realize many of you have probably seen these a million times, but for those who are like me and don't get to the movies very often, I hope my reviews are helpful.

Infallible Aspirations


Far away in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.- Louisa May Alcott, author





For some of my readers, this blog entry might look familiar as I presented the question in two groups. For those of you who are reading this as a web friend, this is the question I presented: If you could not fail, what would you do? In other words, if you could succeed at what ever you did, what would you strive to do? Would you get over a fear of heights and go flying? Would you go back to school and get your masters? Would you go into business for yourself? The point of the question being what is possible when you take away self doubt and fear of failure. If you sit and think about the options (and there are so many!), it's quite awesome.


I asked my 9 year old son the same question this morning. He said he wanted to tour Europe. I further asked him how this wasn't already possible when he grew up? He says, "It is possible, Mom. I am going to travel around Europe." I chuckled and presented the question another way: If you couldn't fail at whatever you tried to do, what would you do.


"Ooooh." The light bulb goes off. "I'd like to be the first kid astronaut," he says without pause. I ask him where he'll go. He says (LOL), "To NASA" (Duh, Mom) I laugh and ask him what he would like to do as the first kid astronaut. "I want to explore other galaxies. Maybe I'll find planets just like ours."





That's the kind of thinking I was trying to pull out of my friends! Dare to dream. The sky is the limit here (actually, there are no limits -- you are limitless in your dreams because failure is out of the realm of possibility). To say it's an awesome thought is a gross understatement!

All too often, I think life puts limits on us. (Probably more accurately is the fact that we put limits on ourselves). If we approached life like a child learning to walk, I believe we'd get so much more accomplished. If you think about it, a baby does not stop just because she falls down a few times. She keeps at it. Any mother out there can vividly see the look of determination on that child's face. She is going to get this! At no time does she ever think to herself, "Well, I can't do this. I might as well give up." No! Giving up never occurs to her because the idea that she can't never enters her mind! This is picture perfect determination! This is what we should all strive to do daily in our lives. I challenge everyone reading this entry to try to accomplish one things this coming week with child-like determination.

It is time to stop being and start living. All too often, I think we go through the motions and let life lead us instead of us leading life. Teenagers who graduate high school eagerly look forward to the future ahead of them. Some, go right into college. Some take time off and travel. Adults view these young adults as idealistic and maybe a little too optimistic. Well, why shouldn't they be idealistic and optimistic? The world is theirs for the taking. All they have to do, is reach out and grab it.

Okay, so realistically, we all know that to succeed, you have to fail. I don't think there is one person in this world who has ever succeeded right out of the starting gate. (I believe that the world would be a better place if those who had succeeded shared all of their failures with those who wanted to succeed. That's right. I believe that the secret to success lies not in knowing what worked, but what didn't.)

We can't let failure hold us back! Instead, we need to accept that failure is almost inevitable and get on with living! How many times did Edison fail with the light bulb before he finally figured out what worked? What if he would have quit after one try? Two tries? Ten tries? We'd be in the dark! (Okay, probably not...but we wouldn't be crediting the light bulb to Edison, that's for sure!) Babe Ruth struck out over a thousand times, but yet is credited as being one of the best in his field (no pun intended).

When he retired in 1935, Babe Ruth owned many of baseball's greatest records, and some of its worst. The Great Bambino hit 714 home runs, easily more than any other player in the history of the game at the time. He also had struck out 1,330 times. At the time no one ever thought either record would be bested. One player toppled his homer mark over the next 65 seasons. Over 60 players have since topped his strikeout record. It seems the more that players try to be like the Babe, the more they fail and, adversely, succeed.
Tommy Szarka -- Baseball Library
If we let failure control us, we won't ever recognize our full potential. As women, the cosmic nurturers, we are always putting other's needs ahead of our own. It's natural. It's how we were made. It's good. But at some point, we have to realize the potential that we have as ourselves, not just as wives, mothers, daughters, granddaughters, nieces, aunts and friends. Please, don't misunderstand me. I'm not suggesting that we shuck off our responsibilities. That's just foolish. What I am suggesting is that we all carve out a little bit of our lives for ourselves, embracing it wholeheartedly, without fear of failure, and lead life. Go out and fail! But don't stop until you succeed.



Quick Entry -- Back to Business

I'm not entirely sure what happened, but I have taken 3 weeks off from Sparking. The good news is that I haven't regained any of the 30 lbs that I lost. This tells me that, when the time comes, I'll be able to maintain. This fills me with confidence as that was one of my concerns. Losing weight is one thing -- but keeping it off? I grew sick just thinking about it! But, these three weeks have proven that I can do it...with relatively little effort (or perhaps six months of good habits are ingrained in my whole being?)

So, now that I know, it's time to get back to business. I didn't do too well yesterday -- I didn't eat enough -- only 900 calories. I've already eaten almost 900 calories with just breakfast and lunch today, so I'll do much better.

I haven't done my workout (I tend to do videos -- we've all seen what happens when I try to take a walk! LOL). I wanted to wait until my son got done with his math. Yesterday, he sat at the table all day long, wasting time, when he finally got done. I didn't want to give him any excuses today not to get it done. Even still, it took a couple of hours longer than it should have. I suppose I should just put up the math...but he needs to do it and honestly, the work takes an hour, at most -- if he doesn't waste time.

To fill time, I've been reading blogs and playing around with mine. I went to Julie's and found a neat little imood icon and then one thing led to another and I downloaded a Mojikan to the site. I hope to wake him up eventually...because the fact that he's tired is starting to feel personal! LOL

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UPDATE: I've added a radio! Just click on it to listen to whatever YOU want to while you browse my blog. Let me know what you think. (note: you must have Windows Media Player)

Father's Day

I have three fathers...how many do you have?

No, of course I wasn't conceived by three different men. But I have had three different men in my life act as my father. But not in the way you think...

I listen to the radio a lot. I wake up to Bob and Sheri. I listen to the radio while I'm doing dishes and when I'm driving in town (if I'm not listening to the latest VBS CD or XMRadio, that is). One thing I noticed is that everyone spent Friday talking about their father's and the specialness of them.

Bob and Sheri are my cup of tea. Sheri described her parents as this: "My mom and dad were chain smokers. One day, my dad said that we were going to have to cut some corners to save some money. I looked at him and said that maybe we could stop buying so many cigarettes. He took a long drag off of his cigarette and looked at me as he exhaled and said "And maybe we could stop buying so much food and feeding you."

Okay, so this is bleak. Sheri will be the first to tell you that she came from a dysfunctional family. I like to say that, at times, if my family wasn't dysfunctional, it wouldn't function at all. Now, of course this isn't going to be a parent bashing post. I'm just pointing out that, if we were all honest with ourselves, very few us have no dysfunction in our families. I think families and dysfunction are synonymous.

So, maybe I went off a bit of tangent. If you knew my family history, you'd understand why. But let's bring this back to the subject at hand: fathers.

Since I have three (or have had three), you can imagine that I have learned quite a bit from each one. Not all of them have shown me good things. Some showed me what I don't want in a man, if nothing else. All have shown me love in their own way, however. And while fathers are awesome -- strong, intelligent, leaders -- they are human. I have three, very human fathers. But I love them each in a special way.

Now, my own husband as a father. I was concerned. But it seems that in these past few years that he has gotten along a lot better with our son. (Of course, it's important to point out here that there are times they don't get along because they are so much alike! This would be when I put on my referee hat.) But lately...it's been good.

Take for example a moment from yesterday. I will log this away in my memory as a day no amount of money could buy.

Yesterday, we had grilled burgers. (I had gotten DH a grill for Father's Day, assembled it myself -- thank you very much -- and given it to him as an early gift). Our son stuck to DH like glue last night and DH went with it. DS learned why we stack the briquettes in a pyramid as well as why the coals get ash white. Of course our son was really eating up the individual attention. (We grilled out again tonight, this time chicken, and both the kids were out there gleaning information from Daddy). It was so wonderful to see this interaction between my son and my husband. I love that they interact like this because, let's be honest, there are things out there that I could never teach our son in the same way that my husband could. Men provide that element of...well, manliness. I would over explain it, over emotionalize it, or over whelm it if I were to discuss it. Things like BBQ is definitely better left to the Daddies.

I hope my son won't forget these little moments with his dad. (With me, too...but we're around each other all time...time with Daddy is that much more special). I also hope he has a thousand more of these little moments where long after his father and I are gone, he will turn to his children (or his grandchildren) and explain how his daddy was. These are the moments that can't be bought or planned. They happen naturally and I suspect that neither my son or my husband gave last night a moment's thought. But I did. And I hope they will hold it in their hearts just as I have held it in mine.

Why Honky Tonk?

Honky Tonk is what my husband calls my music. To him, it's the standard country-western sob story of the wife leaving her husband for his brother, taking his truck and his dog. But modern country is so much more! To me, modern country is the music of the people: political and social and I like that.

Music has to speak to me. If it doesn't, I won't listen to it. What you hear in the background is the music I'm listening to at the moment. Some of it's fun, sure...but most of it is about social issues. My current favorite artists are Taylor Swift (a cute little teenager who sings about what she knows, which is refreshingly honest) and Rodney Adkins. Included in my song list is Kelly Clarkson (who is not really country), Trace Adkins (are they related?), Brooks and Dunn and Josh Turner. I have tons more, which I'll probably end up adding later, but I thought I'd comment on these:

Teardrops on my Guitar (Taylor Swift) -- Who doesn't remember their high school crush? It was innocent but it consumed so much of our time!

Tied together with a Smile (Taylor Swift) -- Any woman who has ever been a people pleaser in high school can sympathize with this one. (Remember, Taylor herself is just a teen, so her first album deals with a lot of high school issues).

Long Black Train (Josh Turner) -- This was the very first song I heard when I first heard of Josh Turner. The video mesmerized me. I highly recommended jumping over to You Tube and looking it up. The song talks about the long black train (bad decisions or Satan, depending on which school of thought you come from). His voice is amazing.

Believe (Brooks and Dunn) -- This is another secular song with a Christian message. I'm Christian so a lot of these songs that deal with issues of this matter really appeal to me. I love that it's a casual type song. I love that the boy in the song goes to an older neighbor to get wisdom. It seems we don't do that much anymore.

My Little Buckaroo (Rodney Adkins) -- This just makes me smile as a mom, even though the song is about a father and his boy. Our children pick up so much from us; good and bad.

If You're Going Thorough H*** (Rodney Adkins) -- Another secular songs that kind of speaks to me. I know it's not meant to be taken as I take it, but it's a reminder that our troubles are rarely permanent and if we can just get through them, we'll be fine. Of course, the word pictures Rodney uses in this song makes me smile -- let's hurry up and get out of this before the devil gets after us and gives us even more trouble! LOL

Hot Mama (Trace Adkins) -- A fun song pure and simple that reminds me that my husband loves who I am and doesn't necessarily want what I was but what I am. It reminds me that women do indeed age like fine wine; we only get better with age.

Because of You (Kelly Clarkson) -- Not country one bit but kind of reminds me about bits from my growing up years. It's not a positive song. It's not uplifting. But it just resonates with me. A lot of songs are like that for me...no real reason why I like them, I just do.

Music has always affected me. In church, when I sing, I get shivers up my spine. When I watch a movie, music carries me through the story, be it a love story, a drama or a horror.

Of course, when I'm not listening to my music, I'm listening to Radio Disney and, here lately, the kids' CD from VBS. LOL

Doesn't she sum it up so perfectly?

You can check Anita out here!

Glow-in-the-dark mess

The kids have been attending VBS (Vacation Bible School) this week and today, they brought home those glow-in-the-dark bracelets. The Oriental Trading Company sells them and I suspect this is where the church got theirs. (When I taught VBS a couple of years ago, the director bought a lot of goodies from OTC as their prices are decent and you can buy in bulk).

Anywho, the kids and I are driving down the road and they are telling me a story that the director told them about a time she went to a concert. Someone had cut one of the bracelets open and started swinging it around. Well, I guess a glob of the liquid landed in her eye and she went rushing to the bathroom, in pain. She said when she got there, her eye glowed in the dark, but the pain was not worth the cool effect so the children should not to try to open the bracelets in anyway.

Unfortunately, when you tell my children not to do something, it's a sure-fire way to ensure that they will. I'm not entirely sure how it happened. I don't know if my son cut his open or if it sprung a leak...but somehow, I have glow-in-the-dark juice all over my walls in the bathroom. I have it on the floor and the mirror too. Oh and the toilet now glows a lovely shade of blue.

While I was doing my business on the toilet (because all moms know that we can't have a moments peace in the bathroom), the kids came in and showed me what they did while I took a nap on the couch. My son turned off the light and I saw the lovely light show that was displayed like one of those rave clubs that has paint and blue lights. Then I looked at my son. His clothes were covered in glow-in-the-dark juice.

I have to give them credit -- they didn't try to drink it; although my son mentioned something about trying it back when he was in public school. Of course, I don't know if that's a tall tale because I'm pretty sure if he would have tried the glow-in-the-dark concoction that he would have complained of a tummy ache at least. But he didn't. Unless I chose to block that part out; which is pretty likely. In order to preserve the nice moments that happen in our house with a precocious 9 year old little boy, I tend to block out the not so nice ones.

Playing around a bit

Okay, so I've been playing around with my blog. I'm sure you can't tell from looking at it (or maybe you can), but this is an old blogger template (standard HTML coding). The new blogger (from what I can tell) is XML coding. It's quite a challenge to find templates for the new blogger. I walked through a tutorial with a friend and she has a really great blog set up. But I saw this and I really liked it, so I switched back to classic. It probably won't stay as it doesn't support widgets (did you notice all my links are gone?) In fact, I can't edit the links that are displayed here without going in and messing with the HTML coding. I know the basics, but nothing fancy. I am a cut and paste woman (giving proper credit where credit is due always!)

I use free templates as I can't afford to buy one. Besides, I wouldn't consider myself a power blogger. Oh I'd love to be one! And I suppose the summer months is the best time to start because my time is more or less my own; but here I sit.

I did find a few pay-for templates that I adore. $75. Maybe I should asking for a template for next year's birthday, eh? I like to change up my templates so often, I don't think it'd be worth my while to spend that kind of money on a template. However, if I were to spend the money on a template, made exactly the way I wanted, perhaps I wouldn't change them as frequently?

Of course, the obvious solution would be to learn how to make the templates myself and I could both make my own and change it exactly how I wanted, any time I wanted.

I guess the most obvious solutions aren't the easiest to put into place....

UPDATE: I've chosen this new template (the old template was white and showed an up close view of a woman's face. This template is multicolored with a black background and three silhouettes of women at the top.

My not-so-typical day

My dear readers, you've already deduced that I'm not the kind of housekeeper whose house can pass the white glove test. It's clean. It's just not spotless. Well, usually...

For the past couple of days, I've had this urge to clean my house. If I were pregnant, I'd say I was nesting. I still say I'm sympathy nesting for a friend. Or it could just be that with the new system I have in place for the kids, I want to get more organized. Or maybe I'm done with my summer break and ready to get back to work. Whatever the case may be, I spent my whole day cleaning yesterday.

Typical cleaning for me is vacuuming, sweeping and mopping. (Remember, clean--not spotless). Yesterday, I vacuumed walls, cobwebs, spider webs (my son was able to rescue a few spiders for his collection) and baseboards. I found curtains in my laundry room and decided to hang them. I cleaned out the refrigerator and the freezer. I swept and mopped the kitchen floor. I vacuumed hallways and carpets. The point is -- I didn't just clean like usual...I deep cleaned.

Well, now it's become apparent why I cleaned so much yesterday. How was I supposed to know that one decision I made last night would change the whole structure of my day today?

Last night, after dinner, I told DH that I was going for a walk. I invited my five year old daughter along and she gladly accepted and came along.

Where I live, the streets are all criss-crossed, but the blocks don't run in a typical city block. So, while I went to the corner and walked all the way down the street, turned a corner and walked all the way down that street, turned again and walked all the way up THAT street, I did not walk on a street that crossed the street I started on. I got mixed up and confused and ended walking all the way to the main road and had to back track back home.

As you can imagine, this took quite a while to do (probably 1 1/2 hours). By this time, it was dark. DH was frantic and got into the car with DS and went looking for us.

As DD and I were walking, a dog followed us. Now, I'm convinced that she was our guardian angel. I didn't know her but I somehow felt more comfortable knowing she was with us. That is, until I stepped in an hole up to my knee and twisted!

So, the last leg of our walk was done with me limping. I could see the empty drive way from up the street, so I knew that DH was out looking for me. As DD and I walk across the yard, DH pulls into the drive way and starts fussing at me. (He was worried and when he worries, he tends to get mad. He was mad at me).

I was in pain from my fall but didn't want to see the kids see me cry (and I was on the verge of tears) so I sent them inside. I stayed outside and DH came outside -- starting to fuss at me again, until he saw me crying.

Long story short, he sent me into the shower to get my leg cleaned up (I have a nasty scratch on my left leg) and sent DS into the kitchen to do dishes. When I got out of the shower, DH told me that DS was crying, so I went in and comforted him.

I have been forbidden from walking at night ever again. I didn't take my cellie because it's prepaid and I didn't have any minutes left (they had expired...that's how often I actually use my cell phone). I will 'find' the money in order to get time put on the phone this Friday. I don't ever want to be caught without a cell phone again. No one bugged us (which was fortunate, considering we don't live in the safest of cities). If I had the cell phone on me, I would have called DH to come pick us up as soon as it started getting dark and he would have just ragged on me for not finishing my walk--not gotten scared out of his mind that our 'quick walk' wasn't so quick!

The Just-Like-Dad Pay System

I've discussed this loosely on various message boards and since most of my friends are familiar with this blog, I figured I'd discuss it in depth here.

For awhile, I've been debating whether to pay my son for doing his chores. If I do, how do I determine what he gets paid? And shouldn't he do chores simply because he's part of the family? And if he does do chores as part of the family, should I pay him an allowance? Should he get an allowance for doing nothing?

After thinking things over and talking things over with the gals over at Homeschooling Moms, I have come up the following system. (If anyone would like sample documents of my system, just let me know and I'll pass them on along).

The system I have come up with fondly called The Just-Like-Dad Pay System and is loosely based on how my husband gets paid. My son has a list of chores that he does because he is a part of the family (keeping his room cleaning, scooping out the litter box, taking out the trash and generally picking up after himself). After he has done these, he can work on the chores that he can get paid for (these chores are usually ones that I would do once a week anyway. He can choose to do them and get paid or not to do them and not get paid). His 'work day' runs from 7 am to 3 pm. This means that he has from 7 o'clock in the morning until 3 o'clock in the afternoon to do his chores (with the exception of trash which needs to be taken out after dinner and dinner dishes, if he chooses to do them).

I thought he might get tricky and try to do one of the chores more than once, so I put a cap on each chore that he could get paid for. For example, he has the opportunity to get paid for making his bed -- a chore on which we don't put a lot of emphasis -- seven times (one for each day of the week). Dishes, he has an opportunity to get paid for doing them fourteen times (lunch and dinner dishes; his sister does the breakfast dishes). However, for a chore like vacuuming, he can only get paid twice.

Tax was an idea I got from a friend and it actually worked out great. I have put a cap on how much I'm willing to pay my son each week, so I simply divided the number of times he could do all of his chores by the amount I was willing to pay him. This gave a 'per chore' figure. To make adding easier for him, however, I rounded these figures the nearest dime. Since I was rounding up, my figure went over the figure I had capped to pay him. I subtracted the difference and figured out the percentage of tax that I would take out during each pay period. (It just so happened that it worked out to be pretty much what he would have to pay if he was older and working in the real world).

I will deposit this money into an account and at the end of the year, he will get a 'tax return'. I've stipulated (and we both signed a contract backing this up), that he would save at least 10% of his pay each pay period (my husband gets paid biweekly, so this is how I've chosen to pay my son). He must do this with his tax return money as well. 10% must go into his bank savings account. The rest he can do with what he wishes (within reason, of course).

For a 10 year old boy, I figured waiting twelve months for a 'pay off' was a pretty long time, so I decided to set up a short term savings goal with him. In his contract, he has agreed to work with me in setting up a short term goal that he must save up for. Currently, he wants to renew a magazine subscription ($10). Depending on how much he saves, he could reach this goal very quickly. The turn over for this goal would be fast and he would have a concrete idea of why it's important to save for the things you want.

At the end of the year (Christmas time), I have stipulated that he may pull out half of his savings to use for Christmas presents. (What I have not told him, but did run by my husband, is that we will matching him dollar for dollar up to $50).

In order to keep track of all of this, I have printed out 'time cards' for the kids (my daughter currently has a similar system, but being that she's only five, she just have to save 10%. She's not taxed - yet.) Each time the children complete a chore, they must come to me and I must sign off on their time cards. At the end of the week, we'll add the totals and I will know (they will know, too) how much they are getting.

I've very excited about this project. The learning scope of a project like this is endless. The kids don't know it, but we're hoping to go to Disney early next year. As the time draws nearer, we will discuss a souvenir allowance with the kids and explain to them, if they want more to spend on souvenirs, they must save for it.

Today was our first day implementing the new system. My daughter immediately set to work doing two of her chores (she has four total that she can get paid for). My son did his laundry and made his bed but has declined to earn any more money. I'm not too worried about this. The system is simple -- you don't work, you don't get paid. The chores that he doesn't get paid for are the chores that need to be done daily, so I'm not concerned with the house becoming a pig sty. I suppose if there is a hole in my system and he starts abusing it, I'll have to deal with it...but right now, I'm just going to sit back and watch what happens. I suspect peer pressure will get the better of him when he realizes his five year old sister is making more than he is.

Is there a 12-step program for this?

Today, I spent my whole day in my bedroom -- cleaning. Ordinarily, this wouldn't be such a big deal. Everyone cleans their bedrooms, right? For four hours?!?!

No, what I did today could only be described in one word: sick.

Don't believe me?

Exhibit A: I dusted all my furniture, including my oscillating fan!
Exhibit B: I went through both DH and my bedside tables, organizing them.
Exhibit C: I cleaned under my bed and vacuumed.
Exhibit D: I cleaned out my closet and vacuumed it, too.

All of this sounds pretty 'normal', right? I saved the best for last:

Exhibit E: I color coordinated the clothes in the closet and the empty coat hangers!

I really need help! I never clean this thoroughly. I'm not exactly a bad housekeeper, but I do what needs to be done and pretty much let the rest go. After all, housework is one of those tasks that, in my opinion, is a fruitless waste of time. Don't get me wrong -- keeping a clean house is important -- but let's be honest -- there is always something to do!

Okay...being completely honest with myself, I'm a so-so housekeeper at best. After all, my dear, sweet hard-working husband didn't have any clean underwear in his drawer this morning when he was getting ready for work! I ask you, what kind of wife does that make me? (In my defense, I did ask DH to please tell me when he's getting low so I can be sure to throw a load in if I haven't gotten around to doing it yet. DH's response was something to the effect of, "I just need to get off my butt and do it myself." Maybe -- but I'm going to buy some more underwear for DH next paycheck to give me a little bit of laundry wiggle room.)

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