Sunday, September 18, 2016

Brownie Bribery

Mr. Devin has talked to me since the day he was born. He would just babble non-stop and now there are times if I'm lucky to say anything because he just keeps talking. Because of his constant mouth motion, it was surprising to me that he has extreme stage fright.

Earlier this summer was his first opportunity to give a talk in Primary. And it didn't go so well. He basically played with the cupboard doors behind the podium the entire time. If I could get him to say anything, he would drop the last syllable of the word and put an ee on the end. He reverts to this ee sound when he is nervous or being cute.

About a month and a half later, he was asked to say the prayer in sharing time. He prays all the time at home. All by himself. I thought he got this. But his prayer experience proved worse than the previous talk. He refused to say anything. No talking by himself. No repeating what I whisper in his ear. He would not fold his arms. Nothing. I just said the prayer for him so Primary could carry on.

Granted his Primary teachers tell me he talks in class. And participates. But sharing time.... Sharing time he is basically just warming the chair while listening. At least he is listening! Forget when he is asked to speak into the microphone, he really doesn't talk much at all with all the kids. He knows the words to EVERY single song they have learned. He sings them at home. But during sharing time, not so much. I'm sure hoping he will grow out of this. But I wasn't sure what to do with him until then. And what if he never learns to open his mouth in front of others--that is a life skill!

That brings us to today. He was asked to share the scripture. Given his past Primary speaking track record, I can already guess what would happen. I needed a plan. Something to convince him to open his mouth and speak the words correctly. No funny ee business. Just repeating after me.

I'm all for intrinsic rewards. Where the feeling of doing a good job and pleasing yourself are enough. But given the situation, extrinsic rewards (aka bribery) seemed like a better option. I'm not above bribery for the moment so hopefully he can have a good experience and eventually find the intrinsic value.

Before church I told Devin if he said his scripture, correctly and with his normal voice, he could have ice cream when we come home. We have tiny cups in the freezer that I can just grab one and give to him. But no. He didn't want ice cream. He wanted chocolately chocolate brownies. Alright. Fine. We can make brownies for the whole family if he shared the scripture. However, if he didn't then no one would get brownies.

As I dropped Devin off to Sunbeams, I told Devin that I would come back to help him with the scripture. I reminded him about the box of brownies we had at home and asked how he could earn them. He told me that he was going to share his scripture, talk into the microphone and use his normal voice.

Still not sure what to expect, I returned at the end of sharing time. We got up to read his scripture.

And this happened when we got home.

Brownie bribery at its finest my friends.

Did he pronounce everything correctly? No. Was he still nervous? YES! Did I have to remind him to not put the ee sound on the end? Yes.

But. BUT did he share his scripture? Yes. And could the other children understand him? Yes!

Friday, September 16, 2016

Feed 'Em When They're Hungry: Finances for the 4 year old

One time recently in Relief Society, a sister mentioned the quote, "feed 'em when they're hungry." I loved it when I first heard it and still love it today! I pretty sure it applies to way more than just food.
Listen when they talk
Answer when they ask
Teach when they hear
Teaching moments pop up all the time with my young Little Loves. But am I ready to act on it? To "feed them when they're hungry?" To share my testimony in the instant because they are asking?

We had one of those moments this morning. Devin wandered in my room, still groggy, to cuddle with me. "How did you sleep?" "How are you feeling?" The normal good morning chitchat.

Then Devin asked me if we could go buy the Paw Patrol truck today. 

Now let me explain what this even means.... Earlier this week, we were at Sam's Club and the "Christmas toys" were displayed. And yes Christmas is still a long ways off--tell that to the stores so my Little Loves won't ask to see the toys! Well we wandered up and down the toy aisles with the intent of not buying anything but rather to think about what the kids might want to ask Santa for Christmas. (Santa loves shopping at Sam's or Costco for Christmas toys!!)Well, we found a Paw Patrol truck.

And allow me just to say that both of my Little Loves are completely bedazzled by Paw Patrol. We do not have cable and so they only get to watch a few episodes that we own on DVD. But they are in love.

Back to the Paw Patrol truck. It was expensive. Like double the price of what Santa had in mind. I explained to Devin in the store that while Santa and the elves are magical and could make anything, we need to choose carefully what we ask for. Because the elves have to make toys for ALL the boys and girls and it wouldn't be very nice of him to ask for tons of toys or expensive ones because that means the elves wouldn't be able to make toys for everyone else. He bought my excuse.

But just because Devin realized that Santa may not be able to make him this expensive truck, does not mean that he let it go. He started begging me to just buy it for him. And to that I calmly told him that we have a budget as a family. And as fun as this toy looks, we can't afford it. I would not say that Devin ever dropped this but he did at least eventually move on.

Now fast forward to a day or two after the Paw Patrol truck at Sam's Club to just a couple days ago. I remembered that Casey and I were talking and praying about signing the kids up for a flu shot research study clinic. I had not talked to Devin about this yet. But Casey and I both felt like it would be fine if we choose to do it. This is a nicely paid research study. I had the idea to let Devin decide if he wanted to participate.

I explained that everyone was getting a flu shot. And shots hurt a little bit. But he had the option to participate in a flu shot study. I explained to him how the study would have to draw some blood and then he would have the shot. I didn't try to sugar coat the blood draw nor make it worse than it really is. I just told him the facts and yes it would hurt some. I then explained that the study is paid. And he would be able to purchase the Paw Patrol truck if he wanted. He thought about this long and hard. Was the little bit extra pain worth the money? He finally decided yes. And honestly this boy is now looking forward to getting his flu shot/ blood draw so he can earn money... a lot of money... enough to buy this overpriced Paw Patrol truck.

Back to this morning cuddling in bed. The first thing he asked me was if he could get his flu shot today. I told him we had to wait to schedule it and I didn't know for certain when that would be.

Then Devin asked me if we could go buy the Paw Patrol truck today. 

I realized this was a "teach when he will hear" type of a moment. So cuddled up in my bed, Devin learned about debt and what the Prophets and Apostles have said about it.

I also taught him how when you borrow money, you have to pay back interest. He had no idea what interest even meant. But he learned. We watched some kid friendly youtube videos about debt and interest. (That I googled right then on my phone....) I explained the videos to make sure he got it. If he were to borrow the money from us (or his grandparents) right now, he would have to pay back interest later. We talked about how if he does not have to pay back interest, he will be able to use his extra money to buy another Paw Patrol character to go in the truck. But if we bought the truck right now, then the interest he had to pay later would make it so he couldn't buy anything else.

Devin is four. And yes I was going to charge him interest. I let it be his decision after he understood the consequences for either choice.

He decided to wait.

So today he told me all about how he would play with it. And dreamed about owning it. And how he is so excited to get his flu shot.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Gummy Bear Behavior

One of the tricks packed away in the church bag for the Regional Broadcast was a package of gummy bears. First off, this is not something that we eat on a regular basis. And while fruit snacks are sort of similar, the novelty of gummy bears and me telling them it is candy, makes it exciting! These were special gummy bears that had to be earned. I explained that to Devin before we even left our home. The only way that he could eat the gummy bears was by good behavior.

The gummy bears only made their appearance twice during the whole meeting. After the intermediate song and again during the closing song. I'm sure the family sitting next to us thought we were crazy to be feeding our kids gummy bears during the closing song. After all, it is practically time to go home! Why on earth are we just now eating the gummy bears?!

For the first half, they earned one gummy bear for every talk that they were reverent for. And by reverent, I mean sitting and doing some activity that was in the reverent bag. We were not expecting silence or even watching the broadcast at this young of an age. The goal was so others around us could hear the broadcast and not be interrupted by our Little Loves AND for them to stay in the chapel. I passed out the gummy bears after we sang the song and then put them away.

The meeting continued. I heard bits and pieces. I certainly did not take notes and do not remember very much. The one impression that I made an effort to write down was not even really about the meeting but rather about being in the right place and doing the right thing regardless of how much I was hearing.

And then the closing song came. I certainly was not planning on letting my kids eat during the closing song. Actually, most of the time songs are when I take everything away. I figure the variety of the song is enough to engage their children. Because my goal for meetings is reverence--not being entertained. But I guess I had not really planned this far in advance. Devin wanted the rest of his gummy bears for good behavior.

Rather than tell him he had to wait until it was over, I just agreed. I figured it caused less commotion. And gave him his earned gummy bears for the number of talks. Well, he immediately wanted to give all of his gummy bears away to the boy sitting beside him. Melt my heart. I made the boy ask his dad first though because I had no idea if he was allergic to something in it. (My brain is now constantly thinking of allergies and ingredients!)

But the boy was allergy free. Devin handed over his hard earned gummy bears. He told me that the boy was being reverent too. Which was true! And with the two of them sitting together, I think they both earned the gummy bears. I gave Devin some more. And Heidi. Heidi also wanted to share her gummy bears with the boy because that's what Devin did. Alright. I gave up on counting the number of earned gummy bears and just gave them each some.

So instead of singing during the closing song, I'm passing out gummy bears and watching my Little Loves act Christlike by their selfless desire to share. Did I learn much from this meeting? No. But my heart was touched. And I'm grateful we were there... gummy bears and all!

DIY: Gospel Art Book PUZZLE

The Gospel Art Book is a fabulous resource. I love having church pictures all together that my Little Loves can look at. It is printed, bound and an affordable purchase.

But let's be honest. It takes my four year old maybe 2.5 minutes to look at it and get bored. If I tell him to turn the pages slowly, we can draw out the picture looking for maybe 4 minutes. Maybe. Somehow, I needed this book to engage him more so it could be his entertainment instead of me.

I was inspired by one of the numerous kid books we own. This was a "mix and match" book where the kids could purposefully make silly pictures and stories. Well, if that kept their tiny fingers turning pages and minds thinking, why not try something like that with the Gospel Art Book.

Attempt One: (Please note... learn from my mistake and DO NOT USE THIS METHOD) I took out the spiral binding and measured to exactly the third point and cut each picture myself. Then rather than rebind it, I placed it in a three prong folder. The idea was great but the use was terrible. I swear I cut them exactly on the line which I measured ever so carefully. However, it was not a perfect cut. And turning the pages would rip and brush against the others because it was not exact.

So I bought another book and went to Office Max. I explained what I wanted to have happened and how all the pages had to be cut precisely so they would turn easily. I had no idea if they would be able to cut the pages so exactly but I was hopeful! And it worked! They used a laser cutter to cut the entire book at once. I was charged around a dollar per cut!! Wahoo. I now had a puzzle book that only cost about $2 more than the regular book.

Reccomended Steps to Create a Gospel Art Puzzle
1. Purchase Gospel Art Book and take to office store
2. Carefully take out binding and keep the cover pages (so they are not cut)
3. Discard (optional) all the text at the front describing the pictures in different languages.

4. Do not cut picture one (Jesus). Instead, once I was home I trimmed off the border then glued it to the back of the front cover. This completely hides/ removes all the text.
5. Have the office store cut all the other pages into exactly thirds. Note: It doesn't have to be perfect as in the exact same size for each third (but I wanted it close) but rather precise with the cut.

6. Place the covers back on the book.
7. Insert the coil.

Tah-dah! A puzzle book for your own Little Loves!

Just a caution... the pages are much more fragile. My almost two year old is not allowed to play with this book yet....