Category Archives: Family

Parenting rules

I happened to be reading the Zen Habits blog today and saw a great post on kids.  I thought I would share it here.  It’s about how to effortlessly raise kids.

It got me thinking.  His 10 rules are the same things that we do with our kids.  And they are so true.  (well, we don’t do #2 much mostly because I was the older kid who helped with their siblings a lot and I know how that feels and we only have 2 and not 6)  So many of the skills he discusses are skills that are so important to daily life, but sadly, so many kids now aren’t being taught them.  Think about it, how many kids do you know who are going off to college and they can barely think for themselves?  How many don’t even know how to pay their own bills or manage a bank relationship?  Worse, what about cooking, laundry and cleaning.  It is so crazy how they get to be adults and just don’t know how to do anything.

If you spend the time upfront investing the time into showing them how to do things, making them question what is around them and generally treating them like little grownups (instead of little kids) your kids will be amazingly easy to raise.   I have to give the credit to my wife on her role around here being the person who shows the kids how to do things.  I just flat out don’t have the patience for it (for most things) but she is great at it and the results really show now.  Heck, we have 9 & 7 year olds that can run circles around a lot of teenagers with their skill levels.

I feel like I have more to say on this topic, so you may be seeing more in the future.  One thing I’ve been mulling over are some posts about teaching your kids finances.  We’ve been doing some interesting things and I want to share them all with you.


Changing maturity

Not my kids but you get the idea...

Lately I’ve been struggling with the fact that my kids are growing up and they want more freedom.  But it is soooo stressful.  We’ve been letting them walk home from school, and leaving them at home a little bit for short errands.

I am able to not stress too much when I leave them at home watching TV while I run to the store because I know where they are.  But the 20 minutes after school that it takes for them to make the 10 minute walk home is just excruciating for me.  I can’t figure out how my parents were able to handle me being gone from the house for hours at a time and not freak out about it.  Heck, when I was Zach’s age (9) I had a paper route after school and wouldn’t come home until closer to dinner.  The idea that I was just wandering around (albeit on a set route) is just crazy to me.  I guess I should be happy that I had that kind of freedom, but it’s hard to understand.

How am I supposed to handle this when they are teenagers?  Already their friends have cell phones so they can “check in” with their parents.  That would certainly make me more comfortable but is it really necessary?  I’m not sure.

This is tough.  Any of you veteran parents want to enlighten me?

Perhaps a slight understatement?

This is from Zach’s ITBS interpretation:

…Zachary earned a Core Total grade equivalent of 8.2 on the Level 10 test.  This means that his test performance was approximately the same as that of a typical student in the eighth grade at the end of the 2nd month.  Zachary’s Core Total national percentile rank of 96 means that he scored higher than 96% of 4th grade students nationally.  His overall achievement appears to be high for 4th grade.

Appears to be high?  You think?  That’s the understatement of the century if you ask me!


In other news, Ethan’s math score was 99% and his core score was 94.  He was dragged down by his spelling and vocab, which makes some sense because he is in 1st grade in the mornings and 2nd grade in the afternoons.  I would guess that some things will get missed in that transition.

I have to be honest and say it’s really hard to deal with this situation where we are always having to be on the ball challenging them.  It’s a good problem to have, I guess, but for me at least, it’s a constant state of worry.  All the time we tell ourselves we just have to get them through to middle school and then hopefully there will be a chance to separate out some and get them into some classes at school that will focus their energies in a few directions.  Given the love of math it seems perhaps Engineering of some sort might be in their future?  Who knows.  It is kind of an exciting challenge though!  Even if it is stressful.

Lesson Learned

Today my oldest son purchased a Nintendo DS.  (He’s 6)  This has been a long process for us.  He decided this past summer he wanted one.  We didn’t want to buy him one, so we told him to save his money for one.  We figured the chances are he’ll forget about it before he ever saves up enough to actually buy one.

Unfortunately, he asked his grandparents to forgo Christmas presents for him and give him cash.  That really increased his cash accumulation rate,and he started socking away his weekly allowance.  Eventually he got to have around $100 saved up.  It’s still not enough to buy a new one, but maybe a used one.

I was going to take him tonight to look around for one at the pawn shops or a used game place.  However, my wife’s friend said her son was going to throw his away so we negotiated to buy it for $30.  Our son was super excited when we told him this, and we did go out tonight and buy a couple of used games for it.  (Try as I might I couldn’t get him talked into getting a game Dad would like…)

I’m leery about this because I know we’ll have to keep a tight reins on his usage, so it could turn into a battle spot, but at the same time saving up his money to buy something is a valuable lesson.  (Especially forgoing Christmas presents to save up more money)  Learning to buy used instead of new is valuable.  As much as I could I had him talk to the sales person so he could get some experience talking about money, used vs new and different types of games, so he could get this experience now when it’s just video games.  He’s going to get plenty of valuable experience sharing this with his little brother.  All in all, it has a good chance to be a strong lesson for him, even if it is something that will probably be utterly worthless in a few years.

Now, maybe for a science experiment I can get him talked into figuring out how to charge it up with a potato or something so it might still be useful when I can’d afford electricity.


Pizza it is

At times I often ponder the strangest things. For the life of me I could not figure out why pizza was such a huge deal at birthday parties. Yeah, pizza is good (unless it’s the pizza from Chuckie Cheese) but why the hell do kids love it so much?

I think I’ve figured out the mystery. It’s the parents pushing the pizza, not the kids. The kids like it, but now that I’ve had to deal with birthday parties and cake and screaming kids I totally understand pushing pizza on them. It’s so easy and most the time you can have a different person make it. From what I can tell the kids would like just about anything because they are just so damn excited to be in the moment having a party. But the parents are way more calculating and conniving than that. Oh yeah. You parents know what I’m talking about.

Totally get it. Just though you might want some analysis on that.

Amazing what they can eat

Admit it, you thought I was going to talk about the chickens didn’t you? HA! Not this time. This time it’s kids. We eat veggie meals in our house maybe 2 or 3 times a week. Tonight we had nothing but veggies. I boiled some new potatoes (about the size of a large egg) and steamed some corn on the cob. I also served some canteloupe and tomatoes from the garden. The kids didn’t think this was enough for them so I also made them 1 slice of bread with PB&J on it.

And they ate it up. Amazing how many veggies kids can eat when they want to. My oldest had two bowlfuls of cantaloupe, 1 ear of sweet corn, his PB&J and 2 potatoes. The youngest had 2 ears of corn, a shitload of tomatoes, 2 potatoes, PB&J and 1 bowl of cantaloupe. I’d say they easily got 4 servings of veggies/fruit in just this meal.

In other news I had this conversation with my youngest when I was picking tomatoes, or trying to pick tomatoes.

Ethan: Ever wonder why there aren’t any tomatoes on the plant?

Dad: Well I figured there was a tomato monster eating them. Do you know what happened to them? (I know he’s been eating them)

Ethan: There is. I saw him. It was me. I’m a tomato monster. Grrr. (Then he grins) I sometimes eat the green ones but they don’t taste as good as the orange ones. Now I wait for them to get orange. (They’re Sungold tomatoes)

If you knew his grin you’d probably laugh about this. He looks like a Cheshire cat, only he’s got an ornery glint in his eyes.

10 years on and still going strong

Today is our 10 year wedding anniversary. It’s been an interesting 10 years.

We are both from small towns in southern Iowa, moved to Missouri to go to school, moved to the city (KC) after that, because there was no way in hell we were going back to Iowa. Bought a dog, bought a house. Got sick of the commute to work and bought a different house closer to work a year later. Bought more houses as I attempted to be a rental tycoon. Battled one bout of occular melanoma. Had a child. Decided to move back to Iowa (naturally). Sold some rental properties. Sold house, and lived apart for 4 months to get on with life in Iowa. Lived with in-laws for 10 months. Had another child. Bought more rental properties in Iowa. (Almost went bankrupt when they didn’t work out) Bought a fixer upper to live in, with a pool for the ex swimmer. Sold rental properties in Iowa. Worked opposing work shifts so that Mom could stay home with the children. Stopped that after a year. Made friends. Learned about Peak Oil. Made lots of changes really fast. Made more friends. Slowed down and started enjoying life a lot more. Became a “soccer family” as the older one started to play soccer. (much to his Uncle’s shagrin) Still talk about another child but probably won’t happen

Hmm, I think that’s about all there was. Learned a lot about life in the past 10 years. It’s been an interesting journey. Here’s looking forward to 50 more years. (no, that beer isn’t local but it was free!)