{insert your yahoo or your boo-hoo here}
We have welcomed the most tolerable Texas summer weather I can remember!  It has truly been delightful and although this week is over 100 degrees, I simply cannot complain.  There have been summers in the past when I heard Ode to Joy playing triumphantly in my brain when school started again, and then there are summers when I just dread not seeing our kids all day each day.  This is one of the sad-to-see-school-start summers.

I'm not sure our kids feel the same way, though.   I had a heart attack when I heard our daughter say that LA was a state.  I started probing them for geography knowledge and was in a state of depression.  So they had the Jennifer Beck Geography School this summer and we threw in some Rosetta Stone Spanish as well.  We let them watch screens, but we told them often what to watch (cue the theme songs to every Brat Pack movie of the 80s).  Princess Bride, Charlie Chaplin, Jaws, Cary Grant, lots more over the course of the summer.  We also did all the fun staycation stuff: water parks, amusement parks, movies, cookouts, so much fun.  Hence the reason this is the only newsletter that I was able to finish this summer.  My apologies.

When summer first started, though, I gave the kids time to just chill.  Then I said one day, "Okay, guys, let's get your fisherkids done!" Henry did the kid flop: like suddenly he had no bones in his body and there was nothing to hold him upright so he just flopped to the ground.  Always cracks us up, despite that not being his intention.  He said, "Mom, we shouldn't have to have chores in the summer!" My response was, "Well that's awesome!  So I don't have to do your laundry or cook our dinners or work or go grocery shopping or clean our toilets?  WAHOO!"  He said begrudgingly, "Fine.  I'll do it."  I said, "Fine.  I will, too."

So although we had so much fun, it is sadly time to go back to school.  And as I say every year, routine is good.  It will feel good to get back to routine.  Then in May, I will say, "It will be good to have less routine."  And so it goes....
Apparently not all chores are fun and games.  We found this chore stick hidden behind Henry's (our youngest) magnetic nameplate!  We cracked up picturing him looking side to side then sneaking it behind his magnet.  And the "oh man!" we heard when he picked it back out of his chore bucket was hysterical.

But this leads me into the reminder: change up the chore sticks every once in a while.  Remember that our goal is to teach our children how to live on their own one day.  So it's not just about cleaning.  It's about functioning responsibly in life!  Order more chores sticks here:  pack of 20 chore sticks
Click here to check out some parenting articles, tips, etc. on our Fisherkids Blog.  We have partnered with Sweet Relish to bring more information to you as you raise responsible children.
Few of us on this small planet enjoy scrubbing the toilet.  Even fewer of us enjoy scrubbing the muck that gets in the crevice between the sink and the faucet.  I dare say we would all love to snap our fingers and make the house spotless, a la Mary Poppins.  Kids are the same.  As I say in virtually EVERY newsletter: teaching responsibility is not the same as just teaching how to clean.  So let the chore sticks reflect that.  Now, keeping a healthy home is important and definitely needs to be taught.  {And BONUS! They might get a healthier respect for all you do to keep that home healthy!  I said, "might."}  But there are so many other spheres of life that require responsibility.  These are not listed according to age, so please use common sense when assigning chores to the chore sticks! 

*Pride in the outside of your home (gardening, mowing, weeding, watering plants, sweeping, etc) 

*Preparing a healthy meal (packing lunches, cooking dinner, grocery shopping, organizing the pantry so food doesn't go unused, cleaning the refrigerator and freezer)

*Keeping a safe car (gas, oil, tires, maintenance)

*Keeping a healthy body (exercise, walk the dog, hygiene)

*Keeping a healthy brain (Yes, I know the brain is part of the body, unlike dental or optical which apparently aren't part of your body and require separate insurance plans???) (reading, current events)

*Keeping a sound budget (bills paid, balance the books, budgeting for next month)

*Philanthropy (charity work, food drives, donations)

*Social Graces (thank you notes, notes to siblings/parents, toasts or prayers at mealtime, phone calls or face times to relatives)

One of my favorite chore sticks is quite easy and fun for the kids to do.  I believe very strongly in telling each other how important we are to each other, how much we love and appreciate each other.  So one chore stick is to write love notes to siblings and put in their mailbox outside their room and another one is to write a love note to Dad on his mirror.  We keep a dry erase marker in the bathroom and it's wonderful for him to see when he gets home from work.  He keeps it up all week until the next child pulls that stick!  I would take a picture of it, but my reflection would be in it and, well, not today.

The point is, we are teaching our children to lead responsible lives.  Part of holding ourselves accountable is understanding the grace and sacrifice made by others for us.  I told Claire not too long ago that when she just throws her clothes on the floor or keeps her room untidy, not only is it unsanitary, but she dismisses all the hard work and love that went into buying those things for her in the first place.  Gifts from her grandparents, great-grandmother, aunts, parents, siblings, etc.  She had never thought of it that way.  And so far it's worked.  For two days.

One of the things that separates us from other chore charts is that we offer support along the way.  Tips, advice, motivation, ideas, etc are all offered through various media: e-newsletters, blogs, video blogs, videos, social media, and a comprehensive website.  Check out the redesigned website (redesigned shopping cart coming soon).  We have tried to make our website easy to navigate, but if you want to see something on there that is not already there, PLEASE let us know!  We are here to serve you and your family.  Please help us do the best job we can by letting us know what we can offer you!
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Check out the August issue of Family Fun and see if you can spot our ad.  There's a discount in it for you if you do!  Spread the word!
We have tried to stay as consistent as possible with our pricing.  A few years ago, in lieu of a price increase, we modified our Parent's Guide to be downloadable (click here to download it!).  We made a couple of other modifications, but now we are faced with having to increase the price of our station and a few other products.  On September 1, 2014, the price of our station will increase from $48.00 to $52.00.  Spread the word so your friends can get the station at the current price!
Yesterday my friend and I took our children to a water park near our house.  We saw the most adorable toddler in her little bikini with her chubby baby rolls hanging out everywhere (the only time our chubby rolls are adorable) and she was precious.  She sat down next to her two sisters to pose for a picture.  She was clapping and holding her hands out and being the life of the party which I am sure makes her siblings sigh.  The parents were trying to get her to stop clapping and smile for the picture and all I could think about was how one day they are going to beg to see that clapping again.  Of course, no fault to the parents....they had an end in mind....the cute photo.  And I think when we are in the middle of parenting, we focus on the end not the means to get there necessarily.  Does that make sense?  I know life is hectic and we are all juggling many balls at once.  And our emotions run so high with our children.  Some days we think, "honestly....can they get to bed quick enough?"  So knowing we can't always stop and smell the roses and knowing sometimes we want to send our kids to bed at five o'clock, I want to remind us all to find the humor in parenting.  Even if laughing at the situation runs the risk of making your child (especially the toddler or the teen) go ballistic, it is what gets us through the most difficult job: parenting. 

Case in point:  Last night, our 11 year old daughter was folding her laundry.  {SIDEBAR: we told our girls they could shave their legs but they had to do their own laundry.  Not that the two have anything at all to do with each other.  And not sure what we will tell Henry when he "gets" to do his own laundry.  But we figure if they are responsible enough to skim their skin with a sharp blade, they are probably responsible enough to do their own laundry.}  So Claire said, "Henry, I washed a couple of your things in with mine, so here they are.  You need to fold them and put them away."  Greg and I hear Henry smack tallkin' Claire and then we hear, "MMMMMOOOOOOMMMMMM, just because Claire did my laundry doesn't mean I have to fold it, right? She should, right? She did the laundry." See the picture for our answer.  We laughed maniacally much to Henry's chagrin.

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