Sunday, June 21, 2015

We The People He Has Fathered

Thirty six years ago....honestly, I can't believe I did anything that long ago!, 

36 long years ago, my siblings and I made this certificate for my Dad on Father's Day. 

Well, Dad, we were blessed to be fathered by you for 31 more years after that Father's Day. 
We can't believe you have been gone from this earth for five years now. 
Maybe that is because you are not really gone. 

In our hearts, in our memories, in our imaginations you live on. 
We still share Steve Puccio stories, 
we still learn from the memory of your life spent in love and self sacrifice for your family and friends.

I can still see you coming home from work after a long day, 

I can still see you Saturday mornings, under the car fixing it yet again, behind the washing machine or out in the yard. 

I can still remember the sound of Vin Scully on the radio as you listened to the Dodgers while doing all that work. 

I can still see you taking such good care of your cousin Marian. 

I can still see you sitting on the end of my bed apologizing for losing your temper, and I still learn the great gift of forgiveness from that act. 

I can still see you vacuuming out my car quickly before I went back to my little apartment in Redondo. 

These days we picture you sweeping the front porch of heaven and reassuring St. Peter that the yard will be in tip top shape before the next saint comes through the gate. 


And now, my own kids honor their father on Father's Day. And I thank God, and the example of my own Dad, that I had the wisdom to choose such a great father for my kids. 
Jim, the decision to say "yes" to you was the best one I made in my life. 
Thank you for almost fifteen years of marriage and almost fourteen years of parenthood. 

UPDATE: I failed to tell the story of how I came across the 1979 Certificate. I found it about 6 months ago in a frame that I was getting rid of. It was behind several layers of photos. For all I know it has been there since 1979!

Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Great Allowance Experiment

Even though I promised Mary (in the comments below) to write her homeschool plans for the next year, I thought I would write about our allowance experiment. Sorry Mary! Maybe next week.

We have never before done allowance in the Kennedy house. The kids have gotten money to spend once or twice while on vacation and that usually ended up resulting in anguished decission making processes which culminated in the purchase of a piece of junk that promptly broke.

Then I read a book.
So many things have changed in our life because I read a book.
Not all of them good.

The book that changed things this time was this:

(full disclosure: I am an Amazon Affiliate which means if you click on the above link and buy that book or something else I get a little money.)

When I read this book I realized that allowance was not about chores (which are done inconsistently around here and so connecting allowance to work would be too difficult to navigate). Chores are about the work that must be done to live. They are service, not paying jobs.

Allowance is about learning how to handle money. Allowance is a curriculum plan for financial education. And learning how to handle and use money is an absolutely necessary life skill that many college graduates never learn till they get their first real job (and by then it may be too late). Now, when they are young, is the time to distinguish between "want" and "need" and figure out how to get all that we need and some of what we want.

These concepts prompted us to try allowance as our financial-education curriculum.

So I thought I would share our experience over the last two months.

Here is what we did: 

We decided on $10 a week per child. Though the book recommended calibrating the amount to the age and giving yearly raises (timed to birthdays), we decided our kids could all start in the same spot and if we give raises they would be tied to Jim's raises at work. In other words, when the family income increases their spending power increases.

Each child has three jars. One for saving, one for giving and one for spending.

Each week they must put at least $4 in their savings jar. To use their savings jar they have to set a goal (not too far off---so saving for a car or college is not the point here, we're talking something more short term--an amount that would require anywhere from one to six months worth of saving time.) The goal can be an amount, or a thing (approved by parents) they are saving to buy. They can also dip into savings when buying gifts for others.

Each week they must put at least $2 in their give jar. This money is meant for charity. They can put it in the basket on Sunday or donate it to some worthy cause (chosen with our guidance). So far a few dollars have gone into the Sunday basket and "big" plans have been made to send money to the Pope, priest friends, and other worthy causes, but none of that has happened yet.

Each week they can put $4 in their spend jar. This money can be spent on (almost) anything. We give them guidelines, but the point here is to waste their money.

Yes, I said the point is to WASTE their money. Here you want them buying that junk they are always begging for, and then regretting it later.

The guidelines we give for this money is that they can spend it on toys, art supplies, food, clothes, etc. I will no longer buy those things outside of what is needed.

In fact, one particular area that is "want", not "need" is Starbucks. I am in the habit of stopping and getting myself an iced tea, which had led to the habit of getting them snacks. We no longer spring for those snacks (unless we are out as a family outing). If we are running errands I try to have some healthy snacks on hand as an alternative and then they can use "spending money" for anything else they want (within reason--I do control portion sizes and take into account what other sweets they may have had).

Here are the challenges: 

Coming up with cash each week is a challenge. I am not used to having cash in my purse and when I do it isn't $30 dollars. That being said, after the first few weeks (and once the kids began really using their money), the bank (the extra jar with change etc.) was often full enough to pay out the weekly allowance.

Do the kids carry money with them? Not usually, unless there is some planned spending going on. But I front the money and they pay it back. They need to have a fairly accurate idea of what they have in their spend jar, and for some that isn't a problem at all. I have to remember to have them pay up when we get home.

Here is what we have learned: 

I have learned that two out of my three kids really don't care that much about treats at Starbucks, or any snack foods for that matter. When it is up to them to pay, two of my kids ALWAYS pass. The other one (the one who is my mini-me) will always choose a snack.

I have learned that my kids are really generous when it comes to gift giving. They love to spend their money on their siblings and parents. I was surprised at the things they have come up with to buy for each other. So far, we have had one birthday and one baptismal day (in which the one celebrating buys small gifts for everyone in the family).

I have learned what toys/supplies/junk they REALLY want. In fact, they seldom ask for things anymore when we are at the store. I can get through Target without hearing how some kid "desperately NEEDS" some item that they never knew they needed before that moment. Of course, I, on the other hand, do NEED those things I buy! (tongue firmly in cheek)

Which brings me to the last point: Far from making my kids focused on STUFF, the allowance experiment has tended to focus us all on what we really need and only the best of what we want.

So far, so good.

UPDATED: I understand some people have not been able to see the link above. The title of the book is The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who are Grounded, Generous and Smart About Money by Ron Lieber. 

Saturday, June 6, 2015

We DID NOT run off to Scotland!

I thought I should post and assure my blog readers....both of them....that we did not run off. 

I am still here. 

I have lots of things in my head to write about, but have not done so. 

Where is my teacher giving me deadlines and grades and stuff so I can get some writing done????