Parenting happens gradually. So does independence. At least I think so. It feels like yesterday Piper was nursing, attached to my body. Last week she told me she could walk home alone from school. Detached. I walked ten feet behind her, of course, but she wanted to be out of my sight.

She’s becoming more independent. Sometimes I don’t even realize it until I turn around and find her fully dressed and almost ready to walk out the door. Who undressed her? Who picked out her clothes? Who helped her pull that shirt on? Piper. How did that happen? Sometimes it doesn’t.

Independence seems to be two steps forward, one step back. And just because Piper can doesn’t mean she will. And then sometimes she wants to and can’t. She’s still Piper.

This is how our chore chart has changed over the last year of blogging:

chore chartphoto-321


The best part? Dad and I are no longer on it. Believe me, we still have plenty of chores. We’re not lazing about on the couch eating grapes while Cinderella and her sister do our bidding, although that would be nice, too.

Sissy and Piper have simply taken on more. Sissy does a couple loads of laundry a week (sort, wash, fold) and then gets to boss Piper around putting it away. They set the dinner table and I don’t have to show them how anymore. They mostly remember their snacks and water bottles on their own. Sometimes I have to remind them but I don’t have to pack them. They clean up their dishes and put them in the dishwasher. They unpack their lunchboxes and wash them. They clean their rooms, reluctantly but independently. I’m not saying they do any of their chores perfectly, but they do them and that’s probably more important than my standards.

My standards have evolved gradually, too. Parenting, as hard as it is, makes me better, too. Who knew that was going to happen? Certainly not me. Whew.


Chore Chart Revisited

Our chore chart lives on. Every month or so it needs reorganized. Negotiations rule the discussion. There are a lot of gray areas.

chore chart

“I cleaned my room, but I forgot to put up a magnet. Now it’s dirty again. Does that count?” Piper asked.

“It doesn’t count. You have to clean your room again,” Sissy said.

“Fine. But I’m putting up two magnets then. And then, I may just mess it up again.”

Order in the Court

Once a week we try to have a family meeting. There’s nothing formal about it. We just gather around the table and put whatever needs sorted on the table. It clears the air. I gripe less daily when I know I can bring up my grievance at family meeting. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t have a laundry list of grievances. None of us do. But when you live in a family, stuff needs talked about. The family meeting is our place to do that. It’s like therapy without the therapist. Sissy and Piper have a voice, too. Last family meeting Sissy asked people to knock before they barged into her room. Dad was frustrated that no one ever puts the hairbrushes back. I asked people to remember to clean out their lunch boxes right after school so they’d be dry by morning.

We also chat about good stuff coming up. We exchange news. The pending move in our new house was a hot topic at our last family meeting. The girls had questions, mostly about paint colors and decor. It was pretty civilized. Until Piper slammed her fist on the table out of nowhere and announced, “WE NEED SOME RULES AROUND HERE, PEOPLE!” We all gaped at her in wonder. Where did that come from? I still don’t know. The family meeting dissolved in giggles and there was no order to be had.

Darth Vader Brings Home the Bacon and Fries It Up in a Pan

Piper and our current invasion of chipettes proudly delivered this to me this morning:

Remember the great allowance debate? Piper’s been saving her dollars and picking up loose change with her trash. Remember that $5 bill that Grandma and Grandpa sent for Valentine’s Day?  It adds up and eventually my if-you-want-a-lalaloopsy-so-bad-save-your-money-and-buy-it-yourself speech comes back to haunt me. She’s been begging for a lalaloopsy. It’s hard business not giving in to her demands. It’s not just her soft brown eyes and the gut punch you feel when a usually joyous Piper has a quivering lip.  It’s that a Piper is relentless.  She beats you down.  She makes you count her change daily and google the lalaloopsy sale prices.  When Piper wants something, just call it a day.

So, off we went to the store with a box full of money hoping for a hard-earned lesson. Piper was patient while I did the other shopping.  She was gracious standing in line to pay with her own money for the first time.  She was proud of herself. We headed home with our heads held high to introduce Berry Lalaloopsy (she’s the $11.48 variety) to the rest of our family.  She made friends immediately.

Then she sat down on a stool and watched her man make her dinner.

Piper may have learned even more than I bargained for.

I’ll Raise You a Lalaloopsy Part Two: Guest Blogger, Grandpa

Introducing today’s guest blogger: Piper’s grandpa. He wrote in response to the post I’ll Raise You a Lalaloopsy in which Piper almost successfully negotiated a $400 weekly allowance so she could get one of these:

Here’s what my dad had to say on the chores, allowances, and the lalaloopsy issue:

Dear Piper’s Keeper,

As a seasoned negotiator both in capitalism and with children and allowances (also in getting grandchildren to do chores for next to nothing by offering to teach them a lesson),  I’m freely offering my services to settle this lalaloopsy conflict.

First, I think everyone should get allowances, adults as well as children.

I propose the following for consideration:

  1. List all chores to be done.
  2. List all possible participants.  (It would appear the General Manager has successfully done these items based on the chart)
  3. Give each chore an amount.  Here I would suggest using Lalaloopsy currency since it seems understood by all participants.
  4. Let all participants “bid” on each chore.

For instance, consider the following Lalaloopsy schedule:

  • Cleaning the bathroom is a tough chore if done right: 50 Lalaloopsy
  • Vacuuming is easy stuff, at least I thought so until I learned you had to vacuum the wood floors, too (according to your mom):  20 Lalaloopsy
  • Taking out the trash:  It’s a no brainer, except for remembering to put a new trash bag in the kitchen can before you dump the coffee grounds into it:  5  Lalaloopsy
  • Making school lunches should not be on the chore schedule.  If you want to eat, you should make your lunch.  I have to make my own lunch when I go fishing.  I want to eat when I go fishing.  After all, listening to the radio and eating are mainly the reasons I go fishing.  Consider applying the same reasoning to dinner.
  • Laundry:  What could be easier?  It’s not like we have to go down to the stream and beat the underwear clean on a rock.  The machines do everything.  Three loads, white, dark, and other.  Ironing?  That is what they make jackets and dry cleaners for.  Folding laundry and sorting? That’s what they make dressers for.  Besides, you cannot be responsible for the way your children look in public.  Look around you.  Clearly parents are not.  2 Lalaloopsy
  • Cleaning your room:  Unless you are selling your home, the cleanliness of your room should be up to you.  That is what they make doors for.  Sissy has clearly figured out the chore of keeping her room clean.  She sleeps and plays in Piper’s room while leaving hers set up as a picture session for Modern Decorating Magazine.  She’s also cleverly convinced Piper that she sleeps in her room to make Piper more comfortable. Lalaloopsy value? Priceless.

Now, here is the important part.  Have everyone bid on each chore for the amount of Lalaloopsys they think it’s worth.  For example, I love to buy groceries.  I would bid 1 Lalaloopsy on that chore in order to hopefully win it.  Consider that there are only two of you who can drive to the store so it will come down to you and Joe to get this bid.  Joe is not a good shopper.  He is a good list buyer.  You, as the General Manager, can easily make a case for this chore.

Have open bidding, auction style.  I would suggest you watch Storage Wars to get the idea. If you want help setting my proposal and/or the auction up, let me know. I will be happy to bid on it.

With love,

A content grandpa, dad, and husband

I’ll Raise You a Lalaloopsy

Saturday morning in our house means chores.  I’m known as the general manager, which is a kind of chore, right? Sure it is.  The negotiation of chores in our house is one effective way to avoid the actual doing of chores. It goes something like this:

Magnets get moved until there is shalom in the home.  Or until the general manager declares the negotiations over and begins shouting about doing the actual chores. This week, though, the girls brought an old grievance to the family meeting: allowances.  I’m not opposed to allowances.  Kids can learn a lot from money management. I just can’t remember to give them regularly and I never have actual cash in my purse.  I’ve asked, but these kids won’t let me swipe my debit card. So, we asked how much allowance they thought was fair.

Piper opened the negotiations. “$400 sounds reasonable.”

Laughing all around. “How about $1 per week?” Her dad countered.

Piper let out a loud sigh. “$100 is enough.  That’s fine.”

“I’m willing to raise my offer to $2 per week.”


Dad tried to rationalize. “We don’t seem to be getting anywhere. You’re supposed to suggest a number closer to ours.”


“So, you don’t want an allowance?” I asked.

“Wait,” Piper said, “how much does a Lalaloopsy cost? That’s how much I want.”

I shook my head. “I don’t even know what that is.”

“I think $5 is a good amount for me,” Sissy suggested. Ever the voice of reason. “Or maybe we should get $1 for our ages.” Did she just up her own offer?

Piper, who claims she doesn’t know her numbers, did the math and came up immediately with the difference. “That’s $4 more. Why does she get more than me? What’s up with that?”

“I do more chores,” Sissy said.  “I get more money. I’m older. That’s fair.”

“Fair? What’s up with that? How many Lalaloopsies does she get?”  Suddenly, Lalaloopsy  became our currency and we were stuck in a Seinfeld episode.

Clearly, the general manager is going to need a raise.