Stone Soup for Five: A different kind of painful Summer List for 2012

A different kind of painful Summer List for 2012

"If you want your children to turn out well, 
spend twice as much time with them, 
and half as much money." 
-Abigail Van Buren

Why don't I give my (very strong and healthy) teenage (and 9 yr old) boys more work around here?  
Why do I think just a few daily chores and then video games and stay out of my hair is good enough?

I have a sneaking suspicion that it goes back to my whole 'Lover of Pleasure' sin I talked about earlier.  Which may and may not make sense.... but it basically boils down to the fact that it is easier for me to just put it off, or to eventually do it myself because to have them do this chore requires me taking the time to show them, watch them, correct them, teach them, then check on how they did, and have them re-do and re-work until it is right.  

And that is exhausting even to think about.  Not exhausting for them, but for me.  And that is so wrong.

They are boys.  
Who will be men. 
My goal for them is simple, and really amounts to two things:
Love God with all their hearts so they will serve Him
Work hard.

That's it.

And what am I teaching them so they can get this and be this?
Not much.

I think their life can be summed up in:
work fast and sloppy and just hard enough to kinda get it done
then play video games and watch TV and get to the good stuff, the entertainment/comfort/boredom.

and if I think of that down the road 5-10 years from now, the man that will make of them is pretty frightening.

“The great thing is, if one can, to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions in one's "own" or "real" life. The truth is, of course, that what one regards as interruptions are precisely one's life.” -C.S. Lewis


we live in the city
in the suburbs
on a small lot
in a kinda-shifty, busy area of town.
And not on a farm, with acres to run and lots of hard labor to be learned.

So what do I do to accomplish what this judge said:

"Northland College (NZ) principal John Tapene has offered the following words from a judge who regularly deals with youth.
"Always we hear the cry from teenagers 'What can we do, where can we go?'
... My answer is, "Go home, mow the lawn, wash the windows, learn to cook, build a raft, get a job, visit the sick, study your lessons, and after you've finished, read a book."
"Your town does not owe you recreational facilities and your parents do not owe you fun. The world does not owe you a living, you owe the world something. You owe it your time, energy and talent so that no one will be at war, in poverty or sick and lonely again."
"In other words, grow up, stop being a cry baby, get out of your dream world and develop a backbone, not a wishbone. Start behaving like a responsible person. You are important and you are needed. It's too late to sit around and wait for somebody to do something someday. Someday is now and that somebody is you...""

So, with that charge, what do I, a mom of boys-- in the suburbs of present day, entitled and spoiled America do?

I make lists
I pray.

So here is the beginnings of my summer chore list and daily activities to push them closer to where I want them to be, and further from what the culture and the world tell them they are entitled to (SUCH a lie!).

-wash the windows (we have old double hung storm windows, so this is quite a job)
-clean the yuck from the window rails (q-tip and old tooth brushes, and lots of elbow grease)
-vacuum the screens
-pick, wash and freeze the raspberries
-cook/bake something
-trim back the tree in the side yard
-cut back the Rhody's and rake up the mess
-pull up weeds and old plants and rake
-learn to edge the grass
-pull down dead honeysuckle from fence and rake
-trim overgrown bushes and rake
-dig up squirrel planted and volunteer trees
-vacuum the old gross popcorn ceilings 
-spread barkdust
-split and stack wood
-dig up bushes that need to be removed for rock path
-vacuum and clean out the van
-sweep down walls and ceiling in garage
-wash walls to repaint/touch up
-re-gravel rock path

I'll be looking for more as the summer goes on.

Now this list is not simply me demanding they GO OUT AND WORK, but this is going to involve more of me too.  
I'm going to have to be intentional.  
I'm going to have to be diligent.
I'm going to have to work alongside with them.

and, honestly, just writing this makes me tired...

I would much rather have a summer of sleeping till 10
eating breakfast at 11
doing a few chores 
having them spend the afternoon leaving me alone
while they play video games and fight and watch TV

I'm called to more than that.
Which, in all honesty, kinda stinks.
I'm realizing as they years go on that I'm not here on earth to live a resort life
(oh, but I would SO SO love that Lord!  Maybe I could be the ONE exception?!) 
and as Dave Ramsey said, it's not "What do I have to squeeze into my day to get this done, but what do I have to give up to accomplish this?" (sleeping in, quiet and solitude of video game/tv/ipod time, etc)

I'm called to teach (which requires planning, patience, diligence, consistency).

To learn (time, effort, research, thought).

To love (kindness, patience, gentleness, prayer, long-suffering, enduring, self-control).

and to serve (self-denial, others focused).

Summer 2012... 
this is going to be HARD... 
but here we come.  
With shovels. 


  1. Stop convicting me GF lol...good luck to your and boys...As always I am sending prayers for you (AND YOUR BOYS) to be all that God calls you to be...You are an inspiration and a motivation...I love you my sister in the Lord.

    Blessings Kelsie

    1. Thanks Kelsie. I am so thankful for any and all prayers. I NEED it. Who knew raising kids would be such a daily, grinding battle?

  2. Oh how I LOVE you friend.
    So much in this one.
    Ready to pick up the shovel...hand out the shovels...and dig in!
    Sharing on FB :)

    1. Thanks Kara. It's so exhausting, but I know I HAVE to do this. I just keep thinking how parenting isn't really so much about them, but more about changing me. Which again, kinda stinks. LOL Today went surprisingly well, just a bit of weeping and gnashing of teeth. Not nearly as bad as I thought! Thanks!

  3. If you want them to experience the "country" life "yard" clean up, send them on over! We have tons of wood to split, acres of grass to mow, fences to repair, and so much more! Love you Kari. I won't be the only mom hearing their kids complain they have too many chores to do!

    1. Maybe I should! You'd have to be MEAN though... I don't think you do that well enough though!

  4. So very true. As I type this, I have an 18 year old who still loves to work and volunteer. He left on a missions trip, and I can not tell you how many tears I shed, and felt like the bad mom as other children were out playing while ours was working. It took lots of time, and a lot more messes to teach along the way, but it!!! Loved this post!!

    1. Thanks so much Lisa! It's encouraging to know that there are others who have seen the success... especially when I'm down in the miry trenches with unwilling boys. Thanks!

  5. Ouch. I'm not too sure that I appreciate your thoughts here, Kari. I am entirely too comfortable in my complacency - and being deeply rooted in my own perfectionism, am all too (happily irritated) to do it myself. But once again, you have inspired me to greater things. So with list in hand, I will keep in mind that these boys will be men sooner than I choose to believe. All the while remembering that I am raising adults, not children.

    1. I don't like it either. :o\ It's HARD work... but I keep thinking, this is my FULL TIME job right now. And hoping that my Resort Relaxing Retirement will come before 65. Just 4 more years and my oldest is out on his own! Scary stuff! I love your quote "I am raising adults, not children."

    2. I'd love to take credit for the quote, however it comes from Enjoy the like-mindedness ;-) This post has stuck with me for the past 5 months... I guess it hit a chord.

  6. I just found your blog while searching for a post it note system on google - oh how I love the internet! Is the system still working for you? I have been making lists but I always forget what's on them, and I write them in too many places. But day 1 (today) of post it notes has been successful, it's visual, and will likely work for me. I digress... I love this post on teaching, loving, learning and serving. I am a Christian stay at home mom with a 3 year old daughter, and already I see how easy it is to let her watch one extra show so I can have time to myself. It takes planning to keep her entertained and learning. Days that I really focus on her, and tidying my home I feel most accomplished. Thank you for posting, I am following you now!

    1. YES!! This system is still working and I love it!! Another of my friends does it regularly too and swears by it. She color codes her post it's so she can tell at a glance by the colors what her day looks like. I kinda try that, but not as well as she does. Right now I'm looking at my planner and writing out how my day will flow. It helps me remember what to do, then from that I can plan my day. Super simple and it has been working great!!

      I'm still working on summer work for the boys. Yesterday was a miserable mess of a day because I slacked off and let them watch TV and video games alllll morning into the afternoon. They fried their brains and could only just wander aimlessly around the house for the rest of the day and fight. Not awesome. Today we're back to chores first, then breakfast, then reading for 30 min, and exercise first. Then limiting it to 1 hour of screen time. SO. MUCH. WORK! But so worth it!


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