Thursday, February 20, 2020

The Snitch is Caught

It's weird, surreal, and a bit scary to think that in a matter of a fortnight, we will depart on our Hogwarts Journey. Cat

Last night, the kids and I completed the Jim Dale reading of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Something about that accomplishment makes me want to cry. It's the end, for the first time. The secrets have been revealed. The mystery is solved. The Horcruxes have been vanquished.

As we were listening to the last disc, I would get excited and shush the kids...hold out my arms for the stillness to fall, and then the words would pour over them. With each secret that was revealed with each explanation that came, their eyes widened. Then we would discuss, summarize and continue. There was so much to absorb, so much to feel, so much to connect.

Image result for harry potter and the deathly hallows

As I watched the kids experience the ending of the Harry Potter series for the first time, I could not have been more grateful that we had the the 7th book on CD so that we could experience it together. I would have been satisfied with just Carrick reading it, but going through it as a family added a power to the story that I had yet to experience. In all the times I have read the books or listened to the book on CD (multiple times on both accounts) I had not shared it with anyone else simultaneously. (Well, sort of. I would listen to it in the car when I would take Carrick on "nap rides" when he was little. It's not quite the same as sharing it with an 11-year-old.) I loved being right there with my kids as they were taken through the forest, into Harry's mind and back into Hogwarts, knowing that the end was drawing ever closer.

This was a journey I began eleven years ago. It has been a long time in the making. When I read the Sorcerer's Stone to Carrick while he was in the NICU, it was like wrapping up in a warm blanket. Reading the familiar story to my first baby as he recovered from his two-month premature birth laid the foundation for this trip. A year later, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter was opened. It was then that I made the promise to myself that his 11th birthday would include a trip there.

After saving up for the trip all year long,  (and saving up paid time off) I am finally able to make this decade-long dream a reality. I never knew it would come so quickly! That is part of why the completion of this book holds so much power over me. I have anticipated this for a very long time.

Now, our road trip and vacation are just around the corner. It seems unbelievable.

Part of my preparations are already started. The hotel room for the trip down is booked. The car rental is booked. Some car snacks are purchased, although I will be adding to that this weekend. I want to take the kids shopping for some treats to add to what I already have. My aim is to not buy anything from a gas station and save some cash that way. (ALDI is much cheaper than Circle K for snacks and bottled water.)

I am also taking the kids shopping for "car presents". I will be buying useful and/or fun things for the kids to have on the trip and wrapping them up as presents. Such items will include fanny packs, mini bubbles, sunglasses, puzzle books, goggles, and glow sticks. I figured they would enjoy opening presents on the trip. I used to do this for my kids when they were much younger and we took road trips. This is our first long road trip in three years, so I wanted to go back to that old tradition. (Also that way I know they have certain items for the trip that they might not otherwise have or remember.)

As a side note, the bubbles will be handed out if we are stuck in traffic. Once upon a time when on one of our Family Florida Road Trips with my own parents, we were stuck in Traffic in Atlanta. All four lanes of traffic were at a stand still. So I got out of the car and started blowing bubbles into the car windows of the people around us. It put a smile on everyone's face in a stressful and annoying situation and is one of my favorite memories of the trip south. Don't worry, I won't let the kids out of the car, but if we are stuck in traffic, you better believe our car will be the one with bubbles flying out the windows.

That memory calls to mind the part of this trip that seems surreal to me; I am now on the "adult" side of a Family Road Trip to Florida. Since I was two years old, my parents would drive down to Florida every other year for our big family vacation. Traveling south through Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia and into Florida is in my blood. It's what I know as a family vacation. I am now the one providing that to my children. Taking them on a memorable journey that will stay with them for a lifetime.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

It's Official!

This week I paid the balance on our Florida trip! Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Here We Come!

We have a six-person suite, park-hopper passes for 4 days of fun as well as early park admission all bought and paid for.

I have never paid for a vacation all on my own before. (There are a lot of things I haven't paid on my own before.) But now that I am living out on my own, I get to learn how to balance bills with Fun Dollars. This trip is ALL FUN DOLLARS. It was funded partially by my tax return as well as the leftovers in my checking account before a paycheck hit. Each week since opening my vacation savings account, I would transfer anything left that was over my "minimum" for the checking account into my vacation savings.

These were separate balance transfers from the ones I made into my "Living Expenses" savings account. That account was funded by the other half of my tax return last year. I would always pay into that account first. So as soon as I received a paycheck, I would bounce some money into my Living Expenses account.

My discipline with savings paid off this winter when my electricity bill reached $432.67. Apparently my new space was wired so that the AC would kick on every time the heater turned on. After receiving that bill (and freaking out...) I paid it...out of my Living Expenses account. NO SWEAT. As it turned out, I had to flip the AC breaker to turn off the AC. (MY AC and heater were competing for temp for a straight month. The air came out cold and both would run 24/7. Thank goodness I got that sorted out.) The good news was that after saving up, I was able to cover my bill an not deplete my savings. I made a dent, but I still have enough to cover bills for two months if necessary.

I won't lie, I was pretty proud of myself for being able to handle that situation. The electricity bill this month was back down to "normal" plus I received assistance from a local agency. I qualified, so I figured, why not use the help if it's there? It basically covers my electricity bill through April.

So now that this vacation is officially paid for, we get to work on finishing the series. We did complete book 6 entirely on audio CD. Carrick began the 7th book on audio CD, but left the CDs at his dad's house when he last visited. So, for two weeks, he gets to go back to reading on his own. I will help a little bit too by reading in the evenings. I decided that since he is so close to the end, we will still go on the trip, even though he won't complete the series before his birthday next Tuesday. I mean, he made it this far, and I would be insane to cancel the trip over a few pages.

I decided to extend a little grace with book 7. Even though I had the idea of him finishing the books by his 11th birthday, I fully understand that this is something he needs to enjoy. The past two books were somewhat "force fed" to get him this far in this amount of time. Part of the issue was him not taking it seriously and him doing other things besides reading (like electronics.)

I especially wanted him to enjoy book 7 because it's the end of the series. Sure he can always do a re-read, but going through the Deathly Hallows for the first time is an experience to savor. I remember reading it for the first time in 2007, immediately after the book release. I couldn't put it down. He is going to remember the completion of the series as long as he lives. For a Harry Potter fan, that is something you will keep with you, the first time you completed the series.

Also, there are so many aspects of the story to process, so rushing through the first read is not recommended.  ***spoiler alert*** I realized this when I saw how he reacted to Hedwig getting hit with a killing curse right off the bat. I thought, "he is going to need to read and talk about this as we go along, even more so than with the other books." I empathized with this feeling of loss. I paused the CD and said, "Ok, from here on out, it gets real...are you ready for this?  Characters die in this book. Characters, plural." He assured me that he was up for the experience.

So we are still working on book 7 and his birthday is on Tuesday. "It's not every day your young man turns eleven," (House points if you know who said that.)

Also, Lily has elected to hear the book along with us. She is now more excited to start over with the Sorcerer's Stone now that we have began listening to the Deathly Hallows. She and I had started reading the first book together before we moved out on our own. The little Slytherin (who is coming on the trip with us) had started reading his brother's copy of The Sorcerer's Stone and wanted me to read aloud to him one night. So he and Lily sat on either side of me while I read. Lily kept asking me to read to her after we moved out, but I had to stay focused on Carrick and his reading. After reading so much out loud in the evening I didn't really feel like doing more reading for her bedtime. (don't judge...) She did get her Book It points by listening to me read from the Order of the Phoenix, though. And, as a side note, little Slytherin is now reading Chamber of Secrets. He continued reading the series after we moved out because he enjoyed it so much! (Which makes my Harry Potter Heart happy!)

So for Christmas, my sister gave me the illustrated Sorcerer's Stone. Lily said with elation, "Now we can start the story over and this time we have pictures!" So even though she will already know how the series ends, it has not put a damper on her pursuing her own Harry Potter experience.

Right now the name of the game is to finish book 7, start making fine-tuned plans for the trip and keep saving those Fun Dollars!

Until Next time, Happy Spending.

Friday, December 27, 2019

The Book of Umbridge

Book 5, The Order of the Phoenix, is the  Dolores Umbridge of Harry Potter Books. What a punishment! With all due respect, Ms. Rowling, this book is as unforgiving as the Senior Undersecretary herself!  My son started this project with gusto! He began his Harry Potter reading this year with the third chapter of the second book back in January. (He had read up to that point previously in school a year prior to the start of this whole journey.) By summer break, he was reading The Goblet of Fire and completely enthralled! But with the introduction of Harry's attitude and the mercilessness of Professor Umbridge in book 5, his interest in finishing the task abruptly diminished.

"She's the worst" I would hear from my ten- year- old as he struggled to stay interested. I would quite have to agree, she is the worst. 

"Can you believe that the same person who created the character of Harry also created such an aweful lady?" I asked him one day. "Same imagination, two very different characters." I had to let go of the fact that I knew he was suffering from reading about Dolores Umbridge and encourage him to keep chugging away at his reading.

Over the course of the first half of the fifth book we would delve into a conversations about the faults of Umbridge. But as the first semester of his fifth grade year pressed on, I started to realized that he might not get this book finished in time. For him, reading about Harry's struggle with Umbridge, not Voldemort, mind you, was torturing this kid like Occlumency lessons with Snape!

I had to take it upon myself to help see him through this one… I knew how hard the struggle was. I read about the teen angst of Harry and the shenanigans of the ministry at age 21 when the book was released and I myself was bothered. So it was no surprise that my son felt the same way. Finally, after weeks of encouraging, which turned into nagging, I decided he really could use some help.

I knew that he wouldn't make it to the end of the series by his birthday if I didn't shoulder this task along with him.  So I did what any good mom would do…I read to my kid(s).

My daughter was now along for the adventure too, whether she liked it or not. Since Carrick wasn't going to get the books finished without my tandem reading, she was subjected to the story too as I read aloud each evening. For three weeks we did this. (Basically from after Thanksgiving to the beginning of Christmas Break.) Sometimes my daughter would fall asleep on the couch while I read. My son would contentedly play with Legos or Pokemon cards on the floor and listen while I nested on the couch and brought the characters to life. 

Reading aloud gave us something to share together. It's one thing to read a book that someone else has read also and take up discussion. It's a whole other thing to hear the words of the book together, and pause for comments and questions. I felt like I was adding value to his Harry Potter experience by being there along with him in his journey. It was something I was secretly feeling guilty about this entire time. I felt like reading out loud to him should be something I do more often. At best I was reading to him maybe once a week prior to book 5. I mostly left the reading up to him. 

I realized quickly that taking time to pause within the story was helping him become passionate about finishing the series again.  I would stop and explain vocabulary words. I would pause to highlight the bigger picture. His eyes would widen as he began to comprehend the magnitude of certain plot points. He would also dive into his own speculations about what might happen. I truly appreciated that we were able to connect over Harry Potter books again, outside of me just asking, "how many pages did you read today?"

So, we are now on the other side of this book. He completed the final chapter on the eve of Christmas Break. He took the audio CD of book 6 with him to his dad's house to get a jump start on it over break. Hopefully, he will come home with a good portion of the book "read" when Break ends. 

I also have Book 7 on Audio CD. So, after the completion of book 6, Jim Dale will continue to read to us every night. Hopefully this will mean that my son is able to complete the Harry Potter Series before his birthday at the end of the month. I am thinking it's totally doable. 

Now, let it be known that my daughter has already cited "the flaw in the plan". (Little book 7 reference there…) "But I'm going to know how it ends!" she said to me last week as I explained mom's master plan for completion.

"I know, honey, but hearing the man read it on the CD is exactly the same as mom reading it from the book, only better because he does voices," I explained to her.

"But I won't have read all the books!" she said, sounding forlorn. I told her I would think about how to handle this while she was away for Christmas Break.

I understand that she wants her experience to match that of her brother's. She wants to diligently read all the books and complete the project as well when the time comes. She and I already started reading the Sorcerer's Stone together, but put it on pause so I could help to finish The Order of the Phoenix.

It would be one thing if she had not seen the movies yet. (I know it's not the same as reading a book, but she has the general idea of the plot.) She knows what happens in all the movies (except for number 7. Neither one of my children have been allowed to watch it yet. They MUST read the book first. No spoilers!) So it's not like she is reading the books with no idea of what comes next.

So I have some thinking to do with regards to how I am going to help my son finish book 7. Do I just let Jim Dale tell us all the tale? Or should I try to keep book 7 a secret from my daughter until she too has completed her own journey of reading the series?

I don't want to exclude her from reading time in the evening and I really want to go through book 7 with my son. I would love to discuss the plot and all the ends that get tied up as they happen. I want him to get the fullest out of this initial experience. And, I secretly would love to shelter my daughter for as long as I can from hearing how it ends until its her time to read the book.

Or should I just let my daughter hear how it ends? Then when she reads the books on her own, she will notice the finer twists and plot points as they relate to the ending of the series?

I have a few weeks to think about this…I know I will come up with a solution. After all, I am a Ravenclaw. We are known for thinking outside the box!

Sunday, September 8, 2019

And the Winner is...

When the kids arrived at home last Monday night, they were greeted with Hootie, the Blue Stuffed Horned Owl from Ravenclaw's collection.  The Vases were gone, the banners were gone, and in their place was a solitary Owl, delivering a message. Ravenclaw untied the scroll from Hootie's neck. The scroll contained instructions for the clue hunt to find out who won the House Cup. Each clue was hidden with a gem from the House Points. Whoever had the House with the Gem of their color got to read the riddle, but the team had to help solve it. After they read an understood the instructions, I gave Ravenclaw the first peice of parchment, on which was written a riddle.

Ravenclaw's clue came with a blue gem, so it was his to read. It lead the kids to the trail in the back yard. The clue was hidden next to a statue along the trail. (We call this place "the Moment Spot" because that's where the kids go when they need a moment and don't want to be bothered. Inside the container with the riddle was a golden gem. So Hufflepuff read this clue. It referenced Professor Spout. So after solving the clue, the kids found themselves in the Garden, where we held "Herbology class" earlier this year. (Since we had such a dry summer most of it is overrun with weeds, but the grow boxes that the kids planted hid clue #3.)

Slytherin read this clue as it contained a silver gem. This riddle sent the kids across the yard to the neighbor's gate. Next to the gate is a pile of bricks. They had to find out which brick hid the fourth clue. Gryffindor read this clue and pulled out the red gem. The answer to this riddle took the kids to the tree house where the final clue was found. It lead them all inside back to the table at the Great Hall (the Dining Room.)

While the kids were out searching for clues, I was inside, setting up the feast in the Great Hall.

By feast I mean Chicken Tacos served on Gold plates.

I also delivered the "owls". When the kids all came home there were just four vases lining the Great Hall.

Getting Ready...

Before The Owls Delivered the scrolls...

But when they came back inside, there was food on the table and Owls next to each vase. Inside each vase was a scroll, tied with a ribbon from the House's color.

"Who recieved the last clue?" I asked.

"Gryffindor!" answered Gryfifndor as she threw her hand into the air. "The person who got the last clue came in last for the House Cup," and I handed her the scroll out of Gryffindor's vase. She untied the red ribbon, unrolled the parchment and revealed a $10.00 bill. She was the least motivated by the House Cup, and it showed. She only had 62 points total, and was about 20 points behind the other participants.

"The House who recieved their clue second got third, " and Hufflepuff raised his hand. I gave him the scroll from his vase and he untied the yellow ribbon. Rolled into the parchment was $15.00.

"Hufflepuff, you only missed being the winner by 4 points!" The kids looked at me in surprise. "See? Every point matters. That leaves Ravenclaw and Slytherin." I turned to face the boys. "One of you had 82 points and the other had 83."

Ravenclaw smiled. When he counted his gems, he came up with 83. I had already counted Slytherin's points when Ravenclaw had counted his. So when he announced his number I laughed. Those two boys had been plotting to tie all along. How ironic that they actually had succeeded in tying? I decided to verify his count, which ended up in verifying all three of the boy's counts as they were so close.

So I took the scrolls out of the Ravenclaw and Slytherin vases and handed them to the two remaining participants. "Open them up and see who won." Ravenclaw's contained $20.00 and Slytherin won with $25.00. "One point," I said, "one point is what mattered." Needless to say, Slytherin was delighted at his accomplishment.

I have had to remind the kids that they are to save this prize money. It's not for spending...I know that defeats the purpose of Fun Dollars, but this money is especially earmarked for the trip.

Apparently it is imperative that we run another House Cup. The kids keep asking if we can, and I notice a definite drop in motivation to help.  I think I should give the month of September over to getting established with new school routine and sports season. Then in October open the House Cup up again for another three months.

Until the Next Owl delivers a scroll...

Saturday, August 31, 2019

The House Cup Closes

August 31 at Midnight, the House Cup Closes.

Since the kids are not all together this weekend to compete for any more points, I closed the cup this afternoon and started counting the gems.

What a wonderful experience this House Cup has been for us this summer.

It has really taught me something about better parenting. When you find that great motivator for the kids, use it. The House Points became the motivator and the uniting point for all the kids. They learned by watching each other win and loose points. They learned what behaviors we would and would not tolerate.  They even started using better manners because of the House Cup. We get voluntary "pleases" and "yes, Ma'ams" now. We got those occasionally before the House Cup, but I hear more of that type of language now.

I also learned that changing "One in One out" to random amounts of House Points ended up to my advantage towards the end. There were a few times when the motivation just wasn't there. Realizing that, I would come into the room with a basket of laundry (that I knew they didn't want to help with) and say, "Five House Points if you put away all the laundry that is yours in the next 30 minutes. I am setting a timer. For every piece of laundry I have to put away that is yours after the 30 minutes I will take out a House Point." So they had a choice, either win more House Points by doing it now, or loose House Points if I have to do it for you. (Let it be known that the kids were all on tablets at this point. So I was looking for motivation to get them to do a chore and put their game down without arguing.) I knew that if it were just one House Point, they could easily say, "pass" and ignore the request. But when 5 House Points are on the line, that changes the stakes a little bit. I saw how much even one House Point could change the game after counting them this afternoon.

There is a three-point difference between the Houses who recieved first, second, and third place!

As I was Counting the Points today, Carrick knocked on the Door. Since I was about to count Ravenclaw's points, I let him do it.

He counted 83 for Ravenclaw.

The reveal of who the winners are will be after the ceremony on September 1.

Until the next Owl...

Monday, July 15, 2019

House Cup Open: One Day Only

The fourth of July holiday found us smack dab in the middle of a two week span where the House Cup was intentionally suspended. Due to our summer schedule, all the kids were not going to be together for a period of two weeks. My son was going for a week visit to my parent's house. So with one kid gone, we were not going to give o take away any points.

However, the night before the 4th I was informed that I needed to include the Slytherin and Huffle puff on my 4th of July road trip. I was headed up north to visit my sister for the weekend. My Coparent Boyfriend was working on a project in the same area (out of town) and he wanted to see his boys for the holiday. So, I decided that opening up the House Cup for one day was my best bet at transporting three kiddos safely and effectively by myself. Otherwise, I was facing a three and a half hour car ride at the mercy of whatever behavior arose.  I knew I needed backup, and House Points were the way to go.

I wanted to make it fair, so I sent a message to my parents. I told them they could award Ravenclaw House Points for any help with chores, politeness or reading that was done. If he was rude or unhelpful they could deduct House Points.

Meanwhile, back at our house, Slytherin, Gryffindor and Hufflepuff all earned House Points by packing their own travel bags. I made a list of what they needed and they each took turns reading the list and packing. I also had them clean the windows of the car at the gas station before heading out of town.

We had a pretty smooth trip with the three kids, until about 45 minutes away from our destination. Hufflepuff threw an empty soda bottle into the front seat. That was a House Point lost. He was quiet for the next half hour after that. I also had to send a message in the form of a House Point lost that it's not OK to pinch his brother.

At the end of the One Day Open House Cup, Ravenclaw won the most House Points. He finished the day with 8! Apparently the grandparents kept him busy.

Now that we are all back under one roof, the House Cup is back open and I am going to "double Down". From here on out, it will be 2 points in and two points out. It's not really changing the value of the transacions, but what it does do is fill up the vases faster. Even though we have been competing for half the summer, the vases still look mostly empty. I think that seeing the vases start to really fill up will give them a boost to get through the rest of the summer with enthusiasm. So far they still like it, and I want to keep it that way...It's nice having help with the dishes and not have to listen to complaints. A simple "House Points to Gryffindor" is all that needs to be said.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

The House Cup

The House Cup opens today!

For several weeks now I have been prepping and planning how this would all work.

I began with the banners. Each child received a gift bag with the materials to make their own house banner. I included glitter glue in their house colors, pipe cleaners, puffy balls and an optional magic marker. Tacky glue and scissors were the community materials.

Next I considered the vessels and filling for the house points. I scored 4 vases at Michael's and hit up Dollar Tree for the gems. (They have plastic gems perfect for adding to the vases, just like in the Harry Potter books.) While I was at Dollar Tree I had a horrifying Fun Dollars Moment when I realized that most of what I had purchased at Michael's I could have got at Dollar Tree for half the price. Lesson Learned. Always do Dollar Tree FIRST!!!!

The gems I bought only came in red, blue and clear. So I bought Silver and Gold spray paint to create the gems needed for Hufflepuff and Slytherin.

Last night I set the gift bags with the banner materials on the table. When they came home for the day, they were greeted with a gift bag in their house color.

Each child had free reign with regards to their banner creation. Older Brother made me giggle a little when he pulled up his tablet to view the Hufflepuff House Shield.  He wanted his banner to be a true representation of his house crest. That's what I was hoping for when I came up with this; a genuine interest in participation.

As each kiddo worked enthusiastically on their banner, I read to them the Sorting Hat song from The Sorcerer's Stone. They each got to hear the qualities and traits of their house.

We let the banners dry overnight and hung them before breakfast this morning. They each received their first house point for finishing their banners.

So, the participation and willingness to place value on the House Points system seems to be there, for all the kids. Thankfully this makes sense and is attainable not only for my 1st grader but for my 5th grader as well. It's something that Boys and Girls can participate in, so all the kids are included. It also gives us a base understanding of what's ok and what's not ok. House point in, House point out. For behaviors that we see and want to encourage, we give a house point. For behaviors that we don't really appreciate, we take a house point. Are two kids bickering? House point from each. Did someone put away the dishes when we asked? House Point awarded.

We had been paying the kids in coins for chores prior to the House Cup.  They kept them all in a mason jar piggy bank. But as with most incentives, the grown ups got lazy and would forget to pay for tasks completed or the kids did not place value in what we were offering. Sure the coins would add up, but not fast enough. Even when they had several dollars worth of coins, we wanted them to save them. Eventually the kids lost interest in earning money for chores, and we have just let it ride for the time being. The difference with the House Cup is that we are not placing a monetary value on every task performed. It's giving a credit. That credit is visibly represented with the gems accumulated. Also, it is "equal", meaning all the points earned are the same value. When the kids had a jar full of coins, one kid could have $5.00 or $1.00 but the same space was used due to the coins having different values. The kids like the fairness of the House Points system. They can see that if someone does one task and someone does another task, they don't get paid differently, they just each get a credit for the help they provided. We are assigning a One Point value to all transactions. (that will keep it fair and attainable for this first round.)

The Rules I came up with for the House Cup are as follows:

1. Only adults can give or take away points.
2. House Points cannot be requested, only given or taken. (so that way the kids aren't like, "Do I get a house point for doing that?" Or "will you pay me a house point for doing whatever?"
3. No theiving or lying. If they are caught taking House Gems, or if they lie about someone taking House Gems, they will loose ALL their House Points.
4. We only do House Points when the kids are all together. As I mentioned before, the two kids participating that are not my own children are my "bonus" kids, so they do spend time with their mom. So to keep it fair we only run the House Cup on days when all 4 kids are available to earn or loose points.

And as for the reward...

The children actually have no idea what the prize is at the end of the House Cup. We will run this for 3 months; June, July, August. At the end of the three months we will count how many gems are in each vase. The kiddo with the least amount of gems will get something ( they just don't know what it is.) The person who had the most would get the biggest something. That way everyone gets rewarded for participating. It also encourages them to hold a value to what we are doing. because I intend to run another round of House Cup with a twist after we finish the initial House Cup.

There will also be intermittent monetary encouragement during the House Cup.  I agreed to pay them an allowance. Since I am starting at Square One with finances, I wanted to go back to what I learned at Square One with regards to allowance...from the parent perspective.

When I received an allowance from my father when I was school-aged, I would receive one dollar every time my dad got a pay check. So that is what I am going to do with the kids. They will each receive one dollar to go towards their spending money for the trip every time I get a paycheck from now until our trip.

I have tried other methods of getting the kids to help out, or to encourage behaviors we want to see more of. But using the House Cup as a Money and Behavior solution was really what I was after. I want the kids to learn how to communicate. I also want them to want to be helpful.  they all have a common goal of doing their best with measurable and observable behaviors.

Since starting this post I have already had a load of dishes willingly put away.

House Points to Slytherin.