How to Motivate a Tween

Um like, What’s my motivation?

So how did we chose to motivate our tween?

It’s much easier than you would think.  You know how in elementary school you got gold stickers when you did something good?  Then if you earned so many gold stickers you got to choose a trinket from the treasure chest?  Same idea, but in middle-schooler’s language.

My baby sister is in 8th grade this year.  Last year, she managed to get out 7th grade by the skin of her neck.  We’d like to avoid some of the stress this year and try to not get so far behind.   But she was in need of some serious motivation.  We’ve tried dangling the carrot for a while.  Then desperation kicked in and it was more like “OMG if you do your homework you can have ANYTHING YOU WANT!” Which sounds great, but it’s very hard to imagine being real or anything that might actually come to be.  We needed motivation that would be present in her mind daily.

Motivation in broad terms works well for adults typically.  Hey if you work “really hard” for “an indeterminate amount of time” you will get a “raise of unknown proportions”.  Oh excuse me, let me just go put in some overtime brb!

For Ivanal, I made it a little more tangible, specific, measurable, and most importantly attainable.  Behold the Rewards Folder.


Super fancy right? I know.

Inside there are three main things.  1.) A rules page.  This one shows her how she can earn points.  The points accrue and she can cash them in for prizes.




The cash seems to be the most appealing, but then that is the case for most of us I guess.

2.) A tracking sheet – where we sum up weekly for all of the work she did and points she earned.


3.) Points Registry – The totals are transferred to the Points Registry, which is where we keep up with the debits and credits each week.  For example, if she wants to cash in 30 of her points next week, we would show a 30 point debit and subtract it from the total points to keep a running tab.  Easy-Peasy!

Her grades thus far?  All As and Bs.  Great Job Ivanal! Stick with it and I guess we will have to go find someplace to take you soon.  New York?  LA? Key West maybe?  I don’t care, just keep working hard and being generally awesome!

Below is a link to my Overly simple templates shown in the folder.

Rewards Printable


Motown Philly Back Again

Doin a little ATL swag.  Guess who was here this weekend?  You’ll never guess.  Just guess? Alright I’ll tell you.  Boyz II Men! AND En Vogue!!!

I am definitely a child of the 80s and 90s, and both of these groups were majorly influential on my adolescence.  Or to put it more simply, I just loved them and if someone disagreed I didn’t need to know them!

The two performed at Chastain.  Isaac and I had tickets for a while and I’ve been looking forward to this concert all summer.  The show was just as amazing as I had hoped, even though only two of the original four ladies of En Vogue remained.

How dope were our seats??!



We learned Friday night, that Boyz II Men are doing a semi-permanent stint in Vegas, which also happens to be where “Brittany B!t$h” is currently.  Oh also, I grew up in LOUISIANA in the 90s.  So, yeah, Brit too.  I’m not a huge fan of Vegas but if I could squeeze those two shows into a weekend, I’d be down.

Elsewhere this weekend, there was a Polish pierogi festival on Saturday, very very very far from our house.  But the pierogi’s were tasty, and so were the desserts.  Ike liked the bread…




We had to cut it a little short though, because although we had been enjoying some unseasonably cool weather lately, Saturday was a blazing hot exception.  Ike was not happy.


We went to church on Sunday and then to breakfast, as usual.  Then Sunday evening, I took a mommy-night off.  I met a friend for a drink at a trendy bar and tried not to talk about Ike the whole time.  It was most relaxing and I was majorly in need.  I sometimes (all the time) have a little (a lot) of trouble asking for help, I tend to just wait until I am on the edge of a nervous breakdown to let all of my problems come spilling out with no filter whatsoever, because, I am awesome that way.   While I was gone, my husband cleaned the house.  THE WHOLE HOUSE! And did laundry.  And it was glorious.  I suspect Gabby was a pretty big help in the effort as well.  And then I woke up and it wasn’t a dream!  I love him.  He’s amazing and I’m so lucky.

First Play Date

Ike had his very first play date this weekend.  It went a little like this.


What is dis other baby doin’? Claps? I don’t like it.


No more clappin baby! Got it?


I don’t get it, why did mom put me in time out?

Just kidding.  The play date was super fun!  The other babies there belong to my pumping comrades at work, Addie and Jessica.  Addie’s baby is Jake, he’s her third, he is 10 months old, about 2 months older than Ike.  Jake can clap, cruise, crawl, chomp apples, and etc.  Jessica’s baby is Ethan, he is her first, he is 5 months old.  He is right on schedule for a 5 month old baby, meaning he was totally content to watch Ike and Jake push each other of of the way and munch on puffs and cheerios from the security of his mommy’s arms.


The boys are probably still much too young to interact with one another, but I enjoyed hanging out with the ladies and I’m very glad the husbands got to meet.  I hope to do this play date thing again very soon, those are some super adorbs babies!

More Baby Food Making

So remember how I posted about Ike not having any teeth?  Well, guess who has two teeth now.  Yup.  The first one made an appearance about a week and half ago, with less drama that I imagined.  The second popped up yesterday, with slightly more aggitation and A LOT of chewing on fingers, Sophia, wash cloths, etc.

I think we are past the hurdle of playing with the spoon and back on the eat up all of the everything train.  So, it’s time to shake up the baby food stash.

Last week I made Ike some chicken soup to use up some leftover veggies in the fridge.  It was pretty simple and I didn’t know exactly how it would go over since he has been rejecting even old favorites lately.  He gobbled it all up.  A whole oxo container full with additional rice cereal!  Is he bored with the single food purees already?  Is it time to get a little more creative?  Here’s the recipe I used for the joyfully accepted chicken soup.

Ike’s Chicken Soup
(makes 6 2oz servings)

– one chicken breast, cut into cubes
– about 3-4 cups of water
– 1 tbs of reduced sodium organic chicken boullion
– two ribs celery, roughly chopped
– two peeled carrots, roughly chopped
– 1/2 white onion, roughly chopped
– sprinkle of dried thyme
– sprinkle of dried parsley

Literally, throw everything into a pot and cook until veggies get soft, or you remember that you were actually doing something in the kitchen.  Blend with about 1/2 cup of Earth’s Best Rice Cereal.


“Gobble, gobble, gobble.” Baby Ike.


This week I prepared Round 2 of baby food stashing.  He’s still got some stuff in the freezer, but we are gonna go for some new combos this round.

1.  Beef Stew

This one came together as easily as the chicken.  I just browned about a half a pound of stew meat.


Added some beef stock and some water.  And then these veggies.


Set a timer this time, and blended all together when the veggies were soft.

2. Chicken Soup – recipe above.

3. Spinach/Pea/Pears

– Steamed a bag of frozen organic peas in the microwave.

– Peeled, chopped, and steamed one organic gala apple.


– Sautéed spinach for our dinner, save salt for last.  Saved about 1/4 for Ike.



– Throw it all in a blender until a smooth, beautiful bright green!



4. Banana/Blueberry popsicles

Blend banana and fresh organic blueberries until smooth, pour into popsicle molds.

I bought these baby popcicle molds to try to help Ike out with his obvious teething woes.  So far I’m batting zero on flavors of popcicles that he finds acceptable.  Apparently, plastic flavor is the preferred one.


Oh also food-related, these are also now making an appearance in Ike’s diet.



Ike likes them, he has gotten the hang of picking them up and shoveling them into his mouth.  They serve as a great distraction, we often take them in a small container to go out to dinner, shopping, etc.  In short, we need to buy another canister ASAP!


Out and About with Baby Ike

When Ike was first born, I was terrified to take him anywhere.  It was winter and cold and he was so tiny his carseat nearly swallowed him even with the multiple layers of clothing and adorable knitted hats I dressed him in.

When we did have to venture out I packed up everything I could fathom in the diaper bag.

– 12-15 diapers
– an entire package of wipes
– the diaper changing pad that comes with the diaper bag
– a nasal aspirator
– a brush (? I have NEVER brushed this baby’s hair, never not once due to the likelihood of a static cling curly frizzball frenzy)
– baby tylenol (I didn’t even know if it was safe or what the correct dosage was, but lest we should leave home without it!)
– diaper rash cream (Ike has not had a diaper rash at all yet) (KNOCK ON WOOD!!)
– two extra sets of clothes
– 2-3 pairs of extra socks
– an extra hat
– 2 hand sanitizers
– all the available expressed milk in bottles (bc OMG what if he doesn’t latch while we are 12 whole miles from home, mah baby cannot starve for 15 minutes!)
– the nursing cover (just in case he does latch)
– all the blankets
– seven pacifiers
– a pacifier clip that fits on zero of the seven pacifiers
– a jacket (another jacket because he was usually wearing a jacket)

This is what Ike would do the minute we got in the car.  And he would pretty much stay this way.


Teeny Tiny Ikey about four weeks old.

Now, I am far less neurotic about going places with Ike.  We frequent Target and the grocery store regularly, and sometimes we run around just cause.  Ike is becoming my favorite little errand buddy.  And he’s just so darn helpful! IMG_5367  

Don’t worry mama, I got the popcorn!

Everywhere we go, he smiles and flirts with whoever will look in his direction.  He eats up all the attention that comes him way.  He is very good about hanging out in the ergo/stroller/shopping cart provided it is moving at a somewhat continuous pace.

This is the current contents of my diaper bag.


– Skip hop changer with 3 diapers, about 10 wipes, hand sanitizer and poopy bags
– a sippy cup of water
– all the toys I can find
– a banana
– a bib and a spare onesie
– lipstick and powder for me, lol, I never use them I should remove it
– pacifier wipes aka toys-that-fall-on-the-floor-wipes

* the aden and anis blanket is always a must, but it is usually over him in the carseat.  This typically also doubles as a stroller blanket, sunshade, nursing cover, and teether.  Yeah, it’s totally awesome and if  you are expecting you should register for 25 of them.  Also, his pacifier lives in the carseat too.

* maaaybee sometimes I bring a bottle, one, if I know we are going someplace inconvenient for nursing – if not then I make where ever we are going  convenient for nursing. Or awkward.  Same thing.

Progress? I think YES!

Here’s what we did on our outing with those diaper bag contents.

1. Went to the Farmer’s Market

2. Went to Target (and got Starbucks)

3. Visited with Mawmaw and took a walk around the park

4. Grabbed lunch at Panera (Ike ate his banana and some of my bread)

We always have to hit up Starbucks in Target or Kroger before we start shopping.


Whut did we come in here for again? Oh right, I need more diapers and oatmeal, buy all the oatmeal mom.

We were gone most of the morning.  No fast spreading rashes or sudden fevers popped up so we didn’t miss the diaper rash cream or the Tylenol.  In spite of not brushing his hair though, it still looked like this.  Maybe we should pack hats again after all.


Crazy Hair, Don’t Care.

A Lot of Things that didn’t happen, and One Important Thing That Did

One very important thing did happen, despite everything.  Ike is now Baptized as a brand new baby Catholic.  Hallelujah!  It wasn’t perfect, not by a long shot, but it was wonderful, blessed, and just the way it was supposed to be.

We have been planning Ike’s baptism for about two months now.  Everything started falling apart around Monday.  Double-bookings, Church red-tape, and Weather related travel cancellations were just some of the pretty big obstacles.  But in the end, he was blessed with the Holy Water and washed from him was his Original Sin, and it was witnessed by a loving god-parent, and three god-siblings, and plenty of family and friends.   And it was done wearing possibly the most pimped out suit a baby could have.  There were four other babies getting baptized on Saturday morning, Ike was by far the best dressed!


Deacon Balfour did the baptisms, I think because I asked that he be available to do Ike’s and he was ever so accommodating and did the baptisms for all of the families present.  There was even a place for the children to be involved in blessing the families’ with Holy Water from the baptismal basin.


By blessing I mean flicking us with water, which was made appropriate and acceptable by saying “Bless You”.  Thanks Deac!  By the way, all the kids up there taking part in this ritual, were with us, so guess who got all of the blessings.  Yeah.

Until Ike got his, special blessing with the Holy Water.  He took it pretty well, no crying, just a sort of confused look to Daddy that said “Um, do you see what this guy is doing to me?  This is not cool Dad.”


Deacon Balfour was pretty excited for us, we were also so happy to have a familiar face to introduce Ike to Catholicism.   Deacon also happened to do our Marriage preparation just two short years ago!


It was a great rite of passage, and Isaac, and myself, and Jacquie, and Derek are eager to raise him in the best Christain manner we know how.


Some important tools for success (for Baptism) courtesy of his wonderful god-family.

We got the boot from the lovely pool-house in Linda’s neighborhood where we’d intended to have the after-baptism party, on Thursday.  THURSDAY!  Linda so kindly let us use her home for it instead.  I am every so grateful!  The thought of piling 30+ family, friends, and guests into our tiny living space which is further crowded by Ike various entertainment options, was giving me hives.  Everyone seemed to  have a nice time at the party, especially the guest of honor.  This kid is so darn social, he enjoyed visiting with everyone.

ke and the girls, my cousins Christina, Voadketra, and Deshawn

He hung out for a long time with his god-mother pretending to be Elvis.  He was dressed for it after all.



Anyway, a great time was had, and everything that went wrong quickly faded from memory as we watched our son, our family, and our friends enjoy each other and our own company.


Mei and Amaria, these two dolls became fast friends, we hope to get them together again soon, but gosh who can stand so much cuteness in one place!


My three cousins and my Aunt Debra traveled to Atlanta to be with us on this great day.  Thank you all for being there for us.


Ike’s bud Braylen stopped by to show us what we have to look forward to, walking, and demanding meatballs.  


Ike’s god-father was one of the cancellations that affected some of our plans.  But he made it in to visit with his god-baby Saturday evening.  They were both glad to see each other.


Unfortunately, two very important people were unable to make it to the big day.  His sister and his grandmother, were also affected by stormy weather that drove the cancellation of flights out of Indiana and Chicago.  They were greatly missed.  We are thinking of having a follow-up baptism blessing at the church we were originally wanting to do the baptism up in Gary, IN so that everyone else can be there.

 To Ike, 

You are so lucky little one, you have so many people who love you and will be here to support you for your whole life.  Your new god-brothers are just smitten with you and they can’t wait to buy you super hero toys and teach you all about being a boy.  Your god-sister, Amaria, says she misses you so much and wants to know if you could please come and live with her.  You are so special to so many people, most of all me.

Love, Mama.