Mekonen's Chores

So I've been thinking lately about a motto a friend told me of a family she knows: Never do for a child what he can do for himself. Now I'm not talking about being extreme with this, but I'm thinking more in line with building responsibility and a culture of helping others and helping yourself from the time our little ones can walk. From the beginning I've tried to involve Mekonen in our life. It gives him a sense of belonging, allows us to really "be" together, and hopefully teaches Mekonen that everyone has responsibilities and that his only job is not to play with his toys (although yes, I know, play is vital to learning). I'm merely talking about involving Mekonen in everyday life. So what does that mean? Well, Mekonen has jobs, or chores, if you want to call it that. He has since the time he could walk- age appropriate of course.
I know many families who wait until the child is big enough to be a "real help" but I think that's too late. Some wait until the child is 4, 5, 6, even later! By then, you will need to undo learned habits, routines, and ways of life. Then the child feels the abrupt change in policy is unfair and that you are making unfair demands on them. Instead, why not just do it from the beginning? Sure it's way easier for me to just do the work than take the time to train my toddler to help me, and do it with me. But that would be counterproductive.

Don't get me wrong, I love serving my children, doing things for them, etc. And I do. But I also don't want them growing up with the mindset that Mom is the servant. Then eventually, when she pushes back on that, a whole new battle of whining and complaining ensues. As one person put it, "if you serve them until you are confident they are fully capable of serving themselves, you have cultivated slothfulness in them." Sometimes parents don't plan, they react. They get flustered with doing all the work, serving and serving, and feeling like no one is grateful, and then they react. They decide that the "kids needs chores" and "the kids should be helping out around here." And all of a sudden the apple cart is turned over, and confrontation ensues. No planning happened. "They are trying to fix something that is broken, rather than mold something that is growing." We are huge on training. Training him how to do things from the beginning. It's easier and smoother that way.
Obviously we don't make inappropriate demands on Mekonen. That would be exasperating and discouraging. But instead, we teach him as he is able, from the beginning and expect a happy heart in the meantime.

Mekonen's Jobs
Put his dirty clothes in the hamper. 
Cleans up all his toys when he's done playing. 
Carries his plate and cup to the sink. 
I spray the table where he eats and he wipes it up.
Puts his shoes by the door when he takes them off. 
Hangs up his towel after his bath.
Helps me put the laundry in the washer.
Pulls the laundry out of the dryer and into the basket. 
Feeds Macy her food and refills her water. 


Mekonen's 2nd Gotcha Day!

We met our son skin to skin, face to face, on August 21, 2009- His Gotcha Day! And this past weekend we celebrated Mekonen's 2nd Gotcha Day! About twenty of our friends came together to celebrate this special day in our family's life. I spent the afternoon with my amazing friend Julie cooking a traditional Ethiopian meal of dora wat, siga wat, lentils and an Ethiopian vegetable dish, served with injera! (We bought the injera though. Too hard to make). It was super yummy. It was so neat to have so many of our friends tight and cozy around a huge table together. They have been such a support to us and have lavished more love on our little family than we know what to do with.

After eating dinner we headed downstairs and watched Mekonen's adoption video on the big screen. He loves seeing himself on a movie and calls it the "Baby Bonen Movie." He loves to talk about how Mommy and Daddy came to get him on an airplane. When we ask him where he was born he says, "Opia" and sometimes even "DeeDawa" (Dire Dawa, the town where he was born). So cute. Then we headed back upstairs for desserts and some gifts. Mekonen was one spoiled little boy. :)

Super yummy cupcakes for dessert!!
Presents! Mekonen was very excited about this. :) 

Super yummy cupcakes for dessert. 

 Evie enjoying the party.

Happy 2nd Gotcha Day Mekonen. You my dear one, are the delight of my heart. 
I think I might burst with joy. 


Camping Trip 2011

Wow. It sure has been awhile since I have blogged! Hoping that will change! Things in life have been crazy. Feeling way out of the groove in life and trying to get back in it!

This year for the Castro family vacation we took a four day camping trip to Watkins Glen State Park in New York. It was amazing and crazy all at the same time. We had such a blast! 15 people (including 7 children age 6 and under)! Jon and I drove 12 hours to PA to my parents house. Then a few days later, we all packed up and drove 2 hours to New York. It was a great trip! Oh how I love camping!

Evening dinners by firelight. The kids thought this was so awesome.
 The modern day bedtime story with Uncle Tom's iPad. Apparently head lamps are a must for all children on camping trips. 
 Mekonen's 1st night in the tent. He absolutely loved it and thought it was so cool that Mommy, Daddy, and Evie were in the tent too! 

 M&E enjoying the cool morning by the fire.
 Daddy and his girl
 Best buds. Meko & Manny
 Starting to really enjoy each other. Evie always smiles when she sees Mekonen and Mekonen is always concerned about where Evie is and what she's doing. 
 Chattin' up with Grandpa in the early morning
 How Daddy was found most of the trip...with his pipe.
 All ready to go hike the falls.
It was absolutely breathtaking! (We are on the far left).

 We are on the left.
Snack break!
The whole gang, minus Uncle Tom and Kim

My Dad brought all the kids fishing. They each got their own special pole. Of course, Mekonen's was a "Cars" fishing pole. Natalie and Aderyn had Barbie, Jane had Dora, and Manny had Spiderman. 
Jon enjoying some fly-fishing.

Our little family.
The Bigs. "The Fab Five" as we call them. (Evie and Kimmy will have to make their own group). hehe
 Grandma and Grandpa took everyone out for ice-cream the last night. 
Looks like Mekonen's tasted yummy. ;) 
We are always playing games. Jon's new favorite is chess.
 Amy and Meade and a classic game of checkers.
 And of course, it wouldn't be a Castro event without Dominoes. (Apparently my sister is exasperated that she is losing.haha).
What a great 1st camping trip with our mini's