Marble Time!

Parenting a three-year-old is proving to be life's toughest challenge. We have had some seriously rough mornings lately, and I felt like I'd reached the end of my rope. I turned to some good mommy friends who had an awesome idea - along with getting things ready the night before and few tricks for a more pleasant hair-brushing experience - a reward system, specifically a marble jar!

So the idea is that Natalie will get a set # of marbles in her jar for specific things she does that are positive. We will not ever take marbles out for punishment - this is strictly for rewarding good behavior. I had fun making up a cute poster to show how many marbles she gets for different things - like being a good listener, using a pleasant voice (aka NOT WHINING), being respectful of others (sharing with Mollie, saying please/thank you, etc), staying in bed until her OK to Wake! clock light turns green at naps and in the morning, picking up toys, and the biggie - getting dressed and ready with no tears or fits! Once her marbles reach a certain point in the jar, she gets a "Marble Party," which isn't necessarily a party, but just a prize that she gets to have a lot of say in choosing.

The marble thing has gone swimmingly, to our delight! My friends suggested to make the first marble party happen fairly quickly, and then move the line up little by little. Knowing what the prize really means goes a long way toward motivation. So after about 3 days, Natalie reached Party status. I guess I should have just called it a "Marble Prize" though, because to Natalie, Party = cake. Well, that's not so bad, but whereas we'd envisioned a Marble Prize being a trip for ice cream, picking dinner that night, having a movie night, picking out a small toy at the store, or something of that nature, Natalie chose to bake a cake with Mommy - specifically an Apple Cake - that takes a lot of effort and that we JUST made last week (I'm sure that's why - it was fresh in her mind). So I was flattered that cooking with Mommy = prize in her mind, so we make a run to the store for more apples. It's kind of important that the prize happen fairly quickly, so I told her we'd make the cake yesterday - after dance and after dinner. Which means that we were peeling apples at 7:45 last night. ;) I'd already told her that the cake wouldn't be in the oven by the time she needed to be in bed, so she could help until bedtime (cutting and snacking on the apples is really the part she likes anyway), and then I'd finish the cake after she went to bed and we could have cake after dinner tonight.

A few steps into the cake, I realized we didn't have enough eggs. So Super Daddy went out to get eggs at 8:00 pm, and I got the girls to bed. I was up until 9:00 making a cake (BY MYSELF!) that takes at LEAST 1.5 hrs to bake. And I wonder where the Marble Party Fairy is that's going to clean up the mess from said cake? But Nat's excitement over her pretty cake this morning was worth it. I just hope that Brad's not right that she's going to want to do this for EVERY marble prize. I think we'll encourage something a little different next time, but it may include snacking on some apples. ;)

Here's the recipe for the cake - Mom's Apple Cake from the Smitten Kitchen blog (love her recipes!): http://smittenkitchen.com/2008/09/moms-apple-cake/ I don't know what happened the first time I made it, but it took over 2 hours to cook, it spilled up over the top, made a huge mess in the bottom of my oven, charred a bunch of the apples on top, and was rather dry. This time, the only real difference was that I sifted the flour (like it says) and I tried not to mix very long at all after each egg. It turned out perfectly (in the same exact pan) after only 1.5 hours. It looks amazingly moist, and I'm pretty excited to sample it myself. Oh, and our house smells WONDERFUL!

1 comment: