Monday, September 30, 2013

September according to my iphone

 Holy Cow it was a busy month.  A little busier than I like, to be perfectly honest.  I have to remind myself that every Fall is like this for a few months and then it slows down a bit.




 We had a nice Labor Day lunch at Firehouse subs.  Brady likes the fire hats.  Not really sure why he decided to wear a mustache that day but I think it was a good look.
 He FINALLY got to start cub scouts.  Here he is on his first big activity.
 September means football season and spirit days.  Everyone wears their spirit wear on Fridays around these here parts.
 Snapped this cute pic one Friday when Dr. Wakins, our Superintendent,  was helping out in the car line.  He is a beloved figure in our town.
 My little Prosper Pirate.
 Got this note from a sweet sister in my ward for a class I taught in Relief Society.  It came on a day when I kind of needed it.  She is a sweet, thoughtful person.
 Kiki is enjoying cheer and we enjoy watching her at the football games.  Her first game, several of her close church friends came to watch and support her.  She is a lucky gal to have the friends she does.
 Of course, Jensen is an official student at BYU Idaho.  She also became an official Relief Society President in her student ward five days after she got there.
 Tanner took Reagan to the annual daddy daughter dance at church.  Brent was taking Jensen to college but we didn't want her to miss out on the fun.
 Reagan loves Megan and Alexa, her buddies on the cheer squad.  They have fun together.
 And Brady kinda "loves" one of these cute cheerleaders for his football team.  
My lips are sealed.
 Tanner came up with this cute way to ask Britt Whitney out to Homecoming.  He had a little help from Maddie and Maddy.  They wrote out (in cute lettering): "I'm dying to go to HoCo with you!" and then they outlined his body like a crime scene.  Kiki came up with the idea and they did a great job of surprising Britt with it.  I think she really liked it.

 Fun with friends watching the 8th grade football game.
 And our sweet little neighbor, Marrin, came and stayed with us for a few days while her parents enjoyed a romantic getaway. Loved having her here.
 Tanner received the last of his merit badges before his Court Of Honor.  Yippee!
 Brady worked all month on this space derby rocket with Brent.  They won best design.
 Kiki asked me to act as her hairstylist for "crazy hair day".  It turned out pretty fantastic, if I must say so myself.

 Spent lotsa Saturdays with these girls.  I am co-coaching again this year.  My last as Reagan "ages out" this year since she is going to 7th grade next year.
 Some sweet little birthday elves came and decorated my lawn on the eve of my birthday.  Thank you to Sheri, Cheri, Jenny P. and Amber.  I guess McKinley isn't the only one that is blessed to have great friends.
 I spent my birthday with Lindsey, G, Hanky, and Brady at the Big Orange Pumpkin Patch.  We could not have asked for better weather.  It was kind of perfect.
And topped off my birthday with tickets to see Imagine Dragons with Tanner and Sheri.  It was SO MUCH FUN.  

We also had our TREK fireside and I am so happy with the way it turned out and the number of people that showed up.  We are off to a good start.  I am so humbled at the talented people that have joined our TREK TEAM and how excited everyone is to be a part of this event.  It makes it feel so much more manageable.

Brent is loving his new job and has had some great leads that show promise.  We feel so grateful.

Jensen continues to report good things from college.  She spends her Friday nights salsa dancing with her roommates and seems to be keeping up with her course load.  We miss her but it is so much easier knowing how much she is loving it up there in the potato state.  

On to October.....

Monday, September 23, 2013

The kind that circle back




11 ¶And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.

 12 And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were alepers, which stood afar off:
 13 And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.
 14 And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the apriests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.

 15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,
 16 And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him athanks: and he was a Samaritan.
 17 And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten acleansed? but where are the bnine?
 18 There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.
 19 And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.
(Luke 17: 11-19)

I love this story.  It is one of my favorites and I hope it will be one that my children will grow to love, understand, and apply in their lives.  I have been gifted with a grateful heart.  I think it is because I grew up with a single mom.  Every month was a struggle to get by  and we didn't have a lot so every single thing I DID get, I was so grateful for!
I thought about gratitude while I was hanging up clean towels in my boy's bathroom today.  I saw this cute thing.  Our primary president gave it to Brady at his baptism.  CTR stands for Choose the Right.  I thought how grateful I was that he had this visual reminder every day to Choose the Right.  Then the thought occurred to me that I should let our primary president know how much I appreciated that towel.  So I sent her a text picture of it and told her how much I love that it is so cute and matches his bathroom shower curtain, and that she provided a reminder for him to make good choices.


Expressing gratitude is important.  Sometimes we don't realize just HOW important.  Years ago when Brent was sick, a Neurosurgeon at Baylor Dallas agreed to try a new type of shunt on Brent.  He was skeptical that it would help him much and it was risky because it required opening him up near his spine to place the shunt.  Brent DID get the surgery and it helped him enough that he was able to go back to work and provide for our family again.  We spent a Family Home Evening writing Dr Bidiwala thank you notes from each of us and coloring him pictures (for those who were too young to write).  I remember one of the thank you notes said something to the effect of , "Thank you Dr. Bidiwala for your willingness to try this surgery.  You have given me my Dad back.".  

The next time Brent went in for a follow up with Dr. Bidiwala, he mentioned that he had kind of decided not to do that surgery anymore.  It was just too risky considering the low number of positive outcomes.  That was   UNTIL he got the envelope from our family with all the notes to him.  He said he has kept them to remind him WHY he does what he does.  I am so grateful that we took the time to thank him.  It never occurred to me that other people would be blessed with access to the same surgery BECAUSE of it.

I had a chance to see that one of my kiddos also has a grateful heart this past weekend.  Reagan's phone pretty much died on Friday.  She was super upset because it happens to be out of warranty so she knew that if it couldn't be an easy fix at the Apple store, she was going to have to pay to replace it.  

We spent the better part of the afternoon at the Apple store waiting in line to talk to a "Genius" and get it fixed.  We were assigned a sweet girl named Brittany.  She could see how important it was to Reagan that her phone get fixed.  But after investigation she was sad to report to her that it couldn't be fixed by them.  I think she could see the tears welling up in Reagan's eyes.  She looked at her and said "let me check one thing in the back" and then disappeared for a few minutes with the phone.  

She came back and asked Reagan if she had dropped her phone lately and had the glass replaced? 
 Reagan said, "...well ,yes,  about 6 months ago".  
Brittany said, "I could tell that this glass wasn't the original so I did a little checking and the display (whatever that is) isn't working properly that they replaced it with at the repair shop you used."
Brittany suggested she take it back to them and tell them and see if they would replace it.
The repair shop we had used just happened to be at the mall too so we quickly did just that!
Low and behold they were quick to repair the problem free of charge and our girl was happy once again.  On the way out to the car, we were about to pass the Apple store once again.  
Reagan turned to me and asked if she could run in again and think Brittany for her help in getting her phone fixed.

It was pretty sweet to watch from a distance as Reagan ran up to Brittany and thanked her and gave her a hug.  I could tell it touched Brittany as well as the 6 or so Apple geniuses that witnessed Reagan's genuine appreciation.  

I want my children to be the kind that circle back and express gratitude.  
It looks like it might just be catching on.

If you would like to teach your children about the story of the ten lepers and gratitude, here is a great link with pictures.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Taming the Tongue

Last week at Institute, Brother Shumway referred to this talk from Elder Holland.  I remember when he gave it, thinking it was a great talk but it was nice to be reminded of it.  I have been studying it since and thinking about all the many ways that I can do better at taming my tongue.  Here are some highlights as well as another talk that I love about the same topic.  In light of conference coming up, I plan to highlight several of my favorite General Conference talks in the coming weeks.
Like all gifts “which cometh from above,” words are “sacred, and must be spoken with care, and by constraint of the Spirit.” 2
It is with this realization of the power and sanctity of words that I wish to caution us, if caution is needed, regarding how we speak to each other and how we speak of ourselves.
 Obviously James doesn’t mean our tongues are always iniquitous, nor that everything we say is “full of deadly poison.” But he clearly means that at least some things we say can be destructive, even venomous—and that is a chilling indictment for a Latter-day Saint! The voice that bears profound testimony, utters fervent prayer, and sings the hymns of Zion can be the same voice that berates and criticizes, embarrasses and demeans, inflicts pain and destroys the spirit of oneself and of others in the process. “Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing,” James grieves. “My brethren [and sisters], these things ought not so to be.”
In that same spirit we speak to the sisters as well, for the sin of verbal abuse knows no gender. Wives, what of the unbridled tongue in yourmouth, of the power for good or ill in your words? How is it that such a lovely voice which by divine nature is so angelic, so close to the veil, so instinctively gentle and inherently kind could ever in a turn be so shrill, so biting, so acrid and untamed? A woman’s words can be more piercing than any dagger ever forged, and they can drive the people they love to retreat beyond a barrier more distant than anyone in the beginning of that exchange could ever have imagined. Sisters, there is no place in that magnificent spirit of yours for acerbic or abrasive expression of any kind, including gossip or backbiting or catty remarks. Let it never be said of our home or our ward or our neighborhood that “the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity … [burning] among our members.”
Please accept one of Elder Holland’s maxims for living—
"no misfortune is so bad that whining about it won’t make it worse."
Paul put it candidly, but very hopefully. He said to all of us: “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but [only] that which is good … [and] edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
“And grieve not the holy Spirit of God. …
“Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you. …
“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” 9

I like this talk too.
Here are some excerpts:
When King David was pleading for mercy in the fifty-seventh Psalm, he cried: “My soul is among lions: and I lie even among them that are set on fire, even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword.” (Ps. 57:4.)
In the world today we are victims of many who use their tongues as sharp swords. The misuse of our tongues seems to add intrigue and destruction as the media and private persons indulge in this pastime. In the vernacular of the day, this destructive activity is called bashing. The dictionary reports that to bash is to strike with a heavy, crushing blow.
Such a popular behavior is indulged in by far too many who bash a neighbor, a family member, a public servant, a community, a country, a church. It is alarming also how often we find children bashing parents and parents bashing children.
We as members of the Church need to be reminded that the words “Nay, speak no ill” are more than a phrase in a musical context but a recommended way of life. (See Hymns, no. 233.) We need to be reminded more than ever before that “if there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.” (A of F 1:13.) If we follow that admonition, there is no time for the dastardly hobby of bashing instead of building.
Some think the only way to get even, to get attention or advantage, or to win is to bash people. This kind of behavior is never appropriate. Oftentimes character and reputation and almost always self-esteem are destroyed under the hammer of this vicious practice.
 We need to get back to basic principles of 
recognizing the good and the praiseworthy 
within the family. 
We are reminded that Jesus Christ, the only perfect person to ever walk the earth, taught us through quiet example to 
say nothing or to be silent in stressful times in our lives rather than to spend time and energy bashing for whatever purpose.
So what is the antidote for this bashing that hurts feelings, demeans others, destroys relationships, and harms self-esteem? Bashing should be replaced with charity. Moroni described it this way:
“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all. …
“Charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever.” (Moro. 7:46–47.)
Charity is, perhaps, in many ways a misunderstood word. We often equate charity with visiting the sick, taking in casseroles to those in need, or sharing our excess with those who are less fortunate. But really, true charity is much, much more.
Real charity is not something you give away; it is something that you acquire and make a part of yourself. And when the virtue of charity becomes implanted in your heart, you are never the same again. It makes the thought of being a basher repulsive.
Perhaps the greatest charity comes when we are kind to each other, when we don’t judge or categorize someone else, when we simply give each other the benefit of the doubt or remain quiet. Charity is accepting someone’s differences, weaknesses, and shortcomings; having patience with someone who has let us down; or resisting the impulse to become offended when someone doesn’t handle something the way we might have hoped. Charity is refusing to take advantage of another’s weakness and being willing to forgive someone who has hurt us. Charity is expecting the best of each other.
None of us need one more person bashing or pointing out where we have failed or fallen short. Most of us are already well aware of the areas in which we are weak. What each of us does need is family, friends, employers, and brothers and sisters who support us, who have the patience to teach us, who believe in us, and who believe we’re trying to do the best we can, in spite of our weaknesses. What ever happened to giving each other the benefit of the doubt? What ever happened to hoping that another person would succeed or achieve? What ever happened to rooting for each other?
It should come as no surprise that one of the adversary’s tactics in the latter days is stirring up hatred among the children of men. He loves to see us criticize each other, make fun or take advantage of our neighbor’s known flaws, and generally pick on each other. The Book of Mormon is clear from where all anger, malice, greed, and hate come.
TDuring an informal fireside address held with a group of adult Latter-day Saints, the leader directing the discussion invited participation by asking the question: “How can you tell if someone is converted to Jesus Christ?” For forty-five minutes those in attendance made numerous suggestions in response to this question, and the leader carefully wrote down each answer on a large blackboard. All of the comments were thoughtful and appropriate. But after a time, this great teacher erased everything he had written. Then, acknowledging that all of the comments had been worthwhile and appreciated, he taught a vital principle: “The best and most clear indicator that we are progressing spiritually and coming unto Christ is
the way we treat other people.”
Would you consider this idea for a moment—that the way we treat the members of our families, our friends, those with whom we work each day is as important as are some of the more noticeable gospel principles we sometimes emphasize.
Last month the Relief Society celebrated its 150th anniversary. Its motto, “Charity Never Faileth,” has been a way of life for its members and others around the globe.
Imagine what could happen in today’s world—or in our own wards, or families, or priesthood quorums and auxiliaries—if each of us would vow to cherish, watch over, and comfort one another. Imagine the possibilities!
Be one who nurtures and who builds. Be one who has an understanding and a forgiving heart, who looks for the best in people. Leave people better than you found them. Be fair with your competitors, whether in business, athletics, or elsewhere. Don’t get drawn into some of the parlance of our day and try to “win” by intimidation or by undermining someone’s character. Lend a hand to those who are frightened, lonely, or burdened.
If we could look into each other’s hearts and understand the unique challenges each of us faces, I think we would treat each other much more gently, with more love, patience, tolerance, and care.
If the adversary can influence us to pick on each other, to find fault, bash, and undermine, to judge or humiliate or taunt, half his battle is won. Why? Because though this sort of conduct may not equate with succumbing to grievous sin, it nevertheless neutralizes us spiritually. The Spirit of the Lord cannot dwell where there is bickering, judging, contention, or any kind of bashing.
May God help us individually and collectively to know and teach that bashing should be replaced with charity today and always, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Friday, September 20, 2013

exhausted


This is me lately.  If I'm being honest I dread the Fall .  It is the most hectic time of year for me.
You can look at the family calendar at the end of this post and understand why.
Lately in a given week I:

do about a dozen loads of laundry
plan/cook/shop/clean 21 meals
drive approximately 500 miles back and forth between cheer practice, football, tumbling, games, institute, church, and the store
attend two institute classes
do the reading for said institute classes
almost 8 hours of carpool
go to the grocery store/Costco three times
clean the house approximately 6 hours
coach 4 hours of cheer
push through about an hour of paperwork a day
toss in a visiting teaching appointment or two into the mix
plan a family home evening lesson
work with Tanner on finishing up his Eagle
work with Brady on cub scouts
work with McKinley on Personal Progress
pull weeds
work on my calling atleast 12 hours, on average and attend atleast two meetings for it
water all the flowers
pay all the bills
go to the temple
have lunch with friends
run about 12 hours of errands
and exercise 6 hours.

I can't imagine why I feel so tired and worn out at the end of every day lately.

Ironically, I am not a gal that prides herself on being super busy.  I actually try to avoid feeling over committed.  But somehow I have miscalculated and this time of year always seems to knock me for a loop.

Six more weeks until football season is over and things will slow down significantly.  
This Momma is kind of looking forward to it.
Until then, I will try to enjoy these awesome people that I live with.  





Sunday, September 15, 2013

'daddy"/ daughter dance and college girl

The weekend of the annual daddy daughter dance, Brent was gone to Idaho to take Jensen to college so Tanner offered to take Reagan to the big shindig.

 He even wore a handle bar mustache to get into the western theme.  
 They started the night off by meeting at a family's house for pictures and then everyone went to La Hacienda for dinner.  I think they enjoyed it.  
 And while all that was going on, Brent and Jensen were spending some time in Utah.  She was able to meet two of her favorite authors at a book signing, Julianne Donaldson and Sarah M. Eden.  
 And get her pic with these guys that were dressed as characters from the books.

 First trip to the grocery store for her dorm.  She has a meal plan but they do not provide meals on Sunday so she had to stock up.  

 Here our college girl is with her roommates.  She already reports that they are getting along fabulously.  
Miss you college girl!  But have fun!  Try to study every once in awhile.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

the benefit of the doubt: a repost


This is my favorite story about charity.  It's from one of my faves, Sister Sheri Dew.  It is a great reminder of what true charity looks like. 

AT AGE THIRTY TWO, I WAS CALLED TO SERVE IN THE STAKE RELIEF SOCIETY PRESIDENCY, AND THE THREE OF US BONDED QUICKLY AS THE DEAREST OF FRIENDS. BECAUSE OF MY WORK SCHEDULE AND THE LARGE FAMILIES OF THE
PRESIDENT AND OTHER COUNSELOR, WE HELD PRESIDENCY MEETINGS ON
TUESDAYS AT THE UNEARTHLY HOUR OF 5:30 AM.
ONE MORNING, THE PRESIDENT RAISED AN ISSUE THAT FOR SOME REASON  SET ME OFF.  
I CLIMBED ON MY RAMEUMPTOM, DELIVERED A TIRADE, AND LEFT IN  A HUFF
BUT AS I DROVE AWAY AND HEADED TOWARD WORK, MY HEART SANK.
 I COULDN'T
BELIEVE I'D RESPONDED TO MY FRIENDS THAT WAY, AND I WAS DESPERATE TO APOLOGIZE. 

BUT I FELT AS IF I NEEDED TO DO IT IN PERSON, WHICH I DETERMINED TO DO THAT VERY NIGHT.  FINALLY EVENING CAME. I STOPPED AT HOME BRIEFLY TO PICK UP
SOMETHING,  ONLY TO HAVE THE DOORBELL RING.  

THERE STOOD MY TWO FRIENDS.  CASSEROLES IN HAND. 
THE MOTHERS OF FIFTEEN CHILDREN BETWEEN THEM HAD BROUGHT ME,
THE MOTHER OF NONE, DINNER.
"ILL NEVER FORGET WHAT THEY SAID: THIS MORNING WASN'T LIKE YOU. YOU MUST BE UNDER A LOT OF PRESSURE. WE THOUGHT DINNER MIGHT MAKE YOU FEEL BETTER." 
 TEARS FLOWED AS I APOLOGIZED, AND OUR FRIENDSHIP GREW INSTANTLY STRONGER.
IMAGINE WHAT THEY COULD HAVE BEEN SAYING ALL DAY ?
THAT LITTLE BRATSHE'S NOT EVEN MARRIED.  WHAT DOES SHE KNOW, SHE'S LUCKY TO EVEN BE IN THIS PRESIDENCY."  THEY COULD HAVE WHIPPED THEMSELVES INTO A LATHER AND PUNISHED ME FOR DAYS.
-BUT THEY DIDNT.
THEY DIDN'T GOSSIP.
THEY DIDNT JUDGE.
THEY DID GIVE ME THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT. 
THAT DAY I SAW WHAT CHARITY LOOKS LIKE.
CHARITY WAS NOT, BY THE WAY, THE CASSEROLES. IT WAS MY FRIENDS GENTLE
HANDLING OF MY MISTAKE,  AND THEIR WILLINGNESS TO ASSUME THE BEST AND
STEP FORWARD TO SOOTHE FEELINGS AND EMOTIONS.”

I love this quote from her too.

 
“On those days when we are not ready to stop being offended, not ready to forgive, still determined to dish out the silent treatment, what we are actually saying is, 'Thanks, but I don't want to become more like the Savior today. Maybe tomorrow, but not today.' Perhaps those are the times when we need to pray the hardest, the times it becomes clear that a change in behavior is not enough--that we must have a change in nature.” 

I am a work in progress, just like everyone else.  
Grateful for all the many souls out there that DO give me the benefit of the doubt.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

sad.

Today I was caught off gaurd.  Jensen has been prepping to leave for school the last few weeks and it has been fun.  We went to Ericka last week and she got a new haircut and color.  It turned out so cute.  Ericka is the best.
 I have been so excited for Jen that I really didn't think I would cry.  But then after she left with Brent for the airport, I walked in her room and saw this.
 and this...

and this... 
and I sobbed.  It hit me.  She really is gone.
Oh how we will miss her!
But I felt the warm embrace of so many sweet friends who texted me and offered words of encouragement and concern.  Several of them having been through this themselves and knowing how hard the first few days are after you send your first born off to college.

One sweet gal even dropped off a little care package so I could drown my sorrows in Diet Coke and chocolate.

Grateful today for a daughter who is independent and ready to go to college.
Grateful for a kind note that was given to me today from a sister in my ward.  
Grateful for good friends who support me in my time of need.
Grateful that Jen will be home in 15 weeks.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

teaching children to value money

I taught a class in relief society last week and here are my notes from the class.

Recognizing that all family dynamics are different and that what works for some might need to be tailored a little different for others, this has been a great system for us for the last 16 years.
   
These are not just temporal principles, many are spiritual in nature so listen with your spiritual ears.

Why set up a chore and money system in your home?
Well the reasons are SOOO much more than just a cleaner house….
1. you’ll teach them a good work ethic
2. it will build unity in your family as your work side by side
3. it will instill feelings of self reliance and boost self esteem when they can complete tasks and provide their own “wants” with their earnings.
4.they will learn the difference between NEEDS and WANTS
5. they will learn how to manage money and make mistakes with their money when it is not painful (versus as an adult)
6.they will learn that there is a relationship between work and money.  That you don’t get money WITHOUT work just for being a kid in the household.  You also should not expect to get compensated for every single task you do at home.  Sometimes we work because it is the right thing to do.  
7.they will learn to be more compassionate with their money as they exercise the ability to be generous with their OWN money.
8. they will learn how to defer gratification (a spiritual principle) as they save for things they REALLY want.
9. They will learn the value of a dollar (theirs and eventually yours) and become “cost aware”.

Citizen of the household chores vs. chore auction.  I talk about that here.

Money vs. marbles and stickers and treats 
(they want to use the same currency they see you using.)  Children love money.  Marbles and stickers really just comlicate things and the more complicated it is, the less chance that you will stick with it.

Let them make money mistakes 
or “the lesson of the medieval times dagger.”
Short version:  Tanner went to Medieval times with a friend when he was 11.  He had been saving for something.  I don't remember what.  He took all the money he saved with him.  I don't know why.
Low and behold, he came home that night with a bright, shiny (and very sharp) new dagger.  When I asked him what he was going to do with the dagger he said, "hang it up in my room" and I said, "you share your room with a two year old, I don't think so!"   He had to lock it up in his locker.  It didn't take long before he realized it was a bad purchsing decision (he had gotten caught up in the whole medieval times aura) and lost sight of what he was REALLY saving for.  

It was a terrific lesson that he has never forgotten and refers too often when making purchases.  "Is this an impule buy like the Medieval Times dagger?"

Three steps to success:
1 Cut them off.  From now on you pay for NEEDs, they pay for WANTS.
2 their AGE is their WAGE (per week) as a rule of thumb.  (a three year old should have $3 worth of chores available to them to do each week so a total of 12 bucks a month as an example.)  
If you have an older child who babysits, has a part time job, etc  you should not feel like you have to supplement that if they typically are able to earn their age each week.)
3 create your list or chore chart.  What chores do you want done?  How much should each chore be worth?  The total of your chore auction should equal your children’s ages added up.

Bonus tips:
Keep it simple!  The more complicated it is, the less likely YOU are to keep it up.  (another excellent example for not using stickers or marbles)
Try to get your spouse on board, you need an ally.
No paying chores before their room is tidied up and checked.
Just like the real world, you can be FIRED if you continually do a BAD job – when mom and dad KNOW you can do better.
CHORE AUCTION IS OPTIONAL, household chores are not.
Don’t ever LOAN your children money unless you want them to live an adult life filled with debt.  That’s a horrible precedent.
Consistency is key

Trouble shooting!
Why it might not be working:  It is ALWAYS one of two things.
1. You haven’t REALLY cut them off and you are still providing their WANTS.
2. You aren’t taking them shopping enough in the world where they can find things they want to do with their money.

Books I love that inspired all of this:
Money Doesn't Grow On Trees: A Parent's Guide to Raising Financially Responsible Children (Neale S. Godfrey and Tad Richards)
A Penny Saved: Teaching Your Children the Values and Life Skills They Will Need to Live in the Real World  (Neale S. Godfrey and Tad Richards)
Raising Financially Fit Kids (Joline Godfrey)
Silver Spoon Kids : How Successful Parents Raise Responsible Children (Jon, Kevin, and Eileen Gallo) 
Raising Self-Reliant Children in a Self-Indulgent World: Seven Building Blocks for Developing Capable Young People...