Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Danielle's Memory: A Post Dedicated to My Family and Friends

I was on a getaway with some girlfriends this past weekend... if you weren't already aware from the abundant photos that were posted by my friends on social media throughout the course of the weekend! It was a time of relaxing away from our mom duties and our jobs, but it was also a time of sharing, reflection, and healing for some of us. I can't tell the other ladies' stories, but I can tell mine.

Photo courtesy of Amanda Stombaugh
Through the loss of Danielle, I have found that there are those that remember her and hold her very closely in their hearts, and there are those that forget about her or leave her "out" of our family, whether intentionally or unintentionally. I have never blamed or been angry with the latter group, but it has stung my heart. I have forgiven them, but just like the pain of losing a child never fully goes away, that sting in my heart doesn't fully go away either. This post isn't about those people though. This post is about the first group. The people who remember her at times I wouldn't expect them to remember her. Those are the people that I know also hold me closely in their hearts.

Sometimes I am amazed at the lives my daughter touched in only two short days. From the people who showed up at funeral, because they were following the updates on her throughout my pregnancy, yet we hadn't talked in several years, to those who I barely even knew during her short life who have remembered her in various ways, and to those who have donated in her memory to Faith's Lodge when I didn't expect them to donate, I am continually touched by their actions.

One of my friends brings her up in conversation with me from time to time. And this weekend was one of those times. Sometimes it only brings smiles to my face, but sometimes it also brings tears to my eyes. But the great thing is, these friends aren't afraid to cry with me. On a couple occasions, we talked about our grief journeys, with one of our friends still being very raw with some of her emotions on a tragedy in her life. I shared this story of my grief with my friends...


... there was one day where I couldn't bear the thought of not holding my child. My arms ached they were so empty. It really becomes a physical pain. I wanted so badly for them to be holding my child, my baby girl. I went upstairs, with the soreness from my c-section still lingering. I went in her bedroom, still set up and waiting for her, and shut the door. I sat down in the rocking chair, wrapped the nursing pillow around my tummy, and grabbed, what we now refer to as, the Danni Bear (It is a bear that plays a recording of her heartbeat that was taken at one of her ultrasounds). I rocked with the Danni Bear, clinging closely to her, to it, and sobbed quietly, so Adam wouldn't hear me. But, he eventually did find me. He didn't like seeing me so hurt. He was hurting too, but much stronger than I am. He tried to get me out of the room, thinking that if I were out of that physical space, that I would be better. Of course, that's not how grief works, and he knew that...

Of course, I started getting tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat as I told this story. And my most of my friends did too. They don't remember her as I, her mother who carried her for 9 months remember her growing within, and nursing her in my arms, but just as she touched my heart so deeply, she touched their hearts as well. For these friends, and for our family that has remembered her by visiting her grave, and leaving flowers or praying for her, I am eternally grateful that God placed you in my life. Just as I am thankful that He gave us Danielle, even if it was only for two days.

As we approach her birth and death days, we are participating in Hope Walks & Rolls again this year in memory of her. If you would like to participate, but haven't signed up yet, please do so here and select her team. If you can't join us, but would like to donate, please do so here. And thank you all for remembering her. It really does touch both my heart and Adam's.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Laundry Room & Mud Room Remodel: Problems and Solutions - Part 1

As pretty much all of our Facebook friends know, we started a laundry room & mudroom remodel last July. I had been dreaming, designing, pinning on Pinterest, talking, and trying to convince the parties I would need to get involved about it since shortly after we moved in back in 2013. Finally, Adam decided that he had heard enough, and decided to rip down a wall for my birthday present.

There were several problems with the way in which these two rooms were designed back in 1996 when our house was built.




Problem: When you walked in from the garage you walked into the laundry room, then walked through the laundry room to get to the mud room to hang up you jacket and kick off your shoes or boots (we do live in Minnesota, so there's a lot of boot-wearing!). Now, add four kids into that mix. The kids stopped right at the door, sat down on the floor, and took off their shoes, which were then left in the middle of the walkway for us to trip over when we tried to make it to the correct room to put our things away.


Solution: The rooms needed to be switched. This was the biggest challenge and I needed my dad on board with the idea. He would be able to move all the plumbing and the gas line around in order for the washing machine, gas dryer, and laundry tub to be relocated. Once Adam decided to start ripping down walls, he didn't have much of a choice.


Problem: The only place to hang up jackets was on a closet rod (those wire shelf ones with the rod underneath). This problem is two-fold. The rod was too high for the kids and the kids (and Adam most days!) don't know how to use hangers.
Pinterest
Solution: We needed hooks for jackets, and enough of them for six people's worth of jackets. I loved the Pinterest pictures of the lockers for each person in the family, but I didn't think the locker style was quite right for us.


Problem: With six people living in a house, comes six people's worth of shoes, and other than the floor or a box, we didn't have any place to put them. The usually ended up all over the floor.
Pinterest
Solution: We needed a shoe shelf with several shelves.

Problem: The kids love playing outside in the winter, which means hats, mittens, and scarves were always laying around on the floor. There was no good place for them to put them where they could reach them when they wanted to go outside.
Pinterest
Solution: We needed cubbies that the kids could reach to put their stuff in. In all honesty, when we started this, I wasn't sure how that would look. I had several different ideas, and it took me a while to settle on one.


Problem: I almost always use the awesome drying rack that my Godmother gave us when we got married, and seldom use the gas dryer. With the way the laundry room and mud room were built, there wasn't enough space for it to be in there. When it was nice out in the summer, I put it out on the deck to catch that fresh breeze. But, as I said earlier, we're in Minnesota, there's a long stretch of cold snowy winter that doesn't mix well with drying clothes outside, so it ended up in my living room for a good part of each year. With small children playing nearby, wet clothes were often pulled down and thrown on the floor.

Solution: We needed to configure the new laundry room in such a way that there was floor space for the drying rack to be set up. Since there isn't any breeze like there is outside to help dry clothes, I also wanted a ceiling fan to help move the air to dry the clothes quicker. I also wanted an exhaust fan to suck all the moist air out of the room on those rainy days in the summer that I can't set it up outside.


More Posts About Our Remodel
Find out how we paid $235 for a brand new washer and dryer set!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Short & Sweet Letter: 2016

This year I ended up taking our family photos for our Christmas cards. I'm having a lot of using my remote to take our pictures and I feel like I'm getting better at editing them. But that's still something I think I need to work on. So without further ado, here are our Christmas cards and letter for this year!

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After much nagging, I couldn’t get Adam to write the Christmas letter, so you’re stuck with me, Sarah, again this year. With the birth of child number 5, Lily, in May I haven’t had a ton of time, so this will probably be short (lucky you!). Adam’s highlights this year were taking a work trip to Canada in July, and running his first marathon in October to raise money for Team World Vision. Nora has been busy with swimming lessons, vacation Bible school, Little Flowers, and choir at church, though her singing is not only contained to the choir loft. She can be found singing in the bathroom, her bedroom at night, and any other place you would expect to otherwise be quiet. Nate also took swimming lessons with Nora, and is currently playing Peewee Sports with Grandpa Jack. The only thing that slows him down is puzzles (you know the ones with 300 pieces) and coloring inside the lines. Sam has been trying to keep up with the other two, and loves to go pee pee in his “little potty.” You often need to watch your step in the kitchen, as he is often zooming cars across the wood floor while naked. As for me, I enjoyed a relaxing weekend with some friends in Lusten, MN. I also instantly lost 15 pounds on May 22 (Lily’s birthday), and am on the parish council. Lily decided that I needed to lose more weight by chasing another child around, so she started crawling at 5 ½ months, and is now pulling herself up to stand. There’s no doubt she’ll be walking sooner than I would like. We hope you have a blessed Christmas!

Shutterfly Referral*

Photo by me

Photo by me
*I used Shutterfly to make my cards this year. I had a couple different codes with different specifications, where I only had to pay shipping, so I ended up sending out two types. If you click my referral link you and I will both get a free 8x8 Shutterfly book after your first purchase.

View our other Christmas Letters!
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Sunday, August 14, 2016

Lilianna's Birth Story



It seems like with all our VBAC babies we've had a "false alarm." (Apparently, I still haven't got this birthing thing figured out even by number 5.) The evening of May 20th (the day before my due date), I started having mild contractions.We decided to go for a walk around the curve to try to get things moving along more. Along the way, we saw our neighbor, Kathryn, out, whose due date was 4 days after mine. I told her she should join us for a labor-inducing walk. She declined though, because she had to go into work soon. So we went home and relaxed with the kids. Probably not 20 minutes had passed since Kathryn and I had posed for a picture together, she sent me a text saying that I jinxed her, because her water had just broke! She was heading into the hospital. My contractions were getting pretty "timable" and I told her that we'd probably meet her there later. I let my mom know, so that she could be ready to come over at some point that night. She got there around 11pm and by the time Adam and I were ready to leave around midnight, my contractions were 3 minutes apart, but still pretty mild.

When we got to the hospital, they sent us to triage for monitoring. By the time we got there, the contractions had spaced out more to 6-ish minutes apart, and I was dilated to 2 cm. The nurse talked to Dr. Arnold, who was on call for the weekend, and he said they could admit me. After being admitted, my contractions just about stopped and after two more cervical checks with no changes, we decided to go home after 4 hours and get some rest in our own bed. I texted Kathryn that we were leaving and I was rather jealous that she was going to be having her baby on my due date, even though she still had 4 more days to go! Adam told the nurse we'd be back in 12 hours. I didn't think we would be, I was guessing she'd arrive on Sunday.

While I was super disappointed in not getting to meet our little girl, it was nice that she waited so that we could both go to Hope Walks and Rolls 5K on Lily's due date, May 21st, to celebrate her big sister's life, and raise money for Faith's Lodge. While I was very tempted to walk to try to induce labor again, after a night of very little sleep, I decided to wait at the start/finish line for our family and Adam's co-workers. But my body was feeling pretty great after feeling uncomfortably pregnant for several weeks, so that I was thankful for.


Thankfully, I didn't need to walk to induce labor, because at 3:30am the next day, I woke up with stronger contractions. I let Adam sleep, but I eventually got up and showered so that I'd be ready to go in when the time came. After getting the kids up and fed, I had Adam call mom to head over. By that point my contractions were 7-ish minutes apart, and I figured I'd hang out at home while mom entertained the kids, but shortly after she got there, they were less than 3 minutes apart and they were much stronger. I didn't want to head into the hospital and be told that I was still at 2 cm, or that I wasn't progressing. When I told Adam that they were less than 3 minutes apart, he said he thought we should go, but would leave it up to me. After a couple more painful contractions, I decided that he was probably right. I kissed each of the kids goodbye. Nora was really excited that her baby sister was going to be born, Nate wanted to give the baby (my belly) a hug and kiss, and Sam looked rather concerned (I don't think he had a clue what was going to be happening).

Of course, as we started driving to the hospital my contractions slowed down, and I told Adam that if they checked me and I was still a 2, that I was going to punch someone. Luckily, when my nurse, Lisa, came to check me at 8:55am, I was 3 cm. Not what I was hoping for, but at least I didn't need to punch her. I was also 90% effaced and Lily was sitting low. With each contraction, I was thinking about an epidural more and more, but didn't mention anything to Adam or Lisa for a little while.


We talked about getting the IV started and labs taken since I had such horrible experiences with Nora's and Sam's births, and because I needed a bag of fluids and labs taken before I could get an epidural. We explained that they only had one chance to draw blood, and that was when a member of the SWAT team (their team of people who are really awesome at placing IVs) placed the IV. I also said that I wanted the area numbed, and of course to wait until I was between contractions. The lady was really sweet, but said she wanted to try without numbing because it usually collapsed veins. She tried in my hand without numbing it, and the vein collapsed anyway. So she tried again in my arm and after digging around and me crying because it was worse than the contractions, she finally got it in, BUT she couldn't get blood to come out. That meant that the lab tech that was standing by would have to poke me again. Since it takes a while for the the bag of fluids, we decided to give me a break and have the lab tech come back to get any and all AND extra blood taken, just in case someone decided that they needed more for some other crazy test (that was Dr. Mahan's idea). Once the fluids were started Lisa started the Penicillin and got me a half a dose of fentanyl to help me through the blood draw and to last me until Dr. Kent could come place my epidural.

When the lab tech came back, she pulled out extra vials, and I asked her to use the butterfly needle. She did such an awesome job, that I told her that even though the lab people don't have a "SWAT" team, that I thought she could be part of them anyway.

Lisa wanted to do another cervical check to make sure I was progressing or that I wasn't too far along for the epidural. Two hours after my last check, I had only gained 1 cm. I figured it was going the same route as the last to VBACs, and that I'd be here for several more hours before I got to meet our daughter. The fentanyl was at least helping with my contractions for the 45 minute wait for Dr. Kent and the epidural meds to come. I asked at one point if he would he there soon, because I wanted the second half of the fentanyl, but Lisa urged me to wait. So, I did.

With both Nora and Sam, I was able to lay down for the epidural, but I know they prefer you sitting up, so I tried that. Lisa had a foot stool for me, and wanted me to hug pillows while he placed it. I wanted the foot stool gone and to hold Adam. So she moved it, and I rested my head on Adam's chest. I don't remember either of the other epidurals hurting as much as this one did. Danni's spinal probably hurt more, but there were also a lot of other anxiety-driving factors to consider. He gave me a test push of drugs to make sure it was working, and then had me lie down so Lisa could hook up the drip bags of meds. I could feel the feelings leaving, but I could feel the pressure of her descending lower with each contraction. Lisa had me telling her when I could feel the contractions to make sure the monitor was picking them up correctly. At this point it was lunch time, and since I was comfortable, Adam asked permission to run to get lunch quick. I was fine with it, so he went, and Lisa stayed in the room with me while making sure the epidural was working properly.

This epidural was so much better than the one I had with Nora where I couldn't feel anything at all. This time I could wiggle my toes, move my legs (though my right leg needed a little aide often times), and turn side to side with a little assistance. After my first turn from my right side onto my left side, I had a contraction and suddenly felt a gush of fluids! My water had broken! Lisa checked me again, and I was now at 5 cm. As with Nora and Sam, I started progressing at a quicker rate once the epidural was going. I still expected it to be a while though. Lisa and I chatted for a while until I started feeling like I could use a rest. I shut my eyes and relaxed, but enjoyed each contraction feeling without pain the movement of my youngest daughter lower and lower.

Adam came back from lunch, and shortly after Lisa left the room. Adam was hanging out on the couch, while I continued to relax and enjoy the my body birthing our daughter. I don't know at what point, but eventually decided that since I could feel when the contractions were coming and since it usually takes me a while to get these babies out of me, that maybe when I felt a contraction, I could give a little extra push, just to help things move a little quicker. After a couple contractions like that Lisa came in to check me, and so she could hook up my second dose of penicillin, since it had been 4 hours. But, apparently I was complete! I told her that I how I had thought I would try to move things along by pushing a little with my contractions. She laughed a little and said not to do that! I was supposed to tell her if I felt the urge to push! (Which I never felt the urge to push like I did with Sam, I just wanted to get the show going a little faster.)

A quick 5 minutes later the doctor was in the room and everyone was in place and ready for me to push. Normally they have you grab the back of your knees and pull them towards you to push, but the baby was up in my stomach still (even though she was partway down my birth canal!), and so instead of pulling my knees to my chest, I was pushing her down out of my stomach with my hands just to try to stay comfortable. But, after a few contractions and pushes of doing that, Dr. Arnold said that she wasn't moving anywhere and we needed to try something different. I'd rather meet my daughter than have my stomach be comfortable for those few minutes, so grabbed my knees for the next contraction and pushed with all my might. She enough she started moving outwards into the world. I can't remember how many pushes it took, but it was only 11 minutes of pushing total, according to Adam's notes.

Once her head was out, I had to stop pushing for a moment, as the cord was wrapped around her neck. Dr. Arnold quickly took care of it, and the rest of her body came out quickly. I could see her blue little body, it wasn't turning pink, and she wasn't breathing or crying. Strangely though, I was calm. I knew she would take her first breath, I knew everything would be okay. And after a what seemed like a lot longer time than it actually was, she did start breathing! Dr. Arnold cut the cord, and since she didn't breath right away, the nurses took her over to assess her and put a diaper on her. While they were attending to her, I could feel myself effortlessly birth the placenta. As Dr. Arnold was checking everything out "down there," I asked if I was going to need stitches. He looked, and he looked, and said, "Maybe one," then he looked some more, "Naw, it's just a scratch." I had to laugh, "just a scratch!"


And then my third daughter, my fifth child, Lilianna Quinn was placed on my chest. She was finally here! She started nursing well right away, and was totally happy and content to be on my chest. Adam snapped dozens of pictures on my DSLR and on his phone to send to family and friends. Once he had his pictures all taken and texts and emails all sent, he wanted his time with her. So, he took off his shirt and grabbed her and a blanket to cuddle up on the couch with her.


My neighbor, Kathryn, had her son on Lily's due date at the same hospital and was four doors down from us, so we stopped by with Lily to meet Ethan the next day.


Monday, June 6, 2016

2016-2017 Homeschool Curriculum Choices

I've seen some people posting their curriculum choices each year to share their favorites, so I figured, what the heck, I'll do it too! Plus, I'm super excited that I just clicked that "buy" button and our books will be arriving next week! So without further ado, here's what I've picked for our kids this year.

Nora, Kindergarten
Nora is a veracious reader (she's probably at a second grade reading level, but she doesn't like to read in front of me, so it's hard to know for sure), has been able to write all of her letters and numbers for a while, but doesn't have much interest in math, much to our dismay! Since I don't think she knows all of the phonics behind reading, I wanted a phonics program for her. Along with that, I know she can sound out and spell many words, so I thought I'd try a spelling program with her, but if I'm finding it's too challenging for her, I won't sweat it. Then, of course, I wanted a good, solid math program for her. For faith formation, Nora will continue in our church's faith formation program at the kindergarten level. I also picked out a saint or feast day for each week of the year that the whole family will learn about. Then at the MN Catholic Homeschool Conference I won the Family Formation's Little Lambs Home Lessons, so we will be doing that with Nora, Nate, and Sam. Nora is also signed up for swimming lessons over the summer and has moved up to the "Bobbers" class.

Phonics: MCP Plaid Phonics Level A
Spelling: MCP Spelling Workout Level A
Handwriting: Handwriting Without Tears My Printing Book - Grade 1
Math: Math Mammoth Grade 1 (we will likely work through this very slowly and take 2 years to do it)

Nate, Preschool
Nate hasn't had much interest in "doing school," and I haven't pushed it with him. He's a little over halfway through Year 3 of ABC Jesus Loves Me, and so we will continue on with Year 3 then start Year 4 when he is through it. While we have talked about the sounds that different letters make from "A" through "P," it hasn't yet clicked with him. Year 4 of the curriculum goes through the letter sounds again, so I'm hoping maybe the second time through it will click with him. I am continuing to work with Nate on some speech issues (currently the "th" sound and the "l" sound, as he calls his baby sister, "Willy"). This will be Nate's first year in faith formation at church with me as his teacher, and he will also be doing the Little Lambs program. Nate is signed up for swimming lessons as well, and even though he's not quite old enough, his teacher was okay with him moving onto the "Turtles" class, so he will be in the water without a parent!

Sam, Pre-Preschool
So far I have been coming up with color and shape activities for Sam to do while the other two are doing school, because he wants to do everything that they are doing. He knows a couple shapes that we talked about, but I'm not sure colors has clicked with him yet. I think I will really see him blossom while working through Year 2 of ABC Jesus Loves Me. He's eager to learn, and is always saying new words.

Lily, Baby
She'll just be hanging out with us while we're having all the fun. I'm sure she'll be busy learning to sit, crawl, and maybe even walk (God help me!) while I'm working with her older siblings.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Palm Art: Field of Flowers


Last year I wasn't able to get around to crafting with my palms until it was too late. They were all dried out and not bendable. This year I was determined to make new flowers for my sad looking (and dusty!) flowers that I made five years ago. It was time for them to be burned and buried (or brought to church for them to burn). Since the boys were napping and Adam took Nora to work with him, I was able to get some quite time to document the process and show others how to make them as well!

You can either work with a palm that it still together with it's two "leaves" or separate them and make something else with the other half. I chose to separate them. If you leave them together you'd just have a lot more flowers.

Next you need to split the palm into several little segments that are about an 1/8 inch wide. I ended up with 9 on my single "leaf."

Then you pick out strand, and figure out what height you want your flower to be (I like to vary mine so they're not all the same height. Then you start to make your petals. First, just make a simple loop.

Then make a second so that it looks like you have a bow. You're going to want to pinch the center to hold all the petal centers together.

Then make a third petal by bringing the loose end under the center of the flower and pinching it.

Then make a fourth petal by bringing the loose end over the center of the flower and pinching it.

The make the last petal, the fifth one, by bringing the loose end under the center of the flower and pinching it.

Now that you have all your petals pinched together at the center, you're going to use the loose end to weave around the petals to hold them in place. Start by going over the petal next to the loose end, then under then next one, then over... (you get the idea), making sure you pull it snugly to the center of the flower as you go. You will not want to include the stem of the flower in your over-under weave, or you won't end up with a true weave.

Keep pinching the center until you have gone around twice (once won't hold all the petals in place). Then you can let go of the center and keep weaving over-under until you only have a tiny tail left.

The tiny tail you can stick through a little hole or gap you see in the center to hold it in place so it doesn't unravel.

Once you're done with the weave, if you're finding you have unevenly sized petals (which I almost always do!),

you can adjust them by pulling a little on the smaller petal. You can play with it a little to get them all evenly sized by following the path you made with the petals.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Allowances: Six Years Later


Shortly after we were married, we discovered that Adam and I had very different spending habits. I was a saver, he was a spender. We both still fit into those categories very much so, but almost 7 years later, we've found some middle ground that really seems to work for us.

First of all, communication has always been a huge key for us in all areas, but especially when it comes to financial concerns (and you'll see that as you read on). Even in the beginning, we were communicating about how I didn't like the idea of him spending money on this or that, and how he felt we had the money to spend on whatever it was. We were often in disagreement in our communication, but we were talking about it and being honest with each other. We have never hid money or purchases from each other, as that only causes them to not trust you, if (but more likely when) they find out, and builds resentment. Of course, we've asked each other to not check the account around birthdays or Christmas, but we've talked about what our limits on gifts are each time it comes to that time of year.

With our differences in spending habits and our almost constant disagreements, several people suggested we try an allowance system. Adam was really for it, since it gave him money to spend, I wasn't really for it, as I saw it as something children get from their parents, and I didn't want to be Adam's parent, I wanted to be his wife. Eventually, though, he won me over to the idea.
We worked out a system that suits our needs, but have been flexible with it as well. Life changes at different stages, and so we've adapted our system to meet our needs. First, to address part of my concern, we both get an allowance from us together (not mine from him and his from me). The amount has varied at different life stages anywhere from $10-$30 per week. When we've had a had a good steady income from his job or my job, it's been higher, when we had lower paying jobs it was lower. And when Adam was in college, I was on unemployment, and we had a new baby, we weren't allowed to spend any of our allowance.

I've heard some people use a cash or envelope system, but I knew that wouldn't work for us. We use credit cards pretty much exclusively because of their benefits (and pay them off each month, but that's for a different post). For us, we kept track in a spreadsheet. We picked Monday as our payday, and I'm in charge of keeping track, since I'm the one handling all the receipts when I'm paying all the bills anyway. It is a little more work for me, but Adam helps by entering his stuff sometimes, and the financial peace (not to steal from Dave Ramsey!) we have found between us is totally worth it to me.

We came to an agreement on what would come out of our allowances, and what wouldn't, but again, it's a flexible system where we communicate. We decided it would be our "fun money." If we wanted to go out for lunch with co-workers, or grabbing a drink at Caribou, or video games, or new clothes, that would come out of our allowance. Gas for our cars would not, unless we were taking a long trip somewhere, for example, hunting up north, or going to a friend's cabin. Groceries or going out to eat together or as a family would not either. We also decided right away that if either of us were thinking of saving up and making a large purchase, that we would discuss it first, like when I bought my DSLR camera or when Adam built both of us new computers.

The day we started, we both understood that our system was going to be flexible. Adam already wanted to "pre-spend" his allowance. While I wasn't too keen on the idea, I understood that he wanted to go to a gun show with his family, and had been considering buying a gun for a while, so I was okay with it, but then he agreed that he wouldn't be spending any money until he got out of the hole. And, other than needing to grab lunch a couple of days, he didn't spend anything. There have been a couple other times since we started as well where things have come up where Adam wants to "pre-spend" or take an "interest-free loan" out. We discussed what would be fair, and then decided on what we should do. 

Now, six year later, I think we've both learned a lot from each other. Not just from the allowance system, but from our communication. I'm finding that Adam is finding ways to be more thrifty and searching for the best deals on stuff that he wants to buy. He's also become a better saver, and not just with his allowance, but with money that we spend (or don't spend) together. In turn, Adam has helped me learn to be okay with spending money on myself and not feel guilty about it.