Thursday, December 30, 2010

Flexible Chore Charts

Back when school was about to start, I was sitting in my hairdresser's chair, waiting for her to finish working her magic, when I started lamenting about our chore charts and how the system just wasn't working for me anymore. Okay, I was whining. Is that better?

I've told you that my hairdresser is a magician, so I was very interested to hear what she had to say about chores. Lucky for me, she had a lot to say. We got into a big discussion about how we were tired of nagging our kids to finish their chores. To just stay focused long enough to get them done. Stop beating a dead horse and do the ding dang chore so you can ding dang play before you leave for college, PUH-lease!

I'm sure you are familiar with the scenario.

The Magician shared with me how she revamped her whole system by assigning just one chore to each kid per day. Every Monday they had the same chore. Every Tuesday they had the same chore, and so on. I was desperate and willing to try anything, so the schedule you see above is what we came up with. And guess what? It worked.

Mostly. I really like that there is just one chore to focus on because the kids aren't overwhelmed with a ginormous list. Now, they are still responsible for other "procedures" as I like to call them. Sneaky, yes, but that's what us moms are paid to be, aren't we? Oh wait. There is no pay.

All the more reason for us to do whatever the heck we want to do. My house is a small country and I am the Queen, and all that jazz. 

The "procedures" I'm talking about (by the way, snarky air quotes are required) are making the bed, picking up after yourself, brushing your teeth, etc. Basically, whatever I say they are, on any given day. I just point at the kid, say do blah-blah (please) and it is a "procedure," not a chore. Also, Saturdays, which are my cleaning days, they must be available to assist me at a moments notice. I make it a rule to never bend over to pick up anything that I didn't put on the floor, so it's mostly that sort of thing. "Pick up that creepy looking horse or I'm going to suck it up in the vacuum cleaner. Head first."

It works for me.

The nifty thing is that the kids are not doing fewer chores, but they think they are doing fewer chores.

The only part of this system that didn't work long term for us, was the same chore on the same day part. The problem is that some days we aren't home long enough to do even the one chore. Every week is different because there's always something going on it seems. It's probably like this for everyone, right?

Anyway, I've been thinking and thinking and thinking about how I can improve this system, and I came up with this.

You know how I love me some magnets, right? Well, couple that will some jumbo popsicle sticks, a little pretty paper, and some Mod Podge, and we're in business. They are very simple, but they are versatile.

Our chore charts have always had a home on the side of our fridge, so that part is still the same. Now each chore is on it's own popsicle stick under the responsible party's magnet face. We started with the three chores above, that each of the girls have to do at least once a week. Next, they took turns picking their chores.

These are the chores I gave them to pick from this go 'round. Aren't they lucky?

After they chose their chores, I moved them around a little bit so they wouldn't both get scoop litterbox on the same day. That would be a waste of a perfectly good chore, don't you think?

As you can see, our chores aren't tied to specific days, but instead we will rotate them in order. If we are home and the chore can be completed, as decided by myself and my mood of the moment, then each child will do the chore on top, then rotate it to the bottom of their stack. This way things still get done on a regular basis, but maybe not on June Cleaver's schedule.

Also, we can trade chores when they get tired of the chores they picked. We like to mix things up to keep them fun. Because chores are so fun.

I'm really excited about the 10-minute timed family pick-up. We've never done this one before, but I have high hopes for it. The idea is to set the timer for 10 minutes, and everyone runs around and tries to pick up and clean as much as they can before the timer goes off. Doesn't it sound like fun?

Okay, pretend then.

Here's the other part of the chore system that the Magician gave me. When the girls finish their chores they come to me to get a token, which is simply a poker chip. If they forget, the token is forfeited. This puts the pay out on them, and let me tell you, this is really working for me. Before, I felt like every time I turned around I was handing out allowance and printing out new chore charts. Now, I have more cash because they hardly ever remember. Not that I should be cheating my kids or anything like that, but I'm teaching responsibility, right? If you don't punch your timecard, you don't get a paycheck, right?

Do people even still use timecards? Did I just totally date myself? Let me guess, hourly wage earners are microchipped and as soon as they walk into the building, their time is noted by a computer off site, and their paycheck is delivered electronically to their bank without them ever knowing how it was calculated? Do I watch too much Sci-Fi?

Anyway, as I was saying, the poker chips are worth 25 cents each. They can't cash them in until they have $5 worth collected. Then I take 20% off the top for charity and savings.

The tokens also work great for bribing consequences. I can take them away if the girls misbehave, or I have to ask them more than once to do something, or not do something, whatever the case may be. I have to tell you also, they think the tokens are pretty cool. Losing a token is a big deal around here.

And it makes me feel powerful. Which I love.

I also put the tokens into play to curb some other undesirable habits, shall we say.

For example, if Annika gets up in the morning the first time we ask her, and she gets dressed, brushes her teeth, etc., the first time we ask her, she gets a token. If she doesn't, not only does she not get a token, but she can lose tokens if we have to ask her to get her gnarly carcass out of bed repeatedly.

For Zoe, if she wakes up without her hair looking like this,

she earns a token. If she wakes up and it does look like this, she can still earn a token if she takes care of it by herself. For example, like this:

Hey, whatever simplifies things for me, that's what works around here. I've had to work very hard at relaxing my standards.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Holiday Paint Can Inserts . . . Finally

I'm sorry that these are so late in coming. I think I've mentioned that I'm learning a new digi scrapping software--the Creative Memories sbcStudio for macs. It's a lot different than StoryBook Creator Plus, and there are quite a few bugs still being worked out, which is causing a little crankiness on my part. And wasted time. Grrrr! It'll all work out in the end though.

At least that's what I keep telling myself in order to keep from jumping off a bridge. A bridge with icy cold water and ice beneath it. Actually, it's probably just the cold keeping me from taking the plunge. I dislike cold very much.

Check out these little knobber jobbers. Don't you just love them? I found them at Porter's, and it was all I could do not to slap my forehead.

Why didn't I think of this? These paint cans can be a pain to open, especially when you are in a hurry and there's chocolate inside. As an example.

Some genius at Porter's came up with this idea, and I can't even tell you how in love with it I am. I didn't buy them right away. I thought that maybe I could find some even cuter ones, maybe even cheaper at a hardware store. I looked though, at only one place because I loathe shopping around, and I'm happy to say that I feel good about paying $8.99 for three CEEEEE-UTE little knobs in all their knobbity cuteness.

Of course installation requires a small hole be drilled. No problemo.

Cute little screw poking through the bottom.

CEEEEE-UTE little knob. Try not to faint from the cuteness of it.

I know, weird things excite me.

So much that I can't even handle it.

I only wish it were my idea.

I'm a copy cat though. I guess I can live with that.

Without torturing you further, here are the templates. Get them printed as 11 x 14 inch enlargements. I did mine at Sam's Club.

Be sure to click on the image first, before saving it to your desktop. Otherwise the image will be blurry. Enjoy!

P.S. What do you think of my new design? Tonya at Lucky Girl Design Studio hooked me up. I love it.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas Bookmarks

I made a couple new holiday bookmarks. I love the Santa and Mrs. Claus heads, so I couldn't resist.

If you weren't around here last year, you missed these holiday bookmarks. They're still up though, so you can go here and grab them if you'd like them.

And here's the new one. Enjoy!

By the way, I'll be working on the holiday paint can inserts this week, so stay tuned. I've just switched over to the new sbcStudio software for the Mac, so I'm doing a bit of stumbling around, and I'm not very fast with it. Plus, there were some problems with the software initially, that have now been resolved.

I promise I haven't forgotten about you.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


So, you know how you see those cute little personalized hand sanitizers around the blogosphere, and people give them as teacher's gifts? Well, I think they are super cute, but in a real-life classroom that little bitty jobber might last two weeks. I go through two of the big Sam's Club gigondo hand sanitizers in one school year. 

These 67.6 ounce babies. 

And they are worth every penny, trust me. I got sick one time last year. Count it. ONE TIME.

Before I used hand sanitizer, it was every other month, at least. And I'm not the only one getting sick less. I keep one of these monsters by the computers, since most of the students touch the keyboards every day. I have another one back by the sink, and one at my desk too. 

Tomorrow the girls are each taking a ginormous personalized hand sanitizer to their teachers, just to kick off the holiday season. Here's how I did ours.

First, I soaked the bottles, label side down, in a sink full of water. After ten minutes or so, the labels peeled right off. That was the easy part. Next I had to scrub them with Goo-Gone to get the sticker residue off. Finally, I cleaned them with Windex, and then they were ready to be personalized.

I used my Cricut to cut the things I wanted out of brown vinyl. I used the Plantin School Book cartridge on Shadow, at half an inch for the lettering. The scrolly thing is from my Creative Memories Reminisce Accents cartridge. It's the Scroll1 shape with the Frame setting, and I cut that at four inches.

I used the same font cartridge for the teacher's monogram, but I didn't use the Shadow setting, and I cut them at 2-1/4 inches.

It was a quick project, and so worth the effort.

I love them so much, I might even make one for my classroom.

Since this has posted, I have found someone who will make an even cuter version of this label for just $3.50. It makes a great Teacher Appreciation gift. For details, go to this post.

Merry & Bright Banner Winner

I know I promised I was going to pick a winner Friday night, I'm sorry. I had my Creative Memories Going Out of Business Sale yesterday, and I was pretty much buried with that. Anyway, let's not prolong the suspense. The winner is . . . Amy. Congratulations, Amy! E-mail me with your address and I'll put your banner in the mail, chop-chop.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Merry & Bright

I feel like I'm in a dream and the holidays just creeped up on me. Wasn't Halloween just last week? Time has a way of marching on, whether I'm ready for it or not.

I tend to panic the day after Thanksgiving, thinking about the sheer magnitude of things I need to accomplish before Christmas. It can be overwhelming. That is, until I make my lists

I got a jump on my holidays last week when I decided to make this banner. My friend, Lisa, helped me.

Lisa is contemplating putting a Cricut on her Christmas list, and I like to corrupt others with my evil crafting, so I peer pressured her into helping me. We had so much fun that we made four. Lisa is keeping one and giving another to one of her lucky peeps.

I'm also keeping one and giving the other away to one of my lucky readers. Are you feeling lucky?

If you want a chance to win one of these, leave me a comment telling me what the biggest stress of the holiday season is for you. Let's just call it my Comment Confessional. Feel free to exaggerate. I love embellishments.

Plus, you get to feel better getting it off your chest, and I get to feel better when I see that we're in the same boat.

Row, row, row your boat. We have 25 shopping days left until Christmas . . .

And because I know you're thinking it, I'm just going to answer your ESP-Internet question right now. Yes, I have been making a lot of these blasted banners lately. I think I'm fixated on them.

I've decided that I want one for every holiday. And if I'm making one, it's just as easy to make two, so stay tuned.

Oh, I should probably mention that I'm picking a winner Friday night. Sometime Friday night. I can't be nailed down to an exact time because I'm so flighty.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Zombies and Diversity

I know. Before you even ask I'm just going to say, yes. Yes, I know you probably did come over here wondering how in the heck a comic book site got tangled up in my RSS feed. Stranger things have happened.

For example last night I accidentally set my blog to private and no one could get in for about an hour. There was some freaking out in my in box over that one. Oopsie.

Sorry, I was just playing around with a new blog I started, Controlling My Thighs, and I'm not ready to unveil it yet so I accidentally privatized the wrong blog. My bad.

There really is a point to this post. Somewhere. And I promise I'll get to it in my usual roundabout way.

I actually just want to share a little story about Peanut Head educating the troops. Our troops. Since he can't yell at sweaty Grunts anymore, he has to impart his wisdom somewhere. Since we had kids, they naturally became the recipients of his vast wisdom.

Not unlike the little orienteering lesson with the girls, this particular lesson made a bit of an impact. Not necessarily a positive impact, but an impact.

I'm going to have to sidetrack a little bit before I show you what I'm talking about. I know. That never happens around here. I'm always succinct.

Sidetracking . . . we have a little routine for Sundays. Part of our Sunday routine is Family Movie Time. Peanut Head pops popcorn and we settle in and watch a movie together. Well, a couple weeks ago I bought the movie "Seven Pounds," with Will Smith.

I love Will Smith. He's so sweet.

I couldn't wait to watch the movie, I was so looking forward to it. Peanut Head kept asking me what the movie was about, and I kept telling him "I don't know. I've heard from a lot of people that it's really good, but they couldn't tell me what it was about or else it would give it away."

A plot surprise movie.

I thought we were good with that explanation. I kept telling Peanut Head how excited I was that I was finally going to be able to watch "Seven Pounds."

I excitedly got settled in for the movie. All the while, Peanut Head didn't say a word. But then Peanut Head doesn't talk a lot, so this wasn't unusual. I think it's a Grunt thing.

The movie started and imagine my surprise when this movie came up on the screen."


I felt betrayed. Tricked and betrayed. 

How could my beloved do this to me?

I don't think it was a stretch for him at all. He didn't even laugh. He just acted like it was the plan all along. I kept looking at him, and looking at the movie, and looking at him, and back at the movie. I was confused.

And tricked and betrayed.

I was huffing under my breath and thinking to myself "I should get up. I should get up and stomp off. I have better things to do than watch this drivel."

Except I didn't.

And I'm a little embarrassed to admit it, but I sat there through the whole thing and watched it.

Hey, the popcorn was dang good and I was cozy under that blanket.

And while I didn't love the movie, it wasn't the worst movie I've ever seen. The girls thought it was most excellent. Especially Stinkerbell. She liked it a little too much. Disturbingly so.

But then if you'll remember, she wore this for Halloween last year.

I'm trying to focus on the positive here. Against my nature as it is. Perhaps we can use this movie somehow to impart a little educational lesson.

I know.

Diversity. By watching the zombies and respecting the way they choose to live, we are embracing diversity. 

Yes. Bad Parenting Choice save. Never mind calling CPS. We're good now.

Except that The Stink went to school the next day and wrote about the experience in her weekend journal.

Just in case you cannot read the literary masterpiece, here's what it says:

This past weekend I wathed (spelling errors are left alone, even though they are causing my left eye to twitch) a really, really SCARY MOVIE!!! it was called ZOMBIE LAND!!! It made me and Zoe hide under our covers at night time and go with each other to the bathroom! My favorite part was when a huge, fat, wide, round ZOMBIE was standing right in front of the last human's. Then one of the last human's said . . . I'M JUST GOING TO TAKE A LITTLE OFF THE TOP! and cut off his head!


I especially love her little smiley face at the end. And her excessive use of punctuation marks. She has her Mama's enthusiasm. Er . . .  exaggerating tendencies.

The problem with exercising bad judgment with our kids and letting them watch such educationally devoid movies, is that they tell people about it.

Dang it.

"Zip, zip, zip it, Sister Girl. Not telling. Not telling the people about the baaaaaaaad movie."

And dangity, dang dang. I still haven't gotten my ESP-to-the-kid messaging system up and running. Must make that a priority.

So now Stinkerbell's teacher, her teacher whom I love as much as cupcakes, probably thinks I'm a Cretin now.

Dang it.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Spinach Artichoke Dip

I have a quick recipe to share with you today. It's one of Peanut Head's favorite dips. He pretty much likes anything with artichokes and cheese. I know, kind of girlie of him with the artichokes, but it really is good. It's one of those dips that's better hot. Also, just a word of caution, go slow with the addition of the red pepper flakes, because they tend to increase the heat after they've had a chance to hang out in the dip and permeate the rest of the ingredients. Does that even make any sense? Anyway, you can always add more if you want more heat, just do it carefully.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Give Thanks Banner Winner

The winner of the Give Thanks banner is Randi. Congratulations, Randi! Send me an e-mail with your address and I'll pop it in the mail Saturday. 

Thank you to everyone who left comments. I enjoyed reading through them. We have a lot to be thankful for, don't we?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Give Thanks Banner

I'm popping in super quick to share a little banner that I just finished this evening. I'm feeling very prepared with Thanksgiving more than a week away. Normally I would finish something like this the night before, but technically it has been on my To Do List for over a year. Better late than never though, right?

Target didn't have any glitter paper in the color I wanted for this banner, so I had to resort to glitterizing my own letters. I chose to just outline them in glitter because it took forever already. It was not my favorite part.

Plus, it was super messy.

And yes, that's because I'm a disaster when I create, but I don't like to clean as I go. I like to destroy and create side by side. 

I'm not cleaning it up until this weekend either. In fact, I'm going to bed right now.

But first, I wanted to tell you that I made two of these. One for me, and one for one of you lucky readers out there. I'm giving you until Thursday evening at 9:00 p.m. mountain time (as in Idaho), to leave a comment telling me what you are thankful for.

I promise to get it mailed out to you by Saturday at the latest. That way you'll have it in time for the big day. Good luck, Peeps!