My 3 yr old daughter took this pic of me

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The New and Improved Interactive Picture Chore System for Littles

Anyone who knows me can tell you that I am the QUEEN of chore charts. I love making charts and I thrive with charts - if I use them. That's usually where my systems tend to fail. I have spectacular plans and create masterpieces on paper, but I have realized two things:

1. That the chore chart of my dreams is not actually the one that works for all of us!
2. That a chart that I love, my kids might not.
3. Simple really IS better.

I know. That was 3.

#3 is kinda disappointing for me because I love the complexity of a good, sound chart and I love knowing how much work went into it.

Sooooo, I figured out a way to make my "simple" chore system as complicated as possible (and time consuming!) lol I spent too much time googling pics and altering them so that they represented my two children the chart is for. It was super fun :)

It all began on Pinterest (of course) with this chart from Our Journey to Africa. 

I liked it, but my kids are too young to read, so I came up with a picture version. I made a template with 2 columns and 2 rows, then made the picture cards (printed, cut, laminated, added a magnet to the back. I printed my template and stuck it to my vintage window white board.

These are their charts - not fancy, but they work great! Unfortunately, I do not currently own a color printer, so all their chore cards are in black and white, but they don't seem to mind. I do intend to redo the cards in color fairly soon. Below are the picture cards I created stole off of Google and modified...

 I intend to add a few more cards as we go. I decided to include basic things like Make Your Bed and Brush Your Teeth because my girls are 6 and 3 and need those reminders, too. It's just easier if it's all in one place. 

Ok, here is what I love about this system and how it works:

At different times of the day (morning, after lunch, before dinner, before bed), I will put up a few chore cards in the left column of each girl's chart and let them know that it's chore time. 

They RUN to the chart to see what they "get" to do (mind you, this is only day one lol - I'll let you know how it is going in a few weeks). 

They go work on their first chore (the top card) and when they have completed it, they RUN back to their chart and slide the magnetic card over to the Done column. That is the most exciting part. 

When they have done all 4 chores (that is all that I can fit in the column because of the size of the cards), I let them go play, OR if there are more chores to be done I put up a few more cards and they start again. 

Wild Princess loved it, although she did get tired after awhile emptying the recycling (big job at our house, especially if it hasn't been done in over a week or two). Little Flower got mad at one point because I only gave her one chore card and Wild Princess got two! lol

I love the simplicity. 
I love that I can walk by and see how much is done. 
I love that I can switch the chore cards back and forth between girls and I don't have to make up a new chart every time I want a different child to do the chore or it's the weekend and we need more flexibility.
I love that I can give less chores on stressful days and more on good days.
I love that they love it. 
I love that they are contributing to our family and that it is helping them to feel good about themselves, instead of having an attitude of entitlement.

So what do you think?
What chore system does your family use?

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Apple Cups!

My girls and I were having a tea party this morning and looking at the cool pic of the "apple-fries" that I saw recently, when an idea popped into my head. It's pretty simple to do and it was a hit!

 The Apple Fries

Take an apple and cut off the top....

Then carefully spoon out the insides, leaving a thick "cup"....

and then fill with apple juice and drink! When you're done - eat the cup :)

WARNING! These cups DO LEAK as the bottom of the apple is apparently not leak-proof. Although it left a little mess on the table, the girls loved it so much I would do it again! If anyone comes up with a solution to this - let me know! So fun.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Mother's Day - NOT What I Expected...

I am a pretty "low expectations" woman when it comes to holidays and birthdays etc. so when my husband brought home a gorgeous bouquet of flowers for me a couple of days early, I was so happy! They are so beautiful and I LOVE flowers!

My kids are Gameboy - 12, Wild Princess - almost 6, Little Flower - almost 3, and Baby Princess who is 7 weeks old so I was not expecting anything really elaborate for Mother's Day. I am a homeschooler and so it's not like my kids are going to "make something for mom at school" unless I plan it, which I did not feel like doing (a little busy lately with the newborn etc). I did go grocery shopping and made sure to bring home strawberries and my favorite chocolate, just in case someone felt like making chocolate covered strawberries for me - but didn't drop any hints.

It's been a BUSY few days and so I was not prepared at all this morning when I woke up. It was a morning of frantically running around, getting kids ready for church, packing a lunch to take to the inlaws, cutting my son's hair (WHY did I do this on Sunday morning??? beats me), showers, breakfast, packing diaper bags (yes, more than one - three, actually), and to top it off - we had an extra little one overnight last night.

When we left for church, it looked like a bomb had gone off in our house OR our home had been broken into and they couldn't find what they were looking for.

We arrived very late to church. Like 25 minutes late.

I forgot the mayonnaise I made this morning at home on the counter.

It is very difficult to manage a baby, a 1&1/2 yr old, and an almost 3 year old in a crowded building.

Our sweet Little Flower bawled and begged not to go on her visit with extended family after church (we don't have a choice - she had to go). Broke my heart into a million little pieces to drive away and leave my baby. On Mother's Day.

By the time we got to the inlaws, I was a MESS. First thing I did was bury my head in my hands and cry. This day was not feeling very special at all. I was overtired (from being up 4 times in the night) and it had been a chaotic morning. It was so busy, I didn't even have a chance to glance at the beautiful crafts my Wild Princess had made for me in Sunday school.

I was a little mad that on Mother's Day I had to be a mother and do the things that mothers do.

Sounds a little ridiculous, right?

After some good, adult conversation, I was able to take my mind off of me and focus on the people around me. It made total sense that I would have to be a mother on Mother's Day. Why did I think any differently?

My children's needs do not cease to exist just because it is Mother's Day. I had not told my kids or husband what I would like or what I expected on this day. 

I spent Mother's Day with two others who were also having a tough time with this holiday. My sweet friend lost her young mother a few years back and my other dear friend is going through some really tough situations and changes in her family and it's not easy. 

It's not easy to be a mother. If you want an easy life - don't be a mother. 

To be a mother you have to
  • let go of your expectations - often
  • learn to thrive and embrace your situation and your kids - no matter how difficult 
  • work work work and not always be appreciated in the way you would like or at all
  • seek beauty in the boring and mundane everyday things
  • voice your needs and desires (men & children are apparently incapable of mind-reading!! I know - shocking.)
  • Find ways to bring peace and joy into your life
  • Be incredibly patient
  • Seek God and ask for wisdom 

This is obviously the short list, but the important things that came to mind. I'm sure we can all add something here. 

By the end of today, I did manage to change my rotten attitude of "poor me, I'm so tired and hard-done-by" and started to appreciate my family. When we got home I had the kids do a 5 minute cleanup of the main rooms, then made myself some chocolate covered strawberries, and went for a walk on our beautiful acreage with my husband, Wild Princess, and Little Flower.

Do not let your expectations ruin your perfectly good day or your perfectly good life. It's really not so bad. More on this in my next post - Mrs. Jones.


Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Out of Hiding

I was trucking right along there for awhile with this whole blog thing and downright enjoying it....and then I "had" a baby! We were on the list for a baby but you never know when you are going to get that call. She was born March 17th and we brought her home a few days later. Ever since then, life has been upside down.

Things had been running somewhat smoothly before A came along, despite all the paperwork, homeschooling, meetings, doctor's appointments, new trauma related behavior issues with one of our kids,  foster care visits with extended family, and all the usual stuff (cooking, cleaning, laundry - who am I kidding, that never gets done - and blogging).....but throw in a lack of sleep and I'm beat! She is amazing and we are sooooo happy that she has joined our family (we are for sure able to adopt this one! YAY! our FIRST adoption!) and she is so perfect and beautiful.

So before A came, I kinda thought I could keep up with 5 blog posts per week and 4 on a really busy week. Now I'm thinking either 1: I will never have time to blog again in my entire life or 2: I will aim for once a week. So you will still see me around here once in awhile and I do have some stuff up my sleeve that I really, really want to talk about.

This week's successes and excitement:

I CAUGHT UP ON ALL THE LAUNDRY!!!! (you mom's of many know what I'm talking about!) The laundry hampers are all empty. And even got it all put away! <3

My lovely mother came out for 6 hours today and played with my wonderful kids so I could catch up on some urgent paperwork and housework. Thanks, Mom!

I am brainstorming for a huge party I would like to throw for my kids - just cuz.

I made a really interesting concoction for supper tonight and it turned out great!

And my small group women are the best best ever, as they brought me some meals and desserts and wine and snacks and gourmet coffee this past week to keep me sane!

Thanks so much for stopping by! See you around :)

Monday, March 11, 2013

Outrageous Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

These cookies are soft and melt in your mouth!

Makes 3 dozen

1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1 cup white flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup rolled oats (may grind them up)
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips (optional) - I usually leave these out - personal preference

1. Preheat oven to 350 degreesF
2. In a medium bowl, cream together butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until smooth.
Stir in peanut butter, vanilla, and egg until well blended.
In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Stir into the batter just until moistened.
Mix in the oats and chocolate chips til evenly distributed.
Drop by tablespoonful onto a lightly greased cookie sheet.
3. Bake for 10-12 minutes in the preheated oven til edges start to brown.
Cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.