Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Kid's Chores -New ZONE Plan- AKA LOVE THIS

We are starting a new program with our kids.  The big pocket chart with bucks in it worked really well for a good long time.  Now that they are older I need more help around the house and their own stuff is pretty simple. I've kind of mixed my old plan with a new one and taken on the ZONE wheel!  I'm very excited about it.  I learned about it where I learn all new amazing things, on Pinterest.  The original link is here and you can click on the part about the wheel from there.

I am a real decor lover and one thing I put too much meaning in is everything being pretty.  So the chore charts are usually far from the center of the house where I can't see them.  This may be a result of years of homeschooling when my living room and dining room had maps and alphabet everywhere and I grew tired of the clutter.  I've given back in for the sake of the kids.  I realized that out of sight is out of mind.  This hall is facing them all when they come out of their rooms and the bathroom door is right there so they have to see it.
The ZONE idea simply is that instead of the dreaded fighting or even draining mystery over who's cup is who's when it's time to pick up (you know, the "I don't know, but it's not MINE!" when you say everyone go in the room and clean up your own stuff) each family member is in charge solely of a ZONE.  Each week the zones change so you don't always have to do the same one.  Each zone must be checked am and pm.  I made it even more clear by posting a list for each zone.  Each zone also gets more attention on Saturday's.

Again, I usually have nice print outs but I did not have time yet so I just wrote them and taped it all up. 

The charts are quite simple.  They have one heading that include many things.  We have been doing morning high fives for a while and evening ones too that I never really wrote down.  Each chart is actually exactly the same.  I find that simplicity creates productivity and less stress.  At the bottom they each have an extra item.  For Caedmon here, he earns a buck toward a Skylander (a toy for the Wii game he likes) each day of school that he does not have to turn a card for.  Turning cards indicated some form of a problem in class. For the girls, they each have a cell phone.  Emma's cost $10 a month and her job to pay for it is to vacuum and clean out the van as well as wash it when I say it needs it.  She has this broken down into $2.50 a week.  She gets to choose what night to do it (unless we direct otherwise).  If she fails to do so, she pays us the $2.50 out of her chore pay.
Victoria has a monstrous $40 a month iphone bill.  That breaks down to $1.35 per day.  Since our dishwasher is broken, she has been hired.  Because she has a lot of homework I decide what level of work she will do each night.  If she does not do it, she has to pay us from her chore pay and if she goes into debt we re-possess the phone.  Trust me, she does not want to loos her phone.  It is her social connection and her Walkman.  This is highly motivating.

High Fives of morning and evening count as one bubble.  They are specified on the wall.  Morning ones are: brush teeth, do animal chore, read family passage (we require ten verses read before school), clean floors and tops (furniture tops), and make bed.  
Evening High Fives are: do homework, lay out clothes, pack backpack, brush teeth, clean floors and tops.

We have a set amount for each chart.  Ours is ten dollars.  That sounds like a lot but there is more.  Inspired by some ideas from that link, we are putting them on the 10-20-70 plan.  Tithe ten at church, save 20, and free choice for 70.  However, they will pay for all fun outings, snacks or movies, fun clothes not needed etc.  They also loose one dollar per bubble not filled in.  So, that ten can go fast if they have not done their work.  In fact, they can end up working and getting nothing.  The incentive is to do your work, or feel the pain.  We insist that circles be filled in by bed.  No catching up the next day or later on and saying "oh, I did this though!"  To prevent this pattern, I initial each at the end of the day. 

You will see also, that I have a clipboard hanging up.  This is for logging the 30 min of reading on the chore list.  There is also a screen log.  They get one hour Mon, Tue, Thur and two hours on Wed since it's min day and daddy and I are still at work.  No screens are allowed however until chores and homework is complete.  That includes reading time. 

I am taking on the deep cleaning on Monday's, my day off.  With their homework load getting bigger, I feel that just keeping up is a big enough help for me. Part of their room is putting away their laundry as well. All of our laundry is together so for now I'm doing that.  It can go onto the extra work board if I want help.  

That is another Pinterest idea I loved.  A "work for hire" board.  You can look at my "Kids" board on Pinterest for the photo. You have a board with notes as to what the job is with the money right there tempting them to earn it.  I plan to have a box on mine where they have me initial it before they get the money.  That way I check their work.  I will be having cleaning the doors with a magic eraser on mine very soon.  It's a nice way to get extra help around the house.  I'm not making them divide this money for now. It's a bonus and highly tempting that way.  

So, I'll let you know how it goes.  We are taking the idea on the link to have a family "payday".  Read for more.  It's an interesting post.  

Monday, January 7, 2013

The Year Of The Jar....Apparently

I was so intrigued when I saw this idea popping up on Pinterest (here is my collection of links there) .  It combines healthy, with make ahead, with appetizing.  I spent a bit of time looking up all the possibilities of jar salad combos, fruit and herb infused water, and breakfast to go in a jar.  Trust me, the ideas are amazing and endless.  I've come up with a few of my own I want to implement.  With these and Bento, lunch just got even more healthy and fun.

We are trying to get healthier in our house.  Trying to motivated the kids to move more and eat more good foods.  I'm very thankful I've been working with them since they were young to explore their palate.  They do however have their preferences and since I wanted healthy to be fun I decided to ask them all what their favorite veggies are. I realized I can be glad they have many they like. 

So, today we made our first infused water.  I did one that was all citrus.  It was orange, lemon and lime.  That seemed to be the most popular.  Second enjoyed was the raspberry lime one.  That turns a nice pink to and really holds that raspberry flavor.  The last one was cucumber which I liked but the kids did not really.  I'd like to put some watermelon or honeydew in there next time. The kids have been drinking them all evening and we had them as choices with dinner.  You can technically add a little honey or sugar but I did not mention it because I wanted them to start to gain an appreciation for the simple infused water taste.  I don't have a garden for fresh herbs but there are many combos to use those as well. As you drink these, you keep refilling the water. They can be used for many days.  It's amazing how long those flavors can seep out of the fruits.  Plus, you are getting vitamins from them.

So, our salad for tomorrows first try at this is some of the favorites they mentioned.  Dressing in the bottom (ranch for the kids, blue cheese for Rick, sundried tomato vinaigrette for me), celery and carrots, cucumber, radish (except for Emma), chopped boiled egg, bacon and then the fresh lettuce.  These will keep in the fridge I'm told for up to five days and still taste really fresh.  You do of course want to always keep the leaves on the top and the acids away from anything but tough veggies or cherry/pear tomatoes.

In order to eat this at school, I'm sending them with an empty container but hope to just send paper plates in the future that they can throw away.  The plastic jar lids, found cheap at Wal-Mart are easy for the kids to open and close.  The method I'm suggesting is that they open the jar, put the lettuce on their plate, close the jar, shake up to coat all else with dressing, and then dump that on top of the lettuce bed.  It will be fun to hear their report of how it goes. As Caedmon was going to bed tonight he asked to have some cucumber water in his cup he takes to bed instead of regular water.  As I opened the fridge he said "oh, those salads look good!"  Yep that's what I'm looking for, appreciation and excitement about these changes.  Made me feel encouraged. 

I'm also excited to try out the oatmeal yogurt ones the lady has on her site.  Anything healthy that is ready to go is fabulous. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Multipurpose Room

The larger bedroom is going to Caedmon. The reasoning behind this is that the girls have less play material than he does and the other, smaller bedroom (though bigger than most traditional bedrooms) is symmetrical and therefore easier to divide for two. The girls use to be in this large room and it was one challenge after another to get a "side" for each with the shape and position of windows.
The room got a paint job from violet to grey. We already had everything else and I knew the grey would mean a clean modern look. The cubbies will have a small flat screen eventually and there will be game systems (Wii and retro Nintendo) the kereokee machine, a VHS, and a DVD player. That way the room can be used when the adults want to have a peaceful living room or when we have company the kids can do what they please. There is lots of floor space for active wii like Just Dance which the girls were having trouble having the room to play together in the living room.
There is a music and activity corner under the windows (which still need blinds installed) that includes Victoria's main Christmas present of a keyboard, and a second hand one for the other two to ping around on. The guitar is out and ready and we got a beginners guitar book for them. There are games and reading and puzzles as well.
The other area of the room is what will be a most awesome Lego center opposite a drawing desk. Caedmon loves to draw and we want a place for him to have freedom to do that. We hope to install shelves on this wall to bring in daddy's large comic book collection as well as his Hardy Boys set.
Lastly is his bed with the futon underneath to be used as a couch in the room. Oh and the Leopard Gecko lives on top of his dresser as you come through the door.
So it's his room but its to be very much enjoyed by the whole family and company. We have folded down fabric bucket chairs under the futon that can be pulled out and there is lots of room to open a card table for a board game. The three rolling chairs can be used as needed at desk stations, keyboards, or game tables.
It all seems to have worked out well.
The change took no money except to paint the walls. We all ready had everything.

Mission Makeover

Emma and Caedmon have been sharing a room for a year. At the time it made sense. The girls were not getting along and Emma and Caedmon had more in common. Funny thing happened in this last year though. Emma grew up a lot. So, we knew it was time for a change. We knew Victoria would not be excited about sharing a room again and the crazy stressful process of the switch would freak her out. So we decided to arrange for the kids to be gone for Ricks long weekend. We worked non stop to get it done. We had very little to spend so we used as much of what we had as we could. We had purchased some AMAZING beds months ago on Craigslist and were saving them at my mom's. We got such a good deal and it was a clean home that had had two grown girls. So I felt good about taking the mattress sets too.
For shelving, we took apart some very old worn out particle book shelves that Victoria had been using. I wrapped them in a beautiful black and white shelf paper. I made one side smooth and perfect and the other side had seems with more paper securing the rest. We put the brackets on the tip to hold down the paper and work as book ends. We removed the side panel of the old bookshelf, covered it and used it over the window with three brackets. We purchased storage cubbies (on sale this time of year) and I scored some awesome shabby black lamps at Ross. It's hard to see but they have chandelier crystals hanging down and when on, the inside if the lamp has a paisley pattern that shows through.
Long story short we made them walk in with eyes closed and they loved it. Victoria is not to excited about sharing but a pretty room with accessory organizers makes it hard to hate. I knew that's how it would be.
We did not get it perfected yet and Emma's side needs some finishing but here are the pictures. I'm using my phone to post so I cannot guarantee they will be in the right order. The picture frame on the old suitcase is to be a little mirror later on. It stays open and is to be used as a little vanity.
Side note: I'm so very exhausted. I'll
tell about Caed's room later. He got the bigger room but there is a reason. It's also a family/multipurpose room now.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2013 Resolve

Resolution really is not the best word. It is interesting though when you realize that part of this process is fixing something. Resolving something. Finding a resolution usually indicates there was a problem. So, in many ways it' much like the put off, and put on process that is highly effective in life I think. So, I ask myself what is the issue or the problem if you will, with resolutions? It's that we know we don't change easily. Then, we fear the self loathing of defeat and therefore, don't resolve anymore. Or at least, don't speak them for fear of ourselves. Am I really that afraid of failure!!? Failure is a guaranteed part of life. Not everything I set out to do will succeed. If God intends for it to, it will, but if it's not time yet, or it's not what's for me, then it won't. I think I need to be more okay with that. Not that I seek to fail of course. The other big problem with New Year resolutions in particular is that it's too much. One cannot muster up enough resolve in one moment, on one day, to do that very thing the next moment let alone for 365 days! So, like the pathetic person who tries to wish for three more wishes when given one, I'm approaching my resolutions with some initial ones based in these realities.So here they are. I resolved mentally first to not have too many and to not read anyone else's till I made my own.

  1. I resolve to resolve frequently.  To resolve (analyze, refocus, goal set...) monthly, weekly, and daily when possible.
  2. I resolve to not be down on myself when I fail in my resolutions or other failures, but to trust God for grace and be more patient with myself.
  3. I resolve to water a seed I sense in my heart to focus on the ONE relationship that defines me.  My relationship with God is the only one that will be all I need in this life and will carry over into the next. You know that very sad scene in scripture when God says there will people on the day of judgement who will call Him "Lord, Lord" and he will say "I do not know you".  I want the opposite of that.  I want on that day to look into the eyes of Jesus and have him say "hey, it's you! I know you!" With that I hope to have my eyes open and my heart expectant to this focus affecting the relationships around me and my own approach and response to life.
  4. I resolve to respond in prayer when I feel burdened by what others think or assume about me.  When that is a burden to me, I resolve to give it to God and move forward. 
  5. I resolve to be creative.  To use what I have more and make the best of my resources.  To also take the time for my artistic side and feed that.
  6. I resolve to focus on health for myself and my family.  To be a good example, teacher, and provider of all things healthy.  Healthy food, healthy time together, healthy outdoor exercise.  I resolve in this to take the time to plan ahead for these needs of my own and my family.  
  7. I resolve to read poetry again.
  8. I resolve to end my day with a book and a lamp rather than an electronic device.  I therefore resolve to put my phone down, and shut my computer off at least a half hour before going to sleep.  I resolve to have my children do the same and not be worn down by the whining I hear about it.  
  9. I resolve to pray for others.  God is pretty specific when He puts people on my heart.  I've noticed this in my life.  I don't know if it's a spiritual gift to have this burden for a few people at a time but I do.  It's like a weight on me and very strong.  I need to make sure to pray for them.  
  10. I resolve to be focused in finances and the goals we are setting to get out of debt.  I'm not great at this.  It's very much like my struggle to loose weight.  I know it's going to take daily focus. 
  11. I resolve to be a better listener and not assume I know what people are thinking or motivated by.  I guess that really is a resolution to more humility in my life.  

So out of the millions of ways I can kick my self...these are just the top ones.  Perhaps the ones I feel for now, trickle down into all other serious areas in my life.  That is really what resolving is right, figuring out where the important things start.  

Happy New Year to you all!