Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Chore Chart Revision

We have used the Work Pay system for over 2 months now, and have seen ups and downs. Some weeks the kids are excited to do work pay, and other weeks they do nothing. The wonderful thing has been that the must do portion has helped them learn to flush the toilet, make their bed, and keep their room clean, as well as put their school bags in the right place. It was a great non-nagging way for me to teach them to do these things.

Our seven year old spoke to me this week, and said he had a better it is:
"Mom, we should each have just one chore for the whole week..and no one else gets to do our chore"
Here is our five year old son's response: " I don't like that idea".
So, we are in the middle of change once again.

Here was a chart one of our followers sent shows the task, how much it is worth, and each week one member of the family checks off which one they are going to do for the whole week. Each day, they get a star (same colour as their name) for that day, and at the end of the week, they add up the stars.

Talking to my moms group today, someone also mentioned, giving them the $5.00 (or whatever amount) at the beginning of the week. All this money is theirs if they do their specific chores. They have certain chores to do each day, and if they do not do them, one of the parents takes the money directly from the jar. For ex. Kid A is supposed to empty garbage. Moms says, " The garbage needs to go out." One warning...Kid A does not take out garbage...Mom does it...Mom takes money from the jar.

There are lots of different tactics for chore charts...I will do more research and blog what I come up with. Wow..I am starting to sound like Scott.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Tickler File System - Tickle your memory

Scott read about the tickler file system, in Getting Things Done (by David Allen), and has been using it ever since.
It is a simple and effective, and will cost you the price of 43 file folders.
We use this system for anything we need to remember during the month.

tickler file box

Here is a short explanation taken from back to basics:

A long-time standby in the productivity realm, a tickler file is a reminder system intended to act as an adjunct to your regular calendaring and scheduling system. Although there are several different kinds of tickler file, the most well-known (thanks largely to David Allen’s Getting Things Done and Merlin Mann’s 43 Folders) is the 43-folders system, with 31 numbered “day” folders and 12 labeled with the months of the year.
The idea is quite simple: anything you need reminded of on some future date goes into your tickler file. Every morning, that day’s folder is pulled out and the contents placed into your inbox, and whatever you placed there days, weeks, or months earlier is right at hand when you need it.
The 43-folder setup makes it possible – easy, even – to set reminders for up to a year in advance. Each numbered folders stands in for a day of the month. Behind them, all the folders labeled with the months are arrayed, with next month’s folder in front. So, since today is September 5th, you would see folder 5 at the front, followed by 6-31, then October through next September. When I empty today’s folder, I’ll place it at the back of the numbered folders, leaving “6” standing ready to be pulled out tomorrow.
At the end of the month, the October folder is opened and its contents placed into the appropriate numbered days, and the emptied folder is placed at the back of the months. This creates a rolling cycle of folders, presenting each morning the folder with that day’s contents in it.
What goes into the folders is up to you, but clearly anything dated is a good candidate: bills, invoices, dated material to send out, concert and show tickets, travel documents, and so on. Other items you know you’re going to need on a specific day can also be added, such as your passport on the day when you will be flying out of the country, or your checkbook for bill-paying day.
Recurring events you want to remind yourself of – like watering the plants every three days – can be written onto index cards. You empty your folder into your inbox, process the inbox, see the reminder, water the plants, and place the card into whatever the date will be three days later.
Used consistently, a tickler file can become an important part of your “outboard brain”, popping stuff up for you when you need it, and keeping it out of the way when you don’t. In today’s all-high tech all the time world, it’s even a little reassuring: simple, decidedly low-tech, and effective.
Common uses for the tickler file system: birthday cards, church donations, bills, invitations, warranty expirations, event tickets (put them in the folder on the day you will attend, so they do not get lost), phone calls to return, travel itineraries, maintenance reminders, hotel reservations, coupons, appointments, children's get the idea. 
We even use this system for mail. Let's say I get the mail today, and there is a letter for Scott...I do not want to just put it down somewhere, he may not see it for a few days...and I am sure I will forget to tell him about it (Scott knows how forgetful I am). So, I just place it in todays file, and he can open it when he checks the file. The same goes with phone calls for him. 
NOW...if you already have a filing system and family calendar system that works for you, you may not need to create this tickler system...all you need to do is record a reminder on your calendar for the thing you will keep in your filing system. 
Be creative, and have fun getting organized!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Fun ways to get the kids involved in cleanup

Penny Pick UP 
For every item that the kids pick up and put away, they get a penny. Every item...even if it is LEGO. Once they have earned their pennies, they can buy things from the mom store (10 pennies for one candy, 1 penny for a chocolate chip, 20 pennies for a small container of get the idea..whatever works for you...). 
My kids all want to participate in this game, and they are 7, 5 and 1.
You can adjust this game to fit your needs...need laundry put away, one penny for each piece put in the right spot!
The purpose is to get the kids to enjoy cleaning up, and have some fun, but if you can throw in learning a few basic math skills, all the better, right? 

Here are some other ways to get the kids involved in cleanup found at

1. Whistle while you work
Snow White's dwarfs had the right idea: My 3-year-old loves to sing the Barney cleanup song or make up tunes to go along with the task at hand. Singing really makes our jobs go faster. — April, mother of one going on two

2. Clean sweep
Here's a fun way to keep hardwood floors free of dust bunnies: My 4-year-old daughter and I put dry, dusting mitts on our feet and skate around the house. — Julie, mother of a 2-year old

3. Scavenger hunt
My son loves to help me clear the clutter around the house when I turn it into a seeking game. For instance, I'll ask him to find everything on the floor that has wheels on it in five minutes and have him put it in the appropriate storage basket. Or we'll go around the house on a dirty dish hunt. — Susan, mother of a 3-year-old

4. Mini me
My kids love to use miniature brooms, mops, and snow shovels to work alongside my husband and me. They have so much fun and we get such a kick out of watching them in action. — Jenn, mother of two

5. Beat the clock
I get my boys excited to pitch in by challenging them to the "ten minute tidy." I set a timer, and we race around the house picking up as much as we can before the buzzer goes off. My kids have so much fun that they don't even realize they're cleaning. — Melissa, mother of two

6. A clean house is in the stars
My son used to hate picking up his toys until we started the "star system." I bought colorful, star-shaped stickers and listed his responsibilities in a notebook. Now he gets a star for every task he accomplishes and exchanges them for ice cream, sweets, little toys, or stickers when we go grocery shopping. — Pauline, mother of a 4-year-old

7. Crank up the tunes and dance
My daughter and I play music and dance around while we're picking up toys and doing other housework. It's a great bonding time and we have so much fun that the chores whiz by. Plus, it's a great workout! — Elizabeth, mother of a 5-year-old

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Cloth Christmas Bags...reduce, reuse, recycle!

I love cloth Christmas bags!
  • They eliminate garbage on Christmas morning
  • I never have to buy wrapping paper or tape
  • We reuse them every year
  • There are lots of different colours and patterns under the tree
  • They make great gift ideas for friends and teachers
  • Wrapping gifts takes no time at all...just drop in the gift, and tie it shut!
  • Every gift can fit, and the wrapping looks beautiful.
  • They are easy to make (even for individuals who are sewing challenged, like me!)
  • I feel like I am doing my part to protect the environment.

Here is a shot of what some of ours look like:

My mother in law has used cloth Christmas bags ever since her kids were young. She is the one who gave me the idea. The bags she made are still around..and we continue to use them every year. She has made all sizes...even very small for stocking gifts. Once the gift is put in, and tied up with ribbon, we just attach the tag either to the ribbon or stick it to the bag. It is so fast. It is also great fun to see the material patterns change over the years, and to feel a connection to the past. 

Check out the bags in this video...they do not even use ribbon!

I think I will make some like these this year, and then we can just punch a hole in the tag, and stick it on the ring. So clever.

Go ahead... make your own. 

This ehow video will explain. 

Christmas Advent Calendar - Closer to Christ and Family

Our Advent Calendar
Tis the Season for FAMILY

If anyone thinks for one minute that I am crafty enough to make this..think talents lie in cleaning and organizing, remember? 
I found this at a craft fair and knew it would be perfect. 
The plastic pockets are great for tiny treats, notes, or a small Christmas ornament to move each day.

This year we are trying to be more centered on Jesus Christ, so each day they will remove one of the notes and on the back will be one scripture to read, and one fun thing to do as a family.

 Here are the days, if you wish to use kind of thing for your advent calendar:

Dec 1 - Matthew 1:16     Give to the Elementary School toy drive
Dec 2 - Luke 1:18-20     Put out your favorite Christmas decorations
Dec 3 - Luke 1: 24-25     Attend Christmas Parade
Dec 4 - Luke 1:26-27     Attend a Christmas music concert
Dec 5 - Luke 1:57, 62-62     Make paper snowflakes
Dec 6 - Luke 2:4-5     Watch a Christmas movie
Dec 7 - Luke 2:7     Make cranberry apple cider
Dec 8 - Luke 2:8     Make beaded Christmas ornaments          
Dec 9 - Luke 2:9-11     Kids Christmas Party (work)
Dec 10 - Luke 2:12     Decorate the Christmas Tree
Dec 11 - Luke 2:13-14     Start the 12 Days of Christmas tradition
Dec 12 - Luke 2:15     Tell someone you love them
Dec 13 - Luke 2:16     Give to a sponsor family (work)
Dec 14 - Luke 2:17-19     Kids Choice...what do you want to do today?
Dec 15 - Luke 2:20     Give to the food bank
Dec 16 - Luke 2:25-26, 34-35     Last Day of School...give notes to friends!
Dec 17 - Luke 2:27-29     View the lights at the local park
Dec 18 - Luke 2:36-39     Make Christmas cookies
Dec 19 - Matthew 2:1     Go skating
Dec 20 - Matthew 2:2    Learn your favorite Christmas song on the piano
Dec 21 - Matthew 2:3-10    Give to a family in need (church)
Dec 22 - Matthew 2:11-12     Make/Wrap your gift for your family
Dec 23 - Matthew 2:13-15     Learn to ski
Dec 24 - What gift will you give to Christ?
Dec 25 - Merry Christmas!


Monday, November 7, 2011

To the frustrated wife: Nine ways to get your partner to do his fair share

I found this article on Baby while doing some research on chores, and thought I would share it...for those wives who are still doing all the chores by are the tips they suggest to get your spouse to help out!

Talk to him.
While you may find it hard to believe that he can't see anything's amiss with the layer of dust covering your furniture or the mildew growing on the shower curtain, the truth is if your husband's not complaining, he's probably fine living that way. "The average guy feels like if it ain't broke, don't fix it," says psychologist Coleman, a self-described lazy husband in recovery. Take the time to let him know what you mean by a "clean" house.

Instead of quietly stewing with resentment or complaining to your girlfriends, tell your spouse you need more help keeping your place (relatively) clean. Be firm, but resist nagging. "Nagging isn't very assertive — it's humiliating to the person doing the nagging and annoying to the person being nagged," says Coleman. He suggests a friendly approach: Tell your husband that you've been feeling overwhelmed and that you really need and appreciate his help. Start by creating a short to-do list for him, suggests Coleman, and pick the tasks that have been bugging you the most. You might specify jobs such as cleaning up after dinner, making the bed on the weekends, and taking primary responsibility for the baby at least one weekend morning so you can sleep in.

Teach a man to fish and he'll eat for a lifetime.
This old adage can hold true for household chores too. "While some men feign incompetence, some genuinely have never learned how to do housework," notes sociologist Coltrane. Before your mate takes on a chore, demonstrate it for him, talking him through it as you go.

Don't be a control freak!
One of the reasons men don't help around the house as much as we'd like is that we can make them feel like they can't do anything right. So once you've shown him how to separate whites and colors, and to dust before running the vacuum, consider that his standards may never meet yours. Decide what you can live with: If the choice is to do every task yourself, or to live with his less-than-perfect housekeeping skills, you may more readily settle for adequate. A little restraint and a heaping of praise can go a long way in his wanting to be involved and useful.

Choose chores he'll want to do.
It's much easier to motivate someone to do something he likes, so if your mate's more inclined to cook than to clean up, ask him if he'll prepare more meals during the week. Of the "big five" household tasks — cooking preparation, meal cleanup, shopping, laundry, and housework — men are more likely to do the first three and least likely to do the last two, says sociologist Scott Coltrane. So strike some new deals with your spouse. If you've been doing all the shopping, cooking, and cleaning, let him troll the market aisles, cut up the vegetables, and toss the salad for dinner. He may even enjoy it. While it may seem unfair that he gets to choose jobs he wants to do, consider that it's better than the alternative — doing everything yourself!

Do a little at a time.
Splitting chores between you and your spouse over several days will keep weekends from turning into nonstop drudgery. "We used to jam all of the housework into Saturdays, but now my husband and I have designated weekdays for certain cleaning jobs," says Kate Richardson, mother of a 2-year-old. "By spreading chores out across the week, keeping a (fairly) clean house seems less overwhelming — plus we've freed up more weekend time for family fun," she says.

Appeal to his charitable side.
Show your husband that getting rid of the toys collecting cobwebs in your living room and the forgotten clothes in your closets is a great way to help a good cause and save your family money. Ask him to oversee a "giveaway box" to which he and the kids can contribute, and then put yourself on a calling list for a couple of charities and thrift stores. "They call every other month to see if we have anything to donate, and we gather up books we've finished, clothes and shoes the kids have outgrown, and toys they're bored with," says Ann Struckman, mother of three children, ages 13, 9, and 2. "The charity picks up the items and leaves a donation slip for tax write-off purposes."

If you can, make some cuts in your budget, and use the money to hire cleaning help. (Cost will vary depending on where you live and the size of your house, but the national average for someone to clean every week or every other week is around $75 to $110 per visit.) "We hired a housecleaning team after our daughter was born, and it's worth every penny, not just in time, but also arguments avoided," says Catherine Holecko, mother to a 3-year-old and a newborn. "Cleaning ranks way below family, work, and personal time in my order of priorities. Also, having cleaners come every two weeks forces us to do a round of picking up and de-cluttering on the day before they come."

And if he still doesn't pitch in...
"If you're still being ignored, it may be time to play hardball and say, 'I'm not going to keep doing all the things I'm doing,'" suggests psychologist Coleman. Take something off your plate that you know your mate relies on you to get done. For instance, if you usually pay the bills and your husband can't stand them to be late, tell him you're no longer paying the bills. Coleman points out that tough-love should be your last resort, but it can be surprisingly effective.

Take time to reconnect.
Finally, if you've been more irritated than usual by dishes collecting in the sink, consider whether it's merely the grimy plates that need attention. "In all my years of working with couples there seems to be this pattern: When men aren't paying attention to their wives, the housework issue becomes more of an issue," says marital therapist Michele Weiner-Davis, author of The Sex-Starved Marriage: Boosting Your Marriage Libido. "It becomes less of an issue if men are making an effort to be closer emotionally." Weiner-Davis frequently sees a vicious cycle: When women aren't getting help, they become less physically affectionate with their spouses, who in turn withdraw more emotionally. "It would ease tension if couples took the time to reconnect on a regular basis," says Weiner-Davis.

So at least once a month, do the things you used to enjoy together before you had children (and a messy house). Send the kids to Grandma's overnight so you can have a romantic evening in. Or hire a babysitter and go out for a relaxing dinner. Besides remembering what made you a good couple, the next-best part is that neither of you has to clean up the dishes afterward.


Friday, November 4, 2011

It's Not the Stork!

Scott and I decided it was time to talk to our boys about sex. 
Yes, to tell them the proper words, and where babies actually come from.Our boys are age 5 and 7, and we want them to hear truthful information from us first. Of course, we were not sure how to start, and exactly what to say now (and what can be said later on!).After much research, Scott found this book at the library, and it was perfect. His efficient way of doing research for everything has a way of irritating me...but in most instances, it pays off.

We read this book to our boys over the course of three nights. We wanted them to process what they heard, and ask questions. The book was very appropriate, and explained things in a simple, but straightforward way. 

We covered Chapters: Girls do this, Boys do that/Same?Different?/Toe to Head/Head to Toe/What Boys Have/What Girls Have/Girls Grow up, Boys Grow up. 

  • These chapters basically covered the anatomy inside and out, and the similarities and differences between males and females. 

So many eggs! So many sperm/It's Not the stork/The BIG swim/The growing womb/Pinpoint to Watermelon

  • These were heavy pages, and there were many more questions. We were honest with them, and stuck to the outline in the book, which put emphasis on things like... "a boys testicles Cannot make sperm until his body has become a man's body..that is why boys bodies cannot make a baby", so when we explained the process, by way of the friendly comic book type stories, they were glad because..."whew! I'm glad I'm too young!"

The Twisty Cord/All day, All night/It's a baby/Happy Birthday/Cuddles and Kisses/All kind of families/Okay touches, Not okay touches/ Girls, boys, friends/growing up. 

  • Many of the things in these chapters they already knew because we had talked about it during the birth of their youngest brother (who is 1), but it was great to have chapters on touching and friends, which is helpful for them at this age.

We listed the book and link under READ WITH US here on our blog..if you are looking for a solution to talking to your kids about sex, it can be as easy as sitting down and reading with them. We chose the book for ages 4 and up, but the same author has a book for ages 7 and up, and for ages 10 and up!

Just because you talk to them once, do not think your job is done!
Puberty is just around the corner. 
GOOD LUCK Parents!

Oh yah..and by parents, I mean both of you. No ducking out, and leaving it all to one person. They need both of you.
Scott and I both sat down and took turns reading and talking with our kids. Sure, I looked at him and giggled when he had to read the part about "When grown ups want to make a baby....". 
And the boys just looked at him, and said, "Do you and mom..." You get the picture. HAHAHAHA!

Challenge ME #5 - Bathroom Drawers

Here is a look at the bathroom drawers in our home, organized in 30 minutes.

Master Drawer 1 - Things we use every morning, quick grab items

 Master Drawer 2 - Everything else organized into areas (nails, face, hair)

Master Drawer 3 - Large, bulky items

 Kids bathroom drawer

The trick to very organized drawers is finding the right containers/bins/holders to keep everything in. You can find containers like these anywhere. I got these at Fields.
Check out the container store for more ideas.

 We find it effective and efficient to keep similar items together, so if someone is looking for the nail clippers, they will be able to find them!

We also keep the kids teeth stuff in the drawer, rather than on the counter, to keep mess to a minimum.

Some other pics of organized bathroom drawers...

bathroom drawers    bathroom drawers
bathroom drawers

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Challenge ME #4 - Under the bathroom sink

Under the bathroom sink at our home, organized in 30 minutes.

Master Bathroom

Left container is for extra soap, toothpaste, lotions, floss, etc.
Right container is our medicine bin. Yes, this is all our medicine/first aid for the whole home.  We keep one extra first aid kit in our basement, with our emergency kits.
In between we keep extra large bottles of lotion, shampoo and conditioner.
This cupboard is kept locked, so little hands never touch it.

The other side...extra set of towels, our travel kits, scale, extra TP and contact solution. This cupboard can stay open and keep our 1 year old distracted, and we can put it all back easily.

Kids Bathroom

Basically, we keep all the kid oriented things under the sink, for them to use. The stool, tub toys they can grab, and the black IKEA potty (for when we start potty training)

The kids bathroom has an extra cupboard we use for laundry (and extra shampoo, soap, etc for visitors). Our laundry is at the top of the stairs in the hallway, and there is no room to keep supplies there. This works well, and is safely tucked away from little hands.

We keep all extra toilet paper out of this bathroom, since our kids love to unroll the stuff..or plug the toilet with it! 

In every situation, you have to do what works for you and your family. 
That is the fun of organizing, because as your family grows, things change, and you can organize all over again. I am sure one day, I will be able to put the toilet paper in this bathroom!

Here is a video on how to organize under your bathroom sink!

Being Frugal

Frugality is the quality of being frugal, sparing, thrifty, prudent or economical in the use of consumable resources such as food, time or money, and avoiding waste, lavishness or extravagance
Frugal living is practiced by those who aim to cut expenses, have more money, and get the most they possibly can from their money..from Wikipedia.

The women of the Great Depression in the 1930's knew frugality. 
One of their battle cries was: 

"Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without"

We have much to learn in our society about being frugal. 

Scott says... " I am not cheap, I am frugal"
and often will make a game out of how much we can save. 
Because of this wonderful trait, we are able to stay debt free (minus the mortgage).

If you will live like no one else, later you can live like no one else.
Dave Ramsey

Here are a few things we do to stay frugal:
  • Use the library. We rarely buy books. The library has everything.
  • Eat Out Less. We only eat out on special occasions.
  • Pay bills online. No stamps and no late fees.
  • Make your own cleaners. We made our own laundry detergent for a year. It was fun!
  • Use a monthly spending plan. We discuss our budget together, and Scott emails me an ongoing report of how much we are spending during the month.
  • Use public transportation or carpool. We are a one van family.
  • Make your own snacks. 
  • Review your cell phone, telephone, cable and internet plans. We use a pay as you go plan for our cell phones, since we only use them for emergencies. We do not have cable.
  • Cut your own hair. Scott cuts his (and the boys) hair.
  • Meal plan. We save so much by planning out what we will eat each week.
  • Bring your own bags when grocery shopping. I made a few cloth bags for this purpose.Not only are you saving a few cents each time, but you are helping the environment.
Need more ideas: 168 tips to make your dollar stretch

Now a lot of individuals may look at this list, and think ....whoa, they never have any fun.
Who wants to be frugal, when you can't do anything, or go anywhere?

Actually, we can afford to do the things we want, because we are frugal.

When you are not strapped with debt, it is much easier to save.

Check out for some interesting insights to frugality.