Chore Charts

Every year it seems like my family gets busier and busier. More sports practices, more after-school activities, more homework, and more friends means very little time spent at home and even less time keeping that home clean. Everyday, the kids would come in, fling their backpacks, coats, and shoes all over the living room and rush off to play. Beds were left unmade, bedrooms declared disaster areas, and everywhere this mom went, it seemed like the toys were breeding. After about a month of living in this chaos, I was D.O.N.E!!! Thus, Chore Charts were made.

Supplies:

  • 8.5 x 11 Document Frame
  • 8.5 X 11 Scrapbook Paper
  • Black Sharpie
  • Dry Erase Markers
  • Yarn
  • Scissors
  • Glue Gun/Glue Sticks
  • Ruler
  • Round Magnets

Directions:

1. Place your scrapbook paper horizontal. I let the kids pick their favorite. From the top of the paper, use your ruler and mark down 2.5cm and draw a horizontal line. From that line, mark down 1cm and draw another horizontal line.

2. Next, line up your ruler on the first line your drew. From the left hand side of your paper, place the edge of the paper on 21cm. You will then make tally marks every 3cm (18cm, 15cm, 12cm, 9cm, 6cm, 3cm, 0cm). This marks out the spacing of your days of the week. Move down to the bottom of the page and repeat the same tally marks. Next, place your ruler and connect the tally marks, making sure you do not go past the top horizontal line that your created, except the line at the 0cm tally mark (see below). Write the days of the week in blocks and label your chore chart.

3. Turn your paper vertical, with the days of the week turned to the left. Place your ruler on the line closest to the bottom of the page. Line up your ruler at the 0cm make with the line below the days of the week and make tally marks every 3cm (3cm, 6cm, 9cm, 12cm, 15cm). Move you rule to the top of the page and repeat the same tally marks. Next, place your ruler and connect the tally marks the entire length of the paper. Fill in your child’s chores to the left of your chart.

4. Place your completed chore chart in the document frame. Next, take your round magnets and hot glue them to the four corners on the back of the frame. Take a dry erase marker and place hot glue about 1cm below the cap. You will need to turn the marker and make a complete circle to attach your yarn to. Then take a 12in piece of yarn and carefully wrap the yarn around the marker, covering the glue. Be careful with this step because you can burn yourself and third degree burns are not worth any craft project! Finally, place a dab of hot glue to the back of the frame and attach the other end of the yarn, attaching your dry erase marker to your chore chart.

5. Now, hang completed chore charts on the fridge and get ready for some fun cleaning times.

Completed Chore Chart

My kids have really done well with this system. They enjoy marking off each chore they complete, and really enjoy the allowance at the end of the week. I like the fact that I don’t have to fuss at my kids to pick up after themselves. You do have to make rules when setting up this type of chart system. We have it stipulated that if you do not complete a chore, you don’t receive as much allowance. Our youngest was the first to challenge this rule, and he was really annoyed when his big brother got more money than he did one week. Needless to say, there have been very few chores not completed since that lesson. I hope you enjoy creating this chore chart for your little ones and that it helps your busy life flow just a little more smoothly.

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Birthday Parties for 2 Year Olds

It seems that my husband and I tend to make big decisions rather quickly. You’d be shocked at how quickly we decided to move states for his job transfer or the decision to expand our family to three and again to four. Obviously these are two huge decisions that couples normally go through quite a lengthy process of discussion, with careful thought and consideration. Not that we don’t do that but we are usually “go with your gut” type people. I’d like to think that it has been a pretty good strategy for us.

Newborn Davis - Holding Daddy's Hand for the First Time

As I sit here thinking about the last two years of my life, I’m overcome with such joy and amazement. I’ve shed some pregnancy/hormonal tears reviewing the pictures of my sweet boy and the first two years of his life.

What a rollercoaster it has been. From a whirlwind delivery to a crazy move to a different state. From a big boy at delivery (9lbs, 7oz) to an even bigger toddler (35lbs). These two years have been amazing.

Now instead of making one of those “go with your gut” type decisions, I decided to change my ways when it deals with those picture perfect moments. Maybe I’m still hung up on the fact that I failed to throw a birthday party for my child on his first birthday.  He instead got an amazing week (thanks to mother nature and the blizzard of 2011) hanging out at home with just Mom, Dad and Bailey (our dog). So why am I making such a fuss over his second birthday?

It all started with the theme. There are just so many things that he’s in to these days. He loves Mick, aka Mickey Mouse and Choo Choo’s (that would be trains in Davis speak) or his longest obsession “The Backyardigans” which our entire family now refers to as “Ba Bo’s”. I had everything in my online cart, almost ready to push BUY on the most adorable Chuggington birthday party when I doubted myself. He  has loved The Backyardigans for so long, why am I denying him this joy? So I spent the next few hours finding new sites, checking prices, and ordering supplies for a Backyardigans “dance party”!

My 2 Year Old!

Now comes the hard part! What to do in the dead of winter with 6 two-year olds. A lovely google search quickly told me that I should only have one friend per year of life. Really? Just two of his friends? That sounds more like a play date than a party. So, from that point on, I knew google would not help me with this one. I also have another thing against me. I’ve never been to a birthday party for a two-year old that was just for kids. I have no idea what happens at these parties or what to do with the 1.5 hours that I have allotted. Ahhhh, I’m stressing myself out even more just typing this!

Two year olds are a little too young to understand the concept of games, so musical chairs or any other group activity is out.  I finally decided to do a hands-on craft that the kids could take home.  Through my obsession with Pinterest I found a great recipe for some homemade playdough and made 6 batches for the kids play with.  I also bought glitter (I don’t even want to think about the mess) for them too add to it and make it more fun.  I’m going to give them lots of kid friendly tools from the kitchen (cookie cutters, spatulas, spoons, etc) and let them have at it.  My son loves playdough and many times ends up eating it as do most kids his age.  Here is the amazing smelling, edible playdough recipe that is extremely easy to make and much cheaper than store-bought.

Kitchen Items needed:

  • Measuring Cups
  • Measuring Spoons
  • Medium Saucepan
  • Plastic Spatula (the dough sticks to wooden spatulas)
  • Flat surface or plastic cutting board
  • Plastic Baggies (Ziplocs)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 2 tablespoons cream of tartar
  • 1 packet of unsweetened Koolaid (added for smell and color)
  • I cup water
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • Possibly Needed:  food coloring

Instructions:

1.  Mix flour, salt, cream of tartar, Koolaid and water in a medium saucepan.  Stir in oil.

2.  Mix over medium heat for 4-8 minutes until the mixture forms a ball.  If you want a richer color (the yellow, for instance, is weak), add some food coloring until you get your desired color.  The dough will start to take on a darker color.

3.  Remove from the pan (Caution:  the dough will be warm).  Place on smooth counter or cutting board.  Knead dough until soft.  Don’t worry if the dough seems sticky, continue kneading while it cools.

4.  Store in air-tight baggies.

5.  Tasting is optional! 🙂

KoolAid Playdough

Additional tips:  Feel free to leave out the Koolaid.  Divide dough into smaller portions and place in baggies.  With your help, add food coloring of your child’s choice to the baggie.  Let your child knead the dough and see the colors and swirls appear!

I hope that all of the kids enjoy this at my son’s birthday party this weekend and I can’t wait to celebrate one of the most important events in my life.  Happy 2nd Birthday Davis!!

What to do with that Blank Wall in your Child’s Bedroom or Playroom

As I’ve mentioned before, we recently moved my son to his “big boy” room.  We tried to do this with as little fuss and chaos as possible, but I also wanted to make him a cute room that he would enjoy. As soon as we found out we were pregnant again, I knew that we would need to move Davis to a bigger bed so the crib would be ready for the next little one.  I scoured the internet looking for children’s bedding, but hit a huge snag. The bed we have moved Davis into is a queen bed.  Do you know how difficult it is to find toddler/children’s bedding for a queen size bed?  Well, it’s not easy at all.  You’re lucky to find a full/queen set appropriate for a toddler, and then you can never find really, really cute matching sheets (because children only sleep in full, twin or toddler beds…right?).

Davis’s bed will serve as an extra guest bed when we have visitors and, for this reason, I want bedding that’s little boy appropriate without being loud and obnoxious. I also wanted to do this as cheaply as possible and for once my procrastination and unwavering ability to never complete a project on time paid off. I found a really cute set at Target (hello 5% discount with your Target Card)!  So, I picked it up at the store and since it was on sale (10%…SCORE!), I also picked up matching wall decals and other items such as lettering and chalkboard decals.  Next came the important paint color and seeing as I’m a paint chemist, this was quite a daunting task.  After a couple of weeks, I finally settled on a main wall color along with an accent wall color. It then took me another couple of weeks to muster up enough energy (hello, first trimester!) and get the room painted.  Around this time, I was once again perusing through Target and stopped by the bedding department to see if they had anything else that matched what I had already purchased.  Much to my surprise, the bedding and all of the accessories I purchased a month before were now on clearance for over 50% off!!  See I told you, my procrastination and indecisiveness finally paid off.  So, I rushed home, returned what I had bought and repurchased everything (plus a lamp!) and paid half of what I had originally!  DOUBLE SCORE!

Davis has been in his new room for about 3 months now and he loves it.  He talks about the cars and trucks on his walls/bedding all the time!  The only issue in his room was this huge blank wall.  It was the longest, bluest, uninterrupted space in his room and it left me baffled.  Also, I kept having a situation with art projects piling up around my house.  Davis goes to an amazing daycare center and he comes home almost every day with some sort of drawing or other work of art.  I have grand ideas of taking pictures of his art and making books with Shutterfly, but honestly most of his art work resembles big blobs.  Don’t get me wrong, they are glorious and pretty much rival Picasso’s’ work, they just don’t photograph well. So, I came up with a solution to both of my problems – a Masterpiece Display!

Supplies Needed:

1:   I started by purchasing a simple picture hanging kit at Target.  It was ~$1.50.  Make sure it includes picture hanging wire and eye hooks.  If you want to go for a softer look, you can also use yarn or twine. I chose the wire to maintain the industrial look of the cars and trucks theme.

2:   I also purchased clothespins in two sizes from Hobby Lobby (they are in the craft wood section).

3:   I had already purchased some water-based acrylic paint from hobby lobby to paint some wood shelves for his room so I used that paint to dye the clothespins.

What to do: 

1: I mixed the paint with some water (make enough to completely cover the pins) in a kitchen bowl.  I allowed these to soak for about 8 hours but you can soak them for longer or add more paint to your mixture if you want a stronger color on your clothespins.  I then placed the pins on cooling rack to completely dry (overnight).

2:  I hung the picture wire using the screw eye hooks, about 12 inches from the ceiling and 1.5 feet from the end of the wall on both sides.  A laser level came in very handy when trying to do this.

3:  Then, I hung the wire between the two hooks rather tightly (it will bow when you add pictures to it).

4:  I also decided to us leftover lettering from my earlier bedding purchase to create a cute header.  I chose “My Creations” but other ideas are: “Works of Art”, “Masterpieces”, “Look What I Did” or something similar.

5:  Finally, I picked my favorite art pieces and hung them up, securing them with the dyed clothespins.

Voila!  No more empty wall and a creative, inexpensive way to display my little Picasso’s artwork! Try this in your little artist’s room. They will beam with pride as they show off their works of art!

Ten things to do with your kids on a SNOW DAY!!!!

Snow days are really special in my house. The 5:43am cancelation phone call, the lazy wake ups, the excitement about staying home…and then 10 minutes later the complaining begins. “I’m bored” and “There’s nothing to do” pours out of my children’s mouths like water rushing down a steep hill. Soon, our special snow day becomes just another stressful day. If you have the same problem in your household, here’s some activities that are sure to keep your family entertained and happy.

My boys loving their breakfast in bed

1. Serve your kids breakfast in bed. The food can be as simple or intricate as you like. Oatmeal, cereal, pancakes, donuts…whatever your kids love the best. My plan was to make eggs, hash browns, fried ham, and biscuits, place them on serving trays, and surprise my sleeping boys. Well, I forgot my oldest son is an early riser, so he ended up waking me up. I told him to go back to his room and wait for a surprise. When my  youngest woke up, he joined his brother in bed, so I ended up serving 2 breakfasts in 1 bed! As you can see, they really enjoyed this special treatment.

2. Play a board game. Dig the board games out of the closet and challenge your family to a game. One of our family favorites is Uno Roboto (my kids love that the robot makes funny sounds). Choose a few games that everyone loves and try to play for at least an hour. You’d be surprised how fast the time flies, and how much fun you have.

3. Watch a movie. Choose a family favorite and settle in (some of our favorites: Despicable Me, Get Along Gang, How to Train your Dragon, Never Ending Story). Let your kids drag out the pillows and blankets, or snuggle up in bed together. Make it extra special by serving big bowls of popcorn and hot chocolate with marshmallows.

4. Wear your PJs all day. Comfy PJs, cozy robes and slipper socks are a MUST on a snow day.

Playing with playdough

5. Make and play with playdough. My kids love to play with play dough, but I have found the store-bought kind tends to dry out. Here’s the recipe I have always used.

Playdough

2 cups flour

2 cups warm water

1 cup salt

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil

1 Tablespoon cream of tartar

Food coloring

Mix all of the ingredients together, and stir over low heat.  The dough will begin to thicken until it resembles mashed potatoes. When the dough pulls away from the sides and clumps in the center, remove the pan from heat and allow the dough to cool enough to handle (it it’s still sticky, it needs to cook longer). Turn the dough out onto a clean counter or silicone mat, and knead vigorously until it becomes silky-smooth. Divide the dough into balls for coloring. Make a divot in the center of the ball, and drop some food coloring in. Close the top of the hole, trapping in the food coloring and place each ball in a sealed plastic bag. Then give the bags to your kids and let them mash and smoosh the playdough around until all the color is mixed in. Store play dough in sealed plastic containers or bags.

6. Play outside together. Get everyone bundled up and head outside. Make snow angels or have a snowball fight. Take a hike in the woods. Catch falling snowflakes in your mouth. Just have fun playing with your kids.

7. Read a book as a family. Choose a book the whole family will enjoy. One of our favorite books, Little House in the Big Woods, is perfect for a snowy day. For more fun, after you have read the part about making maple syrup candy in the snow, let your family make their own.

Maple Syrup and Snow Candy

1 cup real maple syrup

1/4 cup salted butter

Fresh snow

1. Heat the syrup and butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring to avoid a boil over. (Heating syrup is strictly a parent’s job.)
2. The mixture is ready 6 to 7 minutes after it boils (220 to 234 degrees on a candy thermometer). It should stiffen when dripped onto a plate.
3. Remove from heat and cool for 2 minutes before pouring over the snow, ice cream, or ice. It cools so quickly that kids can taste it right away.

8. Nap. If your kids are quiet for a long period of time, they might fall asleep. To encourage napping, you can watch a movie or read in bed. Now, snuggle up next to your babies. Even if they don’t nap, snuggling with your kids is a great way to show your love for them. On the rare occasion I get to snuggle with my kids, I always whisper reasons I love them in their ear. My oldest usually beams and whispers sweet things right back, while my youngest just grins wickedly and whispers “I know”.

Writing on windows

9. Draw on windows with markers.Your kids will have a blast! Make sure you use dry erase markers and have a big window (or sliding glass door) for them to decorate. Just wipe off with a dry rag. HINT: Make sure to set some coloring rules or you might find marker on your walls.

10. Cook dinner together. Pick out a recipe the whole family can make together. Tonight, my family will be making homemade pizza and I will let my boys make their own personal pizza. They stretch out the dough, then add the sauce, cheese, and toppings. My job is to cook the pizza. If dinner is not an option, make cookies instead. It’s so much fun to get your kids in the kitchen. Not only will they learn how to cook, but it also helps picky eaters, like my youngest, eat a broader range of foods.

Hopefully, this have given you several ideas to help beat Snow Day boredom. Let me know what some of your favorite Snow Day activities are.

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