Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Chore Chart Extreme

Okay, here it is.

The ULTIMATE chore chart...

Be amazed, be very amazed... just not at like, how I didn't do such a good job with the whole cutting straight thing. You can be amazed at what foam board, foam paper and velcro can do...

We've got your basic themes:
Sun = Day = What we are doing that day.
Moon (it DOES look like a moon...) = night = what we do at night.

Behavior = what we want to be doing or not doing.
Chore/Play is interchangeable for what is next.
Now = what we are doing now.

And the little charts next to it all? The sticker tally! Woo hoo! Stickers = Treat cards = Varying treats!!! Woo hooo I want a treat card! Okay, I really am fine.

Now, check these babies out... Did I mention that I had Turbo and Drama help with their chore chart? It made them love it even more. The colors? Pink and pastel lavender? They also picked out...

Now these babies, well... each 'task' you do gets you a point, which goes in the point bank. We clear the point bank out and trade points for stickers at night. This is because they are OBSESSED with geting 'points' or poker chips. So I bought these wooden box things at Michaels for $1 a piece and let them paint their own...

I then stamped a happy Wow and Amazing stamp on them.

I am giddy with my craftiness tonight.

It doesn't happen very often, successful crafting and me...

Chore Chart

The Ultimate Chore Chart will be created today.


My kids will do chores and behave, all for poker chips in the hopes they can get a train...

Soon, my Empire of Poker Chips Will be Complete...


and then I will start on my next Conquest.

I will create 'cards' and put them in 'collections' and my neighbors and friends will scurry around endlessly, hoping to get full collections of cards so they can get....
more cards.

Oh wait, that's PackRat... Nevermind.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Mom has HAD it. Like, yeah, totally... in all caps...

Before I begin, those of you with children under 4, look away. Don't read. It doesn't apply to you.
This is about cleaning, and any woman with a child or children under 4 who has a clean home needs counseling, because no sane woman with a child under 4 can maintain a clean home for more than, maybe, half a day, tops.

For the rest of us, or for those who wonder what's coming Bwwahhaaa, well, this weekend, MOM HAS HAD IT.

And I hate using 'Mom.' I like to pretend I have an identity that isn't so close to Moo or Ma'am, or Mumu. Something about the 'mmm' sound. Anyhow, LAHDEEDA has had it. Okay? I have HAD it.

I am not a 'neat' person by anyone's standards. My OCD 'can pick a minute jelly stain on the wall from 30 paces away' guy, Hubby McRed, and I have come to an uneasy peace. He avoids the kids' rooms, my desk, the laundry room and the closet if it's messy, alone. This does mean I have to occasionally get him his clothes, but whatever works. The rest of the house I try to keep well, at least clutter free and swept. I'm not so good at vacuuming, but in a prior incarnation, Hubby McRed was the God of Vacuuming, and nobody, I mean NOBODY can vacuum to the perfection he can... the straight 'freshly vacuumed' lines that are so neatly parallel to each other, the way the carpet stands up, cheering, at the end... it's a skill.


I had the house clean for a week. Sunday to Friday. We weren't even home most of Friday. Yet, somehow, upon waking on Saturday morning, I see...

Dishes to the ceiling.
Counters filled with wrappers and dirty spoons, leftover food cans, cilantro on the cutting board...
I move to the dining area... my eyes sweep over an un-wiped-down table, crumbs the size of whole bread loaves on the floor, a yogurt stain mocking me in it's peachy little way.
I scan past it to the living area and there's the dog bed, ruffled up into a ball. The couch pillows askew and ascatter. Dog toys everywhere. The ottomon blanket twisted. Oooh. Was I upset.

So I went up the toy-laden stairs into the hall of trucks and cars. To the laundry room (yeah, it's upstairs, I know, sooo cool) with the pile of 'tween girl clothes hanging out of an open dryer (seriously, do you have to wash your sneakers?) and the cat food all over the floor. I go look into Drama Girl's room, where the rule generally is clothes stay in the closet and nothing is on the floor, and discover her floor littered with, well, Tween stuff.

This is all BEFORE my first cup of coffee.

I glare at Hubby McRed. I can't help but think if we'd GONE to that playgrounds cafe this morning, I wouldn't have quite had it. I'm sure somehow it's all his fault. I mean, I see red beard hairs in the sink... he's not innocent...

I drink two and a half cups of coffee... and discover MORE dishes have been made. TWO dishes to make one bowl of oatmeal. Why?

So I exploded.
And created my own universe. It's like, cool. Life has just begun on one of the planets I accidentally created, and on another planet, they are wondering if they were created intentionally or if life was a haphazard accident.
I spent some time creating order in my new little universe.
Then I returned to my house.

I made a DECISION that ENOUGH was ENUFF.

I informed the Bear and Turbo that they need to clean the hall.
I told Hubby McRed I was cranky so he could hide.
Then, I sent Cinderel.... I mean Drama Girl to the sink.
I had her unload the dishwasher, and then, had her rinse EVERY dish in the sink and EVERY dish overspilling the sink. I had her do it properly, (I was checking) and to then load the dishwasher.
She was indignant, and attitudey, and I told her the truth.

"Perhaps, if you understand how much work I have to do because you don't rinse your own dishes or put them in the dishwasher, or because you just casually use three bowls, six spoons and seven glasses just to make one meal, perhaps you'll appreciate the effort, and you know, STOP MAKING SO MANY MESSES!"

The boys have 'dog toy' duty. They are responsible for putting the dog toys away and taking the toys upstairs after they've played with them. They also have to clear the hall of their toys. This week, they will be doing their new chore: helping unload dishes.

They required some prodding, but it's expected. They are um four.

Drama girl though, well, she's DRAMA. She whined and moaned and though she worked, it did sound like she was being tortured. She calmed down though when Hubby McRed told her the more she moaned and whined and yelped about it, the more we'd give her to do. I was ready to gag her, for all the whining, have you EVER heard an 11 year old whine?

But Hubby McRed took the rags out of my hand.
"You don't understand," he said. "To her, this is torture. I remember dishes and doing them. It's awful, they just pile up, and it seems like they go on for eternity. This is the WORST CHORE for a kid... hey, there are some dishes up here, lets go bring them down..."

It may have been cruel, but it was worth it...

And the whole time I was trying to put into words just WHY besides having a greater understanding of what her obliviousness does, she should do chores, Hubby McRed stepped in with a surprisingly good reason. I mean, I knew the reason, he just had a better way of putting it...

"Drama Girl," he sighed. "You do chores because you're part of the family. Everyone does their part. Doing chores teaches you to respect the work that goes into being part of a family. By doing chores, you become a more responsible respectful person. It makes you a BETTER person. If you never did any chores and you never worked, you wouldn't value anything or care or respect anything. It's not just about doing chores because we don't want to do them. Although we don't. Do you think your mother likes doing dishes every day? And by the way, you and your brothers are doing the dishes every day now..."

See? Wasn't that insightful of him?

And to prove his point, he pointed out who the polite kids were, the kids we liked, that were respectful, well-behaved and liked for who they were... they were all kids we knew who had chores. Then he pointed out the kids that had no chores (Seriously, I have no idea how he knew this...) and asked how she thought they behaved.

Well. It was a winning closing argument.

After her bout with the WORST chore EVER, she did her normal daily chores and then realized she had the whole afternoon to play. See, it wasn't so bad doing chores.

The kicker? Because the universe has lately been very good about reinforcing my points... she knocked on her friends' door, two polite boys that live in our hood... what did they say?

"We'll be out in a half hour. We have to finish our chores..."

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Shady Tree Park

A week or so ago, I posted about the Burning Stones Park. I mentioned we would be headed to Shady Tree Park.

Shady Tree Park is older, which explains why the trees are big enough to provide shade. Nothing like a New England canopy, or the tall ever-aspiring-higher trees of the Northwest, but, tall enough and wide enough for some shade.

Since the entire point of this post is about the shady tree park, you'd think I'd have taken some pictures of the soft green grass and said shady trees. You'd think.

Anyhow, trust me, the grass is soft and green, and the trees are shady.

But the kids? The kids were still hot.
And brave. Too brave.
But at the end of the day, despite some drama, and an unfortunate bloody-nose incident Cutie suffered, it was a good shady day.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Hot Diggidy Dog

Oh dear.

It is July, and can someone please tell me, where the school supply lists are this year?

I can't seem to find mine for my daughter, and while I'm certainly in no rush to send Drama off to Middle School and introduce Turbo and Bear to pre-Kindergarten, sometimes, I like to look at the school supply lists.

It makes me happy, especially during these dog days of summer (who knew the Romans blamed the constellation Sirius for the hot, oppressive days between July and August?). And these are the dog days of summer... too hot for my liking. The sun just sort of beats down on you and every breeze is the sort that brings heat and fire and misery. Why, it's a wonder I didn't just fall down halfway through my walk with Crazy, what with all the hot winds and burning sun.

And perhaps, perhaps I exaggerate slightly, but not by much. It's dog-panting weather out there, and no rain in sight except for an overly optimistic rain cloud last Saturday night that finally dispersed.

Oh I know, I know, waah waah waah, I live in Colorado, the dog-days of summer pass as quickly as they go, but I live in the moment, and let me tell you, this moment is hot, oppressive and the reason why I will never live in the Southern Hemisphere. Unless it's like, on the beach, or in one of the micro-climates where somehow it never gets above 75.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Burning Stones Park

Here is Bear and Turbo at the Burning Stones Park, also known by its proper name, Sandstone.

It's one of the uberest parks I ever did see.

But there's one teensy eensie small problem. They did such a great job with this park, the open spaces, the huge playground contraptions, the kiddie area to die for, the big kid area, the mini-climbing wall, the rocks to run around in, why, heck, they even have a water feature.

Here's Turbo going down the closed slide that's part of the stone-theme.

The bridge to the right connects it to an ubah-playset.


There are no trees.

Oh, there are trees, you can see them off in the distance. But they aren't shaded trees, and they aren't anywhere near the play area.

This means that in the summer time, the time most children are seen at parks, the kids just boil. And, more upsetting, the moms boil, too. I don't know where you are on the 'enjoy boiling' scale, but I hate the heat with a great passion that requires I live in places where summers are either short or non-existent. Now, of course, Summer here will never end, but it will get cooler... and I'm fine with that.

But with this melanoma breeding ground of a playground, I am not fine. Because as much as I love taking Turbo and Drama there, and as much as they love going there, and as much as the water feature is neat, and despite how much sunscreen I lather on their little non-burning bodies (seriously, am I the ONLY one that didn't get the nice Italian skin? wtf?) it just isn't enough. The sun beats down til sweat rains down their foreheads and their pores open up and flood their skin.

See, here is Bear and Turbo boiling in the summer sun.

Which is why, next week, rather than go to this lovely park, we are going to a tree-lined park... a nice, cool, shady place where squirrels can be seen climbing trees and occasionally, one imagines, someone gets bombed by bird poop.

There will be photos...

...of the park. I am not so lucky to catch bird-bombings.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008



What a slacker I've been.

I can't help it. It's summertime. I have the right to be lazy.

Plus I'm addicted to the Twilight series, so that's been keeping me up.

Can we all say, wow, it's July?

And listen, summer isn't FULLY over, there's still July and August. Half of August if you're in Colorado and you have kids. But, July is a VERY LONG MONTH.

So don't fret. You still have time to languish away at parks, lakes, sandy reservoirs and coffee shops.

It's not time to be sad or panic yet. Why, heck n crap, I bet the summer weather lingers on into September!


And I will not mention fall or cool weather or anything until at least August. Even though it's my favorite season, and I'm having crazy Fall urges to nest and be cozy and make pies and cross stitch and buy school supplies.

I just... can't...help it.... make.... it.... stop....


Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Summer is Over

Oh, I can hear you now, all arguing, disagreeing, but the FOURTH is just around the corner, there's TWO WHOLE MONTHS LEFT.

Well, sorry to correct you, but no, no there aren't.

The Fourth of July marks the end of summer. Especially in Colorado, but elsewhere as well.

You mark my words. The Fourth of July will end, we will all return to our daily summer lives full of gooey potato salad, slimy slaw and greasy dripping burgers or chicken, and a nagging ringing in the ear from the fireworks, thinking summer is now FULL BLOWN WOOTXOR.

How wrong we'd be.

You see, NEXT weekend, there will be sales.
Back to school sales, to be precise.

You'll walk into Target to discover that they've set up the back-to-school bins. I love the back to school bins. I get positively giddy whenever I see them. I buy myself stuff from them, just to get into the mood. Wal-Mart will have it's aisles all done up, and then, the ads will start to come in the Sunday paper, on the television, and your kids, my kids, all kids, will shout 'TURN IT OFF' and run screaming, because... it's Back To School Time.

The first lines in the battle for Back To School Shopping will be drawn the weekend after the Fourth of July. From office supply stores to Target bins, from Microsoft to Apple, from Justice and Limited Too to Abercombie and Fitch, the lines... are drawn.

So, as a parent, you're thinking, YES, and "how, seriously HOW, can we prolong this 'back to school' feeling?"

Here are some tips.

Start shopping for your child's school wardrobe now. Just buy some things that will be a necessity, for Drama girl, it's jeans from Justice (which is now allowing you to shop online as of July 28th, for parents who despair of Tween Trash clothing, check them out, they aren't half-bad). (Note, they are owned by Tween Brands, which owns the Limited Too) Then, a couple of weeks later, buy a couple of outfits. This prevents the kids from buying an entire wardrobe spur of the moment that they'll hate in two months. Buying the stuff in a few, shorter trips guarantees they will mostly like what they buy.

Prepare your child for the school day schedule. Oh this is the fun part. Start waking them up earlier by 30-minute increments until, a week before school, they are on the school day wake/sleep routine. Think this is cruel? Well yah, but you'll thank me come that First Day of School wake up time.

Get the supplies now. If you have 'the list.' The list is the entire supply requirements for your child's grades. If you get them now, you can avoid injury and foul play at the various supply bins mid-August (which, btw, is when Colorado kids go back to school... Colorado for the Win!).

Start talking about your fall plans. This one drives the kids crazy. But, they cry, it's SUMMER. This is your opportunity to show them the calender. Yes, dears, but look, it's ALMOST school time! Save this for the third week in July, or first week in August, depending on your child's school start time. And don't get too carried away. This is how shopping for Christmas Presents in August starts, and really, there's no need for that.