Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Kids - Creating a chore chart

I think it is really important that kids understand the importance of earning. We try hard to not buy a lot of toys and junk for our kids. Of course occasionally we do purchase them something, but its usually because they behaved well under a circumstance or helped out with something around the house (babysitting your little brother while Dad and I dealt with a leaking ceiling). Because we have been firm about our "no's" since they were little, they don't throw tantrums when they don't get something they want. If they really want something they have to save.

We have a white-board calendar in our dining room with weekly "mandatory" chores for each kid. On that board is also the kids virtual bank that keeps track of their funds. The image below shows the start of July and the end of June at the bottom. As they do their chores they cross them off.

The 12yo cleans the cat box every week, she also feeds the cat and makes sure his bowls are clean. The 8yo dumps the compost bins every week, which we recently put on hold as we relocate our compost bin and now he is expected to help me pull weeds every week. They rotate taking out the trash.

Every other Sunday they either clean their rooms, or tend to the bathroom chores; 12yo scrubs the sink, 8yo scrubs the toilet. They are also expected to practice their instrument everyday. Which they almost do everyday...

Payday is every 2 weeks, the 12yo gets $3, the 8yo gets $2. They can earn additional money by doing extra chores, we have a cheat sheet just under the board. Everything is abbreviated so it can fit on the board. My daughter, Darby the 12yo, just added doing the dishes as an extra chore. They keep track of what they have "in the bank". When they decide to spend some of their money they subtract that money when we get home.

Darby is the chore dictator of the house, more than the hubby and I. Often we help the kids clean the bathroom so we can teach them how to do it right. Or help with the cat box. It definitely takes more time and you have to take a deep breath and smile knowing this would be so much easier if I just did it myself... But, my kids are learning the notion that Mom and Dad are not going to hand me money and send me on my way to spend. If they break their electronic devices (which are hand-me-downs, super basic or they saved all their holiday money for something better), they have to save to replace them.

I think this is a really important lesson. Sometimes my kids fight us on it, but now that we've done this for a handful or years they've gotten into the habit of just getting it done. It's pretty fantastic.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Kids - Magic Science Kit

My daughter received this kit as a birthday gift three years ago. We did some of the activities and then she was no longer interested and the kit was shelved. Earlier this year we pulled it out of her closet and handed it to the 8yo. I figured nothing was going to work because it had been sitting in the closet for so long, but I was wrong.

There are seven activities in the box. Most have to do with density, acids and bases. A lot of color changing and fizzy experiments. Basic contents in the box: baking soda, citric acid, vegetable oil, red cabbage juice powder, zinc sulfide, 4 test tubes, a test tube stand, scooper's for measuring, and a few other random items for the experiments.

None of the experiments are overally messy and there are none on an explosive level, like Mentos and Coke-a-Cola. It's a very good learning tool for me and for my kiddos. The lowest cost I found online is at Target for $17.99.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Being Sick - my Husband & my Job

My husband knew when we were dating that I have a handful of medical annoyances. I'm not one to shy away from being blunt about my "issues". On and off for the past 9+ months I've had foot procedures, ear, respiratory and sinus infections, plus a few other annoying things occur. Due to another illness I am writing this blog.

We eat mostly healthy. I haven't been able to exercise as much because of my feet and that probably has something to do with me catching all these fun illnesses, but generally we are okay at it.  Always, no matter how much stress is happening in our household or at our jobs (deadline!), my husband makes me a priority. Making sure I stay in bed, that I take my meds, that I sleep okay, gets the kids out of the house, cooks every night and tries to stay positive.

It strengthens our relationship. Plus, fourteen years of marriage to me can't be easy.

An older picture. One of my favorites on a family adventure.

My job is pretty amazing. I set my own hours and telecommute pretty much full-time. When I'm sick I take a day or two to get better. It's never questioned. They trust me. They know that I will get my job done and that anything dire is handled or I will call a co-worker for help. And I do, all of the above.

In the end it strengthens our relationship and make me want to work harder for the company. It makes me feel the need to reciprocate the understanding of not only being sick, but taking days because I have kids and being aware of everything that entails being a parent.

The hubby and the big cheese at Rotating Mass Media, aka; the boss-man.
Not everyone would be honest in these situations. People take advantage of things like this, rather than show appreciation and then they lose the privilege, or make the whole class lose the privilege.

I am thankful.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Nerd Block Jr - June Box

Our Nerd Block Jr. June box arrived! Nerd Block has six different box subscriptions, we opted for Nerd Black Jr "for boys" for ages 6-11. There is one that is "for girls" that is for any kid into; Care Bears, My Little Ponies, Hello Kitty, etc. I don't think they need to gentrify it, should just be the "pink" or "blue" box. Or something more creative then that... I digress.

June box was full of fun geek-type things; A Ninja Turtles Plush that says things when you squeeze it, A Ninja Turtle magic painting activity, Batman tattoos, Scatter Brainz "dart" game, Superman figure and a Minions comic book. The comic book is basically picture following and no words, has one activity of "find all the banana's".

The June box in its entirety. 
The cost of a3-month subscription is $38 plus $18 for shipping. A bit steeper than Kiwi Crate we got earlier this week. Odin was very happy with the toys and spent most of the day playing on his own in his room. We haven;t tackled the Ninja Turtle painting magic activity. There are 4 different images, 2 of each so we can share with a friend or have a do-over if needed. There are also 8 paintbrushes, not sure we need that many, but I'm sure we will find a use for them.

Check out the video I posted and see the Brain Dartz in action.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Kiwi Crate - June Box Part 2

We tackled a few more fun projects from the June crate this weekend!

"Walking Colors" is the name of this project. It teaches Capillary action. (Which was a learning experience for me to.) The project uses cups, food coloring and paper towels to move water from one area to another. Like a tree's roots to branches.

Preparing the project and watching the beginning of the process.

It takes time for the the liquid to transfer and little man was not going to sit around waiting. So we headed out to see the movie Inside Out. Side note: the movie was funny and cute. Both the 8yo and the 12yo were entertained, as well as the hubby and myself.

We came back about 2 hours later and the liquid had transferred quite a bit into the other cup. As you can see in the photo above, we started with red, yellow and blue. So, as two colors transferred they mixed and made: purple, orange and green.

The finale.

This is such a fun and easy do at home project if you have some food coloring, small cups and paper towels. I never would have thought of it, so thank you Kiwi Crate! I have one other project I'm going to write up, but I continue to be impressed with this subscription. It's a great summer activity and a gift idea.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Kiwi Crate - June box

We received our very first Kiwi Crate box today! Kiwi Crate offers four different age brackets of subscription boxes. Depending on the age bracket, the boxes can contain projects involving; art, science, crafts or all the above. The price depends on how many months you sign up for. I went with the 3-month subscription for summer break.

After weeks of anticipation from the 8yo, the box showed up today. Every month has a theme, this month is color. Because this was our first box, we received a welcoming letter, color-in poster titled "My Adventures with Kiwi" and a pair of kid-scissors. For every box, there is a Kiwi sticker that is related to the monthly theme, kids adhere this sticker to the poster every month so they can track their Kiwi Crate fun. This month's was Kiwi with a rainbow. One of today's do on-your-own activities was color the poster and hang in his room.

There are two main projects and some other fun side projects. To our surprise the box is packed full of activities. There is a booklet with comics, seek and finds and other theme related do-yourself projects. There is also a "bonus craft" that sounds fun.

Everything that came in the box.

We jumped right in and made one of the projects, "my Color spin art". Level of messiness; high. Level of needed parent assistance; medium.

First make the spinner.
Get all your colors in order and get ready to spin and paint.

Art can be messy.
I'm going to try hard to have him make some of these projects last for a week or two. But, he was ready to do all of them today and had a great time doing spin art.

 A few additional things I really enjoyed; all the instructions are on heavy enough stock paper to handle kid hands (and liquid) without falling part when touched, the box is usable for this craft, each instruction has a level of messiness and a level of parental assistance needed (low, medium & high).

I was a little apprehensive when I ordered the crate, not sure if the box was really worth $20 a month. But, both the hubby and I are very excited about this first box. I'm impressed with the quantity and quality of the supplies and we are really looking forward to the other projects... and the July box.

He spent almost an hour working on the poster! Love it.
Click here, for a video on the box opening.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Favorite Kid appropriate Podcasts

Telecommuting means that my kids are often sitting in my office (bedroom) while I'm working during the summer school break. I don't like to have my headphones on all the time, so I have to make sure any podcasts I'm listening to are not to "adult".

One of the only kids specific podcasts I enjoy is brains on! This podcast is all about science, there are episodes about specific animals, volcanoes, roller coasters, etc. The length of each episode is 10-25 minutes. Which is perfect for my son who struggle sitting still and not talking for more than 5 minutes. Sometimes when he is working in his activity books we will have a binge and listen to 3-4 episodes. Odin really enjoys the "The Mystery Sound", its a sound that relates to the episode topic, and you guess what is.

Check out the newest episode of brains on about cuttlefish!

 The second podcast is Stuff you Missed in History Class. Its exactly what the titles says, history. The history related topics are pretty broad and full of fun stories and facts. The adults probably enjoy this one more than the 8yo, but I haven't had to turn the podcast off for any inappropriate (not for kids ears) content.

TedTalks Kids and Family. A podcast that has some great parenting talks; dealing with stress, getting outside, Nizar Ibraham How we unearthed Spinosaursu, Jane Goodall talking about chimpanzees, and more. There are some great podcasts that are worth sharing with the kids, but overall the episodes are kid friendly.


One of my husband's absolute favorites, This American Life. Again, a podcast the kids might not be "into", but you can listen to it with them in the room. Really great stories, one of the current one is Father Day 2011, stories of father's trying to be good dad's and sometimes not succeeding or not taking the opportunity in an unexpected short life.
I cannot get my son into it but StoryNory is a good podcast for kids who can sit still and enjoy a fun story.

One on my list to listen to is and make sure its are kid friendly is Grammar Girl Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing. With our 12yo daughter being in the newspaper club and often writings for school, this could be a good one.