Craftstravaganza: Washi Tape Chore Sticks!

In case y’all didn’t know, my fiance is the father of three of the most hilarious boys I’ve ever met in my life.  Even though they try me sometimes, these kids truly bring joy to my life; I always look forward to hearing their crazy stories and watching them laugh and play.  Since they don’t stay with us full-time, I have been searching for ways to get them more involved in the daily routine at our house.  A couple of weeks ago I mentioned the idea of getting paid to do work around the house and they were really excited about it, so I did what I always do in situations like these–logged into Pinterest to search for inspiration.  This is where I got the idea of creating chore sticks.  Not only was this craft super easy, it was also pretty cheap–I got all of the supplies for under $10!

Chore sticks for the boys!

Finished product!

Here are the supplies you’ll need for this project:

  • Craft sticks (approx. $4 at craft store–I chose the wide ones and there were 60 in the package)
  • Washi tape (approx. $2/roll–easily the most expensive part of the project as I needed a different color for each child)
  • Sharpie marker (free–already had one at home)
  • Jar (also free–I used one that I had already decorated as part of another Pinterest project)

I started by applying tape to the end of each stick so that each boy would know which chores were his to complete.  I thought this would be easier than writing their names on the sticks.    Also, it makes the sticks more colorful and fun!

Washi tape makes doing chores cool.

Washi tape makes doing chores cool.

Once I had all the sticks taped–I ended up with 20 per kid–I started on the hardest part of the project, which was determining which chores to put on the sticks.  I researched age-appropriate chores for an 8, 7, and 4-year old and wrote one chore on the front of each stick.  I decided to write out the chores and not use pictures for a number of reasons:  (1) it was easier for me; (2) it gave the older two boys a chance to practice their reading; and (3) it gave the youngest boy a chance to start recognizing letters and words, even though he can’t read yet.

Some of the chores were simple, like clearing the table.  Others were more complicated or time-consuming, like vacuuming the stairs or sweeping the garage and driveway.  Each chore was priced at either $1, $3, or $5; I wrote the price on the back of each stick.  Once they completed a chore, they were allowed to flip the stick over and see how much money they earned.  You can easily add new chores by purchasing more sticks and “swap” sticks by changing the tape.  If the middle boy outgrows a chore, all I have to do is change the tape and it becomes a chore for the youngest.

A dolla makes me holla!

“A dolla makes me holla, honey boo boo!”

After I made the sticks, I sat the boys down and explained how the process would work.  Each day they were at our house, they would receive a chore stick (sometimes multiple chore sticks).  It was their responsibility to complete the chores before they left to go back to their mom’s house.  In order to be compensated for their chore, it had to pass inspection–either JB or I had to check their work to make sure it was good.  If not, they would not get their money.  Additionally, they could lose money if they misbehaved throughout the week–not listening, being disrespectful, fighting, etc. might cause them to lose a dollar.   Once they completed all their chores for the day, I would pay them their money.  Each boy has two baggies–one labeled “spend” and the other “save.”  They could decide how much money they wanted to save (for a big item like a video game or a tablet) and how much to put aside to spend at the end of the week.

Yesterday was our first time using the sticks and…it was a huge success!  The boys were very excited to see what their chores were for the day and couldn’t wait to get started on them.  I also chose chores that would require them to work together (for example, the middle boy was responsible for gathering all the dirty clothes and putting them in the hamper and the oldest was in charge of taking the dirty clothes downstairs and sorting them) so that they could see how each person doing a small job made the entire house run more smoothly.  Obviously they needed a bit of coaching–making sure the laundry was sorted correctly and whatnot–but overall they did a good job with their chores.  Probably their favorite part was when I gave them their dollars and they were able to put them in their “save” or “spend” bags.  They each got $3 and all three of them decided to save every single dollar!  I’m sure this will change as they earn more money, but I was really proud to hear them talk about “saving lots and lots of dollars” to buy something they really wanted.  🙂

Not only did I get to flex my underused craft muscle, I also got a bunch of help around the house for wayyyyyyyy less than the cost of a housekeeper.  It may have taken a bit longer to get things done, but the boys need to learn how to take care of a household so I consider taking the extra time in the short-term as a long-term investment in them–as they continue to complete the chores they will only get better at them.  Also, having the boys complete smaller tasks freed me up to complete some of the larger ones, so everyone wins!

I’ll keep y’all updated on our progress as we continue to use these.  You can also find my original inspiration for this craft (as well as the list of age-appropriate chores I drew from) on my Pinterest page.  Happy crafting!

The Story of Us

You wake up thinking it’s just an ordinary Tuesday, and then you end up getting engaged.  Who knew?  I surely didn’t.  But yesterday the love of my life asked me to marry him.

I Said Yes

Sorry to ruin the surprise, everyone.

The story begins awhile back.  JB and I started dating about two years ago have always known that this relationship would go somewhere (at least I did anyway).  We had a few instances of wedding talk–even browsed engagement rings online so he’d have an idea of what I liked–but nothing super serious happened until a few weeks ago.  JB mentioned casually that we should go look at some engagement rings at a store so I could try them on.  We went to Kesslers, a local jewelry chain, and ended up purchasing a ring that day. We also took note of which wedding bands we wanted to purchase and tried those on as well.  Side note:  If anyone reading this is in Wisconsin and is looking for diamond jewelry, I highly recommend Kesslers.  The staff was amazing, the price was reasonable, and the jewelry is beautiful!

My engagement ring wouldn’t be ready for a week, so we patiently waited seven days to pick it up.  Once JB picked up the ring, I started living in a constant state of anxiety.  I wasn’t having panic attacks or anything, but I did constantly wonder when “it” would happen.  I also painted my nails just in case I needed to take ring pictures–a girl can never be too prepared.  (Side note:  My home manicure was long gone by the time he actually proposed–this is why gel manicures are so wonderful.)  I accidentally found the ring in his sock drawer when I was putting away laundry one day, and I guess he figured that out because the next time I went to put away his socks, the ring was mysteriously absent.  Word of wisdom to all you men out there:  Don’t hide surprises for your lady near clothes if she’s the one doing the laundry.

Fast forward to yesterday.  I had to work and JB was off, so I asked him if he wanted to have lunch with me.  He said he’d let me know and I went on to work.  During breaks I checked Facebook on occasion and noticed that JB had tagged me in a few things:  two music videos (both super romantic songs) and an album of pictures of the ring!  Once he picked me up for lunch, I thought he was acting a bit strangely but brushed it off.  We had a quick lunch, then he dropped me back off at work.  We checked in a few more times after lunch, then I left work to head home.  JB wasn’t there when I arrived–he had to pick up the boys from school–so I got to work making a marinade for some pork chops (Side note:  We are actually having these pork chops tonight–I’ll let y’all know if they turn out okay.)

A few minutes later, JB and the boys trooped in.  He got them settled at the table with some food from McDonalds, then grabbed me and said he had an announcement.  He said that I was a very special woman…very beautiful…and that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me.  (Side note:  This is when I broke out into the type of sweat most often experienced when an extremely high fever breaks).  He dropped to one knee right there next to the kitchen table, in front of the three people most important to him, and asked me to be his wife.  🙂  I cried and said yes and we hugged and kissed.  The boys continued to eat their McNuggets–apparently nothing, even a marriage proposal, can get a kid’s attention if McNuggets are present.

Nuggets

Perhaps the boys would have been more interested in a proposal like this?

Once I got control of my emotions, I told the boys that this meant we would have a wedding and they could be in it.  They got a bit more excited at that point…probably because most of the McNuggets were gone.  I called my mom in Kentucky to tell her the good news, and we celebrated with a cocktail and an evening with the boys.  (Side note:  I had to take a shower because I was so sweaty after he proposed.  I also spent a significant portion of the evening randomly bursting into tears–happiness overload.)

So there you have it–the story of our engagement!  We’re planning to get married in a year, maybe a year and a half, and have already started talking about location and all those other fun wedding things.  We appreciate every single phone call, text, Facebook post, and positive thought we’ve received; we can’t wait to spend the rest of our lives together, especially with our great families and awesome friends!

Pinterest

I finally showed JB my secret wedding Pinterest board!

Us vs. Us

In Kentucky, a rivalry exists so severe it has torn apart families, ruined friendship, and divided the entire state.  I ain’t talking about the Hatfields and the McCoys, y’all.  I’m talking about the Kentucky Wildcats vs. the Louisville Cardinals.

Yes, Kentucky is such a blessed place (if you don’t believe me, ask Daniel Boone) that it has not one but TWO freakin’ awesome collegiate basketball teams.  This means one has a choice to make–Cardinals or Wildcats?!?  Those of us who were raised in the good ole’ bluegrass know just how serious this decision is.  It’s kind of like choosing a faction in Divergent–you can go your own way, but expect your mom to cry if you do.

Divergent

“We’ll still love you no matter what you choose…as long as it’s Kentucky.”

And where there’s a rivalry, there is also a plethora of shit talking.  Actually, shit talking occurs generally as a part of sports (rivalry or not) but Kentucky and Louisville fans take it to a whole ‘nother level–usually when talking shit to one another.  Some of the jokes are funny…

Math

If you’re mathematically challenged, you may not get it.

..but others are mean, spiteful, or stupid.

Stupid

If you’re making decisions like these, your basketball preference should be the least of our concerns.

At the end of the tournament, both teams represented the Bluegrass State in a way that should make us proud.  Why do we need to sling insults at one another?  I’ll bleed blue until the day I die (that means I’m a Kentucky fan for those of you not from ’round here) but at the end of the day, a win from either team is a STATE win.  So lighten up everyone–root for your team, but don’t be mean.

Perfect

A win for either is a win for all of us.

That Was Her Way

One year ago today, my great-aunt Aloma passed away.  Known to me as Granny Loma, she played a recurring role in my childhood.  In summers she hosted far-flung relatives and Independence Day barbecues.  The other seasons felt her presence too; Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas parties, Easter Egg hunts in the field behind her house.  You could stop by whenever to talk to her, and she always had something to say–and no qualms about saying it either.

On my trips back home after moving to Madison, she was the one I made a point to visit.  She made sure I left with a wise word and a joke (and frequently a strawberry shortcake, my favorite of her desserts).  She called me when my mother and I argued to make sure I understood my mother’s perspective and hers too–protect your children, guard your family.  Let them learn but never leave them lonely.  Tell them the truth but understand their lives are their own.

She was the type of woman that spoke her mind without hesitation–there was never a question of how she felt or what she thought.  She had five kids of her own and helped raised everyone else’s too.  When she told you to do something, you did it (and heaven forbid if she had to tell you twice).  She lived in big t-shirts and white tennis shoes.  Her hair was always flawless.  She sang beautifully and loved the Lord with all her heart.  She was the matriarch of our family, our center of gravity.

I told myself I should ask more questions while she was here, but the opportunities passed; the moments slipped by.  Of course now more than ever I want to know her yellow cake recipe, how to can vegetables, what it felt like to to be a wife at 14.  The things I took for granted as a college student, juggling classes with work and extracurriculars, interest me most in my new day of home and career.  The answers I look everywhere to find were five minutes away on Tanner Rd. all this time.

Somewhere–in the warmest, friendliest corner of Heaven, Granny Loma is preparing a feast to welcome us when we join her.  To give of all of us–her husband, children, grandchildren, siblings, nieces, nephews, and anyone who needs it–a warm smile, a big hug, and words of truth spoken with heartfelt sincerity.  That was her way.

Sept. 13, 1942-April 2, 2013

Sept. 13, 1942 – April 2, 2013