Colored Pictures, Classes, and The Wheel #100HappyDays

Day 37:  Wheel of Fortune makes me happy.  Yes, I’m serious.  My boyfriend and I try to have dinner together at least once during the week, and every single time we do we end up watching The Wheel.  If anyone knows how to get on the show, let me know–based on the number of correct answers I shout at the TV, I’m pretty sure I’d do well on the actual show.  🙂

Day 38:  Pictures from kids make me happy.  On occasion I’ll babysit my officemate’s kids, and the oldest colored these awesome pictures for me!  The last time I babysat them was in February, so I brought some Valentine’s Day and Black History Month pictures for us to color together.  Apparently they are still fun to color even in May (and she even told her mommy the story of Rosa Parks as she was coloring it)!

Pictures from Kids

Look at these cute pictures! She did a great job staying in the lines.

Day 39:  Finishing a class makes me happy.  Today was the last day of a three-day course I was teaching.  Wrapping up a class is always bittersweet; I love getting to know new trainees and so it is kind of sad to see them head home.  However, I know they are ready to see their families and sleep in their own beds, so I’m happy they get to go back to everyday life.  Luckily, all of them will be coming back for another class in early June so we’ll get to have a “class reunion.”

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Vacation Days and Handwritten Notes #100HappyDays

Days 19-22:  Vacation days make me happy.  And before you ask–no, I didn’t go anywhere (unless you count the grocery store).  I originally took the days off to attend DragCon 2017 in Los Angeles, but that airline ticket just wasn’t in the budget this year unfortunately.  Since I’d already gotten the vacation days approved, I figured I’d use the time to reminisce about my wonderful DragCon 2016 experience and get some adulting done.

And boy, did this gal adult something FIERCE!  I completed a ton of personal care appointments I’d been putting off for wayyyyy too long, got all my grocery shopping done, and (with the help of my wonderful boyfriend) took care of some #homeownerproblems.  This was definitely a stay-cation, but having Friday and Monday off work made me very happy indeed.

Day 23:  Handwritten notes make me happy.  My boyfriend’s mom mailed me the sweetest thank you card in appreciation for the dinner I hosted over Easter weekend, and today I come into my office to find this adorable note from my office mate’s family!

message

Overnight Mom

I never knew I’d be a mother of three at 27.

And I guess –technically–I’m not. My fiancé has three sons from a previous relationship who came to live with us full-time this summer. So, practically overnight, I became a mother figure to three kids.

I must admit I have no clue what I’m doing.

It’s not as though I’ve never been around kids before. I worked at a day care for a while in college and I’ve babysat a number of times. But I’ve never been responsible for another human being’s life 24 hours a day. Certainly not three very energetic male human beings.

I’ve never had to go to parent-teacher conferences (as a parent anyway). Nor have I had to pick a sick child up from school or line up after school care. I’ve never had someone call me Mommy. Now all of those things have happened and I’m not sure how to feel about it.

Part of me is thrilled. I love seeing what they learn each day at school. I love helping with reading (something I’ve always loved to do) and playing games with them. Watching them interact with their father is heart-warming. Sometimes they can be so adorably hilarious I can’t stand it.

But still, part of me is adjusting to how different life with kids is. As someone who’s spent the majority of her life just taking care of herself, learning to take care of someone else (especially three someones who need constant supervision) has been hard for me. I miss my Saturdays, my “me time,” when I could wake up when I felt like it and do what I wanted all day long.

I worry that I’m not doing it right. That I’m too strict on them. That they aren’t where they should be in terms of school. I worry that I’m not providing a good example for them or setting them up to be successful adults.

But overall I think I’m doing okay, that WE are doing okay. I may not be their biological mom, but I think they are starting to see me as someone they can count on. We aren’t a traditional family, but we are a family nonetheless.

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!