Monday, February 8, 2016

The Earn It System

Over Christmas break I had a revelation. I’m not doing my kids any favors by paying for their electronics. Of course almost all kids now play on iPads, iPods, iPhones, Kindles and whatever else is out there.  My kids have the goods too and they use them regularly.

When a bad grade strikes, or behavior isn’t up to snuff, the electronic is the first thing to go. 

But when I had my revelation I thought about how my kids have their electronics all the time.  We have limits, but they never have to worry much about when they’ll have their electronic again. For the phones, I pay for them monthly.  Life doesn’t work like this. There is no one paying for my car, my house, my phone or anything.  Just being a nice person doesn’t pay my bills.

And I want my kids to know how life works.  If you want it, you work for it. If you don’t make enough, you don’t get it until you earn what you need to have it.

Which made me rethink my system.  I decided all electronics had to be earned through grades and chores. 

You earn days and when you don’t earn enough, you don’t get.  Period.  Or as my son would write, #thestruggleisreal.

I made a chart.  Every child starts the week at zero.  They can earn “days” with an “A” on a test or a quiz. They can earn partial days through helping with laundry and sweeping the floor.  There are many ways to earn the days necessary to have their electronic for a week.  Every week we are earning for the next week. So Sunday night I add up what they earned and they start over Monday morning.

My points system goes like this:

A on a test – electronic for 2 days (this is the gold standard)
A on a quiz or project – 1 day
All homework completed for 1 week – 1 day
Good behavior for the week – 1 day
Chores are all ¼ day, and 4 must be completed to earn a day

When the kids complete a chore, they fill out a sticky note and stick it to the chart. Sunday night, I check grades and go through the sticky notes.  I award days for homework and good behavior if it was earned.  If a child earns more than 7 days, they can “bank” the extra for a week they may not earn as much. Another good lesson for them - earn more than you need and you put it in the bank.

I then mark my chart. If they have to hand in their electronic for a day I let them pick what day to go without.

This system has worked marvelously. We had two children go without their electronics for a day already because they didn’t earn enough time for the week.  It was a lesson learned.  It hasn’t happened since.

There is no punishment.  There is no “you lose this for a day”…it’s all about what you earn.  If you earn it, you get it.

Obviously if you are well behaved, do your work and help there should be no trouble earning what is necessary.  This holds true in life as well.

I love to share what helps my house running smoothly, and this has been an eye opener for 2016.  After all, we aren’t raising kids.  We’re raising adults.  And when my little munchkins go into the world I want them to know how it works.

I am not one to keep up a system long that requires me to work harder (adding up all the chores...keeping track of days...) but it was worth it to start off the year.  I did this for a month, and I've seen my kids go from "ughhhh" when I need extra help to "yes mom..."  And that was exactly what I was looking for when I implemented my system. 

Happy Trails!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Valentine Heart Crayons

I found this Valentine activity years ago in Family Fun magazine.  I loved that it was easy, quick and unique.

It also made broken crayons useful again.

Aside from recycling annoying crayon nubs, this activity makes a wonderful Valentine's Day gift for classmates.  A gift that is not a lollipop or a pencil.

Hallelujah and an Amen to that one.

I am good on pencils for at least a year.  We have a wonderfully varied pencil selection with a pencil for every holiday, season, superhero and princess.

I'm bracing for another pencil delivery via three backpacks next Valentine's Day.  If you are contributing to this delivery, I do thank you.  Even though I have a million of them, pencils don't expire.  I guess I can take a few dozen more.  I might use them to build a shed.

Without further ado, I bring you the "How To" on making crayon hearts.  


Heart shaped cookie or muffin tin 
Annoying crayon pieces from all over your house, car and purse

1. Help munchkins peel paper off broken crayons.  This is a wonderful, time consuming quiet activity.  Munchkins have to concentrate to peel that paper.  The room will be silent. 

Savor it.

And then breathe deeply as you view broken crayon pile (cringe) and tiny scraps of paper pile (cringe squared).
This picture gives me agita.

2. Have munchkins fill each mold with assorted crayon pieces.  I love to watch my munchkins combine different colors for each mold.

3. Bake at 250 for 10-15 minutes until crayons are melted.

4. Remove from oven and cool at least an hour.  Crayons will easily pop out of mold once cooled.

These are wonderful to accompany store bought Valentines or to make homemade Valentines.

For homemade Valentines adhere heart crayons to a cut piece of card stock.

Add a super corny but cute message such as "You melt my heart" or "You make my days more colorful".

Valentine's Day is the ultimate in cheesy punch lines.  It's fabulous.

Go grab a heart shaped muffin tin and make something cool (heart crayons) out of something that is not cool (broken crayons).

Happy crayon making!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Slow Cooker Meatloaf

This time of year, with the frigid temperatures and my desire to hibernate until it all goes away, meatloaf is the perfect dinner. A few years ago I tried making my meatloaf in a crock pot (or as some say, slow cooker). The heavenly aroma filled the house for hours, and it made dinner all that much more enjoyable.

If you need a meatloaf recipe, or are looking for something new to try, I promise you will not be disappointed.

Mommyhood Meatloaf
1 lb meatloaf mix
1 package Lipton Onion Soup
1 cup Italian bread crumbs
1 egg
Splash Milk
Squeeze Ketchup 
2 tsp parsley flakes (or fresh chopped if you're and overachiever)
Sprinkle Pepper 

Bacon Bits (Overachievers please use fresh cooked bacon strips)
1 can V8 Juice

In large bowl, mix first 8 ingredients.  Use your hands.  They will freeze.  It's all part of the meatloaf making experience.

Mold into desired loaf.

Place in crock pot, and sprinkle top with bacon bits.  Use as much as desired.

Pour can of V8 juice over top of meatloaf.  Continue to pour until meatloaf is 1/2 immersed in V8 Juice.
Place lid on crock pot and bake 4.5 to 5 hours.  I usually monitor the meatloaf and adjust setting if needed.  I bake on high for 4 hours and then set to low for last 1/2 to 1 hour.

An unwritten law when making my meatloaf is that you must make mashed potatoes as a side.  The V8 Juice makes for a scrumptious meatloaf sauce to drizzle over the mashed potatoes.