Find Good In Every Day

One mom's attempt at finding good in every day of this chaotic world.

Hi-ho Hi-ho, It’s Off To Chores We Go January 30, 2012

Filed under: Daily Blog — Robin @ findgoodineveryday @ 3:33 pm

Now that my youngest is four, I determined he was old enough to take on some chores.  Mason was already doing some things, but we had lost control of keeping track.  We used to use myjobchart.com, but we kept forgetting to logon each day, and it became clear we needed something in our face.  (BTW – I LOVED the options myjobchart.com offered in terms of earning rewards and assigning point values to different chores and assigning different chores to each member of the family.  It is probably great for older kids!)

I started the quest for a compatible chore chart that would work for us.  There are a lot of pre-made options out there.

Melissa and Doug Responsibility Chart

Printables (this one found here)

Even some amazing handmade ones on Etsy (visit AbbiesHouse for this one)

 I even looked for ways to make my own.  We bought some colorful dry erase boards at Target.  I looked for magnets – either ones I could customize myself or that were pre-made.  I found some great options on Etsy.  (These were especially cute!) I was ready to buy some despite the extra cost.  I was just waiting for a time when Jeremy and I could actually sit down together to discuss the entire chore process.  It’s something I knew we both needed to agree on and get behind so that we could enforce it.  The hardest part about chores is the age difference and fairness.  Mason has been making her bed since she was four and always asked, “Why doesn’t Cooper have to make his bed?”  I would just tell her that when he was four, he would have to do the same.  And many times Mason tells me that she feels like she does “everything” (oh honey, just wait til you’re a mom!) and it makes her very upset.  So I knew fairness was going to be a big deal.   

While trying to figure this all out, I had an afternoon trip to Target all by myself (heaven for me!)  I was looking in the office supply section trying to find cute stuff for my hopeful new home office (more on that soon), and found this:

Can be found at Target or Amazon

It was the perfect answer and the perfect price ($8.99 at Target and on Amazon.)  Each child is assigned a colored star.  We get to personalize the chores along the left side, and then they put their star under each day when the chore is done.  We use the bigger stars as “Bonus Stars” for when a child goes out of his/her way to help out.  For instance, Mason offered to help unload the dishwasher one afternoon and Cooper helped match socks while I was folding laundry.  They each earned a bonus star for their eagerness to help.   Right now, the daily chores they each have to do are:

  • Make Bed
  • Brush Teeth
  • Clear Table
  • Pick Up Toys

These are super basic to get the kids used to the system.  We plan to add Set Table and Empty Dishwasher soon.  But now back to the bigger picture…

In the end, Jeremy and I agreed that chores were not something you get paid for.  Chores are part of living together as a family.  We all live under the same roof, and we want to respect our home, our stuff, and each other.  Therefore, we each have chores.  BUT on the other hand, my kids are young.  They need incentive to keep them going.  So we have a loosely based reward system.  Right now, when they earn 100 stars, the kids will get to pick whether we go to a movie as a family or we get to buy a new DVD for Friday Movie Night.  Then the slate will be wiped clean, and they start the tally over again.  Each reward will be a family activity, and the bigger the activity, the more stars they have to earn.  (I’m thinking a trip to Hershey Park this summer after they earn 500 stars.)  Mason and Cooper have to work together.  We don’t calculate stars for each child.  The Bonus Stars go towards the total star tally.  I feel this will help them encourage each other.  If Cooper is having a hard time making his bed, hopefully Mason will help him so Cooper can earn his “make bed” star for the day and add to their collective total.  (A mother can dream, right?)

So far, we’ve had it up for almost a week.  It’s right in our hallway where it can’t be missed, so the kids are constantly reminded of the chores but also the rewards.  I’m happy with the solution we came up with.  I think it will work well for our family for now.  As the kids get older, we’ll have to adapt.  But for now, hi-ho hi-ho, it’s off to chores we go!

 

 

The Bathroom Reveal January 26, 2012

Filed under: Daily Blog — Robin @ findgoodineveryday @ 5:30 pm

Finally!  I’m ready to reveal our new bathroom.  But first, let’s take a trip down memory lane.

This is what it looked like for 6 years.  Unfortunately I didn’t get a picture before we started cleaning it out, so you don’t see the glass shelves we had on the wall above the toilet or any of our accessories.

A shot of our shower.  Note that the tile only goes partly up the wall.

Here is where the trouble all begins.  See the rust coming through the paint?  Yeah, that’s thanks to a wonderful leak we have had pretty much since Day 1 (back in 2005).

After a couple of years of trying to figure out why it was leaking, we finally discovered that it was because our tub was not level.  It was about 1/4 inch off level in both directions, which meant that all the water that would sneak behind the tile (thanks to the tub not being installed correctly so when you stepped in it, it would pull the grout away from the wall), and then flow all the way to this corner.  It would drip down the wall and into our basement.  Not good, especially as we try to finish off the basement.

Additionally we had a roof leak issue a couple of years ago that has since been fixed, but we never had time to patch up the wall.

We got two estimates and decided to go with the contractor we had used to paint the exterior of our home.  We were comfortable with them, and they were well aware of our problem and were headstrong to fix it!

So let the demo begin!

It took them almost 5 hours to get the tub in right.  And you can bet that I was checking whether it was level as soon as I got home!  (Oh, we have a brick house, hence the brick exterior wall.)

It’s starting to come together.

The tile guy was meticulous!  They scared us at first when they found out we bought clay tiles because clay tiles are not easy to cut without chipping away some of the glaze.  But this tile guy took his time and cut the tiles perfectly.  It was pretty amazing to see, and we were super happy with the results.

Side note: Cooper loved coming home from school every day to see what they had done that day.

After grouting and caulking everything back up, the bathroom was ours again.  We had been showering at Kristin’s every other night that week.  Luckily we still had use of a toilet and sink, though.

Before we could put everything back together, though, we had to paint.  And who would have thought this tiny bathroom would take 2 people 9 hours to do?  Not me!  All the trim, all the cutting in, all the small spaces…  It was a long day.

Finally, after all our hard work, we had a finished bathroom with no leaks!  But unfortunately we had a door that didn’t close and wood blinds that look too beige.  Luckily my husband is pretty handy and always trusts in our local hardware store to have the right thing for old houses.  Who knew they made hinge shims?  Not me!  Thank goodness for those or else we would have had to take off our bright new chrome hinges and put back on the rusted and painted over white ones.  Ok, it’s time for the reveal.  (Just please ignore the “off-white” blinds on the window.)

Are you ready?

Ta Da!

We went from Benjamin Moore’s Oak Ridge, which was very tan, to their Revere Pewter, which is almost gray.  It’s like a French Gray, and we LOVE it!  It makes the bathroom feel so much lighter (well, the paint and the really bright white tile helps!)  Every time I pass by the bathroom, I take a glance and smile.  We were definitely nervous to take this project on for something that seemed so minor.  And no one wants to redo their bathroom twice in 6 years!  But the peace of mind is worth it, and we are so happy with the finished product.  I love this bathroom so much more than the old one.  I feel like it matches our house better, and it’s a great new feature to show off!

 

So Good, I Had To Share January 24, 2012

Filed under: Daily Blog — Robin @ findgoodineveryday @ 9:05 pm

I made these cookies on Sunday on a whim.  I was in the mood for chocolate, and I realized I had about 4 cake mix boxes in my cabinet.  I checked out my Betty Crocker Cookie Book for a recipe and found something similar to the below recipe.  I tweaked it a little bit to include mini MnM’s. It was the perfect addition because it adds a tiny bit of crunch to a very soft cookie.  Delish!

 

Ingredients:

1 package devil’s food cake mix

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 eggs

1 cup mini MnM’s

Instructions:

Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Beat half of the cake mix (dry), the butter, vanilla and eggs in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth, or mix with spoon.  Stir in the remaining cake mix and MnM’s.

Drop dough by rounded teaspoonfuls about 2 inches apart onto cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or Silpat.  Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are set (centers will be soft).  Cool 1 minute; remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.  (If they make it that far!)

According to the cookbook, these should only be 75 calories each.  They are small cookies, but a perfect chocolate fix.  Enjoy!

 

Blissful Sunday January 22, 2012

Filed under: Daily Blog — Robin @ findgoodineveryday @ 4:38 pm

I’m sitting here on my couch with my family watching the Ravens battle the Patriots.  The fact that all four of us are on the couch is a new thing – and a temporary one.  Last night Jeremy and I rearranged the living room so the couch is directly in front of the TV rather than perpendicular to it.  It’s just for fun, and we certainly can’t keep it this way, but it’s been great not having to strain my neck just to watch the TV.  Jeremy and I even watched a movie together all cuddled up next to each other, which is a rarity due to the layout we’ve had.

I’ve got cookies in the oven, which are delicious!  A new recipe using a devil’s food cake mix and mini MnM’s…   They are so soft and moist.  While I am trying to watch my calories, what’s better on a lazy Sunday than baking?  Umm…  Nothing!

When I do have to get up from the couch to check on the cookies, I get to pass by our “new” bathroom (before and after post to come soon) and smile knowing that we worked so hard (and paid too much money) to have peace of mind but also got a beautiful bathroom out of it.

It’s just one of those blissful Sundays – the end to a blissful weekend.  We had our first snow of the season yesterday, and so this weekend has just been an inside weekend.  We spent 9 hours on the bathroom yesterday and then finished putting the final touches on it today.  All the while, the kids played together and by themselves with barely any fighting.  Talk about a miracle!   Unfortunately it’s the end of the weekend, but knowing I had such a good one gives me the energy for the week ahead.   I’m thankful for weekends like this.

 

Lessons Learned (Food Version) January 18, 2012

Filed under: Daily Blog — Robin @ findgoodineveryday @ 5:16 pm

Have you heard about myfitnesspal?  I was turned onto it a few weeks ago by a friend, and I’ve become an avid member.  Basically, it’s a free website to track calories, track exercise and set weight loss goals.  I’m sure there is much  more to it, but I’m only using those three features. 

I mentioned it to Jeremy, who told me he was already a member from over a year ago when he downloaded the app to his phone.  He just hasn’t used it at all.  So I encouraged him to map a plan for himself, and together we’re trying to lose weight and learn about healthy eating.  We have decided that this is not a diet.  This is a way to learn about the foods we have been eating and try to make smarter choices.  We certainly have exceeded our calorie goals on heavy-eating days, but we’re still in our learning phase.  For instance, we were traveling this past weekend, which meant a lot of eating out.  We stopped at Dunkin Donuts on our way out of town, and while we tried to make better choices there by getting a low-fat blueberry muffin and munchkins for the kids, we learned that even what you think is a better choice is still not great for you.  Granted, we knew that eating donuts was not good for us.  We’re not naive.  But the kick-in-the-butt moment comes when you enter food in to your calorie tracker to find out that one of your old stand-by meals easily takes up half, if not all, of our daily caloric allotment!   

One of my favorite features is when you complete your entries for the day, it will tell you what you could weigh in five weeks if every day were like that day.  So if I had a particularly bad day of eating, it would tell me how much weight I would gain in 5 weeks if I kept that pattern up.  On the positive side, it confirms my good days by telling me how much weight I could lose in 5 weeks.  It’s definitely a motivation booster!

I’m learning a lot, and I know Jeremy is too.  It’s something we’re enjoying doing together, and I’m proud of the progress we’ve already made.  We have a goal in mind – losing a certain amount of weight before the Warrior Dash we’re doing in May.  The race will definitely NOT be a reward, although it will be fun.  So we need to set another reward as an incentive.  Granted just learning to eat healthy is a reward.  And being able to pass that knowledge on to Mason and Cooper will be great too.  But it’s hard to stay diligent and on track, especially with our busy lives when the unhealthy foods are so much easier and more enjoyable on bad days.  Having another reward will help, though.  I’m thinking an active vacation to Colorado this summer.  (Andy and Cory – keep the pressure on so we can make it a reality!)  Don’t you need to be all healthy and stuff to go hiking in the high altitude? 

Anyway…  myfitnesspal.com is a great FREE site.  If you join, invite me to be your friend so we can encourage each other along.  It’s a great learning tool and a great tracking tool.  We’re gaining new insight every day into what we eat – Lessons Learned!

 

Cooper’s Birthday Recap – Finally! January 13, 2012

Filed under: Daily Blog — Robin @ findgoodineveryday @ 9:47 am

Apparently when your house is a mess due to bathroom construction, it’s hard to get anything done other than just wallowing in your mess.  That was the case for me this week.  We’ve been getting our bathroom redone (just tub and tile), and therefore the main floor is full of stuff – stuff from the bathroom, stuff we take with us to Kristin’s to shower every other night, stuff we can’t put away until we thoroughly clean…  Just stuff.  And since I don’t want to clean until everything is fully done, I haven’t wanted to touch a thing each night.  And that included downloading all the pictures from Cooper’s birthday week.   So here we go.

We started off the birthday celebrations a day early with Cooper’s party at school.  Tiger, monkey and zebra cupcakes and paper plate masks.  I got the inspiration for the cupcakes from Betty Crocker.

On the actual day, Cooper woke up to opening presents, spent a full day with Nana, lunch with Kristin, Buffalo Wild Wings for dinner, and then a few more presents.  Not a bad way to spend a birthday.

Mason got him a Ken doll so they could play Barbies together. We need to get that Ken some clothes!

Sorry, I had to include a shot of me and my baby - now four! Ack!

He was so excited to get this movie.

Then we had a couple of days sans birthday celebration until we got to the big one – the party!  Family and a few close friends joined us to celebrate.  It was a great way to cap off Cooper’s birthday week.

Hayes was eager to help.

More paper plate masks.

The zoo centerpiece.

The lion cake. I used Paula Deen's Mama's Pound Cake Recipe and the Wilton Buttercream Recipe.

The birthday boy... I think he liked it, which makes Momma happy!

With real animal masks from the San Diego Zoo (thanks Kolegos!)... a tired but happy zookeeper family!

 

Purging and Organizing January 8, 2012

Filed under: Daily Blog — Robin @ findgoodineveryday @ 9:51 pm

Today was a day to purge and organize.  Isn’t that what Sundays are for?  Maybe not, but after Christmas and Cooper’s birthday, we were overwhelmed with “stuff.”  The kids’ room was filled to the brim; their closet (that’s also an extra little room or secret hideaway spot) was a mess; and toys were overflowing to every room of the house.  It was time.

After us all sleeping in until 7:30 am (say what?) and a pancake breakfast at Woodside Deli, it was time to get busy.  Jeremy and I first went through the house to determine how things would get rearranged once the basement is complete.  That helped us understand what furniture could be moved and where we should focus our time considering the basement completion date is still a couple of months away.  After that, we corralled the kids to help us.

I really wish I had taken a before picture.  And I also wish I had taken an after picture.  (Side note: I realized that I feel like I need pictures in almost every post.  If I don’t have a picture, I don’t post, which means there are considerably fewer posts these days.  I don’t want not having a picture to stop me from writing, though, so you’ll start to notice more posts from me without pictures.  I’ll try to make up for it on the ones that actually have photographic evidence.)

We spent the majority of the day emptying bins, clearing the floor, cleaning off tables, making piles, and secretly throwing a lot of stuff away.  (If the kids don’t notice us throwing it away, they won’t remember it.  We think if we haven’t seen them play with something or reference it in over a month, it’s forgotten about.)  We moved furniture to and from the basement, which allowed us to really organize all their craft materials as well as gave us extra space for all the new toys.  We even have a box full of items they kids don’t want anymore and are willing to donate to other kids.

So in the end, the kids now have a new “closet” that is more open for their crafting/drawing/writing and is much more organized than the piles of unknown junk they had before.  And because we can’t just leave it at that, we switched their beds too.  It was just a change of sheets and swapping duvets, but we also moved the bed closest to the window away from the wall so now the bed can be made more easily, especially by a 6-year-old or a 4-year-old.  (New chore for the 4-year-old – a post on our chore charts will be coming soon…  when I actually have time to figure out a system.)

After all the purging and organizing, we went out for a hike on this beautiful January day.  In the end, it was almost a perfect Sunday.  We were productive and active with a side of some relaxation at the end of it all.  I need to have days like this more often!

P.S.  We’re starting a big purge tomorrow with the start of demo in our bathroom.  See ya leaky bathtub!  More on this when I have the before and after pictures to show what happened.