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Monday, September 15, 2014

How I Handle Screen Time with the Kids

It's a constant internal battle right?  How much TV/video game/computer time is too much?  How do I get the kids to adhere to whatever rules I set without constantly monitoring or nagging?  I had  noticed during the summer that it was very easy for the kids to get sucked into the screens first thing in the morning and have a hard time redirecting themselves afterward.  I would be in the garage working and when I would take a break at 9 or 10AM I would go inside to find them both still in pjs  glued to the tablet and generally the little guy hadn't even fed himself breakfast yet.  (I know - some of your kids sleep until then so it doesn't sound like a big deal.  We are a house of early risers and generally my kids wake up on their own by 7:00)  Not good.
Well, about a month ago I ran across a brilliant idea (found here).  Instead of setting limits on screen time, this mom sets up a list of things the kids need to do BEFORE they spend any time on the computer or TV and once those things are done they are free to spend as much time as they want with the screens.  The beauty of the plan is that you customize your list and change them as needed so that a good chunk of the day is spent doing the items on the list if you so desire.  By putting things on the list that are likely to get the child involved in other activitiess (outside play, something artsy or creative, etc) chances are they will get wrapped up in those activities and be less likely to spend as much time on the screens anyway.
The night after I found the idea I brought it up for discussion at the dinner table.  The kids and the husband were on board and we took the time to discuss what we all thought should be included on the lists.  Kaitlyn was highly involved in the process (she's 10) while Tyler was less interested (he's 8) but both were enthusiastic to start in on the lists as soon as I got everything typed up and posted in their rooms.

 Kaitlyn wanted her lists on her bulletin board and we taped Tyler's inside the doors on his nightstand.
Kaitlyn was so excited she took the initiative and made herself and her brother duct tape organizers to hold the dry erase markers so they could be within easy reach of the lists ;)

 We had decided the format we wanted to use for the lists would be a checklist with spaces for an entire week.  To save myself from having to print and reprint the lists I inserted them in page protectors so the kids can use dry erase markers and the lists can just be wiped off when they are ready to start the next week.  We also did two lists - one for days when the kids have school and one for the days without school (weekends, summer, holidays).  The lists are fairly similar for each child, the only difference being the amount of time each needs to spend reading and things they need a little more help remembering - like Kaitlyn remembering her asthma meds and to apply deordorant in the morning while Tyler's has a reminder that playing with the dog DOES NOT mean wrestling in the living room ;) - and there is a slight difference in their daily chores.  I also divided the lists into sections for Morning, After School, and After Dinner.  My main focus was on getting them to be self-directed (especially with the daily routine/chores) along with giving them some balance between responsibilities, play, creativity, learning (reading), and exercise.

Kaitlyn's List: For Days Without School
Breakfast:  includes putting dishes in dishwasher, putting away food, wiping down counter/table where you ate
Vitamins, Medicine
Get Dressed: includes deodorant, comb hair
Brush Teeth:  with timer, rinse sink afterward and make sure towels are hanging up nicely
Make Bed
Unload Dishwasher (if it’s your day)
Feed/Water Bambi

Active:  60 Minutes
Reading:  30 Minutes
Creative/Productive (Play):  1 ½ hour
Play with Bambi
Straighten up Bedroom
Clean Up Playroom

Dinner:  includes putting dishes in dishwasher, helping to clear table and put away food
Take Out Garbage

Kaitlyn's List:  For Days With School
Breakfast:  includes putting dishes in dishwasher, putting away food, wiping down counter/table where you ate, help pack lunchbox
Vitamins, Medicine
Get Dressed: includes deodorant, comb hair
Brush Teeth:  with timer, rinse sink afterward and make sure towels are hanging up nicely
Make Bed

Homework, put away lunchbox
Unload Dishwasher (if it’s your day)
Active:  30 Minutes
Reading:  30 Minutes
Creative/Productive (Play):  30 Min
Play with Bambi (not wrestling!)
Straighten up Bedroom
Clean Up Playroom

Dinner:  includes putting dishes in dishwasher, helping to clear table and put away food
Take Out Garbage

I'm happy to report that this system seems to be working really well and I have high hopes that the longer we keep at it the more self-sufficient and self-modifying my children will become.
Hey, a mom can hope, right? ;) 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Horse Party Invitations

 I've managed to find a little breathing room this week in among work, keeping up with the house and all the moving preparations.  October is fast approaching and with it comes Birthday Month in our families - there are at least 10 that we actively celebrate with close family and friends and several others that I acknowledge with at least a note all within about 18 days between the end of September and the middle of October.  It's intense.  So I took advantage of some extra time this week and dug into the actual party prep for my daugher's birthday.
I thought I would go ahead and share the invitations I finished yesterday.  (I'm always so excited when I finish things, you know?!)  The last few years I have been leaning more toward the digitally designed invitations so I could just get one all laid out and print out as many as I needed.  This year Kaitlyn wants another slumber party and I limit the guests to only three so I decided to make them a little more "scrapbook-y" and three dimensional.  She was very quick to select horses as her theme this year and a few weeks back she sat down with me and we looked at all kind of ideas on Pinterest.  It was a lot of fun.  In the process we narrowed her theme down even further to a western/cowgirl style in pink and brown and that was all I needed to set myself off an running.
 I'm all about using what I have right now and I was happy to find this great chocolate brown and two tone pink polka dot paper in my stash so I used that for the background.  I then proceeded to find some fun western fonts and a font of horse dingbats that I was able to use for the horse silhouette (and will be repeated in most of the other printables/decor for the party).  The rest of it just kind of flowed from there.

The invite reads:
your presence at
Kaitlyn's 11th Birthday

so put on your boots and mosey on over for a 

Slumber Party
The Caldwell Homestead
The shindig begins at 6:00 PM and you can round up your cowgirls at 10:00AM Saturday
Give a Holler:  Alayna (phone number)
Don't forget your bedroll!

I printed that onto cardstock then tore along all the edges and inked them to give it a weathered/distressed look.  Then finished it off with a pink ribbon and the horse silhouette which I had mounted with foam tape to give it some dimension,
Kaitlyn is very happy with the invitations and I'm starting to get kind of excited for the party myself.  Four more weeks to go...

Linking to:
DIY Projects and Receipes with the Party Bunch

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Road Trippin' With a Pet

Two adults, two kids, and an enthusiastic golden retriever "puppy."  2200 miles, three days on the road.  Twice.  That pretty much sums up our road trip this summer from North Carolina to Utah and back again this summer.  Quite frankly there were times in the planning where I thought it was going to be torture.  In the end, it all went fairly smoothly and most of it was even enjoyable.

***I am continuing to slowly transfer posts from this blog to the new domain.  All of my great tips and tricks for travelling with a pet can be found HERE.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Is Summer Really Over?

School has started and Labor Day has passed us by.  I suppose that really does mean Summer is over for the year.  It makes me a little sad since we've had such a great summer and I hate for it to come to an end.  Plus with temps in the 90s here in NC all week, the weather sure doesn't suggest that Fall is on it's way.
But.  When I think about fall I get really excited too - pumpkins and leaves and hot chocolate and sweaters and birthdays (what? you don't have half the family's birthdays all crammed into about 3 weeks at the end of Sept/1st of Oct like we do?!).  So I'm taking one final look back at all the great times we've had - road trips, boating, pool, beach, vacation, fantastic time spent with family and friends...
Yep - we did almost everything on the list!  And we will try to make the most of the last week or two that the neighorhood pool will be open for the season.  Then fall will be here and we will love that too. 

But, oh summer!  We will miss you!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

One Litte Word - August Prompt

It's September!
What?  You knew that already?  ;)
Life has been crazy here - always lots going on with school starting and the pre-moving prep kicking into full gear.  What I'm realizing as I try to juggle it all, is that my Word for the Year has become even more present and important for keeping calm, balanced, and sane.  Every day, sometimes multiple times a day, I have to set priorities and decide what I can/should be doing with my limited time and energy and the other day (August 31, in fact!) I gave myself some time to finish up the prompt for August from the One Little Word year-long workshop I am participating in.
It has been a few months since I've shared anything from the OLW workshop - not because I haven't been doing it, but because I didn't have anything tangible to photograph.  I'm great about watching the video for the month, thinking through the prompts and journaling my thoughts in the notebook I set aside specifically for that.  My sticking point is making the opportunity to put together the final presentation form of each one for my book.  I find that I need a chunk of quiet time, uninterrupted by the kids, the husband, the dog, the To Do List...and during the summer that was harder than usual to find.  Hopefully I will find time soon to finish typing up the ones I "missed" from June and July.  But I digress.  Since I did get August's done (and before the month was up!) I thought I'd give myself a digital pat on the back by posting a couple of photos here on the blog.
 The prompt for August dealt with music/lyrics that apply to our words.  Turned out to be harder than I thought.  First thing I realized is that there is no way to search for songs based on subject matter - at least not a way that worked for this purpose.  Eventually I stumbled onto a search term (lyrics to live by) that worked for me in Pinterest to turn up short quotes from song lyrics.  Then I turned to the music I listen to often.  Guess what I found out LOL.  I don't usually like a song for the lyrics/message behind it.  I must be more of a rhythm/melody person.  Eventually though, I did pull together a collection of quotes from songs that I feel really do apply to what is happening in my life right now, the lessons I'm learning, and the mindset I am hoping to acheive.
 Do you have a song that speaks to you right now?  I'd love to hear about it.