Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Toddler Chores...

My kid is two and has a "chore" and - I pay him.

It's another thing I can blame on Good Morning America, I love GMA and human interest fluff, anyone who knows me can attest to this. So one morning there were "experts" telling me my toddler needed a chore, really, I mean, I can get help with the laundry?  Two is the perfect age they said, really, had these people met a toddler before?   I wondered.  I started to wonder how we would find the balance I felt was important between what you can earn money for helping with and what is just plain expected of you, because you don't get paid to be part of this family. 

A few chats with the Husband later and the Boy has a chore.  His chore is to help feed the dog and the cat.  We have a "chart" aka I write on a piece of paper - nothing fancy.  Once there is a sticker by each number, he get's some jingle ($3.00 or 50 cent per assist).  I'm starting to think a two year old would knock off someone for a sticker, especially when you put Lightning McQueen on it.  If he doesn't want to help one night, that is more than fine, but he doesn't get a sticker because even with Tow Mater calling, you can't give a two year old a chore to do everyday and expect it to go well for anyone.  On the nights he helps, I make a big deal out of the fact that he helped and tell him he did such a good job, and I thank him for helping us out. 

You don't need special expensive charts - the stickers were a dollar spot score!

We also have rules on what has to be done with the money because I feel like there's lessons to learn here too.  The Husband and I were not taught good money lessons - a cycle we're intentionally breaking.  Half he has to save, half he can put in his little wallet to spend.  More often than not, he'll ask to save all of his money.  But he's also not afraid to ask us to take him to the store for something specific (enter the dollar dinosaur collection).  And if he doesn't have enough money for what he wants, he doesn't get it - trust me, this one hits home fast.

Then there is the flip side of this money making gig. You have to be part of our family and until someone is paying me to do your laundry - well, help is just expected with some things.  Put your dirty clothes in the laundry while I start your bath, help set the table, help clear the dishes.  All of this he loves to do as is.  If I say pick up your toys so I don't step on them - I really mean put them up, he knew where everything was to get it out, he knows where everything goes to put it away.  He's expected to clean up between task at daycare, I think it's fine to expect it at home too.  I feel like having expectations, even the small one of not stepping on Thomas or one of his Friends, is just as important as paying him for a chore. 

The Boy & His Dog
My tips to help you pick a chore for your toddler

1. Don't pick something you really care about.  Now, I care that our animals get fed, but that's getting done anyway.  If you want you towels folded a certain way - don't ask for their help folding laundry.

2. Make it something that is routine - we feed the fur babies while we cook dinner, every night - he knows this is coming.

3. Pick something they already like to do - he loves our animals and loves to do things for them.

4. Make it a big deal - Thank him, clap for him while he puts up his sticker.  Making him feel special  makes him want to help more.

Does your toddler have a chore?  What are your rules for chores?  I'm curious if I'm the only one out there paying my kid!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Menu Plan Monday...

Another Monday is here.  We are having a crazy mild winter, so yesterday we hit the beach.  No swimsuits or anything but the boy had a wonderful time & so did the dog (she of course did swim - crazy retrievers!).  This week I'm trying to keep things simple and easy, the Husband is fishing some plus school so it will  be a busy week!

Crazy Dog - Winter Ocean Swimming

Monday - Roast chicken with root veggies and rolls
Tuesday - Stirfry over rice (toddler meal for the little one)
Wednesday - Pizza with salad
Thursday - Grilled pork chops with corn and mac&cheese
Friday - Baked Triggerfish with squash and potatoes
Saturday - Spaghetti with salad
Sunday - Super Bowl Food (we'll be with family, I'll take buffalo chicken dip)

Head over to orgjunkie.com where I'm linking up to check out lots of great ideas for your meal plans this week!

Tossing Shells! 

Monday, January 23, 2012

Menu Plan Monday...

Was I ever thankful for the weekend.  Last week was very stressful - which despite my best planning left little one and I eating some ChickFilA after I had worked late and the Husband was in school.  We also switched around some days to fit our moods but stuck to the meals we had planned.  What can I say, life happens.

Monday - Grilled Yellowfin Tuna with tater smash and corn
Tuesday - Stirfry over rice
Wednesday - Church (Country Fried Steak & Gravy!)
Thursday - French dips with sugar snap peas and baked fries
Friday - Ham, mac&cheese, and broccoli
Saturday - At home date night - Steaks on the grill with baked potatoes and asparagus
Sunday - Chili

I hope that this week is far less stressful for me!  And I hope that everyone has a great week!  Head over to orgjunkie.com - that is where I'm linking up!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Brain Dump...

Heir to Blair is having a Friday brain dump - a genius idea for letting it all out before the weekend!  It's perfect timing - I was desperate to figure out what to do with this last bit of my day!

  • This week has been horrible at work.  Dirty politics are no fun.  It has brought my productivity to a screeching halt.  And there is this part of me that wants to be really unprofessional and let my opinion on some matters be made known in a loud not so passive aggressive kind of way. 
  • The past two weeks have been wretched on my heart. Self doubt is a torture that is hard to bear and even harder to explain to someone. 
  • PPD/PPA sucks - see above.
  • Someone was my hero on my worst day this week and they have no idea.  I should tell them.
  • I told my husband in that since our baby was born I don't like having pictures taken of myself.  He's now on a one man mission to fix this.
  • I'd like winter better if it snowed and gave us fun things to do.  Everything is just brown and blah.
  • We cut off our cable for no other reason than we don't use it.  
  • My boy melts my heart.
  • After such a rough week I'm very thankful that the weather will be bad this weekend.  This means the Husband can't fish.  This means he'll be home and we get to be a little family of three.  This means I've got a quiet, safe place to heal my heart until Monday morning.   
 Linking Up With Heir To Blair!

Two Year Olds... They Miss Nothing...

My kid can milk bedtime for all it's worth because he knows I'm a sucker for his snuggles.  This kid loves his Momma and I love to drive my Husband crazy and tell him that Momma is the only woman he'll ever love.  Now, yes, I know better, and I promise I'll quit saying it when he gets interested in girls.  As long as I approve of them of course (which I won't, and at that point we'll talk about therapy).

 His - Oh come on, you are powerless against me face.

So after three books too many last night, he asked for a Bible story, because when he wants one more story he knows I won't say no to the Bible. This is one of the ones we have.  I love it too, simple one page for all the popular stories. 

Me: Jesus Visits Mary and Martha
Him: Where's Joseph?
Me: (I die. He blows my mind.) Who is Joseph?
Him: With Mary.
Me: Oh, Mary's Husband.
Him: Husband? I be your husband Momma?
Me: My Husband, like Daddy?
Him: Yes Momma, I love you.
Me: (Dies from sweetness.)

I'm just always blown away by how much he remembers and pays attention.  I didn't try to sort out Mary from Mary but just his sweetness was able to melt away a rather wretched week.   

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Winter Blahs...

I have them.  The worst case I've had in a while.  No snow, not freezing, it's all just blah and brown, and that my friends is depressing me.  Not to mention that work has me pinned to the ground, heads need to roll, and many small fires need putting out.  All of it really makes me want to be warm, see color, and have a drink with a pretty paper umbrella in it.

Thinking about Isla Mujeres Mexico today... We had such a fun time there. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Adventures In Toddler Food... via Mannly Momma

With our new routine of the husband being in school three nights a week the little guy is getting more special meals just for him.  Usually he eats what we eat but now for at least three nights we're all eating a different times.  He loves his construction site dinners!  So on Tuesday he had the following:

Fish sticks (homemade triggerfish sticks/bites) with corn, cucumbers, and frozen peaches.  Followed it up with some yogurt.  Milk to drink.

What does your toddler eat?  Got tell Mannly Momma here - where I'm linking up!

Menu Plan Monday...

Last week I updated my Menu Planning tab at the top!  I talk about my essentials, how I shop, and why menu planning is meaningful to our family!  This week I'm hoping we'll feel a little more settled into our new routine and that work will ease up for me a little (so far the long weekend is working wonders for me!). 

Monday - Beef tips in gravy over rice with broccoli
Tuesday - Ham with mac&cheese and corn (My 2 year old's absolute favorite meal!)
Wednesday - Church Dinner (baked potato bar - I love this idea!)
Thursday - PW's pot roast with smashed taters on the side (I've already pre-ordered her new cookbook!) for us grown ups and a special toddler meal for the little guy.
Friday - Grilled Chicken with rice and sugar snap peas
Saturday - Crockpot Chili Soup (but with ground turkey)
Sunday - Spaghetti with salad and homemade garlic bread

What are you eating this week?  We're getting our first and hopefully brief taste of winter so lots of hearty meals in the back of my mind for the coming weeks.  For more great ideas head over to orgjunkie.com, that's where I'm linking up!

Friday, January 13, 2012

That Creeping Feeling...

It's been a rough week.  Work has run me down to the ground, everyday life hasn't helped that either.  But last night, way past my bed time it happened.  I let it happen.  I stood in the shower doing nothing until the water ran cold.  This single thing, nothing but exhaustion to some, is that creeping feeling.  That feeling that someone, something is there in the shadows of your mind screaming at you.  Those thoughts, those tears, those bad memories - lurking at the edge of my mind.  I don't know if it's the standing there doing nothing, or the cold when it hits.  It's a zombie like state (you know, if we had zombies).  I'm thankful for a long weekend.  I'm thankful that this morning, my husband rushed me out of the shower and on our way - no time for the water to get cold.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Menu Plan Monday...

What a needed weekend!  I was desperate for the weekend after a grueling week at work.  So Thursday night, we stayed up late & cleaned the house, worked on laundry, and made sure dinner was going to be easy when I got home on Friday - I was so exhausted Friday but it helped make the weekend much easier.  Saturday I helped with a baby shower for a dear friend and I can't wait to meet her baby boy!  And my boys had some nice man time together. 

Sunday began groggy with a tantrum or two four and evoked a "glass ball" moment.  That moment where all the other balls of life had to be allowed to bounce for a little while so that we as a family could check out of the normal and just be the three of us.  We were attempting to get ready for Church when I stopped all motion in the house to help calm the toddler emotions that were running wild.  We ended up spending a wonderful day biking just a little over 8 miles (we went back and drove it later) 2 parks and an outside lunch - naps for all (mine was only 20 or 30 minutes but mark this, I never take a nap), laundry done, groceries acquired and errands run to help make the week a little easier.

This week brings some changes to our schedule, from now until early May the Husband will be in school Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights.  This means changes at the dinner table.  We're big on eating together so I've tried to make sure that we still get sit down family meals, special "toddler" meals for little one, and some meals for just the Husband and I and even some Mommy and Me meals for me and the monkey. 

Monday - BBQ Pork Roast with Slaw and Corn (I made these buns last night too)
Tuesday - Chicken StirFry over Rice for the Husband & I.  And for the Little One - Turkey and Cheese roll, frozen peach slices, cucumbers, goldfish crackers
Wednesday - Mexican Lasagna (reheats well, Husband will eat after class)
Thursday - Pizza with Salad (reheats well, Husband will eat after class)
Friday - Family Dinner Out
Saturday  - Baked Triggerfish with roasted red potatoes and broccoli
Sunday - Shepard's Pie (make an extra one for the freezer)

Head over to orgjunkie.com - that is where I will link up my menu with tons of other great ideas for meals! 

Thursday, January 5, 2012

2012 Goals... Financial...

It took some thinking on how to best write this one without divulging to much information about us, but you may remember that last year we were determined to take control of our money we're still "living like no one else so we can live like no one else."  We're still going strong at that and plan to make even further headway in 2012. 

The thing we're getting most serious about is using cash.  We've got no card debt and we only use our debit cards, but sometimes we're still a little free with those.  After some searching around I didn't really see any envelope systems I was willing to shell out the cash for.  So I made my own :)  I used this tutorial to make envelopes and made one for everything we need.  I used scrapbook paper and double sided tape we already had so the cost was ZERO!

We've got one loan left to pay off besides my student loan and we've made plans to rid ourselves of that by June and double the savings we've got set aside.  I know this is different from what Dave suggest, but the Husband is self employed and we have to be prepared for if he were to be out sick or get hurt.  His work is extremely physical and more times than I care to admit it's dangerous.  If you work for just you and do what he does disability insurance is next to impossible to afford (and I can't add him on mine at work) so we want to beef up our savings for the "just in case."

The other goals have to do with the Husband's business - better filing system, how to make things easier come tax time, and things like that.  I'm really excited to see where we will be when 2013 rolls around! 

What are your money hopes and dreams for 2012?