I love typing when a 1 year old is trying to jam the tines of a fork into the keyboard on my laptop. Fun times. It's kinda like our own version of 5-finger fillet (where you stab the knife on the table between your fingers. Ick.)
It's a little dreary outside, but not really. Basically it's nice, but not sunny. It's only 10:30 though, so that could still change. Yesterday was SUCH a busy day. It was fun, but today I am sore and tired and did I mention SORE?!
We headed to Princeton for lunch at Pizza Hut with my friend Dorene. We used to run the Princeton Computer User group together. But now we both have other interests and commitments and it seems that the group itself is slowing and potentially disbanding. But I still love Dorene and was happy to see her and eat with her. We talked horses and all sorts of other things.
Then we met my friend Stacey to take pics of her tutus and hair clips and dresses, which she sells at Guys and Gals Salon. I had just recently created a Facebook page for Guys and Gals, and Stacey wanted one for Bows by Stacey, so last night I set to work on that. It turned out GREAT (check it out and see what you think!) The fun part about this is that instead of being paid to do things like this, my friends and I swap services. So I get things like free tans, free haircuts, and free bows for doing a little work for my friends to help them out. I don't have any problems promoting their little businesses, because they both do AWESOME work and they re so nice.
Everything Stacey makes is so durable and she has impeccable taste and an eye for color. Kelly is the most awesome hairdresser! She is the only person on the planet that I trust to say "do whatever you want" and it always turns out FABULOUS. I have never been disappointed in a color or cut she has given me.
So after working on Stacey's Facebook photos, the kids and I came home and started working in the yard. Elizabeth and Kelsea and Jadeyn stopped over for a while and the kids played while EK and I chatted. I started dumping all the bags of my square foot garden "soil-less" mixture into the bed. Evan recently started the garden for me, after what seemed like FOREVER of planning and waiting for it. The soil-less mixture consists of 1/3 Peat Moss, 1/3 Vermiculite, and 1/3 compost. Then the compost itself is made up of three "thirds" of different types of compost. I have Mushroom Compost, Manure, and Compost. So that was alot of work to carry, open, pour, and mix 10 cubic feet of planting medium. Ardyn helped by watering it down for me and then I would stir, then she would mist, and I would stir. It went surprisingly well. I did a few things differently than the SFG book recommends, but I wasn't about to mix it on a tarp and drag it over to it's location. Duh. So I just dumped and mixed it in the box, and it turned out great. I would say the consistency is very similar to Jiffy Mix, with compost added :)
Then we watered all our containers and our steppables that we have planted, and Ardyn helped me to plant two windowboxes. I had planned on hanging them under the kitchen windows, and I would be able to see them and enjoy them from the kitchen sink, as well as open the windows and just water them with the sink sprayer.... but I realized late last night that the Pussy Willow Tree is covering half of one of the windows. Doh! So I am not sure what to do about that. It gets trimmed each year, and it hasn't been trimmed this season yet, but I am not sure we can trim it back THAT much without it looking ridiculous, and the last thing I want to do is draw attention to it with a gorgeous flower box!
It's funny, but I feel like we have a sort of "compound" inside our fence. The front yard has everything inside the fence, because then I can work on things with the kids in close proximity, and safe. Inside the fence is the patio furniture, the sandbox, and all their toys, and also the clothesline, the SFGarden, and my composter. It's a little silly to most people I suppose. But it has to be close or I would never be able to get any of these things done with kids around. I have tried to make naptime be the time in which I work on flower beds OUTSIDE of the fence, and it worked well so far, except that the past week and a half I have had so much sinus and allergy stuff going on that all I have wanted to do is nap with them. So I have a ton to do on the east and west sides of the house but haven't gotten to it. I did get all the dead stuff out of the back side and the northwest corner, and filled all that with new mulch, before the sinus crap really started in. That's good. I also got landscape barrier laid on the west side, and Evan mulched it, but there is nothing planted there. I don't even want to think about the status of the pond and the east side of the house.
I do have a good handle on laundry these days, because I got rid of my mesh laundry sorters (I have always hated those stupid things, they fall apart and don't hold enough for this family) and replaced them with white hampers. I saw that they now make "sorting hampers" but they are only $1 less than a regular hamper, and they are much smaller, too small for us. So a couple of weeks ago I bought EIGHT hampers, all rectangular, and labeled each one (sharpie marker on colored index cards, adhered with clear packing tape) and they are working AWESOME. They work great for sorting, and when the load is clean, I can carry it up in it's designated sorting hamper, fold it, and put it away. Of course as I say this I have a hamper of diapers to sort and fold, a hamper of towels and rags to fold, and two baskets of kid clothes to put away. But I do have a good handle on laundry these days. :)
Another thing we have been doing is called P.E.G.S. When at the Hearts at Home Conference, we saw a booth for the Family Tools PEGS system and I was instantly intrigued. For some reason I couldn't get them to give me a PRICE on anything, and a friend said later that perhaps the people working the booth at the time didn't KNOW the price. Well, I found out later that my friend Sarah had purchased one, and she recently started using hers and raved about it. I decided to check it out and we got one too, and I also got the Choose a Chore and the Pick a Privlege Jars also. PEGS stands for Practical Encouragement and Guidance System. Basically you get several sheets of round circular "chips" that have holes in the top, and hang on the pegboard. (which is included in the kit)
There are circles for various chores, including basic things like making beds, brushing teeth and hair, and getting dressed. Because we bought the two-child system, we received duplicates of all these chips. There are then blank chips to make your own chores/responsibilities. You receive "clock" chips which you can customize to have things done by specific times. For example, I have made a "naptime" and a "bedtime" chip, and really no matter what time nap and bedtimes turn out to be, the chips will continue to work for me.
There are also jobs that are considered "household" jobs, and you get one of each of those chips, so that the jobs can be assigned and rotated between siblings as necessary. Things like getting the mail, taking out the trash, recycling, taking care of pets, shaking rugs, setting the table, etc.
Then there are "A B and C" chips. A is for Attitude. B is for Behavior. C is fo Communication. There are Red "NO" chips that are circles with a slash through them, and then there are green "Good" chips. I can use these chips to show how their ABC's have been throughout the day.
Now, let me start by saying that I haven't read the manual yet. Typical me. Start the process however I damn well feel like it. Basically I haven't had the moment's peace to sit down and read it. It's in my "to read" stack. (ugh.) So there are many ways to approach this, some probably better than mine.
For us, I use it to show Ardyn that there are things we are expected to do on a daily basis, WITHOUT ARGUING and WHINING. It's working. She does not cry when I brush her hair. Because she knows that it has to be done. It's routine. The chip is on the board. I had been trying to discuss this with her for MONTHS and it never got through to her that you just have to brush your hair every day. When the board went up.... it was instant. She has learned and added lots of new chores. She sets the table. She picks up her toys. She puts her own shoes away and hangs her coat on the hook designated with her initial. She makes her bed. She puts all her dirty clothes in the hamper. Many of these things happen without prompting. Putting dirty clothes in the hamper and putting shoes in her closet shoe-holder are becoming natural to her, and she automatically does them, most of the time without even being asked or reminded. Sometimes she reminds ME!
It has also made "naptime" or quiet time much nicer, because she knows that she has to first go potty, then climb into her bed. She flips the chips and there are NO arguments. Bedtime is great too.
Now, about the ABC's. Basically if she gets into behavior that starts to head towards a time out, we warn with "do you want a red X?" and she does NOT want one on her pegboard. If she gets a time out, she gets a red X first, in the appropriate ABC category, and then she sits in time out. When she is done with time out, she is very very upset and generally wants to "get that red X off the board" as soon as possible. This is where the "choose a chore" jar comes into play. She picks a chore disk from the jar, and we hang it next to the Red X. (it's not really an X, but that's what we call it.) If the chore can be completed immediately, she usually does. If not, we leave it up there with the Red X until the chore is completed. When the chore is done, we replace the red X with a green circle to show that she has corrected her bad behavior with a chore. These are "additional chores" and she has recently done chores like "disinfect all the doorknobs" and "clean the fronts and tops of the washer and dryer." Another one that was my favorite was "check and fill all hand soap dispensers" which came at just the right time as ours were all empty! She of course feels very important and enjoys it. You should have seen the grin on her face while we filled the soap pumps and she returned them to their designated sink spots. Thrilled. (and mom was thrilled too!)
It helps me to instill responsibility in her. It helps her to realize that she has things that she needs to do in order to be a part of this family and help things run smoothly at home. And it really does take a load off me when I don't have to run around gathering up shoes and coats and toys all day long. She is a big help.
The pick a privlege jar is important, and I feel badly that we haven't used it enough yet. It's got things like "go for ice cream" or "watch a movie" or "paint or color" or "get out the playdoh." These are things that we might do now and then, and it's easy to use them as rewards because she enjoys them so much. There are things like "go for a walk" or "ride your bike" and these are all things she loves to do.
So, the Family Tools system is pretty cool. :) I am loving it. Ardyn calls it the "Keep Mommy Happy Game." And I NEVER said that to her. That's entirely her name for it. LOL.
That's all for now friends. I am sore from all that lifting and squatting and mixing of dirt yesterday. Oy. Off to get a few things done today I guess!