August 19, 2016

Making Chores Work


Chores are a chore. No big revelation there. I am lazy so I have never put a lot of effort into creating chore charts or requiring my kids to do very many chores. This is partly about how things get done (folding towels in such a way that allows me to fit twice as many in the closet) and partly about me finding it easier to just do things myself rather than nag my kids and maintain a chart of when I need to nag my kids.

My head would spin reading, clipping, and pinning articles about age-appropriate chores, charts, incentives and timelines for teaching, convincing, or requiring kids to pitch in. There are a lot of opposing philosophies. Some believe that it is important that kids learn to contribute to the household without expecting an allowance, others subscribe to the idea that an allowance be given freely and not tied to any manual labor. Still others say that paid chores teach children the value of hard work and the feeling of accomplishment that comes with tangible earnings. I have discovered that I fall somewhere in the middle of all of these.

I wasn't on any particular mission to set up a chore system in our house. My kids are well-behaved and I have never viewed chores as punishment so they only have three ridiculously easy chores to do: set the table, empty the dishwasher and keep their rooms neat. The basic idea is that they contribute something to the household and be responsible for their own spaces. All gratis.

Like a lot of you, I fold laundry at night while binge watching my DVR'd shows and fantasizing about hiring a housekeeper. For some people these tasks--these chores--are a job, their livelihood. You know, work. Since I can't afford to hire a full-time (or even a part-time) housekeeper, I decided to hire my kids.

I have worked as an independent contractor in the past. I made my own hours and I was responsible for tracking my time and tasks and invoicing my clients for any billable time and expenses. I figured my 14-year-old and 11-year-old could grasp that concept and handle that level of responsibility. I bought a book of invoices from Walmart.

Keeping track of the details.
I created a list of chores and what I was willing to pay for each one. I started by deciding what I wanted to pay them per hour and assigning a price based mostly on how long the job would take, then made adjustments to account for complexity. Jobs that require more labor or more steps pay more. Simpler tasks pay less.

Our household chore options.

Each job is explained in detail so that things get done properly and consistently or--since I am the boss--to my expectations. I also assigned an approximate frequency, including the idea that some tasks will be "available for hire" upon my request. As a reminder, I also listed the chores that they are expected to do, unpaid, as part of their contribution to the household.

The "workers" have guidelines regarding the information they have to record and payments. I have decided to take savings and "taxes" out of their pay. The savings get transferred into their actual savings accounts and the taxes go to the local government (me and my husband). Any of these parameters can and should be adjusted as necessary. We have already made a few updates since we started.

Although this a fairly new--we've been doing it for about three weeks now--I have learned a few things that may be helpful to keep in mind:
  • Teach them. Do not assume that your kids--even teenagers--know how to do things. I had to show them how to fold some laundry items (like those towels I mentioned) and how to properly wipe down the bathroom.
  • Listen to your kids. Ask them what they are willing to do beyond what's on your list. You may find that they are willing to do things that you either hadn't thought of or didn't think they were capable of.
  • Include everyone. My five year old has seen her older siblings get excited about helping out and saving for things they want to purchase. She may not understand the broader concept of this system, but it is still a fine opportunity to teach her the value of earning. And it can be practice for other skills. She can write on her own invoice and see and reap the benefits of her hard work--even if it's just a trip to the dollar store to buy herself some glow sticks.
  • Don't be afraid to assign jobs according to who does a task better or has more experience. Of course both kids want the higher dollar jobs, but if you find that one does something better than the other, play to their strengths. Contrarily, you could encourage new skills by assigning things they don't normally take up on their own, or have them teach each other their methods. 
#nailedit
  • Negotiate. You might need or want to pay for a normally unpaid task. Our house is on the market and this system has been infinitely helpful in keeping the house clean during this process. I have paid extra for to get things done faster in a pinch. 
  • Require details and accountability. If they don't make a note about why I offered extra money for a task or have a quantity written on their invoice, I have questioned the amounts they charge.
  • Follow your own rules. If you set forth that you will pay them within a certain time period, stick to it. If you are having them save a portion of their wages, show them the transfers to their savings accounts. It is another opportunity to teach them .

This system has changed our household. The best indicator that it is working is how my kids have taken to it. They plan their own work and have complete control over their ability to earn what they feel they need or want. They have set goals for themselves and they feel accomplished while measuring their own progress and working toward those goals.

Our kids have a much healthier respect for our work and our earnings. I am happy that they are getting a glimpse of how the working world works and comprehending things on a much wider scale beyond the scope of their relatively narrow teenage existences. I pointed out the them that now that school is in session, they may find it more difficult to earn without long summer days to fill. They see that as a challenge. That's fine with me because I see that as a WIN for all of us.
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July 1, 2016

Summer Lovin' This Summer Reading!

  


What's that, friends? You feel that gorgeous sunshine on your back and hear those birds chirping? Yup, it's officially SUMMER! And to all the readers of the world, that means one very, very important thing: it's time to dig into that summer reading list!


Been a little too distracted by the end-of-school insanity to bone up on what all hot summer reads are? No sweat! We've got you covered. Twenty of us blogging gals have teamed up with The Mom of the Year and Normal Level of Crazy virtual monthly book club to create a list of exactly what belongs on your summer reading list. Not only do these books come highly recommended (along with the reason you need to be reading them!), we are giving eleven of them away to one of you, along with a $225 Amazon giftcard. I know, it's insanely awesome! More details on the giveaway at the end of the post. For now, log into Goodreads, grab a notepad or settle in with however you track your to-read list and start adding these titles.

20 Books that Belong on Your Summer Reading List:

Wa-hoo! Summer is here and that means summer reading is here! Looking for the perfect beach book or captivating read to get lost in this season? We've got the list of the top 20 books that belong on your summer reading list. They all come with the reason WHY you need to snatch them up, not to mention this INCREDIBLE giveaway--11 books, a $225 Amazon giftcard...seriously, you have to check this out to believe it!
  1. Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology by Leah Remini (Toulouse and Tonic) is a GREAT summer read. Leah Remini doesn't hold anything back, from her decades-long experience with Scientology to celeb encounters along the way, especially experiences within Scientology. If you want to hear all the dish on Tom Cruise, including his "Scientology arranged and groomed" girlfriend and then his marriage to Katie Holmes, get the book now. Her honesty and lack of pretense is refreshing. I couldn't put it down!
  2. The Storied Like of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (The Not So Super Mom) This is a bit of a quirky book, but it is perfectly quirky without falling into the creepy or just plain confusing. A.J. Fikry is not the most immediately likable character but you find yourself rooting for him (and his bookstore) anyway. I appreciated that he was a bit of an oddball, because who in our lives isn't without their own idiosyncrasies? I enjoyed the themes in this book--loss, romance, mystery--all peppered with humor, and the format--each chapter moves the story forward in time and serves as an ode to one of Fikry's favorite books--was different but enjoyable to any book lovers who try to find themselves in the stories they read.
  3. Smart Women by Judy Blume (Meraki Lane) I was a huge Judy Blume fan when I was a kid (Starring Sally J. Freedman As Herself was my favorite!), so it's no surprise I jumped with joy when I discovered she writes novels for adults as well, and this book did NOT disappoint. If you like a light read with a little racy romance thrown in, this is the perfect summer pick!
  4. A Window Opens by Elizabeth Egan (Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms) A great novel with a fresh, funny voice guiding it, this book tackles the classic struggle of moms trying to have it all and stuck with us to the point of recommending it to others long after we turned the last page.Wa-hoo! Summer is here and that means summer reading is here! Looking for the perfect beach book or captivating read to get lost in this season? We've got the list of the top 20 books that belong on your summer reading list. They all come with the reason WHY you need to snatch them up, not to mention this INCREDIBLE giveaway--11 books, a $225 Amazon giftcard...seriously, you have to check this out to believe it! Here's to fantastic books!
  5. Beyond the Break by Kristen Mae (Kristen Mae) Quoted from Melissa Mowry of One Mother to Another's review on Amazon: "This book absolutely crushed me. The writing is hauntingly beautiful and full of depth, with well-rounded characters and gorgeous imagery. As a card-carrying heterosexual, I expected to feel a little squirmy about the girl-on-girl aspect and was just reading because I love this author's writing. I was SO WRONG. The sex was, in a word, mind-blowing. None of that lazy, euphemistic smut book language (you won't find talk of anyone's blossoming flower here) just seriously hot, almost artistic love scenes. Hazel is a flawed but loveable main character with a haunting past and so much dimension. Claire is absolutely magnetic; even I was attracted to her. You owe yourself the pleasure--and I do mean pleasure--of reading this book. It will change everything you thought you knew about love, sexual attraction, and chemistry."
  6. Summer Sisters by Judy Blume (Herd Management) Summer Sisters provides a fascinating view into the inner workings and dynamics of a close female friendship over the duration of their journey from young teens into adulthood. Many women will be able to relate to the power that female friends have over one another's hearts, and their ability to shatter them completely sometimes. Riveting, relatable, and emotional.
  7. The Weekenders by Mary Kay Andrews (Confessions of a Mommyaholic) This summer/beach town set book is the absolute perfect read this summer while you are sitting beach or poolside that is filled with just enough intrigue, suspense, drama, romance and more.
  8. Mud Vein by Tarryn Fisher (See Mom Click) This is one of those books that draws you in and won’t let go, even after you’ve put it down. Senna Richard wakes up on her 33rdbirthday, locked in a house in the snow in the middle of nowhere, full of clues she has to piece together to gain her freedom. Not just a mystery, but a rip-your-heart-out love story, the author keeps you guessing while you become totally wrapped up in these characters’ lives.Wa-hoo! Summer is here and that means summer reading is here! Looking for the perfect beach book or captivating read to get lost in this season? We've got the list of the top 20 books that belong on your summer reading list. They all come with the reason WHY you need to snatch them up, not to mention this INCREDIBLE giveaway--11 books, a $225 Amazon giftcard...seriously, you have to check this out to believe it! Here's to fantastic books!
  9. Dear Mr. You by Mary-Louise Parker (Shakespeare's Mom) In this collection of personal essays, Parker writes beautifully about her encounters and relationships with various men in her life - everyone from her grandfather to ex-boyfriends, to, in an essay that manages to be both brutal and hilarious, a male goat. I read the whole book in one day. I had to ignore my children and personal hygiene to do it, but finding myself sucked into the book's spellbinding word-webs was totally worth it.
  10. Not Without My Father by Andra Watkins (Andra Watkins) This story is a great summer read because we all struggle with loved ones. It's an easy, yet poignant, read that changes a lot of people.
  11. Totto-chan: The Little Girl at the Window by Tetsuko Kuroyangi (Femme Frugality) This true story of alternative education in WWII era Japan serves to inspire. If you've ever known a kid that doesn't seem to fit into a traditional education system, Tetsuko Kuroyangi's story will warm your heart and give you hope. Kuroyangi, after getting kicked out of a traditional school, grew up to be one of Japan's media sweethearts and a great, hands-on philanthropist.
  12. A Desperate Fortune by Susanna Kearsley (The Whimsy One) will take you on a waltz between present day and the 18th century as Sara (present day) tries to decipher a journal written by Mary during the Jacobites uprising in Paris (1732) what she discovers in the handwritten pages is not at all what she was expecting.Wa-hoo! Summer is here and that means summer reading is here! Looking for the perfect beach book or captivating read to get lost in this season? We've got the list of the top 20 books that belong on your summer reading list. They all come with the reason WHY you need to snatch them up, not to mention this INCREDIBLE giveaway--11 books, a $225 Amazon giftcard...seriously, you have to check this out to believe it! Here's to fantastic books!
  13. Summerlong by Dean Bakopoulos (Jana Says) I fell in love with this author after reading another one of his books but this one, a stunning, sad, sometimes funny, heartbreaking, (mostly) realistic portrayal of a marriage in crisis and its subsequent implosion during a summer long Midwestern heatwave, solidified him in my top 5 favorite authors.
  14. What Alice Forgot By Liane Moriarty (Tamara (Like) Camera) This book gripped me - I felt all the joys and pains. I recommended it to both of my sisters who are still postpartum.
  15. Mosquitoland by David Arnold (Kiss My List) You will not regret spending an afternoon curled up with this smart, funny, and poignant novel about a teenage girl's bus ride back to her mom in Cleveland. Mim’s journey from Mississippi is filled with people who could be fascinating main characters in their own books.
  16. Before the Fall by Noah Hawley (The Golden Spoons) Hawley alternates between perspectives of different characters as well as switches from past to present in this story of 11 people - some connected, some seemingly out of place - whose lives are changed or lost when their private jet goes down in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Martha's Vineyard on a foggy August night.Wa-hoo! Summer is here and that means summer reading is here! Looking for the perfect beach book or captivating read to get lost in this season? We've got the list of the top 20 books that belong on your summer reading list. They all come with the reason WHY you need to snatch them up, not to mention this INCREDIBLE giveaway--11 books, a $225 Amazon giftcard...seriously, you have to check this out to believe it! Here's to fantastic books!
  17. The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (The Lieber Family) This second Cormoran Strike novel follows our detective as he investigates the disappearance and later death of a controversial, not-well liked author whose last novel didn’t have anything nice to say about…well, anyone!
  18. You: A Novel by Caroline Kepnes (Pulling Taffy) If you love a good, creepy thriller, with an occasional chuckle, this is a great summer read. By the end you will be rooting for the serial killer and hoping his intended victim dies (Please. End. Her. Incessant. Whining.)
  19. The Show by Filip Syta (Normal Level of Crazy) I'm taken by Amazon's description of the book, "Think of the greatest tech company in the world. Imagine getting a job there. Picture the perks: free gourmet food, free booze, a gym, a swimming pool, and a holiday bonus . . . every month. Brilliant coworkers. No dress code. Great parties. More money. Everyone’s admiration." You know there are inevitably problems that will arise, but it sounds so exotic in comparison to my world, that I can't wait to dig in!
  20. The Tulip Factory by Kacie Davis Idol (The Mom of the Year) Amazon's description makes it sound like the perfect dreamy, fun summer book: "Before they exchange even a single word, Corrine knows that James will change everything. And sure enough, their serendipitous meeting in a North Carolina coffee shop sets off a whirlwind of desire and possibilities for the two." 

Now that you've got the whole list, I know you're dying to immediately lose yourself in book pages, but don't forget to first enter the fantastic giveaway here! Eleven of these books (Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology, The Storied Like of A.J. Fikry, The Weekenders, Not Without My Father, Totto-chan: The Little Girl at the Window, Beyond the Break, The Tulip Factory, The Show, A Desperate Fortune, Before the Fall, You: A Novel) are up for grabs in addition to a $225 Amazon giftcard! Delight in the books and use the giftcard to get any others that are on your summer reading list--or for this sweet amount, even snag a new Kindle for reading on-the-go! As long as you are 18 or older and live in the continental United States, you are eligible to enter the Rafflecopter below. All entries must be received before 7/8/16 at 5:30am ET. Here's to a summer of fab books, friends! And as always, happy reading! a Rafflecopter giveaway

****This post is not sponsored or compensated in any way. We are grateful to the following publishers for providing copies of the books for our giveaway: Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, Grand Central Publishing, Kristen Mae, Algonquin Books, Sourcebooks, Andra Watkins, St. Martin's Press, Kodansha, and Inkshares. We bloggers have all chipped in together to provide the Amazon giftcard--because we love Amazon and we love you ;) ****
Second graphic credit: depositphotos.com, image ID:18594985, copyright:peshkova
Horizontal line of books in last graphic: depositphotos, image ID:6984753, copyright:aboikis
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April 5, 2016

Mom Caught Dealing on School Grounds

Missing Teeth

Proud to have another post featured over on MockMom.com at SammichesPsychMeds.

“I was looking through my sock drawer when I came across a bunch of old teeth that my older boy lost a year or two ago. They were just sitting there in little baggies, doing nothing. What’s so bad about trying to make a few bucks? I ain’t hurting anyone.”

How many of you have a "collection" of souvenirs from your children's developmental milestones? Anyone have a fetish fit for the Tooth Fairy? And who is just OVER the ridiculous rates kids are pulling for used body parts? This one might not be for the squeamish.
Who is OVER the ridiculous rates kids are pulling for used body parts? #MockMom @notsosupermom_

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March 22, 2016

The Art of No Regrets

I love the theater, but I didn't know myself well enough in college to know that I probably should not have been a theater major. Despite my lack of forethought, it wasn't a random decision. I went to a small enough college that I had the opportunity to do things both on the stage and behind the scenes. I took some classes and participated in several shows and found that I truly loved every aspect of it.


No real art comes without effort and make no mistake, the theater is hard work. It is as physically demanding as any sport and as mentally taxing as academics, and almost always at the same time. There is blocking and choreography to say nothing of moving scenery. And the mental demands of the memorization alone can be exhausting. 

It wasn't the hard work of the theater itself that put me off. It was the work of surviving in such an industry that made me realize that it was not for me. I was never going to move to the city and pound the pavement for a job. There is too much risk in that endeavor. I am not a teacher and so that avenue never appealed to me. I always thought that when my kids were old enough, I'd have the opportunity to participate in community theater somewhere and be happy doing something I loved while still being pragmatic. I have wondered if I should have found the courage to pursue it more aggressively.

I think about some of the friends I had in the Theater Department. Most of them--the ones I keep up with through social media, anyway--have stayed involved in the theater to varying degrees. I have seen the work they do and I see that they will leave their marks in many ways. If I was a pessimistic person I might regret that I have not left my own. But I am not, and I don't.

Yes, she's taller than me already.
It's not just the horns.
I have a very beautiful, very talented daughter who is already making more of a mark in the theater than I have in all my years before her. She knows the work that it is and does not shy away from it.  I have seen her grow and learn and blossom since her first step in front of an audience. She was a shy girl who found a passion that inspired a self-confidence that is palpable when she is onstage now.

I am unabashedly and annoyingly proud of her. So if I ever stop to wonder what my legacy is in this art, it is undoubtedly her.
My gorgeous girl as Dragon in Shrek Jr., her most recent role.
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March 12, 2016

The Last Battlefront of The Mommy Wars

I am honored to have another post published over on Sammiches and Psych Meds satirical corner of the world: MockMom.com. This latest joins my several previous posts The Youngest Person Ever to Appear on Hoarders, Mother Caught Dealing on Elementary School Grounds, and an unprecedented Oprah interview.

If you've ever helped your school collect, count and submit boxtops or labels, you can relate to this one...

torture devices
photo courtesy of my own
private collection of torture devices
...The details haven’t been fully confirmed, but it appears there was some sort of incident between two of the members regarding the collection of Box Tops for Education and Campbell’s Labels for Education. One witness said that two ladies were giving their counts on the collections when an argument broke out between them.
See the full post here and be sure to check out all of the funny over on MockMom.com!
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November 16, 2015

Diabetes Awareness Month: Stronger Because Of It

November is Diabetes awareness month.  My Moo has Type I Diabetes and was diagnosed just over six years ago.  It hasn't been incredibly easy or fun, but, as with everything in life, time and practice bring a measure of wisdom and familiarity.

I was asked to share our story over on The WIRL Project site.



Never in a million years would I have guessed that the doctor would come back in the room and say, “I suspect your daughter has Type I diabetes.” The Sugar.
My immediate thought was that we were going to get a pamphlet, go home, and come back in a few days for a follow-up visit. I had no idea. I think it took some time for the shock to wear off. Neither of us started crying until we were in the car on the way to the Emergency Room. Driving to a big hospital and an even bigger Unkown.

You can read the  full post here.
Diabetes: Stronger Because Of It. @notsosupermom_
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August 19, 2015

I THINX NOT!




Have you seen these? The latest and greatest in feminine-hygiene-product-free feminine hygiene panties? 

www.shethinx.com
Huh? (My thoughts exactly!) Like a lot of things I think THINX are great in theory--reduce stigma, save the Earth, help girls in underdeveloped countries--all good stuff. Although the concept is not new, I think THINX is making a splash because of its humanitarian efforts on the flip side, but I wouldn't trust it in practical use.  I just can't see this doing the job.

I am a woman. I get my period. I have it now. (Yes, It's probably not helping that I am sitting here writing this while on my period. You're in REAL TIME here people. Real time.)

I have gotten my period for about 29 years now and I have never, ever liked it. This has nothing to do with societal stigmas and EVERYTHING to do with itisamajorinconveneincetogoaboutyoureverydaylifewhileyouareBLEEDINGBLEEDINGBLEEDINGfromyournetherparts. It just fucking sucks. I don't need society to tell me that.

If you think it's a blessing to have a monthly reminder of a physical readiness for something you might not necessarily be otherwise ready for, then feel free to enjoy Aunt Flo's company. And even if you are someone who is hoping to see her period in lieu of being pregnant you're not convincing me that's there's a bright side.

Periods are gross. Maybe this isn't the most PC point of view nowadays but it's a fact. I try to put on a good face for my newly "blessed" teenage daughter, but the fact is there is no upside. What other bodily function requires such time and attention and gear? I have heavy periods and THINX claim that its heaviest pair of panties will "absorb as much as two tampons worth of blood" just doesn't do it for me. I can go through two tampons in TWO HOURS! Then what?

So I'm at the office and I feel the need to "freshen up." Instead of taking a discreet, sanitary, wrapped feminine hygiene product into the bathroom and throwing away the used goods, what would THINX have me do? Go to the bathroom, change into a fresh pair of THINX (are these individually wrapped as well?) and do WHAT EXACTLY with my not-so-fresh pair? Do they come with carry out bags? They are reusable for up to 2 years so I'm certainly not going to throw away any of my $200+ "cycle set."

I just don't get how these can work. If I'm not seeing it, feel free to enlighten me. I'll be sitting here in my pad and granny panties. I may not be helping to reduce any stigma about how annoying and gross the menstrual cycle is, but I'd appreciate it if you can help me find the silver lining. Pun intended.
No thanx, THINX! I'll keep my granny panties. @notsosupermom_

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