Kids-Rule Day!!!

Sara Colket Photography - Korn 2015 WATERMARKED-233

This post is 2 1/2 years in the making!  February 2013 Jerald was out of town on a business trip.  I was trying to move the boys along from dinner to bath to bed after being on my own for a couple of long days.  Justin, who was 5 at the time, looks at me, in a very sweet way, and says “how come you get to make all the rules?”  Well, that was an interesting question.  I explained to them, that I am the Mom, I know what is best for them, it is my job to keep them safe and healthy, etc…  Justin then asked if they could make the rules one day.  I thought about it, and it seemed like an interesting idea.  A day where the kids could really make all the rules.  What would that look like?  Chaos?  A giant mess for me to clean up?  Multiple trips to the hospital for injuries sustained while my three boys made the rules?  No – it couldn’t be that bad.  I almost said, “Ok – let’s pick a day soon and you guys will be in charge.”  Luckily, I thought for a second and came up with a plan.

Seth was in 1st grade at the time, and his teacher had a teddy bear jar.  When the kids did something good or nice, she would add one little teddy bear to the jar.  When the jar was filled up the class would get a really nice treat.  One time it was pajama day at school and another time it was fancy day with suits, dresses and little snacks.  I took this idea for my own and created “Kids-Rule Day!”  I found a cheap vase, tapped a little note on and bought some bouncy smiley balls to fill it with.  I introduced the idea the very next morning to the kids.  They were thrilled!

There were a few simple rules we put in place.  The kids could earn smiley balls in a lot of different ways.  Good behavior, being nice or kind to your family, or whenever else we felt that some good action should be rewarded.  Smiley balls were never taken away once they were in the jar.  Once they were earned that was it.  My parenting style definitely consists of time-outs and taking away privileges for bad behavior.  But for some reason, taking out hard earned smiley balls seemed to be too severe of a punishment and against the intent of the project.  Once the jar was full, the boys would have the whole day to make the rules.  We discussed that these “rules” could not be anything that would destroy the house or be dangerous.  There would be no writing on the walls of the house!  (that was actually Ezra’s first idea of what to do.)

When Jerald came home from his business trip, he was intrigued by the idea, but said he wanted to be at work when Kids-Rule Day finally came around.  I had no idea how long it would take to fill the jar.  There were times when they were earning multiple smiley balls in a week, and other times were weeks would go by with no smiley balls.  Sometimes it was because their behavior wasn’t up to the smiley ball standard.  Other times it was because no one was thinking about it – and it didn’t’ occur to us to give one.   It was something they were always working towards.  If there was a fit about sharing a toy – sometimes offering a smiley ball would help ease the situation.  If we were going out to a fancy dinner with family – the promise of three smiley balls would help focus them on their good behavior.  Even though the promise of Kids-Rule Day was so far in the future – they held on to their goal and worked together.

The summer of 2014 I had two weeks in a row with the three boys and what I call “Mommy Camp.”  I thought that one of those days would be a perfect day for Kids-Rule Day.  We booked our days so full that there was never enough time, and there was still too many balls needed to fill the jar.  The winter of 2014-2015 in Boston was beyond brutal.  We had over 100 inches of snow and my kids had 9 snow days!  The jar was near full, and I told Jerald that we should plan to have it full on a snow day.  He agreed – but for some reason we got busy with other snow activities and it never happened.  We finally got to the summer of 2015 and the jar was really almost full.  The time had come!  On a thursday morning, we scheduled our yearly family photo-shoot and we told the boys, if they behaved well they would each earn a smiley ball which would put them over the top and the rest of the day would be Kids-Rule Day.

After the photo-shoot each boy put their last ball in and you can see from the pictures our family photographer snapped, how excited they were!  Jerald and I had been discussing what would it actually be like when Kids-Rule Day came.  We thought they would watch a bunch of tv, eat some junk and then get bored and want to do something else.  We were wrong!

They all put on the pajamas, raided the pantry and started eating cookies and hershey kisses, and turned on the tv.  They watched tv for 10 and 1/2 hours straight!!!!  At one point, my cleaning lady was vacuuming the floor of the living room, so they took the ipad and all laid in one bed to continue watching tv.

 They ate pizza and ice cream for lunch and sushi for dinner.  By dinner time, they didn’t want anymore candy or sugar but they still wanted more tv.  If they had stopped at some point and asked to go to a toy store, a trampoline park, the pool – I would have taken them.  But all they wanted to do was watch movies and tv.  Such an interesting but scary experiement!

 After they went to sleep, I emptied all the smiley balls out and replaced the empty jar.  I was slightly worried about their reaction.  They said – ok let’s start earning smiley balls again and they began to make plans for the next Kids-Rule Day.

 

Easy Stress Free Thank You Notes

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I have birthdays on the mind.  In November two of my three kids have birthdays and that means parties and the dreaded thank you notes!  I do think they are important.  I want my kids to be appreciative of presents they have received from friends and family.  I know that our family members love to get them.  HOw to make them stress-free and streamline the process?

I am all about photoshop – photo editing.  What I have been doing the last bunch of years, is to use a photo from the child’s birthday party, or to have them write thank you poster and hold it up in a picture, or once we even created a thank you sign with legos.  You can either print it out just with the thank you, or in photoshop you can add some special text as I did above.  I print out these photos 4×6, one for each thank you note.  At this point  you can have your child hand write a quick thank you on a blank index card and tape it to the back of the photo.  You could also type specific words, print it out, and tape it to the back.

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Summer Bucket List

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You might be thinking this is a really strange time to post a summer bucket list.  Yes, I know my older two boys start school again in 15 days (not that I am counting!).  We have been working on our bucket list all summer – but now with only two weeks left of summer we have the most time we have had all summer.  Camps and vacations are mostly done and the boys are actually sick of our local pool.  Time for Mommy to get creative.  Referring back to our list is going to save me from the “Mommy I am bored” chants.  Here is our list that my boys and I created in June.  Pick a couple of fun summer things to do with your kids before school begins.

Here is my complete list and a link to a word document you can customize for your own family 2015 Bucket List

Summer Bucket List 2015

  • stargaze
  • go on a scavenger hunt
  • swim in a lake
  • make s’mores
  • go to Newport, RI
  • go to New Hampshire
  • watch a movie outside
  • go on a factory tour
  • take a sewing class
  • water balloon fight
  • swim in the pool
  • have a picnic
  • pick strawberries
  • family game night
  • tv night
  • nature walk
  • make popsicles
  • go to the library
  • read 15 books
  • bowling
  • go to the beach
  • go to the farmer’s market
  • take a boat ride
  • eat ice-cream
  • build a sandcastle
  • play in the sprinklers
  • watch fireworks
  • build a fire
  • have a bbq
  • play hopscotch
  • puppet show
  • build an indoor fort
  • make and fly paper airplanes
  • farmer’s market
  • bubbles
  • splash in puddles
  • visit a museum
  • ride bikes
  • have a water gun fight
  • do a science project
  • stay in pajamas all day
  • Mentos experiment
  • go to a new park
  • write a story
  • mini-golf
  • tie-die project
  • make a book
  • have a dance party
  • relax
  • go on a hike
  • take a night walk
  • plant our garden
  • find shapes in clouds
  • make popsicles
  • fly a kite
  • watch a sunset
  • do something good
  • soaker ball sponges
  • family photo shoot
  • draw with chalk
  • have a picnic
  • eat dinner on the deck
  • go to NY
  • melt crayons in the sun
  • donate old books, toys and clothes
  • play tennis
  • play a family game of basketball
  • play Frisbee
  • play dress-up
  • indoor obstacle course
  • Visit Daddy’s work

How to Have a Happy Mother’s Day

How to Have the Best Mother's Day

 

Mother’s Day can be a lot of pressure for your spouse and family.  If they don’t do everything you hoped for – it can also be a big letdown.  I don’t think about Mother’s Day as the one day my kids and husband appreciate and pamper me for all my hard work during the year.  I hope to be appreciated most days – as I try to appreciate my husband for what he does.  When I make dinner on a random weekday – I expect and encourage them to thank me for my work (because it is work!).  If I don’t feel unappreciated all year then I won’t have to put too much pressure on one day a year.

Today was a great Mother’s Day!  My kids ran into my arms with hugs and kisses and told me the loved me very much.  I got thoughtful handmade cards and an awesome photo mug.  We then did our regular Sunday stuff – soccer, lunch – t-ball but everyone did it with extra hugs and smiles for me.  I felt loved and happy.  Definitely a great Mother’s Day!

How to Throw a Kosher Superbowl Party

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The first step in throwing an awesome Kosher Superbowl party is asking yourself the very important question:  Meat or Dairy?  Keeping kosher means that we do not mix meat and dairy foods together.  No chicken wings and sour cream dip at our parties!  One or the other.  For me it is an easy answer.  The answer is always CHEESE PLEASE!  My husband requires peanut M&M’s while watching football (M&M’s are dairy).  So we always go all in on the dairy.  Make sure that guests that are bringing food items – know that everything should be dairy or vegetarian.

Having a kosher dairy party is easy when it comes to chips and dips – but it is harder when thinking of the main course.  Many traditional Superbowl parties will have meat chili, chicken wings or other meat as a main dish.  We need to think a bit outside the box.  You could of course order veggie pizza’s – which is an easy solution.  For the kids, I usually make a ton of cheese quesidilla’s in the oven and keep them on the table covered with tin-foil to keep warm.  I find this to be less messy then a ton of saucy pizza slices around my house.  I have also stared boiling a box of pasta for the kids to carb load.

One year we decided it would be fun for the adults to have make your own veggie subs.  We got sub rolls, different kinds of sliced cheese, lettuce, tomato, sauces, grilled mushrooms, caramelized onions, and roasted red peppers for toppings.  People seemed to really like this option – but boy was it a ton of work!  I cut and cooked all the veggies myself.  Last year we decided to bring in falafel from our local falafel store.  This was also a huge hit and much easier on me.  We got a huge tray of falafel, hummus, pitta and israeli salad (cucumber, tomato and onion salad).  I really like this option because it is vegetarian meaning we can still have our cheese and sour cream dip but the chickpeas in the falafel also give some protein that will fill people up.

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Food List

Tortilla Chips

Popcorn

Pita Chips

Crackers

Cheese Slices (we get the variety pack from costco that my kids love)

Cut up veggies

Onion Dip

Mississippi Sin Dip from Gonna Want Seconds (to make it kosher just omit the ham!)

7-layer Dip

Falafel

Pita

Hummus

Israeli Salad

Cheese Quesadilla’s

Plain pasta

Fruit Salad

Peanut M&M’s

Football Cookie Pizza

Lori’s Perfect Football Snack (Pretzel, hershey kiss, and M&M’s!)

Beer/Cider

Juice Boxes

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We also love to decorate for our big party.  In the past years Costco has carried these awesome football plates with matching napkins.  A couple of years ago I made our Superbowl table cloth.  I bought a piece of turf from Home Depot.  We cut it to fit our table then using white electrical tape we put the lines on our “field”  At the end of the party we shake it off, roll it up and store in our basement for the next year.  This is our third or fourth year using it – and it is holding up really nicely.

Finally, make sure you have lots of garbage cans or bags around the house and empty boxes for garbage and recycling.  Guests are more likely to help clean up if they know where to put things.

GO PATS!!!

Birthday Traditions #6 – 20 Questions

Every year on your child’s birthday, find a quite 5 minutes and ask them the same 20 questions.  I have a saved word document for each child.  I just copy and past the next years 20 questions below.  I am thinking for their 18th birthday to print out a photo book with every years 20 questions plus a couple of pictures from that year.

20 Birthday Questions

  1. How old are you?
  2. Who is your best friend?
  3. What is your favorite thing to do?
  4. What is your favorite color?
  5. What is your favorite food?
  6. What do you like to do with your family?
  7. What is your favorite toy?
  8. What do you want to be when you grow up?
  9. What makes you happy?
  10. What makes you sad?
  11. What is your favorite show to watch?
  12. What is your favorite book?
  13. What is your favorite song?
  14. What do you love to learn about?
  15. Where do you like to go?
  16. What is your favorite holiday?
  17. What do you think about before you fall asleep?
  18. If you could meet someone famous who would it be?
  19. What was the best part of your birthday?
  20. What was your favorite birthday present?

I only starting doing this three years ago – but it is still fun to look back at the old answers.  The kids think it is really fun also!

NaBloPoMo November 2014

Birthday Traditions #5 – Breakfast In Bed

 

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What kid wouldn’t love to have breakfast in bed?  Mine used to ask for it all the time.  I decided that it was a once a year treat.  On your birthday!  We usually go with pancakes, whipped cream and juice.  The two brothers usually join with their breakfast on the floor of the birthday boys.  This is just another easy way to make their special day extra special!

NaBloPoMo November 2014

Birthday Traditions #4 – Bedroom Decorations

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As we finally are arriving at my #2’s birthday followed 1 week later by my #3’s birthday I am continuing with my series on birthday traditions.  So far I have posted about #1 Growth-Chart , #2 Year-End Photo Collages, #3 Photo Cakes and now we have #4 Room Decorations.

This only takes 10 minutes to do and very little money – but the impact is huge.  The night before one of my boys birthdays I blow up a bunch of balloons and throw them on the floor.  I then tape paper streamers from the bedroom door.

When the birthday boy wakes up, right away he has a smile on his face.  He remembers its his special day.  He jumps out of bed, kicks the balloons around, runs through the streamers, picks up the balloons, throws them in the air and it is the start to a great birthday!

Birthday Traditions #3 – Photo Cake

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In my mid-30ies with three boys, I know being honest with myself is my way to happiness.  I know I do certain things well and other things I do not.  I have this friend who makes these amazing cakes for her daughters, nieces, nephew and even friends.  One year her daughter was having joint birthday party with her niece.  She made the most amazing 1/2 Frozen cake (for her daughter) and a 1/2 The King and I cake (for her niece).  I love eating cake – but not making it.  I still want to make my boys feel like I spent some time in getting their cake to the party.  I also want them to feel like it is one of kind.  I go to one of my favorite things – pictures.  Depending on what my boys are into that year, what themes they want their party or what they were for halloween dictates whether I just use a picture or whether I get into photoshop.

The first picture was from my middle son’s (#2) 6th birthday party which was today!  We had his party at one of those indoor bouncy house places.  But he wanted a spy theme.  It is hard to make giant inflatable slides to have anything to do with spies.  I decided to focus on the cake and the party favors (I am going to do a post later in the week about my party favor ideas).  I did a photoshop project using just his head and a bunch of free clipart to make the spy design.  I had it printed on 8X10 paper and our local supermarket were able to put it on the cake.  If you can tell, it was actually a cupcake cake!

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Last year #1 was really into The Diary of The Wimpy Kid.  I used his head, turned it black and white and found the wimpy kid body and combined the two.  DSC02088

Last year #2 was all about superheros.  We had a superhero training birthday party at our house.  For his cake, all I did was email the ice cream store (yes – it is an ice cream cake!) the most recent halloween picture.

The boys face when they see their picture on their birthday cake is always priceless.

***If anyone is interested in having a custom photoshopped picture prepared for cake printing I am ready and willing.  Just get in touch!***
NaBloPoMo November 2014

Birthday Traditions #2 – Year-End Photo Collage

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I LOVE pictures!  It is in my DNA.  My Grandpa always had his camera ready to go.  He snapped pictures at every event – big or small.  He would then print his picture in triplicate – at Costco!  He would put his favorites in labeled albums and sort the rest, divide into envelopes and mail out to family and friends.  Even with the ubiquitous smart phone cameras – I always bring some sort of “real” camera to big and small events.  Every year, in preparation for one of my three boys birthdays I make a collage of a favorite picture from each month of the past year.

For my first son (#1) I didn’t even think of doing the collage as a photoshop document, even though I had been digital scrapbooking for a year.  I printed out 1 favorite picture from each month and taped them to a huge piece of oaktag with labels indicating each month and that it was his 1st birthday.  A couple of years later I realized that digital was the way to go.  I could still achieve the same results with less cutting and pasting!

I use a blank 11X14 file in photoshop.  I then look through my pictures month by month (I organize my pictures on my computer in folders by year and then divided by month) and pick a favorite from each month.  I start in the upper left corner with the month of their birthday.  I usually include a picture from their last years birthday party.  I resize the picture to fit into a grid pattern.  In the bottom corner I put a text box that has the month.  I move around the rectangle counter clockwise moving through the year.  In the middle I put a bigger text box that says “Happy X Birthday XXX.”

My local Walgreens now prints enlargements in the same day!  I print it out – pop it in a frame and display it in the house.  The most fun part – is pulling out past years collages and displaying them next to the new one.  I usually put at all the collages, new and old, one week before the actual birthday.  I then put them away the week after the actual birthday.  It is so fun to relive all the wonderful moments over the last couple of years.  They would not be as special if we kept up the collages year round.  The boys expect a collage and they get excited by it – which makes the work worth it!

I would be happy to help anyone who would want to try to do a digital collage.  Just get in touch!

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NaBloPoMo November 2014