A List Maker's Life: September 2011

Friday, September 23, 2011

Teaching Responsiblity

We have been refining systems in our house lately as we get into the school year groove.  It has been especially important as our children have recently discovered the wonderful world of playing outside with the neighbors every. free. second.

{{me whispering}} I really do smile about the bang of the doors as they and their buddies are in and out & out and in.

Anyway, when school started I recognized that we needed to establish the “whencanIpleasegotomyfriendshouse” answer to help us be consistent and concrete.
Enter the Chore Chart!

Loosely following the instructions on How to Make a Magnetic Message Board, I put together a magnetic frame. As you will notice I divided the board into four sections – one for each of our children – using a long, skinny strip of white sticker.  The sections are labeled with the kids’ names using simple white alphabet stickers.
The color coded magnets for each of the kids assignments were made on my digital scrapbooking program and printed on photo paper (although they could easily be done on any type of program and sent through a color printer).  Once they were printed I cut them into 1- 1/2 inch circles and glued them to magnetic circles.

{Sneaky trick: our magnet circles are all cut from those lovely magnetic type business cards that the kids like to collect when we visit any kind of trade show or expo}

The older two kids have word labels and descriptions for their responsibilities.  Many of Gibson’s magnets have graphic symbols instead.
Light blue jobs -  things the kids need to set out for the next morning
Dark blue jobs – personal care (shower, bath, teeth, etc.)
Orange jobs – related to laundry (sock matching, folding, putting clothes away)
Purple jobs– homework/lesson practice
Green jobs  - taking care of their rooms (make bed, pick up toys, etc.)
Yellow jobs – misc. help around the house (set table, gather garbage, empty dishwasher, etc.)
We keep the yellow jobs at the very bottom because these are things they take turns doing. Each of them gets 1 yellow job on school nights and a few on the weekends.
Kevin hung the Chore Chart at kid level in our entryway, right where they tend to dump all their gear from the day. It would be hard not to glance its way before running out the door.

Halfway down each column I added a small sticker dividing the assigned chores from the finished chores. As a job is finished the kids slide their magnet below the line.  When all (except the dark blue) magnets are moved the kids are free to head out to play.

It works for us! 
What about your family?  Do you have a system for assigning chores? 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Pick Six

This summer, in my hometown, Mayor George Heartwell introduced  My GR6.   It’s a clever campaign sponsored by Amway and the Grand Rapids Press promoted to encourage Grand Rapids fans near and far to write their own six word memoir.

It is crazy to think that I have been living in Holland for 15 years now.  I LOVE Holland, but I still say I am going home when I have anything to do in Grand Rapids.  And, it never fails that as I round the highway bend just before the Rivertown exit my heart skips a beat as "Big Daddy Blue" and the rest of the downtown GR skyline comes in to view.  The view represents many years worth of 4th of July fireworks, Celebrations on the Grand, Art Festivals, museum visits, zoo play, summer park programs, recitals at St. Cecilia, walking to school, playing t-ball, and so many other memories.

In thinking about my 6 words I began by trying to capture all of the adventures, the energy, the philanthropy, the hidden treasures, the yummy flavors, and the opportunities found in Grand Rapids, but weave it together with that feeling of home. 

I spent many hours in the car back and forth to therapy and doctor appointments in Grand Rapids with Mr. Gabe thinking about how to put these thoughts and emotions into the perfect 6 words.  When it hit me that my current experience with Grand Rapids is just as important as all the years I spent growing and learning there...

Health care specialists close to home

Never before have I recognized what a big deal it is that Grand Rapids is an ever growing hub for health care options, specialists, and research.  In the past year we have come to know many parents and children who travel hours, even days, to access the specialists that Gabe sees often.  We are so thankful to have the knowledge and care right here, at home, in Grand Rapids.

Are you from the West Michigan area?  Have you visited Grand Rapids?  What would your 6 be?  We'd love to hear from you!  My most enthusiastic Grand Rapids friend who is totally raising the next generation of GR awesome, is also hosting a MyGR6 twitter party tomorrow night from 8-9PM.  Join several of the West MI Bloggers, using the hashtag #MyGR6, to share your thoughts, your memories, and your 6 (and to win some fun prizes)!

To submit your own 6 visit MyGR6.com

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

As If...

...the 1st day of Kindergarten...

...wasn't enough excitement for her today.
{2 Wheels from Katie on Vimeo}

Anne Hope put her new confidence to good use tonight and learned to ride a two-wheeler.
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Monday, September 5, 2011

Owl Be Thinking About Them

I just put together the table for tomorrow's owl themed back to school breakfast.

Long before the kids get up in the morning owl be making the breakfast they have requested.  (Truth is owl probably sleep like an owl tonight)

They will eat, anticipate, and put on their first day outfits. 
 Then owl take them outside for a round of pictures.
If they don't have a smile, owl give them one of mine.

As we line the kids up with their classmates owl be there with bells on,
 but as we walk back to the car owl be wearing my heart on my sleeve.
When I pick them up in the afternoon owl be anxious to hear all about their adventures. School starts tomorrow.  Owl survive. 
Owl survive.
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Sunday, September 4, 2011

A Painting Rocks Alternative

The very last summer fun to do on our list: Paint Rocks.

We have used craft paints to decorate rocks in the past.  All summer the kids have been dreaming up different things they would like to paint on rocks. Since we were going to be on vacation when we did it I didn't want to bring along (or leave) too much of a mess. We came up with a great painting rock alternative.

The kids carefully chose hundreds of special rocks from the"up north" beaches we visited.We rinsed them and let them dry. Then we lined up several rocks on a cookie sheet to put in the oven at 350 degrees until they were too hot to touch!  
As the rocks finished cooking it was my job to transfer them carefully to the work surface.  Then my artists began their job.  Using crayons they created beautiful rock designs.  Since the rocks were hot the wax from the crayons melted as they drew leaving a shiny crayon covering that looked like paint.
The drying time was quicker than paint. After the short time it took for the wax to harden on the rock masterpieces they were ready to be transferred out of the work station into their displays.
This activity worked so well for our kids that we actually enjoyed rock waxing during quiet time on many afternoons of our vacation.  With a whole beach worth of rocks to pick from we never ran out of inspiration!

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Saturday, September 3, 2011

Build. Blow: Bubblicious Pt. 2

One of the last items on our summer fun list was Bubble Mania.  It was left hanging on the line mostly because I really had no idea how I was going to make this anymore exciting than buying each of the kids some scented bubbles as the dollar store.  Then, an idea struck!

Anne Hope has a great collection of Ellos (a lego type building set designed for girls).  We have actually brought our box of Ellos on all of our vacations this summer because it is a perfect time filler for rainy days.

On this very sunny day I encouraged the kids to build shapes to use as bubble blowers.  We started with cubes.  The kids were quite certain they would be able to blow square bubbles with these contraptions.  Surprise!

 Our bubbles were still spheres.  We worked together to create a triangle and oval, which also produced circle bubbles.

 This was a fun experiment for the kids and a perfect activity to satisfy Bubble Mania.
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Friday, September 2, 2011

Glue. Wear. Chew: Bubblicious Pt. 1

On our recent vacation the kids and I created a couple different bubblicious memories.
Using one of my favorite tools, a hot glue gun, we attached pieces of bubble gum end to end to make chains.  When they were long enough to slip easily over the kids heads, we glued the ends together into a loop to create a yummy accessory. Through the week, as they wore them they slipped pieces of gum out of their chains for a little bubble gum blowing entertainment.

{Note: We used Big Chew gum.  The necklaces were each 17-20 pieces long. This project requires a lot of mom power because of the glue gun.  The kids part of the process was counting out their pieces, cheering me on, and trying their chains on for size.}

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