Wednesday, September 24, 2014

LeapBand Review {Promotional Post}

Disclosure: I was sent a LeapBand for review after use by my kids.  All opinions below are mine alone.


I love that LeapFrog is expanding beyond handheld video devices for older children.  The idea of making a fitness tracker that includes child friendly challenges and motivation is brilliant.  However, there is room for improvement with this initial model.

I took it out of the package and directly handed it over to my children.  They seemed to figure out how to operate the watch without any problems, even though it is button operated versus the touch screen they are so used to from LeapFrog.

So far their favorite feature of the LeapBand is the stop watch and using it to time each other running different 'out and backs' through my house.  I have encouraged them to take it outside, but so far they have not attempted our 1/4 mi long driveway.

Here is my official list of pros & cons:

Pros:

  • Easy for kids to operate
  • Kid friendly rewards
  • A 'like mom has' fitness tracker
  • Large variety of challenge activities to hold interest.


Cons:

  • No step counter
  • Lacks volume control (even a loud/soft/silent would be nice)
  • Not touch screen (as they are used to)
  • Bulky band that is a bit sweaty on my hot children.


In general, my kids are active on their own, so encouraging movement is not really necessary, but the LeapBand is a fun accessory to promote physical activity combined with learning - healthy choices, telling time, and earning rewards.

{All photos are courtesy of LeapFrog}  A LeapBand giveaway coming soon!
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Remember: happiness is your choice!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Kids Jobs {the Ongoing Battle}

Getting kids to participate in the daily household chores is an ongoing battle - at least at my house.  In their own unique way, kids do have a desire to contribute to the household, but they are also kids, so they do not see messes in the same ways that moms see messy rooms.  


Here I will share 8 ways that I keep my sanity while getting my kids to do their fair share.  I am no expert, so take these and apply them in your own way to your household.

  1. Weekly job lists.  Rather than try to come up with daily jobs lists or fixed rotating lists, my kids have set jobs for each week.  This is so much easier for me - I print a list one time with each child listed and the week number listed in a table, so all i have to refer to is the week number and they all know what is their responsibility. Also, weekly jobs allow kids to repeat tasks and in theory master a chore.
  2. Short list of tasks.  Under the table of jobs, I have a task list for them to complete for each job.  The daily items are just normal upkeep - sweeping & straitening.  The scrubbing and dusting are saved for Saturdays (or me during the week).
  3. No Rewards. I have tried to reward for cleaning and contributing to this house.  But I stink at keeping track of these kinds of things.  So, jobs are just part of their daily routine.  My older boys are on a salary every 2 weeks, but they are not directly rewarded for completing cleaning jobs
  4. Jobs for all kids over 3.  My 5 year old, although not in school this year, is part of the job rotation.  I keep all the same jobs for all 6 of my older kids.  Obviously this is with the realization on my part that when the younger end have bathrooms or kitchen duty, that I will need to help pick up the slack in that area.  But often times, the 3 or 4 year old kid WANTS to help - so why not capitalize on that attitude.
  5. Kitchen = Weekly Job.  In past attempts to have job lists, I did not include dishes in the after school jobs, but instead kept that as a daily rotating task - per my kids request.  However, midway through last school year, I decided I wanted to try it as one of the weekly jobs.  The. Best. Decision. Ever.  The minions grumbled about it in the beginning, but they quickly realized that they would have a 5 week break before they were in the rotation for dishes again.
  6. Bedrooms. These rooms are the jobs of the kids to keep tidy.  I truly believe that bedroom doors were invented for a reason - for me to close.  I was not a neat child (and struggle with neatness as an adult), so I tend to give my kids a bit of freedom when it come to their rooms.  It is interesting to see that some kids tend to be more particular and others not so much.  However, to instill some type of routine in their lives, I like to have bedrooms cleaned and vacuumed each Saturday.  There are also other jobs in the basement and outside that are randomly assigned to the Saturday (or weekday) job lists.
  7. Letting Go.  My sister once shared advice from her mother-in-law regarding kids cleaning and not quite getting it done as a mom would like: 'Half a job is better than no job.'  I try to remember this when they speed through with a lick and a promise.  There are days when that is all the attention their jobs get, because we have a list 5 bullet points long to accomplish elsewhere that evening - sports, school, meetings, etc.  If there is something that I notice not up to par, I try to point it out to them so that it can be rectified at that moment or in the future.  Raising a house full of kids (mostly boys), I have learned that not everything is going to be perfectly cleaned (and I really do not require it to be) and that there is not possible way that I can do it all myself.  
  8. Gender neutral job distribution. On the boys note, boys in this house are learning to clean a kitchen, scrub bathroom, bake brownies, make supper, etc.  It is out of necessity - their sisters are only 8 and 2.  As they grow and they girls are able to take more of the 'girly' tasks, I may change my way of doing things, but for now I would like to think that I am raising well rounded young men!
Here is a photo of my list this year.
Each time I institute a new method of job distribution in this house I hope that it will be the last time.  This school year is the first time I have used the same system as the previous school year.  I am thrilled with that.  It means that something is working, and for the kids they are not having to learn a new system at home this year.  Adaptations are sure to come on the future, but I think I may have finally landed on something that works.



Be Happy!

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Friday, September 5, 2014

Playing with Leather


I got a phone call the other day from a friend giving me a heads up to some leather being on sale at a local store (how can you not love a friend like that?)... well, needless to say, I hustled over there that afternoon.  Maybe, perhaps, I bought more than I needed too.  And then maybe, I told my sister about the great opportunity... I just might have purchased a few more pieces when I brought her to check it out....
Making a long story short, I now have a large quantity of leather in my possession... 
I do have some ideas crashing around in my brain for what I might use it for.  This seat cushion was in need of updating, so I covered it in grey leather - LOVE!  I need a little bit more foam to fill out the cushion, so it is still technically a WIP.
I hit the store for the first time as we were leaving town for a quick night away.  While we were in the city, I used the opportunity to pick up some tools for working with leather - most importantly a punch to help make sewing lines, leather needles, and some polyester thick thread.
My dear had a wallet that was falling apart, so I offered to make him one.  I had a straight edge, but no hard surface... I wanted to try making something while I had some quiet minutes.  For being made in the car I am happy with how it turned out.  There are a few squiggly spots in the sewing, but it lends a bit of character and reminds me of some of the things that I learned while working with a new material.
Leather is a different experience than sewing with cotton/cotton blends. 
  • The edges do not fray, so hemming is not necessary although on the new seat cushion, I did hid the seams inside the cover.
  • Pins are not recommended - I used binder clips to help hold seams.
  • I found I could easily cut with my rotary cutter - at least through the thinner pieces.
  • Marking on leather is tricky - I used permanent marker for my large wallet (below), which was fine because I did not have any places where the marks would be seen.  I think that if you can find a way to make a cutting groove with perhaps a nail or something that would be helpful.
This new material has been a fun change/challenge for me to work with; I am looking forward to creating more items with the leather that I have purchased.  Check out our leather project pin board here!
I am still doing the 100 Happy Days challenge, and will update with pictures again soon.
Remember Happiness is a choice!

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