Monday, February 23, 2015

The Shared 15 Continues

Wow it has already been a month and a half since I blogged about The Shared 15 and the QR codes that we are using in the house- I had every intention of coming back in a couple of weeks to let you know how it was going.
I bet you thought, "Hmm- it came and went and they aren't doing anything with it anymore". "It turned into a flop"

The Mr. and The Not So Littles thought the same thing! They were convinced that Mom would make us play along - I even overheard him say, "Just go with it". {insert shock face here}

I guess we (I) have tried lots of ways to motivate them in the past. Like I said before, there were charts and lists and jars- full of chores. There was money and game nights and pick a dessert rewards. But nothing really S.T.U.C.K.

Until now.

We are rounding the last corner of February and here we are- still going strong!
There have been a few tweaks made, but overall it is still the same concept!
In case you are with me for the first time (hope you'll come back) or you have forgotten- here is the very quick jist of it:

The Shared 15 means that IMMEDIATELY following dinner EVERYONE in the house gets up and participates in spending 15 mins of their day cleaning a SHARED space in our home. It could be the bathroom, hallway, staircase, living room,- anywhere that is not just our own bedroom basically.

The QR codes came into play with how they are rewarded for their work. I'll link the last post here so that you can read more about the codes.

We are still using the same calendar and I still number each child with 1,2, or 3 for the day. This will determine what job they are doing. It was a bit tricky at first to set it up, but then I approached it like I was creating a rotating center chart.....using my teacher brain helped me out.

This is the calendar. I made a much easier way to see who has what on each day. It really is simple. 1 and 2 are the same tasks everyday. It is 3 that is different. Three are the jobs that don't need to be done everyday but do need to be done often.
So I made sure I had descriptions of what I expected.

1 is the only one that is gender biased. I don't think she should have to clean the toilet they share and I don't think the boys should have to wipe her hairspray off the vanity.

You just can't beat it.
Take Sunday there for instance- right after dinner everyone gets up- One child heads to the bathroom to clean the toilet and shake out the rug, another grabs the broom and starts sweeping from the hall to the back door and looks for thinks that don't belong in our shared space, and the last one picks up the dogs' feeder and waterer- washes it in the sink, refills, sweeps up the area where the food goes and then replaces it.
And it all "just happens" . I don't have to say anything other than "Ok, let's get our 15 knocked out".
Now if what you have to do for the day takes less time than the 15, you head to your room and work in there until the timer goes off.
yes, there is a timer, Littlest Little made sure of that!!
And on Fridays, they all bring their ipods and iphones in to scan the QR codes  for their rewards for the week. We write them down on the calendar and when they cash them in- we draw a line through them. Bing-o Bang-o Done-zo!
We are looking to add a few different rewards- to switch things up a bit- they are older than the "play a game together" or "screen time" rewards, so they have things like iTunes songs, movie rentals, small amounts of cash, free chore day, free laundry (they LOVE THAT ONE)..
It really has been a huge success for us.
We had the 15 years ago, but they were too small for what they did to really count and take a load off of me. Not to say that it went unappreciated, but my burden of cleaning was not significantly reduced.
Now it is a completely different story!!!
We do the kitchen after the 15- everyone has a regular unchanging part of the kitchen, so that goes pretty smoothly and is usually rather quick.
When that is finished- most nights no later than 6:30, we have the rest of our evening to enjoy a neat and tidy home in our shared spaces!
It is truly a beautiful thing! And there are 5 of us- so that's 75 minutes of work EVERYDAY. That's - hold on let me get my calculator- 525 mins a week - which is the same as almost 9 hours of cleaning a week!!! AMAZING! (They hate when I bring that up).
His laptop that I use now is old and evil- so I created the Shared 15 chart on the worst word processor ever- known to man- really- it sucks. If I linked the editable doc here that was made on his laptop, it would probably show up in some weird non existent language with lines in all the wrong places. But it does allow me to save to a PDF. So I am linking the PDF- and if it is something you are interested in, you could remake it to fit your needs.  Sorry that isn't easier.
As far as the QR codes go- the ones we are currently using are in the previous post
It has been especially nice to have everything so neat since we have been cooped up in the house for 10 days. Snow, ice, flooding, more ice, wind chills have all been culprits of what has kept us home!
This last part I have to share- It is one way I have kept busy and sane in the last few days.  Which you have already seen if you are following my Etsy's Fanpage or my Insta

If you just can't stand the cuteness, My Etsy store is linked at the top of my blog!

Here's to hoping that we head back to school soon!!! (Said everyone mom of three after 10 days EVER!!!) HA HA!
I plan to update you on The Shared 15 and any changes we make. I'll also be sure to post any updates to the QR codes we are using! I would love to hear about it if you give it a go- and see how it works for you!
I also plan to share how the Not-So-Littles help me out with Instant Lunches- Another lifesaver we have going on. There are others, too!
So stay tuned and stay safe.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

I'm SUPER Excited!!! (Can you tell?)

Happy New Year!
It was a non-exciting ringing in of the New Year around here! Littlest Little was the only one who went to a party- and I fell asleep 13 minutes before the ball dropped.

There weren't any big resolutions this year around here either. I've done that in the past, and I feel like I stick with things a little better if I don't make it a resolution! (Kind of like reverse psychology. On myself.)

Over this break though, I have noticed that we have gotten away from all of the pitching in the way that we used to. It's kind of hard to make that judgment when you have wrapping paper and decorations and new gidget gadgets everywhere, but trust me, I could tell.

We were riding in the van one day and I was thinking of how I could get The not so little Littles to participate like they used to. It used to be so easy. We had charts and allowances. Ya'll, it used to cost me mere pennies to get clothes picked up and towels folded and put away. Pennies!!

And then there were cards that moved from one side of the chart to another. We also had magnetic charts. As they grew, they outgrew them. Times changed and before I knew it, I couldn't get a toilet scrubbed for a shiny quarter anymore. (Who am I kidding, right?)
So I thought about how to incorporate something that is relevant to them. And I saw it. Right there in front of me. It was staring me right in the face. Actually, it was stuck to my shoe on the floorboard. . It was the receipt from grocery shopping. On the bottom of the receipt was a QR code. And I had a brainstorm!!!!
I thought, "What if I turned their rewards for chores into QR codes?" That way they would have to scan it to find out what their reward was. I figured this would be "fun" for them. At least I was hoping it would be. I needed a motivator.
I put out the ALL CALL to my IG PEEPS to try and think of some rewards that would be either FREE or VERY CLOSE TO FREE- remember, there are three of them. And it can get a little pricey when they all have their hands out! My IG buddies did not fail me! They helped me think of some great ones, and I added a few of my own.
Let me tell you the amount of stuff that DID NOT get done while I was working on getting this set up for us!

I had to  figure out how I was going to use the QR codes. I created them (video below), moved them to one sheet, printed multiple copies, cut them out, and then placed them in these trading card pages. I got them at Wal-Mart (near the binders) for $3 for 10. I added a link to those codes at the bottom as well. Now these are motivators for my children. Yours may be different. And that is why I added the video, so if these don't work for you - you can make your own. (Not trying to insult anyone's intelligence, but I am SUPER EXCITED about this and I want it to be SUPER EASY for anyone who is eager to try.

There are nine slots on each sheet. So I came up with nine rewards- one is actually a repeat . I added them to six different trading card pages, that way I could pull out a different one each week and no one would try to memorize where certain rewards were. Every Friday, they will each get to pick two codes to scan from the same page. These are the rewards that are there:

*Kitchen Chore Freebie (whatever their part of the kitchen is- one is unload, one is load, one is trash & table)
*One FREE chore day (The whole day - don't even have to participate in the "Shared 15")
*Mom will do one load of my laundry (they all do their own, so this is a treat for them)
*One app- ($1.99 or less)
*One Itunes song (there are two of these on this board)
*One book, magazine, or poster ($5 value)
*One 1-day Redbox Rental (movie or game) (My IG friend, Sarah, reminded me of all the codes they send me for free rentals all the time! Cha ching!)
*$3.00 (There is gas station about a mile from the house, the boys like to ride their bikes up there together and get candy or a soda sometimes- so the cash is good) 
(And I plan to update and change out rewards as I think of different ones)
They each have to participate in the "Shared 15" each day- plus they have to keep up with their own rooms. This will make the H-E-double-hockey-sticks that is "Saturday Cleaning" a breeze!

Now, What is the "Shared 15"? That is something we started a couple of years ago- and it WORKED. For a long time. And then life got crazy and shifts changed and it stopped being enforced.
So it is BACK!
IMMEDIATELY following dinner (before the dishes are done) everyone has to devote a SOLID 15 minutes to a SHARED LIVING SPACE. The living room, bathroom, dining room, hall, stairs. Anywhere that we all SHARE. This keeps everything so tidy and makes it really nice when the kitchen is finished and we can all relax. To make it a little easier to remember and to be fair (so no one gets stuck with the toilet all the time, I numbered three tasks and rotated the numbers. )
So there is a number next to their initial on each day. 
No. 1 if it's one of the boys, they have to Clorox wipe the toilets and sweep the bathrooms, if it's Chickadee, she'll have the vanity and trash.
No. 2 We only have carpet in the bedrooms, so you have to sweep the dust bunnies away.
No. 3 "Stuff Patrol" means- going through the living room and dining room and looking for and putting away things that don't belong there. Books, shoes, bags, toys, cords, etc.
And there are 5 of us- so that's 75 minutes of work EVERYDAY. That's - hold on let me get my calculator- 525 mins a week - which is the same as almost 9 hours of cleaning a week!!! AMAZING!

I filled out the whole month!

I wanted them to be as excited about this as I am, so we went ahead and "scanned" on Friday- just 1 though, since it was only half a week.

She was excited about her game (app) and Littlest Little is very excited that I did his laundry today! (And she is older now, but is playing the game to help keep the boys motivated. Plus, who doesn't love free stuff??!)
A note about Apps and iTunes songs. The Apps are easy to "gift"- they just need an email address. The songs, however, you have to make sure that they select a "single", so that you can "gift" them just the one song- otherwise you will end up sending them an entire album.

List of QR Codes rewards I am using.
And now for the video- Good Gravy.
While you are watching, you can play a game called count all the "uhs" and all the times Squirrels says "Super". WTH? I NEVER say "super"! I guess I was just "super nervous".
I know this was long post- can you tell I am pumped about this? The possibilities are endless!! I sent the list to several IG friends this week, I just couldn't keep it to myself! I hope they are all able to incorporate it somehow! I would love to hear feedback or even see how this works for your family!

Happy Scanning,

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Holiday Spirit!

Hello Bloggy friends!
I have been absent from posting- not because I don't think about it, but because my hands have been super busy lately! And while I am a pretty decent multi tasker, I haven't figured out how to crochet and type at the same time!! 
My days are filled with spending time in classrooms all over the district and my evenings are filled with my feet up, a hot coffee, and a crochet needle in my hand!

I am super excited about the popularity of my work- from blankets I have made, to cozies that crack me up, and to custom orders that I love filling!! 

I am very thankful for all the kind comments and wonderful feedback I have received in my etsy shop!

I am VERY excited about a listing I have for the holidays!

With this listing, the buyer receives a gift certificate to give to a special mom or mom to be. After the new year, she can come to the shop and chose from two styles of chevron baby afghans in colors that SHE CHOOSES!! 
Yep! She gets to design it!! And I do all the work! There are some color names and choices listed- but they are just for convenience. She can even send me pictures of the baby's nursery, and we can work together to make a perfect match! 
This certificate also includes the shipping to ANYWHERE in the US!! 

When I thought of this idea, I figured I would list 10 certificates, this would ensure that the Mom choosing her designing her afghan wouldn't have to wait too long. As of today, there are 9 left!
Thank you to Heidi from My Not So Elementary Life for the certificate!
These would be perfect to print and put in a card OR to send digitally! {and no one would tell on you if you bought a certificate for yourself!} I am really looking forward to the color combos I'll get to work with! AND to see pics of those babies with their afghans! 

This Holiday Special will be available right up to December 25th. After that it will be removed. I'll still have custom listings, but  they will have regular shipping charges.

While you are there in my shop today, be sure to check out these popular guys! Coffee has never been so cute!!
Rudy the Reindeer
Shimmer the Snowman
Georgie the Gingerbread Man

I'll be sure to mark them in the store when I feel like they can no longer reach you by Christmas!! 

Also be sure to "like" my shop's fanpage on Facebook. I always post there when I add new items, too! Miss Squirrels Facebook Fanpage

With the break coming in just 9 days, I'm not sure if I'll have another blog post up- but I'll have my fanpage updated with how many gift certificates are available.

Thanks to everyone who has supported me with the venture- whether it has been through a purchase or your super sweet comments! Feel free to Tweet, Pin, Post, Like, Favorite.....i.e. Share :)
Wishing you and yours the best,

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Tuesday Giveaway!!!

Today is Tuesday!
That means a few things if you live in the "Nuthouse" (get it? cause we're Squirrels) 
Anyway- you know it's Tuesday here because one out of three Littles will come home and tell me that it is Taco Tuesday Fundraising night for our cluster of schools at the taco joint down the road. 
We also know it's Tuesday because I will tell that Little "No." 
It is Taco Tuesday for all 3 schools and they have 4 parking spaces in front of the  building. 

You can also tell it's Tuesday because two out of three Littles will get off the bus with two things in mind.
1.) I have to get a snack before I die.
2.) I have to remind Littlest Little that it's Towel Tuesday! 
I swear, if they worried more about what they were responsible for instead of what the others know where that's going, right?
Littlest Little has limited chores. Cause he's little. (Duh?) He's getting bigger though- so along with trash, we gave him another chore which is to wash, dry, fold, and put away the towels in their bathroom- on Tuesdays.
It's a pretty big deal- to him. It may be a BIGGER deal to the other two, cause they feel like they're supervisors now! (We know my thoughts on "supervisors")
"Don't forget the towels! It's Tuesday! Did you get the towels out of the dryer? Remember to fold them in thirds"
(Hmmm- they sound like someone else I .....nevermind)

You also know it's Tuesday around here cause We The People get the TV back tonight!!! There is nothing but football on the tube Sat- Mon!!! Ugh. It is a small celebration when you realize that you get to use the remote!! 
I am gonna watch the crap outta some Dateline and 20/20 and maybe some Snapped! (He hates those shows..... Cause he thinks I'm taking notes!)

Watching football over the weekend though DID give me the opportunity to play around with some yarn ! At the urging of Mrs. Wheeler- I started making  pumpkins. And they turned out pretty cute! 
While I listened to him go on and on about this player and that coach, I just crocheted away.
Here's the result:
I added them to my Etsy, too this weekend.
And then turned my kitchen table into mailing station!!

Even though Halloween is only a couple weeks away, it will be Fall for a while still!

I plan on adding several more styles and colors....maybe even some turkeys and trees!  You can follow my Etsy to see when they are added.

To share  all this pumpkin  cuteness a little quicker- I'm going to send one to one of my Etsy followers, one to a FB fan page for my Etsy shop, and one to a Pinner! Check out the Rafflecopter below to see how you can enter!

I'll announce the winners as soon as the contest ends!
So now this hasn't turned out to be such a bad thing that he had the remote all weekend!!
I can't wait to come back and announce the winners!
Have a Terrific Tuesday!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Interview with A Squirrel

This evening finds the Squirrel household in the middle of Fall Break.
Do you get a "Fall Break"? I know there are a lot of schools that are out just for the Columbus three day weekend.
Not us- they give us a whole week.
That is one weekend + a school week + another weekend = 9 days.
Nine days that we are home together.
This time last year,  I was singing the praises of this break. I couldn't wait to have the time off after the nine weeks to recuperate. And the Littles were uber excited, too.
This year has proved to be the same- for them. They could not wait to get off the bus Friday so they could have these nine days to sleep in, stay up late, and hang out. And they have done exactly that.
They sleep pretty late. They stay up way too late. (And I am also up late- so that is some super quality time that we are having together (insert sarcastic face here)).  And they are hanging out. At home. In the house. 
It is chilly and drizzlely and cloudy and drab. So no one comes to the door to invite them to go OUTSIDE and play. Boo. I mean, I am all about friendship and bonding time. And I am sorry that they are not getting it because of this wretched weather on this nine day break that we are having together.
Do you see where this is going? I'll just end that with, It's been a long break so far.
I have made use of this time at home looking around online for jobs that are available in my area. I have gotten my resume all pretty and professional. I've even uploaded it to a few openings. I even got a "first round interview" for a state job that looked pretty good.
Have you looked for a job lately? Whether it's a teaching or non teaching position? Have you put yourself out there? It has been a long time since I have - and it is a little different.
For example, this "first round interview" that I speak of is what they call it. What it really is though is a list of 20 questions that enable you to shoot yourself in the foot and disqualify yourself from the position immediately so that they don't have to meet with you.
Some of them were your run of the mill things I remember hearing while sitting across from a real live person a million years ago like "What do you think your best quality is ?"
I thought that was easy enough.
I am a brutally honest person. (I left out brutally). But that's a pretty good quality to have  in an employee, right? I threw in few other descriptors so that it sounded cool.
And then I was stopped in my tracks by some of these other questions.
What type of supervision do you like? What frustrates you most with a supervisor ? How do you handle it? What type of person is the hardest to work with? Why do you think that is? How do you stay organized? How do you feel about deadlines? What is your working style? And then the dreaded- What do you consider to be your two biggest weaknesses?
What the what?
Let's take this from the top.
What type of supervision do you like?
Well, honestly, (I already said that I was honest) I kind of like to be unsupervised. And is it really going to matter? If I say I don't like them, will they go away?
What frustrates you the most with a supervisor?
Um, the part where they are supervising me- we established that, right? I mean, tell me what you want me to do, then let me be and if I do it- we'll be happy together.
What type of person is the hardest to work with?
The one that's always hanging around- you know, the supervisor guy.
Why do you think that is?
Cause he's creeping me out.
How do you stay organized?
Depends, what am I organizing? Seriously, are we talking writing down appointments, or am I sorting beads? Am I taking notes? Writing a grocery list? Or organizing my thoughts? Cause I can write a hell of grocery list- the kind that takes The Mr. down every single aisle and the items seem to fall into the cart because I have organized this list so flawlessly. On the flipside, I can  forget what I am saying 12 times in the same dinner conversation because there a million thoughts in my head and I cannot express one coherently.
How do you feel about deadlines?
Well I'd rather they not be so concrete. I like a little leeway in my deadline. I like terms like "around 12:00" and "near the 16th" and "some time tomorrow". Those are all perfectly good deadlines.
What is your working style?
Um, I'd say I am "Glitzy Transitional". I figure it's MY style and I can call it what I want.
And then comes the question that ensures you will receive the "While we thank you for your application....." email....
Your weaknesses.
I HATE this part! I have always hated it!
It never fails that I would sit across from admin during an eval and throw myself under the bus!
"What do you think your weakness was for this lesson?"
And then I would INEVITABLY say something that she hadn't noticed!!! (Way to go, Squirrels!)
It's the worst to have to think of things that are wrong with you and then tell them to other people who do not know you.
I should have put something like "I have a need to become closely attached to my supervisor". Maybe that would help me out in that department. Because no one is going to write "I have a tendency to be late three or four times a week and I like to steal post it notes for my collection in my junk drawer at home." Ugh.
I am very curious to see what the "second round interview" is like. Will I have to get out of my "kajamas" for it? That would be pretty sweet if I didn't. I also can't wait to find out how many rounds there are! And is there a bonus round? A speed round? If so I will just yell BIG MONEY! NO WHAMMIES!!! That should make me a shoe in, huh?
Who knows? It's a crap shoot.
We'll see what they all say when they write me back and thank me for being so honest!
Well it's time to start thinking about how the Squirrels are going to spend DAY SEVEN of our WONDERFUL Fall Break together! Hope you have a great weekend coming up!!

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