Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Chore Charts

Hey all!

Its that time again...where I get frustrated because all of a sudden, my children don't want to do ANYTHING to help clean up THEIR mess. So its time for Chore Charts again.

I have done chore charts in the past... many times. I used to make them up myself, so they were age appropriate. And each time I do it, after a few weeks, the girls get lazy and don't care so much anymore about the ending prize, and I get annoyed at that,  so I stop them.

Then times like this pop up again, and I get mad, and chore charts are back!

This time I'm using pre-made ones. My mom got these from Dollar Tree for us, so I will be using these forms as my template and guidelines.

In the past, I have tried putting chores in a grab bag, and having them pull out one, and do that chore. They fought over who drew what chore.

I have also tried having specific tasks listed for specific children on specific days, so there was no fighting, but...their father is home more now and would end up doing the chore they were supposed to for that day.

Lastly, I tried just telling them what I need from them, at the moment, and if they just did it, with NO fights or whining, they would get $1.00.  They would also get $1 for any chore they did on their own.

All of those methods, would only last a little while.

So now, what I am doing is listing all of the chores I need from them. I believe they are all on pretty much the same level now of who can do what, with being 8 and 11 yr olds.

What we will do is set a money amount for each week. If they have at least 1 check mark per day, they will get that weeks allowance. And if they have 2 or more checks per day, they will get an extra smaller money amount per extra check mark.  So they are in control of how much extra money they get. Our limits are not set yet, but below is a guide to understand what I mean.

EX:  Isabel does at least 1 chore, per day all week. But she decided on Saturday, to do an extra chore. She will get her weekly allowance of $3.00 plus and extra $.25.  She will get $3.25 for that week.

I hope this helps you all figure out how to get your kids involved in cleaning up their own mess.  Don't forget, you are not their maid!!!!!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

How to Hide Your Miscellaneous Stuff

You know what I'm talking about. We all have them. Those places we put things, and hide them, because, well...its just too tedious to actually deal with it at that time, and you want your house to look neat & tidy.

OR...Those times, when you are picking up the house because someone is going to be popping over in about a half hour or you have to run out for the afternoon and just want to come home to a neat clean setting later? These are the times when piles happen.
I'm not talking just about junk drawers, although every house has those as well. (I admit, I have too many of them)  I'm talking about decorations that serve as storage for "miscellaneous" stuff.

Here are some examples of how I hide the stuff in our house, when picking up real quick. Then later when I have more time, I can go through it more tediously. but in the meantime, it hides my dirty secrets of piles. 

First, we have a very large TV that stands almost as tall and I am. And it tends to collect a lot of things that people put up there real quick. I got tired of it. So I hit Dollar General. They tend to have a lot of Cute boxes and stuff for storage.
As you can see, it just neatly sits on top of the TV looking cute, but when you look inside, its a bunch of different stuff from when I picked up the LR.

On my desk, I used to have a large, always falling over, pile of mail/bills here. So I got another box to match the TV one, and it hides all of the mail that I have set aside to either look at later, or to file away.
And since the boxes match, I can later use them on our LR shelf, if I decide to as well.

Speaking of the LR shelf, at the bottom we have this nice decorative box like container, sitting here to just jazz up the books a little.   But if you look inside, this is where I keep all of the girls school stuff like report cards or achievement awards. I do plan on getting a box for each of them to keep all these things, for them to browse through when they get older. but for now, this works & its in a generalized location.
Last but not least, is the shelf over my desk. Used to pile things up there and got tired of the way it looked. So last year, i got a few little baskets. I use them to hold lotion, ear buds, chargers, and pocket tissues for the girls to take to school.

Also, I utilize the picture frame too, to hide small objects like the extra pocket tissue packs.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Pre-teen Girls -- Oh the Joy!

As a mom of 3 daughters, 8yr old twins and an 11 yr old, I feel like I am in a constant battle, that i will never win. Every day is a new day, and I hope for the best, and then the SOS smacks me in the face.

Having all girls at this age, is more of a challenge then I ever expected it would be. I want to be there for them and help them through their feelings, and answer any questions they may have. But reality is not like a "Girl Meets World" episode. We don't have issues and resolve them and hug by the end of the day knowing that we have learned a valuable lesson.  Ppfftt.

This is REAL life. Reality.

My 11 yr old, wants to start acting older. Wants to show that she can be more mature and trusted, etc. By doing this, she bosses her little sisters around. Who now, have voices of their own at 8 years old. (the age at which I swear the hormones start to peek through)  With everything else, its all about her.

We need to go run an errand - she cries that she wants to stay home all day.
I state that I want to stay in one day to get housework done and relax - she complains she is bored and is trapped in the house.

I ask her to take a quick shower because other people need to get in. She argues for 10 minutes about how she wants to take a 2 hr bath and if she can't she won't get in AT ALL.

I tell her that its OK for her to have feelings that she doesn't understand, because she is at that point in life. She will get annoyed, angry, or want to cry for no reason. She can talk to me or go lay in her room and scream into pillows.
No, instead she hits and pushed her little sisters each time she walks by them, as a way to vent her feelings.


8yr olds - at this point they know that there is no real reason why their sister is treating them like this, so they fight back.
This has now enraged the 11 yr old, she runs after them with fury, I can catch it, and tell her to stop NOW. Usually I catch it about .5 seconds too late. Now, the 8 yr olds attack with all their might. Who does she think she is??

Life is a constant battle for me. There are even days where I don't intervene. These girls are straight up malicious to each other sometimes, for no reason at all. In some cases, I would be pissed too. So how do you punish a situations, when you would be mad as well? A question I ask myself often.

There is a fine line between acting on the situation quickly, so the kids know who is in charge, and between just throwing out punishments and yelling for no real reason. I can't tell you the amount of times I have been in the middle of punishing someone, and I realize they really didn't deserve it that much, it was the other one. These are the times I just throw up my hands, and let them battle it out themselves. I can't try to help anymore, because they just argue that what i am saying is wrong or not fair.

There are many times I find myself upset and wondering if I am handling things OK. Are these girls going to get through this and love me in the end? or am I going to end up that mom who they feel never listened to them, and now it too late to build a bond with them.  Do they know how much I DO care? Will I have that awesome mother daughter relationship with them, or is it too late?

Being an only child did NOT prepare me for this.

I know, I can only do my best and hope for the best.  But man.......this sucks!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Bathroom Organized

Hey all!

Do you ever notice how when you grab bottles of cleaners, or shampoos from your bathroom closet or sink, you knock a bunch of other stuff over. Then you have to pick everything back up and re-place it neatly. Tired of that? Get yourself some bins!!!

Yes, I am preaching bins again! Its because the Dollar Tree has tons of bins in different sizes and colors right now - like literally an entire section dedicated to the new ones, as well as the older models in the back of the store.
Your closets don't need to be out of control messy to want to organize them a little. Mine weren't too too bad, but i was always knocking over bottles of cleaners. And I stock pile shampoo and body wash, and those as well, were always being knocked over.  Below are some before and after pics.

 To the left is a mish mosh of hair tools, razors & accessories, and can of whatever. To the right is it all organized. All of the hair stuff and razor stuff is separate and in their own bin. All of the miscellaneous stuff was either thrown out, or placed in another bin at the bottom back of the closet.

Here is a shot of the closet when you first open the door. As you can see I already have make up and all my body sprays organized. We have a ledge in there, that obviously used to have a shelf on it, so hubby made me a shelf to house all my bottles. All my makeup, I use all the time, is in those little drawers to the left. The set of drawers to the right house kids hair things and sample size packets I get in the mail or from subscription boxes.

I only really needed a couple bins for the upper shelf to house all of my stockpile of shampoo, conditioner, body washes. And the other one has shaving cream and deodorants. And there is still room for me to get another smaller bin for my toothpaste stockpile (which I am working on).

And this pic, I know is a little blurry, but, I still wanted to show. This is where we keep bottles of hand soap and stuff like that. Right now the kid floss picks are there for the kids to be able to reach, and miscellaneous stuff is in that little can/bin. 

Also, this closet goes over to the left behind the wall a little. I did have a bunch of Bath & Body Works bags and Ipsy bags back there, and now they are all housed neatly in this basket tote.

Also, under my sink was an issue. That is where I keep cleaners and everything was always falling over and driving me nuts. So, I tidy'd that up as well.I put all the cleaner bottles in a bin and the boxes of body soap are now kept in that round can/bin.

 I know it may not look like a big deal, but knowing that everything is grouped together and not falling all over the place, keeps me at peace.
Hope this helps inspire you! 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Chili Stuffed Peppers

Saw a pic on pintrest of another recipe somewhat like this, and decided to make our own version. It was soooo gooood.  It smelled awesome while it was cooking. Enjoy!

*6 bell peppers
*1/2 onion
*1 package of ground turkey
*1 small can of tomato sauce (not puree), or diced tomatoes if you choose
*1 can of corn
*1 can of beans - black or red - whichever you choose
*Chili powder
*onion powder
*Season All salt
*ground pepper
*Shredded cheese of your choice

*Cut the tops of the bell peppers off and hollow out the insides. Rinse until all seeds are gone. Stand up in a baking/casserole dish.
*Slice onions very small
*Drain the cans of corn and the beans

*Bake the empty peppers on 350 for about 5-10 minutes to pre-cook them. But do not over cook, as they will have trouble holding their structure. 
*Chop onion into small pieces and saute with a bit of oil, in pan,  until clear
*Brown the ground turkey in pan with sauteed onions & add in the seasonings
*Add in the tomato sauce a little bit at a time, as it cooks. you want it to help add liquid to the mixture but not enough to make it soupy.
*Add in the corn and bean
*Heat until all flavors are cooked well together.
*Place the mixture into the pre-heated peppers.
*Top with cheese
*Bake for about 15 minutes at 350.


Monday, February 16, 2015

DIY gift for any occasion

Hey all!

I know this has been seen all over the place, but it really is a great idea when you are in a "what do I buy this person" rut.
My kids wanted to do this for their Daddy for Valentine's day, and it was really simple.

 Just start with a regular mug. It can be clear plastic like this, or a ceramic mug in white, either will do.
Next, you need your writing utensil. We bought an acrylic paint marker, since the cup was plastic. (If it were ceramic, we would have done permanent marker and baked the cup in the oven to seal it.)
I will admit, using the paint marker on plastic, we did not seal it. I just really wanted it to look super cute for the reveal at opening.


Next you fill the cup with Reese's pieces. (We will be using puzzle pieces for a DIY gift at Mother's Day)
Write on the mug "We love you to Pieces"  -- get it? Get it?  Ha ha

Total spent on this project was under $10 and the kids loved giving it to Daddy. 
Hope you enjoy this quick little DIY gift that you can make for any occasion.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Valentine's goodie boxes

Hey all!

Hope you are all staying warm. Here in NJ, although we haven't gotten much snow, we have had the cold and I woke today to a lovely 6 degrees.  The perfect weather to just stay in and cuddle up with your loved ones. It is Valentine's weekend after all.

In our house, we never really go all out for Valentine's Day. For many many years, we just couldn't afford it and I used to think it was just a Hallmark holiday anyway. But then the kids started going to school and I started the tradition of making them goodie bags. (I did realize last night that its pretty much the same concept of Easter baskets, but they KNOW it comes from me)

This year, while out and about, we found these cute craft kits at Target, that I just couldn't resist. And the size of the box is perfect. The kit itself was $3 for the foam stickers and all, and the box was sold separately for $3, so each was $6 - not too bad. That was a fun craft one cold night, and it kept them all busy for about an hour.  We had a castle, a unicorn, and a funky zebra print. (I know Vday is tomorrow, but if you have Cartwheel app, there is a 40% off coupon, on these right now)

Over the last week, I have been picking up little things here and there, and finally got them all assembled.

I forgot to take pics of everything separately, but I did snap a pic of these cute sticky note pads I found at Dollar Tree!

 Here it is all finished and put together. List of items, stores bought and prices are below.

*Cards - Dollar General -- $1 ea.
*Starburst gum - Target - 3 pack for $1.00 after coupons & Cartwheel
*chocolate M&M type candle tube - Dollar Tree - $1 ea.
*tub of cotton candy - Target - $1.00ea.
*bracelets in there each the girls made for each other from a kit we got at Walmart for $2.50 (kit made 5 bracelets and included Shirnky Dink charms
*Sticky note pads - Dollar Tree - $1 ea.
*chocolate goodie bags - Target -  3 bags of different chocolates was $9 total for brand names and the goodie bags with ties were $1.00 for a package of dozen
*cups with straw - Target - $5.50 ea. on sale

The cups were a little much, but with their goodie bags I like to treat them to one non V-day type "goodie". And luckily we have been  getting our taxes before Vday these past few years. One year I bought them cute little purses and filled them with candy and stuff. Last year we got these heart baskets (still sold this year at Dollar Tree) and filled that with goodies and note pads with new pencils/pens.  Just something to make them feel "loved". And it came to only about $20 per child. (again, we just got our taxes - usually its about $30 for all 3)

Not pictured, I also made a goodie bag for the hubby, but will need to post separately. There is a small little project I have to do with the girls before its all done, and he is off today.

Hope this helps inspire you for ANY occasion, really.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Cleaning Groups make it easier

Hey all!

Yesterday I mentioned how when I pick up around the house, I do everything in groups. And I said I would further explain that. So here we are.

If you look around the rooms that you clean the most, you should be able to see a pattern with what is usually in that room, what people leave in that room, and what always is getting picked up. once you figure that out, group them into categories

I know it can be overwhelming once you walk into a messy room and you juts don't know where to start. So what you do is walk in, think of what group of stuff is making the most mess, and pick that up first. And so and and so forth.

Below is an example of my Living room groups that I pick up by:

For instance, this morning, there were couch blankets all over, so I put all those in the blanket basket. Then I was able to see that the girls left a lot of clothes, so I threw those all down int he basement. next I picked up dishes and collected trash laying around. Done Now I can easily run a vacuum real fast.

I have the same kind of list for the kitchen as well:
Yes, clothes seem to be in our kitchen a lot too. I don't know why. Its a big kitchen and my husband insist on having a TV in there, so, it happens.

I have categories like this for each room, even the girls bedrooms. They have a list on their wall, and when they have to clean their room, they go down the list of groups. It seems to help them as well.

Hope you try this out. Let me know how it works for you!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Current Cleaning Routine

Hey all!

If you are anything like you me, you feel like you either clean all the time, or like you never have time to clean. I took the day off of work yesterday, and had literally NO time to clean.It was a busy busy day. I actually passed out before 11pm, which is early for me.
That busy day led me to having to get shit done this morning. So I thought I would share with you my cleaning "routine". I loosely call this a routine because, happens....and you fall off track. and if your a working mom like me, life can fall off track every few days. But to try my best to stay ON TRACK, I follow this little routine below.

All week days:

7:20am -- Once I wake up the kids, and they are moving, I get myself dressed and shoes on and ready to walk out the door. But, while i am waiting for the kids to come downstairs and need my assistance, I will try to start doing some dishes. (we do NOT have a dishwasher) Usually I can get through a load of cups. And that way, 25% or more of the dishes are done for later.

8:30am -- All the kids have been dropped off at school.This is typically when I will pick up the LR. I use my grouping method of picking up - dishes, clothes, trash, shoes & blankets. (will do another post on this Grouping method tomorrow)

9:00am - I have to log in for work. And usually I have to pick up the desk to be able to make it a workable space, so that gets cleared everyday as well.

With those duties, of course things will change on an ass needed basis. Sometimes the kitchen needs ALL my attention and the LR doesn't.

Throughout the day, I will pick up a few little things here and there as needed. If one room is extremely messy with the kids stuff, I make them pick it up.

10:00pm -- Before bed, when I am making the kids lunches, I try to completely clean the counters and tables & wipe them down. That way the kitchen is fresh and ready to go in the morning, and I can just start on the dishes.

Wednesday - recycle trash day:
Our inside can for recycle items goes out every Wednesday morning. On those days, I pull out both trash cans from that corner of the kitchen and sweep & mop that corner.

Typically on weekends, I try to get cleaning done, that is a little more tedious. I try to clean the bathroom, sweep & mop the kitchen, make sure everything is wiped down and clean like stoves and cabinets. I will straighten up our front porch and maybe vacuum it (depending on how much time we are spending out there at that time of the year). Vacuum the couch. Straighten up shelves and wipe them down. Get any laundry to the place where its needed, whether it needs to be done or if it needs to be put away.

As i stated, life happens and things change, so this list is mainly my goals for cleaning. Lately I feel I have been doing pretty well with trying to stay on top of this. And, this also changes in summertime as well, as kids are home all day and I work from home, so we are all here all day, everyday.

I hope this helps you realize that you too can keep on top of things, if you just attack cleaning in smaller portions throughout the day and not a big huge chore each day.


Monday, February 9, 2015

My thoughts on the Grammy's

Hey all!! 
So, I have been hitting a road block lately with the blogs, I know. its winter and we don't get out much, so there isn't too much to talk about. And like I have mentioned in some past posts, that we are not in a financial place right now where I can do shopping sprees and stuff like that. SO......

I am going to start doing these blog posts where I vent about celebrity stuff. I watch a lot of reality shows (hey, its pretty much all there is anymore). And we shall see how all of my readers like that. 
I will still be doing all my other money saving tips and couponing and craft posts. This is just going to be a new installment to MamaMIA.

Today, the topic is the Grammy's!!!! 

I actually watched quite a bit of this last night, including some red carpet interviews and such. So here are my thoughts.

*Madonna - its polite courtesy to not have your back to the person interviewing you. Ryan Seacrest had to keep leaning around her to put the microphone in front of her so she could be heard.

*Arianna Grande - loved the new song, but boring performance. Although I guess it did make you actually listen to the song and her voice, so not too bad.

*Taylor Swift always annoys me and I hate that I like her songs, so no comments there.

*Madonna - I used to love her. I feel like each time she makes a new album it comes and goes pretty fast. I like her, but I think with her aging, she should maybe start doing some more mature things. I don't know...just my opinion.

*Lady Gaga -- First, I like her new look, although it did remind me of Jessica Rabbit. But that's OK!
Second, am I the only one who noticed, it seems as though she wasn't sure how to move in that dress, to that song, and I swear it was like the was "trying" to twerk while standing up straight. It was a little odd. All together, her and tony sound great together though!

*Pharrel Williams -- that was the scariest version of Happy I have ever heard. It did not make me feel happy at all.

*Kanye West -- I feel he is conceited and his performance made it seems as though that is true. All lights in the place off except for him, and then he just runs off stage??? And of course...his "playing around" act at the more words....**eye roll**

*Kim Kadashian -- I am REALLY getting tired of seeing your boobs.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Crockpot Chili

Hey all!

Below is my recipe for crock pot chili. I have done this recipe with ground beef and ground turkey and both ways are delicious. The choice is up to you. This is a great winter weekend meal, to warm up with while watching a movie, snuggled on the couch. or you can cook this up, and have it ready for guests when they come over. 
Just add all the ingredients (except the cheese) to the crock pot and cook on high for a few hours, then turn it to low until cooked to your liking. 
Serve in a bowl and top with shredded cheese.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Dollar Tree find - Bagels

Hey all!

I have another Dollar Tree find for you today. I wanted to spread the wealth. 
We are talkin' bagels!

Now, if you enjoy a nice, non-frozen bagel, from time to time, you end up paying about $3 + up at the grocery store for a package of 5 or 6, right?? 

Well, no more. Dollar tree sells packages of fresh bagels for $1.00. They are packages of only 4, but if you buy 2, you are getting 8 bagels for $2. Now that's a deal if you ask me.

From the photos, you can see that they are not stingy small bagels either. They are decent size. And they are yummy as well.
Next time you are there, check them out and try them. I'm sure you'll be pleasantly surprised!

Why I sometimes envy single moms

The struggle is real on BOTH sides of the fence, but you never hear someone say "Ugh, I'm a married mom, my life is so hard."  But damn it, just because you are married and have your children's father helping you doesn't mean life is always roses & easy. And for that, I will admit that I sometimes envy single mothers.

I have friends who are and have been single mothers and I see the struggles they go through. And in most situations I am glad I am not. But married moms go through struggles of their own as well.

When you try to teach your children rules and keep them on time schedules, you always have someone behind you who is willing to ruin all your effort and decide to take the kids to the park and give them ice cream, while you are home cooking dinner. HELLO?
You say no park & ice cream until after dinner, and that's it.

You say No to something, they go running to the other parent.
You say NO, and that's the end of it. There is nowhere else to run.

You stick to financial rules, and say no to frequent stops at coffee shops and such because you can't really afford it, and then you realize that just because you said no, that didn't real mean no and he stopped for breakfast on his way to work (although the fridge is full of new groceries & a full pot of coffee is on)
You can't afford it, you don't buy it. End of story.

the other parent sometimes feels they can go up and down with their participation in your day to day life. For instance, my husband didn't want to get out of bed for the last 2 yrs in the morning (due to working late nights), so I took all the girls to school myself everyday, and didn't bother waking him. Now, he wants to help and let me sleep in...but its only on the days he feels like getting up. In the meantime, my alarm is set to go off every single day at the same time, and my kids know OUR routine, and we do it with minimal arguments and we are like our own little army. The kids don't like the inconsistency in this pattern either. But if I ask him to not help, he gets mad. So instead I lay in bed, trying to sleep, while listening to what is going on in case I need to intervene.
No interruptions in daily routines.

You have the kids all the time. Once in a while you might get a sitter, if you beg someone, but typically, its assumed you have kids with you alllll the time.
You get regularly scheduled breaks to do whatever you want & regain your sanity.

I know this may sound like I am whining, and I should be grateful...which I am. point is that, there ARE times that even married moms, envy single moms.  There is not my life is harder because its just me. Everyone's lives have easy and hard points to them. Its not a competition, its life!!!!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Save money on school lunches

Hey all!

I've got another frugal tip for you all here. 

I have 3 very picky eaters, so I have to make lunches each day for school for them all. As we know, snacks can be a little pricey at the grocery store. 
My kids like the snack baggies of chips and such. Well those run about $7.00 for a sack of 12 bags. And in our house, those 12 bags of chips can go pretty fast. So sometimes, I like to hit the Dollar Tree to see what we can find for lunch snacks. (Yes, I am at that store a lot). 
We bought a fairly big bad of cheese balls, and a bag of pretzel sticks. I decided to break them up, and put them in baggies, so they were #1 portion controlled and #2 more viewable for the kids when they chose their snacks each night.  (we have a snack drawer they choose their lunch stuff out of)

Once all was said and done, we got about 15 to 20 baggies of snacks. We only paid $2. Which compared to the store costs, saved us about $5 and we got about 5-10 more bags of snacks.

Dollar stores have come a long way. Give them a chance, if you need to save some money!