Posts filed under ‘ttmyl easier’

easier #4

about two months ago i stumbled across a blog that was promoting the website  it sounded interesting, so i took a look and thought i’d try it out.  we’d done job charts with our kids before but usually when they wanted something specific and they weren’t willing to wait for christmas or birthdays.  the difference between and the sticker chart on the fridge that we used to do, is that it functions more like a bank and as the kids find things that they’re interested in, i can add those items to their goals.

having a “bank account” has helped my kids learn that saving up for stuff takes time, and that the harder they work the faster they can achieve their goals.   i wouldn’t say that it’s the most “user-friendly” site out there, but once i’d tinkered around with it for a while it became familiar and easy to use.  i recommend checking it out, because like i said- it’s free.

one tip i do have if you decide to use it, is to print off a PDF version of the job charts and stick it to your fridge.  the kids highlight jobs that they’ve done, and at the end of the week i tally up the points instead of trying to log into the site at the end of each day.   once the kids have completed their jobs on saturday we take the completed job chart, sit down at the computer together and input the data.  then the kids spend several minutes in their “shop” dreaming about the toys that they’re so close to owning.

about 3 weeks ago the kids earned their first reward: *pillow pets.  they’d been longing for those toys for months and had finally saved up enough money to order them. (see the asterisk at the bottom for my thoughts on the pillow pets.  harumpf.)  today the pets arrived, and there was more excitement in our house than on all of our christmas mornings combined.  they screamed and jumped and screamed and squealed and bounced and practically exploded with enthusiasm!    they are so in love, and i am so in love with my kids learning the value of working, earning, saving, and rewarding.

*a warning about the pillow pets website:
SO unsatisfied with the company.  when i put the pillow pets on my kids job charts, i linked them to the pillows on and thought that i’d just pay the exchange rate and it would be no big deal.  however the toys were unable to be shipped to canada when i finally went to order them.  whether that’s the fault of the pillow pets franchise or amazon or canada customs or whatever- i don’t care.  the thing i DO care about, is that when i ordered them directly off of the pillow pets website,  i was accosted with several pop-up windows asking me to buy more stuff, and am i sure i want to leave, and check out this free shipping site, and yadda yadda.    my email account also got spammed.   irritating strike #1.
then the next day i received an email that contradicted my initial receipt saying that “the product had been shipped and hey- we tacked on another $15 because you live in canada.”  it was definitely in the tiny fine print on the first receipt, so i didn’t have an argument, but it was very deviously done as the $13 “shipping and processing fee” that i’d already paid was what i thought i was paying for shipping, not in addition to their “oh by the way” tack-on.  irritating strike #2 (and really the one that had me removing any other pillow pets from the kids’ future goals in their job chart shop).
and irritating strike #3 is that they took SO long to get here! my poor kids earned those things, and every day started with the hope that their rewards would come, and every day ended with the disappointment that they didn’t come.  i checked out my confirmation email to try to find a tracking number, but the “find my order” feature on the pillow pets website was non-functional.  so i emailed them and asked them to track my order for me, and i received an email back from them (full of spelling mistakes, by the way- strike #4!) saying that they couldn’t find it either and that i just had to wait.
so yes, the pillow pets are very soft and the quality seems great, and my kids are really happy with them; but i’m so never buying another one of those things, and i thought it fair to warn any of my canadian readers about the hassle of trying to get one into your home.

so let’s remember the lesson of this post:–YES!!–RUN AWAY!!

May 10, 2011 at 14:34 1 comment

easier #3

like most things that truly simplify ones life, this next item is extremely basic.   so basic that there will be no accompanying pictures, and there are no adjectives to make it more grandiose than it is. ladies and gentleman, allow me to introduce:

the car snack bin.
take an empty (and clean) margarine container,  add snack food,  put it in your car.  consume on days when you’re running errands and feel like pulling into a fast-food drive through is the only thing that will see you and your kids accomplishing the to-do list.    i can’t really describe it more than that, but i’ll give you a list of some things that i like to keep in our snack bin, just so you don’t feel ripped off by my blog:

  • granola bars (avoiding the dipped ones in the summer)
  • fruit-to-go & fruit source bars
  • Ritz cheese & cracker mini sandwiches
  • basically anything that you would buy for your kids’ snacks at school

i also keep some juice boxes in the van, but that’s a seasonal thing- hot juice or frozen juice doesn’t go over so well.  we usually just try to bring our water bottles with us whenever we go out.

on tuesday derek and i were out and about and he ran into walmart to replace his broken sunglasses.  the kids and i stayed in the van and had a picnic.  no whining about waiting, and no whining later on down the road when were were still driving around and they would have been hungry.  plus we didn’t have to go into walmart and fall victim to their clever product-placement.

the car snack bin saves us money, time, and my sanity.  hopefully it’ll conserve some of that stuff for you as well.  feel free to leave snack ideas in the comments!

March 17, 2011 at 12:09 Leave a comment

easier #2

thing #2 of this series is a website:

you’ve probably been there.  anytime you google a recipe, this is one of the first sites to pop up.   it’s the biggest cookbook ever written, and if you invest in the pro membership, you get to record any changes that you’ve made to the recipe, right in your recipe box.  way tidier than scratching pen in the margins of a traditional cookbook.  my sisters and i actually split the cost of the membership, so we have a group login and it works out really well.

one of the tricks for success with allrecipes, is using the sort tool to find the best rated recipes.  if you have the time and don’t feel like taking risks with the meal, take some time to read the reviews.  the most-helpful comments are right at the top of the list. also, don’t forget to save the recipe to your recipe box!  it’s so frustrating to have an amazing meal and then be unable to find the recipe again.

another great feature of allrecipes, is the option to search for a recipe by ingredients.  click on the “ingredients” link at the top of the page, and you’ll be given an opportunity to input the stuff you have on hand, and leave out stuff that you just can’t stomach (beans!).

there are a few things that i make and they’re sort of  “joan trademarks” but really, i got the recipes from  here they are!

February 28, 2011 at 17:27 1 comment

new series?

i’ve been thinking about making a new weekly installment on my blog.  no idea how long it’ll run, but i’ve got a lot of ideas for this one.  voilà:

without a doubt, the first device that makes my life easier, is a crockpot.  i use it 3 or 4 times a week and it not only saves me time, it saves me money.  i find that dinner time comes at probably the busiest time of the day, and i either don’t have the time, the energy, or the resources to make supper on time.    when evening sets in and the rest of the world is thinking about supper, i’m taking a much-needed break from homeschooling, cleaning, whatever and enjoying the fact that supper is cooking itself.   i even use my crockpot in the summer to keep my house cool, by plugging the appliance into an outdoor outlet and hiding it inside my barbecue to protect my supper.    using my crockpot stops me from ordering in, and from running to the grocery store where i never pick up “just what i need for supper.”

pretty great tool eh?  i’m sure you all have a slowcooking device hidden somewhere, so i’ll share the recipe that’s got all of my facebook friends in a craze lately, and hopefully you’ll start letting this little tool make your life easier as well.

(disclaimer:  this recipe is not my own, it was given to me by a crockpot-loving friend)


INSTANT chocolate pudding
cake mix and the ingredients on the back of the cake box

spray your 4-quart crockpot with cooking spray.  empty the pudding mix into the crock and whisk in the required milk (it’ll say how much on the back of your pudding package, i used a 4-serving package and 2 cups of milk).
mix up your cake batter according to the package directions, and then CAREFULLY pour it over the pudding, being cautious not to mix it.  don’t stir!
you may want to spray the lid before shutting up your crockpot, my cake rose quite a bit.  set the dial to HIGH for 1.5 hours.  the cake is done when it no longer jiggles and you can insert a knife into the middle without goo sticking to it.

a word about crockpots:  they’re all different.  my crockpot cooks hot, and the 1.5 hours was the perfect amount of time.   the first time you make this cake, make sure you give yourself enough time to allow for those differences.   the cake is great hot or cold, and you will definitely want to make this one again and again and again!

February 21, 2011 at 13:29 1 comment

my life in pics