Kindergartner’s Chore Chart

A couple of years ago (almost to the day!) I created a preschooler chore chart for my boy. It worked pretty well, and was fun exercise for awhile. Now that he is a big boy of 6 – it’s about time it was updated! If you are looking for one yourself, has a really cool one. But, of course I wanted to tweak it for our needs, so created this bad boy. As is, the kid can earn up to $3.00 per week at this time – (a 1/3 to save, a 1/3 to donate, and 1/3 to spend, just like before.) There are daily chores, and then (as much as it pains me) there are various “he’ll have to learn before he moves on from our home” chores. Saturdays are somewhat tricker life practice chores that are once a month only that we can work on together. Sunday is a free day! So far he has been really liking the responsibility! Let’s see how far we can go!!!



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Recipe For Backyard Summer Movie Night

One of my very favorite things about living in a condo association is that there are many other families with kids the same age or close to my son. A while back, we started organizing a monthly summer movie night in the backyard – and it truly is magical every time we do it. If you are also lucky enough to have a backyard, I highly recommend it, regardless of your age. Here is a recipe I recommend:

1. Start by setting up a fine bar for moviegoers to serve themselves. For adults, use spirits, but if all is for the kids, set up a decorate your own cupcake station.

2. Get in some social time by doing a group activity together. We let the kids whack a piñata this evening.

3. Make some teepees for shelter and cuddling. I ended up using bamboo poles from the garden store for the poles, and duvet covers from the thrift store for the fabric making them very light weight and affordable.

4. Add some watermelon and or popcorn for snacking.

5. Set up the powerpoint projector that your neighbor borrowed from work and place on top of an old cooler. If you don’t have an actual screen, or as with us, the Chicago wind makes it too iffy – binder clip an old light colored sheet to the wall. Push play on the computer set up next to the projector. This nights’ movie was the 1978 Hanna-Barbera classic: Laff-A-Lympics. (A nod to the 2012 summer Olympics which were still going on.)

6. Run around, stop and relax, run around, make memories, enjoy.



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First Day Of Preschools

My late fall birthday boy just started his second (and last) round of preschool. I don’t mommy blog around here that often, but sometimes I just can’t help it. That’s my big guy.

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Preschooler’s Chore Chart

Here’s a little something that I implemented recently and has been working really well so far, so I thought I would share. We decided it was time for our big 4 year old to have his own chores, and get some allowance when they were accomplished. So – at the end of the day, after dinner, we go through the list and add a little round sticker on the day’s accomplished tasks. Then, at the end of the week at our weekly family meeting (yes – in such a busy house, we HAVE to have one of those), we count up his stickers. For every sticker, he gets to place a nickel on the circle. We then count out each of the nickels one by one.

He has three jars to put his money – one for giving, one for saving, and one for spending. Ten percent goes into each of the first two, and the remaining 80 percent goes into his spending jar. If he does every single chore for every single day, he’d earn $2.80 a week. That’s $145.60 for the year. 80 percent of that is $116.48. (Not bad for a 4 year old’s annual income!) The savings will go into his college fund, the giving will go to a cause that he gets to choose around the holidays, and the spending is up to him (with some encouragement on our part.)

So far, it seems to have worked pretty well at keeping that little guy in his bed until 6:00 am – and that in itself makes the whole thing worth it. He has yet to do every single thing every day – but that’s ok. I will definitely switch around some of the chores, and eventually raise the payout as we grow into different needs.

(Inspired by something I found online here and embellished)

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Halloween Birthday

October was a busy month for me and as such, no posts happened here. I have decided to stop beating myself up about that and understand that as a busy working mom, I can only do so much. But – that doesn’t mean that I don’t continue to collect ideas, and try to find time to create them offline. For the fourth year in a row this Halloween, I created a special costume for my son.

Halloween is a special day here in the Ci house, as it is my little guy’s birthday. Yes, just 4 little years ago, this happened:

photo by: kasey hund

First Halloween costume: a newborn’s onesie. 🙂 The next year he went as R2D2 – with my mom and I as Princess Leah and C3PO.  (Click on the photos to see how I DIY’ed some of these. Sorry about the awful pix on these, I am always too busy in the moment to get great ones.)

Then the following year, inspired by his love of Blue’s Clues he went as Blue – with the rest of us sporting a paw print as his clues. This is admittedly not my best work, but I was happy that it was handmade:

For that little guys’ third birthday – I wrapped him in white and he went as the cutest ghost I’ve ever seen. (Inspired by this guy.)

And lastly, for his fourth birthday this year, he was insistent that he be a race car driver. Inspired by this amazing DIY, I found a helmet and a  costume online, and embellished with Chicago flags, his name, and his number (4 of course). I was going to use patches, but with a 100% polyester costume – it worked well to use colored duck tape and stickers.

So – thanks for letting me share some these moments that have meant so very, very much to me. I hoped you enjoyed a little. 🙂

Wonder Pets Halloween Masks

My son’s current obsession are The Wonder Pets. He really wants them to come to his Halloween birthday party. So – I made masks (designed to fit on the forehead, above our eyes, and tied with on with a ribbon) for my husband, myself, and his Grammy to wear so that we can surprise him for his birthday. If I feel really ambitious, I will make us capes, too. Here are Linny, Tuck, and Ming-Ming:

Toddler Sleep ideas


Compromise. Consider sharing your bedroom but not your bed. “When our 3-year-old daughter refused to sleep alone, we put her toddler bed in our room and let her sleep there,” says Alison Bard, a Kirkland, Wash., mother of two. If you’re pressed for space, however, a sleeping bag or nap mat will work too. Better yet, these items are portable and not quite as cozy. After a few nights or weeks on the floor, your child’s own soft mattress may seem more appealing to her.

Ok, Babycenter. You have been there for me in the past, so let’s see how this cheapo blow up water toy with a sheet over it works out for us. But, this is only for when he just won’t stay in his bed.

To get him to try to stay in bed, we have designed a ‘board game’, using G’s current favorite TV character: Dora (better than Barney I suppose). When he stays in his bed a whole night, he will get to move up a space. When he reaches a destination on the map – he will get a toy of some sort. Is this bribe? Ah, well. We’ll see if it works.

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Toddler Bed Trials and Tribulations

Please bear with me as I have some Momma issues I need to get out. I knew it would be soon, and I have been dreading it: CONVERTING THE TODDLER BED. It is as traumatic as I had guessed it might be. First off – as with most parenting issues, one just can never be sure they are doing the right thing the right way.

We have been pretty happy with our Ikea crib purchase (the white Gulliver) that has three stages, infant, baby, then toddler:

But a fourth, and sinister stage that we had not predicted came up almost a year ago: our not-quite-two-year-old became a master crib escape artist – even when the bed bottom had been dropped from the infant to the baby setting. As it was nearing cold weather time (hot hot radiators) and we don’t live on the first, or even the second floor of our stairs-only building, AND he just didn’t seem cognitively ready for the freedom, we did the unthinkable. The crib tent. *gasp*

Baby and Momma From Tots in Mind site

It felt like both the wrong and the right thing to do. I was very much looking forward to the tent’s expiration date, even though very nervous about it at the same time. It turns out that for most of the not quite year long tent time, my son kind of seemed to love it. He would even insist that I zip him in as quickly as possible. He always seemed cozy and happy. Until recently, when he decided he hated being anywhere near that crib, tent and all. To avoid making it feel like a prison, (which let’s be honest – it’s always sort of looked like to me) my husband and I allowed him to sleep with us (too many sharp kicks in the lower back to be all that comfortable for us), and experimented with letting him sleep on the guest futon (too big and scary for him.) It was time. Take off the tent and convert that sucker to a toddler bed.

So far, the results are not good. Not only has he decided that the bed is good for playing, reading, and jumping on (anything really, except for sleeping), but it’s also pretty ugly. A prison with three walls:

Actual Collected Ideas 3-Walled Prison Toddler Bed

I used the fourth prison wall to hack some more book storage, and that makes me kind of happy:

But now, what to do about that ugly crib and the non sleeping son. Hopefully some ideas will come soon. Perhaps in a sleep deprived revelation!

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School Blog Idea

#29 on my Forty before 40 deals with a HUGE pending issue in my life. What school will my son end up going to in a few short years??? In a city like Chicago – the choices are many. Private school? Local public school? Magnet school? Montessori school? A new fun one: Unschool?

Here is a cool blog that a Chicago woman put together going though the same thoughts. I will bookmark it here. Ugh. This task is a nerve wracking one.

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Bribing VS Rewarding

My husband and I like the idea of positive reinforcement as an integral part of our parenting technique. The issue is, when is it a reward, and when is it just simply a bribe? This article spells it out very well.

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