Monday, December 29, 2014

Back to square one, again. a {Mom}-day post

Monday, December 29, 2014
I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas.  Full of magic and family and love.  That's the ideal, right?  No chaos, changed plans or tragedy.  No, we want Hallmark and Norman Rockwell and "Twas the Night Before Christmas".  It's Christmas after all.

But life, even at Christmas, is still messy and chaotic and crazy.  And with all 5 kids home for two weeks straight, it has become apparent that things here need to change.

I have tried many, many, many chore charts.  Lists, sticks, charts, jars, fuzzies-  sometimes they worked for a while, sometimes they were a bust from the beginning.  The closest we have come to a working system is the one we use right now.  I create a list for the kids on Monday, it has a list of jobs they must complete before the end of the week.  If all jobs are done on time and according to my expectations, they earn tickets that can then be used for video games, computer time, outings with friends and other privileges.  They like the flexibility of doing the jobs on their own timeline.  I like that I don't have to harass them all the time.

However, just like anything else, the system is only as good as the effort you put into maintaining it.  And I have to admit to putting less than the necessary amount of energy into it. 

So, here we are, back to square one, again.  Time to roll up our sleeves, dig deep and get ready to make some things happen.  One against 5 are terrible odds, especially when it comes to maintaining a home.  So, we're going to stem the tide, turn the tables and any other powerful metaphor you can think of.  We're going to get things moving up in here.

How am I doing to accomplish this Incredible feat?  I honestly have no idea.  And really, my expectations are fairly low- I know it's not in a kids' nature to willingly clean and be mindful of their home.  And that's okay.  My goal is to help them on the road- to make sure they know the rules and have the tools to maintain a home one day.  The willingness part probably won't come until they are forking over the money for the mortgage, but if they know how to do it- well, my job is done.

Some goals to focus on:

1. Ownership of your own stuff.  The kids are always complaining, "But it's not MY stuff!"  Well, actually, often it is.  Backpacks, shoes, coats etc.  We are going to go with a zero tolerance policy for a while.  Leave your stuff out and mom finds it?  Lose 1 ticket- immediately. 

2. Do it right the first time.  One child in particular likes to see if he can get away with minimal effort, and sometimes he does, because I'm too busy or lazy to check.  But those days are gone.  Checking will be done and major tickets will be lost if things aren't done correctly the first time.  If they don't understand my expectations, they can come ask me, but at this point I've gone over the requirements multiple times, I even have laminated checklists for all the jobs I am asking them to do.  Time to dust them off and get serious.  Lose 2 tickets the first time I ask a job to be redone, 4 tickets if you still didn't do it right.  Laziness step aside- mama's on a roll!

3. Dinner jobs.  Each of the older kids has a job they are expected to do after dinner.  Picking up the main floor, vacuuming a room as well as helping put dinner away and clean it up are all covered.  But, often execution is lacking- Mom and Dad have to nag and hound and harass.  Well, I'm over it and so is Dad.  After dinner is going to become a no- nag zone.  If you get your jobs done immediately after dinner- bonus tickets!  If you head off somewhere and put if off until later- Lose a ticket.  If you go to bed and jobs aren't done??  Lose 5 tickets!!  There might not be much video game playing going on at our house after a week of this rule.

I think that's a good place to start.  I'm already exhausted thinking about it. ;)  But this is important work going on right here- it's about much more than a clean house- it's about responsibility, being part of a team, knowing how to manage a home and care for all the parts of it and it's about mom's sanity- which we all know is the biggest reason of all.

So happy Monday!  I have a week to pull it together before all this goes live and I'd love any tips or suggestions you might have about jobs, teaching kids responsibility or staying sane.

see you soon!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Holiday Deer Head Art

Friday, December 5, 2014
*I was given a stencil from Royal Design Studios to complete this project and will receive compensation in the form of credit to their store for this post.  I hope that the fact that I am working for more stuff from Royal Design Studios shows how much I like their products. ;)  The ideas and opinions are all my own.

You know when you see something and you just really have to try to make it for yourself?  I have been feeling this way about this darling sign from Peabody and Sassafrass.  Did you click over?  Isn't it gorgeous?  The whole look they create is just fabulous.
When I was contacted by Royal Design Studios about creating a holiday project I was excited for a reason to create some new art inspired by their gorgeous creation.  And when I went to Pinners Conference and saw this deer head from The Wood Connection- I knew exactly what I was going to do.
Here's how it came together.
I started off with a piece of wood.  This one is 15 1/2" square. It actually part of another project that I never put together so it was already cut with the holes drilled in before I started.  I started with a coat of dark gray paint.  Once it was dry, I used this Photo Texture Cream from Poppy Seed Projects and layered on a thick coat that was full of strokes and peaks.  This will make sanding in some texture at the end much easier.  Allow to dry thoroughly.  I let it dry overnight because I really did lay it on thick.

 Once the texture cream was dry it was time to start adding the colors for the final project.  I started out adding the cream.  I used Antique White from Annie Sloan Chalk Paint because I had some on hand and it was the perfect color, feel free to use any kind of paint you want.  For the red, I wanted a color that would match a project I am still working on, so I ended up mixing up my own color, but I simply used acrylic paint so find whatever color you love.  This is where the Royal Design Studios stencil came in.  I wanted something that would add some interest and dimension to the project and finally decided on this Herringbone Pattern Christmas Stencil.  I absolutely love the look it gave my project.  They have so many fabulous options it was hard to choose, but this one was a simple, classic design that was exactly what I was looking for.  Because there was so much texture on my board, it was hard getting the lines exactly perfect, but I was hoping for a bit of a handmade/ distressed look, so I wasn't worried about it.  When you purchase a stencil from Royal Design Studios they send you directions on how to stencil if you don't know already.  I found these tips really helpful because I am definitely no expert.
While my paint was drying I prepped my deer head.  I traced the shape onto the paper I wanted to use, cut it out and mod podged the paper to the head.  Then I let it dry.  Once it was dry I sanded the edges of the deer to get rid of any extra paper that might hang over the edges.
The final step before assembling is to distress our board.  I used a fresh piece of sand paper and sanded over the whole thing.  You will see that the raised parts exposed the gray underneath.
Once I decided where to place my deer head I realized that the brown head wasn't standing out as much as I would like, so before I glued it down I went around the edges with some charcoal ink and it was exactly the touch it needed.

 As I said in the beginning, I was loving the look of the Peabody and Sassafrass piece and the thing that really sent their piece over the top was the felt flowers on the bottom.  So I pulled out my bucket of felt and went to work.
 I started out with my go to pom pom flowers using strips of felt that were about 6" long and only 2" wide.
The next flowers I made were these pinched posies.  I cut out small irregularly shaped circles and put a dab of glue in the centers and pinched them up.  I used about 6 circles per flower.  Once the glue dried I glued all the pieces together.  The last flowers are just strips of irregularly cut felt rolled up into a flower, super simple.  I cut out some holly leaves and ran a line of glue along the center then pinched it in half.  Once the glue cooled I opened it back up and it it had this great ridge in the center.
 Of course the last step is the ribbon.  I'm not sure if I'm going to keep this on it forever, but for now I love how simple and understated it is and that it lets the deer head and flowers take center stage.

Let me know if you have any questions.  Do you change your holiday decor every year?  I like to add a few new pieces each year, and I try to retire others too, just so I don't have a gazillion boxes to store from year to year.
Have a fabulous Friday!

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