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Friday, 31 May 2013

DIY gift for friend - $2

I have a friend I had to make a birthday gift for. Short on time, (always) short on money I was starting to scramble.  I love my friend dearly, but shes more than a little hard to gift for. So I ran through my head the things she likes. She likes dogs, but not a lot that I felt I could do with that. She likes Wizard of Oz but already owns everything ever made by the marketing company. She likes Star Trek (and I'm friends with her anyways, haha ) but again, I couldn't think of anything to do with that. She likes drinking tea.......yes....I could work with that. 

A box of tea bags is cheap and that made me happy. So I picked up a box of 20 tea bags, but made sure they were the kind with the strings attached to the bag. I opened the box of tea from the bottom (I left the perforated top in tact for her) and took each tea bag out of its mini cello bag. 
$2 box of tea bags
Then I picked a colour scheme. I decided on pink because I had enough pretty pink scrap book paper bits to do this project. I took the scrap book paper and cut out 20 squares. Then I used a glue stick and glued them to the existing tabs on the end of the tea bag strings. 
pink paper selection
Next I cut out 20 more squares out of plain white paper this time. 
Total of 40 paper squares
After that I went online and searched out some quotes. I found quotes about drinking tea, quotes from Star Trek, motivational and inspirational quotes about life. I wrote each quote on one of the white squares. I added a couple little memories and inside jokes from our past decade of friendship.

I glued the white squares to the back of the pink ones. Ta-daa! I thought they were really precious and would bring a smile to her face for the next 20 tea times.  I put the tea bags back into the original box and re-sealed the bottom.
Pink paper view of the tea bags
Some of the tags flipped over so you can see how
I wrote the quotes. 
I didn't want to give her a box that, from the outside, looked like a regular box of Wal-Mart brand tea. A little Mod Podge and more pink paper fixed that up just fine. 
Close up of the finished, covered box. 
Considering how frantic I was just a few days ago about this,  I am very pleased with my low cost, high pleasure gift!

Monday, 27 May 2013

DIY hair accessory holder- $5

Funny Story:
When my daughter Audrey was born the whole event happened very quickly- as in 25 minutes. As a result of her very speedy delivery she was born with a broken collar bone and a smushed up looking face (not the funny part).  She was the CUTEST smushed up baby I had ever seen in my life. 
When she was six days old I took her to our family doctor to discuss how her collar bone was healing. She was healing beautifully, gaining weight wonderfully and it was, overall, a great checkup. As the doctor was leaving the exam room he said over his shoulder "And don't worry-she will cute up."  Cute up?!!? Audrey wasn't cute??!!! I looked down at her, and the worlds most beautiful smushed up baby face looked back at me. 
As I came in the door at home I asked That Guy, "Audrey is cute, right?" "Of course!" he said. "Only to us?" I asked. "...yeah..." he said. 

Over the next few weeks the bones in her face settled into their correct places and she lost that smushed up look. But I never lost the tendency to be super sensitive and defensive about her "cuteness".  

*Here is where the above story becomes relevant to a DIY hair accessory holder*. As a result of my super sensitivity I may, occasionally, go overboard on having new hair accessories for Audrey. So now, at 21 months old, she has about a bazillion. 

I needed a way to keep all these accessories tidy and visible (she has so many that I will forget she has a certain one if I can't see it). So I went online to look for a holder.  I saw one that was totally adorable. But it was priced at $65! 
I figured I could make one myself, and now I have. For $5- a savings of 92%!
Finished hair bow holder
As I was gathering up all her hair accessories I noticed that the large majority of them were flowers. That inspired me to make a floral landscape.
So we bought the largest size canvas they sell at the dollar store ($3), some hooks ($1) and some dark green ribbon ($1). Everything else was on hand.
See the mountain of hair accessories? I wasn't kidding
 I started with a paper doily someone had given me a package of. I thought it would make an adorable "sun", so I painted it yellow and left it to dry.
 In case you're wondering that IS a strip of kitchen sponge. Its much cheaper for me to buy a package of 10 kitchen sponges for $1, then cut each sponge into four or five strips to use for broad stroke painting or Mod Podging than it would be for me to buy a package of ten foam brushes for $1.
Doily sun in progress
 Next I used every ounce of artistic ability I had and painted a horizon and even some fluffy white clouds.
I thought painting over the horizon line would make the grass look "organic" and "more realistic".
Turns out, it just looks sloppy. 
 When the doily was dry I Mod Podged it to the upper corner and cut off the excess.
It may look like a first grade art project to you, but I was quite impressed with myself at this point. 
 Next I added some self adhesive hooks along the bottom. Just peel and stick. How could you mess it up? You can't! Well, unless you're talking to your four year old and not watching as you stick down hook #4 all lopsided and wonky. Meh, the elastic headbands won't notice.
Wonky hook
 I had some green sequin trim left over from a previous sewing project. I decided to use that as my "stems". I hot glued them to the back of the canvas on the top and bottom. The length of the "stem"must be free from the board so you can clip things to it.
When I glued I used a very precise globing technique with the hot glue. Make sure those strips are really on there, you don't want them to pop off after you add the weight of all the clips.
Sequin stems
I had used up every bit of my artistic ability when I painted the horizon, so when it came to stem leaves I asked That Guy to paint them on for me.
Stems with leaves
 Next up were some ribbon loops for the hard headbands. She is still young for those (her head is too small for many) but already has six, so the loops were a must. I glued down the strip of ribbon with hot glue.
Finished but unadorned
Then I added all Audrey's clips, elastic headbands and only two of her hard headbands.
Yes, those are faux pigtails in an elastic headband.
Cutest things ever! Audrey was so bald for so long.... I bought them from this site
 But I noticed the board looked a little crowed for all you gentle readers to really be able to see what I did. So I scaled back some of the clips to what I imagine the average little one might have.
Pretty, right?
Taa-daa!! I'm quite pleased with myself! :)

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Five tips to a happier you

Five tips to a happier you

When I say that your income doesn't have to dictate your happiness I get a few eye rolls. People "know" that already. Some version of this sentiment has been jammed down our throats since early childhood.

But maybe its not so obvious. Maybe it gets hard to stop and smell the flowers when you're worried that you'll be late getting from job #2 to job#3. If you're late again they might fire you. And you need three jobs just to pay the rent.  Perhaps by the time we have the "opportunity" to take a centering bubble bath in the evening you are simply too exhausted to poor in the bubbles. You have likely wondered "Whats the point of all this working if I am just tired, cranky and never get to spend time with my family and friends doing fun things?"

And while all that is true and very valid, so is my initial statement. We CAN be happy with very little. Or just enough. Or more than we need. It's all in our thoughts and attitude. Not just what we think about either, but how we think it along with our actions. 

Here are a few ways that I work to change how I think and act. These go a long way to helping me feel more relaxed and content even in stressful and unpleasant situations.

Actively take a moment to think about things you're grateful for.
Of course your family and friends will be on that list. But think hard. Include things you might be taking for granted.
My son had to undergo surgery a few weeks back. It was pretty routine stuff and he is so much better now. But I was a wreck about it.  I hated to think of him in pain afterwards. And we got strict instructions to keep him quiet and indoors for at least ten days (seriously?!! He's a four year old! How was I going to pull that off?!) I was getting pretty worked up. Then I stopped. And I made a mental list of things I was grateful for.  I was grateful that I lived in a time where modern medicine made a surgery like this possible. I was grateful that I lived in a country that covered the entire cost of the surgery.  I was grateful that I had a job working from home so I could be there to care for Walter without having to be absent from work. I was grateful for the entire medical team that would be there to see to his complete recovery. I was grateful that my in-laws had jobs flexible enough that they were able to take the day off to care for Audrey while That Guy and I were at the hospital with Walter. See how quickly the list grows? How I was overlooking all my gratitude to be worried? Once I started on my list, though,  I couldn't help but relax. Sure things could go wrong and no parent wants to see their child in pain, but with so much to be grateful for it was easier to put the downside into perspective. 

Put "When that is me" before your thoughts about others
Before I had children of my own, I was the world's most successful parent. I had all the answers to every parenting situation and it was all so easy.  I would see parents in the store who had a child throwing a full out fit about a box of breakfast cereal. Clearly that was just an issue with lazy parenting. With over indulgence. With creating entitlement issues in the child.
Now I am a parent and I just cannot see that situation in the same light. I wish that back then I had taken a moment to think "When that is me with my child I hope people can understand that this isn't about the cereal. I hope people see how hard I am trying. That I am exhausted, and stressed and I hate what I know you're thinking about me." The truth is we don't know their story. Maybe the child (and parent) just lost a loved one and this is part of the child's grieving process. Maybe the child has medical issues and is in physical pain. Maybe the child is living with Autism and they saw/smelled/felt something that was a trigger for them. Maybe the neighbours were noisy and kept that whole family awake for the better part of the night. Maybe there are issues within the relationships at home.
Starting your thoughts with "When that is me" puts you immediately in the place of the person you were at risk to judge.
Setting aside judgement is freeing. It lifts you up and makes you lighter.

Before a difficult conversation switch your "but" for "and"
"I love you but I need you to respect my wishes"
"I love you and I need you to respect my wishes"
"You are a valuable part of our team but we have decided to go in a different direction with this promotion"
"You are a valuable part of our team and we have decided to go in a different direction with this promotion"
Hear the difference? The phrase with "but" makes people feel that everything before it was nonsense. Just a feel good statement before you hit them with the truth. Everything before "but" feels empty and insincere.
The statements with "and" are different. They feel like the thought after "and" is a natural progression from the thought before. The kindness in the first half of the statement still feels relevant.

Show off
Put out the travel souvenirs, display your favourite photos. They remind you of happy times even when it just might not be your best day. Seeing these items may help you to better appreciate the good times, and remind you that good times are just around the corner. Don't forget to show off your smile too. Its a lovely thing. It is also an instant mood booster.

Make friends with happy people
There are always those people who you see and think "I wish it were that easy for me to be happy". Before you pass them off as having a life on easy street remember your "When that is me" thought. Things are likely just as hard on them (maybe for different reasons) but they are choosing to be happy. How? Make friends with them and find out. Happy people have happy friends, so surround yourself with happy friends and watch the best of yourself shine through.

Happy (happy!) Thursday, gentle readers. :)

Monday, 20 May 2013

My personal "No complaining" challenge

Good morning, gentle readers!
How I do love a long weekend, especially when it has been as jam packed with family fun time as this weekend. Such great days strung together always gets me reflecting on how great things are. I have a happy marriage, two wonderful healthy and happy children. We have a home we love and food on our table. That Guy and I both have jobs which allow us to provide for our family but also give us the freedom to provide within our community as well. We are not at war or under the threat of any immediate natural disaster. Life is good!

Which means when I first read an article about how spending one day actively not complaining could change your life I figured it would be pretty easy to test. I mean, when life is good how hard could it be not to complain? How much could it really change things?

That was a few days ago. Since then I have noticed how much I do complain. About the bugs outside, or the guy who mows his lawn right as my kids are napping, or thoughtless drivers. I have complained that I had nothing to wear, that this house doesn't have a doorbell, that the wi-fi was slow. Ugh, when I write it all down I sound like a bit of a first world spoiled brat, don't I? Yet, I think that's the point! To draw attention to our entitled culture.

So, I am going to share my personal challenge with you, gentle readers. For the next two days I am going to challenge myself to be aware of my complaining. I challenge myself to approach things with a grateful and happy heart. To approach people with love, acceptance and understanding. I will live by the adage to say something nice or nothing at all. It might be a very quiet few days as I work hard to rise above the ingrained entitlement and work to change my life for the better.

My life is pretty darn awesome, but that doesn't mean I have to stop working to make it better!

Thursday, 16 May 2013

New Baby gift- $3

Friends of ours just had a baby- I think I have mentioned before how much I adore new babies. So, of course, I wanted to make him a small "Welcome to the world" gift.

I originally saw this on Pinterest. Click here for the source I adored this project, it was so whimsical and sweet, just right for a new baby's bedroom.

I did make a few changes to mine, but my total cost came in at $3 and that was for the frame (everything else was already on hand). Let me show you what I did....

You will need:
- frame (it would be great if it had four separate "windows" in it. The only ones I could find like that started at $25, so I made do just fine with a single window long frame)
-safety pins  8 large and 4 tiny (I did not have eight large safety pins in the same colour so I also used some-)
- silver spray paint
- gel super glue (make sure you use the gel. Regular super glue is too runny for this purpose)
- scrapbook paper
- Bristol board
-double sided tape
- glue stick
I also used my Cricut cutting machine because, as I have mentioned before, I lack all artistic ability.

I started by opening up my frame and removing the "art" that was originally in there. I used the discarded art as a template to cut my black Bristol board so it would fit perfectly inside the frame. *When using black Bristol board the oil in your fingers transfers to the surface and is highly visible. I used a tea towel when I was handling the black to avoid getting fingerprints on it.*

Next I went outside and spray painted my safety pins.  If you have to do this remember to open at least one safety pin, as one will be open in the finished product and you don't want a different coloured tip. This will take three coats of paint to get nice coverage. Let dry
My mismatched safety pins

Getting a silver shower
Next I cut my four squares of green scrapbook paper. Since I am a terrible cutter (you didn't think that was a thing, did you? But it must be, because I am!) I actually had to use my Cricut to cut four squares all the same size and without any wavy lines, its a sad thing gentle readers. My squares were 2 1/2 inches wide and 3 1/2 inches tall.

When my paint was dry I arranged my safety pins into my "storyboard".  First square has mommy and daddy safety pin. Second has expectant mommy (with baby safety pin head down inside mommy) and daddy safety pin. Third square has baby safety pin making an entrance into the world while daddy stands by as a source of support. The last frame is the new family lined up.

Using the gel super glue I dabbed glue on the top and bottom of the back of the safety pin and pressed the pin to the paper. Hold for a count of five. Oh, and you will get superglue on your fingers during this step. As far as I can tell there is simply no avoiding it.
Double sided tape
Next I put double sided tape on the back of each square and positioned it on the black Brostol board.
Safety pin family all glued down

Getting there...
Then I used my Cricut again to cut out the letters for a simple phrase. I used "We made a wish and you came true" but the family's surname with the date of the child's birth would be lovely too.

I glued the letters in place, popped it into the frame and - Volia!

Finished product! 

Monday, 13 May 2013

Happy Birthday! Here's some free stuff

Happy birthday, gentle readers! If it is your birthday today I bet I just knocked your socks off ;) If it is not your birthday today, it will be at some point.
For me birthdays mean a day with lots of good will greetings and people treating you like a minor celebrity.  And we all know what celebrities get, right?  FREE STUFF!

Lots of places offer free items or substantial discounts on your birthday.  Most do not openly advertise as much.  But because I like you, gentle reader, I have composed a list for you.  This list is mostly relevant to Canadians, but many of these companies are international so their policies regarding birthdays should be similar across the board.

Since pretty much every offer is dependent on your signing up for the club or newsletter, you may consider opening a separate (free!) e-mail account for e-mails/notifications and newsletters from all these places. This way as you head out to do some shopping you can scan this e-mail inbox for deals and sales. 
Let's get started on where you can get freebies in celebration of your day:
(These will require ID, of course)

-Free small Slurpee on your birthday

American Eagle Outfitters
- sign up with them and get 15% off your purchases during your birth month (Nice one AE!)

Baskin Robbins Ice Cream
- You will have to join the Baskin Robbins Club 31 but then you will receive a coupon for buy one get one free ice cream scoop or cone. 

Booster Juice
- Once you sign up for their newsletter you will receive a coupon for a free regular sized smoothie on your birthday

Boston Pizza
- Sign up for their newsletter to get a coupon for a free pasta or dessert on your birthday

Cold Stone Creamery
- Join the My Cold Stone Club and get a coupon e-mailed to you for a buy one, get one free creation sundae on your birthday

Giant Tiger
- Choose a free birthday item. They usually have three or four items for you to choose from

Home Outfitters
-sign up with them and get a coupon for 10% off your entire purchase

Medieval Times
-Join the Medieval Times Birthday Fellowship (that's really what its called, haha) and get free admission on your birthday

Milestones Bar and Grill
-Join the Milestones Club and get a free birthday coupon valid for a week (that's pretty cool). Plus, buy three entrees get the fourth for free (so make your friends buy their meals and get yours for free!)

Montana's Restaurants
- When kids under 11 join the Montana's birthday club they will receive a free meal from the kids menu on their birthday

Old Navy/GAP
-Register for the birthday club and get a free birthday item

Pizza Hut
- Get free lunch buffet on your birthday

Red Lobster
- Sign up for the Seafood Lovers Club and get a "special birthday offer" (but they do not disclose what offer that might be)

RW &Co.
-sign up for their newsletters and they will e-mail you a coupon around your birthday. Print it off and bring it on for 25% off the last ticketed price on all merchandise.

- Get their Beauty Insider Card and get a mascara and highlighter.

Shoppers Drug Mart
-When you sign up for e-mail newsletters with Shoppers, be sure to include your birthday. That way you can get a free makeover or beauty consulation.

- Get a free birthday beverage.  They do make you jump through hoops a bit here though. First you have to have and register your Starbucks card. Then you must buy something at a participating Starbucks using your Starbucks card within 12 months of your registration. Then you should find a birthday postcard in your mailbox 3-7 days before your birthday. You'll need to bring that card in before the expiration date to cash in on your free drink

Swiss Chalet
-Join the e-mail newsletter and get a free dessert on your birthday

The Keg
- Get a free slice of Billie Miner Pie on your birthday

PLUS many mobile providers offer free minutes/data on your birthday. Since these often vary depending on your monthly plan go ahead and reach out to your mobile host to find out what they will offer you.

Once again, happy birthday gentle readers- whenever that might be.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Mother's Day gift for Mother-In-Law --under $3!

A little while back I posted my $1 Mothers Day Gift for my mom (read it here).  Then, more recently, a Mothers Day gift idea from my daycare children to their moms (read it here). However, that does not get me off the hook for Mother's Day. I still have to come up with something affordable for my mother-in-law for Mother's Day.

I am fortunate enough to have a pretty good relationship with my in-laws. Sure, they drive me batty on occasion but let's be honest- so do my kids and I still love them! hahaha So I wanted to do something for my Mother-in-law that she would really like, but I also wasn't willing to break the bank on it or spend three weeks working away on a project.  Happily for me this gift is cheap (less than half of my typical $8 gift budget), quick and easy peasy.

This pretty brooch cost me less than $3 to DIY and I really think my MIL will love it.

Love it! So pretty 

I went to Fabricland and bought this pretty decorative button (although who would spend $5.49 per button on any garment save a wedding gown is totally beyond me!). There are quite a few styles of these sparkly decorative buttons/clasps  at Fabricland ranging in price from $3-$12 depending on size and design. Since I have a Fabricland discount card I get 50% off buttons. If you don't have a discount card, ask around. You likely know someone who does and its worth it to go shopping with them.
Pretty button

When we got home That Guy snipped the "button" loop off the back with....a tool...of some sort......**UPDATE: That Guy has notified me that he used wire cutters for this purpose**

Next, just add a little super glue to a brooch backing, press and done!
Brooch backings and super glue
The box of brooch backings were an on hand item. But originally their cost was $5 for 60 at Michaels Craft Store- of course I used a 40% off coupon.

Use a hole punch to punch two holes in a piece of card stock. Write a nice message on the card stock, add the pin and you have a great, fast, easy, inexpensive Mothers Day gift!

Happy Mothers Day, gentle readers!

Monday, 6 May 2013

Mothers Day gift from the kids- great for Grandma too!

Running a home day care means that on special days (like Mother's Day, Father's Day, Christmas ect) I have one more gift idea to come up with- a gift from the daycare children to their parents.

Full day kindergarten has been rolled out in this area. That means some kids are starting full day school as young as three years old! So the children under my care during the day range in age from six months to three years.
I could come up with a slew of great/fun/pretty/useful things for Mom- I am one so I kinda have the inside scoop ;) But these gifts have to be something the kids can make, not something I make on behalf of the children. Additionally they have to be cost effective since we are not just making one gift, but four!

So my idea this year is to have the children dye white carnation flowers any colour they think Mom would like and present it in a sweet bud vase.  This gift will run less than $3 per child and is something I think would bring a smile to any mothers face.

In case you have never done this fun craft/ science experiment, gentle readers, here's how.

First, head down to your local floral supply. If you can get white carnations from a farmers market or small local florist that would be what I would recommend- I always prefer to support small businesses first, and if you talk to the merchants they are usually very well priced too.  If, however, this option is not available to you places like Wal-Mart, Superstore and Costco also sell flowers for reasonable prices.
Since carnations are one of the few flowers you can dye this way, its also an added bonus that they are one of the sturdiest and cheapest flowers out there. You can plan to spend about $1/stem.

Next, grab the prettiest bud vase you can find at your local dollar store- they usually have them in abundance.

Fill your vase 1/3- 1/2 with water. Show the children your food colouring selection and have them choose which colour they would like to dye their flower. Encourage them to mix several colours for a lesson on the colour wheel combined with this science experiment. Have them add the colouring to the water in the vase. You'll want a lot of food colouring to make sure this activity is completed well and the flower is completely dyed before Mothers Day (**Dear That Guy: Mother's Day is less than a week away! Just saying... :)**) You'll need about 30 drops of colour per vase.  

Allow three to five days for the flower to sit in and absorb the coloured water.

Add a pretty ribbon and note card to the vase for mom and- Volia!- a sweet and inexpensive gift done with wonder and pride by the child themselves.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Behavior jars- our journey to positive behavior re-enforcement

The correct way to discipline your children- isn't this the bane of every parents existence? You know you need to discipline so they understand right from wrong and grow to be lovely, valuable, contributing members of society. Heck, sometimes you even want to discipline them- so they know that what they did was wrong, why it was wrong and they won't do it again.

Audrey is still pretty young and learns a lot about what is right to do by watching Walter and the results he gets from his actions.  Which means its doubly important for us to get this right with Walter.  I feel like we have tried every trick in the book with our strong- willed and intelligent son- or some variation of every trick in the book. 

But recently we have found something that actually seems to work for Walter! Now, as I stated in Getting on the Potty Train I know full well that there is no method for anything that will work with every child, every time.  Yet, this has got our four year old re-thinking his negative behaviors in a big way. AND has him really excited about positive behaviors. 

Here's what we did:
1. Got two empty mason jars. Labelled one "Pick your punishment" and the other "Pick your privilege"  
2. Dedicated a surface (we use a corner on the white board we use for home school, but a note pad, chalk board, anything would work) to tracking check marks and "x"s.
3. Created and printed two lists- one of punishments, one of privileges
4. Cut out each punishment/privilege strip and put it in the correct jar

So we are basically using a gentle combination of several different methods.

More or less, if Walter does something the first time he is asked, does something before he was asked, shows kindness/patience or goodwill or does something particularly well he receives a check mark. 
The other day Walter, Audrey and I were walking to meet up with another family at the park for a play date. While we were walking a dog who was unleashed, unsupervised and in an un-fenced front yard dashed at us. This was a loud, large dog. The dog circled, barked and gave chase -while circling- us for almost three blocks. (The owner casually strolling after the dog, even stopping once to light a new cigarette). Audrey was terrified. She was crying and screamed every time the dog put his nose to her belly or legs and barked. I was terrified Walter would become scared and try to run (the dog would have certainly given chase leaving me alone to carry Audrey while chasing a dog and a four year old before harm came to Walter).  But he didn't.  He stood bravely, clutched my hand and said nothing. He was so calm and brave! I was very impressed! As soon as the ordeal was over he was rewarded with a check mark. 
On Tuesday Walter went in for day surgery. He had tubes put in his ears, his tonsils and his adenoids removed.  After he came to, the nurse in the pediatric ward brought him a sweet plush dog to cuddle.  Each child was given a brand new plush toy to comfort them, and the toys were intended to be taken home with the children.  Since we had brought Walter's "Teddy" with him, and since Walter has a bond with "Teddy" he felt no strong pull to the plush dog.  But he called me to his bedside and whispered quietly if it would be okay for him to take the dog home to give to Audrey. Just out of triple surgery, in pain and feeling very sick to his stomach and his thoughts turned to making his baby sister happy.  CHECK MARK! (And he got a third check mark for bring such a good, brave boy in the hospital, of course)

If Walter does something he knows is wrong, hurtful or dishonest or if I have to ask him to do something more than twice, he gets an X.  A few days ago I saw him jumping on the couch. I said nothing, just stood watching him. He spotted me and stopped right away.  I still looked at him- I have told him not to jump on the couch countless times. He said "Mommy, I jumped on the couch" I said "yes, you did".  He said "I have to get an X because I know that is naughty.  But Mommy? I won't do it again". I said "Thank you", and gave him the X.

When either five check marks or five X's have accumulated the five are erased from the board and he chooses from the jars.

That Guy, Walter and I sat down to come up with the privileges and punishments we thought would best motivate Walter, and down the line Audrey.

Here is a quick list of what we have:
Pick a Privilege:
-one extra story at bedtime
-Play pretend with Mom and Dad
- go to the movies with Mom and Dad this month
-choose what is for dinner
- stay outside to play for 15 more minutes
- help Daddy cook dinner
-build a blanket fort
- do a craft with Mommy
-Have a sleep over at Nana and Papa's
- choose a toy for under $10
-have a picnic
* along with a few more. These are all things Walter really enjoys, and somethings we don't always have the time for him to do when ever the whim strikes him- so they are special to him because we have had to say "no" on occasion to some of them before. Most of the privileges are free or very inexpensive. Doing something fun with kids rarely has to cost money.*

Pick a Punishment:
- clean up all the toys by yourself
- no bedtime story tonight
- You are forgiven- please don't do it again
-donate one of your toys to charity *to those of you who are about to say that this will teach my children that giving is a punishment I would like to point out that our family is actively involved in a few core charities. The women at Community Care know my children by name.  The point here is instead to have him choose what item of his he is to give up.  Throwing it away would be wasteful and setting it aside doesn't make the point.*
-help fold the laundry
-clean Audrey's bedroom
-draw a picture about what you did wrong. Explain it to everyone.
-no screen time today
- hold your tongue - Walter gets himself into a lot of trouble by over speaking. Here he must stick out his tongue and hold it between two fingers for one minute.  It has been very successful thus far.
-stamp your feet for one minute - yup, Walter is a foot stomper.  Makes me batty. They think its funny when it starts, but after a few seconds it becomes tiresome and not fun at all.
- go to your room and cry for three minutes - Walter will sometimes turn on the waterworks as a way to persuade us to let him have his way. No dice. I'm not against crying, I am against manipulation. So by telling him to go cry for three minutes it demonstrates that I  will not be swayed by manipulative crying.   Tears are for when your body or your heart hurts, not to get your way.

I am not a parenting expert, and I certainly do not have all the answers.  But this method has been working wonders in our home for several weeks now so I thought I would share. My hope, gentle readers, is that you might be able to pull inspiration from this for something that works in your home too- or not! :)