Lately I’ve noticed that I have absolutely no time to myself.  None.  Zero.  Zilch.  I used to love to read and sew and, I don’t know…… have friends. But now it seems all I do is take care of my family.  Which is a great job and I love them, and all that crap, but good lord, it gets tiring when you’re doing it all by yourself.

My kids are smart, and funny, and really great human beings in general.  They are extremely polite, and well-behaved in public, and every night they each say “thank-you” to me at the dinner table, for preparing their meal.  But they are undoubtedly the laziest kids on earth.  The kind of lazy that makes a person throw their pajama pants on top of the lid of the hamper, rather than lift the lid.  The kind of lazy that makes a person eat a granola bar and leave the wrapper on the side table in the living room (where they are not allowed to eat, but sneakily eat anyways).  The kind of lazy that makes a person spill sugar all over the floor and just leave it.  If I don’t run behind them constantly and remind them to do things, i.e., hang up their backpacks and coats, put their toothbrush and toothpaste away, or carry their toys back to their rooms, they will not do it.  Sometimes, even if I tell them that they have to do something, for example, put their clean laundry away, they will just ignore me.  They might hang up a few things and then stop, or they may just not do it at all.

Now, you might be thinking right now that the reason why they’re comfortable ignoring me is that there are no consequences.  Not true.  There is always someone in our house who is grounded from television, computers, video games, time with friends, etc.  And even after I ground them, they are still expected to do the task that they ignored doing.  But they just don’t seem to care.

On top of that, the kids are getting older.  Years ago I had a simple chore chart that included things like brushing their teeth and putting their dirty clothes in the hamper.  But my kids are at the age where they could quite easily clean a sink, or toilet, or vacuum the rug. I mean, it’s great for them to keep their own rooms tidy and take care of themselves, but they all use the entire house so it seems only right that they should all start helping to keep it nice in some small way. Because besides keeping the house clean, taking care of the kids, and completing renovations and d.i.y. projects, I’ve also started cleaning other people’s houses for a little extra cash.  I need help.  I deserve help.  And now, I’m demanding help!

I’ve had different chore charts in the past; a large laminated chart with pictures instead of words, that the kids used magnets to mark off what they’d done.  It didn’t work so well for me because the kids just basically had fun moving the magnets all over the place, and it was hard to ever really keep track of what chores had been completed.

We also printed out lists and framed them.  Each kid had their own dry erase marker, and their list on the back of their bedroom doors.  That didn’t work either.  They just used the marker to draw pictures on the chart.

My latest idea involves pretty sticky notes, and the side of my crappy old fridge (which will be replaced when we finish renovating the kitchen).  I’ve made myself a “Help Wanted” board, and each day I indicate on the board how many chores they are to pick.  There is much less complaining about helping out, and they enjoy having the option of choosing their own chores.  The “Weekly Goals” at the top are mine. I find it helps me to stay motivate and accomplish things throughout the week if I have to see what I need to get done every time I walk into the kitchen.

Easy, cheap, and it gives me just a little time to myself.  

So now you’re thinking, “Ok, great lady.  Now you’ve drawn on your fridge with markers, and you have sticky notes all over the damn place.  But how do you make sure that the kids actually DO the chores?”  

Well I’m glad you asked!

Chrystal’s Top 5 Tricks to Making Sure That Her Lazy-Ass Kids Actually Complete Their Chores
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1. Pair very young children with older children if you have them.  My 13-year-old daughter, Hayden, has lots of patience and is crazy in love with my 4-year-old daughter, Isabella.  I always pair them together when it’s chore time because otherwise, Isabella will sit and play with her toys rather than pick them up.

2. Let kids clean with cleaning cloths and cleaner.  Let them vacuum.  Let them mop.  Kids love to clean when they get to spray stuff and suck stuff up with the vacuum.  It’s WAY more fun then just putting stuff in drawers.

3.Turn off all of the televisions and computers.  That means you won’t be online either.  I know, it’s not fair.  But you still need to supervise, and the kids will be resentful punks if they think that you’re lazing around while they’re busting their humps.  Turn on some music, and encourage the kids to have fun with their chores. Trust me, I’ve tried relaxing while they did their chores.  A few “Cinderella” and “Wicked Stepmother” references later, all work had ground to a halt.  Seems the kids were more motivated to work if they see mom working too.  Which makes sense…. just think of how grumpy you feel when your husband is reading the paper on the sofa while you’re vacuuming around him with a cranky baby on your hip! ;)

4. Force the kids to get to work as soon as they get home from school.  They’ll try to convince you that they’re starving to death and therefore, can’t clean.  They’ll tell you they’re exhausted from using their brains all day and they need to lay on the sofa and watch horrible afternoon children’s programming.  They’ll suddenly take an interest in doing their homework.  ANYTHING to keep from having to do their chores.  They will not perish from doing a few measly chores before they take time for themselves.   Just the same as us adults, once we sit down at the end of the day, it’s harder to get back up and work again.  Encourage them to just get it done.

5. Some kids respond to receiving an allowance for their chores.  That’s great if you can afford it.  If you can’t, or you choose not to pay your kids for helping out, there is a way to encourage them to get the work done, and that is with cookies.  Cookies are a great way to encourage the kids to quickly finish their chores.  You could also promise a board game together, or a trip to the park, or some time to paint or play with Playdoh.  Whatever will motivate them to finish their chores.  For my kids, it’s cookies.

Well, there you have it!  It’s a work in progress, and certainly not a perfect process, but I’m beginning to have a little extra time at the end of the day, thanks to my family starting to pitch-in.

How do you get your kids to help around the house?  I’d love to hear your ideas and suggestions!

 

Do you love a good terrarium as much as I do?  Lately I’ve been seeing so many beautiful terrariums on Pinterest, that I’ve been dying to make my own.

Here are a few of my favourites:
Via
Via
Via
Via

 
 
A few months ago, I found this really cool glass display case at Homesense, for only $16.  It was love at first sight, and I snapped it up! I used clear silicone to seal along every joint to keep it from leaking.
I added a little soil, and a bunch of plants, and closed the lid.  Some of the plants have died, but the two that survived are thriving, and I have been able to propagate new plants from one of them. Considering my status as an indoor plant serial killer, keeping one alive for more than a month is pretty exciting for me!

 

And here it is all finished up, and basking in the morning sunlight!
(Please excuse my horrendously dirty window; it’s still too cold here to wash windows!)

 

 

 

Recently I stumbled across pictures of the upcoming Ikea Stockholm 2013 collection, and was totally stunned by how beautiful the pieces are!  Available in stores beginning in April, the collection is filled with stylish, functional furniture, textiles and glass wear.
I’ve been planning on buying a vintage sofa and reupholstering it in green velvet or micro fibre, but now I’m thinking that I’ll be purchasing this lovely 3 seat sofa in Sandbacka Green.
I am SO in love.  I wanted more of an apple green, as opposed to an emerald green, but I love everything about this sofa; especially the fact that it will save me from the hellish job of reupholstering it.
And this light fixture is pretty incredible:
More items from the Ikea Stockholm 2013 collection on my wish list: 
Want to see more?  Check out the video below
Behind the Scenes with the Creative Director of Stockholm Collection 2013, Viveca Olsson
Behind the Scenes with the Designer of Stockholm Collection 2013, Ola Wihlborg
Behind the Scenes with the Craftsman; A Stockholm Sofa Comes to Life
Check out the entire collection here.

 

…..into my bedroom.  And also Hayden’s.  We knew that our roof would eventually need to be re-done, but we thought it was more like five years eventually, not next month eventually.  From the ground, the roof really doesn’t look that bad, so we thought maybe there was a chance that we could just patch the roof, but…. not so much.  From the tippy-top of the ladder, it looked like this:

On the bright side, I’ve hated the brown shingles since we bought our house, so now I’ll finally get the midnight black shingles of my dreams!

I don’t know about you, but I am SO glad it’s Friday!!  We’ve had unseasonably warm weather here lately, so I’m really looking forward to going for a long walk downtown to get ice cream this weekend, and maybe having a BBQ!  I read so many amazing stories this week, that it was hard to choose just a few for my link dump!
Check out these great posts that I enjoyed:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!  
See you on Monday!

 

Last week I popped into Homesense sans children for a look around.  Man, was it nice to shop without having to worry the entire time that one of the kids would break something!

Check out a few things I’d love to own from Homesense:
This light would look ah-mazing in my upstairs hallway, and since it’s only $79.99, I foresee it hanging there in the near future!
We don’t need any more lamps, but this one is so beautiful! ($59.99)
I have a thing for side tables, and found three that I neeeeeed!
($79.99)
(Crappy picture…. hammered bronze  $99.99)
(My personal favourite  $59.99)
This pillow caught my eye, and it was only $19.99!
I LOVE this Mongolian lambskin pillow!
($39.99)
Fake plastic plants in pretty pots; perfect for plant serial killers, like myself.
($12.99 each)
Wool felt covered box. I like.
($12.99)
Happy shopping, everyone!

 

I thought I’d share a simple recipe for my favourite sandwich today. A café in my town serves this sandwich, and has aptly named it ‘The World’s Best.” Since I first tried one last summer, after listening to my brother rave about them for months, I decided to just make them at home, since there’s really nothing difficult about them!
The World’s Best Sandwich
2 slices of thinly sliced, toasted pumpernickel bread (like Dimpflmeier bakery’s Pumpernickel – Delicatessen Rye bread)
2 – 3 slices of bacon, fried until crisp
sliced tomatos, green pepper, red onion, and avocado
1 slice of Gouda cheese
mayonaise
After toasting the bread, assemble the bottom slice with mayo and the veggies, and then top with cheese. Broil in the oven until the cheese is melted, then top with the other slice of bread, and enjoy!
Hands down, my favourite lunch!
 
 

 

 
 

 

Things finally feel like they’re starting to come together around here! We’ve had a very busy couple of months, and are moving forward on more than one renovation project. Here are a few of the highlights of the last few months:

I decorated the outside of our home for the first time this Christmas with items that I picked up last January for 75% off. I love the simple decorations, and the clear lights lining the roof edges.

I’ve been s-l-o-w-l-y stripping the stairs in preparation for paint. The main problem is that I have to use a heat gun to soften the paint, but the fumes are so strong that they make me sick. Plus, it’s messy and back-breaking, and I really hate doing it. So I decided to work on hanging my huge collection of thrift store picture frames in a gallery wall display. That also is not a fun job, so again, I’m only half finished. Notice a pattern here? Here’s a peek at my not-so handy work.
Recently, when Mike went away, I tackled a job that we’ve both been procrastinating; tearing down the kitchen ceiling. When we bought our house, I immediately tore down the drop ceiling in the kitchen, only to reveal improper wiring and pipes that someone had installed over top of the old ceiling. So besides the obvious fact that we needed to re-drywall the ceiling, we also needed easy access to work on the plumbing and electrical changes that needed to be made. Since Mike hates the dust and mess of demolition, and I hate listening to Mike complain about the dust and mess of demolition, I figured I’d tear it down myself. The mess was so bad that even I felt overwhelmed. It took me 5 hours to clean up after the ceiling came down!
The next picture shows visual proof of one of my wonderful husband’s pet peeves about me. He says I’m rammy, by which, he means that when I get an idea into my head, I don’t take the time to set up properly, or make sure that everything is prepped, I just tear into the project. Now, normally I would vehemently deny these baseless claims; “I’m enthusiastic,” I would say. “I’m a hard worker!”
However, and to my great displeasure, I have to admit that he’s right.
For some reason (and in my defence), I didn’t expect the mess to be so huge, nor did I expect the ceiling to be filled with blown-in insulation. Notice the sink full of clean dishes burried in grey insulation? The kitchen table with Lucky Charms, a pitcher of juice, and lathe and plaster on it?
Yeah.
In hindsight, I should’ve put those away before I got the big idea to get up on a ladder with a crowbar. Unfortunately, I’m rammy.
Other than that, I’ve been working on a million little finish decorating projects around here, and spending lots of quality time with my 5 beautiful kids.

I’m so excited to ease my way back into the blogging world with regular posts on my home and family! Thanks to everyone who’s continued to check in, and I’ll see you all back here tomorrow! :)

 

Ok, someone get the defibrillator….. Mike, I am not pregnant…. breathe! I do, however, have lots of friends who are right now, and some who are trying, and I’ve been searching for cool DIY gift ideas, and thinking about nursery designs. Here’s a round-up of my favourite baby related pins on Pinterest:






Source: flickr.com via Chrystal on Pinterest

Source: google.com via Chrystal on Pinterest

If you don’t have a Pinterest and an Olioboard account, I highly recommend them! But be forewarned….. they’re more addictive than Facebook! ;) If fashion is more your thing, check out Polyvore! SO much fun! :)

Ok, so I know I’ve said this a few times before, but this time I mean it.  I have finalized the colours that we’ll be painting our house!!  Yay!!  Below is our palette:
And here is my attempt at a photoshopped picture of our house, for those of you who are visual learners:
Of course, we won’t be painting the brick until next year, but I’m SO excited to finally have decided on a plan of attack!