Tuesday, May 28, 2013

"Tech Tickets" (our anti-couch potato system)

Caleb can be quite the couch potato. That boy will fester in front of the television for hours and hours if you let him and he can get a bit testy when it is time to turn it off and actually do something. Benjamin doesn't ask to watch television nearly as much as Caleb, but he does like the Ipod. That boy can play "Angry Birds" until the Ipod battery dies.  With summer right around the corner, I knew I needed to have a "system" (that's right, another system) in place to tackle this issue. I searched around for ideas on keeping media time in check and I found this cute idea for "Technology Tickets". I liked the idea of the boys having a set number of "tech tickets" so I created my own.

(I made these using PicMonkeysuper easy folks)

Each "Tech Ticket" is worth 30 minutes of technology time: television, Ipod, computer, Wii, etc. For now the boys will get 3 tickets at the beginning of each day. They turn in one ticket for every 30 minutes of media they choose to enjoy. They have the opportunity to earn extra tickets if they get a "Yay!" stick that offers that reward. They can also lose a ticket if they pull an "Oy!" stick that has that consequence.

I bought these cheap ($1) wooden boxes at Michael's. I painted them red.

I wanted a place for the boys to turn in their tickets and I remembered seeing how people use shadow boxes to keep movie or concert stubs. I found this shadow box on sale and it has a small slit already cut at the top, the perfect size for the boys to slide in their tickets.

I jazzed up the background with some scrapbook paper and shiny stickers.

Summer doesn't officially start for a couple more weeks but I decided to start our new "Tech Ticket" system this past weekend since it was a long weekend. I figured we could give it a trial run and see how it worked. As expected Caleb blew through his tech tickets by noon each day and then complained the rest of the day because he couldn't watch anymore television. Benjamin usually had one or 2 tickets left at the end of the day. When that happens, I'll let the boys carry their tickets over to the next day...I doubt this will ever happen with Caleb.

There are exceptions when the boys won't be required to turn in a ticket for media time. Freebies will include a family movie night or any program that we watch together as a family. 

We've only been at this for a few days but it really is working well. I think it helps Caleb to see exactly how many tickets he has and eventually he will learn (maybe) to spread them out over the day so he doesn't run out by lunch time! I created this system as much for myself as I did for the boys. This holds me accountable as well. I'm certainly guilty of feeding Caleb's Netflix addiction. These tickets will help me keep track of their couch potato time and I can always reward them with an extra "Tech Ticket" for good behavior....or for when I just need 30 minutes of peace! :)

Monday, May 20, 2013

Chore Clipboard

Okay so we haven't actually implemented this new chore system but I wanted to share it anyway. I mentioned in my previous "behavior modification system" post (i.e. mommy is losing her mind from repeating herself a bazillion times a day), I am desperate to put systems in place that keep me from repeating myself over and over and over again. My ultimate goal is to have so many systems in place that I never have to talk again. Just kidding...sorta. With the success (after some tweaking) of our "Yay!" and "Oy!" sticks, I decided to create a new system to tackle chores, or a lack-thereof. I'm not sure the boys even know the word "chores" because they have never been asked to do any. And I mean never. There are several reasons for this but basically the biggest reason I don't ask them to contribute around the house is because I can do it faster...and better. I realize this is not a good reason and I'm not doing them (or myself) any favors by allowing them to avoid chores. So, starting this summer the boys will have a few chores.

I spent some time looking at different chore charts, I didn't see any one system that I loved but I did find ideas here and there that I liked so I combined a couple of different ideas and created my own system.

Side note: Do you ever feel like you spend more time "researching" ideas on Pinterest than you do actually making those ideas a reality?

 Introducing: Magnetic Chore Clipboards!

 Here's what I did.

I bought 1 inch round labels, used the template to print out a few chores.

I bought these 1 1/2 inch wood circles. I liked these because they were nice and thick so they seemed pretty sturdy. I spray painted them silver just to give them a bit of color and I just happen to have spray paint handy (when you make cardboard creations for Halloween you tend to have quite a few cans of spray paint sitting around). After the paint dried I stuck my chore labels on and did a light coat of modge podge (Mod Podge?, Modge Pod?, whatever it's called I love it) over the top to make sure the labels stay put. Finally I hot glued a magnet to the back of each circle.

Next I made my clipboards. I bought a few small clipboards, about $1.33 a piece. I spray painted them black (this step isn't necessary but like I mentioned before, I have quite a few cans of spray paint so I figure why not use them). I wanted the clipboards to be magnetic but I wasn't sure how to make that happen. I thought about buying magnetic paint but it cost like $20 and I wasn't entirely convinced it would work. So, I went to the local home improvement store and bought these:

I have no idea what these are but I got them in the building supply section and they only cost .60 cents a piece.

I cut them down the middle so I had flat metal plates to add to my painted clipboards.
I glued the metal plates down.

Basketball for Caleb and Race Car for Benjamin.

I also glued magnets to the back of each clipboard so I can stick them to the fridge. 

This is how I envision the system working: I will place a few chores on their boards each day. As they complete each chore they move that chore circle to the "DONE!" clipboard. They must do everything on their clipboard.

 Simple enough, right?

I figure this will play out one of two ways. One, the boys will be completely resistant to the idea of contributing and it will prove to be an uphill battle (that I will win) to get this system rolling. Or Two, the boys will be so enticed by my beautiful, creative, magnetic clipboards that they will jump at the opportunity to tackle their chores so they can move the circle to the "Done!" clipboard. 

I'll keep you posted :)

Oh, and I have a few more things up my sleeve that I will share soon. I've been a busy girl with all these ideas. I think it has something to with my decision to homeschool. For some reason, that decision has led to other decisions. I'm telling you, this momma has been a busy bee.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Kickin' off summer bash!

We are very blessed to live in an area that has some great adaptive sports events. One of our favorites is the Rise Adaptive Sports: Kickin' Off Summer Bash. We go every year and it is always a great time. The event takes place on the lake and they have a variety of adaptive events to try.

Our first stop: Shooting a BB gun.

I love those 2 little freckles on the back of his ear.

We were headed to the next activity and then Caleb saw this:

Yep, they had a skate ramp.

We couldn't get Caleb off this thing. He just wanted to do it over and over and over.

 He had so much fun.

He got quite a bit of ramp time before we literally had to drag him away so someone else could have a turn.

The robot was a big hit.

The petting zoo served as a nice distraction before Caleb insisted on doing the skate ramp again.

He got to see his buddy Bryce.

Benjamin fell in love with the bunnies. And I mean in love.

Seriously, Benjamin is quite smitten with the bunnies. He has not stopped talking about them. The boy really wants a pet bunny now. He is very specific about the kind of bunny he wants. He wants a black and white bunny and he is going to name it "Hot Wheels" because "bunnies are really fast".

We had a really great time at the event. The boys had so much fun. And, I left there convinced that we need to build Caleb his very own skate ramp in our backyard and Benjamin needs a pet bunny. Stay tuned to see how that pans out. :)

Friday, May 10, 2013

Our new Behavior Modification/Reward/Consequence system

I don't really know what to call it..."behavior modification", a "reward system", or a "mommy is tired of saying the same things over and over so we are trying something new before she loses her ever-lovin' mind" system. We've been doing the following "system" for about 2 months and it is working pretty well so I thought I would share it. Basically I wanted something in place that presented clear rules/expectations for the boys to follow. I did a quick search for "family rules" and a found a ton of really cute ideas but most of them involved a huge canvas, tons of pretty paper, and multiple layers of modge podge (you can see an example of what I am talking about by clicking here). While I liked the idea, I didn't like all the effort. So I modified and came up with this easier (and much cheaper) version:

I bought a cheap 11X14 frame at Walmart. Typed up my "rules", printed them out and stuck them to different scrapbooking paper that I already had. Done.

(I actually had more rules that I wanted to add but I ran out of room so I just chose the ones most important to me at this time.)

Next I needed some kind of reward/consequence system in place to go along with the family rules. You follow the rules or get caught doing something super nice then you get an immediate reward. You break a rule, then you get an immediate consequence. Here's what I came up with:

"Yay!" for a reward
"Oy!" for a consequence

I took craft sticks, painted one side blue, one side green. Green for Caleb, Blue for Benjamin. I typed up a bunch of rewards for our "Yay!" sticks, and a bunch of consequences for the "Oy!" sticks. I printed them out and modge podged them to the sticks. I won't share all the different things on the sticks because what motivates my kids might not work with yours but I tried to use rewards that were immediate, like "pick something from the prize box" and consequences that were also immediate, like "go to your room for 10 minutes". I also included a monetary incentive with this, here's what I came up with:

If the boys pull a "Yay!" stick that reads "Cha-Ching!" then they get a card with a hidden monetary value. I did .25, .50, .75, and $1. They can also lose money if they pull an "Oy!" stick with that consequence.

I had read somewhere that you could create your own "scratch off" ticket using dish soap and acrylic paint. I tried that for my "Cha-Ching!" cards because I thought the boys would get a kick out it...but it didn't work well for me. The paint circle just peals off, it doesn't scratch at all. The cards are laminated so I can use them over and over again. I don't think I'll do the scratch off again though.

I found some cheap ($1) wooden treasure chest boxes at Michael's and I had the boys paint them. They use the treasure chests to keep any "Cha-Ching!" money they earn.

Caleb painting his treasure chest.

Don't let those baby blues and that sweet grin fool you folks...he can be a big stinker. He has really tested me recently, which is the main reason I started this whole "system" in the first place. I love that kid, but man he has been pushing my buttons lately. Good grief, he sure his cute though.

Benjamin painting his treasure chest.

I ended up just printing out paper quarters for the "Cha-Ching!". I was going to get real quarters from the bank...but I got lazy and opted not to.

The boys have the option to save or spend their "Cha-Ching!" money.

As I mentioned before, we have been doing this system for about 2 months and it is working pretty well. I mostly wanted something that would keep me from having to talk so much. I feel like I repeat the same things over and over again with little to no results. I don't think these kids hear me anymore. I'm tired of hearing myself, so I know they have to be tired of hearing me too. With this little system in place, I don't have to talk so much. If one of them breaks a rule, all I have to say is "Go get an Oy! stick." That's it. I'm done talking. End of story. And it has been fun to surprise them with "Yay!" sticks when they are following the rules. It's also been fun to see what motivates them. They are very different kids. I'm going to tweak the sticks some because I've learned that what motivates Benjamin doesn't have the same impact on Caleb and vice versa. Benjamin couldn't care less about extra t.v. time but that is a big motivator for Caleb. Caleb will always pick the piece of candy out of the prize box (immediate gratification) while Benjamin has never chosen candy, he always picks a small toy (something that lasts). 

Benjamin has also surprised me in his discipline. He has had his eyes on this particular Hot Wheels track at the store. He wanted it bad. This kid saved up his "Cha-Ching" money for 6 weeks!! He's 4 years old! Last week he finally had enough money to buy the track.

Seriously, I couldn't believe he saved and saved, waited and waited.

So that is a quick run-down of our current "system". So far, so good. 

I've been working on some other things as well...I'll share those later :)

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Making cookies

This morning Benjamin sat down next to me on the couch and said, "Hey mom, let's make cookies". Hmmm, sounds like a good idea to me!

Pouring the ingredients.

Stirring is hard work.

Scooping out the Chocolate-Chocolate Chip cookie dough.

So yummy.

Glad Benjamin thought of it. Smart boy. 

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Fitted for KAFO's

Three months ago Caleb saw his ortho doctor and I asked for KAFO's (Knee-Ankle-Foot-Orthosis). I wanted them because I could see that Caleb was motivated to walk, he wanted to walk, but his knees just can't take him more than a few steps. The ortho fought me a little on the KAFO's at that time, and gave us knee immobilizers instead. The knee immobilizers seemed promising at first but I quickly realized that they weren't the right thing for Caleb. It seemed like they hindered more than they helped.

So today we went back to ortho and I had already decided that I wasn't leaving there until Caleb had been fitted for some KAFO's. Mama Bear was ready to fight...well I didn't have to. Ortho agreed and Caleb was fitted for KAFO's and a new pair of AFO's (he has outgrown his current pair).

He was fitted for AFO's first.

Next came the KAFO fitting. This took quite some time. Thank goodness for the Ipod.

Cutting the cast off.

A perfect mold of his leg. Pretty cool.

We pick up the braces at the end of May. I can't wait to see how the KAFO's turn out. 

Monday, May 06, 2013

Bike Ridin' Fun!

The weather was beautiful this past weekend so we took advantage of the mild temps by taking the boys to ride their bikes. When you live in Texas and the scorching heat of summer is rapidly approaching, you take advantage of gorgeous weather because soon it will be too hot to even walk to the mailbox.

We took the boys up to a school parking lot so they would have plenty of room. Benjamin got his bike for Christmas and has only had a few opportunities to ride...so he needs open space to practice his newly learned bike riding skills. And Caleb drives like a maniac so open space is good for him too.

Benjamin did really well. He has gotten the hang of it for the most part.

 Such an awesome cycle.

Caleb had to sit in time out for 5 minutes because he drove right into Benjamin...on purpose. He wasn't too happy about sitting on the curb, as you can tell from the grumpy look on his face.

While Bubba was sulking in time-out, Benjamin took the cycle for a spin. He loved it.

I even took Caleb's cycle for a quick ride. It is so much fun. Man, that cycle is fast and it really works the shoulders and arms. So fun. 

The boys had a great time riding their bikes. It was lucky we took them out when we did because the next day Caleb had a sore throat and fever so we've been cooped up since. 

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