Monday, January 27, 2014

Getting Organized :: Children & Chores

I am a stay at home mother of four children.  I hate housework, but I also hate a messy house.  It's a frustrating way to live.  And with five other people in this house with me, keeping up with the housework is a never ending task.  My husband and I have always thought that our kids should help around the house.  I want to teach them early on how to help in the kitchen to prepare food, how to pick up after themselves (this is a very hard lesson to teach and I'm still working on it with them), and the importance of everyone working together in the home.  My favorite phrase is "I'm not your maid", I feel like it's important for them to grow up not thinking that my role in life is to pick up after them.  
I think that it is important for kids of all ages to have jobs or chores around the house.  Henry was taking recyclable items out to the recycling bin at a very early age.  Sam can clean the kitchen floor with our Bissell Sweeper like nobody's business (If you don't have a Bissell Sweeper you need one!  Here's a post with my review of the sweeper).  Max and Ella are in charge of bringing in the garbage cans/recycling bins each week.  And this is just a sampling.  The kids have many tasks they are responsible for.  That's not to say our house is always clean, in fact, it's often cluttered.  We are still working out the kinks in our chore system.  I find that the biggest struggle to keeping things clean is finding the time.  My kids are great at chores, but often-times school nights are jam packed with extra curricular activities, baths, dinner, homework and such.  To help them keep track of their jobs and get them accomplished, I created Chore Charts for each child, listing their jobs each week.  They have jobs that they HAVE to do (I'm not paying them to put their dirty laundry away or keep their room tidy), and then they have extra chores they can do to earn a little bit of money each week.  And sometimes I add an extra special job in for extra money, for instance I might pay someone an extra dollar to clean all the clutter out from under the couch, or to wash the windows.  

Here's what our Chore Charts look like::

I find that these chore charts work great when I am CONSISTENT with printing them out, doling out allowance, and reminding them to get the work finished.  Right now we are in a cleaning rut, so I'm printing out the chore charts tonight and filling them out so we can get our house in shape!  I made this chore chart using Word, and you could make your own at home, so you can tailor it to your family's needs.  I like giving them allowance because it teaches them how to save money for things that they want, because Santa just doesn't bring everything on their wish lists, and we don't buy them every toy they want. Allowance is a good way for them to learn about money, savings and budgeting.  As I said though, some chores are just "expected", while other jobs can earn allowance.   

Here are some things to consider when making a list of chores for your child:
  • Don't underestimate your children!  They are capable of doing many jobs around the house (see links below for age-appropriate chore ideas)
  • Involve the kids in the planning, talk to them about what jobs need to be accomplished, and see if they have ideas on how to get the work done.
  • Consider each child's interests, abilities and age when creating your chore chart
  • Keep things structured and organized!  I find that when I use the chore charts the kids really do get their chores finished, but when I forget to print them out each week, or slack on passing out allowance then they just aren't as inspired to clean.  They need the structure of having that list in their hands.  It works for them!
Here are some samples of the chores my children do to earn allowance (above and beyond their usual daily jobs): Ella cleans the bathrooms and she vacuums as well, Sam is great with the Bissell Sweeper as I mentioned, in the kitchen and the basement.  Max is in charge of garbage, collecting each can in all the rooms, taking the garbage out, & bringing in the recycling bins each week.  And these are just a few things they can do around the house.  They have also been known to lend a hand in the kitchen...clearing the table, helping to prepare dinner, etc.  I really want them to know their way around the kitchen and be able to help prepare meals.  I think that working on chores around the house and helping in the kitchen will really help them in the long run. 
Here's one of the "extra jobs"...Ella dusting off the light fixture in the dining room:

Here's a few great resources about getting your children involved with chores around the house:
Need to clean the house in a hurry?  Try this Cleaning Game I did with the kids
Age Appropriate Chores for Kids from the Happy Housewife
A Magnetic Chore Chart for Children on Etsy
An article on WebMD about Family Chores

I'm your children do chores around the house?  Do you pay them allowance? 

ps..all ECards were found here and there on the internet, visit for more laughs!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Find Time to Read for Pleasure

How many of us have uttered the phrase: "I just don't have time to read".  It's such a shame when we can't find time to read for pleasure.  I know firsthand that finding that time can be a struggle.  We all have so many things that keep us from reading for pleasure...our children, jobs, housework, and countless other obligations, to some it might even seem pointless to try to find the time.  I have gone through periods in life where I thought I was too busy to read for pleasure, but I always end up finding the time, even if it's only for five minutes a day.

Here's why I think that finding time to read for pleasure is important:
  • Reading helps you grow and learn.  That's right, at any age, opening a book is an education.  Even if it's a fluffy love story.  Reading keeps your brain moving.
  • Reading sets a good example.  Do you have children?  I tend to think that one of the things that made my children into book-lovers is the fact that they see Michael and I reading every day, and that we make it a priority to read to them before bed. 
  • Reading is relaxing.  Reading always calms me, so much so that when I'm having trouble falling asleep, reading is the only thing that helps.  Reading a good book makes me focus on something besides the ever growing to-do list, and seems to provide a distraction so that my brain can stop going at full-tilt after a busy day.  
Here are a few ways that I "sneak" in time to read:
  • At the Doctor's office:  You know there's always a wait, so bring a book!  Put the devices away, ignore the emails and just read a chapter.  When I was pregnant with Henry I would get annoyed when my OB was early or on time, because I wanted more quiet time away from the kids so I could read!
  • After everyone goes to bed: Yes, I know you are tired too, but after everyone is asleep treat yourself to a chapter!  As I said before, reading before I go to sleep helps to calm my mind. 
  •  In the Carpool Line at School:  Sometimes when I'm picking the kids up from school I'll show up just a little bit early so I can squeeze in a chapter or two.  I'll bring a book for Henry too so he can read...and often-times he'll just fall asleep in the car, so it's a win-win situation!  I've even been known to keep a magazine in my car so if I ever find myself waiting in a parked car for some reason I have something to read.
  • During Meals: Sometimes things get crazy in mornings at my house, so my kids now have a habit of reading while they eat breakfast, which keeps them calm while I
    pack lunches and make breakfast.  Then after they are off to school I make myself breakfast and read while I dine alone.  It's such a treat, to eat by myself and to read a chapter or two of whatever book I'm into at the moment.
  • While the kids play outside: In the warmer months I let the kids run around outside while I sit and read a book in the shade.  Michael's been known to do this as well...lay in the hammock reading while the nerf gun wars go on around him.  If the kids are getting a break to play outside why shouldn't we get a little R&R?

So there's my two-cents about the importance of reading for pleasure and ways to find time to read.  Do you have any tips for finding time to read?  I'd love to hear them...

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Children's Theatre presents "Pinkalicious The Musical" {GIVEAWAY CLOSED}

The Children's Theatre of Cincinnati is at it again, this time with Pinkalicious!  They are turning the popular
story into a musical that is sure to please all the fans of PINK out there.  Think pink, think cupcakes, think fun!  I have all the details about the show and for one lucky reader I have a voucher for a family four pack of tickets to give away!  The show is just a few weeks away, so try your hand at winning tickets or purchase yours today!  If you have a little girl in your life I feel like she's going to need to see this show!

All You Need to Know About Pinkalicious the Musical ::

The Children’s Theatre of Cincinnati is pleased to bring “PINKALICIOUS The Musical” to life
February 14-16 & 22 on the Taft Theatre stage.  The show is based on the popular book by Victoria Kann and Elizabeth Kann.  The show is co-directed by Angela Powell Walker and Roderick Justice.  Book by Elizabeth Kann and Victoria Kann, Music by John Gregor, and Lyrics by John Gregor, Elizabeth Kann, and Victoria Kann.

 Pinkalicious can't stop eating pink cupcakes despite warnings from her parents. Her pink indulgence lands her at the doctor's office with Pinkititis, an affliction that turns her pink from head to toe - a dream come true for this pink loving enthusiast. But when her hue goes too far, only Pinkalicious can figure out a way to get out of this pink predicament.
Visit for more information.

PINKALICIOUS The Musical,” The Children's Theatre of Cincinnati, through February 22. 7:30 p.m. Friday February 14; Saturday February 15, 2 PM and 5 PM; Sunday, February 16 and Saturday, February 22, 2 PM; Taft Theatre, 5th and Sycamore Streets in Downtown Cincinnati. Tickets $7-$25. 1-800-745-3000 and

 ENTER TO WIN 4 Tickets to see Pinkalicious the Musical at the Taft Theater presented by the Children's Theatre of Cincinnati

The winner of The Children's Theatre of Cincinnati ticket voucher for PINKALICIOUS is Alice Rericha, who said..."I want to win because my five year old said, "Please, please please can we go to PINKALICIOUS!!!"
Alice, you have 24 hours to email me at Katie(at)Cards-by-Katie(dot)com to claim your prize!
Everyone else...stay tuned after some blog maintenance this week I'll be throwing some more great giveaways your way!  

The Details ::
I have a voucher to give away that can be redeemed for 4 tickets to see Pinkalicious the Musical at the Taft Theatre.  You can choose to see the show on one of these dates: Friday, February 14th at 7:30pm or Saturday, February 15th at 5pm.  I will draw one random winner on Monday, January 27th at 2pm.  The winner will be announced here on the blog and on Facebook. You have 24 hours to contact me via email or another name will be drawn. I will mail you the voucher which you will need to take to the Taft Theater box office the day of the show (one hour before) to trade for tickets or you can call the Children’s Theatre to reserve your seats ahead of time.   Subject to availability.  Please be sure you are available for one of these dates before entering the giveaway.
Please be sure to leave your email address in your comment, and I will try to reach you by email. 

How to Enter (answer this question): 1.  Why do you want to win these tickets?

The following entries are optional BONUS entries! 
2. Check out  The Little Things Blog & The Children's Theatre of Cincinnati on Facebook, and then leave a comment below telling me that you did so.
3.  Share this giveaway with your friends on Facebook, and be sure to tag "the little things blog" and in your post!  Leave a comment telling me you shared.
4.  Tweet about the giveaway!  Make sure you add @LittleThingsMom in your tweet!  And then comment below telling me you did so.
5.  Follow along...sign up for Email Newsletters for this blog (upper right hand corner of this blog) and then leave a comment telling me you did so.  Or if you follow along another way then tell me that.

Disclaimer: I was given tickets to give away as well as tickets for my family to attend the show.  The opinions are 100% my own!

Friday, January 17, 2014

A Bold New Vision for Northern Kentucky ::The myNKY Campaign

Do you live in Northern Kentucky?  Do you love the community you live in?  Do you want a chance to be heard about YOUR vision for your community?  If you answered yes to any or all of these questions then I have some very important information to share with you!  Vision 2015 is looking to the citizens of Northern Kentucky to take part in a six month campaign called myNKY.  
I was chosen to be an ambassador for the myNKY campaign, and I wear that badge with pride as I have been following the progress of Vision 2015 since it's inception, and I am passionate about the community of Northern Kentucky.  In our family we joked that we were forbidden to move away from Northern Kentucky because my parents wanted us near them.  And while it is true that our parents want us to be close, we would never in a million years actually think about moving away from the Northern Kentucky region.  We love our neighborhood, we love the fact that NKY is a patchwork quilt of small cities, we love that we are mere minutes away from a big city, we love the rich history of our region, we love that even though Northern Kentucky is comprised of three counties there is still a small town closeness in every community, we love that everywhere we go in Northern Kentucky we bump into someone we know, and we love that NKY as a region continues to grow and blossom.  I can't wait to see what great things are going to happen in Northern Kentucky in the coming years.  
During the six month myNKY campaign, Vision 2015 is reaching out via their website, to get feedback from the community.  They have a "game" you can play that is fun, but also makes you stop and think for a minute.  Where do YOU want money spent in the community?  It only takes a few minutes to play this myNKY game, you should give it a try.  And while you are on the website, take a quick poll as well.  Vision 2015 is really determined to find out what the community as whole wants to see happen in Northern Kentucky in the coming years, so it's time to let them hear your voice!  It all started at their launch last night at the NKU Men's Basketball game, where they kicked off the campaign, and rolled out the myNKY wall, where citizens were encouraged to write down what they wanted their NKY to be.  I love that they are encouraging us all to stop and think about this, and encouraging us to take part in the discussion.  If you live in Northern Kentucky I hope you take a little time to let your voice be heard!  Visit today and the myNKY Facebook page as well.  Let's all share our vision of Northern Kentucky's future!


Here's some more information about myNKY ::

As the year 2015 approaches, it’s time to start thinking about Northern Kentucky’s next strategic plan. That’s why Vision 2015, the organization behind implementing the community’s current plan, is inviting community members to interact with myNKY, a six-month campaign launching Jan. 16 designed to engage the community in determining the priorities for Northern Kentucky’s next five-year strategic plan.

“Great communities don’t happen by accident. They need a plan and a vision,” explains Kara Williams, Vice President of Vision 2015. “Northern Kentucky has a long history of community visioning, and as we approach 2015, it’s time to begin focusing on developing the vision that will guide Northern Kentucky through 2020.”

Vision 2015 is Northern Kentucky’s 10-year strategic plan for growth designed to support economic competitiveness and regional prosperity.  It is a list of goals created by the people of Northern Kentucky in 2005 based on their collective vision for Northern Kentucky in the year 2015. 

Over the next six months,, which launches January 16, will act as the hub collecting community input for the next five-year strategic plan. The site will feature an interactive prioritization game and a variety of polls and challenge questions on topics such as education, transportation, workforce and green space.  

“We really want to know what the community’s priorities are,” adds Williams. “In addition to providing input through interactive polls and challenge questions, through the prioritization game people will have the opportunity to invest $1,000,000 virtual dollars towards their vision for Northern Kentucky. We think it will be a great way to not only see what’s important to them, but for them to see the impact those dollars can have, depending on how they are allocated.”  
In an effort to collect as much feedback possible, residents are encouraged to check often over the course of the six month campaign for updates as well as to participate in poll and challenge questions which will change regularly. Vision 2015 representatives will also be out in the region collecting community feedback at a variety of events over the course of the campaign. 

Disclaimer:  I am an ambassador of the myNKY campaign, but my thoughts and opinions voiced in this post are 100% my own, and are truly heartfelt.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Cincinnati Shakespeare Company Presents 'Hamlet'

Most of us HAD to read some Shakespeare in High School, some of us grudgingly, and some
willingly.  I was one of the folks that actually enjoyed reading Shakespeare's works in school, so I was happy to hear that the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company was going to bring Hamlet to their stage, and even more ecstatic when we were offered complimentary tickets.  Hamlet was one of my favorite works by Sir William Shakespeare.  Having said that, I had forgotten just how quotable that written work was!  While watching the play at Cincy Shakes on Friday I was reminded of just how many quotes that are frequently used even today came from Hamlet.  Such as "get thee to a nunnery!".  Ok, so maybe that one isn't a popular quote, but I know that I've used it.  Then there's the quote everyone remembers: "Something's rotten in the state of Denmark" or perhaps you've heard this one: “This above all: to thine own self be true".  So many remarkable and memorable quotes came from this written work.
Hamlet has been performed countless times, on stages and on the big screen.  I've seen a few different versions of Hamlet, but I'm going to come right out and say that this was my favorite.  There was something wonderful about seeing it on a small stage, and being so close to the actors, who were so passionate about their roles. 
 Cincinnati Shakespeare's performance appeals to Downton
Abbey fans such as myself because the play is set in the same era, when the world was on the verge of World War I.  And much like Downton Abbey, Hamlet has drama, intrigue, scandal, love stories, family turmoil, the politics of war, death and even a touch of comedy.  I'm not saying that this version of Hamlet is just like Downton Abbey, just that there are some parallels.  I would venture to say that even if you have not read Hamlet or are unfamiliar with the story you will still enjoy this exceptional performance.  Michael and I were enthralled with the show from beginning to end.  The actors were simply phenomenal, they were obviously giving their all to their roles, from the terrifying ghost of Hamlet's father, to the lovestruck Ophelia, to the dippy mother Gertrude perpetually seeing life through her rose-colored glasses, to the over-bearing and treacherous Claudious to the wounded and revengeful Hamlet.  Not to mention Rosencrantz & Guildenstern who will go from being on the sidelines in this show to being the stars of their own show next month.
Cincinnati Shakespeare Company will be using the same sets, same costumes, and the
same actors reprising their roles to perform the comedy "Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead" right after Hamlet's run is over.  This comedy will put a whole new spin on the tragedy of Hamlet, and I'm eager to watch it after seeing this exemplary performance.  So if you are a fan of Shakespeare's Hamlet, I not only suggest you go see it at Cincy Shakes (get tickets now, the shows are selling out already!), but I also suggest you get tickets to see the upcoming "Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead" show as well.

Show & Ticket details for Hamlet ::
Performances of “Hamlet” are scheduled from January 10- February 8 on Thursday, Friday & Saturday evenings at 7:30pm and Sundays at 2pm.  Preview performances are on Wednesday Jan. 8 and Thursday Jan. 9 at 7:30pm and tickets are $20.  No performance on Sunday January 12 or February 9.  The theater is located at 719 Race Street, downtown Cincinnati, two blocks west of the Aronoff Center.  Single ticket prices range from $22-$31 on Thursdays and Sundays and from $26-$35 on Fridays and Saturdays.  If available, $14 student rush tickets may be purchased 30 minutes before a show with a valid student ID.  Visa, Discover, MasterCard, and American Express are accepted.  Ticketing fees may apply.  Discounts are available for students, seniors and groups as well as Enjoy the Arts and AAA members.  To purchase tickets or for more information, call the CSC Box Office at 513.381.BARD (2273) ext. 1, or go online at  

The Cincinnati Shakespeare Company is located at 719 Race Street, Cincinnati.  You can find important details about tickets, shows, parking and more on the Cincinnati Shakespeare Company website.  And be sure to follow Cincy Shakes on Facebook!  Cincy Shakes Photos by Rich Sofranko 
Disclaimer: I was given a pair of tickets to see this production, but I promise you that the opinions are 100% my own.