Sunday, September 1, 2013

Pen Pal Kit


My niece's 8th birthday is just around the corner and I fell in love with the idea of making her a Pen Pal Kit. 

I remember receiving long awaited envelopes from France from my favorite pen pal and delighting in the items she would send.  From paper money (which looked SO cool!) to post cards from places she visited.  I also remember making envelopes out of magazine pages and swapping FBs (friendship books).  *virtual high five for those of you who remember FB before Facebook ever existed*  Okay, enough of my dorkiness! 

But, the pen pals I wrote the most were my cousins, who lived a couple of hours away from me.  We wrote frequently and I believe it helped us become extremely close to one another.  (love you, Evie!  miss you, Genice!)

So, when I shopped for my niece Emma, I knew her cousin (my son) Bryan would need his own kit as well.  Can you imagine the visions of letters and growing family bonds that have been dancing through my head?  I can hardly contain my excitement for  the two them!  To top it off, Bryan is SUPER excited about it as well!  He even made his own kit!

I love his "googly eyes" on the front of his accordion file. 

There are so many options for this, but here are the items I included in theirs:

Pen Pal Kits

-Pencil Box
-Accordion File
-Address Book
-Glue Stick
-Blank Tags
-Idea Cards

Blank Cards/Envelopes (These were all in my stash of crafting supplies)

Stickers (some to keep, some to send to Pen Pals)

Idea Cards
Secretly, I'm trying to develop writing skills here, but ssshhhh - they don't need to know that! 
My favorite is the "First Letter to Pen Pal" idea card.  There's a sample letter on the back that reads:
"Dear _____,
My name is _____.  I am __ years old and in the ___ grade.  I live with ________. My hobbies are ____________.  My favorite food is _______.  Have you ever eaten _____?  What do you like to do for fun? 
I can't wait to hear from you!
Your Friend,

Paper, Envelopes, Larger Envelopes, Extra Neon Index Cards and Blank Tags (to make bookmarks to send to Pen Pals)

Everything is tucked away neatly into this accordion file for easy access and organization.
The address book was just a notebook from the Dollar Tree that I added stickers to.

What little girl wouldn't love to receive this? 
Honestly, I think the art of writing and sending handwritten letters is becoming obsolete.  There's just something wonderful about seeing a loved ones handwriting on an envelope in the mailbox with your name on it. 
There's also patience involved.  In a world with instant gratification through texting, email, Skype, etc., I worry that my boys will never grasp the joys of delayed gratification.  Sometimes, waiting for something makes it that much better once the time comes for it to happen.
All of these little lessons being compacted into a cute little kit?  They have no idea how cool this really is.
It's a beautiful thing!

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Richardson Family Store

A little over a year ago, I found myself struggling to get my two crazy sons to behave. 

They seemed to do exactly the opposite of what I was asking from them.

If you've found yourself in the same situation in your home, with YOUR crazies, there is hope, my friend!

There is a reward system that changed our home.  Really!

We refer to it as our "Family Store".

How it works:

My boys earn tickets for chores and on Friday evening, they cash them in to "buy" items of their choice.  This is a give and take system.  They earn tickets for good behavior and lose tickets for poor behavior.  (I realize some people may disagree with taking tickets away for something they earned, however, this is what works for our family.)

We price the items in the store together and agree on a reasonable price.  Then the items are marked with a sticker so that we can remember how much they cost. 

Ways to Earn Tickets:

- Brush Teeth (without being asked)

- Make Bed

- Clean Bedroom

- Take Garbage Out

- Feed Boomer

- 3 or more Promise Bands at school

- Act of Kindness

- Dirty Clothes to the laundry room

- Help Mommy (without any complaints)

- Get Towel BEFORE getting into the bathtub

- Clean up toys from floor

- Clean off Dining Room Table

- Check the Mail

Ways to Lose Tickets:

- Lying

- Hitting/Kicking

- Disobedience

- Yelling

- Bad Attitude

- Arguing

- Multiple Requests from Mommy or Daddy to complete a task

- Back Talking

Items we've had available for purchase include:

- Gum (one of the most sought after items!)

- Glow Sticks

- Dollar Store Toys

- Computer Games (I snagged them for $2!)

- Lego Mini-Figures

After a while, I realized they were buying multiple, junky toys and saw an opportunity to teach them the value of saving their tickets.

Recently, I downsized our store.

As you can see, it's pretty bare to the naked eye. 

There are silly bands, candy bracelets, stickers, kites, glow necklaces, super hero figurines (6 for $5!) and the ever famous, bubble gum.

The new, revamped Family Store includes "big ticket" items that are more "experiences" than "things". 

Big Ticket items include experiences that are to be completed within the week of purchase.

- Park

- Pick Dinner

- Rent Video Game from Blockbuster

- 1-Hour Playstation 3 - Alone!

- Skating Rink

- Movie Theater

- Chuck -E- Cheese

- Stay up late on a Friday or Saturday night

- Have a friend Sleepover

- Have a Date with Mommy or Daddy

- Chore Free Day

They are encouraged to save some of their tickets each week in order to pool them together for a big item (i.e. Chuck E Cheese).

I hope if you're reading this and you're struggling to find a way to give your children incentive to WANT to be responsible, that you'll be inspired to find a rewards system that works for you.  I've heard of stickers on a card and once they're full, give a treat/reward.  There are many ways to make this work for your specific family.  This has been such a blessing for our family!  And with a little preparation, it's so simple!

Here are my happy shoppers with their purchases from this week:

I hope you're inspired!

I'm happy to be checking off another item on my Promise Me 2013 list! 

Revamping our Family Store.  Check!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter 2013, Everyone!

I hope you all had as much fun as we did for Easter! 

Celebrating the Resurrection always puts a fire and desire in my soul.

Spending time with family, coloring eggs, 4 egg hunts, my cutie patooties in their church clothes and a huge smile on my face is what I will remember about this year. 

Hope you enjoy the pics!


Happy Easter!

Random Acts of Kindness Day

A day dedicated to making strangers smile?  Why, yes.  Don't mind if I do.

When I first heard about Random Acts of Kindness Day, I was completely inspired and knew I just HAD to do it.  So, I took advantage of having my boys home for a week for Spring Break and checked it off my Promise Me List.  :)

So, here's the list of Random Acts of Kindness that we completed:

- Paid for the elderly gentleman in the drive-thru behind us at Dunkin Donuts

- Left an Easter Egg Hunt for someone to find at the park

- Brought muffins to our Fire Station (and received an in-depth look at a fire engine and all of the equipment they use to help people - bonus!)

- Left quarters on toy machines at Winn Dixie and Dollar Tree (and I witnessed a Random Act of Kindness!  A child found the packet with four quarters and asked his Dad if he could have them and the Dad replied, "Yes, you can have one, but we will leave the rest for other people to find later."  It was a ripple effect!  So cool!)

- "Hid" dollar bills in the toy section at the Dollar Tree for kids to find

- Held doors open for people

- Let people go in front of us in line

- Picked up trash

- Handed out balloons to every kid we saw

If you are in need of a smile, create your own Random Acts of Kindness Day! 

This was incredibly simple, required very little time and money and was SO rewarding. 

In all honesty, I can't WAIT to do this again and plan on adding more ideas to execute again this year. 

So, what are some Random Acts of Kindness that inspire you? 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Promise Me 2013

The excitement that's brewing inside of my heart over this Promise Me Journey is uncharted.

What's Promise Me all about?

I'm so glad you asked.

Promise Me is an experience. 

A Journey.

Dedication to take time for yourself.

To grow yourself.

It's a list of Promises that you commit to keeping to yourself.

A list of things you are excited to complete, rather than the normal mundane "to do" list, or the notorious "New Years Resolution" list.

For me, this experience is all about being purposeful in remembering to take time for myself. 

In a house full of crazies, it's nearly impossible to have "me time". 

This is why I'm so excited about this journey! 

I'm jumping on the SmashBook bandwagon to document every endeavor. 

I used rub ons from my scrapbooking stash to decorate the outside.

Stay tuned for all of the items to be marked off of my list!

"Start a Blog" - Check!
*** To see the beautiful blogger who came up with this idea, and to be dazzled with all things pretty, visit Jessica at Pen 'n PaperFlowers.  I promise you will be inspired!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Pocket Full of Who?!

Yes.  You read that correctly.  Crazies. 
Crazy as in: 
adjective. mad - insane - demented - daft - lunatic - nutty
noun. lunatic
My home is full of crazies. 

Crazy Hubby is mad about computers.
Crazy Son #1 is nutty over everything.
Crazy Son #2 is a lunatic.
Crazy Dog might be demented.
That leaves me.  Crazy Mommy.  You could use any adjective listed to describe me. 
I'm mad about my family.  Just crazy over them. 
You could say I'm insane.  Not many would counterpoint.
I'm also a nutty type of parent.  I'm an oxymoron, I suppose.  Goofball meets Drill Sargeant.
So there you have it.  We are a Pocket Full of Crazies and I wouldn't have it any other way!

Stay tuned for my Promise Me 2013 journey, Recipes, Thirty-One Products, Encouragement, Handmade Gifts and Projects I'm working on.