Free Printable: Responsibility & Rewards Binder Kit

Recently, I realized that my hybrid free-range/helicopter mom stance wasn’t without its flaws. No kidding, huh? This was painfully obvious when it came to the chore and responsibility aspect of family life. Like most parents, I’m all up on the incentivizing of good and helpful behavior, but I’ve been pretty lax about enforcing rules, exacting the most benign of punishments, or even following through with the vaguer of reward promises. No more. Last week, mildly annoyed by yet another request for a random toy request (which was preceded and followed by terrible behavior, I might add), I decided that it was time for a chore chart. Not just any chore chart though— I wanted to make sure the boys would be as invested in the process as I was, and I wanted them to have full ownership over their individual results. The goal? To learn why self-sufficiency, consistency, hard work, dedication, and teamwork all matter. Oh— and saving too. <- All quite wonderful lessons to ensure that if they’re still living at home in 25 years, damn straight it’s by choice, not necessity. 😉 What you’ll need This free parenting printable responsibility and reward binder kit, available for as low as no money at all with pay what you wish A nifty binder— We’re using 1/2″ Durable Avery binders, but I’m also pretty partial to customized binders from Zazzle. A working printer + paper to print out the rewards chart and all your weekly responsibility and point tracking charts Go ahead, grab this parenting printable for free Okay, technically pay what you wish to, but that also means it could be free. Motivating kids to perform chores doesn’t HAVE to be...

How free webinars can make you money

There’s something intrinsically compelling about being able to participate in a live call with an industry expert or colleague. In a world of digital accessibility, it’s amazing that we’re able to connect with, learn from, and collaborate with mentors, instructors, and industry bigwigs— all without ever having to leave our homes. People crave connections, so if you have a unique viewpoint, some industry expertise, and you’re open to a bit of quasi-public speaking, you have a distinct advantage to rise up over all the noise that’s present on social media today. What’s it to you? And get to the point— how does that earn you money? By offering free workshops and webinars. Yup. That’s right— completely free to your viewers. Webinars give people the ability to access resources and network in a way that might not otherwise be possible, and that means that you also have the ability to tap into an audience that might otherwise be unreachable. How does offering free webinars make money? The reason why anyone would want to offer a free webinar is simple: to share knowledge and information. In order for your webinar to be successful (and thus profitable) you need to want to share your knowledge and insights. Not only does this give you excellent karma and shows that you’re probably a decent human being who wants to share, your willingness to do that also makes it so that your audience and potential customers become endeared to you. It builds your know, like, and trust factor. Yup. Know, like, and trust is a biggie! Think about it— It’s always a lot more agreeable giving your hard earned cash to a salesman or...

Goals and Gratitude Day 2: Six Months

Today, my baby (kid #3) is 6 months old! Third time around— maybe you’d think I’d get used to it, but nope, still get a tad weepy when little milestones like this are hit. Gratitude Today I’m taking a moment to express gratitude for little baby smiles and babbling, bubbly little giggles and slobbery almost-kisses— even that scratchy, pinchy thing he does to any part of me he can grab onto when he’s breastfeeding. Happy 6 months, little baby. Happy 6 months, my squishy little bowling ball! I love your pudgy chipmunk cheeks, crazy hair, and fat little feet that inexplicably smell like chocolate. ❤️ A photo posted by kristina *cheska* Q (@cheskaq) on Feb 2, 2015 at 6:39pm PST Goals I got a fresh new Baron Fig notebook last week, and it’s time to christen the pages with some thoughts, goals, or perhaps some freehand doodling. You know I love paper, right? Gawd my fresh new @baronfig notebook is beautiful. I hesitate to sully the crisp pages with my chicken scratch, but obv, I bought it to write in it, or doodle, or something. #ilovepaper A photo posted by kristina *cheska* Q (@cheskaq) on Jan 29, 2015 at 7:42pm PST Inspiration I’m currently reading #GIRLBOSS by Nasty Gal founder, Sophia Amoruso. I’m about a third of the way through, and it’s awesome, motivational, inspirational, and highly entertaining. I recommend...

Birthday Month of Goals and Gratitude – Day 1

February is my birthday month. (Yay!) This year, February is beautifully symmetrical, its four weeks beginning on a Sunday (today) and ending on a Saturday (the 28th). It is the perfect month for a 28 day challenge, and I’m up for one. Seriously, it’s all kismet (er, or something like that). Look at how pretty those 28 days look! Goals and Gratitude – Day 1 Today, I want to take a moment and focus on how thankful I am for the health and relative comfort & happiness my family and I are lucky enough to enjoy, in no small part due to my hardworking husband, an amazing job that I am so grateful for and love doing, the support of our families, and a touch of kismet. Of course it would be cool to have more, to be more, to see, taste, touch, and do more. But you know what? For what I do have, I am grateful. I am happy. And to quote the Jacobs brothers (as well as, like, any happy person), life is...

MDG 4, babies and children, and why you should care

I’m going to get right to the point. Being lucky enough to be born in a developed country is one of the most under-appreciated things… ever, really. Many of the problems we experience, legit or otherwise, would almost feel like a welcome break to those who live in conditions we have a hard time even imagining. I think people throw the word privilege out way more than seems necessary, but you know what? There is most definitely such a thing as first world privilege. And it conveniently shields us from the plight experienced by those living in developing nations. Hell, this same mindset keeps us from realizing what’s going on in poorer communities in our own nation. Millennium Development Goal 4 The aim of Millennium Development Goal 4 is to reduce childhood mortality. The goal for 2015 is a reduction in the number of preventable childhood deaths by 60%. This may seem like a lofty number, but guess what? Every day, approximately 18,000 children die from preventable causes. Yup. That includes preventable diseases and hunger — things that the vast majority of us in America don’t need to worry about, things that people like you and me can work together to help prevent. Here’s a tear-jerking statistic: 80% of the children who die under the age of 5 are newborns, and in developing nations, the reason is often inadequate nutrition and lack of access to lifesaving healthcare for pregnant and nursing women, babies, and young children. It’s heartbreaking. With three young sons of my own, I can only imagine the trials that pregnant women and new mothers in developing nations face. Having a child die all while knowing that it could have...

Krusteaz Flatbread Mix Review

Not too long ago, I was given the opportunity to try out the new Krusteaz Flatbread Mix My two older boys were more than happy to help out! On our first attempt, we made the Italizan Herb variety topped with fresh basil, mozzarella and tomatoes. The directions on the box are pretty much foolproof, and that makes it incredibly easy to focus on customizing your creation. It’s the perfect kitchen staple for busy households, especially during the upcoming Christmas and holiday season. All you need to add is water and oil (the necessary yeast packet is included in the box), and you’ve got a quick flatbread that makes a great side or base for a meal. Oy. Please excuse the lack of focus on the left and the corny-arse pose on the right. Let it proof for 10 minutes, and then it cooks in 10 minutes. #simple. #FlatbreadMix The toppings: tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella cheese #FlatbreadMix Teamwork! Out of the oven, and into our tummies! #FlatbreadMix Krusteaz Flatbread Mix Product Info: Krusteaz Flatbread Mixes have been available at supermarkets since the end of September 2014. Find recipes, tips, and purchase online at http://www.krusteaz.com/flatbread  Available in Italian Herb, Garlic & Onion and Whole Wheat Whole Wheat version bears the Whole Grains Council stamp certification which guarantees a serving of whole grains Approximate Retail Price: $2.59 180 Calories per serving Have you tried Krusteaz Flatbread Mix yet? What toppings/recipes have you tried? Disclosure: I received complimentary product(s) for the purpose of reviewing them. Any and all opinions stated are my...

6 Tips for a Painless Family Photo with Toddlers and Preschoolers

As the last remnants of summer slip away and fall approaches, families are whipping out their cameras and gorilla pods with high hopes of capturing that perfect family photo— you know, the one that’ll win the esteemed distinction of gracing this year’s Christmas card and perhaps ordered on canvas, too. But… if your kids are anything like mine, the perfect photo opp isn’t always in the cards. My boys do love the camera, but on their terms. I posted about one such unsuccessful attempt to have a family portrait taken, and after one particularly upsetting family photo fail (I blame the preggo hormones! No, really, I was pregnant with kid #2 at the time), I resolved to do things differently. If you’ve got kids under the age of 5 and need to get this year’s perfect family photo, these tips apply whether you are going to be using the auto-timer on your camera or are having professional photos taken. Family Photo Tips Make sure you and your kids are well rested This does not mean letting them nap in the car only to jolt them out of a sound sleep to dive right into a photo session.  Doing that will most likely result in your child becoming cranky, nay, cantankerous, which will result in many more face-in-hands, flailing-on-the-floor, butt-in-the-air shots than you have the patience for.  Just make sure the kids are awake, alert and not needing a nap, and you’ll be A-ok. Either schedule your session 1-2 hours after your child normally awakens from his nap to make sure they won’t be sleepy, or have him nap for an hour or two beforehand. As for yourself, everything’s...

The Sippy Cup Transition & Parenting Woes in General

Originally published in January of 2008 on my previous blog. littleQ is now 8 (woohoo!) and yes, we got through the sippy cup transition just fine. I’m ecstatic!  It’s day four that littleQ (my son, currently 23 months, 2 weeks old) has gone completely sans bottle.  So that’s it!  The complete transition to sippy cup has been accomplished.  whew. Interestingly (at least to me), he’s actually quite adept at and has been comfortable with drinking from a regular cup or glass, with and without a straw, however when it comes to his evening “milky” or his lunchtime “juicy”, he’s always insisted, nay, demanded a bottle. But no longer! I know that some of you are reading and saying to yourself, Well OMG mine was completely off the bottle like, soooo long ago!  Mmk, well, my kid isn’t yours, and, quite frankly, he obviously wasn’tready to completely give up the bottle yet (until this past week, that is!)… and ultimately, I think that is what it comes down to for most, if not all children: being ready for and comfortable with the transition. We had tried just completely hiding the bottles before, but that hadn’t worked; and he’d just have an ear-piercing tantrum and dissolve into a sea of briny tears with his face puckered up like an angry red prune if we didn’t acquiesce to his demands. This week, I tried it again: After washing and sanitizing his bottles, I hid them somewhere completely out of his wide-eyed line of sight. He didn’t whine or cry for a bottle— not once.  His need for a bottle seems to have vanished,...

Easy Peasy Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Recipe

A bit of an oldie but a goodie, here’s a recipe for Chocolate Chip Cheesecake that even a culinary dunce like me is able to master. A few Thanksgivings ago, I baked my very first cheesecake!  It was a chocolate chip cheesecake with an Oreo crust, and while it didn’t come out looking like a perfect baked good out of one of the renowned New York bakeries and restaurants, it was delicious!  Don’t take my word for it, my husband asked for seconds; a compliment indeed.  Trust me, he never fails to inform of the edibility level of anything I cook. The recipe was really very easy to make, and the cheesecake was sweetened only with Eagle Brand condensed milk.  Now it’s probably just my oven, but my 9” cheesecake didn’t cook in 60 minutes at 300 degrees.  The middle was still runny while the outer edge was done, so I kept it in for another 15 minutes past that but lowered the heat to 275. Next time I may try to make the cheesecake in a 10” spring form pan instead (unless of course, one of you connoisseurs of the kitchen out there doesn’t think that’s a good idea).  I’ll probably also trade in the semi-sweet chocolate chips for bittersweet.  Dark chocolate, baby. For anyone looking for a dessert recipe that’s easy to make and is just sweet enough and sumptuously satisfying, this chocolate chip cheesecake recipe is for you. Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Servings: Makes one (9-inch) cheesecake Serving Size: 1/12 of a recipe Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 60 minutes Total Time: 70 minutes INGREDIENTS 1 1/2 cups...

A Secret Savings Account: Is It Really Financial Infidelity?

I say: Assuming you keep this little secret stash of reserved moolah from your spouse with intentions of good and not evil, then no, I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with having a little sumptin’ sumptin’ kept in a jar under your bed.  Or, in a totally separate savings account.  Whatever floats your boat. The reason why I bring up this subject is because recently, the following question was posed to me after I disagreed with the opinion that keeping a hiding a secret savings account was financial infidelity (at least not always): “You may be right, but would you be upset if he kept a secret stash?” I think anyone might be a little surprised if they found that their spouse had some extra cash just lying around, maybe even collecting some interest without them knowing {insert slight sarcasm}. But whether or not it’s right to be angry and upset totally depends on the context of your entire relationship as well as the size of this confidential cash reserve. It’s not accurate to say that keeping a secret savings will always makes you a financial cheater. Just like most of the crap we endure in the grind we call life, it’s not just black and white but a messy, uncomfortable subject with arbitrary rules and results. Honestly, I do believe that there are many good reasons to keep a secret little savings account (not a hidden fortune!), apart from your spouse’s, assuming of course, that the members of your family aren’t wearing rags on their emaciated bodies, begging for scraps on the side of the street. The good: A...