Since our kids were very young, we made them clean up their own toys after they were done playing.  And, within the last year or so, we’ve made them bring us their empty plates after a meal and also make their own beds (although that usually requires me going back and re-making them because I can’t stand a messy made bed…) and put away their own clean laundry.

Now that our son is 6 1/2, though, we’ve decided to give him some chores that he is responsible for doing each day that go beyond his own room or his own stuff.  The first one of these is loading the dishwasher each night after dinner.  We’ll usually rinse the plates off for him (since he’s still a little short of being able to reach the sink)  and then hand them to him and he’s responsible for placing them in the dishwasher.

Here’s the funny thing.  He loves having this job.  Loading the dishwasher is apparently pretty darn exciting when you are 6 1/2.  Who knew?

On a related note, I think First Grade schoolwork is pretty much the funniest thing I’ve ever seen.  The other day, I found this sheet sitting around in the kitchen. I love that he wrote about his dishwasher-loading responsibilities and am such a fan of his little shrunken-head picture of himself doing his thing.  I also love that the job he is going to do to help us out more is to clean the house when guests come over.  (Now, two points of clarification.  First, I swear that we clean our house even when guests are not coming over. Second, the use of the singular “guest” may imply that we only know one person and that one person is the only person who has come over to visit.  That is not true.  There have been plural guests.  We are not that unpopular.)

I am absolutely in love with the “BING” and rays of clean sunshine emanating from the house.  Cutest thing ever.

Copy Cat: Sofa Scram

I love my dog.  99.9% of the time.

What I don’t love is how our beloved dog, the one and only Eco, likes to climb on the family room sofa (see here).

Well, he liked climbing on the family room sofa until we started putting the blankets over it. When we essentially gave him permission to do it, it was apparently no longer worth it to him.  The dog apparently likes pushing the envelope and prefers living on the edge.

So, he moved on to the living room sofas. Of course.

I refuse to have blankets all over the living room sofas, too.  It’s our formal living room, for goodness sake!  It’s the first thing you see when you walk in the house.  It’s simply not a blanket-over-the-sofa kinda of place.

So, we started putting double-sided tape on the sofas.  Yes, special double-sided tape that you buy in the pet aisle from Target to keep your cats from scratching your furniture.  We’ve used it for years with the cats on certain chairs that they would scratch the crap out of if it weren’t for the double-sided tape.   It’s awesome, I promise.

Anyway, we started putting this stuff all over the cushions on the sofas in the living room.  Because we’re a classy bunch.  No seriously, you couldn’t really see it when you walked in the front door (which was important to me).  But, logistically speaking, it was challenging having double-sided tape all over the sofas.   You couldn’t really sit on them without having the peel it all off (which took awhile).   And then you had to apply some more when you were done.  It all seemed kind of silly and not worth it.  It basically made us avoid the living room altogether.  And that seemed like a high price to pay for keeping your dog off the sofas.

That’s about the time when I was reading Heather Armstrong’s blog post on Dooce about her dog that pees on her sofa.  (And this is where I express gratitude that I have a dog that just likes to lay on the sofas, and not urinate on them.)  And she got this Sofa Scram thing to keep the dog away and it worked wonders.  As you can see in the reviews, many people have sung the praises of this thing.  Heather was not alone on this one.

So we gave it a try.  I ordered one for our larger sofa.  It’s thin and, when it’s laying out on the sofa, you hardly notice that it’s there since it blends in somewhat with the dark brown fabric.  And it’s very easy to fold it up and move it out of the way if you want to sit down or to stick in a drawer if guests are coming over.

And it definitely keeps the dog away.  The first time he heard it, Eco cowered in the other room for a good 3 minutes.  He tempted fate a few times, but got rewarded with the loud piercing sound and learned pretty quickly that life was generally more fun if you stayed away from the sofa.  And so he didn’t venture near it any more.  Instead, he moved over to to the Sofa Scram-less smaller sofa.

And so we ordered a second Sofa Scram.

And now he stays away from both sofas.

And I am happy.  Because my silk pillows are not being slobbered on anymore.

It’s the little things that count.

Copy Cat: FitBit

I’m back.  Did you miss me?

This week, I thought I’d share a few things that I’ve come across on other blogs that I’ve ended up copying or emulating.  Other blogs that have inspired me to buy something or do something or follow suit on something.

First up:  the FitBit.

I’ve seen these things, or similar things, on the wrists of a bunch of people over the last 6 months or so.  I knew they had something to do with fitness and exercise and blah blah blah, but I wasn’t really intrigued or interested.

And then I read Jessica’s post over at Stay at Home-ista about the FitBit, and my interest was piqued.  I did some research (because that’s what I do) and was sold, so I decided to buy one for myself and my hubby right around Valentine’s Day.  Romantic much?

So, for those that don’t know, the FitBit automatically keeps track of how many steps you take each day, how many “active” minutes you have, how many miles you walk, and how many calories you burn.  You can also enter your food into it and your water intake and it will keep track of how many calories you’ve taken in, how many calories you have “left” each day to consume, and how many ounces of water you’ve consumed.  Finally, if you trigger the function, it will track  your sleep – not only how long you slept, but what the quality of your sleep was (how often did you wake up and how often were you restless).

Here is what I love about the FitBit:

  • It motivates me like no one’s business.  I’ve figured out that I am not goal-oriented.  Instead, I am accountability-oriented.  I can set myself a goal of working out for 30 minutes but then, if I don’t, it’s not really a big deal and no one really know that I set myself a goal for working out for 30 minutes and then didn’t.  However, this thing keeps track of whether I hit my steps goal each day and it’s there for me to see.  When I don’t hit my 10,000 steps per day goal, I feel like a loser.  There have been many days where it’s 9:00 at night and I’m still 1000 steps down and you will find me in my basement, walking around in circles (like a lunatic) until I hit my goal.  That’s how much it motivates me.
  • I love the sleep tracking function.  I think it’s fun to know if my sleep was particularly restful or restless.  I really don’t know why, since there’s not much I can do with that information or any steps I can take to make my sleep better, but it is interesting to know.
  • I also love the calorie counting function.  I’ve never counted calories before, so this has been a really eye-opening experience for me.  I’ve been surprised at how quickly my calorie allocation can be used up, but also how effectively I can stretch it out if I’m really thinking about what I’m eating before I eat it.
  • So far, I’ve lost 12 pounds.  Of course, I gained a couple of them back last week during my insanely busy week where I didn’t have a  second to think about working out and didn’t even put my FitBit on because I knew it would end up making me feel bad about myself.  Even so, I’m still 10 pounds down.  Yay!

Here’s what I don’t love about the FitBit:

  • You have to charge it every 4-5 days, and it takes a long time to charge.  That means you usually end up missing a night of sleep tracking.  But, if you forget to charge it at night, you end up charging it during the day and then it doesn’t track your steps.  That frustrates me to no end.
  • The “active” minutes piece is a joke.  I will work out for 30 minutes down in my basement and be dripping in sweat and it will only have attributed 3 “active” minutes to me.  In contrast, I’ll walk through Target for 15 minutes and it will attribute 12 “active” minutes to me.  It appears to be based on how quickly you move your wrist around, which does not always correlate with how “active” you are being.  This also frustrates me to no end.  I try to discount it and ignore it on the app, but I still feel motivated to make it turn green (which means I met my goal) by the end of each day.
  • When you’re busy, it’s really hard to find the time to enter your food and drink.  I was really good about that for the first three weeks and then life got busy again, and I started to forget.  I find that it’s important that you enter it right as you are eating it or you have a hard time remembering everything you ate and it’s easy to conveniently forget things, if you know what I mean.
  • My husband has a very active job, and I have a desk/meeting job.  He always exceeds his steps goal by about 50% (15,000 steps in any given day is pretty much par for the course) while I’m struggling to get to my 10,000 steps when I have a day that consists of conference calls and in-person meetings.  Ugh.
  • I ruined my treadmill.  I was using it so much to get to my steps that I shredded the belt.  It was already on its last legs (it’s a hand-me-down treadmill from my parents that they had for a million years), and now it’s officially dead.  We’re debating whether to try to find someone who can come in and replace the belt, or whether it’s better to just take the plunge and get a brand new treadmill.  Whatever we decide to do, we need to do it quickly because I need that thing to keep up my activity.

I got the FitBit Flex rather than the FitBit Force.  I was mainly motivated by price since the Flex was about $99 and the Force was another $50.  With the Force, you get stairs steps in addition to regular steps and you also get the ability to check the time from the wristband itself.  That didn’t seem worth $50 for me, especially since it was a wider band and the Flex band is already rather wide – in my opinion.

I have been using the Slate-colored band, which I love.  For Spring and Summer, I am so buying the tangerine band and the mint band because I love them and think that they’d be fun.  I also read that FitBit and Tory Burch are teaming up to bring some “designer” bands to the mix.  I’ll be curious to see what those look like, but I might be tempted to shake it up a bit in that department.  It’s not a particularly attractive thing to be wearing with a business suit so anything I can do to dress it up would be a good thing.

Anyway, I love this thing and am so glad that I got it.   For me, it has seriously been life-altering.  Here’s to hoping it keeps motivating me the way that it has so far, and that I can find time again to start entering my food and drink into it and get the full benefit.  And that I can find a treadmill for a reasonable price.  They sell those at Costco, right?