The GingerBeard Man

Chorma Review

I mentioned a few posts ago that I was planning to make some changes with my little girls regarding screen time and chores. Well I received the Circle in the mail last week and I will review it in a separate post, but I wanted to start with the Chorma app… maybe because I like it better ūüôā
I should probably preface this with the fact that I am in no way affiliated with Chorma. They haven’t contacted me or asked my opinion. They aren’t standing behind me right now threatening me to write nice things about them ūüėČ I downloaded their FREE app but paid the $1.99 for the first “pro” month subscription so I could try out all of the features. Of my own free will.
Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let me tell you – so far, I am pretty much digging the heck out of this app. Well, more than any other chore app I’ve tried out before.
It’s pretty basic and the interface is very easy to navigate. When you first download the app, you have four options at the bottom of your screen: My Chores, All Chores, Activity, Housemembers… The first thing I did was go to All Chores and set up some chores so I could test it out. There is a plus sign in the upper right hand corner to allow you to set up a chore. You can name it, assign points (up to ten), allow it to be “claimable” or assign it to someone specifically. You can also choose to rotate it between users on this screen.Next you can choose whether the chore is to repeat and what schedule it can be on. One of the cool options here is to allow it to repeat after it has been done. This is nice so you don’t end up with the same chore listed a hundred times when no one is doing it.
For the chores that you allow to be claimable, your kiddo can log in and select what they want to do. Once they claim a chore, it shows up on their My Chores list and they can check it off once it’s been completed. Once it’s been checked off, they can click the x and remove it from that list altogether. All completed chores show up under Activity. I’m not sure for how long as I can’t really find anything on the Chorma site that explains it.
So who cares right? A chore checklist, I’m sure the kids will just be dying to try it out. Kids don’t like chores and using an app probably isn’t going to change that. Except that Chorma has a built in reward system function. This, I like. And I love that they can go in and choose their own reward and set it up themselves. Under housemembers, you click on your name and then Add Reward. This is the fun part for the kids. They can choose something, like going to the movies. My youngest daughter put in Go See The Jungle Book and we agreed on fifteen points. She then went and claimed a bunch of chores so she could start working towards it. Talk about a motivator. She has eleven points as of this morning and I only showed her this app yesterday.
My fourteen year old was slightly less enthused. But I think she will get on board once she wants to earn internet time. I am still working on getting the Circle configured in a way that I am happy with, and I will update ya’ll once I have. She did say that she thinks she will set up a reward where no one can come into her room for two hours… she thinks seven points is fair for some alone time. lol
Now, there are a few things about Chorma that I am not crazy about. First and foremost is no web interface. I love apps, don’t get me wrong. But I like to be able to log into a web interface and configure everything. For me, phones are for speed and convenience. When I want to actually work on something, I prefer a computer. I’d like to be able to set up the chores via a computer just for speed. Also, I wish there was a way that the chores had to be approved by me as being finished. Like a administrator screen. Daughter says she has completed the following chores, do you approve these points? Because it would be pretty easy to lose track if you weren’t paying attention for a week or so. Did she really wipe down the counters on Tuesday? Hell if I know, that was four days ago and I’ve slept since then. I also don’t like that I’m limited to ten points. I would like to be able to choose how many points something is worth and not be locked into such a small number.
The GingerBeard Man has talked about making game apps before and I wish I could convince him to make a chore app. That way someone who is ridiculously detail oriented the way I am when it comes to organization could test and report back until we had the best chore app ever. But until he feels like doing that, this one will work ūüôā Compared to the others I’ve tried over the years, I’d give Chorma 4/5 stars.

Some next level parenting stuff right here

My kids spend too much time on The Internet.
There. I said it.
I don’t want to be one of those parents but I also very much like it when I can escape to the peace and quiet of my bedroom and plug into The Internet myself.
I’m a bad parent.
Bite me.
Relatively frequently, like weekly-ish, I have a lightbulb moment where I think to myself Man, I super need to cut back on the kids internet time. But I don’t. Sometimes I even threaten them that I will. “Daughter, if you don’t have all of your laundry done tonight and this room cleaned, I am unplugging the wifi.” But I don’t. And on the rare occasions that The GingerBeard Man does, I’m usually the first one asking him to turn it back on. For Pete’s sake, man, I can’t be internetless. What if something happens? We won’t even know about it. Like there could be a war! Also: facebook.
As I’ve mentioned here like a half a dozen times, we are in a transitional state in my house right now. Older daughters moving away and cutting the amount of children I have at home in half and all that… It’s a good time to establish new rules, chores, expectations… It’s a good time to, you know, maybe cut back on screen time. Because holy shit, my kids spend like all their free hours online. And kids have a lot of free hours. My kids are even using some of their NOT free hours and shirking their responsibilities which is where I am headed with this whole thing.
This morning, my almost fourteen year old daughter didn’t go to school. Why? Because she didn’t put her clothes in the dryer Sunday or Monday and they were still sitting in the washing machine leaving her pantsless. Could she have still went to school? Yep. She could have reworn the pants she wore yesterday. But the fact is that she woke up late this morning, she wasn’t prepared and she gave up. And my thinking is that she just plain stayed up way too damn late on the internet fooling around last night. And it’s enough.
So I sent The GingerBeard Man a message this morning and told him we needed some kind of device to control their access to the internet. Could we do it with the wifi router? Technically, yes. We’re both in IT, it’s all configurable. But I wanted something easier. So he sends me the link to Circle. I’d had a grand total of five sips of coffee and I basically impulse ordered it. About an hour later, I was thinking maybe I should have done a little more research. But the more I researched, the more I like it. It’s a pretty awesome device and I am mega stoked about it arriving so we can set it up and start setting up some limitations.
Now my next major kid complaint is the lack of chores that are getting done. (I’m sound like a super great mom in this post huh?) There is a significant amount of ebb and flow when it comes to chores. And it’s usually directly connected to how enthusiastic I am about whatever chore method I have in place at the time. If you can find it on pinterest, I’ve probably done it. Check lists on the fridge? Yup. Chore charts? Oh yeah. Giant dry erase boards? Of course. There’s not much in the realm of chores and children I haven’t explored. And when I get all gung-ho about it, I roll in ready to MAKE CHANGES! Come on Family! This is EXCITING! Insert here the collective groan of said family as they buckle up for what will undoubtedly be yet another torture event sponsored by their mother and her need to change shit and make them do stuff in a New! Fun! way.
Well, buckle up, Family. Mommy found a new toy.
I downloaded an app today called Chorma. It’s for chores! And it allows you to set them up as recurring and assign points for them. Some can be assigned to a kid specifically, others can be “claimed” so whoever wants to do them, presumably to earn points, can grab them. So here’s my evil plan: super limited internet time regulated by the new Circle. BUT! They can “buy” more internet time with their chore points! Or, in the case of my youngest who may not care quite as much about the internet, we can put together other things she can get with points. Like going swimming or going to the movies or something. You can create individual rewards within the app. Which I think is pretty cool.
So, I will check back and let you all know how it goes once the Circle comes in ūüôā In the meantime, if you have any ideas or suggestions or things you do in your home, I’d love to hear them.

Not that bored

It’s a pretty frequent occurrence that The GingerBeard Man will ask me what I want to do with our evening and I’ll say “I don’t know, what do you want to do?” And he’ll say he doesn’t know and that is how you end up watching Netflix every night, folks. Now keep in mind, by the time we have this conversation, we have maybe an hour or an hour and a half until it’s time to go to sleep. We aren’t talking about wasting an entire Saturday. I mean, unless House of Cards has just come out with a new season.
Anyway, I noticed that we were repeating this trend fairly regularly and I decided to try and be proactive. I had this Great Idea! I’d scour the internet for all the great couple activities that we could do together. And the next time he asked me what I wanted to do, I would reach under the bed and pull out the Magical Amazon Box full of Fun Things and man oh man, would I ever be the impressive wife.
So a few hours of the dating divas website, some amazon browsing and a few buzzfeed lists later and I had five things in my cart – all with super great reviews and I was ready to show my husband exactly how cool I was. In fact, despite that we both had plans on Friday and Saturday, I was almost too excited to wait for him to ask me what we should do. But that happened on its own Sunday afternoon.
I reach under the bed and pull out The Big Box of Fun, ready for The GingerBeard Man to be all in awe of my awesomeness.
Spoiler: it didn’t really go down that way.
The look on his face was a little more of a look of fear. Like oh my god – what is going on? But I was fueled by my research. The reviews, they were so good. Surely so many amazon people couldn’t be wrong. Surely! So I just ignored his skepticism and pushed on. I think it was right about that time that he realized I had put a lot of work into this and decided to give it a solid shot. I told him to just pick something, anything, out of the box. I was that confident that everything was great.
And so he dove straight in and chose, what I considered to be the scariest of the items in the box: The Couple’s Kindle Cards. Suddenly I wondered how those even got into my basket. Surely I didn’t choose something so cheesy. But no, I read all the reviews ever. So if I bought them, they had to have been awesome. I wasn’t about to doubt myself. I had this. I tore that plastic wrapping off and opened the box. Nestled inside were 52 large cards and an instruction manual. I flipped to the instruction page and began reading aloud.
The gist of it was to choose one card a week, find the coordinating card description in the instruction booklet and then carry out that card. Bonus points if you journal about it together afterwards. Oh shit. Now listen, oh makers of the Couple’s Kindle Cards, it’s not that I don’t think journaling with my husband might be cool. In fact, one of the five items in the Big Box of Fun is this cool two person journal. It’s just that telling us to keep a shared journal about the experiences we were about to start sharing together… it just oooged me out. But! We had come this far. So I set aside my reservations about journaling and had The GingerBeard Man draw a card. He drew Volunteering.
Hmmm ok. Not exactly what I was hoping for. So I skip to the end of the Instruction booklet, under V, to read about the mission for the week. Basically, go out and volunteer together. Come back afterwards and journal about the experience. My kneejerk reaction is when the hell are we going to have time to do that? We are both only home for a few hours a night and we spend those hours feeding the kids, cleaning up, discussing school or activities or whatever with them and then eventually heading to our room to spend a very short amount of time with one another before going the heck to sleep because we are super tired. And I am totally not knocking volunteering! Please don’t think I am. I think people should volunteer and help other people out, I just don’t think it is something we can do with less than a week’s notice to set it up and accomplish. And what I was really looking for was like a 30 minute activity that I could do with my husband.
So now we are sitting there looking at each other. He is trying super hard to be on board and I’m trying super hard to gauge how invested he is in this because I’m itching to bail. After a few minutes of discussion we decide maybe we don’t need the cards and instead we would choose something else. I choose the Love letter Game: Hobbit Edition. Now, to preface this: this game has FIVE STARS. FIVE. Which, if you aren’t familiar with amazon, that’s ALL OF THEM. All the stars. I cannot, for the life of my fathom how this game has five stars because it was so truly awful. Like it made me believe that in about thirty minutes, I too could design a game and sell it on the internet and make all the money because it must be SO easy to do. We gave the game the benefit of the doubt, but truly it was so horrible that three rounds in I caved. It was so bad.
Thankfully we decided that we actually are not bored. Would it kill us to maybe grab a few new board games to try out? Nah… in fact, it turns out that The GingerBeard Man has a whole list that he wants to order. So I think we will start there and return all of the other stuff.

How to make your husband feel attractive…

If you google “how to make your spouse feel attractive” you will get page after page of lists of ways to make your¬†wife feel attractive. ¬†You won’t find anything about your husband until page four. ¬†How hugely unfair. ¬†There are literally lists of hundreds of ways to make a girlfriend, lover, or wife feel pretty long before anyone thought to wonder whether their man was being made to feel hot or useful or loved.

There is a well known radio show that comes on here that I listen to off and on and one morning, before I even met my husband, the main female personality on that radio show said that your sex life dwindles in every single marriage, that it becomes nearly nonexistent. ¬†It cannot be helped, it cannot be changed, it is just a fact. ¬†This pissed me off so much. ¬†It’s been years and I can still remember her declaring that and me thinking¬†that cannot be true, not with everyone, and certainly it won’t be true for me. ¬†Now, do I think that the super hot and heavy, can’t keep your hands off each other, sex anywhere and everywhere changes? ¬†Absolutely. ¬†At some point, you may come to appreciate that you have a nice bed and maybe sex on the bathroom floor is a little less comfortable. ¬†Some of the spontaneity may fade, but I just can’t believe that after a few years, spending that intimate time with your spouse becomes less important to you.

I was a single parent for many years and during that time I learned to run my household in its entirety on my own. ¬†I’m good at it. ¬†I plan well, I organize well, I budget well. ¬†And because it was so hard to get my life straightened out and kept that way, I am a bit of a control freak. ¬†So when The GingerBeard Man and I moved in together, it never even occurred to me to do things differently and I’ll admit that the fact that I am an absolute tyrant had to be pointed out to me. ¬†And being in charge of everything, regardless of your position in the marriage, is emasculating to the other party. ¬†One person being in charge isn’t fair, you have to be a team. ¬†This has been one of the biggest things I’ve had to work on and I do work on it, every single day. ¬†If you were to ask my husband, he would probably laugh and say that not much has changed and it’s just who I am. ¬†I am lucky that he is able to look at my past and see why I became the person I became and love that person and all of her flaws. ¬†But that person wants to be a better partner and really tried to keep that in mind.

One thing my husband is very good at is making me feel appreciated and attractive. ¬†Very rarely does a day go by where he doesn’t tell me he thinks I’m beautiful and in such a way that I absolutely believe him. ¬†He says thank you when I cook dinner, he tells me I’m a good mother before I can even start to think about how I might not be on that particular day, he offers to help me with just about anything I am working on, he has my back and he is super affectionate. ¬†I can’t promise that I do all of those things in return. ¬†It does not come naturally for me, I have to work at it. ¬†So when my husband isn’t feeling great about himself, I don’t necessarily know how to go about changing that. ¬†Sure I can tell him that I think he’s adorable, and I do, but too much beyond that and I am consulting google and finding myself disappointed with the results.

Page four’s article list five things: show gratitude, find little ways to show love daily, compliment, touch him and withhold judgement. Not exactly what I was hoping for in terms of a ton of good ideas… a little more sleuthing led me to this article on marriagemissions.com. ¬†A list of one hundred items. ¬†Another blogger suggested printing it and having them highlight ten or twenty things that are important to them. ¬†That is for sure out of my comfort zone as I am much more likely to find something to surprise him with off of The Dating Divas website. ¬†Because: control freak.

They had a few other articles that I grabbed some lists from and one of the items recommended taking the love languages quiz. ¬†It lists the five love languages as: Words of Affirmation, Acts of Service, Physical Touch, Quality Time, and Receiving Gifts. ¬†I took the quiz and the highest one for my is Acts of Service followed by Words of Affirmation, I have a pretty good idea that The GingerBeard Man’s will be Quality Time and Physical Touch. ¬†I sent him the link, we’ll see if he takes it.

I want to be a good wife. ¬†I want my husband to know that I love him more than I can even begin to express and I want him to be secure in himself and in our relationship. ¬†I’m not always the best at expressing that. ¬†I can quite easily get caught up in running the household and checking things off of my mental schedule right up until it’s lights out, without ever once stopping to just have a moment for us. ¬†And I am sure days or even weeks have passed where I didn’t make a conscious effort to let him know that I find him to be ridiculously attractive. ¬†Being married, being consciously married and present in a relationship takes work. ¬†I know that if I want to prove that radio personality wrong about dwindling romance and if I want to ensure that my husband knows how important he is to me, I have to make an effort.

Yesterday was a no good, not fun, crappy, bad day.

This week, at work, my life has been crazy. ¬†I’m on a lot of committees… and it seems like every committee had something due at the same time. ¬†That coupled with my normal work stuff and I found the hours were speeding by. ¬†Right before lunchtime, I got a text from my mother saying that one of the two outside cats was hurt pretty badly and I might need to have my daughter run her to the vet. ¬†Well several calls, texts, and decisions later, we had to put the kitty down. ¬†This was especially difficult for my thirteen year old who called me three times just absolutely sobbing.

It really sucks when you have to balance those kinds of things with work. ¬†Not being able to be the one who took the kitty in to be put down, not being able to be home to hug the kids when they are hurting… prioritizing those kinds of things is rough.

But, after all of that was done and I already felt like I had my heart in my throat, I got in a pretty big fight with my oldest daughter. ¬†And by the time that was done, I had to just go sit in the work bathroom and have myself a nice little cry. ¬†I hate fighting with my kids and I hate having my feelings hurt. ¬†The timing is especially bad since she left today to go to Connecticut to watch her husband graduate from sub school so I won’t get to see her until this weekend.

The Best Husband In The World was already home and making dinner when I got there last night. ¬†He hugged me and recommended I change into something comfy and go relax, but I opted instead to go for a run. ¬†I know that I can beat any bad mood with some serious cardio. ¬†I did my run, came in and had dinner with him and the two little girls and then took a shower. ¬†Afterwards, I had some work to finish up and I did it while watching The Walking Dead. ¬†Finally, we got in the bed and I just let the tears go. ¬†I was sad, my heart hurt. ¬†Thinking about our little kitty and how her life was over and thinking about the rift between my daughter and I… He hugged me and smoothed my hair until I was done. ¬†And then he snuggled me into him and we went to bed.

When we got married, in his vows, my husband spoke of how I take care of everyone and how I have done that pretty much my whole life. He promised to be the person who would take care of me and he absolutely is. ¬†All of my bad days are made so much better because I have found this person who loves me so much. ¬†I couldn’t be luckier.

I’m not ignoring him, because I’m not a child

I don’t know if it is because of how much I truly appreciate having a great relationship, or because I have a super awesome husband or if it’s because I have just grown the fuck up already, but I tell you what – how I handle not getting along with my spouse has changed drastically since my teens and twenties. ¬†I don’t know how much of how I used to react was just part of being so young, or how I saw the relationships other people were in or just because I thought that acting a certain way would get me a certain result, but in retrospect I wish I could slap that girl sometimes because man she was a dramatic handful when she wanted to be.

In this relationship, I find that even if I get the idea to pull some kind of attention seeking girl bullshit, I usually immediately realize I am doing it and correct it. ¬†Like why do I want to mess with him that way? ¬†Why do I want to hold on to this argument or anger? ¬†Why do I want to torture him for the foreseeable future? ¬†Or, and this one I think is the biggest deal to me, why do I want to hurt his feelings? ¬†This is my person. ¬†This is my best friend. ¬†Someone with whom I am completely and totally myself with. ¬†There are days where I wonder if he doesn’t know me better than I know myself. ¬†Why in the world would I want to continue being pissed off at him just for the sake of being pissed off?

Additionally, he doesn’t play those games with me. ¬†He’s very quick to bring something up if it isn’t going right or if he thinks we need to talk about it and he doesn’t hold a grudge after the fact. ¬†We excel in just putting it behind us and moving on. ¬†And that is such an amazing thing.

It doesn’t mean that I am always able to drop a bad mood without some time or effort. ¬†All of the Eckhart Tolle in the world can’t make me a perfect person, let alone wife. ¬†But I really do make an effort to see his side of things and think about his feelings and not just be mad to be mad. ¬†And while I want to say that it’s a result of us both really putting effort into good communication and empathizing with one another, the truth is that I think that we just couldn’t really treat each other any differently. ¬†And I am so unbelievably lucky in that.

Fourth Valentine’s Day

Last night, whilst doing The Snuggling with my super cute husband, The GingerBeard Man, and watching back to back episodes of The IT Crowd on Netflix, I realized this is our fourth Valentine’s Day together. ¬†Not terribly long, right? ¬†Four years is a drop in the bucket to the twenty or thirty years married group. ¬†But here’s the thing about it, I still like him. ¬†I really like him.

I’ve not ever been in a relationship before where I still liked the person this many years later. ¬†Where I wasn’t convincing myself that¬†all relationships take¬†this much work. ¬†This man is without a doubt my Best Friend. ¬†He makes me believe in all the lovey dovey bullshit that you hear people say about Soulmates and Forever.

Don’t get me wrong, stuff does get hard sometimes. I mean c’mon, he signed up to be a stepfather to not one, not two, not even three but¬†four daughters. ¬†Most of whom were already teenagers when he arrived and one of who is a fiery, strongwilled, hot-tempered Latina. We also experienced several months of The Kitchen Disaster last year which could have easily sent any married couple their separate ways or at the very least into some intense counseling. But instead, we just took turns being the person who was The Positivity that day.

Amazingly, I never look into this man’s eyes and see a second of regret. ¬†Even when I am at my most doubtful that he is going to spend another day in The Madness, he smiles and kisses me and tells me that I am his Favorite.