Monday, August 3, 2015

The Get Ready For School Pow Pow

I have such mixed feelings about the summer coming to a close.  I mean fall is my favorite season and I pine for it all year long.....the crisp air, the beautiful trees, the hot drinks, the wearing sweaters and not sweating, FOOTBALL, and.....the routine.

As much as I love these lazy summer days and continue to resist acting like a responsible adult, the routine that comes with the start of the school year does all of us a great deal of good.   After the indoc period that is.  Getting my daughter out of bed and in the car by 7:30 is going to be like.....I don't even know....the impossible dream?  waking a hibernating bear?  self-inflicted torture? Probably, all of the above.

We're going to have two in school full time and one in half-day preschool three days a week.  Last year our mornings were stressed just getting sleeping beauty ready and out the door on time....and her father drove her to school!  I didn't even have to be out of my pajamas.

This year, my shirking days are over.  I drive the swagger wagon, so I'll need to transport children for their ejumacation.  It will probably look something like this:
Too rushed to pour it into a travel mug

Lord, help me. I actually really enjoy mornings and feel the most fresh physically and mentally then (after coffee).   It's the waking up part that kicks my rear.  My husband can pop up at his first alarm and be showered, dressed, and out the door in minutes.  While I'm still hitting snooze.  Even after I've been up and walking around it still takes me awhile to fully wake up and get my head in the game.  So, my personal routine is going to have to change too (see references to "impossible" and "torture" above #applereallyclosetothetree).

We've got two and a half weeks before school starts so it's time to start shifting gears.  Throughout the day,I keep thinking of a million things that James and I need to discuss, but by the time we get the kids to bed my brain and my memory are shot.  So, I sent him the following email:

Hey Babe, 

I had mentioned talking through some things one night this week.  Would you be opposed to setting a date and me typing up an agenda?  I know it's OCD but my mind is fresh in the morning and mush at night, so it would help me out.  Let me know.  Love you.

And because he's a good man and [usually] does not make fun of my list-making ways, he agreed.  Here's a peek at what's on my mind.  My to-do list is far more detailed.  This is more big picture discussions to get everyone on the same page....

Summer Bucket List
We made one, and we did a lot.  But there are still a few unchecked items the kids are eyeing.  We won't be able to do them all, so what can we squeeze in without totally breaking the bank or our sanity?  Which ones would make a nice finish to our summer? Let's put them on the calendar.

We've slowly fallen into a go to bed later and not really sleep in (except Mia) routine.  Our morning will need to look significantly different during the school year.  What's our morning routine going to look like?  What time do the kids need to get up/go to bed? What's going to be on their morning to-do list?  What time do we need to get out the door?  What time are we getting up and ready?  What prep items can we shift to the night before to make the mornings easier?  WHOSE MAKING THE COFFEE??

What about our afternoons and evenings?  Homework routines? How do we want to spend our weekends?  What items do we need to tackle during the week, so we're free to enjoy our days off as a family?

Chores/Household Responsibilities
What are our expectations for the kids during the school year?  What daily/weekly/monthly chores will they have?  What about us?  How can we tweak meal prep/cooking/shopping to make our lives easier?

Organize and Purge (my favorite!)
We've continued to work on purging and organizing the house over the summer, but there's still plenty to do.  What are the problem areas that could bite us in the behind come fall?  What areas could we tweak to better serve us during the school year (pantry/kids closets/entryway/etc)?  What do we do with the items we've already purged (sell/donate/burn)?

The budget's been updated to reflect the coming school year...any adjustments?  What larger items or events to we need to have a saving plan for (birthdays, Christmas, vacations)?  What additional school supplies/clothes do we need?

House Projects
Prioritize the items on my our list.....what can we realistically accomplish and what should we cut from the list?  Which are best to tackle during fall and/or winter?  Set timeline and anticipated budget.

Do we have a good system for managing the impending paper flood?  How will we manage the family calendar?  Do you hate me for this pow-pow yet?

We don't have these kind of structured, official-like meetings very often.  Usually we just chat at the end of the day or touch base via a few quick emails until we can wade through the details in person together....but the start of school pretty much flips our routine upside down, so I felt the need for an AGENDA.

Anyone else feeling the sudden need to get organized and ready for the school monster?  What things do you hash out with your partner in crime ahead of time?  Who just wings it?  And please, fellow non-morning peeps....tell me your secrets!  I'm thinking I'll shower at night so my morning routine is minimal but I really just want to hug my knees in a corner and pray it's not really happening.

Thanks so much for reading! We would love to hang out!
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Friday, July 31, 2015

Oh Weekend, I Heart You

I hoped to get at least one post up this week, but visitors, followed by a week of solo parenting, a few sick kids mixed in, and getting a coherent post up just wasn't in the cards.

My sister-in-law had a conference in Toledo last weekend, so she brought her three kids along for a long overdue cousin visit.  The kids stayed with us while she spent a few days at the conference. Our goal?  Wear. them. all. out.  Because we like sleep.   We had a fun, non-stop, very loud weekend and the kids were pretty sad to say goodbye on Monday....especially since James had to leave the next morning for a business trip.

About 30 minutes before he left the house, Mia (after complaining of a stomach ache) threw up all over her bed.  Her and Sully came down with some sort of stomach bug or food poisoning.   Thank you sweet baby Jesus it was very short lived, but quite the start to our week.   Single parents and spouses of deployed service members - you are heros.  Truly.

The next day the baby woke up with a runny nose - her first official cold.  Is there anything more sad than a sick baby?  At that point in time, no.  Fortunately, that has been fairly mild too and she's still been throwing around plenty of smiles.  And making all kinds of advancements on the baby development front, as evidenced here:

I'm so not ready for this.  I thought my house was fairly childproof until I really thought about all the non-safe things lurking behind my very non-child locked cupboards.  I have so much work to do and so many baby gates to acquire.

James gets home tonight and we're ready to soak up these last couple of weekends before school starts!  And by "soak up" I mean pull weeds and other yard work.  Maybe we'll throw dinner with friends in there too.   Have a great one and we'll catch you back here next week!  I finally decided on a paint color for the kitchen/great room and think we actually have a plan in there now.  Why is it so hard to make those choices for your own house??

Thanks so much for reading! We would love to hang out!
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Friday, July 24, 2015

Baby Dresser Organization

One of my favorite pieces in Liv's nursery (to both use and ogle) is her dresser.  It was a free hand-me-down from a sweet neighbor and one of my favorite "power of paint" transformations to date.  You can catch the details on that project here.

The tallish dresser has three deep drawers and we did our best to maximize that space.  Wanna take a peak inside?  Sure you do.  Cause baby stuff is cute.
baby dresser organization for the nursery

Before we loaded the drawers with any of that cute gear, we gave the inside a good wipe down. Then, I grabbed a roll of wrapping paper I found on clearance at Target.  I'm pretty sure this was left over from the Hanukkah stuff, but I couldn't resist the sweet subtle pattern it provided for the bottom of the drawers.
baby dresser organization for the nursery

We measured the base of the drawer, cut a sheet of paper to size, and used a little modge podge on the back side to hold it down.  I intended to put an additional coat over the top to protect the paper, but I think I'll use this clear contact paper method instead. Also, wrapping paper with measured graph lines on the back = best thing ever.

Once the drawers were lined, it was time to think about how to organize things.  I originally had everything folded in piles inside the drawers....we quickly realized that was a recipe for a clothes mosh pit.  Case in point (about a week in):
baby dresser organization for the nursery

baby dresser organization for the nursery
I don't even know how a rogue diaper ended up in there.

Given the state of things, the next time we did a size up rotation of clothes we added a few of these IKEA Skubb drawer organizers.  I employed my child laborers (paid in fruit snacks) to assemble.
baby dresser organization for the nursery

These come in a 6-pack with three different sizes - two large squares, two small squares, and two long rectangular ones.  They were the perfect mix for the hodge-podge of baby items and various types of baby clothes.

Since this dresser pulls double-duty as a changing station and lacks any surface area for storage, the top drawer was dedicated to all things diaper change.  And cute socks.
baby dresser organization for the nursery
The long skinny bin was perfect for a stash of diapers and we left some open space next to it for wipes and creams.  Extra wipes and diapers are stored in the closet.

We also keep extra changing pads, plain white onesies, and jammies in here.  As part of Liv's nighttime routine, James gets her changed and into pj's.  So it was helpful to have those supplies all together in the most easily accessible drawer.

baby dresser organization for the nursery

The middle drawer has the clothes she wears most frequently.  Babies grow so dang fast and we're doing laundry so frequently that we really don't need walk-in closet sized options for the babe's wardrobe.  We try to keep clothes in her current size limited to this drawer.  As she grows and her clothes get larger (or during colder months with bulkier clothes) we can expand to the bottom drawer. But for now, this works perfectly.

baby dresser organization for the nursery

Outfits are in the large bin to the left, dresses in the middle, one skinny bin of onesies/tops and one skinny bin of pants/bottoms to the right.
baby dresser organization for the nursery

The lowest drawer has extra sleep sacks and clothes in the next size up that she could move into fairly soon.  With the other kids I would constantly open up the box holding the next size up only to find clothes that were already too small.   Hopefully, this drawer will help me catch more of those borderline items before we miss their window.
baby dresser organization for the nursery

Clothes in much larger sizes or for the next season are stored in her closet, along with blankets, crib linens, and miscellaneous items.  I would show it to you, but it's a disaster.  It still has a bunch of my office/craft stuff and the kids art projects.  It's the last area of her room I need to tackle, so you'll see it in all it's ridiculocity here soon.

As the bambina gets older, we'll be able to better utilize the full size closet and even under the crib storage if needed.  Babies come with a ton of stuff.  It's unavoidable since they seem to need different things at different stages, but we're doing our best to keep it to mostly necessities.

What have you found to be the best storage solution for all that baby gear?  How do you organize all those little clothes?   The kids are so sad to see their favorite Livy outfits cycled through so quickly and want to "keepsake" every one.  Admittedly, I'm totally with them.

*Affiliate links used.

Thanks so much for reading! We would love to hang out!
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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Our Summer Coat Closet

I had high hopes for taming our family's explosion of shoes/bags/coats when we tackled this front hall closet makeover last winter.  Granted it still gets messy from time to time, but for the most part this closet is the hero of our entry.

When I first planned out the space I had the impending winter slush and bulky snow gear on the brain. So, I thought I would show you how we made a few tweaks to accommodate these busy warmer months.  Here's what she looks like lately...

While summer days are relaxed, our calendar is also busy...we still have piano lessons, T-ball, swim, and some fun summer camps.  We also take advantage of the free days to get together with friends.

Translation: a lot of gear. 

Storing our bulky winter items away opened up a few hooks, which means my bag lady tendencies have been fully reinforced to accommodate.

We've got a swim bag (with towels, goggles, and sunscreen)....

We've got our sports bag (that red lady on the top shelf)...

T-ball is the current calendar hog, so this bag keeps all that baseball gear in one spot, ready to grab and go. 

Those adorable green striped bags were actually birthday party favors that my dear friend HAND MADE.  They've become our favorite library bags and the initials help the kids be a little more responsible for their own books.

And of course, the diaper bag....ideally fully stocked, but usually missing some key item.

Seriously, guys - bags!  It saves us so much time getting out the door when all we need for a given activity is corralled to one spot.  #bagladyforlife

One thing I thought we would ditch during the warm months is the boot tray.  But, oh contrare.  It has been a very rainy summer thus far and having a place to set down wet or dirty shoes is something we're going to need all year long.

The wire bins that used to hold each kid's winter hat and mittens are now great for summer hats and sun glasses.

I think I will forever sing the praises of the hook.  Removing the original rod and replacing it with a bunch of hooks made all the difference in our closet going from this:

to this:
coat closet makeover

and now this:

You may not have an entire closet to dedicate as a drop zone, but even mounting a few extra hooks to a wall right next to the door where you enter the house can make a huge impact in smoothly getting in/out of the house.  Believe me, this area is not always tidy but it certainly saves us a ton of stress and frantic searching of things. It's definitely keeping our summer days a little more relaxed and organized.

How do you manage all the summer activities?  And by the way, what happened to July?!?  I'm in denial that August is right around the corner.

Thanks so much for reading! We would love to hang out!
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Thursday, July 16, 2015

DIY Canvas Heart Art: In Which I Pretend I Can Paint

First off - thank you for all your sweet comments on Liv's nursery!  It was truly a labor of love (and intense nesting).  Since it had to come together on a budget, it meant a lot of things in her room came second hand or were snagged from other areas of the house.  With all those hand-me-downs, I was itching to add something unique and special to her space.  So, I convinced myself that I had some suppressed artist somewhere in me and tried my hand at painting.
"Isn't She Lovely" DIY canvas heart art

There was actually a completely different water color attempt before this that we'll deem a semi-fail.  I'm still trying to salvage it but decided I would try a different approach for my do-over.  It turned out to be a really easy project that anyone can do - even the artistically uninclined.   Here's what you'll need....
"Isn't She Lovely" DIY canvas heart art
The kids have been begging for canvases to paint, so we grabbed two 11x14 2-packs from Hobby Lobby for $7.99/per pack, but on sale for 50% off.  The three big kids each got a canvas and Mama got to play with the fourth.

I wanted to create a colorful shape with some script, but I didn't want to have any hard lines or borders.  So, I grabbed a piece of construction paper and sketched out a heart.
"Isn't She Lovely" DIY canvas heart art

Since I can't draw even sides to save my life, I picked the half I liked best, folded the paper down the middle and cut along that half of the heart.
"Isn't She Lovely" DIY canvas heart art

Even Steven.  My heart was a little off-center on the construction paper, so I was sure to line it up with the center of the canvas.
"Isn't She Lovely" DIY canvas heart art

Once I was sure of the size/placement, I decided where I wanted my script.  I cut a straight line across the heart at that point and separated the two pieces leaving a gap wide enough for my font.  This left the shape of the heart a little off,   So, I trimmed it up a bit until the border appeared to form a continuous line.
"Isn't She Lovely" DIY canvas heart art

I then cut a strip of paper the same width as the gap and taped it all down to the canvas.
"Isn't She Lovely" DIY canvas heart art

Next I grabbed some water color paint and filled in the empty space inside the heart with dots.  Any pattern could work and it would also look great to fill in the entire space with watercolor.
"Isn't She Lovely" DIY canvas heart art

Once it dried, I removed the paper.  Parts of the heart's border looked a little wonky where I didn't take the dots all the way to the paper's edge, so I quickly added a few more dots until I achieved the right shape.

One more round of drying, then I used a pencil to very lightly sketch out my script.  When I was happy with the lettering, I took a gold Sharpie and went over the pencil.
After everything was dry we hung that lovely on the wall #seewhatIdidthere

Can you spot it in her room?

It was a such a special addition to this little corner of her nursery.

I'm still not sure if I want the text to be less of that subtle champagne color and more of a reflective gold.
If I change it up, I'll be sure to let you know #winkwink

Either way, I loved bringing in another item created just for this space and our sweet bambina.

Has anyone else tried their hand at water color?  Or any painting for that matter?  I figure if it looks like a 5-year old's work we can always chalk it up as "abstract" right?

Thanks so much for reading! We would love to hang out!
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