Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Random Things

*There's not tea made. This is a huge problem. It's being fixed. But not fast enough.

*Now that we have a new fancy-shmancy thermostat, I have a new 'breath-of-fresh-air' moment to look forward to each day. When it kicks on to precool the house before peek hours, I can breathe a sigh of relief - It's almost naptime!

*James is ornery! It's so fun. And challenging. He'll head torward the cords, shrieking and laughing hysterically. When we say no-no he'll pause, grin at us, and dash even faster, little legs and arms chugging. He finally stopped falling over when he pulls up (which is good, since he climbs everything), just in time to start throwing huge temper tantrums and crying the entire time anyone is in the bath or shower without him.

*Cadence has been loving her nature journal, along with her family of robins. We also just discovered we have a family of squirrels who play on her swingset and bury nuts in our yard.

*I've actually made huge progress unpacking upstairs! I'm down to two tubs of books and a few random things. This is so exciting, I wasn't sure I would be able to actually get this project done anytime soon, but it looks like I'll have it finished by the end of the week, so it's not hanging over my head while I work on Bible School and James' baby quilt / birthday stuff.

*A side effect of working upstairs was two boxes of "New, NEW KIDS BOOKS MOMMY!!!!" in Cadence's room when she woke up this morning. She was very excited, and has spent all morning reading. She hasn't even gotten dressed yet. *Bliss*

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Friday, May 11, 2012


The playroom is finished! (For now :D)

Here are the before pictures:

Here are my dream goals for this room:
Focus on the level play my kids are at right now, but make it comfortable for all ages, including us parents.
Use fun, bright colors.
Set up a system that is easy for the kids to maintain and clean up after themselves.
Leave plenty of open space for free play.
Here is my to-do list:
Use only white or primary / bright colors
Leave plenty of space for free play
Make comfy seating for the adults, with pillows for feeding babies and putting them to sleep
Flat play surface off the floor for Cadence's non-baby-friendly toys
Bench with space for shoes and outside toys by the door
Bulletin board
Colorful clock
Art wall
Cube shelving along windows for toys
Buckets or baskets for cubbies
New ceiling fan / overhead lighting
Kids folding table for art and picnics
Stage with microphone
Play kitchen / art supply storage under kitchen window (think inside refurbished entertainment center from craigslist)

First up was the folding table. Cadence had been saving her money from Christmas and Birthdays to get a 'special table just my size', and was very excited to go to the store and spend her money.

We found a glider at Aldi for less than $50, that has turned out to be quite comfortable. I was not spending a lot of money on anything, and fully expected to have to make pillows/cushion myself. Then we found these in a little kiosk at Wal-Mart for less than $5. Hmmmm.... $5 for fabric, plus time and effort, plus waiting till I unpack my sewing machine? I think not. So we have "circle and stripes!" pillows in our play room. I love them!

Next I ordered cubby shelves from Target. Did you know, if you have a Target debit card, you get 5% off everything, in store and online, with free shipping on everything, even heavy shelves, plus their online prices are the same as in store??!! Ok, commercial over.

We happened across the awesome (sturdy! light enough for babies!) buckets at the dollar store, as well as the oversize tote bags. I was determined to have only bright, primary type colors in this room, and these were perfect!

I thought I would have to wait to buy a bench for the door. I wanted something low enough for the kids to sit on to take off muddy shoes, and the extra set of cubby shelves was too high. Then I started unpacking upstairs, and guess what? The previous owners left this shelf in the closet up there! Yay! It was either free, or the most expensive shelf in the world... I choose to look at it as free.

I wanted to display the kids artwork in here. I bought frames (dollar store again!) and painted them bright colors, then put the kid's paintings in there. We will add to this gradually, and maybe put the clock over here.

James had to do his first fingerpainting so he could have some art in here, but Cadence had painted some pictures for the new house before we ever moved. James is in the blue frame, Cadence in the others.

These hooks are working great. I got them to hang the tote bags from, and they have held up to Cadence and James tugging at them to get them down. They stick to glass, metal, and the fridge, but did not stick to the roughly painted walls or the brick.

We have spent so much time in here - most of our days actually. It has been so fun to have a playroom (something I thought I would probably never have)... like a dream come true :)


Read on to see how we've kept toys nice and neat in the past and plan to do it again now... it's a system that works well for us, and keeps us OCD parents from feeling overwhelmed all the time!

1. This step is most important. Do Not Skip This Step! Get rid of most of the toys in your play space. This doesn't mean you can't have a lot of toys, it means most of your toys are not out all the time. We have three sets, and trade them out as the kids get bored. This limits the amount of mess that can be made in the first place, and keeps kids from getting ho-hum about their toys.

2. Set up a system that is easy for kids to maintain. Toy boxes and other large storages are not easy for kids to maintain. You can't see all the toys easily, so kids dump the whole thing out to get the one toy they want from the bottom. Of course they're not going to stop and pick up all the extra toys before the start playing with the one they want.
The same thing can happen with small things like our buckets. Those buckets? They're not full to the brim of various assortments of toys. They each have a different 'set' of toys - one for little people, one for cars, one for baby doll stuff - and the kids know they can only have one bucket down at a time. One bucket is even empty, since Cadence likes to 'pack my suticase to go to Tulsa.'
Keep age appropriate toys eye-level and easy to spot. This way the desired toy does not require digging, and is equally easy to put away. All of James' toys are on the bottom shelves, all of Cadence's are on the top.
They know the rules - one toy / set of toys out at a time, clean it up before you reach for the next. Since everything is easy to reach, and since clean-up really just means shove it back on the shelf or in a bucket somewhere, this is manageble for them.

3. Play with  your kids while you train them to clean up as they go. This can be the hardest part for a lot of people I think. I know it is for me. "They're playing so nicely, this is my chance to get something else done! I'll just clean up the mess when they're done rather than go in there and help them remember to do it as they go." Except, this leaves a huge overwhelming mess at the end of the day, which doesn't ever get cleaned up, the kids can't even really enjoy their toys because they are stepping on them instead of playing with them, and so they fuss and need you more because they can't play. Downward spiral. I know from experience!
It is more fun in the short term to play with your kids instead of putting them off to get other things done, and it is more rewarding in the long run because your constant vigilance and direction for the first little bit - even if it is just a few minutes at the start of each day - reminds them to clean up as they go.
No, I am not saying you must be hovering every moment your child is playing. No, I am not saying  you should constantly interrupt your child to harp at them to clean up. Just go in there and be with them while they play for a while. If you notice they are abandoning toys everywhere, say something like "Oops, there are more toys out than you are playing with. Let's clean up so you don't step on them." And help them quickly chunk the ones they aren't using back on the shelf. Trust me, even a two-year-old can keep their toys neat if you make it easy enough!
Then, after they've learned how to do it, you won't have to work half as hard. So while it takes more effort at the beginning of the training process, it is well worth it, because your kids' play will be self-cleaning :D

Disclaimer: Kids will be kids. This doesn't mean your playspace will always be spotless. And frankly, some days kids need a break. Some days, I clean up for them. Some days, it doesn't get cleaned up at all. But most days, this works for us. Most days, the kids clean up after themselves - and don't even really notice they are doing it.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Watch Out, Here He Comes!!!!

A couple weeks ago James discovered he could shove everything off the bookshelf and climb in to play. I, of course, ran to get my camera.

Unfortunately, James' favorite thing in the world is to grab the camera, so he immediately stopped being all cute on the bookshelf and headed over to terrorize me. 

Thankfully, his ornery, "I'm gonna get you!" looks is just as cute as playing on the bookshelf! The next picture in this series got deleted - the camera was slimed.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

New House - Story and Pictures

So here is the story, as promised a couple months ago, along with pictures of our new house, as promised several weeks ago :D
We bought our first house in July, 2006. We loved it. It was just right for us, and so nice and comfortable.

Through the next four years, we really enjoyed our home. We planted flowers, and had a little garden.

Our first baby came home to that house, and grew, and grew, and suddenly became a little preschooler in that house.

Then our second baby came home to that house, and grew and grew until he could chase his sister all over the house, dragging his tummy all the way.

In the midst of this, we decided to take advantage of the depressed housing market and start looking for our ‘long-term-not-quite-dream-home-but-where-we-want-to-stay-till-the-kids-are-grown” house. We put our house on the market in February, 2011, and absolutely nothing happened. Come to find out, our realtor just wasn’t all that into being a realtor. Go figure. We decided to take a break, let everything get settled in from James’ being born, then try again.

In February we put our house on the market. Obviously, this realtor was in a different league – within the week we had sold our house and bought another. We had her come out on a Friday just to tell us where we stood, then went ahead signed papers with her while she was there. The next day she called: “I know we don’t have a sign out front or pictures online or a lockbox and this is kind of crazy… but – can we show your house tomorrow?” We had at least one showing every day after that, until Thursday, when the offer came in. So, we counteroffered, and went to look at houses to buy. We hadn’t even had a chance to narrow down a list of favorites to look at, so we whipped out the iPod while we were waiting for copies to be made, and wrote a short list of four. Friday night, a week from listing, we found the house we wanted.

It was a good thing I’d been gradually, very slowly, packing for over a year already. Otherwise, the thought of the next month would have terrified me. As it was, it didn’t seem very overwhelming at all. Sure enough, everything got packed up in a timely manner, and things went pretty smoothly.
Thursday April 12th we rented a U-Haul and packed up what was left in our house. Cadence and James loved the “BIG BIG TRUCK!!!!” for them to play in.

Playing in the moving truck
We had plenty of help, and finished in time to say goodbye to the house and go sit and rest for a few minutes before bed. We stayed the night with Tony’s parents, since obviously our house had nowhere for us to sleep.

Friday morning we went and closed on both houses, then went to our new house. Let the fun begin! The carpet cleaners beat us there, and we got started cleaning. 

Cleaning day!
Once again we had lots of help – and I am so grateful! Can I just say, cleaning this house made me feel like an excellent housekeeper? Like the brown tiles, that turned out to be cream? Or the stove, which had an inch of build up under the burners? Don’t get me wrong – most of the house looked really nice and was pretty clean, it was just a few areas that needed some serious work!

Tornadoes! Whoo-hoo! The visiting kiddos did not appreciate the sirens going off while they were here, and the workers had to sit around and wait for a break in the rain. Thankfully there WERE breaks in the rain, and no tornadoes, so we were able to get everything in and return the U-Haul on time. We didn’t get everything in order enough to stay the night Friday night, but by Saturday things were livable.

NOT livable ;)
We’ve been here ever since, and we are loving it! The neighborhood is so quiet and peaceful, the kids are loving the swing set and playing outside. Cadence is addicted to the stairs, and we have all been sleeping well.
Here is the house so far:
If you can't guess this is the hallway, you are in more trouble than I can fix!

Laundry room - obviously now it has a washer and dryer and a BUNCH of laundry in it :D

Guest bath - still looks like this except with our shower curtain in it.

Guest bath...


Cadence's Room

James' Room

James' Room

Our Room

Our Room

Our Bathroom

Awww... 'new' bed :)

Cadence's room - complete with sleeping with the door open!!!

*Gasp* Clean kitchen!

Dining Room, and in the background, Sunroom (a.k.a. the Playroom)

Nice clean living room, which I've already rearranged.
Look Mama, we have leaves to dangle from our mouth at our new house!

The first thing Tony did was put in a tiny garden. Cadence was thrilled!

Huge mirror in the living room :)
This room is a lot bigger than this picture looks. And yes, it's still pretty much this unpacked - that's my project for next week (I hope!)

They LOVE this! The backyard has quickly become our favorite place.

Back of house / playroom / Cadence watering her rosebush. I hope it survives the transplant!

Whoops, sideways :)

Enjoying the swings for the first time.

P.S. Lest you think our house is always so spotless…. It’s not. Not even right now. So there.
P.P.S. Since these pictures, we've done a lot, especially in the playroom. I hope to get pictures up of that soon :)