Saturday, September 26, 2009

Mommy Mix Tape Vol. 2

So after a fun morning of stealing people's trash yesterday- Lysh and I got to talking (shocker!) about what else?: husbands, children, staying home, being crafty, needing an outlet... And we both came to agreement that thanks to our men's jobs that keep them at work til very late in the evening, we have come to look forward to that quiet time- whether its 10 minutes or 2 hours- after the kids are in bed, before they get home. I always pull my hair up, light some more candles, maybe pour a glass of wine and them put on some Mommy music. I might get on the computer, work on a project, make dinner for Jas or honestly, just sit there. Its a time where no one needs me but me. Its my way to clear my head before Jas gets home and be able to be all there for him when he does. So in honor of 7:30 to 9:00pm, I bring you:

Mommy Mix Vol. 2:
Sunrise by Norah Jones
All We Are by Matt Nathanson
The Way I Am by Ingrid Michaelson
PDA (We Just Don't Care) by John Legend
Edge Of The Ocean by Ivy
Winter Song by Ingrid Michaelson and Sara Bareilles
Sunday Morning by Maroon 5
Tread Water by Sara Bareilles
Hometown Glory by Adele
I'll Be Your Baby Tonight by Bob Dylan and Norah Jones
Do You Remember by Jack Johnson
Can't Help Falling In Love by Ingrid Michaelson
Make You Feel My Love by Adele

Thursday, September 24, 2009

2 Ft. Terror

So this girl:
This Stinker Pot:has begun a serious rein of terror in my house. She is a monkey. A climber. A sneaky little curly haired ninja. Don't let the cute face fool ya! Over the past week she has learned how to climb on the coffee table, ....which then led her to figure out how to climb onto the couch. And because who really wants to sit on the couch?- she prefers to stand... And push things off the side table...
I see trips to the ER in my future.
She then learned how to open the doors in our house- that includes the backdoor, which we mistakenly believed we could leave unlocked! Ha! Nothing like finding your 14 month old wondering around on the patio. Sheesh.

And then there's the issue of Miss O's room: The room of 1 million teensy-tiny-swallow-in-a-heartbeat Barbie shoes, Pet Shop sunglasses, and Polly Pocket purses. Not to mention stuffed animals, birthday goodie bags and fabulous dress-up stuff.Great. She destroyed the room in 2.2 seconds flat.
So as I am leading her out of Miss O's room and encouraging her to play in her own room, I come across this: Come on?? Why is this fun? It wasn't a week ago today that I hear her in her room having a grand ole' time at what should have been nap time. I finally go in there, and she has some how pulled the brand new package of 64 diapers off of the top of the dresser, opened it and pulled every single one of those diapers out. She was swimming in a sea of diapers in her crib and the whole floor was covered. And every mommy knows that once you open a diaper, it never goes flat again- so I had this huge ridiculous mound of diapers in her closet until just yesterday. Made me insane.

I would seriously consider busting out the playpen, but have visions of her swinging herself over the side and making a wobbly-toddler dash for it! She's under serious baby lock-down. I feel like I have to do that two-finger "I have my eyes on you" motion to her every few minutes. I have to stalk her like the paparazzi:
I now have a deeper understanding for the moms who put tents over their children's cribs, make them wear back-packs with leashes and buy those hideous coffee table bumpers. Things are about to change around here...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Oh, Dora...

My sister Sarah gave me this the other day and I think it is hilarious! We have such a love/hate relationship with Dora in our house. If I have to read just "Happy Birthday, Mami" - one of the 8 stories in the Dora Collection book- of which we have Vol. 1 and 2, mind you-at bedtime one more time, I might run out of the house screaming!!! I guess she's not all bad. She entertains my children long enough to let me bathe. And thanks to her, my 3 year old can count to 10 and can tell you how to say bee, frog, owl, rat, snake, bird and chicken (random! I know....) in Spanish. We loved seeing her in concert- but Swiper was the best part! I will never forget this post that Heidi over at Mommy Doesn't Live Here Anymore wrote about Dora- just about peed my pants!

Love her or hate her- here ya go!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Its Begun

Countdown to Halloween: T-40 days....
Oh, really...?
That long...?
Okay, so maaaybe I've jumped the gun a little here...
Oh, well!
Let the fun begin!!!!

Friday, September 18, 2009

"Only Good Things"

That's what Gary used to say when you asked him "What's Up?" And that is seriously how we are feeling today. So many good things are going on, and I just know that he is up there smiling down at Jas, giving him the thumbs up. I want to jump up and down and freak out about what happened today, but I hate to say them out loud in fear of jix-ing anything!

But I am so excited, so I will just whisper them to you (and then do the "hex" sign and spit on the floor and turn around two times):
Jas signed up with another school today. That director cold-called another school in front of him to see if they want him to teach there too. She then gave him the number of her best friend who also runs a school and told him to name-drop her. So that could be 5 schools. And if those schools reach 10 kids a piece that would mean he would quit his current job. And then only have to work 2 hours a day. We've come up with a great clinic-type event that is being welcomed with open arms at a local driving range. Getting ready to promote that next month. We are freaking out over with how well this has taken off. We believe that things have gone so well because he is doing what he was meant to do: be a great teacher- To do what he loves and do it well.

I am just so stinkin' proud of him!
So, in honor of this joyous event, I thought I would share the golf photo that was a part of my psycho obsession with him our courtship. Isn't he so cute?!?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Scenes From A WebCam

Look at what I found, captured by my web-cam tucked away in a random computer folder! Their silly sweetness makes my heart so happy. (I try to remember these things when they have sassed me for the 100th time, or have drawn all over my computer with black paint pen...) I remember why we absolutely, without a doubt, love them all to pieces.

(Because nothing says "love" like a impromptu Post-It note banner. She is the best!)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Seal Of Approval

Good Housekeeping. I only get this magazine because I bought 10 items that qualified me for a free subscription at the Krogers last fall- and who doesn't love magazines in the mail?? It always seemed a little "old" for me, like I was too young to be reading it- although Lord knows my Seventeen days are far behind me.

But can I tell you- that magazine reads my mind. I start reading it, flipping through it, and without fail- there will be something on every page that pertains to my life- Or someone close to me, so that I am able to share what I just read in there.

I was talking to Fan Target the other night, discussing things our men do that make us a little nutty. WHAM! I am reminded of this great relationships article that was in there about how to break the little petty fight cycle that couples can get stuck in. We laughed and laughed about those stupid little fights (Why won't he hang the toilet paper properly??), and then discussed the merit of this man's article-vowing to seek clarity in our relationships...
Speaking of Target and her man- look how cute they are!And theeeeeeeeen, one of my sweet friends texts me this morning in tears, trying to decide whether or not she can risk quitting her job that is making her insane to pursue another path. WHAM! I'm sitting this afternoon, flipping through the latest issue and find a article titled, and I'm not kidding you: "Is It Time To Switch Careers?"

And theeeeeeeeen, Jas and I have been discussing some of the struggles we are having with O lately and how hard it is to stick with the rules and outlines we have for raising her, and I find an article called. "Mom, I Hate You!" basically stating that if your child says this to you, you are on the right parenting track. Love it! Listen to these wise words:
"It can be a challenge, day to day, to make and enforce unpopular decisions. But you have to think long-term. Parenting isn't a sprint. It's a marathon. Some days are fun and games; others are discipline and chores. Respect has to the constant."

And theeeeeeeeen, I accidently washed a tube of Chapstick with a load of laundry the other day. I found those little grease-y marks on everything. Um, guess what Heloise teaches this month?? How to remove houseplant stains from on top of a dresser, how to clean dusty nooks, how to de-gunk your cookies sheets, and Yup! you guessed it: how to remove lip balm stains!!!! At this point, I am hearing the Twilight Zones "doo-do-doo-do" song in my head.

This has happened to me every month since I started getting the magazine! Does this mean that I am old? That I am at a place in my life where I do need Good Housekeeping over InStyle?? Are my planets in alignment?? Either way, it has made me start reading it cover to cover to make sure I don't miss anything! If I find anything worth passing on, I'll be sure to let you know! (wink)

Saturday, September 12, 2009

One Week To A Better Home: Potty Time!

Its Potty Time, yall! This has always been one room where I had to come up with serious solutions, for small spaces. We rented many an apartment before we bought this house, and only one of those had double sinks, therefore doubling our counter and storage space. Jas and I usually only had the space under the sink, or if we were lucky- a drawer or two, to squeeze everything in! Here's what I came up with that has pretty much stayed the same the past few years.

Kids: I store all of the kids medicines in a large plastic bucket. They are divided by baggie into: Infant (just for Morgan), then Pain, First Aid, Cold & Allergy and Tummy Trouble. The bucket is stored up on a shelf in our laundry room since he doesn't lock.Grown-ups: I used to have a couple baskets that stayed up in either the top shelf of the pantry in the kitchen, or if we had drawers, in the bathroom. We'd pretty much throw all of the medicines together in there and hope that what we wanted was there when we needed it. This bugged me because we usually didn't. So, typical me, I took inventory of what we had and used often, and then categorized. I keep these plastic drawers in the cabinets (which have baby-locks). The four categories are:
  • Pain and Prescritions: Tylenol, Advil, IcyHot patches, Bengay... Then anything prescribed in a child-safey container goes in there, too.
  • Allergy and Cold: This is for Benedryl, cough drops, Nyquil in pill form, Zyrtec, eye drops, nose spray, etc...
  • First Aid Supplies: Band-Aids, Neosporin, guaze, tape, alchohol wipes, etc. I have also been meaning to add a "Tummy Trouble" label, too, because this drawer also holds Tums, Pepto in pill form, and any other meds associated with your gut.
  • Nail And Skin Care: This is for nail scissors, clippers, files, cotton balls, all of my nail polish and removers. I also keep lotions and razors in there, too.
Always make sure your medicines haven't expired! If you find a prescription that you have no idea what it was for, you can call the pharmacy and they will tell you. Flush them, don't throw them away.

I keep all of the make-up that I wear on a daily basis in a make-up bag that stays in my purse for the most part. I have a basket up in the cabinet above the potty, where I keep the make-up I use less often (dark eye shadow, different colored eye liners...) *Old make-up can take over your bathroom! If it was the wrong shade, just throw it away. Seriously. You're not going to return it and your skin color is not going to change to the right shade without some major work on your part. Make-up is cheap. Let it go. Same goes for anything that is half used and just sitting in a drawer or cabinet. THROW IT AWAY. Please. If you love the sample, then go buy the real stuff. If you do that, then throw away all of the other kinds you had.

This is so ghetto-fabulous- But it works like a dream and a half. I use a shower caddie to keep all of my hair irons, dryer and products in. It fits perfectly under the sink and holds EVERYTHING! I felt it was destiny, when my round brush and the hair dryer fit perfectly in the little holes in the middle. I just pull it out, use what I need, wrap up the cords and put it back. Couldn't be easier. See those two product bottles? They used to have MANY other room mates over there. I used to buy products all the time, because there where all over the place and I didn't really know what I had. (Shame, shame.) So, now all I need are theses two guys: one is a root-booster, the other is a straightener/protector. If I want big, straight hair, I mix them together. I realized I didn't really need more than that. Oh- and hair spray, but Olivia keeps that in her bathroom.DRAWERS:
If you have them, whoo-hoo! If not, I sure hope they were kind enough to give you a medicine cabinet! If you don't have either, or the medicine cabinet it not cutting it, never underestimate how much you can store on the counter- IF IT IS HIDDEN. No one want to see your deodorant, or contact solution sitting out there. There are TONS of cute baskets and boxes out here that will hide those things in a snap. No excuses.

If you do have drawers, the make sure you store things neatly. Here is where one of my favorite things ever invented comes in: the plastic drawer divider! I use one in my vanity drawer to hold anything that goes in my hair: Bibby pins, hair ties, clips, combs... Then I just store my deodorant, and the face products in there, too. We have a drawer closer to the sink that holds our face wash, moisturizer (Yes, Jas is a devoted Clean N Clear follower. I swear to you- I have used these two products for the past 12 years and my skin rocks. His, too once he started using it religiously.) Anyway...Then... there's Jas bathroom drawer. (Sigh) He doesn't believe in all of this organization- neatness- mumbo-gumbo. Seriously. So I just don't look in there. (Unless I am out of razors, and then I peek through my fingers as I dig around for one.)
Oh, Pretty Land. With two young girls, we have hair-clips and hair-ties, not to mention bows by the dozen. Again, enter my friend, the plastic drawer organzier. There is one for hair-ties, clips and bobby pins. The one is the back holds elastic headbands and the puffy covers I use at the ends of braids. (God Forbid, a hair-tie EVER show!!!) Then the white one holds her comb and the Skinny Serum. If you have a kid, you need this stuff. Its Paul Mitchell. It smells like heaven. And it can detangle your hair just by you looking at it. Get some. It has saved us from any more teary, knot-yanking horrors. Please excuse the plastic tub in the drawer. It holds hair gel. That I bought in serious bulk. Because it was $1.99. Luke decided to drop the bottle and it cracked. Ugh. So my cheap-ass put it in a tupperware. What can I say.
The other drawer holds their toothbrushes, toothpaste (and a People magazine so can catch up on my gossip while they play in the tub. We Yarbroughs love our People.) All of Olivia's hairbows are hanging in her closet. Morgan Jane's are in the bottom basket of that guy: I am not crazy about him, but a) he has lots of storage and b) he is small enough to stand there and not look ridiculous. One day I'll jazz him up. But for now he holds in this order: the kids shampoo and body wash, rolls of toilet paper, nothing yet and then all of Morgan's "Pwet-tees."
One of the lower cabinets holds little bow sets (stored in a plastic bin), her curling iron and the hair spray. Luke's pull-ups are kept in the cabinet under the sink and then the cabinet closest to the tub holds all of the clean towel. When the kids are done, they hang them on their hooks. Towel rods are a messy, pain in the tush when it comes to kids. I just do a clean sweep of the hooks every two or three days and we rinse and repeat.

This is no original idea, but I like these cute glass jars to old bathroom things like cottonballs, Q-tips, I even kept all of my bead necklaces in a large one. They are very PB. BUT DON'T BUY THEM THERE. For heaven's sake- they are $3 - $10 at Ikea and only a smidge more at the 'mart. I had more. Wonder what happened to them...Maybe someone knocked one into the sink while getting ready one time.... Or was cleaning and thought she had set it back on the counter and totally missed...I don't know just a thought...

Well, that's all I've got. And on top of it, I have a screaming, teething baby that just woke up, so have to wrap this up.

TOMORROW: Random Things

Friday, September 11, 2009

One Week To A Better Home: "Clothes" Out Time

Ooooooooooooo, do I love kids clothes. The Gap. Ralph Lauren and (sigh) God bless Gymboree. My kids have tons of clothes, but I am okay with this. Its my one indulgence, so I am super organized and know what they have and where it is, so I don't waste money buying more of the same. (And we all know I buy nothing unless it is at least 60% off or less and like, $6. I am cheaper than cheap.) I buy lots of things on sale the season before, and have storage systems set up, so that -gasp!- those clothes don't forget their place and try to mingle with the wrong season and sizes! But- if you have clothes out the wa-zoo with no place to call their own, this post if for you. Whats a mom to do when kid's clothes start to take over her house? Divide and Conquer, girl! Divide and Conquer.

1. You're going to need lots of plastic bins with lids. They will run you about $7 a pop at Wal-mart, but are worth every penny.
2. You need some way to label your bins. (Have I mentioned the love affair I have with my label maker? Seriously. LOVE.IT. They are kinda pricey-$20-ish at the 'mart, and you have to buy refills, but whats a few bucks when your sanity is at stake? If you are good at formatting labels on the computer, than do that. I'm not. Also, you could print sheets and tuck them on the inside of the tub if you want. Again, doesn't matter how you do it, just do it.)
3. You need large and small zip-lock bags.
4. You need a wide open floor space to set up organization central when it comes time to sort and store what you find.

Where I Store What:
  • I put all of my kids' jammies in one drawer of their dressers. I put socks and undies in another. O and L have about 10 pairs of undies (so if God forbid, something happen to me, at least they would have clean undies for a week) They all have about 5 sets of jammies. NO MORE. I do laundry enough to make this possible. Random novelty t-shirt and shorts try to creep into the official pajama drawer every now and then. This can quickly create too much laundry drawer over-load. I have to take a second and decide to either create a new jammie-set out of them, or donate them. (I have saved all of her old school shirts in her memory box though.)
  • For the little kids, I put only their shorts/ pants in drawers. I don't fold them, but rather lay them out , or fold them up the middle seam. This saves on ironing. (Yes, I iron all of my kids clothes. Its Jason's fault! He irons everything and it just became a habit!) I have everything else hanging up. Again, so there is limited ironing.
  • I hang all clothes in color order in each of these categories: Dresses, then skirts, then shorts, then capris, then pants. Shirts are hung tank tops, short sleeves, long sleeve. Then sweater vests, sweaters, then jackets. I hang the solids together and stripes and prints at the end of each color section.
  • ALWAYS hang sets together. Try to get the hangers that either have two parts connected, or the ones that have the shirt hanger and then a clip hanger that hangs over it. I know that Old Navy, Kohls and Target will give you the hangers. DO NOT buy the clips that attach to the kids plastic hangers- they slide all over the place and are a mess. Just say "No!" (I hang the sets on the bottom row, so O can grab an outfit, and I am guaranteed she won't look like she picked it out in the dark.)
  • I hang all of her bows in her closet too, so that we can just grab the one that matches and set it out with her clothes that are laid out the night before.
  • Coats go in the coat closet until needed, and then they are hung on our hall tree in the kitchen. I use an over the door towel rack in the coat closet to hand scarfs and hats.
Ah! We have so much laundry that I can never get ahead. I have tried 101 different systems, methods, schedules... And of course something happens and it always gets stacked up. So, lately, I have just made Sundays and Wednesdays official "Do Laundry All Damn Day"- Day. I put the first load in even before I start the coffee and keep it going all day.

I have one large laundry basket that always sits on top of the washer. That's where the kids throw their dirty clothes after bath time, and where dish towels or Morgan's clothes get tossed if she get filthy during the day. Jas and I have a large laundry basket hamper, and M and L have a small one in their room that pretty much only has jammies in it from being taken off in the morning to get dressed. I have found having fewer hampers makes it easier on me, so no one is left out accidentally and doesn't have clean clothes one day. BUT! Everyone in our house has a clean clothes basket. On my crazy laundry day, as the clothes come out of the dryer, they are sorted into each basket. Once the basket is full at the end of the day, I take 5 minutes each and fold and hang that child's laundry in their room. I think it goes so much easier and faster. Seriously. Try it. Grab all the hangers you think you'll need, set them on the bed next to the basket and go to town. I even open the dresser drawers, so I can literally fold and put them in there without setting them down. ZIP. ZAM. ZOOM! Done! Then I return the clean clothes baskets to on top of the dryer and wait for the next laundry day and do it again.

If you are like me and buy lots of clothes before their season, or save lots of clothes for friends or family, you must be prepared. You need to think both ahead and backwards. You need a tub for every size of clothes that are in your home. This is the time you need to go through each child's room and pull out anything that is outgrown or is too big. Make a note of how many sizes and seasons you need to store and that is how many buckets you'll need essentially. Make your labels so you know what you've got.Thinking backwards, I am saving Olivia's clothes for our friend Hannah, who in turns is lending Morgan Hannah's toddler clothes. I have to stay organized to make sure that they get back the clothes they lent us, and I have clearly organized the clothes I give them. I have a bucket for each size 6/7 through 10 for girls, and 24 months to size 4 for boys, in addition to keeping the boxes that the borrowed clothes came in. When I did our huge clean sweep before we moved, I just sorted them all out, bagged up and clearly labeled pairs of shoes, hair bows or tights that go with certain sets and put them in the correct tub. They are big and bulky, but the protect everything and provide space to add more if you need to. Just like the toys, you need a designated place to put clothing items you want to donate (same for you and yours) and take it once it gets filled up.Here are 3 of the 11 I have set up. I would prefer that ours go in the attic, but for now they are all lined up on a shelf high in our garage.

Now, thinking forward- I hang any new items I buy for the kids that are not in season yet, at the very back of their closet, but again- they are hung grouped by color in each category- so I don't buy 3 pink long sleeved shirts. As the weather starts to change, I'll take everything that I have already stored and go through it and hang it up to see if I need to buy anything else. I will put those buckets back and pull down the smaller sized buckets to keep up in their closets, so that as they quit wearing things due to the weather, the pieces will go up in that bucket. Just think of it as "Something out, something back in."

I am so silly about shoes in the house, that when we were touring model homes back in the spring, Bubs would sit down in the entry way and take his house off at each one- I had brain-washed him. We have always kept a "shoe bucket" by the door we come in and out of the most, and recently purchased a hall tree with a bench that has storage underneath. That's were pretty much all of the shoes we are currently wearing live. Just another easy way to clean up- an organized mess, a community home for the shoes. Every once in awhile I will go through there and check to see if there are any squatter flip-flops hanging around when its November, but for the most part, we've pretty much stayed on top of really only having the shoes we wearing at the time in there. If they aren't in there, then I use the bottom drawer of each child's dresser as shoe storage.

I follow the same rules. We each have a drawer for just our pajamas (or in Jas' case undershirts and basketball shorts or sweatpants), and a drawer for undies and socks. His sock drawer is also then organized by color. I bought those drawer dividers from Ikea and they work really well for this. If your husband is anything like mine, you'll need to secretly weed out his everyday t-shirt collection every 6 months or so, or they can take over the closet. I also just buy Jas 7 new white undershirts each month and throw out the old ones, because those can get funky and add up quickly, too.

I hang up all of our clothes though, and also hang them in the same color coded categories. (Which is so fun, because he has SO MANY golf shirts, it looks like a rainbow hanging up in there!) I keep our shoes in a shoe holder and I store my purses on the built in shelves in our closet. The rule of thumb for clothes should be: If you haven't worn it in 6 months or its out of style, its damaged or stained or just plain doesn't fit- let it go. In most cases it won't be coming back in style by next year, you probably won't get the stain out and it hasn't meant enough to you to have it repaired by now. If you are like me and BOUND AND DETERMINED to fit back into your pre-2nd-child clothes sometime this century, keep them. But go through them and donate anything that is out of fashion, but in good shape and then store them properly.

See, its not so hard! Just find a system that works for everyone, and then it will be easier to keep it up. It takes some effort to get sorted and ready, to go, but its so worth it in the end!

TOMORROW: Potty Time!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

One Week To A Better Home: Child's Play

Easy- we buy it for them. So take a clue from me and stop. According to my mother, Miss O has more toys at this point and time than all of my brothers and sisters and I had combined. I had a perfectly happy childhood, and obviously survived without 12 Cabbage Patch Kids. But holy, moly- now it seems like everything is small and CHEAP and therefore justifiable! That's what gets ya! Remember when I had a CTJ with myself about buying Olivia stuff at the check-out. Do you know what she would always get?? Littlest Pet Shops- real, actual, factual toys! At the check-out! Not gum or a sucker- TOYS. Multiple that by every time I go to Target and you get this eventually: oh, wait... and this!

It can pile up fast. So you must be diligent and do a clean sweep once or twice a month. In my toy clean sweep, I:
  • Throw away all Kids Meal toys. In 7 years of doing this I have never had anyone come back crying asking where their Wendy's zip-line light up top went. THEY WILL NEVER MISS 'EM!
  • Check to make sure nothing is broken. If GI Joe is missing an arm and you can't find it, or after your plastic surgery attempt, you can't fix him- he's gotta go.
  • Check for sets. If you can't find the other purple sparkly dress-up pump, then the lone shoe needs to go.
  • Notice if it has been touched. If you repeated notice that the Etch-A-Sketch hasn't moved from its place on the shelf and is collecting dust, it needs to move on.
You need to always have a plastic bin in the garage or hall closet for items you want to donate. If your child has out-grown or lost interest in a toy and it is in great shape you can donate it to your local thrift store (they will give you a receipt for your taxes.) or you can check the guidelines for toy donation at your local women's shelter or children's hospital. It will make it easier on you to get rid of things when you know its going to be enjoyed by someone who really needs it. Once the box fills up, take it in.

If I had a tattoo, this is what it would say in fancy Old English letters, across my stomach, TuPac style: "A place for everything, and everything in its place." You will never be able to keep a tidy, organized house, and pick it up at a moment's notice if everything, and I mean every paperclip, every bobby-pin, every Barbie shoe doesn't have a home. And it doesn't have to be a fancy place by any means: An old empty diaper wipe box is a mansion for crayons.


The first thing you have to do to tackle the toy insanity is take inventory. Pure and simple. You need to know what you are dealing with. You need to go room by room and throw away anything that is broken first. Then decide what you want to keep and what can be saved for younger siblings and what should be donated.
For The Items You Want To Keep:
1. Think like a toy store and sort those toys into logical, simple categories. (Barbies, GI Joes, blocks, puzzles, etc..)
2. Look at how and where the toys are played with. For example, Morgan likes to play out behind the couch, so it made sense to keep all of her toys go in a large basket under one of the side tables in the living room. We only play with Play-Doh in the kitchen, so it needed to be stored in a container that is easy for the kids to move from the closet to the kitchen table and back on their own. (Its all down there in the yellow bucket.)
3. Decide how and where you want to store each category.
There are plastic bins and drawers, canvas buckets (my favorite), I even store Morgan's board books in a big metal beverage tub that sits on the floor in their room. Anything can be used, as long as it has enough space for what you have and you keep it sorted. Olivia keeps all of her toys in her room, and the younger kids' toys are kept in the closet in their hallway that I converted into Toy Central. Look around your house and see if there is any space you may have over looked- or could be converted to help you store things more efficiently.
4. Be the Toy Realtor and buy them new homes! You should have your list of what you need when you go to the store, but keep your eyes open: You might even find other ways to store things that you hadn't thought of. (I actually kept all of Olivia's stuffed animals in a large flexible laundry basket for years!) But be efficient. Make sure you leave the store with everything that you need. Its all or nothing.

Your goal is to never have to help clean up again.
Seriously. You just need a system that accommodates what you own and it needs to be simple enough that you and your kids can remember where each thing goes. And EVERYTHING must have a HOME! This whole process could take you a weekend, or it could take you weeks, depending on the amount of stuff you have and the time frame to do it in. And as you get into it, if you feel totally overwhelmed, take a minute and really think about cutting down the amount of toys you have out at any given time. If you are saving toys for younger siblings, then store them in boxes or bins and put them out of sight, so they aren't wondering around your house from room to room. Think about volume: Does Suzie really need 20 stuffed animals? Does Freddy really need 3 race car tracks? I had to be honest with myself and realize that there isn't enough room in this house for the amount of toys we had. I had to come to grips with the fact that this house is NOT getting bigger, so the amount of stuff we owned had to get smaller. It was hard. But it had to be done. And in the end, it has helped me de-stress, therefore making a calmer home for my kids in return. It is also much easier for your kids when it comes time for them to clean up (because remember- you are only supervising from now on). What would you rather pick up: 10 Barbies and Kens with all of their clothes and shoes and accessories, or 3?

Please note: DO NOT CLEAN OUT THE TOYS WITH YOUR CHILD SITTING RIGHT THERE. Its a nightmare. I'll save you the misery. Wait until they are at school or at Gradma's and then crank up some tunes and get to sortin'!

Oh! And Don't Forget These:
Outdoor game equipment like bats and gloves, soccer balls and even bubble-blowing stuff and side-walk chalk, can all stored in a huge plastic bin with a lid in the back yard or garage. Just made sure everything is returned to the bucket at the end of play time so the elements don't take their toll on the toys.

Books! Our books are all kept on one big shelf in the hall closet. Olivia's chapter books are kept in her room in her closet to keep them out of little one's hands. Morgan's board books are all kept in the tub in her room. These three categories keep things simple, and again, easy for the kids to know what goes where. Designate a place for library books to go (on a kitchen counter, on top of your desk), so that they don't go missing mixed in with the ones you own.

DVDs and Video Games. OMG. We have easily over 100 movies, and when I couldn't take not being able to find any of them in the right boxes I flipped out went out and bought a big zippered CD case. We took every single movie out of their boxes and put them in there, and when we were done, we had 2 garbage bags filled with those plastic cases! Can I please tell you how much free space this has opened up, how much easier it is to find any movie they want in two seconds and how much faster it is for them to put them back when all they have to do is slide them in a sleeve and not hunt down the box. We did the same with smaller cases for music CDs and one for computer games.So I hope this give you a basic game plan for how and where to start. I wish I could be more detailed, but Lord knows there are sooooooooooooo many toys out there, this post would be five miles long. Just do what you can with what you have. And please, oh, please: Don't buy a toy box. I think they are toy blackholes where things just get lost and broken. Think Montessori. Think low shelves, where the toys are organized and easily accessible, making the child responsible for what they get out and then putting it away. I works. I promise. Oh, and read this book to your kids. (wink)
TOMORROW: Clothes and Laundry

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

You Should Have Seen It Before

Please Excuse This Break From Our Week Of Organization: I have a party to attend!

Jen at Sanctuary Arts At Home is having a "You Should Have Seen It Before!" event to bare our souls and show the embarrassing well-meaning decorating styles our houses have been through!

So, without further ado:
Here is out Kitchen
This is our first home- we bought it in December of 2006, and I LOVED that fact that our kitchen is really pretty big. But it was built in 1984 and hadn't been updated at all. I was an avid HGTV watcher- and just knew I could paint those cabinets white in an hour- just like on the shows! We moved in and within 24 hours, we were ripping down the wallpaper and getting geared up for the couple of hours we knew it would take us to transform and update our cabinets. WHAHAHAHA! Try over 6 days later! Talk about the blind leading the blind- which is never good when chemicals you can't pronounce are involved! We had really no idea what we were doing, and very quickly learned that any project you see on TV takes about 5 days longer than they lead you to believe.

But we did it! And I loved them white. I think it took away from the cream laminate counter tops and back splash.We also shadily-painted the kitchen by adding texture to the paint rather than properly sealing and re-doing the walls after we took all the wall paper down. (I regretted that for the next two years.) Style wise, I was going for a Lori Smith, classic-modern feel. Made window treatments and slip-covered my chairs with her fabric from Hancocks...
And then! Typical me, I wasn't happy with it. I decided that was not my aesthetic. I was more of a classic girl at heart. I felt the khaki was too blah. So I started painting the kitchen with some old white paint I found in the garage in morning. Something was wrong with it and it smelled so awful, we had to vacate the house for two days. I Jason had to totally repaint the kitchen- and so of course, we had to start over and chose a new paint color. It was a beautiful blue-Picaso Blue (Or Dallas Cowboys blue according to Jas!) and I found some Waverly paisley fabric that I loved and made new curtains and chair covers... I don't have a good pic, but you can see it behind Miss O in this shot. We loved the bright blue against my crisp white cabinets. It was bright and sunny... I was slowly on my way to discovering my true style. We loved it. But our renters did not. We moved and they decided to go for a more fleshy faux glazed color.
Luckily, we had the opportunity to remodel and spruce up our sweet kitchen before we moved back in this summer. And now she is EXACTLY what I wanted! She has new walls, paint and molding, new floors and trim, new counter tops and back splash, new appliances, a new sink and faucet! I am obsessed with the brown and tan zebra print fabric, and love the mix of it with the light blue toile. My chairs are from a dining set that belonged to my great-grandmother and I made them cute little plaid skirts. I love the pedestal table (just not the cheap top... on the hunt for a real solid wood one). We loved her before, but now she is juuuuuuust right!For more fun transformations- head over to Jen's