Friday, December 13, 2013

Quick Fix Friday - Children's Books

I have long debated what to do with all of our children's books.  There are so many great ideas out in the blog world.  But all along, the answer for our family was pretty simple.  We have a wall of bookshelves in our living room (again, an idea taken right off of my first blog obsession, I Heart Organizing), and what better thing to put on it than books, right?  We read to the kids in the living room and they play in here all of the time.  The books live here along with toys that make their way in from our playroom in the sunroom, the video game systems and our DVDs.

To organize the books, we simply lined them up by the color of their spines.  We put most of the paperback books into magazine files just to keep them better protected.  The small board books went into a basket and the tiny board books went into a small round tin.  It's super easy for the kids to put the books away in the right place because they just have to stick them in with the correct color and that's it!  No alphabetizing, lining them up smallest to largest, etc.  It's been working perfectly!

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Thursday, December 12, 2013

Kid Command Center

If you are a parent to school aged children, then you know that they come home with all kinds of papers from school, nearly every single day at that.  And if your children are like mine, then you do not dare throw out their artwork that they make at school or at home.  My 6 year old daughter makes or draws something every day and at some point we started to run out of refrigerator magnets, and refrigerator space as well.  Her artwork takes over.  I always wait a few days and throw some away when she is not around (we have actually started a binder for her to punch holes in certain artwork and keep for good).  I then make sure it can't be seen in the garbage.  I swear, if I don't cover my tracks she will find me out and give me quite a talking to about how to NEVER throw away her artwork.  "How could you, Mom?!!"

We had some free wall space in our kitchen across from the door to our garage and next to the door to our basement, so up went two painted pieces of trim with 3 nails in each.  On the nails hang bulldog clips and on the clips hang their artwork. They still manage to get a few things onto the fridge, but it's not as bad as before.  And I still have to secret ninja my way to discard of things here and there.  Under the artwork, we have hooks to hang lightweight coats, their backpacks and library books.  Truth be told, my husband's belts, sweatshirts, baseball caps, etc. make their way to these hooks pretty often.  His closet is in the basement, so eventually they get back downstairs to where they belong.  Please disregard the ugly brown doors and trim.  They will be painted white one of these days.

Our tall pantry cabinet is right next to this wall and the side of it was a perfect spot for our Thirty One Hang-Up Home Organizer in the Party Punch pattern.  I LOVE this thing!  Now, we do have a large dry erase calendar in another area of our kitchen where I write in everyone's activities, appointments, reminders, etc, but this wall organizer is strictly for the kids' school calendars and homework.  I had major inspiration for this layout from one of my favorite bloggers.  You can see her post over at A Bowl Full of Lemons.

I also clip up extra things that come home, such as that red note which is about this week's book fair.  There's also a little clear pocket where I keep reminders such as when my daughter has her special classes and which letters my son has for show and tell.  The kids decorated the clothespins that I use on here.

When we get home, I empty their backpacks and put any homework into their labeled pockets.  There is stays until they complete it and then it goes back into their backpacks.  We currently have two kids in school.  There are 4 pockets in this section, so I will add the other's names when they start going to school.

Underneath the wall organizer, I have their chore charts.  Over the past 2 years, I have tried a few different chore/behavior charts and rewards systems.  Some worked okay at first and then we would forget to focus on them.  It's all trial and error.  This is the current system I have.  It's only for my 4 and 6 year old.  By the time my 2 year old and 10 month old are ready for chores, I will probably have been through several more charts.  These are framed, magnetic dry erase boards that I picked up at Staples awhile back.  I spray painted the frames from black to this teal-ish color.    I simply wrote their names on each and split them into "To Do" and "Done."  I printed out some chore labels that I downloaded.  I wish I could remember where I got them, but it was so long ago that I originally came across them.  If I ever remember, I will update this post with the link.  I laminated them and popped some magnets on the back.  It's on the kids' level so they can easily move their chores from one side to the other once they complete them.  For every chore that makes it over to the "Done" side, they get a pom pom (those little fluffy balls you can buy at the craft store) in their glass jars.  I am still debating where to keep said glass jars.  For now, they are on the counter in the kitchen.  When their jar is full, they have earned a trip to the dollar or toy store (depending on my mood and my wallet :)  to choose a toy.  We actually JUST started this new system, so we will see how it goes!

Their "chores" are brushing their teeth, brushing their hair (Audrey only), set or clear the table for dinner/snacks, clean their rooms, clean up wherever else they played that day and no fighting with each other.  I can assure you that "no fighting" will rarely make it over to the done side, but it's worth a shot, right?

And here are a just few more views of our Kid Command Center.  Again, do not mind the ugly brown doors or horrific 1960's linoleum flooring.  I know, it's enough to give anyone nightmares.  I am constantly debating the blue wall color as well.  But anyway...

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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Our Playroom in the Sunroom

Our house has a pretty spacious sunroom off of our kitchen.  It's described as a 3-season room, but to be comfortable in it, it's more of a 2-season room.  Spring and Fall.  There isn't any heating or air conditioning out there and it has windows all around it with absolutely no insulation.  Needless to say, in the summer it is unbearably hot and humid and in the winter it is unbearably cold.

When we started moving our things into the house, the toys just ended up out there.  Our bedrooms are all fairly small and there isn't much space for the kids to keep a lot of toys in their rooms.  Our basement wasn't the best option for a playroom, simply because it's not exactly finished to my liking (though my husband had no problem turning it into his man cave) and it's just a lot easier to keep an eye on the kids while they are on the main floor and not have to worry about them being up and down the stairs all of the time.  So, despite the temperature issues in the sunroom, we decided to make it our playroom.  We attempt to make it better in the summer with a few fans and in the winter with a space heater.

This is what it looked like when we first saw the house.

It really would make a lovely sunroom for adults to relax in, but then where would our millions of toys go?!

Here it is in all of its playroom glory on this snowy December day!  

I did a copycat storage bench for the one corner of the room using two Expedit sheving units from IKEA.  The original idea is from Jen at I Heart Organizing.  You can find her detailed instructions on how to do it here.  It's my favorite area in our playroom.  And it's the only place for adults to actually sit in here anyway.

I purchased some of the toy labels from a well known organizer in blogland.  Her name is Alejandra and you can purchase the labels from her store here.  I also found some other labels at Confessions of a Slacker Mom.  You can download them for free here.  I printed them all out and ran them through my Purple Cows laminator (purchased this for $19.99 when it was half off at A.C. Moore).  I affixed them to the containers and bins using Scotch Multi-Purpose Fasteners.

The bins along the wall are from Target's Itso collection.  I got them over a year and a half ago.  I am not sure if they are being discontinued, but I see that their selection has recently dwindled down to an end cap.  They snap together with little plastic pins.  They work fine for what we need, but sometimes come undone due to the kids pulling the fuller bins in and out.  Eventually I want to replace them with 2 of the 8-shelf Expedit units.  

I have an ongoing list of things that I still want to do with this space.  Some will happen in time and some will most likely never happen.  
  1. New carpeting/flooring
  2. Some type of window treatments
  3. Replace Itso bins with Expedits
  4. Paint the TV stand
  5. Replace lighting fixtures
  6. Paint the ceiling/walls (aka the space in-between the windows)
  7. A permanent solution to the heating and cooling
  8. Replace the tall bookshelf with more Expedit benches
  9. Replace the princess folding table and chairs with something sturdier and gender neutral
  10. Do a better job of organizing the bins in the ceiling cubby area.  Or whatever you want to call it.
Just to clarify, our playroom RARELY looks like this!  :)

Now off to enjoy this cozy snow day with my family!  Happy playing everyone!

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Friday, December 6, 2013

Quick Fix Friday - The Junk Drawer & Batteries

It's been a busy few weeks for me and I am sure for all of you as well.  I haven't really been doing much organizing and obviously not posting.  I even (gasp!) missed Quick Fix Friday last week.  Today I have a short post featuring two quick fixes using products from some of my favorite stores, Target and The Container Store.

The Junk Drawer

Our junk drawer has had several overhauls here and there, so this before isn't as horrific as it has been in the past.

To organize our drawer, I purchased a two-tiered container from Target.  I believe its actual name is Junk Drawer Organizer, but I am not positive.  I couldn't find it on their website.

It fits perfectly into our drawer.  Our junk drawer doesn't actually acquire much junk now that I see it all organized.  I didn't even end up using all of the compartments, but I am sure they will fill up soon enough.  The items that I find myself taking from here on a daily basis are the lighter, pen, bandaids and nail file.  I also kept some hand sanitizer, some party candles, the remote control for the fan in our playroom, some loose keys, tape measure, gum, playing cards, etc.

I feel like no matter how awful your junk drawer is, if you purchase an organizer like this one, it can be controlled.  Especially once you purge and get rid of the items that you didn't even know were in there simply because you never look for them, because you just don't need them!


During a trip to The Container Store, I picked up a lidded compartment box, among many other fantastic items.  I didn't have a particular use for it in mind at the time, but once I got it home, I realized it would be the perfect solution for our battery situation.

Obviously if you have a lot more batteries than we do or you have more size Ds, then this container might not be the one for you.  It works perfectly for our needs though.  No more searching through a shoebox-sized bin for batteries.  Now we can quickly find them and see when a certain size needs to be replenished.  We keep this container on a shelf in our laundry room.  I love it!

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