Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The Grinch at Toys are Us.

dones't come from a store, dr suess, grinch

I met a real life Grinch.

The Grinch was obsessed with material things.  The Grinch thought the number of packages and piles of presents was the most important thing about Christmas.  The Grinch also thought that my idea to focus my energy this Christmas and reduce the amount of 'stuff' was stupid and awful and would ruin my kids' Christmas.

The Grinch showed me all of the toys in all of the aisles of Toys R Us and pointed to carts overflowing with shiny gadgets and gizmos.  The Grinch reminded me that Alex loves trucks and there is an entire aisle of them!  And if I'm going to get a train toy, shouldn't I get mega wooden  set that looks so perfect on the box and will last for years?  The Grinch looked at the two small boxes I had chosen and scoffed.  How could an amazing Christmas morning come from those?

"Don't you want Christmas to be magical? A Christmas morning that's beautiful and abundant?" The Grinch hissed at me.  "Your kids are too little to understand the concept of "Less but Better" or the idea of being intentional, all they will think is you don't care or are stingy."  Then the Grinch took an even lower blow.  "Other people have gotten your kids all kinds of things, they might like them better than you."

In case you didn't know, that Grinch was me.

As I walked out of Toys R' Us I was almost shaking with anxiety and conflict. the heart of which was this:

I want my kids to understand my values of people over things, quality of quantity, and owning only what we love and can manage.


I want my kids to have a beautiful, and fulfilling Christmas.

I want them to receive gifts they can love and cherish and enjoy, and not more. And that's harder than it seems.

I don't want to be the counterculture hipster family that doesn't 'do' presents, and like most parents I don't want my children to feel deprived.

Almost everyone agrees that the meaning of Christmas, even beyond its celebration as a Christian holiday, is not material things.  I have yet to meet anyone who proclaims to celebrate Christmas as a time to frantically buy material objects to give to other people who may or may not want or need them.  Yet it seems that's how many people experience it.

Even the quote I shared at the start of the post...  Maybe Christmas doesn't come from a store, but have you tried participating without visiting a store (Amazon counts!).  After my toy exchange I was happy and excited.  These are toys my children will enjoy!  These are good toys that will get a new life!

But as I stood in line at Toys R Us, all I could think was 'who gives used toys to their kids for Christmas?  You aren't that poor! Are you really that cheap and lame?

The logical side of my brain reminded myself that the VERY first thing I would do with a package was tear it off and throw it away, but the ingrained consumer in me balks.  Not only that, logical engineer brain said, my kids are getting an absurd amount of awesome toys, one of which is huge and big and awesome and will last for years!

This year, I was able to walk out of Toys R us and eventually recover.  I was able to wrap the gifts with love and anticipation and I'm looking forward to celebrating with my family.  Still, I know that this is an internal struggle that is far from over.

I'd love thoughts and advice from others struggling with these issues.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Pumpkin Dinner Party

When it was safely a month away I dreamed of how fun it would be to host a Halloween dinner party to kick off my favorite holiday!  I am so fortunate to be surrounded by an incredible group of women in my community and we regularly get together for wine and snacks and conversation.  I've also been to lots of wonderful potlucks and realized there is nothing quite like sharing a meal to bring people together.

For this meal, I really wanted to prepare the meal and have my guests sit at the table.  I think there is value to sitting at the table, but as a mom with little kids, I eat most of my meals sitting on the edge of my chair and dashing back and forth to get things.  I wanted it to be a treat for my friends and a way to say thank you. One of the most challenging parts was deciding who to invite.  I had so many people who I'd love to share with, but I wanted everyone at the table (so a max of six!).  

I wanted food that was easy to serve and wouldn't require much prep once people had arrived, so the next challenge was developing a tasty but easy menu.

I ended up serving 4 pumpking themed courses.

1. Kale and Pumpkin seed Salad

2. Roasted Squash and pumpkin soup with homemade bread

3. Baked Pumpking Ziti (with sausge and veggie for each person's tastes)

4. Pumpkin Whip Pudding

I also served pumpkin mimosas when everyone arrived and wine with dinner.

The night before the party I did a trial run with our family  The boys LOVED our spooky candlelit dinner.  

I made myself a little schedule for the day to make sure all of the food got done on time and that I had an idea of how I wanted the evening to flow.  I deckd ou the room with candles and my Halloween deco and I played the Haunted Mansion Theme track.

My biggest unknown was the kids.  They usually sleep, but there was always the possiblity they would sense my excitement and refuse to settle down, but they were fine! :)

I'm always so nervous right before hosting an event, so I made a rule for myself that 10 minutes before people are scheduled to arrive, I sit down and have a glass of wine.

Then my friends came.  And they ooohh'ed and awww'ed and made me feel like I'd done a great job before we even sat down to eat!

It went so wonderfully that I think I'll try to make it an annual tradition!

I can't believe it took me 2 months to get around to writing about it!  Oh well!  Happy very late Halloween!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Books, books, books.

I hadn't yet asked Gavin to read my current project book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing when I asked him what he thought abuot the idea that childrens literacy was directly proportional to the number of books in their home.

His thought process was simliar to mine.  "Seems reasonable."

But we also agreed that it's likely that the actual causation is that people who like to read have a lot of books and are more likely to teach their children to read.  Or people who are better educated have more books and are more likely to teach their children to read.

We concluded that, with the exception of having available age appropriate material, the addition or removal of books with no other changes to a household shoulnd't have an effect on a literacy.

But Mom Guilt is real so I had to do some pretty dedicated logical thinking to overcome the following thoughts.

"Oh no! I've ruined my children by reading digital books!"
and more relevant to my current project
"I can't declutter my books! How will my kids ever get into College??"

After my rallying against ever folding my clothes, getting rid of books was my next biggest complaint.

But once again Kondo won me over. "Imagine a book shelf with only books you REALLY love." And that made me realize that deep down I don't really LOVE books.  I love reading, but I honestly prefer digitial books both for ease of use and not having to touch paper.  I know I've offended book lovers everywhere, but it was an entirely new realization I made about myself.  I love to visit bookstores.  I have very found memories of visiting a used bookstore regularly with my mom, and I can enjoy both of those while still letting go of objects that are cluttering my space.

Then it was time for the kids books.  My primary goal was to get all of the books in one place.  On one hand, I love having books all over mt house. I love that the kids can pick up a book in almost any room.  On the other hand, they frequently can't find their favorite books.  So I decided to combine all of the books.

Well almost, I decided both boys should be able to keep some books in their room.  My goal is 10.  I will almost certianly fail as my son is a major book hoarder.  I'm fairly certian he will continue to collect books from the cabinet and his brothers room until he once again is drowning in them. Time will tell!

We have a lot of books.  And I'm almost certain we will continue to collect more and we will have to evaluate the space for them and method for them.  But for now, at least the books are (mostly) in the same place.  (I also forgot about the piles in the car!)

I've also come to realize that almost everything is better shared.  The books we are done with (or more likely were duplicates) I passed on to my friends and neighbors to use and enjoy.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Art of Tidying Up, Intro

I get most of my books from the library.  Consequently, I'm often late to the party when it comes to the book everyone is reading.

I'd heard people mention this book and how it had affected them.  I knew I wanted to read it.  I read almost everything, but self help books, specifically self help books abut organizing your life and mind, are my favorites.

I've had a slightly unique experience reading this book because I read it right on the heels of  "Getting Things Done" by David Allen,  "Essentialism" by Greg McKeown, and "7 Habits of Highly Successful People" by Stephen Covey.  Apparently the last two months have been about simplifying for me!

I will admit, I almost put the book down when she insisted on folding clothes.  I don't fold clothes. As silly as this sounds, I'm adamant on this point.  Still, she made a compelling enough point for me to reconsider.

I'm glad I didn't give up on the little book.  I read it quickly as it's not very long.  And then I thought about it for a few days.  I decided I'd try it, although I wasn't going to dive in, I certainly wasn't going to start talking to my clothes and I wasn't going to undertake a life changing Tidying Event.

But I might have done all three.

I have a very large, mostly organized closet.  Still, when I actually took everything out I was kind of surprised at how much I had.  As instructed, I picked up every single piece of clothing, including socks, stockings, and coats and made a decision.  And as promised, it got a little easier as I went along.  At the end, I bagged up four bags of clothes and set about to fold my clothes.

The book is adamant.  Discard 1st, organize 2nd.  But I couldn't very well live with the remaining contents of my closet on the floor, so I organized them. 

 It was true.  I looked at my closet and saw only things I loved.  And it is also true that despite my fears, I have yet to find myself without something to wear and it's been over a week.

But it was a lot of work, and did I really need to process EVERYTHING I owned? 

So I googled "People who failed at Konmari" "Konmari Critics," and other random phrases like this.  I found almost no one.  Those I did find often didn't try the method, but discounted it ahead of time.  No easy out, I guess.  

For me, the book has provided a fundamental shift in the way I view my relationship with my things.  I don't hope to become a extreme minimalist, but I do want to own only things I love.  I want my house and my head to have room to grow and explore and love and live.

This book is not for everyone.  Some people love things and being surrounded by them.  But as I just started reading it for the second time, apparently it is for me.

Wish me luck as I dive in to the next categories!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Toy Swap

I hosted a Toy Swap.

Inspired by a man who hosted a community wide clothing swap earlier in the year, I decided I'd do the same for toys.  My house is full of toys that are in great condition that are outgrown or just not appreciated at our house anymore. 

I sent out an interest email.  I was half expecting to get no responses, but the opposite was true.  People were really excited so I decided to go for it.

The general idea was that I'd invite over a bunch of my mom friends.  We'd all bring our excellent conditione (fully functioning, all pieces present) toys.  We'd drink wine and trade toys.  

So we did!

I had about 30 RSVP.  My kitchen filled with friends and my entry filled with toys.

I decided the best way to organize the event was to have everyone write their name on a slip of paper, I put all of the names in a vase and drew the first name.  As soon as that person chose her toy, she came back and selected the next name.  I continued until everyone had a turn and then I dumped the names back in the vase and started again. It was a great system because it was fair, easy, and allowed people to hang out and enjoy conversations. 

It was amazingly fun.  It's hard to capture in words the feeling of a house full of good friends laughing and sharing.

I wanted to keep things simple, but at the last minute I did decide to add a prize for 'best toy' and for last mom to choose.  A giant stuffed giraffee won best toy.

At the end of the night, there was a small collection of toys remaining that will find a new life at a Children's home nearby.

The event was incredibly successful.  Everyone found a few new to them things, but more importantly we strengthed relationships and had fun.  I'm planning to make this a yearly tradition!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

An Incredibly Getaway Part II

If you missed it, here's the link to our train ride!

No one napped, so we stepped of the train with pretty content but very tired children.  I was immediately grateful I'd chosen a hotel walking distance from the station.

The Harbor View Inn was a short two block walk from the station.  The neighborhood was clean and welcoming, although there was lots of construction going on around our hotel.  I imagine it will be gorgeous when it's done and in the meantime, I enjoy seeing construction.  The hotel staff was welcoming and our room was mercifully ready early.  We dropped off our things, freshened everyone up and headed out to dinner.  It was already getting a bit dark, so we decided to head across the street to the pier and pick an easy restaurant.  Biggest mistake of the trip!  The view was gorgeous, but the food was really awful.  Apparently that's well known to locals.  Lesson learned.

We headed back to the hotel where we found a bottle of champagne waiting!  We played, the grown ups drank champagne, and watched iPad.  We were pretty nervous about how we were going to get 2 toddlers and 2 grown ups asleep in our hotel room, but as daddy rocked the baby, I told Colin his story.  To discourage him from talking, I counted up and down to 30 a few times and he feel asleep peacefully in my arms.  Daddy settled in on the other side of the bed.  It was 6:45.

The baby woke up at 3:30.  I looked at the clock and let out a groan before realizing I didn't feel at all like I normally do when I wake up at 3:30 in the morning.  And then I realized that was because I'd already been asleep 8 hours.  Huh.  I rocked him, brought him in bed and we all slept a few more hours until Colin woke up at 6 and started literally pocking the baby. 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Why I became my own gardener.

"I really need to spend more time outside."  I told myself over and over again, every time I listed ways to improve my mood and health.  "I really should exercise more."  You already read the title of the post, so the answer is obvious to you, but it wasn't too me.  Time and time again I'd tell myself these things and I'd even have success, sometimes.

Eventually the answer donned on me.  Well us, actually, as it occurred to my husband as well.  When we reconstructed our backyard, we did with the intent of making it as easily as possible for us to maintain ourselves.  And then we dove in.  We purchased a few basic tools; a push mower, a blower, a rake, trimmers; and we started working.

I believe and I am healthier and happier when I spend time outside, and if I wasn't convinced before the kids, I certainly am now.  The fresh air invigorates and charges them, and a day with time outside is noticeably easier for everyone.  If this is true for them, why wouldn't it be for me?

I never actually intended to have a gardener.  I grew up with a father who did all yard work, maintenance and repairs himself.  Prior to purchasing my home, I bounced around apartments for a while.  I remember a few weeks in to living in our new home, I noticed in passing that the grass was a bit long.  It wasn't until our neighbor told us that she'd had her gardener trim the grass that I realized with embarrassment that this was now MY responsibility.  So her gardener became my gardener as I struggled with the overwhelming realities of owning our first home. 

But now, I savor the chance to escape outside for a few hours to rake, and plant and trim.

This decision isn't without it's downsides.  I am not in the running for the most immaculately maintained yard on the block. And there are days (or weeks or maybe a month here and there) when the grass goes untrimmed and the leaves unraked.  But they serve as a reminder that I need to do get outside and exercise and it causes an immediate and visual consequence of failing to do so.

This isn't a condemnation of having a gardener or even an encouragement to take on your own yard work.  Rather, it's an example of the way that I'm working to make the processes and outcomes I want in life work together with the my daily habits and activities.  For me, it's not enough to say "I will go outside each day." Or even "I will exercise twice a week."  It's better to plan to make all of the things around me conspire together towards my ultimate purposes. 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

An Incredible Getaway Part 1

I was feeling a bit disenchanted about a month ago.  As a result of other trips that came up, our family vacation was postponed again this year.  I looked at my calendar and realized I hadn't had a real break from work since the baby was born.  We needed a vacation. The thought of researching and planning a trip and then flying with the kids was incredibly overwhelming....

And then I realized I'd always wanted to take the train!

The thought of spending 5+ hours on a train with two kids sounded way more fun that 5+ hours on a plane.  Plus, the pre-boarding and boarding process is faster on a train (way faster.  Like frighteningly fast.  Like better be close to a door because they aren't waiting for you fast.)

So I pulled up the Amtrak map and choose a destination.  My requirements were only that it be somewhere new and we not have to transfer trains.

Santa Barbra fit the bill.

I giddily called my husband to convince him.  He was significantly less excited than me, but acquiesced (although he did try to talk me down to one night.)  "No!  It takes me an entire day to just unwind, plus the hotel has a discount for three nights!"

So we were booked.  Three business class tickets to Santa Barbara on the Surf liner and three nights at the Harbor View Inn.  The hotel choice was a little more complicated then that.  I hate choosing a hotel without a recommendation. But my requirements were 1. Walking Distance to the Train Station. 2. Ocean view.  The Harbor View fit the bill and had pretty good reviews. It didn't have breakfast or suites, which are my preference when traveling with my kids, but this was an ADVENTURE.  So I booked it.

Two days before we left, I finally realized what I had undertaken. What if they hated it? What if the train gave them (or me!) motion sickness? What if we couldn't get two kids and our luggage on the train fast enough and they left us standing on the platform?  What if...

As always, I had a detailed packing list and I was even pickier than normal (I was only allowing us one suitcase, to maximize the chances that everyone got on the train successfully.

We traveled with:
1 mommy
1 daddy
2 toddlers
1 suitcase
1 single stroller
2 baby carriers
2 baby backpacks
1 backpack
1 purse.

If it sounds like a lot, you've never travelled with children.

We also encouraged the boys to help.

We arrived early and walked around the station, checked out the Amtrak office and talked to the very nice deputies.  Down town San Juan is one of our favorite hang outs, so it was nice to be launching from a familiar place.

Then the train arrived!  The conductor stepped out and said "Griffin Party?"  Ha! So I guess they weren't going to leave us after all!  We had Business class Seats and the Conductor had reserved a family table for us.  We got to our seats and started settling down.  That was worth the ticket price difference alone.

We rumbled off down the track.  The boys stared out the window for a few minutes before getting bored and needing some of the awesome train toys I had packed in their backpacks.  The conductor also gave Colin some tickets which he used to make a track for his new Engine.

We were in for the long haul, so I tried to space out treats and snacks and toys.  As expected, Colin was easy.  He happily played, colored, and chatted.  Alex was a little bit harder.  He climbed over the table, dumped things on the ground and was generally a bit of a nuisance.  18 months is one of my favorite ages for everything so far except traveling.  It's kind of a nightmare for traveling.  After having his glasses yanked off for the zillionth time Gavin looked at me seriously and said "You get him all the way home."

We pulled into Union Station where we picked up a new crew.  And wine!  They also delivered snack packs to our seat which were similar to the ones you can buy on airplanes.  Cookies, crackers, dried fruit, etc.  Then it was nap time... NOT!

Still, everyone settled down and I sat looking lovingly at my family while sipping a glass of wine and staring out the window into the graffiti strewn back alleys of Los Angeles (picturesque this leg was not, but it was fascinating)

As a Civil Engineer who builds grade separations, one of the things I quickly noticed was that north of LA Union Station there were significantly more at grade crossings (it was easy to tell because the train whistle, which I'd been excited waiting for at the onset of our trip was now blowing much more frequently).  Eventually the city gave way to rolling hills and eventually beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean.  I'd been worried we were on the wrong side of the train because we were on the east side headed into LA, but apparently the engines push into LA and pull out, so we were on the Ocean side for the short amount of time we traveled along the shore.

I was as anxious about getting off the train as I had been about getting on (okay, maybe a little less after 2 glasses of wine...) so we were at the doors probably a bit earlier than required, babies and luggage in hand.

We stepped off the train and onto the platform in beautiful Santa Barbara!

More about our beautiful vacation coming up next!  

Thursday, October 22, 2015

One room Challenge week 3: Finishing up the big boy bed and room layout

It's week three of the big boy bed challenge!

Last week my goals were to:
  • Finish Bed
  • Draft Room Layout
  • Find solution for art storage
  • Reconfigure book and clothing storage

Regrading finishing the bed, I got some more paint on it and then I left my paint brushes, roller and paint open when I went to comfort a crying baby and forgot about them.  This put a damper on my progress!

Bed Painting 'workshop'

I also decided I wanted to do a top coat.  I have no idea if it will help the paint hold up or not, I mean I did sand and prime it, but it's way more work than I thought,  so it seemed some easy insurance that I did everything I could!!

I drafted a bunch of room layouts.  Then I realized I only painted one of the bunk bed rails and I'm not sure I"ll get another one painted and ready in time, so I went back to the drawing board with the side rail I had.  I think I've got it figured out, but because I'm an engineer and because my drawing was done with no scale, no straight edge and in my journal one night in bed I'm going to refrain from sharing it.

And I decided on a project for art storage.  Actually, I decided that I already have a solution for actual art storage in my house. (I'm pretty proud of it, too)

I decided what he really should have is a bulletin board.  But he's 2, and his little brother is 1, so anything with tacks, pins, or anything else sharp or easily chocked on what's realy going to work.  I spent an irordinate amount of time trying to make a board, but I can officially choke that up as a failure.  I chose some frames instead. :)

The final task this week was REALLY working on the hype.  Along with the big boy bed change is another major change; so long paci.  We've been talking about it for months already, but I really amped it up this week.  We'll see if the long prep time helps at all.

Next week:

Assemble Bed
Buy Bedding
Convince big guy he's a big guy
Update Frames

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Goal Setting

I've always set goals. When it was just me, it was pretty simple: I'd sit down with a notebook, usually at the end of the year, and sketch out a 1, 5, 10 year plan and some major goals and see how I was doing against the previous years goals. 

Now I have a husband and kids who also have unique goals and dreams. We want our family to grow and thrive together, so every year at our family summit we sit down and review our goals together.
I started off this year having a really difficult time establishing my goals. I have a wonderful husband, two healthy kids, and a job I sometimes love and usually like.  

I recently read Covey's "7 Habits of Highly Effective People." I highly recommend it and it gave me some great perspective for creating some goals for myself.

I have weekly benchmarks for most of my goals.  I also made a cheat sheet to remind me of my goals throughout the week.

This year my goals include propelling myself 500 miles (via running, biking, etc); reading 50 books, keeping in contact with extended family and professional contacts, and writing.

We also have family goals, including monthly date nights, dedicated time with our children, trying a new food and activity each month.

The beginning of the year is too frantic of a time to sit down and set goals.  Although I love the freshenss of a new year and new goals, I've convinced myself that I prefer the few month head start and less pressured timeframe!

Does anyone else set their goals mid year? 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

My new go-to pot luck recipe: Corn Dog Muffins

We had our neighborhood block party this weekend.  I searched through my recipes for something that was easy (I was helping to coordinate so didn't have a lot of time for cooking), portable (I have two toddlers, so I can only ever eat what I can hold in one hand at a party and finish quickly if necessary) and kid friendly.

I decided on Corn Dog Bites

I did not invent this recipe.  I remember finding it online once and it used to be in my cookbook.  The original recipe didn't use box mix and I liked it a lot.

But I was pressed for time, couldn't find the original recipe and figured I'd try the box.

They came out great!  Well, they came out good.

If you are wondering why I suggest cooking them for 14 minutes, see below:

Top plate cooking for 16 (ish) minutes because a baby needed my attention and I missed the 15 minute ding.

Bottom plate cooked for 12 minutes because I was gun shy.  Both were good, but I would have preferred exactly in the middle.  

At the potluck they seemed to go over well and there were only 4 left at the end of the night.  

Thursday, October 15, 2015

One Room Challenge Week 2: Big Boy Bed.

One room Challenge!

Week 1: Introduction

The catalyst for this project was a crib tumble incident.  The most important component is a big boy bed.  Immediately following the fall, we put a rain on the crib, making it into a toddler bed.  But it's time for a big boy boy.

The day of 'the fall' I posted my sad story on facebook and one of my neighbors mentioned that it was time for grown up bedroom for her baby boy, so she had a bunk bed if I'd like it.  I had been planning to get a bunk bed that could be set up as two twin beds so it was perfect!!

I decided I would give the bed a fresh coat of paint, but those plans have been very slow coming, (aka it just sat in the garage for a long time) but that's the whole point of this challenge right??

As you might remember, all of my sons furniture is dark, so I needed a dark coat of paint.  I googled painting furniture a zillion times and convinced myself I didn't need to sand it.  I bought some awesome primer and paint and did a sample.  It immediately flaked and I could tell immediately that it wasn't going to hold up to being in a little boys room.  So I guess were sanding.

Sanding the bed wasn't too bad.  I used a belt sander I borrwed from a friend and then hand sanded the parts I couldn't reach with it.  Even with the sanding, I decided we better put on a coat of primer.  Than I thought, eh, might as well to do.  (Paint goes along way on furniture and there was a lot left!)

Now we are own to painting, although that will probably take a while as I want to make sure each coat cures and the color is dark so it will take a few coats.

As I mentioned, the bed is the biggest part of this project, but I started thinking about what else a 'big boy' might need in his room.

Our little big boy loves reading, so a good way to store and read books is critical.  I am also thinking a place to hang his art might be fun.  A good friend of mine put these awesome continuous creation art panels in her daughter's room, but I don't think I'm quite that brave yet!

I have a general rule of no loud toys in the bedrooms, so I'd like to stick with that, but since he's getting to be a bit bigger and enjoy some activities that are easier without baby brother, I think I'll move some of those into his room as well.   It's a bit of a delicate balance, however because anything in his room as the potential to end up everywhere in his room on less successful nap days.  Ease of clean up is certainly an important factor on what goes in.

I'm also going to move around his clothes and closet to match how he uses his room right now.

Goal for next week:

  • Finish Bed
  • Draft Room Layout
  • Find solution for art storage
  • Reconfigure book and clothing storage

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Library Books.

The Library has been an integral part of our weekly routine for quite some time in various ways.  We've done story time, play dates and just visited frequently.  Lately, we've been checking out more books as Colin has begun to understand the idea of borrowing books from the library.

But it's kind of been a pain.  The books seems to float around and mysteriously disappear into our large book collection.

After spending quite a bit of time looking for a book today, I decided we needed a place for the books.

I found a basket that we weren't using any more and made a quick sheet to summarize our library books.

Now we have a place to keep our books and a way to quickly know how many we have and when they need to go back.

Have I mentioned how much I love my laminator?  Has to be one of my better purchases.

One more of life's little annoyances I hope I've banished for a while.  Anyone else struggle with keeping library books safe and collected?  Any other tips?

Friday, October 9, 2015

One Room Challenge: The Big Boy Bedroom.

If you're visiting to check out my room remodel, welcome!  If you followed my not so sucessful room in spring, welcome back!  If you have no idea what I'm talking about, read on for a short summary.

I stumlbed upon the one room challenge last spring and thought, Hey!  I have rooms to remodel!  Six weeks?  No problem!  So I jumped right in.  And I got off to a pretty good start.  Things kind of fell apart after that.  Eventually, I realized that I'm a working mom with two babies and remodeling my kids bathroom was pretty low on my to do list, especially without a plan.  And then we remolded our back yard instead.

As soon as we were done with the yard, I decided that in October, we would finally tackle our master bedroom.  I have notes, schedule, drawings, ideas, and deadlines.  

But I also have hard learned realistic expectations.  As I look at my calendar for the next 6 weeks, I recognize that my ambitious bedroom project is just not going to happen.  

And then my toddler fell out of his crib and a new, and more acheivable project, fell into my lap.   

We need a Big Boy Bedroom!

The before:

I love my sons nursery.

We worked hard on that room.  We installed the chair rails, painted and loving picked out paint colors, arts, and decor.  When we decorated the room, we intentionally chose a theme we thought would grow with our baby.

And now our baby has grown!  So I'll spend this month updating our nursery for our not quite so little boy! I hope you'll follow along!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Co-op Preschool with Miss C, week one

Month 2 of Co op preschool is underway!

One of my favorite things about co op is exposing my son to different lessons, books, activities, and teaching styles as we move from host to host.

One of my other favorite things is that we divide the work, and it's nice to have a good chunk of my work out of the way!

This week, we moved to a new host, Miss C.

We started with some great free play activities.  Everything was new and exciting to Colin, which I think is why he feel asleep for nap so easily today!


Fishing Sensory Activity

Miss C switched up our circle time format and I was amazed at how long she engaged the kids.  She has a much calmer demeanor than I do and it seemed to work great!  We sang our welcome song, our name song, the itsy bitsy spider, where is thumbkin and a new song about a turtle.

Next it was time for books!  This is where I think Miss C really excelled.  Where there were some classes I barely managed to get through one book, she got through three of them!

I had never read Silly Sally before and it was a cute story.

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is on our bookshelf.   For the longest time I couldn't stand the story and I can't remember exactly why.  The kids loved it today.

Our Art activity was to make a coconut tree for the letters.

We did snack after the activity, including alphabet graham crackers.

It was a great class and Colin is excited to go back next week, or as he told me after class "Let's just stay here until next class."