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."

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The G's Google Calendar

My schedule is my life line.  I use calendars as much as I use lists and for the same reason: I can't keep any of this stuff in my head.

Over the years my calendar has moved from a pocket notebook, to a wall, to a Palm Pilot and now, Google.  I thought I'd summarize some of the ways I use google calendar to make my life and family easier to manage.

1. Using my Google Calendar.

I use my google calendar to plan and remember.  I input all of my appointments, obligations, meetings, and time dependent activities.  Then at the end of the day or week, I adjust the schedule to more accurately reflect what happened.  

Some of the things I keep track of in my google calendar:
  • Work Schedule
  • Classes
  • Holidays
  • Birthdays
  • Bill Due Dates
  • Work our schedule
  • Chores
  • Journals
  • Typical Routines
  • Kids classes/play dates/appointments
  • Street Sweeping Schedule
It sounds kind of overwhelming when I type it all out, but nearly so much so as keeping it in my head.

2.  Syncing my Facebook Calendar

There was a time when this wouldn't have been necessary, but since so many of my friends set up birthday parties, play dates, and activities on facebook, this has been a huge time saver, not to mention it prevents me accidental putting in the wrong time or place.  Facebook has a section on the events page on how to export calendars.  

3.  Syncing my Call Log.

There are probably some industries where this is even more helpful than mine, but being able to quickly see who I called when has saved me time and energy more than once.  I use an app called CallTrack.  It's easy to set up and runs unobtrusively in the background.

4. Keeping our Family Organized.

Both of my husband and I have flexibility in our work, but because of that it is critically important that we have up to date information on the other's schedule.  We share all of our calendar so that either of us can easily make appointments, set up meetings, or make plans.  We also have a separate calendar for each of our kids that helps us make sure we get them where they need to go on time.

5. Staying Organized Across Devices

We are not an apple family, but we do have an iPad.  There was no way I was going to try to sync google calendar with the apple calendar (I know some people have done it, but I still have nightmares for events recreated a zillion times when Outlook and google would fight, so I didn't want to mess with it).  Instead, I bought the app Calengoo to use on the iPad.  It's been a few years since I researched options, but it works great for my needs.    

6. Keeping up to date with relevant Public Calendars

Google has a cool feature where you can sync public calendars.   Things like sports teams schedules, etc.  I use quite a few public calendars
  • Disneyland Season Pass Black out Dates
  • My HOA's events
  • My MOPS groups events
  • Unusual American Holidays
  • Catholic Holidays
  • Phases of the Moon
  • Sunset times
  • Weather
7. Making sure my calendar works for me

As my life has gotten busier, my google calendar has gotten more and more complicated.  Over time, I've had to organize and color code it to make sure I can effectively use it.  By creating custom calendars for things like my call logs, my bill due dates, or my work schedule I can easily turn calendars on and off depending how what information I need at any given time.

8.  Keeping my Calendar up to date

Obviously a calendar is only as good as the information in it.  Even more than my lists, I use my calendar as my immediate and automatic storage place for information.  I add things immediately and we take time at our family meeting each week to update and reconnect with our calendars.

I'm always looking for ways to make my calendar more efficient, please share any tips you use to keep your family organized.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Co op Preschool: 1st Field trip We Play Loud!

The conclusion of our "All about me" month of Co-op preschool was a field trip to a local indoor playground, "We Play Loud!"

The staff was great about coordinating with me and even gave me the option to book a field trip through their site. Afer I considered needing to to pay in advance, coordinate students, parents and siblings, and plan a lesson compelling enough to convince the kids to stop playing for a bit it seemed easier to just meet instead

I like this venue.  It's on the expensive side, but it's immaculately clean, safe, and age appropriate for our kids.   

It's been a good month!  We learned about our our names, our families, our friends, and our bodies.  We practiced sitting and eating together, taking turns, listening during circle time, recognizing letters, picking up and holding pencils, writing our names, cutting, gluing, painting, threading and cooperating. We explored new materials and for some, new foods.  Being our first month, we had some adjustments and settling in, but over all I think it was really successful and I'm excited to see the unique perspective that each host brings to class!