Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Project: Playroom - Completed!

So, I focused!  I completed a project!  A big project!  I finished ON TIME and ON BUDGET!  WooHoo!  I'm linking up to the challenge home page - go check out the other entries.

Warning: this post is very long!  Feel free to just look at the pictures! ;)

Let's look at the over all's first.  Can I just say that the room looks better just because it's cleaned up?  If only that was all it had needed! ;)  I only rearranged the room a little by switching the recliner and the easel.  It was actually a "switching back" since the recliner was in this same position about 3 months ago.  We prefer it in this corner looking into the rest of the house.  This portion of the playroom didn't need much "organizing", but I did move our school calendar to the other wall to allow more room when we have school.

Now, the other side of the room...was calling for help!

One of the first things I did was purge/clean out.  It was a little difficult because there are things that Mackenzie doesn't play with, but I know Meredith will play with as she gets older.  I did throw out fast food toys and any other non-meaningful toys. 

This left side of the shelves was one of my least favorite areas.  The stack of papers from Mackenzie's artwork for the last 18 months was driving me crazy.  I wanted to keep it all, but finally realized if I kept all of it now, by the time she got to fifth grade, I would need the entire bookshelf for just her schoolwork!  So I took pictures of every single item and threw it all away.  I only kept things that had her hand or foot prints.  These then went to the office to be scrapbooked and/or put in a box.  The books on the second shelf are part of the book rotation and I moved them to boxes that I put above the cabinets.  I really struggled with removing books from the book shelf, but it was just to much visual clutter for me and I felt I needed a couple of free shelves to use for "decoration" so that I didn't feel the shelves were jam packed.
One of the goals I had was keeping the small items out of Meredith's reach and nothing has more small pieces than Mackenzie's doll house stuff.  I bought small baskets for these items as well as her paper/magnet dolls which have teeny, tiny shoes!  I told Mackenzie where and why they were up on the upper shelf and she understands.  For now, she can still play with them even if Meredith is in the room because she's not crawling, but our new rule is that they get picked up every night and put back on the shelf.

Larger items, like coloring books and the robot are in the larger basket.  She can reach these just barely, but she knows they are there and will ask me when she wants to play with them.
The other side of the upper shelves was just as annoying.  Let's face it, almost all of the shelves annoy me, otherwise I wouldn't have picked this room!  Because I just started teaching Mackenzie this year, I didn't realize how much school stuff I would acquire.  I had imagined keeping all of the school books/admin kind of stuff in the office, but it makes more sense for it to be in the same room we do school.  Because the binders are Mackenzie's school stuff, I wanted her to have access to them, so I put them on the lower shelves along with a bin that holds many of our school activities.
Look at that - an empty shelf! ;)
The center shelves... 
I cleaned out the movies, moved the tea set to Mackenzie's room and moved the wooden backgammon game to our game closet since the girls won't be playing that any time soon.  One of my happiest moment was when I saw the owl bookends in Meredith's room and realized they would go perfect in the playroom!  I also like my small baskets on the middle shelf.  The are perfect for school, because I can easily reach up and grab the crayons, markers, glue, what ever sort of general craft supply we need.  I also put the small games (ie: barrel of monkeys) and other items that we don't want Meredith chewing on in these baskets.  They are the perfect size!
The bottom cabinets needed organization too, but I wasn't as concerned with those because let's face it, you don't see them unless the doors are open! ;)  We had an overload of dress up stuff, so I pulled another box from Mackenzie's room which helped to keep it all confined.

The middle bottom shelves were a little difficult to deal with.  They are only 8" tall, so it's a little difficult to find containers to hold some of the toys.  In the end I found 2 open containers and 2 lidded containers.  The real problem here is keeping it this way.  I'm really having to remind Mackenzie to put everything back in the tub when she's done, but we'll get there.  What I really love is having most of Meredith's toys in one of the red baskets.

So, that's my completed, better organized room!  I'm loving it!

Below are the questions and answers required for the challenge.
  1. What space did you decide to organize and why?  
    • I organized my daughters' playroom with 3 goals in mind.
      • A place where the girls can play, read and watch TV, but that is also nicely decorated since it is visible from most of the house. 
      • A safe place for Meredith (6 months) to crawl around in and not choke on small toys.
      • A place for Mackenzie (3 years) and I to do school. 
  2. What steps did you take to ensure you completed the space within the 29 day timeline?
    • I made a "Plan of Attack" and re-evaluated my goals and room every week to see what it still needed. 
  3. What was the hardest part of the challenge for you and how did you overcome it?
    • Purging - getting rid of the clutter.  I put the books in a rotation and took some of the books off of the shelf and into a box so that they wouldn't be visual clutter (to me) on the shelves.  I also took pictures of my daughters artwork from the last 18 months and threw it all away with the exception of a few keepsake pieces.
  4. What did you do with the “stuff” you were able to purge out of your newly organized space?
    • Some went into the trash, some went to the girls' rooms and some items went to other parts of the house.
  5. Tell me one of your proudest moments during this challenge?
    • Getting the school stuff organized into easily accessible bins.  It makes school go so much smoother when I'm organized and have most everything right there in arms reach.  I don't have to walk halfway across the house to find what I'm looking for.  And it's all easily cleaned up!
  6. Explain any organizing “tools” you used to help you create additional space and to establish some limits and boundaries?
    • The book rotation was a big way to create more space.  I put half of our books (or maybe more) into bins on the top shelves and will rotate the books out as needed.  I also separated the holiday books so that they could easily be found with each holiday.  This created a couple of free shelves.  The open and lidded bins on the shelves also help create boundaries for what you can store because either the lid will not close or the open baskets won't fit on the shelves.
  7. What is ONE piece of advice you’d give to someone else to encourage them on their organizational journey?
    • Definitely make the plan of attack.  It was very helpful to write out my goals, problems, suggestions, BUDGET and anything I could think of about the room.  I will be using this method for all of my future projects!
So, yay - I finished a project/room in the house.  Which one should I tackle next? ;)

Monday, February 27, 2012

Raising Rock Stars Preschool - Letter E

This week we studied the letter E, the number 7, the heart and the color purple.  Our memory verse was Proverbs 20:11 - Even a child is known by his deeds.

I tried to take some pictures of other things we did this week instead of the same pictures from the previous 5 weeks.  We use the popsicle sticks to go on letter, number and word hunts on our board and throughout the room.

I made her color most of the picture this week.  She doesn't really like coloring, as I've said before, but if I told her she didn't have to do something just because she complained a little, we'd never move forward with learning.

For the E collage, we just put pictures of eggs on the letter.

Our typical letter E sort.  I always use our color of the week for the background.
Dot art is always so fun.  We also poked an E outline with toothpicks and used magnets on another printout.

E is for elephant:

Practicing writing the number 6:

Our memory verse was fairly short, so it was only as long the arm rest on her chair.

One of our crafts involved discussing over, under, in front and behind with the egg and basket.  Rather than gluing the basket and egg down after we had the lesson, I attached string to both the basket and egg and only glued down the sides of the basket.  This way, when we have our reviews of what we've learned so far, we can do this activity again.

Doing the color matching activity made me laugh.  I asked Mackenzie to sort the cards into two piles, rectangles and triangles.  This is how she did it:

Not only did she put the triangles in a row, she rotated them so that their sides matched and the line stayed straight.  Can we say OCD?

This week, we pulled out the bear counters.  We did several sorting and counting exercises.  Whatever I came up with at the time.  She loves these bears and played with them for several more hours just on her own. 

This is what happens at the end of school time on Friday.  She wants no more pictures!

Friday, February 24, 2012


I've been starting all kinds of projects in the last couple of months.  Notice I used the word "starting"?  That's the problem, I've been starting so many projects that I hadn't finished any of them and therefore had too many unfinished areas in the house.  My mom told me I needed to focus on one at a time.  This is so true.  I knew if I didn't focus, my house would be in a constant state of chaos and clutter which was the exact opposite of what I was trying to do with the projects!  Moms are so great. ;)  They tell you exactly what you need to hear and you follow it, even though it was the same thing I was telling myself and not following!

This was the current state of my dining room a couple of weeks ago.

It has been this way for a couple of months.  So in the dining room there are several projects going on in here.  As I'm going through different parts of the house working on these "projects", I'm finding more and more stuff that we don't need, want or use.  I've been making a pile in the dining room and need to take it to a donation center.  This morning I put most of it in large boxes, so it doesn't quite look this bad anymore, but it's still a pile of stuff in my dining room.  A project unfinished.  FOCUS.

All the stamps and paper on the table was my attempt weeks ago to make some birthday cards for the year.  I pulled out all of my cards (I've made or sent to me) and the corresponding stamp sets to see what I could make without buying anything.  I actually designed cards and cut all of the paper required, stacked it on the dining table and that's where it has stayed.  I need to stamp and assemble the cards to complete this project.  Sounds simple, but yet I haven't done anything about it.  FOCUS. 

The other item on the dining table are my new apothecary jars I bought to decorate the tops of my kitchen cabinets.
Aren't they pretty?  After weeks of them sitting on the dining table, I finally asked Brandon to put them on top of the cabinets this past weekend.  It's only the start of a collection, but so far I really like it.  Over the years, I'll fill it up and it won't look so empty.
Another project that had been half done since just after Christmas was the reorganization of my living room built ins and fire place mantle.  I took everything off the shelves and mantle, gathered anything from other rooms that I thought might possible work and rearranged things.  Some items went to other rooms, some items went to the donation piles and some went into the cabinets to wait for the office built-ins to be built.
I also cleaned out the cabinets below and all that remains to be sorted through is the miscellaneous cables and electronic equipment that is stored in the cabinets.  Unfortunately, we have 2 more boxes of this kind of stuff, so this is a task Brandon and I will have to tackle together.  I imagine most of it will be thrown out, but I want Brandon's opinion first, because I don't know what kind of cables we might need in the future other than extension cords.

Two other bigger projects will be worked on this weekend - the completion of the playroom for the 29 day challenge I've joined and Brandon is re-doing my laundry room for my birthday (I chose a shade of purple).  I specifically asked that that be my birthday present.  I'm very excited!  I'll keep you updated on both, as I know you will be waiting on pins and needles for the results! ;)

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Funny Videos

Mackenzie has 3 1/2 pages of apps on the ipad - it's probably around 50-60 apps downloaded just for her.  One of her favorites right now is ABC food.  It's a really cute app that talks about different kinds of food using the alphabet as its table of contents.  With each picture, there is usually a short video about that food.  Sometimes it's a cooking demonstration, sometimes just someone talking about the food and sometimes it's a cartoon.  She loves the cooking demonstrations - she has watched them make mac n' cheese a hundred times!  Yesterday she was really liking the cartoons.  Her two favorites yesterday are below.  They made me laugh.

She liked the bagel one so much, we had to buy bagels at the store, so she could try them!

Monday, February 20, 2012


If you don't know, I'm a fairly picky eater.  Some might laugh at the word "fairly" and say I should use "very", but I've gotten better in the last few years.  Really, I have.  Did you know that I didn't think I liked sour cream, pico and guacamole until a few years ago?!  I'll be 32 in one week, so that's approximately 20 years of liking Mexican/texmex food and not realizing that sour cream, pico and guacamole make it so much better!!

Anyways, because of my pickiness, I like watching cooking shows, but I know that most likely I'm never going to try the recipes they demonstrate.  There are usually WAY TOO MANY vegetables in the recipes that turn me off the minute the person calls them out! ;)  I've also never subscribed to any food magazines for that same reason.  Most recipes, unless it's a comfort food magazine/cookbook, are not appealing to me.  I'm not saying they aren't good or that Brandon wouldn't like it, it's just that if I don't want to try it/eat it, I'm not going to make it.  There is an exception to this rule - if I'm cooking for a crowd, I do recognize when most "normal" people would eat something and I'll make something I wouldn't normally make if only Brandon and I were eating.

I had a free subscription to the Food Network Magazine when we first moved in because the previous owners didn't forward their mailing address. ;) I liked it and I pulled out a few recipes over the few months I had the magazine, but there weren't enough recipes that I liked to caused me to get my own subscription.  With that said, if they had more issues like this one every month, I would have a hard time resisting a subscription...and fitting into my clothes! ;)

My grandmother gave me this magazine, but I did see it at the grocery store today.  It has so many good chocolate recipes...chocolate mousse cake, candy bar cake, chocolate bowls, chocolate cheesecake, chocolate ice cubes..chocolate souffles, frozen chocolate mousse pie, molten lava cake...and so much more!  I'll have to try one a month or have a "chocolate party" for all of us to try these awesome desserts!  If you haven't seen it yet and you love chocolate, like I do, go to the store right now (or in the morning if you prefer)! ;)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

RRSP: Letter F

We are on week 6 of "school" and we are still having lots of fun!  This week we learned more about the letter F, the number 5, ovals and site word "for".  Our memory verse this week was John 3:16 and despite it being a long verse, she did so well.

She likes to trace the letters, but I have to remind her to take her time so that she stays on the lines.  She's so funny and is just like me because she talks ALL the time! ;)  As she traces, she talks and tells me stories and just keeps on writing while she looks up at me.  It's really cute and luckily she's only 3 so we have plenty of years to work on handwriting! ;)
These are the vocabulary cards she cuts out and we put in the page protectors for review later.
Shape matching...
Letter sorts...
Alphabet matching...
Coloring...she doesn't really like to color.  I think she colored for maybe a minute after this picture was taken.
See how long the memory verse is?
We used pipe cleaners to turn circles into ovals.
 Apparently, they make good bracelets, too!
We did a new activity this week.  After cleaning out a box in the office, I found some old magnets that we used instead of the do-a-dot markers.  She seemed to really like it.
On Friday, we had a little more time for school and finally did more of our Valentine's day stuff.    Mackenzie doesn't like sweethearts, but I bought them so we could do the activities below.  First we made some "Sweetheart Observations".  Notice that she said they smelled bad and nothing is circled for taste because she was not about to taste them again!
We also graphed our sweethearts.  She sorted one color at a time.  She would pick all of one color out of the tin and put them in her hands and then place them on the paper one at a time. 
We also sorted "people" versus "valentine's gifts".  Notice she sorted all of one item at once, again.
We learned a new word...accordion.
Some valentine's patterning...
After looking at the pictures, I noticed that we did school in our pajamas 2 out of 3 days this week! Let's face it, it was a yucky, rainy week and it just seemed to call out for pajama days! ;)
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