Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Nooks and Crannies (and some Christmas ideas)

It's important to me to have a balance in my home, not a Feng Shui balance but a balance between the kids having art supplies and toys accessible and Brian and I have the clean, calm space that we crave. I've become the master of disguise when it comes to hiding toys here. 

We're lucky that our kitchen currently has a ton of storage space. It doesn't matter what size of a home you have doesn't everyone always end up in the kitchen? I spend a LOT of time there between lunch boxes, meals, meal planning and cleaning and my kids just gravitate to wherever I am...or maybe just wherever the food is.

We have one drawer with lots of craft supplies, doodle books, paints, markers, chalk and chalkboards, dry erase boards, stickers...this is the go to drawer when my kids hear me say, "Stop torturing your sister and find something to do!!"

Directly below that is a cabinet with play doh, clay, and a rotation of board games. Does everyone have Busy Town the Richard Scarry game? If not, get it. We LOVE it, instead of playing against one another you are playing with each other against the pigs that are trying to eat your picnic food. It's fun and everyone ends up laughing at the end.
What about Camelot Jr? It's a logic game, encourages solo play and the kids enjoy it.

This one portion of our island has open shelving. The bottom shelf usually holds a) the seasonal books that I rotate during the year (currently fall and Thanksgiving) and b) library books because we just have to keep those separate or we loose them. There is usually someone sitting on the floor here reading. I love to see my kids reading, the only problem is that this is directly in front of my refrigerator. It has gotten to the point where I will go to get something and the fridge door will push my kid across the wood floor--they don't even flinch. 

I like to have plates accessible to the kids. They can set the table or help prepare their own meal this way. This is Jack's favorite drawer now, only because we finally put a child lock on the pots and pans drawer.

We have three boxes seats of these things in our family room. We use them as seating when we have a large crowd but we use them daily to hold blocks, toys and diapers. Love that the kids can just toss all the mess in here and the room is clean.

Kate keeps some of her toys in baskets and buckets under her bed. This is the side away from her room door. There have been days that the floor between her bed and her dollhouse is completely COVERED in toys but I didn't realize it. You can't see this space from her doorway.

The basement houses the majority of our toys. These IKEA bookcases are great for holding lots of toys. Each of the baskets hold a different type of block: wooden block and train stuff, bristle blocks, big legos...

There you have it. A few of the nooks and crannies in the house that hide all the clutter that comes with having three kids!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


The Basement has three different sections. The toys are all on one side. 

In the middle section is this little homework station. In the summer we open this table to do Mommy School. All our workbooks and learning stuff that we use goes here.

I love these little baskets. They're filled with letters stamps and ink pads, dry erase boards, lined paper, dominos and big dice (how do you spell the plural form of dice?), flash cards, letter tiles, all kind of fun stuff.

Finally the man cave section of the basement. This is where Brian spends his time :)

Brian does not sort his books by color. He has this crazy idea of dividing them by subject, I wouldn't be surprised if they were also alphabetical by author. You know I have no say of how those book cases are arranged.

I'll spare you the room beyond that door. It's a huge unfinished area used for storage.

So there it is. Now when my memory or my kid's memories start to fade we can see exactly what it looked like :)

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Chicklet's Christmas List

All year long I'm watching for kid's gift ideas. When the girls see something they like in a store now they ask me to take a picture of it with my phone. When I see something online that I think they would like I add it to an Amazon wish list. Around October I start gathering all those ideas onto a list. Our family uses an online Christmas Wish List, that I highly recommend. You create your list and then your family can access your list with their password and even mark an item as purchased. Other family members can see that they're purchased but you will not.

I put a LOT of thought into making the lists. I want things that will entertain them, that I know they want, and that I know they will play with as well as learn from. I don't want to spend my money (or family members spend theirs) on things that will just sit and collect dust. 

Here is a LONG list of toys, maybe you'll find something your kids would enjoy. Keep in mind that we are not buying ALL of these things. Our entire family and Santa pulls from this list :)

First they'll be getting a big big basket of art supplies: sketch pads, how to books, new play doh, sculpting tools, oil pastels...

Brian and I are also giving the girls a combined basket and a family tradition that we are starting. From us they will be getting illustrated, hardcover classics that we plan to read each night as a family. I'm excited to build on this collection over the years. I realize that this may not be something they are overly excited to see on Christmas morning but I think that it's something that will create memories they'll always have. This year we're getting a few of the Little House on the Prairie series, Pippi Longstocking,  and then some of these Sterling Illustrated Classics, they are BEAUTIFULLY illustrated by Robert Ingpen
On the list you'll also find different puzzle type games:
Artsy activities like 
Magnetic Mosaics, Illustory (Kendall makes a book daily, she will love this) & Fingerprint Fabulous

Something to use outside--plasma car
And other fun things

Apple Letters, Tiny Toms, American girl pjs, Inchimals
At first I really struggled with Jack. This is the kid that most likes to pull things out of cupboards and climb all over the house. But once I got going I really had fun finding ideas.
This Little Tykes wagon was an easy place to start. I know that he'll love to throw his manly toys and dirt in there and haul that puppy around. 

You can never go wrong with cars, solid wood and racetrack so this was added.
Like I said he likes to take things out of drawers, throw them back the HABA shape sorter was added. Next a fun addition to the train table or maybe just to have a little train collection in his room. 

Next I picked out a collection of farm toys. Carry and Go Farm, farm animal train, animals (these are SO cute), and the farmer himself


The kids rooms are all nice sizes. I've posted pictures of Kate's bedroom before.
Aunt Lorie shares this room with Kate when she visits. And I've spent many hours in this bed through thunder storms.

The little patchwork dog on her bed was mine, then it was Alex's and now Kate has it.

Shade your eyes. Kendall's room was like this when we moved in. I had every intention of changing it...and then she saw it, and fell in love. 

The giraffe coat racks in both girls rooms have a special story. Brian's dad had one in his room when he was young. It has been passed down and the girl's received it for Christmas one year. Lin, Brian's aunt, made a second one to match it exactly so both Kendall and Kate could have their own. She makes INCREDIBLE things, I wish I had her talent!

Yes, we organize books by color.

These were my Little Golden Books when I was little, with a few new ones added in.

I really love the kids' bathroom. Hexagon floor tile, subway tile in the bath, beadboard, pedestal sinks, Restoration Hardware fixtures, sigh. Can we take this bathroom with us?

The only thing that would make this better is if it were a "Jack and Jill" bath. Speaking of bathrooms can anyone tell me what a Pullman bath is??

Sadly all the Pottery Barn towels are starting to get grungy looking. I think we'll have to replace them soon. They've been used daily for three years so they've worked pretty hard. 

Master bedroom just down the hall. I hear the sound of little feet going into the bathroom in the morning. Actually I could tell you whose little feet just by sound alone. Jack came home from the hospital and slept next to me in this room in his little cradle. 

These curtains were here when we moved in. I've worked around them instead of replacing them. It's hard to see it but I LOVE that little silver table. The kids love it too, they think it's a drum.

The previous owners did a fantastic job on our bathroom. French doors, marble floors, granite and Restoration Hardware again. 

I have a little confession. See that light fixture in the master bedroom? 2/3 of the bulbs have been out FOREVER. It took us until this weekend to figure out how to change them-it required a wrench. Man our room seems bright now. Why does it take moving to make us do these things?!

Ah, nap time is over. Little Man's room. I picked out the starfish tied to his curtains with Susan, my mother-in-law, when I was pregnant one summer in Ocean City. Susan also cross stitched those prints over his crib.

This room is one we repainted. It was what I would call University of Kentucky blue.
His rocker used to live in Kate's bedroom. It was pink until the girls' preschool teacher recovered it for us.

Alex made that cute hat for us and the Little Engine that Could book was Pop's book. The little buoys were a gift from Aunt Lorie. I love all those little touches that give a room a story. Of course we had to have a Harvard hat from Brian displayed.

Tomorrow we'll cover the basement