Room To Lounge

There is one room in our house that is in constant flux. The playroom. I’m ALWAYS in there cleaning, picking up toys, rearranging things to accommodate our (quickly) growing children. It seems like every few months the kids’ needs change, and thus, so does the playroom.

I’m so grateful we have a room to use just for the kids to play in. Especially since we don’t have a finished basement and our bedrooms are all upstairs, it’s nice for the kids to have a safe place on the main floor to play where I can keep close watch of them. I’m especially grateful for it this Summer because it has been too hot to play outside some days, like this ENTIRE WEEK. While it has been so hot, we’ve been having afternoon movie time. I turn the lights off, close the curtains, make a comfy pillow fort, grab some snacks and lay down and watch a movie, or two. This movie time is awesome because 1. it’s a cool distraction from outside and 2. both kids usually fall asleep!

I noticed that the rooms current layout was not very accommodating for movie time, or even just lounging, especially for us adults when we are in there. The room is large, but has two large picture windows and two large door openings. Our t.v. has been on the wall in the corner which made it tricky to comfortably place a sofa without it being in the center of the room. The t.v. placement was one of those decisions we made hastily when we first moved in, without really knowing where we would need/want it.

Here is a look at the previous layout. Basically the sofa was in the middle of the room, and the four corners were separate little play areas. I liked this layout while the kids were smaller, because they could both play with their own toys in separate corners. These days, they are more into the same toys and need more room to spread out and play.

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Since the room is somewhat long and narrow, I decided to split it in half and dedicate half to a ‘lounge’ area and half to the play area. This required moving the wall mounted t.v. and praying that the cable cord would reach to the new spot. Luckily it did with a little finesse.

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I moved all of our toy storage onto one wall and painted the old bookshelf a glossy white to make it look more like one unit. I got really lucky that it all fit nicely onto that one wall and then centered the t.v. above it.

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I also got lucky that our sofa/futon just barely fit along the back wall.  I wish I had a little more room for an end table or two, but I may end up finding a long narrow table to go behind it. I’m not too worried about it right now, because the futon will be replaced one of these days when the kids are older. Right now though, we are loving having a futon in this space for movie watching, naps, and when we have extra guests staying with us.

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I love that it feels cozy, but there is still plenty of room for the kids to get out their toys in this area. Lots of Duplo building goes on in this space. We had a hard time getting our tent out without moving things around before, and now there is plenty of room for it.

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Hollis did end up losing her painted house mural, but I promised I would fix up her little kitchen area as a compromise. The Ikea kitchen needed some paint touch-ups and while I was at it, I just ended up giving it a whole new farmhouse makeover. I still have a shelf to hang for her baby doll accessories and I let her pick some artwork to hang along the walls.

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Bowen is a big fan of the kitchen lately too. I have plans for a little tool/garage area for him on the opposite wall. He is getting a workbench for Christmas this year so I have a little time before I focus on that. I’m sure Hollis will enjoy it as well.

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I’m sure this room will change again, but so far I’m really happy with this new layout. The kids seem to be really happy with it too. It just feels so much bigger and more open. I love makeovers that just require a little furniture rearranging and minimal paint…and that are totally FREE!!

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Mini Room Update: Hollis’ Room

I’m currently waiting (Impatiently) for some goodies for Bo’s nursery. So while I wait, I thought I’d do a little update on Hollis’ room which she now has all to herself again. She’s pretty psyched to have her room back and a somewhat safe place to hide her things that she doesn’t want little brother to slobber on…I get it kid. I do.

Not a whole lot has changed in her room, I didn’t paint or anything crazy like that. The biggest change for her was that we moved her twin size trundle-bed to Bowen’s room and moved the mammoth queen sleigh bed to her room. Her room is quite a bit larger than his, so it just made more sense for it to be in her room and it’s a really nice, comfy bed that we don’t want to part with yet. She loves it so far and she still has plenty of room to play with her dollhouse and other toys. Other than that, all I really did was take out Bo’s things and add in a few more girly things of Hollis’.

Here is how it looked while the kids shared…I have to admit, I miss it this way a little bit.

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And here it is now that it’s all Hollis’.

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You may recognize this display shelf from a previous post. We were using it as a simple dollhouse for Hollis when she was younger, but now that she is a bit older, I’ve decided to entrust her with my old dollhouse…(insert nervous face emoji here). So now we are using it to display all of her favorite little things. I hung it low enough for her to reach everything and high enough for little brother to NOT reach everything. 🙂

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Hollis is obsessed with this dollhouse, as was I. I still may be. It’s just so dang cute. Everything in it is from when I was a kid. So to say it’s old and fragile is an understatement.

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I tried to keep things pretty simple. I’m really glad I painted everything neutral the last time we updated the room. Her toys and accessories have so much color (PINK.) that I just really don’t miss color on the walls. Hopefully it will stay this way, and this clean, for a while!

 

 

Road Trippin'(with a toddler)

We are embarking on a road trip in a few weeks and I am so excited! Brian and I LOVE road trips. When we were dating, he traveled a lot for work and I would tag along with him on trips whenever possible. You really get to know a person when you are trapped in a car with them for hours on end. 🙂 We love driving so much we even road tripped on our honeymoon!

I love the flexibility of driving to our destination as opposed to flying. We can stop whenever we want to, or explore a different route, and take lots of pictures. I find it much more relaxing. Traveling with kids, however, has kind of changed everything. We have lost a little of the spontaneity from our trips. We have to schedule a few more stops and pack a lot more stuff, but I want our kids to love road trips as much as we do.

Hollis, who is 2 1/2, is quite familiar with long car rides. Since we moved out here to the farm, I try to visit my family back home in Kansas City about once a month (some months they visit us). The drive there is about 4 hours depending on traffic and how many times I have to stop. I have made the drive so often, that I have it down to a science. I can usually do it these days without any stops and our drive gets cut down to about 3 1/2 hours with traffic. Our road trip this summer is going to be about 8-10 hours of driving, so it will be a bit of an adjustment on our little ones. Here are some of my tips and tricks for making traveling easier with littles.

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  1. DVD Player. I know, I know, t.v. will rot your brain.  I don’t want my kids to rely on electronics to keep them entertained all the time, but sometimes it is a life saver. My toddler will watch a movie (or most of one) and then fall asleep. Sleeping kids on a road trip is like the holy grail. At the very least it usually allows me a quiet hour or two on our trip.
  2. Backseat Organizer. We were gifted one of these, and it has been really handy. Ours hangs on the back of the passenger seat and keeps things within reach of the me and Hollis. I can keep toys, books, snacks, drinks, dvds, wipes, diapers, etc. up off the floor and off the seats. It also keeps dirty feet off the back of my seats!
  3. Water Coloring Books. My daughter looooves these books. I think we have all the ones Melissa and Doug make. She loves that she can ‘paint’ and I love that there is no mess. The paint brush holds water inside and only shows up as ‘paint’ when applied to the pages of the book. When the pages dry, they erase and she can start all over again. I like these for the car bc they are a lot easier to maneuver than coloring books and crayons. She doesn’t need a hard surface to use it on and if she drops her paint brush, it’s no big deal because it’s just water.
  4. Wipes. Obviously these are a must. Messes happen, especially when toddlers are involved. I swear the harder I try to keep the car clean, the more messes we end up having.  I like to keep one of these universal wipes in the front seat in the console and one in the back where Hollis can reach them. I feel like I’m constantly reaching for these; to clean hands after stopping at a park, after using a rest stop bathroom (they never seem to have soap!), wiping sticky hands after a snack….the list goes on and on.
  5.  Cooler Tote. It does not matter how long of a drive we are going on, my child will ask for a snack. Sometimes we don’t even make it out of our driveway without her requesting something. Stopping for food can really add up on a trip as well as slow you down. I pack things like, apple juice, milk, water, string cheese, sandwiches, apple slices, and grapes to snack on. I like to keep some paper plates and utensils handy too so that we can stop at a park or wherever and eat. They are also really nice to have for when you get to the hotel or wherever you are staying.
  6. Treats. Snacks can make or break a road trip for me. I like to pack a lot of healthy options to keep us from stopping at every fast food joint we pass. BUT I also like to bring along a few treats that we don’t normally get to snack on. Sometimes sugar is totally necessary when you’re trying to stay awake to drive or stay awake to make sure your significant other stays awake to drive. It also makes a good bribe for when you do have to take the little ones in somewhere and need them to behave. I try to stick with things that are individually wrapped and that don’t melt too easily onto little toddler fingers.
  7. & 8. Magnetic Boards. This house board and this farm board are in my Amazon cart right now. I like to grab a couple of new toys for Hollis when we go on a long trip. I also like to hide a few toys she loves for a couple of weeks before our trip and then bring them along so they feel somewhat new to her. I let her help me pick out these magnet boards so she has something to look forward to playing with in the car. I like that the pieces are moveable, but stick to the board so everything stays together and we’re less likely to lose things in the seat.

My biggest tip to road tripping with little ones is be flexible. We like to look ahead on our route and take note of places really want to stop at, places we don’t mind missing if the kids are asleep, and also places that would be good to stop at if the kids need an extra break. It’s important for them to get out every couple of hours to stretch their legs and run off some energy. We like to stop at parks, but rest stops and deserted shopping malls (when it’s super hot or raining out) work too. Anywhere that we can play a game of tag or run around a bit are good. The best part of taking a road trip is that the journey there is just as much part of the vacation as the destination is. You can make it as fun as you want!

 

Teething Essentials

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My little man is four months old already. How the heck is that possible? I swear last month was February. We can’t possibly be nearing the end of June right now, can we?! I’ve learned a lot the last four months about my little guy. He is quite a bit fussier than his big sister. He does NOT like his carseat. He’s not crazy about the swing. He is chubby and pudgy in all the right places. He loves to be held…all the time. I call him my little hot tamale because he puts off an insane about of body heat. And like his sister, he laughs and smiles easily, which I love so much.

I try so hard not to compare my children to each other, or to any other children, but it is really, really hard. I love how different they are, but so much the same too! One thing that they both started at the same time is teething. They both started the teething process at 4 months. Just when we were getting into an awesome night time routine and sleeping almost through the night, BAM, teething rears its ugly head.

Here is what is worked for us so far…

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  1. Terry Teethers.  One thing both my babies loved was when I wet a wash cloth and freeze it for them to chew on. They much prefer soft over the plastic, freezer teethers especially in the early months of teething. I stumbled upon these terry cloth teethers that you freeze. I love that they are soft and so easy for baby to hold and are much cuter than wash cloths.
  2. Hyland Teething Tablets. I tried all the tablets and all the gels, and this is the only one that worked for us. I have a bottle upstairs, downstairs, and one in the diaper bag. These are a must.
  3.  Bandana Bibs. With teething comes drool…lots and lots of drool. I love these little bandana bibs. They are so soft so baby doesn’t mind wearing them all day. The prints are cute with pretty much any outfit and I’m not constantly having to change out wet shirts/onesies.
  4. Sophie.  Normally I would say, “$20 for a chew toy?! Pass!”, but Sophie is actually worth it. My mom bought one for Hollis and we have gotten other similar ones, but both of my kids gravitated to Sophie every time. It’s lightweight and easy to hold and get in the mouth even for my four month old.
  5. Mortimer Moose. We have a thing for Moose in our family so we received a couple of these as gifts over the years. It has lots of textures for baby to chew on. It has a good mix of hard things and soft things for their gums. I also like that you can hook it onto the carseat or stroller so baby doesn’t drop it on the floor.
  6. Teething Loop. Hollis loved this one for a long time. Super easy for baby to hold on to and lots of things to look at and nibble on. I was also able to loop it onto high chair and stroller straps to keep it off the ground.
  7. Teething Necklace.  I’m late to the party on this one. I wish I had one when Hollis was a babe. She loved to chew on my necklaces and I would have happily let her chew on this. I also love that it comes in all black and doesn’t scream, “I’m a teething necklace!”.

In addition, we also used an amber necklace for Hollis. I was very skeptical and didn’t get her one until she was one years old, but it honestly helped her and I wish I had gotten her one sooner. I don’t have one on Bo yet, but I plan to get him one when he is a little bigger. We still needed teething tablets some days, but the amber seemed to take the edge off and helped us use fewer tablets.

I’d love to hear what your teething go-to items are!

Fave Outdoor Toys For Toddlers

My kid is OBSESSED with being outside. I love that she would rather be outside digging in the dirt than sitting in front of the t.v., BUT Mama can only play with rocks and sticks so long before I want to poke that stick straight into my eye. So I’m on a hunt for some new outdoor toys that we can play with this Summer. We have plans to buy or build a playground of some sort later on, but I want a few things the kids can play with now while they are little.

Favorite Outdoor Toys For Toddlers

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  1. T-Ball Set My child loves hitting things so this is basically right up her alley . I love that it teaches her hand-eye coordination and helps develop fine motor skills. It also breaks down and hangs on the wall for easy storage.
  2. Garden Tools We have some cheap, plastic versions of these already. And they get used ALL the time. Hollis loves to dig around in the garden with them so much that I’m not sure they will last long enough for little brother to get to use them. I really like these nicer, heavier duty ones. Plus they look just like the ones I use!
  3.  Garden Table We are in the throws of the terrible twos…but my toddler is also in a phase where she wants to be doing whatever mommy is doing. Since my time outside is usually spent working on the garden, I think she would love having a gardening table of her own. Throw some dirt in there and she would be in heaven.
  4. Sidewalk Chalk Paint I spend a lot of time repeating the words, “STAY OUT OF MOMMY’S PAINT” while working on projects. It would be so great to head outside and just let my little monster go to town and paint up the sidewalk.
  5. Froggy Toss and Grip  Another good activity for practicing hand-eye coordination. Hollis can throw a ball pretty good, but she hasn’t quite mastered catching. She seems to think every game with a ball is dodgeball.  I think this would be great practice before trying a ball and glove and safe for her and her brother to play together when he is old enough.
  6. Splash Pad So we have a little, above ground pool, but it’s too deep for the little ones to do much other than sit in a floatie right now. I like the idea of playing in the sprinkler, but hate how muddy and grassy we get. I love that we (me, toddler, baby) can all sit on this and enjoy splashing around in the water together.

What are your little ones favorite outdoor toys and activities?

Kid’s Play Fridge/Pantry

Christmas is SO SOON!! I can’t believe how fast time has gone by. I’m so excited for Hollis to enjoy Christmas this year. I haven’t been this excited about the holidays since I was a kid. Hollis is 2 and she is obsessed  with all things Christmas. Santa, cookies, presents, carols, Christmas movies, ornaments, etc., etc. She  did the same at Halloween this year, just completely immersed herself in it and it is contagious. I find myself counting down the days along with her.  I think she is going to be really sad when it’s all over and the next major holiday is a few months away.

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that one of Hollis’ Christmas presents was going to be a diy’d play pantry/fridge for her new play kitchen that she is getting from my parents. I originally planned on building one from scratch, there are a few plans on Pinterest, but ended up looking for a cabinet that I could make into one instead. I had seen someone take an upper cabinet, like one that would go above a fridge or stove, and turn it on its side to create a little play fridge. So I set my sites on that and headed to every home improvement store I could think of to find one. After seeing the prices of brand new cabinets, I quickly changed my mind. Then I remembered the Re-Store, they are full of used cabinets and other building materials from houses. As soon as I set foot inside the store, I knew I was going to leave with something that would work.

I found many small kitchen cabinets like the ones I had in mind, but then I stumbled upon a bathroom cabinet that I thought would work even better. It looks like a cabinet that you would hang above the toilet. Totally not what I envisioned, but once I saw it, I thought it would make an awesome pantry. It was a little more than I wanted to spend, but after I considered how little work I would have to put into it, I felt better about the price. Literally all I had to do was paint it. Down the road I would like to add another shelf inside, but haven’t gotten to that yet.

IMG_2773I went with navy, because I love it, and also because her new kitchen will be navy too. The navy was a little too dark for the interior, it made it kind of hard to see, so I went with a light gray. The cabinet is solid wood and very sturdy, which was a big selling point for me. I sanded everything really good and gave it a couple of coats of paint.   IMG_2784 IMG_2786IMG_2787 IMG_2789 It’s really more pantry than fridge, but that’s okay. We desperately needed a place to house all of the play food and pots and pans. Before, we just had a small grocery cart to hold everything in. To find anything in it, Hollis had to empty out all the contents and usually I was the one who got to pick it up and put it all away….

IMG_2782Now it all has a home and we can close the doors and not see it! Everything is easy to find and messes still happen, but much less often. We ended up giving it to her before Christmas 1. because I’m terrible at surprises and 2. because I didn’t have anywhere to hide from her.

IMG_2801 IMG_2797So far she really loves it. The kitchen gets played with almost every day. She likes to rearrange all the things in her pantry.  Like I said, I think one more shelf in there would be really nice. There is plenty of room for it and there are already slots for adjusting shelves so it would be a really easy fix. I can’t wait for her to get her new kitchen to go with it!

 

 

 

Wrangling The Chaos

If you are sitting there thinking, ‘man, I sure wish this lady would do another closet post’, well then you’re in luck because that is exactly what this is. Although this closet is for much more important things than clothes. MUCH more important…..It’s for toys.

I know I’ve said this before, but we are super lucky to have the amount of closets we have in this old house. And especially lucky of the size of the closets. When we first moved in, these closets saved my sanity. I was able to stuff them with totes and boxes and pretend that everything was unpacked and in its proper place. Now that we have lived here for a while, things are (slowly) finding their permanent home and my closets are freeing up!

This particular closet is right under the staircase. It was the coat closet when the original front door was in this room. That door is now a window, and we have a coat closet next to the door that we use regularly. Lately, this closet has been used as a catch-all for the most random things. It has been housing our coolers, the vacuum cleaner, a couple of totes that still need homes, and the most random toys that I don’t want out all the time. (I apologize for these terrible photos, but there is only one bare bulb light in the closet and without it, the closet is pitch black!)IMG_2633IMG_2636 IMG_2639 I FINALLY got around to going through things in there and was left with a nearly empty closet. I decided the best use for this closet would be to house all of the toys that are overflow from the playroom or toys that Hollis can’t be trusted with, without supervision (ie. paint, markers, playdoh, etc.). It sits right across the hall from the playroom. My plan is to remove the clothes rod and make that whole wall shelves. It’s hard to tell from the pics, but that side is 24″ deep and 38″ wide. So I can easily fit some nice 16″ deep shelves in there. And since the door is petite, I have room to utilize the space across from it with some 10″ deep shelves.

IMG_2647In order to get my 10″ shelves in, I had to remove part of the existing wood coat racks so that I can get a shelf bracket on the left side. I also needed it removed, to add new cleats for my 16″ deep shelves.IMG_2648I just made my cut and pried off the unwanted section. IMG_2649Now I had room for my brackets and my cleats….after some patch work, of course. IMG_2644I used 1″x2″ for my cleats to hold my shelves. This is a really simple and cheap way to add shelving. Just cut them the depth and width of your shelves for them to rest on. I used wood boards for my shelves, but you could use MDF or sheets of plywood too.

IMG_2652 I used a 1″x 4″ and a 1″x12″ to make a 1″x16″shelf and cut them to the size I needed.  Next, I painted all the wood and shelves white. I patched all the holes and cracks and got out the paint. I usually do all white closets, but I wanted to add a little color on the walls since this closet is really for the kiddos.  IMG_2658IMG_2654I ended up putting back some of the wall hooks, because they are handy for hanging bags and they stay out of sight behind the door when it’s open.

IMG_2667 IMG_2666It is so nice to find a home for these toys that have been floating around the living room and playroom. Hollis loves going in there and picking out toys. It’s funny how if they are out, under her nose, she could care less about them, but put them in a closet out of sight and mind, and she suddenly has a new-found love for them!