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!!

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?

Sharing My Toys

So I don’t usually consider myself much of a hoarder, but as a child I was definitely a hoarder….a hoarder of toys. My poor parents attic is full of my old dolls, Barbies, books. I finally got around to going up there a few months ago (before it got super hot) and pulled down a few things that I thought Hollis might be able to play with. One of those beloved things was my dollhouse and furniture. I built it myself (mostly, dad helped some) when I was a kid and I can’t believe it’s survived as long as it has.

After getting it down from the attic, I knew it would need some TLC, but the repairs are slightly more extensive than I thought. Everything is fixable, I just need to get out the wood glue and put it to work. It will be time-consuming, and I haven’t really had the time to get to it yet. The problem is Hollis LOVES the dollhouse. She thinks it’s the coolest thing…which it is. Unfortunately, every time she touches it, something breaks. Not her fault, of course, it’s just old and not toddler-friendly. Sharing My Toys // thegoldbrickroad.comLuckily, while I was in the attic, I snagged a shadow box my grandpa had built me before I ever got my dollhouse. He knew I wanted a dollhouse one day and in the meantime I was collecting tiny furniture for it. I would set up little rooms in it and display my adorable, tiny things. It dawned on me that Hollis might love doing the same thing and this would be WAY more toddler-friendly for her.

Sharing My Toys // thegoldbrickroad.comHollis has been playing with it like this for a little while now, but I want to dress it up a little bit since I think she will get a lot of use out of it. I cleaned it up and made a minor repair. There are plexiglass panels that slide down in front of it so that it becomes more of a display case. I went ahead and took them out for now because I don’t want Hollis dropping them down on her little fingers.

Sharing My Toys // thegoldbrickroad.comI pulled out some leftover paint and some old scrapbook paper. Then I cut down my paper to fit inside of each box.

Sharing My Toys // thegoldbrickroad.comSharing My Toys // thegoldbrickroad.comI think it turned out pretty cute, and it was fast and easy. It’s looking much more like a dollhouse now and we can still use it for other things down the road.

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Sharing My Toys // thegoldbrickroad.comIt is much more simple (and safer) than the dollhouse. I like that everything is at her reach and easy for her to get to. She could care less that it’s missing all the bells and whistles. The rooms are also really easy to switch out which helps keep her from getting super bored Sharing My Toys // thegoldbrickroad.comThe little munchkin has been playing with it non-stop so I think it is a success! Hooray for free toys! I can’t wait to get back in the attic and find more goodies for her.

Ikea is coming! Ikea is coming!

I know, I know.  Ikea is not new by any means, but it is one of my favorite stores. I’ve driven many, many miles to get to one of their stores.  So, it’s just my luck that we get an Ikea in Kansas City as soon as we move to the middle of nowhere Kansas. BUT it gives me yet another reason to visit my family in KC! I will take the 3 1/2 hour drive over the 10 hour drive we previously had endure to get to the nearest Ikea.

The new store is set to open this week in Merriam, KS (although it keeps getting pushed back) just a few blocks from our old house. Really, our moving away is probably for the best…at least as far as my bank account is concerned. I will probably avoid it for a couple of months until some of the newness wears off. That place is going to be a zoo for a loooong time. Luckily we took a trip to Minneapolis this weekend for a friend’s wedding and I was able to pop into the Ikea there to get my fix to tide me over for a while.

Well…I thought it would tide me over, but in reality, I was just making a mental list of things I want to get later when the store near us opens. If our car wasn’t already full of luggage, I probably would’ve come home with a few more things.  Here are a few things I picked up on our trip and few things I’m patiently waiting to get. ikea homeIkea PS 2014 storage combination, LACK side table, PREMIÄR wall map, BESTÅ BURS console, RANARP work lamp, IKEA PS cabinet, VILMAR chair

I’m loving the Ikea PS storage units, they come in many different configurations and I LOVE the natural/mint green combo. We picked up the LACK side table for Hollis to use as a play table. It’s the perfect height for her to stand and play with her toys. I’d like to add some stools or chairs for her later on so she can eat a snack or color at it. We are looking for tv consoles right now and I love these two options. The Ikea PS cabinet has the ability to lock the doors which would be great for keeping out curious babies. I’m also daydreaming about my someday office and I NEED that VILMAR chair and RANARP work lamp.

textilesNÄVVIVA and KNAPPSÄV cushions, Ikea PS 2014 rug, and LJUDA striped place mat.

My favorite part of Ikea is the textiles. I am a textile junkie and they have some really fun prints for super cheap so I can afford to switch my place mats, tablecloths, pillows, etc. often. I grabbed some pillows for Hollis’ new room (which is slowly coming along). I can’t wait to go back for bedding and maybe a new rug…or two.

ikea kidsEKORRE rocking moose, MATA 4-piece dinnerware set, SMASKA 3pc flatware, SKYLTA children’s market, DUKTIG play kitchen, LÅTSAS 11pc shopping basket, MULA 24pc building block set

Another thing I’m super excited about is the kid’s stuff! Our daughter is at the age where she is really getting into toys and I want to encourage her playing and learning. One week she is obsessed with dolls, the next it’s trains, it gets expensive keeping up with her phases. Ikea has a lot of cute, affordable toys that are also pleasing to my eyes as well as hers. I really like that they are not noisy and full of buttons, they are good for helping kids  use their imaginations. They also have a lot of great toy storage options to keep all the clutter at bay.