Random Things That Made me Smile

After this post on Wednesday, I needed to cheer myself up. Here are two things that did the trick:

The Father of the Groom couldn’t attend his son’s wedding due to an illness, so his daughter photoshopped him into some key pictures.
During this season of Republican primaries, a Jon Stewart slow clap gif is sure to come in handy. (Check out the link to see Newsweek’s Tumblr page complete with a Rick Santorum Pinterest Board.)

Raising Organized Kids

On a chilly fall afternoon, Claire and I walked into the house. She had her coat; I had my coat and purse. As she took off her coat, I asked if she could hand it to me.

“Nooo,” she said in the drawn out whining way that’s mostly cute but a little annoying.

Then she did what I thought was the most amazing thing. She walked to the coat tree and tried to hang up her coat. I was equally amazed and proud.

If I had a child-sized coat tree,
I wouldn’t have this problem.
Coat tree found here.

That event got me thinking about how to raise an organized kid. Obviously, modeling good behavior is a start, but it isn’t enough to build a strong foundation.

  • Making it easier to be organized is a good start. Claire knows she’s supposed to hang up her coat, but without a hook low enough, she can’t do it.
  • Making rules regarding toys will limit that big mess. Limit how many toys your kids have and clean them out routinely. Only allow them to play with one thing at a time and teach them to put it away before moving on to another toy.
  • Establish a good daily routine. Good sleep and a full belly will help your little one remember what to do. 
  • Have your kids do routine chores that can teach them why it’s good to be organized. They might also be less likely to make a mess if they know they’ll have to clean it up. 
  • Get kids involved with the process of organizing and organize the things they use in their own way. 

Claire’s continuing to learn how to clean up and keep things organized. She has a lot to learn, but we’ll work on it together.

Do you have any tips for raising organized kids?

On Wednesday I’ll post some organizers kids will love to use.  

Keep it Hidden

In this post I talked about how to prepare to not let toys take over your home. Concealed storage is an ideal way to make it seem like your kids’ toys haven’t overrun the house. It’s an easy trick that will work even if you have an animal cracker zoo under the couch.

Here you go:

DIY Storage Ottoman from Soul Style
Large ottomans provide so much function and style to a room. They can be used to prop up your feet, store toys or blankets and serve food in a tray. 
 Small & Colorful Storage Ottomans from Design*Sponge
Not only is this nursery cute and colorful, but with the help of the small storage ottomans, it’s also very calm. 
Great Accent Ottomans Under a Console from House of Turquoise
I love this setup for multiple reasons: 1) the ottomans provide storage and extra seating, 2) it’s out of the way  and 3) it allows parents of young kids to display items that are out of reach! I also love this color combination. It’s so vibrant!
an Ikea Expedit as Window Seat from Ikea Hackers
This Ikea hack (turning an Expedit on its side) is a great use of space. It also, of course, provides great storage underneath with the woven baskets. 
Ikea Expedit with Dresser Drawers from Cape 27
This Expedit uses two dresser double drawers and two dresser single drawers to provide storage as a dresser/changing table. This would be great in the living room to hide away toys and display some pretty, child-friendly pieces. 
Ikea Billy Bookcase with Cabinet Doors from Ikea
Last but not least are the Ikea Billy Bookcases with cabinet doors. A few of these would look great as a built in with decorative pieces and books on top and kids’ toys on the bottom. 
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it provides several options (a little heavy on the ottomans I know). Do you have any other ways to conceal toys in general purpose living spaces?

The Back Story on my Unorganized Home

I don’t have an impressive story about why my home has never been organized. As stories go, it’s rather boring, but, I suppose, it shows what happens when you just let things go.

In February of 2008 Nick and I moved into our house. At the time the basement was unfinished; the house had three bedrooms, two bathrooms and about 1400 finished square feet. The previous house was about 900 square feet with three bedrooms and one bathroom, but it also had some extra storage out back. A small storage shed and about half of a one and a half car garage were packed full of Nick’s things.

Nick accepted an offer on the house in mid-January with closing at the end of February. We had to really speed up our home search, so we wouldn’t be homeless come the end of February. We spent so much of our free time searching for a new house, that we had limited time to pack up the house and get rid of some things.

When we moved we rented the largest truck we could get from the local Budget office. We packed that full; then took several trips with our cars and a borrowed pickup. Nick had no idea how much stuff he had until we moved, but he wasn’t in too much of a hurry to get rid of anything.

We unpacked once we were in the house, but we didn’t really organize things. In fact, it took over a year for Nick to go through all of his things. Then I looked at what we had left and vaguely thought I should do something with it, so I shoved it in a closet and there it sat until recently.

Like I wrote, it’s a pretty boring story, but it explains how we ended up with an unorganized house full of stuff we don’t need and don’t use.

Do you have an impressive story about why your home is organized or unorganized?

Planning an Organized Wedding

Three years and one month ago I married the man of my dreams. In honor of this rather odd anniversary, here are some planners to help keep things together:

The Knot Ultimate Wedding Planner
from Amazon
The number one wedding website shares worksheets, checklists, etiquette calendars and answers to frequently asked questions. 
A Bride’s Book
from Amazon
This book is an organizer, journal and keepsake. Jot down your memories as you plan for your special day.

How to Prepare for a Stress-Free Holiday Celebration

On Monday I shared what I’ve learned are the most important parts of the holidays for me. After that revelation I knew it would be important to keep the stress level down in my home, so I came up with an action plan that will help.

Lists. I wrote lists of who to buy gifts for, what gifts to buy, what Christmas crafts I want to do and the materials I need for those projects. I then created a spreadsheet to check off my progress.

Christmas Cards. I’m going to mail my cards on December 1st, so I’ve added it to my planner. This means my cards will need to be designed and ordered by Monday. My address list should be up to date. If your list isn’t, you should quickly get that done.

Deep Cleaning & Organizing. I’m deep cleaning and organizing as much as possible this month. Come December, basic cleaning should be enough to keep the house together. The time I save not cleaning will be used to get gifts ready and relax.

Decorating. Christmas is my favorite holiday, and I love to decorate. However, this year I’m going to be a little more relaxed about decorating. Instead of putting tons of lights up on my house, we’re going to just wrap the porch railings. Inside I’ll take a similarly restrained approach. (I’ll also assess our need for the large amount of decorations I have.)

Next year I plan to use this post to remind myself to adequately prepare for another stress-free holiday. Also, throughout the year I’ll write down gift ideas as I think of them.

My strategy boils down to planning, preparing and making time for myself. Do you have a holiday plan of attack?

Embracing the Best of the Holidays

It seems that each holiday season is always more stressful than the previous year. I put too much pressure on myself to make it memorable and better. It wasn’t always like that. As a child it was so relaxing because there weren’t any expectations. I’ve been thinking a lot about how to have a stress-free holiday as an adult.

When I think about my ideal celebration, I imagine a Cleaverish celebration. Snow falls softly all day long and a fire crackles by an immaculately decorated tree as my family and friends laugh, listen to Christmas music and sip cider.

But in reality, despite growing up in South Dakota, I don’t specifically recall a Christmas with snow. It’s not that we never had snow, we did (although there were a few dry Christmases). Snow just wasn’t the most memorable part, and we didn’t even have a fireplace.

What I do remember is spending a snow-less Christmas in Arizona with my grandparents. (It was my Grandpa Jack’s last.) I remember my cousins, brothers and I sorting all of our presents under the tree. (The next day they were mixed together again.)

The perfect Christmas of my daydreams isn’t the one my memories are made of; it’s something much better. It’s memories of my family, and if I remember that, my holidays will be less stressful. It’s not about lowering my expectations. It’s about realizing what makes me happy, and stress isn’t one of those things.

On Wednesday I’ll have a more concrete post on how to prepare for the holidays.

October Accomplishments

October has been a busy month, but not so with the blog or organizing projects.

During this month:

  • I’ve had the opportunity to spend two nights and three days in the most expensive “hotel” I’ve ever been to–the hospital. The food sucked and the bed was lumpy.
  • On a much more exciting note, Nick and I celebrated our third anniversary on the Mayan Riviera at the same resort where we honeymooned.
  • Nick, Claire and I spend two weekends visiting my parents. Nick got to hunt, Claire got to play with Grandma and I got a little work done.
  • I’ve worked on (but not finished) several organizing projects around the house. Planning the space, searching for the right materials and finding the time to do the work is a little difficult.
  • I made a Christmas gift and project list. I’ll share some of that on Monday in a post about planning for the holidays.

This month has been stressful and expensive, so I plan to spend November being mindful of everything I’m thankful for. (That and doing a lot of organizing!)

The Well-Organized Family Room

On Monday I shared my dirty little secret, which wasn’t scandalous at all but something I’m a bit embarrassed about. The most commonly used room in the basement that Nick and I are anxiously waiting to use again is our family room. Because we’ll need to reorganize Claire’s toys when we move back downstairs, I’ve been researching organized family rooms on Pinterest. Here are my favorites:

Our family room already has a built-in entertainment center and bar that will really help us organize everything. Because the storage is built in and lined on one wall, this room looks so calm.
I love the built ins surrounding the fireplace. It really brings purpose to the fireplace and TV, while it provides storage and minimizes the impact of the TV. This is an ideal solution when a TV has to be above a fireplace, but based on the height of the fireplace, this isn’t an ideal place for the TV if one has options. It seems as if TV watchers would have kinks in their necks. The combination of open shelving and closed cabinets and drawers make the side functional and beautiful.
This built-in window seat would be the perfect addition to a family room that could use a bit more seating and storage and a lot more personality.
We don’t plan to add or upgrade our family room, but it’s always fun looking at inspiration for my dream family room. 

My Dirty Little Secret

…isn’t as bad as you might think. My dirty little secret is a bit mundane, but it’s still annoying to me. It’s our main floor guest bedroom.

After our basement began getting wet in May, we brought some things upstairs and moved others to dry spots in the basement. As the summer went along, I kept stuffing things in the room. It got to the point where I couldn’t walk into the room, so I spent a couple hours over the weekend cleaning it up. 
But it’ll be getting worse soon because we’re getting ready to put the basement back together. Rather than moving things back and forth, we’re going to move the small things upstairs. I’ll do my best to stack things and maintain a walkway, but it’s not going to be pretty.
After dealing with a wet basement the last two years, I have a little advice to share:
  1. After the flood, go through everything. Toss, donate or sell everything that isn’t a keeper. 
  2. Move the leftovers to a dry room. If you don’t have a dry spot, I recommend renting a storage unit, but keep in mind your time line and the cost. Also, if you can live without it for more than six months, do you really need it?
  3. As the work in your basement is underway, consider where you’ll put everything when it’s finished. Now is a good time to change the layout or use of the space. Research the furniture and organizing supplies you’ll need. If you have room, purchase small items, particularly decorative storage boxes and start reorganizing. It’ll make transitioning back to the damaged rooms much easier!

Have you had to deal with damage to a part of your home? Any advice on how to handle it?