Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Five Little Monkeys

A friendly stranger took this picture with my cell phone. My aunt edited the color, and I just love how this picture turned out! Isn't technology amazing? Anyway, this tree is at the Morgan Creek Arboretum in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. It just so happens that Gary and I have a picture of the two of us in/by this tree from back when it was just the two of us! Aw...

I'm back eating grain-free, gluten-free. I've been really good about it for about a week and feel better already. I have to stick with it this time! Now I'm eliminating sugar as well, except for small amounts of maple syrup and honey. I have a serious sugar addiction, and no sugar means no coffee either. It's so hard! I'm on day two and it's a struggle. Harder than avoiding grains/gluten!

Gary's been home more this summer. We've fallen into a pattern of eating breakfast between 8-9, lunch around 1 and supper at 6. We've been trying to make suppers lighter, so tonight I made this. It's a peach-blueberry crisp and we topped it with blueberry-banana "ice cream". It was good but not very sweet, just so you know.

I've always wanted to be one of those cool moms who has special questions and topics to engage our kids in the conversation in positive ways at meal times. Not that they have any trouble talking, and we let them chatter for the most part. But tonight Jonathan asked me a question I thought was interesting, and I made sure to ask the other members of our family too. Here's a look at our conversation.

"Mommy, what's your favorite sound in the whole world?" Jonathan asked me.

"The sound of my little boys laughing. Especially when Daddy laughs too because he's tickling you."

"You know what my favorite sound is? The sound of airplanes and helicopters," and Jonathan motioned with his arms and made the appropriate sounds that only little boys know how to make.

"And me! You know what my favortist sound is? Awpwanes and hewicoptoes, no juss hewicoptoes," Jared piped up.

"What about you, Josiah?" I asked

"Ah-pane" he answered immediately.

"And you, Daddy?"

"My boys laughing."

We just adore our three little monkeys!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Moodboard Collections: Around the Home

So here's a secret: by 'around the home' I mean 'leftovers'. 'Miscellaneous'. Or I just have one moodboard for this area so it can't be a collection, so I'll cram them all together, thereby making a collection! Viola!


Here goes!

First, here are two entry ideas I created:

Next are two moodboards for an entire house or at least the main living areas.

Next is a mudroom/laundry space, followed by a bathroom.

 And now for some industrial-chic ideas, a fun patio and last but not least, an updated travel trailer!

Updated Travel Trailer

What space caught your eye? I love that spa bathroom, and I'd still like to renovate a trailer one day!

Until next time,

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Insta-Friday: Iowa Edition

We've had a fun week in Iowa! We stayed at a campground in a friend's trailer. The first few days were super hot and we have been so thankful for air conditioning!

While we've been here we've been able to visit friends, eat at a couple of our favorite places and play tourist in our old hometown.

Here's our week according to Instagram!

Divide and Conquer

Remember when I first showed you our guest room in our rental home in Ohio? Remember how we ended up changing it to be our 6-year-old's room? Remember how I said it is also where I store my craft supplies and it can easily accommodate guests? Yeah, it's time to see how all that works.

First up, let's review how this room fills the needs of the little dude who lives here. Jonathan sleeps here at night, plays quietly here at rest time, and changes his clothes in the morning and evening. That means he needs a bed,

a few toys and books,

places for his clean and dirty clothes,

and a smattering of things around the room to make it feel like it's HIS.

 Next, let's look at where I store my craft supplies.

Jonathan uses one drawer in the desk and I get the rest. I keep some scrap book supplies here like my cutters and pens. I will sometimes use the desk or the bed for a quick project, like hot-gluing a frame back together, or cutting down a paper to the right size. But if I were to really tackle a project, I would take my supplies to the dining room table.

I keep papers and stickers in the top half of the dresser and Jonathan uses the bottom half. One basket on top of the dresser has ribbons and things in it, while the small basket with the puppy is for our little boy's treasures he's always finding--rocks and feathers and such.

I keep the rest of the scrap book supplies as well as other miscellaneous crafty things in these boxes in the closet which leaves plenty of space for Jonathan's dress clothes to hang and for his dirty laundry bin on the floor.

Oh! I almost forgot, I keep wrapping paper in long, flat bins under the bed! I've done that for years and love it. When I need to wrap a present I usually pull out the needed bin (one for birthdays, one for Christmas) and either wrap the present on the floor or on the bed. Some day I'll have a cute wrapping station, but for now, this totally works. (Sorry no picture!)

Ok, so next is how this room would work as a guest room! We haven't needed it as such since Jonathan moved in, but we would only need to change a few things to make a guest feel comfortable here.

This picture is from before I moved the collage on the wall out to the hall. (You can see that here!) But it shows a well-made bed with different pillows that are only for guests.

There is room for hang-up clothes in the closet and the chair can be placed between the bed and dresser to act as a luggage rack. Of course there would be a stack of fresh towels for our guest and anything else they might need.

As to where a certain little boy would sleep, he is already looking forward to "camping" in his brothers' room!

What about you? Do you have a dedicated guest room that no one else uses? Do your guests share a room with a member of your family, or does someone move out for them? We're looking forward to hosting a guest or two in the near future!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Toy Story

In our family with three kids ages 2-6 means different interests and abilities. It could potentially mean tons and tons of toys too! It certainly seems that way, but we've found a few ways to organize and store toys that works for us.

1. Purge purge purge. I know, I'm the meanest mom ever, but if a toy is broken, if parts are lost, if it is junky or something the boys don't really play with, out it goes.

2. Picky picky picky. Again with the mean mom thing, but we are seriously picky with what we let our boys play with. I think every family has to decide what is "OK" for their kids to play with, but we've set our limits and we stick to 'em. For us that includes no movie or Disney or cartoon characters (my kids don't know who Spiderman is and I love it!), nothing animated (think a talking train or dinosaur or monkey), nothing violent/war-related (guns, tanks, swords, bombs, soldiers, GI Joe), and very little battery-operated (Wii, Leap Pad, robots, remote-control, etc.). Again, we have our reasons why or why not and every family sets their own limits.

4. Simplify simplify simplify. We packed up and moved this year. Things were in storage. Our boys grew a whole year and did just fine with less while things were in storage. So when mommy unpacked, lots of forgotten, little-used or much-abused toys were immediately donated instead of finding their way back into my boys' hearts. I chose to keep the small "regular" sized legos and not the larger ones; I kept plastic dinosaurs but not a zoo-full of fluffy stuffed animals my boys were quickly growing out of.

5. Display display display. One of my favorite ways to store toys is to display them. You saw the shelves in my oldest son's bedroom above. They include his legos, a set of emergency-response vehicles and his dinosaur herd which just migrated to this display shelf (built by Grandpa) that hangs above his bed. Below is the display/storage shelf in the room my middle and youngest son share. I keep tractors and the barn there, a mommy and baby monkey they're particularly fond of, and a red fireman hat that matches their room. Priorities!

6. Store store store. At the end of our hall is a closet. I chose to use the top half to store toys. That limits how many toys are out and helps toys stay "special" for when you need them to really occupy the interest of a couple little kids! 

7. Limit limit limit. This goes hand-in-hand with #6. These toys are something that the boys need to ask for because they can't reach them. Usually it's when I'm making breakfast or when I need the boys to be occupied. I give them one kind of toy--matchbox cars or their wooden train set--and that's what they all play with. Usually because the toy is "new", they're content to play together nicely for at least a few minutes. These are also the toys my older two boys can play with at rest time. They each pick a set and take it to the room they rest in and play with only that set of toys for an hour. There are a few other special toys not kept here--a set of marbles, a learning/computer game, and Jonathan's legos that he prefers to play with alone--which are allowed at rest time too.

8. Contain contain contain! These bins are awesome, and so are the shelves in each boy's room. Everything has a place and the boys know where things go. They're awesome at putting things away--which is something they've had to do (with help) since they could hold a toy. There are a couple more places in the living room for toys like blocks or their books.

9. OUT OUT OUT! It's easy to say in the summer, but the boys play outside most of the day. They have bikes and balls and trucks to play with, sprinklers on super-hot days and a plethora of natural resources--sticks, berries, walnuts, ants, rocks, puddles... They love it outside and I love getting chores done a little faster. We love outside play-dates too!

10. Busy busy busy. Our kids are part of our family, obviously. We tell them we're a team and when they help, either by being obedient or by playing nicely or by doing chores, they're helping their family team. We involve them, whether it's making breakfast, doing yard work, starting the laundry, making beds, clearing the table or going out somewhere with the family.  

So there you go, a few thoughts and ideas on toys, toy storage and getting away from toys! What about you, are toys taking over your life? How do you organize them? Any tips for keeping boys occupied in the winter?


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