Thursday, June 26, 2014

Organize those toys (be crazy like me)

I love organizing things. Some would say I'm a little obsessed. Back in my teaching days my sick drawer was organized by color...and socks were folded. Before you roll your eyes, just think about all those times you were running late and digging through your drawers looking for a pair of black socks and then you ended up wearing navy. Imagine pulling out a drawer filled with perfectly organized socks; where navy and black were on opposite ends to avoid confusion. Still rolling your eyes?  Yeah you probably are and that's okay. 

Having kids has brought challenges into my weird world of organization. At first it was okay because baby toys and gear is big and takes up half your house so you really don't have to do much other than avoid tripping over it and clean slobbers off it (ironically I just cleaned slobbers off my leg after typing the world 'slobbers'). 

Then the toys get smaller. And gather in large quantities. And heaven forbid all those small pieces get mixed together; how could anybody play with mixed up toys?!

My kids have way too many toys, I admit it. But they honestly play with everything. My daughter is 5 and is at the age where toys get small and come with even smaller pieces, and my son is 2 and likes to see how many pieces he can fit in his mouth before he gets caught. 

So here's some of my organizing strategies:

1. Plastic containers with lids. I use Sterlite brand that I purchase from Family Dollar. 

2. Canvas style storage bins. 

3.  Pretty, but durable, baskets. 

I use the plastic containers with lids for all of Morgan's small collections: Polly Pocket, Barbie shoes, Lalaloopsy minis, Disney Magic Clip dolls, Disney Palace Pets, and so forth. They are mostly stacked up in her room in random places and aren't adding anything pretty to the decor but it's better than tiny pieces all over the floor (have you ever stepped on a Barbie shoe?!) and better than throwing it all mixed together in whatever container. 

I also have larger plastic storage bins that fit under her bed that contain American Girl accessories, Barbies, and Barbie accessories. 

Canvas style storage bins can be used for larger toys collections: My Little Pony, medical kits, dress up items (crowns, purses, wigs). 

Shelves placed inside closets are great for more storage bins, boxes with puzzles, containers with collections that aren't used often (like the nature collection my mom insists my kids have...dead animals mostly). 

Crayons, markers, glue sticks, scissors, and all other art supplies are always on the table ready for my daughter to use and safe away from the toddler hands of my son. 

And since most of my son's toys are still bigger, I use storage baskets all over the place to throw his stuff in while he's not playing with it. 

And yes, my kids actually play with this stuff pretty much on a daily basis. And I am usually sorting and cleaning several times a day.  I do make them help me as much as they can but I noticed if I am constantly on my daughter about cleaning up her toys, she just won't play with them to avoid having to clean them up later.  She plays so creatively with all of her collections, I don't want her to avoid playing out of fear of having to cleanup. After all, they are only little for a short while. Someday I will miss all these little messes. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Kid Par-tays

You remember birthdays when we were kids?  Cake, usually made by our moms, Kool Aid, maybe some chips, sometimes some balloons, basic plates and napkins.  We ate cake, opened gifts, and played outside until everybody went home.

Simple and fun.


Have you been to a kid's birthday party lately?  Bounce houses, camel rides, buffets of sugary delights.  And don't forget the THEME.  The theme is extremely important.  It dictates your entire color scheme, activity scheme, and sometimes even food scheme. 

Go on Pinterest and search for any birthday party theme and your jaw will drop at the examples. 

Who are these moms?!  How do they have the time and money to pull off these parties?

After you get over the shock, you give yourself a new goal in life...

become THAT mom.

Why?  Well, because your overly spoiled child who has enough toys to stack to the moon and back will OBVIOUSLY appreciate a special birthday party right?  Let's get this straight; it's not for your kid.  It's for you.  It's a personal challenge to see if you can DO it.  Can you pull this off.  Obviously other moms can do it.  The proof is on Pinterest and Facebook.  Can YOU do it?

I have been to some amazing birthday parties and have been wowed every single time. 

Soooo you wanna see what I can do?  Huh huh huh??

For Jack's first birthday we went with a Superman theme.  He's our Superbaby after everything he went through in the NICU.  I wanted ORIGINAL Superman, not the 'man of steel' stuff that came out with the current movie.  His birthday is the first big one we've had at our house.  We usually do birthdays with friends and family in my hometown.  But we've lived here long enough that we have enough good friends to celebrate with now.  AND Jack has a summer birthday.  YAY! 

So I couldn't find any original Superman party supplies...I had to make them.  I bought red, yellow, and blue plates and napkins and such.  I made the decorations using cardboard and yarn.  I made his party hat.  My husband made red, yellow, and blue cupcakes.  I made the cupcake holder.  I made a tutu and hair bow for Morgan. We rented a bounce house.  Honestly, it was a blast planning and preparing and decorating.  Here are some pictures:

It was a lot of fun!  We had about 40 people over for a cookout.

Then it was Morgan's birthday and I decided to try to have a party for her at our house.  Out of all of the themes she could pick from (Frozen, Rapunzel, pink princess) she decided on Sheriff Callie's Wild West, a brand new show on Disney Jr.  Sigh.  I had to get creative.  I went with a brown/pink theme and obviously cowgirl.  I shopped around at party stores and online and pieced together a Sheriff Callie party for her.  Here are some pictures:

AAAAANNNND we had an ice cream sundae bar:

Go me right?!  I am absolutely addicted to making those flag streamers out of scrapbook paper by the way.

Jack turns 2 in 2 days.  I had big plans to do a Wreck It Ralph theme birthday for him....and then I realized I'm tired.  It's been a crazy couple of months around here.  We have no party, no presents, nothing planned for the kid.  


But ya know what?  He's 2.  He won't remember right?!  We will do something special for him, and we are planning a family party sometime in the next month 'back home' but I was really excited to decorate for a Wreck It Ralph party....

Dollhouse remodel

When I was in 3rd grade I got a wooden dollhouse for Christmas. I loved it. I remember sitting in the floor watching my mom install wallpaper in several of the rooms. The wallpaper came from leftovers from my grandma's kitchen and bathroom, my parent's bathroom, and a friend of the family's kitchen and dining room. It took several years to collect furniture to fill up each room and I remember where each piece came from. There was a store in a nearby city that sold only dollhouse items and my mom used to take me and I would drool over all of the miniature items. Whenever I visited my aunt and uncle in Washington, D.C., my aunt would take me to a dollhouse museum. I spent a good part of my childhood arranging furniture and dolls in that little house. Then I became a teenager and lost interest in my toys, so the dollhouse went into storage for many years. 

When my daughter turned 5 my mom got my dollhouse out of storage. There was a little wear and age to it but otherwise it was just as sturdy as ever. It needed a good remodel though. I sadly tore out the old wallpaper because it was damaged. I sanded down the walls and floors. My husband fixed some lose areas where nails were missing. 

I did some research online about dollhouse remodels and created a plan. 

I took Morgan to Lowe's and let her pick out several colors of small containers of sample paints. Then we went to Joann Fabric and picked up some scrap booking paper and mod podge. 

The house had never been painted. My mom and I never got around to it. It remained wood for all those years. 

I totally forgot to take before pictures but I found one:

I had a hard time getting all of the wallpaper out, so I used scrap booking paper to cover it. I cut it to fit and used mod podge to glue to the wall and painted over it with mod podge using a paint brush. I also used scrap book paper on the kitchen floor since there was glue leftover from a piece of linoleum. 

It was a huge job getting all of this done. 


Pardon the mess; the dollhouse gets played with daily!

For her 5th birthday we purchased some furniture to get her started on her collection. She also used random things from other toy collections (Calico Crotters, Little People, etc). 

I love standing in the hall listening to the elaborate stories she creates when she plays with the dollhouse. In 1987 when I woke up Christmas morning and found the dollhouse I never imagined I would still have it all these years later for my own daughter. 

Sometimes Mommyland is sentimental 😊