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My Kids Live Here

3 Jul

A few days ago I was perusing Pinterest, not really looking for anything in particular.  I started looking at the home decor pins and then, out of sheer curiosity, searched “kids rooms”.  I scrolled through the various pictures of themed bedrooms, incredible one-of-a-kind beds and rooms with things like swings, slides and rock walls (my kids would never sleep!)  I began to think about my kids bedrooms and my friends kids bedrooms.  How eclectic they were, even when they had a theme.  These catalog rooms as I like to call them, are unrealistic!  I cannot imagine giving my kids one theme, for instance.  “Oh you like cars?  Ok, we will have a car shaped bed that you will only use for a short time, car bedding and fancy curtains with car tiebacks.  Maybe we will paint a road on your floor too.  Oh and you can’t hang anything on your walls because I have meticulously placed car artwork and that is all that can be hung.  And don’t take out any toys.”

I know the majority of these rooms are staged by designers . .  . but they set unattainable goals for parents wishing to give there little cherubs their dream room.  A room that the kids will be so enamored with they will just sit on their perfectly made castle-shaped bed and stare at the walls, smiling for hours.   As parents, we want our kids to have everything.  We want them to be cozy and happy.  Maybe we, even if secretly, want to one-up that snooty mom from the PTA who brags about her kids and how they have beds shaped like tree houses or pizza or whatever.   Maybe we want to be that Pinterest mom or dad.  The one who blogs about there immaculate home and pins pictures of perfect rooms and fabulous DIYs that never go awry.

Maybe not.  I don’t have that dream of having the”perfect” home.  My home is perfect for my family.  It’s not fancy or designed to belong in a Better Homes and Gardens spread.  I know I’ve shared pictures in the past of the boys rooms when I’ve done projects in them, but I wanted to share my lived in real rooms.  I didn’t stage them for you, I didn’t take out all their toys before I snapped the pictures.  These aren’t fake rooms, these are real rooms that belong to real boys.  They did clean their rooms last night, so at least you don’t have to see Big A’s dirty laundry all over the floor or the entire contents of Little C’s books shelf scattered across the room because he was looking for a specific book.

First, here are the “catalog rooms” for comparison:

Where are the stuffed animals?  Blankets?  Anything?!

Where are the stuffed animals? Blankets? Anything?!

Notice the only objects in the room and on the walls fit the nautical theme

Notice the only objects in the room and on the walls fit the nautical theme

See what I mean?  kids don’t live in these rooms!  Not unless they are extremely OCD and never leave a single out of place ever.

Here are the boys lived in rooms:

It's a bedroom a kids can actually go in!

It’s a bedroom a kids can actually go in!

Notice the lack of a theme?  Well a few years ago it was loosely Star Wars.  About a year and a 1/2 ago I painted the Lego Ninajas for the wall.  For his birthday I painted the creeper from Minecraft. . .  so it’s a mishmash.

He’s got his own style, you know . . . that of a 9yr old boy!  He hangs stuff on the walls with tape, usually leaves his soccer uniform on the floor, stinky socks and all.  On the little wall shelves hang various medals from sports and school.  A few trophies on the ledge.   There are birthday balloons left over from his party a few weeks ago.  This is not a catalog room.   It’s my son’s room.

 

Look, stuff hanging on the walls!

Look, stuff hanging on the walls!

A cluttered mix of toys and things.  So, so many things in this room

A cluttered mix of toys and things. So, so many things in this room

Little C’s room went from baby to big boy.  He sleeps with just shy of a thousand stuffed animals, his “guys”, and way too many blankets!  His bookshelf is a cluttered mess!   His cubby is supposed to  have more of those nice colored buckets in it to hall all his toys, but the kids like to load them up with stuff and take it upstairs or into another room.

There is no theme in his room.  When we switched to big boy, I took Little C to the store and said “pick out what you like”.  He chose the reversible blue comforter, the green curtains, and he has bright orange sheets you can’t see.  The art on the walls I painted of all his favorite characters.  No theme.  Not catalog.  Just real.

STUFF!

STUFF!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, you want to see the BEST comparison?  Hehehe!  Playrooms.

Catalog playrooms are laughable.  There is no play in them!

Kids, sit on that sofa and don't move a muscle!

Kids, sit on that sofa and don’t move a muscle!

Stark, bare, no toys . . . I’m sure they are all hiding where nobody can see them.  But playrooms should have clutter!  They need kid-made art on the walls!

I'm sorry Timmy, you aren't allowed to play with those toys.

I’m sorry Timmy, you aren’t allowed to play with those toys.

Why do they show a playroom where the kids cannot reach the majority of the toys?

 

Ok, you ready for this?  THIS is our playroom:

The only thing up high are their piggy banks and my movies

The only thing up high are their piggy banks and my movies

There are Legos EVERYWHERE!  You know what is really funny?  They just cleaned this room 2 days ago!  I’m not crazy obsessive about this room.  The way I see it, this is the one room where the boys run the show completely.  Their bedrooms need to be cleanish because otherwise they can’t have sleepovers, I can’t vacuum and the dog can’t sleep with them.  The playroom, while I do make them clean it, is always cluttered and rarely spotless.  It’s not for show, it’s for play.

My kids art work graces all the walls in their playroom

My kids art work graces all the walls in their playroom

We do use cubbies, but we don't feel the need to hide our toys either.

We do use cubbies, but we don’t feel the need to hide our toys either.

What’s my point here?  My point is this: Don’t beat yourself up when you flip through magazines or Pinterest or even most blogs.  It’s all for show.  The rooms are staged, there is no living in them and there are definitely no kids!  When you want to redo a room or organize a room, just think what will work best for YOUR family?  Can my kids reach the highest shelf?  Is it so themed that they will lose interest in that character/show/movie etc in a few months?

Thanks for visiting my lived in home!

I’ve Been Busy!

22 Apr

Wheew, sorry folks!  I know I’ve been MIA, but I have a REALLY good reason!  We put our house up for sale and I have been spending 90% of my time cleaning, decluttering, sorting, donating . . . and the other 10% sleeping.

Selling your house is seriously a full time job!  Especially with 2 kids and 3 pets that make a lot of messes and clutter!  Putting your house on the market is so much more involved than just signing on with a realtor and sticking a sign in your yard.  You need to do your homework or you may as well not even list your house.  The weeks prior to our realtor coming over were spent comp shopping to decide on a competitive price, fixing things that needed fixing, and a massive purge and clean that made our house sparkle and shine!

Why did we purge and clean?  Well that’s a pretty simple question to answer.  You want your home to show off it’s bests assets, it’s size and functionality.  How can someone come in and decide if they want to live there, visualize their family living there, if you have nicknacs and pictures on ever wall and surface?  Any good realtor will tell you to take down all the personal affects and only leave out a few decorative touches.  You want to make it look like you don’t live there, like it’s staged.  And after going to a bunch of open houses, some of which were so cluttered I didn’t even know what room I was in, I think it’s safe to say that a tidy house will sell faster than a cluttered one.

We removed all of the personal photos from walls, shelves etc.  Over our mantle we hung a large mirror, and over our sofa we hung a nice piece of wrought iron artwork.  Speaking of artwork, you all know I love to paint . . . well I took down most of my paintings to show off the size of the rooms.  If there are too many things on the walls, they distract the eye.

In the boys rooms we put most of their stuff in storage, to showcase the rooms instead of the toys.  Same with the playroom, we put away a good chunk of the toys.  They still have plenty to play with, but it looks less busy.

Extra furniture was stored away as well, too much furniture makes a room look small.

So, those are a few of my tips for getting your home ready to sell!  I will keep you posted on the status of ours!

Beauty is in the Eye of the Flamingo

26 Mar

Handmade gifts are the best, right?  Don’t you love receiving a gift that someone you care about has painstakingly fabricated with their own two hands?  And it’s the thought that counts, even if you don’t totally adore the gift . . . right?

Muuwaaaahaaahaaa UNLESS the gift was made with pure malice and EVIL by your cunningly handy sister!  Muuwaaahaaaaahaaaa!  My friends, may I introduce to you . . .  My sister’s birthday present . . .

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A little back-story may be in order here.  My sister HATES pink flamingos.  She thinks they are the tackiest animal on the face of the earth.  So naturally, she despises those lovely plastic pink flamingos that grace the gardens and yards of home everywhere.  What’s worse than an ugly plastic flamingo?  A BEJEWELED plastic flamingo!

If you want to make one of your own, because well why the hell not, right?  All you need are an ugly plastic flamingo, 1500 crafts jewels, a LOT of hot glue, and a lot of patience.  This bad boy here took me about 6 hours to bejewel, and is the reason I no longer have finger prints.  And since I ended up with 2 of these flamingos, of course I HAD to make a 2nd one!  Any takers?  Hehehehe

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Road Trip!

21 Mar

When I was a kid road trips meant piling the family into the Suburban and driving for hours and often for days.  We didn’t have DVD players, tvs, MP3 players, hand held games . . .  I was probably 12 or 13 before I even had a Walkman!  So family trips meant my mom had to come up with some resourceful ways to keep the 3 of us quiet in the car because my dad had a hell of a hot temper!  One trip we rented a large RV, so we could move around and play board games and not be sitting practically on top of each other.  I assume that was the least stressful trip for my mom!

Today, even with MP3 players, DVD players and Nintendo DS systems it can be hard to keep kids occupied in the car on long trips.  A parent needs to arm themselves accordingly or risk wanting to strap their children to the hood like a hood ornament!

We’ve taken many road trips with the boys over the years.  It’s always me who has to hand out snacks, change movies and pick up trash they throw on the floor because Daddy is driving.  Until tomorrow.

The boys and I are talking a road trip without Daddy.  That’s right, I’m flying solo on this one.  Yikes.  But it’s not really that scarey, I mean I’ve taken the kids places many time by myself.  Just never for a 9-10 hour trip like we are doing tomorrow!

While a little nervous about the drive-mostly just being the one who is navigating-I must say I am well prepared due to my years as a child riding on long trips as well as my many MANY trips with my kids.  I know what works for us, and what has left me with a splitting migraine.

  • Stop as little as possible.  We stop for bathroom breaks, during which EVERYONE has to use the bathroom.  Otherwise 10 minutes after pulling away from the gas station you will hear “Mooooooom!  I have to peeeeeee!”
  • We pack our own food.  It’s cheaper, healthier, and you don’t waste travel time sitting in a restaurant, or trying to FIND one!  If we need to stretch or the kids are getting antsy, we stop at a rest stop and eat picnic style and let the kids run around.  But NOT if we are traveling in the dark!  Only during the day and only rest stops in a well let and busy area.
  • We don’t buy snacks when we stop for bathrooms and gas.  We have snacks packed, we don’t need to waste money on junk at the gas station!  Same goes for drinks.  We have a cooler with drinks.
  • I pack special items the kids don’t know about.  I buy a couple movies out of the $5 bin at Walmart, I get a new coloring book and new markers, maybe a little stuffed animal.  Last time we took a road trip I bought each kid a new Look and Find book and a travel size Etch-a-Sketch.  When they started getting cranky, out came the surprise to pull them back into happy land.  It’s never an expensive toy, just something little and fun that they can use in the car.

Here is how we packed:

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  • Sandwiches made ahead, but cheese separate so it doesn’t get mushy.
  • Cottage cheese and canned fruit in Take and Toss bowls with lids, spoons taped to the top. (I know you can buy fruit cups, but they are too full and the juice spills.  I scooped the fruit with a fork so I wouldn’t get much juice in the bowls.  Less mess)
  • String cheese individually packaged

In larger Tupperware containers (one for Mommy, on for the kids)

  • Frozen Gogurts- they will stay cold for hours
  • Granola bars
  • Cracker packs
  • snack size bags of peanuts and almonds
  • pre-peeled Clementine oranges in snack bags
  • apples
  • Crystal Light packs for mixing in bottled water
  • mini rice cakes for me
  • corn tortillas with turkey and cheese for me
  • a few packs of cookies and fruit snacks

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It’s a lot harder for me to travel since I cannot eat gluten.  Packing my own snacks and lunch food means I can eat.  There aren’t many gluten free options available at gas stations or fast food joints!  Packing our own snacks and lunches also means that I control what the kids have to choose from.  Fruit, water and individual milks are way better than sugary drinks and chicken nuggets!  A few little treats thrown in, but for the most part they will be eating healthy.

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For entertainment I have array of coloring books, puzzle and maze books, dry erase books, cameras, Look and Find books, Etch-a-Sketch, Little C’s VTech tablet and Big A’s DS.  They each have a little lap desk with pockets to hold their crayons and markers.  We have the dual headset DVD players and plenty of movies, as well as the secret new movies and 4 secret Beanie Babies that a friend gave me.  I think we are ready for our trip!  Wish us happy travels!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kids Art Frame

14 Mar

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASorry I’ve MIA, life caught up with me!  But don’t think I haven’t been busy crafting and DIY-ing . . . because I have!

My kids make all sorts of cute projects between school, the library craft time and with me at home.  We have a gallery in the hall that we hang their little works of art on.  We also hang them in windows and in their rooms.  But I like to be able to hang some of their masterpieces in the playroom as well.  I don’t want to do/buy artwork for the playroom, since it is their special room, I think they should be able to display their own artwork there!

We made these cute changeable art frames to hang in the playroom so the boys can hang whatever special works of art they want on their own.  These were totally FREE to make with simple supplies we already had lying around!

The back of the frame is actually from a storage cubby I bought and put in Little C’s room for toys.  They give you these thin plywood type backs to nail to the back of the cubby to keep toys from falling out.  Well, we decided not to use them so they were just sort of lying around the house.  I thought they would make great art frames!   If you don’t have these at your disposal, you could use any other piece of wood, cardboard, a dry erase board . . . whatever you want.

Little C chose craft pom poms to glue around the outer edge to create his frame.  Big A chose craft glass marbles.  I hot glued 2 clothespins to each frame for the boys to clip their art in.  I also wrote “Look What I Made” at the bottom.  Now the frames-which are works of art all on their own-hang proudly in the playroom for the boys to hang special projects.  They can easily change out their art as often as they want!

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Melted Bead Sun Catchers

4 Mar

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I had a terrible, throbbing headache for several days last week.  The kind that makes even a whisper seem like someone is using your head as a bongo drum.  The kind that makes it very difficult to be home with a rambunctious 3 year old all day.  I needed a quiet activity that would keep him busy and quiet long enough for my Advil to kick in.

Little C and I, thinking Spring and sun, made some cute little sun catchers using plastic craft beads and muffin tins.  Here’s how it’s done:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Do NOT grease the muffin tins.  Create designs in your muffin tins using the craft beads.  We had quite a few designs, as well as a few cups where Little C just packed in as many beads as he could.  You only want to cover the bottom of the tin with your designs.  The thicker you pack them in, the longer they will take to melt and cool.

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Bake the beads at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes, or until fully melted.  The beads stink a little as they are melting, but not nearly as bed as I thought they would.  I cracked a window even though it was pretty cold out, just to ventilate for a while.

When the beads are all melted, remove the muffin tins carefully from the oven and set them somewhere safe to cool.  Little C was anxious to take them out, but you have to let them fully cool and harden or you are going to get some nasty burns!

Once they are cooled and hard again, there are a number of ways to get them out of the tin.  You can place it upside down on a towel on a hard surface.  The towel just softens their fall so they do not break.  The tapOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA the tin until they pop out.  Or, you can use a butter knife and simply press down on the edge of on of the sun catchers until it pops out.

I drilled holes in each little disk using a very small drill bit in Handy Hubby’s power drill.  Then we strung them up with fishing line and hung them in the window!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThese would make really cute gifts, and maybe even a cool necklace!

I Haven’t Lost My Marbles

27 Feb

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I am sick of Winter!  I am getting cabin fever like you wouldn’t believe, and so are my boys!  Fortunately for me, while Big A is at school Little C and I have plenty of time to get messy!  Hey, kids are washable!

Today we decided to play with paint.  I pulled out an old cookie sheet and some marbles to do some fun marble painting.  Little C thought this was just about the coolest way to paint EVER!

I stuck a piece of paper on the cookie sheet and randomly dripped paint onto the paper.  Then Little C gently tipped the tray back and forth and side to side.  The marbles rolled through the paint and created some very colorful lines!  As the marbles rolled, they even made new colors, so this project was actually educational to a certain extent . . . although Little C is red green color blind, so he didn’t see the changes all the time.

After a few marbles paintings we decided to see what other patterns we could make.  Enter the monster trucks!  Little C rolled the trucks through paint and then rolled them on the paper, which made very interesting textural patterns.  The monster trucks will come clean with a little hot water, so we didn’t ruin and toys.  (pardon the mess behind him, I swear my kitchen island does not always look like that!

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We also took out a rolling pin and wrapped rubber bands around it and experimented with the patterns that would made.  The possibilities for painting go so far beyond just plain old paint and a brush!  Now we have some beautifully colorful new artwork to hang on our “Gallery Wall” as well as in the playroom.

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