Thursday, July 28, 2011

Organizing Toys

When we only had one toddler, organizing his toys was no big deal.  They all fit into one basket and it took all of one minute to pick up and put away.

Now we've added 4 kids, and when you multiply it by 7 years of birthdays and Christmases, that's a lot of toys!

Over the years, I feel like I have tried everything to keep the toys under control.  But no matter how well I think I have organized them, if it is too complicated for the kids to put away, it won't stay organized for long.

First we tried a toy box.  Toy boxes are theory.  You just toss everything in and close the lid.  But then my kids couldn't find the toys they were looking for and would pull out everything.  Toys would get lost or broken at the bottom of the box.

When our oldest graduated to things like Legos, Matchbox cars, and trains, I knew I had to find a way to keep them separated.  We bought one of those bin systems to replace the toy box. 

I thought I had found the answer.  I put it together and sorted everything into the colorful bins.  I even labeled them for the kids with little pictures of what should go in each one.

It didn't stay that way.  Rarely did the kids ever play with just one type of toy at a time, so everything would get thrown together, and it was too frustrating for them to sort it all out and put away.

Then they discovered that if they dumped out everything, they could play with the bins.   They had them lined up down the hall and would sit in them and pretend they were riding on a train.  That was cute until I saw the mess they made.

Before we moved, I went on a decluttering rampage.  If we didn't love it, use it, or need was gone.  I think I got rid of half of their toys, and they didn't really notice.

A few weeks before our move, I packed up the kids' rooms.  I let them pick out a few toys and the rest were packed up in boxes and hidden out of sight.

Their rooms were virtually empty, but they played so well with the few things they had.  My house was clean and we were no longer overwhelmed with toys.  It was a beautiful thing.

I loved keeping things out of sight so we installed a second shelf in their closets.  All those bins went on the shelves.  The kids can ask for one and I get it down for them, and now they no longer dump them all over the floor.

Things stay organized and they are much more excited to play with something that is not on their floor everyday.  It's like it's brand new all over again.

I do keep a small hamper in the little boys' room to hold a few larger toys, but that's easy enough to clean up.

The older kids' closets hold puzzles, games, playdoh, Legos and K'nex, and science and craft kits. 
 I love that I can close the closet doors, keep out little hands, and hide it all.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Since I don't own a microwave...

I thought you might like to see what I did with that space over my stove top.

I hung a small chalkboard so I could write inspiring quotes and Bible verses.  I love having sweet words of wisdom on my walls and it's the perfect place to read throughout the day.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Trash and Treasure

"I have a surprise for you!", my husband excitedly told me over the phone.  While he was driving home, I was making a million guesses as to what it could be.

Then he walked through the door with this:

This was not exactly what I was expecting.

"Where did you trash pick it?"
"I didn't, I passed by a yard sale."
"You paid money for this?!"
"Yeah, it was only $12!"

I'm thinking we have very different ideas of what a good deal is.
But, the more I looked at it the more potential I saw.

It's a handmade trunk that some little boy had used as a toy box and covered in his sticker collection.

It took me over an hour just to get the top clean and I spent the rest of the day scrapping off stickers when I had a spare moment.

It was really sweet of my husband to think of me.  I've been looking for a bench or trunk to keep in our mudroom.  It's the perfect place to sit and take off your shoes and then toss them into, out of sight.

I wonder how many people walked by it, thinking it was just a piece of junk.

The owner himself thought it wasn't worth his time.

How many times have I been just as judgemental with things, or worse, with other people.
One glance at the imperfections and I walk away, never seeing the treasure that is hiding inside.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Organizing the Spice Cabinet

I'm short.  Not really short, but short enough that I can't see into my cabinets without a step stool.  It's made organizing and putting things away very frustrating.  I can't see and I can't reach and things are always falling down on my head. 

Thankfully, God gave me a husband that is a foot taller than me.  But, when he's not here, I am on my own so I have had to find ways to make it work for me.

One thing that has really made my life easier in the kitchen, is how I organize my spices.  I used to have to blindly dig through the cabinet, picking up each bottle until I found the one I needed.  Bottles were getting knocked over and falling out and it was so annoying.

So, I found a small bin that fits in my cabinet.  I placed all my spice bottles in it and labeled the lids with small stickers.  Now when I need one, I just grab the whole bin down to my level, and can easily find the one I want.  Super simple, but it changed my life.

I saved the bottom shelf for salt and pepper and other things I use all the time.  The top shelf is for things I use the least, like cake decorations and cupcake liners.

Maybe one day I will buy prettier bins and replace my spices with matching glass bottles...that would be organizing bliss...but for now, I used what I had and that works for me.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

10 Years Ago...

This past week I celebrated my 29th birthday.  There is something about birthdays that always makes me feel nostalgic.  As my 20's are coming to an end I've been thinking about the last decade and how much my life has much I have changed.

10 years ago I was just 19.  I was a waitress at a little coffee shop, and I didn't even drink coffee.  I thought I was an adult, but now I know that I really had no idea what that meant.

I had so much freedom.  I would play my guitar every day.  I had time to paint and journal and be creative.  I could come and go as I pleased.

But, I also remember that time feeling very lost.  I was in a place of waiting.  I had all these dreams of "someday...", but I don't think I knew what I had right in front of me. 

Then one day my high school sweetheart took me to our special place.  There in that beautiful, white pine forest he asked me to be his wife.  Of course I said yes, and from that moment my life changed.  It was no longer about me, but about us.

The next 6 months were a whirlwind of wedding plans and excitement.  We had always planned on getting married young, and I have never regretted that decision, but I wonder if I really understood what I had at 19.

I don't miss those days.  I know I am where I meant to be now, and I can't imagine my life any other way.  But if I could go back and speak to the me at 19, there is so much I could say.

I wasn't prepared to be a wife.  I thought I was, I was in love, how hard could it be?

But I guess it's all part of the journey.  I wouldn't have listened then, I needed to learn things for myself.

I am so thankful that God took hold of my heart and changed me from the inside.  I'm sure in 10 years I will look back on this 29 year old and have so much more to say.

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Gift of Help

We love our larger-than-average family, but not everyone I come across in life is supportive.  It does hurt to get stared at and hear rude comments from strangers.  It is even more discouraging when the people close to me just don't understand the choices I make and can't bring themselves to just be happy for me.

So I've become defensive.  I've felt like I've had to prove something.  Prove that I can handle all of my children by myself.

I have struggled while walking 4 small children across a church parking lot with a baby on my hip, a huge diaper bag over my shoulder, and my guitar case in my hand.  I have done grocery shopping and doctor's appointments with all of them in tow....which have ended in tears (mine, not the kids).

And then a sweet soul will see my distress and ask, "Can I help you?"

"No thanks, I'm fine. I've got it."

So they walk away quietly and I trudge on.

The truth's hard.  I'm exhausted.  I can't do it all on my own, all the time.  But my pride won't let me ask for help.

I have thought about the times when I have been able to help someone.  It brings us joy when we are serving others.  And when I refuse some one's help, I am letting my pride rob someone of joy.

I still struggle with asking for help, but I no longer look at their offers as pity.  I am trying to let go of my pride and let others help me.  It doesn't make me less of a mother.  It is softening my heart and giving an opportunity for someone to be blessed through the gift of help.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...