Forget Spring Cleaning – Winter Organizing 101

Winter has us cooped up inside for most days, though Wisconsin weather HAS been quite kind to us as of late, so we’ve been able to enjoy playing in the snow. Still with all the indoor time it is a prime opportunity to get organized!!

A visit from one of my dearest friends, who has know me since 5th grade, was exactly what I needed to get inspired and start organizing.  Here’s how she helped me attack at least one room – our living room:

  1. Dump out one bin or focus on one area at a time. We have a lot of wicker and cloth bins, so we just dumped out their contents to see what toys were where.
  2. Start sorting like items. By doing this, we identified “themes” of play-things. We planned out bins for cars / trains, pretend-play, games, books, technology / music, dolls, blocks and one miscellaneous.
  3. Ask yourself – does this item need to be in this room? We had this conversation about my daughter’s hair-things. They were stored in a bag in the living room. “Why are they in the living room?” my friend asked. “Because I often do her hair in the living room,” I explained. “Why can’t they go in the bathroom?” she inquired. I thought about this, and realized, oh yeah, they CAN go in the bathroom closet instead. Good call, my friend!  You should also ask yourself, “Should this item be kept, sold or donated?” Build a pile each for keep, sell, and donate.
  4. Decide what fits where. Once we took some items out of the room to be placed elsewhere in our house, we started filling up my existing bins.  Before doing so, my friend (who is also a neat-freak) vacuumed out the cloth bins. We filled up bins and she found spots to place them that I didn’t think of before.  It was genius!
  5. Find “homes” for the remaining items. This meant I had a list of bins and plastic tubs to buy. I searched my own home first, so I could make the most of what I already had. Just shifting toys around a bit helped me find similar patterned cloth bins.
  6. Buy said bins / organizers & finalize the room.  It’s amazing what you can fit into bins that are more accessible for kids than a toy’s original packaging! Now I am ready to rotate my kids’ toys more often to keep them entertained this winter. Already, I feel like everything has its place, and we’re picking up before getting something new out.  Clean, organized house = one happy mama!

Here is my new & improved tv stand converted into toy storage:

organized toy storage

With a little help from my friend – the final result of my organization!

At my going rate, I hope to keep on organizing this winter, so come springtime I can be outside with my family!

How do you keep your home organized? Let me know if you have any tips that work well for you!

It’s Raining Poop

This is the post that I have had waiting in the wings for some time, as I didn’t feel right about sharing it immediately after it happened, which was only a few days before my Grandpa passed away. After some time to grieve and honor his memory, I’m ready to share a real life story that I hope NO ONE ELSE has to experience…..ever.

“It’s raining poop in our house,” I said laughing, which then led to crying.

“What?!” Daddy O. replied.

“It is raining poop into our basement.  The toilet is plugged up and poop water is everywhere. Help me!  I can’t flipping believe this!”

I had never EVER dreamed of saying such words much less experiencing them firsthand.

Let me rewind a bit from the unfortunate phone conversation above.  I have been hesitant to blog about the trials and tribulations of potty training to spare my daughter the embarrassment later in life. After the legendary “raining poop” incident, I think I might as well blog about it, as this story will not be lived down. Heck, it may even be broken out at her wedding…okay…maybe just when we meet some future significant other.  In any case, this incident is forever ingrained in my mind.

I know I’m not alone in the messy accident clean-up. Melissa’s latest square log discovery at Motherhood is an Art reminds us of the creativity and humor that goes into parenting. Poop messes are a mommy rite of passage.  I certainly feel like I deserve a big trophy in the form of a bottle (or case) of wine for surviving this feat!!

Okay, now the back story – big sister has had underwear for about one month and has her #1’s down.  We’re talking minimal accidents and only two bed wetting incidents in one month.  YAY!! #2’s have been more of a challenge. Daddy O. and I have given special “poopy presents” (in addition to potty treats) for successful poo’s on the potty. We’ve read books to big sister about going potty. We’ve talked about staying fresh and dry and have celebrated each of the pees and poo’s on the potty.  Even my son raises his arms up and says, “Yay” when big sister uses the potty.  We’ve even hammed it up when we go potty or poop, talking about how good it feels after using the potty.

Pooping is still a struggle!

I’ve dealt with poop running down legs, poopy diapers, poopy undies, poop on white carpeting in the bedroom, on the stairs, on the tile floor, on the hardwood floors, on the bath mat, poop in the mall where you can NEVER easily find a bathroom without going up an elevator and through a maze of racks.  Poop. Poop. Poop, but only today did I discover raining poop.  Sigh…I’m POOPED just thinking about it.

Today we had some accidents – just not getting to the potty on time to poop.  Big sister helps clean up herself and her undies, so when she was doing so in the bathroom, I let her go about her clean up, planning on checking on her in a bit.  I heard “Mommy,” so I went in to see what was going on.

I saw a toilet filled to the brim with brown murky water.  Oh no…I tried to carefully plunge it without any success. As I was leaving to get buckets to start “bailing,” my daughter pushed the flush lever.  A long, slow motion NOOOOOO came from my mouth as the brown river spilled over the brim, across the floor, into the bathroom closet, onto the hardwood floor hallway and a bit into the dining room. Oh shit!

I frantically ran downstairs for rags and buckets when I noticed it was raining poop in our basement storage area (the base of the bathroom closet is hardwood). AHHH…how to keep two kids out of feces infested water and clean this shit up??!

I needed reinforcements.

English: Toilet paper, orientation "over&...

We now have a two-square rule at our house. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is where my initial phone conversation with Daddy O. comes in.

Thankfully Daddy O. came to the rescue – calm and levelheaded to help me clean and disinfect while our kiddos were preoccupied with lunch.  (When in doubt, wash your hands – and feet in my case – and put food in front of your kids to keep them busy.) Before I knew it, little brother needed a nap and we put on Netflix for big sister.

Three hours later all was clean upstairs and downstairs – just in time for little brother to wake up from his nap and put big sister down for her own nap.

Daddy O. and I split a delicious bottle of Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley, reminding us of a pre-marriage, pre-kid trip to San Francisco and wine country. It’s amazing to think of all the good times and CRAP we have been through in eleven years of being together!  We will never forget the raining poop, and hope it will NEVER occur again in our home.

Let’s raise glass to the #1’s and #2’s in a non-overflowing potty for a long time to come.


Almost two weeks have passed since the raining poop, and I am pleased to report that toilets have NOT overflowed and #2’s have been going much better. We’ve instituted a two-square toilet paper limit as well. Do you have a horror story like this one? Commiserate with me!