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!

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Hello Kitty Party and Many Superheros!

We had a Hello Kitty Birthday Party to celebrate my daughter turning FOUR!  I knew to expect that much, having created and decorated a lot of the festivities in advance.  What I did NOT expect was to have MANY Superheros on hand the day of the party.

So how do superheros and Hello Kitty go together, you may ask?  Easy. Superheros magically appear when the main event planner, chef, and all around head-honcho (aka Mom) gets the stomach flu the morning of the party. Immediately after getting up, to be exact, I realized I could not make it to the kitchen to feed our begging Sumo Kitty breakfast and detoured to the bathroom.  Ugh. This was the WORST that I thought possible for the day of a party.

SURPRISE! Enter superhero Daddy O. to save the day.  He placed me in quarantine and did what all superheros do when they face a daunting task, call for back-up!  Super aunts and grandparents answered the call, and helped save the day! Daddy O. conquered two new recipes – Baked Ziti IV (All Recipes.com) and marshmallow cream frosting. According to all party goers, the ziti was awesome.  When my stomach was up to it, I also enjoyed some leftovers a few days later.  My sister suggested making two smaller pans, so you can freeze some for another meal, a great idea for the next time we make it.  The frosting SOUNDED good and looked so tasty (thanks Pinterest), but didn’t quite live up to expectations. It was just okay.  I’m so glad we had some store-bought frosting on hand, since Daddy O. had to frost cupcakes & a small cake that morning as well!  My hero!

While I laid in bed, I was forced to let go and be “saved” by the wonderful helpers to make my daughter’s party come together.  Even though things didn’t go according to my initial plan, it all worked out beautifully.  I couldn’t have been happier (though it pained me to be apart from my kiddos and family for most of the party).  I did make an appearance for opening presents and singing “Happy Birthday.”  Big sister LOVED it all – as you can see in her glowing eyes and oh-so-wide smile!

Here are a few shots of our day:

Hello Kitty Birthday Party for my big 4 year old girl

Hello Kitty Birthday Party for my big 4 year old girl

A few notes on the decor – Hello Kitty stuff is EVERYWHERE!  I found so much at Target (the “planter” is really a Trick-or-Treat bag), tablecloth, napkins, etc.  If you search Google Images or Pinterest for Hello Kitty Party, you’ll see so many ideas!  I had drawn the pin-the-bow on Hello Kitty picture after I realized there are many free printables online.  The tissue paper flowers were very easy to make, though I think I’ll follow these instructions next time. The adorable shirt was made (and personalized under the design) by an extremely talented family member. She also owns her own business, though I’ll save promoting it for another blog post!

All in all my daughter’s 4th birthday was quite lovely…until later that night, right after swimming lessons, when the birthday girl threw-up in the locker room and on her brother. Oh joy! Even Super Hero Daddy O. was affected by the same bug two days after the party.

Note to future self – when anyone in your house pukes the day of the party, just call it off, as more puking is bound to follow! Ugh.

Have you been sick the day of your kid’s birthday party?  How did you make it work?

 

So Excited!

I’ve been excited lately, planning and prepping for my daughter’s fourth birthday party.  And thanks to Zumba class yesterday, I have some songs in my head.  Sing it Tina.

Another happy song –

One more song that we all had fun dancing to at Zumba (that is a little more current).

As you may have noticed from the songs above, I’ve been really happy, high energy, and excited.  I celebrated a birthday (not one of any major milestone), and LOVED that Daddy O. took a half day to prepare one of our favorite meals – lemon / ginger shrimp & asparagus pasta.  The kids and him made peanut butter frosting together with way too much of their saliva in it to share the final peanut butter frosted brownies with anyone else (and I’m okay with NOT sharing those – yum).  Most of all, I loved seeing my kids excitement for my birthday: seeing their little faces glow as they sang happy birthday, gave me big hugs and kisses, and even when my daughter tried guessing my age (her first guess was 50….luckily I was not phased by this, as she can really only count to 20).

Having had such a wonderful birthday myself, when I was really concentrating on planning for my daughter’s birthday all month long, I am very excited to just wrap up the final details, do some cooking and baking, and celebrate how far my daughter has come in four years with our family.

As I mentioned in a previous post called Separation Celebration, it is so rewarding to see and experience your child coming into his or her own.

My firstborn is growing up for sure!

She is loving preschool, no longer growls at strangers (though we’re still working on exchanging some pleasantries), is a fish in her swimming class, and has taken to singing and enjoying our dance parties.  I couldn’t be prouder, and am excited to see her grow and learn more to prepare for 4K next fall.

This parenting gig DOES get easier, and I’ve been so happy to move beyond some of the potty training horror stories, and other toddler drama, and simply have fun with my kids.  Then I remember that my son is only two, so I’ll have more toddler drama in store just when I least expect it.

Tonight on a date night (reason to be happy #1001), I’ll raise a glass with Daddy O. to a fun party this weekend and to more joys of parenting ahead.  Cheers & Happy Friday!

 

Savoring Fall Fun

We’ve been busy lately, squeezing in all the outdoor fun we can to enjoy this gorgeous Wisconsin season.  Last week temperatures were mild – upper 60’s to even some 70’s, so we had the perfect day to visit a petting farm and their pumpkin patch.

After visiting all of the animals (and petting some) and going on a tractor ride, we walked and ran through the cornfield to the pumpkin patch to find the perfect pumpkins.  My kids picked the small ones very quickly and were ready to move on to have our picnic lunch.  Days like this are fleeting in fall, so I’m glad we shared it with my sister’s family and our parents to create fun family traditions.

Fall Fun collage

What are your favorite fall traditions?  I LOVE my husband’s pumpkin bars that he lovingly makes with a baking pumpkin instead of the canned stuff.  Hope everyone is enjoying October!

For some of the favorite things about fall, check out The Girls Who Blogs post.

Wise Words from a Super Mom

In my 100th blog post, I had mentioned that parenting seems to be getting easier.  This is QUITE oversimplified, as children can be a both joy and challenge regardless of their age.

A better way of putting it came from a dear friend, and super mom, who started her own parenting journey years ahead of me and made it all look SO EASY!  She had her first child during her second year of law school while her husband was also in grad school and her sister an undergrad all at the same school.  Some may say it was crazy, but like any mom and family, they made it work with rotating childcare schedules and a whole lot of love and hard work.

Truth is: There’s no road map for parenting – or anything in life for that matter! You have to live your life and go with what works for your own unique situation.

Okay, on to those wise words:

“As your children grow, they become less physically demanding, and more psychologically demanding.”

THIS is the best way to describe parenting! With my kids approaching two and four, I’m happy to only change diapers for one (not two like I did earlier), only help one get dressed, and just provide more direction for my older daughter. Sure there are still time outs and standard discipline, but I’m more challenged by the questions I’m being asked by 3.75 year old.  Things like:

Big sister: Why is that man not wearing a shirt?

Me: Well, sweetie, it’s really hot out today, and sometimes men choose not to wear shirts to stay cool.

 

Big sister: That boy isn’t wearing a helmet on his bike.

Me: Yeah, sometimes people don’t make good / safe choices. I’m really glad you wear your helmet.

 

Big sister (after hearing no): I don’t like you anymore.

Me: That’s not very nice to say. That makes me sad.

Big sister (later): Sorry mom.

Whew! These questions can be exhausting! She is also yelling at her younger brother when he does basic two year old things: throwing food, not listening, screaming, etc.  I remind her that she was that way when she was younger, and we have to teach him how to behave.

Do you agree with this revised parenting statement? Can you relate to these questions?  Any advice on other responses?  Have a great day all!