Organizing Maintenance

I’ve been doing a bit of organizing lately.  (I know – shock! right?)   One truth about organizing that has been ringing true in my house lately is that you have to keep up with the maintenance.  The areas I’ve been working on are areas that have been organized several times before, but because life got in the way they have been…well…trashed.  :)

Our closet under the stairs that includes my paper organizing system became a disaster during December.  I had Christmas presents hiding there until Ellie discovered them.  They were quickly moved to Kenny’s office Santa’s workshop and the closet became a catch all for whatever I didn’t have time to deal with.

So I got things back under control.

*note to self: I still need to go through receipts and coupons.  

The girls’ drawers were starting to look like this again.

Plus with Christmas and Ellie’s birthday, the toy situation was getting out of control…again.

Remember last summer when I organized all the toys in these bins?

Well – the doll clothes and barbies were constantly pulled half way out of the closet and strung all over the floor.  It has been really bugging me the last few months.

So one morning while Ellie was at school and Kole was napping, I enlisted a certain “Fancy Nancy” and  tore the girls’ room apart re-arranging things in a more functional way.

I went through clothes and did the normal upkeep – moving Ellie’s too small things down to Addison and  bagging Addison’s too small things for my niece.  Got the closets looking like this again.

And the drawers looking like this again.  My girls actually do a pretty good job of keeping their clothes this way.  They are sectioned by skirts, pants, leggings, and socks.  Now each of my girls has one dresser drawer for clothes and the rest are for toys.  Toys are what they are getting into all day long so I wanted to move them to a spot that was easier to access and more accommodating.  That’s a nice way of saying THERE ARE TOO MANY TOYS IN THIS HOUSE AND THEY ARE DRIVING ME CRAZY!  Ahem…moving on.
The bottom drawer now holds all of the doll clothes.

When I decorated Kole’s nursery I fell in love with these bins for books and diapers so I bought a few extras in different colors.  I knew they would be fun to use to organize something at some point.

They are perfect for doll shoes and accessories.  I love the way they look in the drawer.  I also love that the dolls have their own plastic i pods!

Then I used the whole bottom dresser drawer for barbies, Liv dolls, Moxie girls, and fairies.  (If you have little girls I’m sure you know all about Liv and Moxie dolls!)  Of course I know when I organize that things won’t be kept this perfect.

Here is a picture of the dolls a week later.  I can live with this.  A specific place for them that is easy for the girls to get to and easy for clean-up.  *note to self: do NOT buy these girls one. more. doll.

One drawer is just for random dress up toys.  I got rid of A LOT of this stuff…while Fancy Nancy was busy attending to her dog Frenchy.  Again, I know it won’t look like this next week, but with a lot less in the drawer they’ll at least be able to find what they’re looking for. 

A fun little organizer from the Container Store.  We have to be so careful with all the little “stuff” that accompanies dolls now that Mr. Kole is putting any and everything in his mouth.  

The bins that used to hold doll clothes and barbies are now used for dress-ups, shoes, and barbie clothes.    Things that are played with but not as often.  
Another area I attacked…again…was the tub toys.  Above is the way they were organized in the beginning, but it was impossible for my girls to keep it that straight.

So my solution is to leave the lids off several bins.  Now it’s easy for them to grab a few toys before tub time and easy to put them back after.
Feeling much better about the minor changes that will make things easier to maintain.  This post made me happy.  The week ahead is off to a good start!  :)

American Girls

This poor magazine.  It has been leafed through and played with and dragged around for months.  I’ve stapled and taped it more times than I can count.  The cover finally just fell apart.  It is an American Girl Doll catalog and that was all Ellie wanted for her birthday this year.  I have purposely avoided the American Girl Dolls for as long as possible because I knew that with my two little princesses, once we started down that path there would be no going back!  But all of Ellie’s little friends have them and that was what she wanted for her birthday this year.  SO!  The weekend before her birthday we loaded our crew and headed to L.A.

The girls were beyond excited.  They went to sleep immediately the night before and woke up so giddy they could hardly stand it.  It was seriously like Christmas morning.  (Notice the magazine next to Ellie’s window.  It has accompanied us everywhere for the last few months.)
Kole was pumped too.  For what he didn’t know, but he could feel the excitement in the air!

“The Grove” in LA.  Quite a mall if I do say so myself.  Definitely a place to head on another day without the rest of my crew.  We finally made it to the American Girl Place and it was incredible.  A dream destination for any little girl.  It includes a doll hair salon, book store, photo studio, hospital, and several dining options for brunch, lunch, or afternoon tea with your doll.

We were a bit overwhelmed by it all so we got a personal shopper to assist us for the day.  I had to laugh at Kenny.  He knew exactly what he was in for with the cost of these dolls.  The night before we left he said, “Erin.  DO NOT go crazy in this store.  We need to keep it under control…. blah blah blah.”  I expected him to sit back in the store while I shopped with the girls and just sweat a little over prices, but oh no.  Once we got there he was all into it.  Picking out dolls and matching shoes and sun bonnets.  Asking our personal shopper “Ok now, what accessories come with this doll?  Yeah…we’re gonna need some of those.  And what about pajama’s?  Do these have matching house shoes?  We’re gonna need two pairs of those….”  I was cracking up!  Such a sucker when it comes to his little girls.  So much for keeping it under control.  At least I’m not the one to blame this time!

At the end of the day Ellie ended up with “Julie” a doll from the 1970’s that she had picked out in her catalog and fallen in love with.

Addison choose “Elizabeth” – a doll who grew up in Williamsburg in the 1700’s.  I tried to get the girls to pick out dolls that looked more like themselves, but they weren’t having it.  They had specific ideas about what they wanted and weren’t budging.  Here they are leaving the store.  Notice we’ve already changed the dolls into their pajama’s and house shoes.

The boys.  (Two REALLY good sports)
The girls.  I have to admit that I too fell in love with this store.  More then once I debated picking out my own doll with matching accessories!
Quick drive back down along the coast and we were home again.  

And boy did I ever have two happy little ones.  Girls and their dolls in matching pajama’s.  (Thanks daddy!)

We’ve been having quite a time with the new dolls.  First we had to introduce them to some new “friends.”

Then the girls drew music notes and had their dolls and animals put on a little concert.

Even Kole had a party with the dolls.

Until he started poking their eyes out causing shrieks of stress and anxiety.  Party’s over bud.  

We’ve had lots of hair styling going on…

and lots of outfit changing.  Sorry for the totally X-rated picture!  I just took this yesterday.  I was feeding Kole and turned around and the dolls were all undressed and lined up along the fireplace.  They were getting prepped for a wardrobe change and fashion show.

Aside from the trip to The American Girl Doll store, we had four of Ellie’s little friends over for a “birthday playdate.”  They each wore pajama’s and brought their favorite doll and enjoyed a lovely home cooked meal and a cake I spent hours on.  Let’s try that again.  They each wore pajama’s and brought their favorite doll and enjoyed pizza and a cake Ellie selected from our local grocery store.  :)  Luckily the girls could care less and a fabulous time was had by all.    

So far year 7 is off to a great start!

Project Life Tuesday

Well!  It’s proving to be a bit tricky to find time for these albums lately.  Life is so BUSY.  But knowing I needed to have something done by Tuesday forced me to squeeze in a minute for a few pages.  So grateful for PL Tuesday making me accountable.  I would love to get caught up on these albums and then STAY on top of them.  (a nice thought…right?)

 I so adore Addison’s little drawings.  These are a couple from over a year ago.  Sunshines are still her favorite.

A lot of this is pretty similar to Ellie’s album.  Not much to show – but something is better than nothing! Addison’s book is now caught up through October 2009.  {Sigh}  Still a ways to go…

Valentine Mantel and Tissue Art

Hi everyone!  Happy Monday.  Hope your week is off to a good start!    The girls and I are getting excited for Valentines day so I decided to spruce up the mantel and makes things a little festive around here.  

I just hung a heart wreath on the mirror and put a little candy in my favorite black jars – because what’s more fun than edible decor?  Hoping this candy sticks around longer than last year’s Easter candy did!

Then Addison and I made a tissue heart banner.  Tissue art is so fun and so easy.  I used to do this with my 4th graders when I taught school.  I would draw something big (like a rainbow, Christmas tree, American flag, etc.) and the whole class would work on it for weeks.  Here is what you need to make a tissue heart banner with your kiddos…

 Trace and cut out a few hearts.  I used my heart cookie cutter because well, what are the chances that I’ll ever use it to make cookies?  Slim to none.  Made a great paper tracer though.  :)

Cut your tissue up into little squares and put the square tissues in cute, mini heart shaped bowls.  You could use regular bowls, but I can’t guarantee that the outcome will be as …well…cute.  ;)  The bigger your squares are, the longer the tissue will pop out.

 Then place a pencil eraser in the middle of a tissue square and twist the tissue around it.

Next, dip your tissue in a tad of glue.  Emphasis on the world tad.  Too much glue and the tissue will become a wet mess and won’t stick.  I had Addison dip her tissue in the glue and then wipe it off on the plate each time.

Then stick the tissue on your heart and hold it for a few seconds.

I like to do the outside first and then fill in the middle.  You can start in the middle first, but again, I can’t guarantee as cute of an outcome.

Addison has been sick a lot lately and this was a perfect sick day project.  The two of us had fun watching a movie and crafting together in our pajamas.

Bring on February!  Can you feel the love?  :)  

Oh!  And can I just say thank you so much for the comments on my last post for El’s birthday.  So thoughtful of you all to leave such sweet comments and birthday wishes.  They meant a lot to me and I’m sure they will to Ellie too someday.  I told her I wrote her a letter on my blog for her birthday.  She asked if grandma could read it too since it was on my blog.  I said “yes – grandma… and a few other people….” :)

Have a great week everyone!

Dear Ellie,

Is it true?  Are you really 7 years old today?  It’s hard for me to think of you as a 7 year old.  It happened so quickly.  One day I was buying you and Addison matching outfits in the toddler section of Baby Gap – size 1 and 3, then 2 and 4.  That feels like last week.  And now, today, you’re 7.  And you’ve moved way out of the toddler section of Baby Gap.  And I’m having a harder time buying you clothes because everything your size looks so “pre-teen” and hip and cool and way too grown up for my sweet little Ellie.  And all I want to do is keep buying you tops with little butterflies that say “cute as a bug” on them.

But as much as I want to keep you little, I am loving every minute with you at this stage in your life.  You are such a happy girl Ellie.  You always have been.  You are vivacious and full of life from the minute you first wake up in the morning.  Your daddy and I start every day with a smile because of you.  
You were meant to be a big sister.  Kole adores you and Addison counts the seconds each day until you get home.  They both rely on you to entertain them because it’s always a party when you are around.  

You are extremely social and are loved by all of your classmates at school.  I hear constantly from other moms how nice you are to everyone.  How much you care about other people’s feelings and how much their children love being with you.  I’m always so proud.  You have a way of making friends so easily.  A couple of weeks ago we were at Nordstroms and you were waiting behind me while I bought something.  All of a sudden I heard you talking to a lady close by…telling her your name and all about the doll you took to school for sharing that day.  By the time we left the store the two of you were hugging good-bye like long lost friends.  Just like that.  It’s so easy for you to talk to people.   

You love to be “comfy.”  You care much more about being comfortable than you do about being fashionable (unlike Addison).  You won’t wear anything that is “itchy” and you put on your pajamas the second you get home for the day.  You love being home in your p.j’s – playing with your little “friends” (dolls and stuffed animals).  You take such good care of everyone.  I know that someday you will be an amazing mom.

I love how content you are Ellie.  You love just being with your family.  We hear several times each day how much you love us all.  Even when you’re mad about something, you always make it clear that while you’re upset, you still love us.  (see hairstyle post)  :)

When I was growing up I always loved the number 19.  I remember once soon after your daddy and I were married he asked me why I liked 19 so much and I said “I don’t know.  I’ve just always loved that number.”
Then you came into my world on January 19th and suddenly it was very clear why that number always felt special to me.  YOU are so special to me.  You make me smile every single day.  You make me happy every single day.  You make me feel gratitude every single day.

Happy 7th Birthday Ellie.  I love you so much.