Friday, February 22, 2013

The Family Closet

We have been doing a bit of house reorganization lately. Recently I wrote about living in a smallish house and how every space has to work for us.  We had identified a few things that were not working as well as we would like in our current house:

1) We wanted more space in the bedrooms for the kids to play, and to house our foster children from the Safe Families Program.

2) Laundry was a challenge- getting it collected from all over the house, washed, dried, folded and then the trickiest part...put away.  It seemed like someone was always asleep in one of the rooms I needed to get into, so baskets of clothes got left out, attacked by the baby and generally forgotten.

3) I either had to carry cloth diapers around the house to rinse them and keep them until it was time to wash them, or they ended up sitting for a few days and becoming harder to clean.  And the bedrooms didn't always smell so fresh...

So we came up with a new solution.  It is admittedly a little odd, but so far it is working really well for us.  We made a "family closet."  I first got this idea from the Duggar family (and NO, I have no intention of having 19 children), and it seemed like it would simplify things for us.

We moved all the kids' dressers into our laundry/mud room, as well as the changing table.  We laid down a piece of carpet that we had, hung a tension rod to hang dresses, and put out a basket for kid shoes.  

Here is a picture of the other half of the room.  You see the washer and drier, utility sink and the clothes hamper.  You can also see the rather "comprehensive" fuse, internet, cable, and other unidentifiable wire box that the previous owners installed.  Matt took one look at it and knew this was the house for us!

I cannot tell you how much the family closet has streamlined things for us.  Dirty clothes go right into the hamper in the laundry room.  Socks and shoes are kept in the same room...right by the door we use to come in and out.  I can rinse the diapers in the utility sink right away, which makes the diaper laundry so much easier.  I can also treat stains right away.  I fold the laundry on the changing table and put it immediately into the correct drawers.  When I go to pack clothes, all three of my children's dressers are right there.  Outgrown clothes can go immediately out the door to the correct bin in the garage.

Matt and I still keep our clothes in our nice walk-in closet, but for the kids, this is working great.  Eventually I assume they will stop wanting to change clothes in the laundry room and will choose to lay out their clothes the night before, or collect them and change in their rooms.  But for now, they seem pretty happy with it...and I certainly am as well!

What crazy creative organizing have you done at your house?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Wonderful Pigs of Jillian Jiggs

Jillian Jiggs, by Phoebe Gilman, was one of my favorite picture book characters growing up.  She is spunky, creative, and just a touch messy.  In The Wonderful Pigs of Jillian Jiggs, she sews a bunch of stuffed pigs to sell, but then falls in love with them and doesn't want to sell them.  Instead, she teaches her friends how to make their own pigs.  Then, she teaches you as well.  I have fond memories of sitting on the floor of my basement, surrounded by stuffing and buttons, making my own pig.  This week, I decided to introduce my kids to Jillian, and they made a few pigs of their own.

If you are not familiar with the Jillian Jiggs books, I highly recommend that you check your library!


In Lieu of Preschool

Monday, February 18, 2013

Weekly Baby Pictures

Babies grow and change so quickly- especially the first months.  As delighted I was that my child was growing, I was always a touch sad with each passing week and month anniversary that passed.  I found that taking a weekly photo helped me to remember the early weeks- from the chicken leg stage to the thunder thighs and chubby cheeks.  While we can't freeze time, it can be awfully fun to look back at our little ones and see how they have grown.  

With each of my kids, we took a weekly picture, with the child next to (or holding, or gnawing on) a notecard with the date.  Here are a few of my favorites (and yes, I just hated the task of going back through baby photos...awww!)

Isn't it amazing how fast they change?

We printed out each picture and hung them around the room in chronological order.  In our first house, we hung them on a little clothesline we attached to the wall.  Our current house already had nails in the wall, so we used those...perhaps the former owners did something similar?!

We usually took pictures until roughly 20 odd weeks...when I stopped remembering and the baby started eating the paper, it was time to stop.  When it was time to free up the nails for the next set of baby pictures, I turned the photos into a collage to hang above their beds.  They like seeing themselves as babies...and so do I!  I put a current picture on there as well, just for fun, to see how much they have grown.  

I consider this art, memory-making and a touch of post-partum therapy all in one.  It makes a nice facebook album for those friends and family who don't get to see you little one every week.  I have used them as decorations for first birthday parties as well.  You can never have too many pictures, right?!

linking up:

Today's Creative Blog
Weekend Blog Hop

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Rube Goldberg Machines

Lately, we have been quite inspired by Rube Goldberg Machines.  YouTube has a host of wonderful RG Machine videos.  You can find two of our favorites at the bottom of this post.

Since watching them, we have tried out a few ideas of our own.  We had a RG Machine playdate one day with a friend who brought over some fun parts.  Then, this weekend, our friends Noah and Allison came to visit, and we decided to build one.  Allison is completing her PhD in Physics, so we knew we were in good hands.  We used all sorts of fun things- levers, pulleys, hammers, duplo blocks, marbles, dominos...and lots of tape and string!

Here are a few videos that show what we came up with.  As with all RG Machines, we had a few failed attempts before the whole things worked...but that is a great lesson in itself...and it was so exciting when it finally did!

Part 1- explaining the machine

Part 2- the first try

Part 3- the second try

Part 4- IT WORKED!

A few of our favorite Rube Goldberg Machine Videos on YouTube:

Audri's Monster Trap

Ok Go's "This Too Shall Pass" Machine

Linking up with:

I Can Teach My Child
Science Sunday

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

What He Learned Making Dinner

Carry one egg at a time
Scoop carefully

Hold the egg over the bowl

Hold onto the bowl while you stir

Cleaning up is part of cooking

How to be careful by the stove

The satisfaction of a job well done

What I to le go of my type A tendencies for a few minutes.  He was having a tough day, and I suggested that he might want to cook something.  That turned into him wanting to make dinner for us- risotto, sauteed Swiss chard and brownies.  He did a really great job and hung in there with it until he had completed everything.  He especially liked calling Daddy to find out what time he would be home, so he could time dinner right.  And really, at the end of the day, it only increased the cleanup by just a bit.  Now he is into being the chef and regularly asks to make dinner (his future spouse can thank me!)

**Side note to everyone who claims that a picky eater who is involve in the cooking process will most certainly eat the food he has made.  HA!  Not this kid.  He made the whole thing and still quite politely declined to eat the rice and greens...even though it meant he had to wait to have a brownie until the next day.  Its a good theory, but always makes me kid will see your theory and raise you a "still not going to touch that".**

Linking up:
Tender Moments
From House to Home

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Sylvester and the Magic Pebble

Our story this week was Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, by William Steig.  It is a great, classic story about a little donkey who find a magic pebble, and ends up accidently turning himself into a rock.  The story is a sad while his parents are looking for him, and he is giving up hope of ever becoming a donkey again.  It all ends well, however, and my kids really liked the story.

We decided that it would be fun to do an experiment with some "magic" pebbles of our own, so we brought out the water beads again (and yes, I still have my love-hate relationship with these monsters).  We filled a pan with them, and then left them out on the counter for four days.  We watched them shrink down to tiny pebbles as the water evaporated.

After they had completely shrunk and dried, we decided to see what would happen if we rehydrated them.  Instead of using plain water, we soaked them in Tonic Water, which glows under black lights.  We have some special black light experiments planned soon, so we are going to see if our water beads glow.

The beads rehydrated well, and the rehydration is much more spectacular to watch than the dehydration because it happens much faster.  Overall, it was a very successful experiment, and the kids got really into checking the beads to look for change.  And the beads did NOT end up all over the house this time (woot!)

As with most of our stories and experiments, I encourage the children to write about them in their journals.  I blogged here about how we use journals.  The journal not only offers great practice at writing and expressing themselves on paper, but it also allows us to easily look back over what we have learned and review and reminisce about our year.

In Lieu of PreschoolChildmade

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