Thursday, February 21, 2013

Zone 2 - The Living Room (part 2)

So, over the next week I'll be saying stuff about my living room. Not that I know a whole lot...but maybe it will help you figure out how to organize/not organize your space!  
First - I have 4 kids. 3 of them are professional mess makers. Which can present quite the dilemma if I'd like my house to ever be orderly! 

This not only drives me crazy...the poor, neat, child - String Bean - is driven to twitching many days!

Here's a (pretty typical) cycle: Toys get played with...then left out...then tripped on by a parent...then the child goes to bed and hasn't cleaned up...then the parent has to clean up. The child gets away with being lazy and messy, and the parent is upset and exhausted from doing more than they should.

That is how I felt all the time over the past few months.

Not good.

So, toys have been disappearing. 
I have gone through ALL of their toys and gotten rid of everything that is broken, missing pieces, or they don't absolutely LOVE. I placed a cap on how many baby dolls/stuffed animals can be in the house - and all 3 girls have to agree which ones make the cut. (They have to come to an agreement in a specified amount of time....say, 1 day....or I get to choose which ones go away. That has proven to be extremely motivating.)

Is our house spotless? 

 (This is what happens when you go to the bathroom alone.)

(In fact, yesterday, it was an utter and complete disaster. I meant to take a picture to show you how all of the living room floor was covered with toys...but I forgot. Please use your imagination.)

What the downsizing means, is this - the kids are actually able to keep up with, AND put away the toys they DO have. Even Boy Bean. (Who is 2).  

My goal is not to have a spotless house - we DO live here! -
 my goal is to have a house where everyone is able to work together to keep it tidy.  

The children are overwhelmed if they have too many toys to choose from or put away. So when I say I've gotten rid of things, I mean this: 
I got rid of the play kitchen (that they didn't play with) and ALL the food and dishes that went with it;
I got rid of the dollhouse and all the furniture (they didn't play with it - and the furniture always ended up under my couch);  
75% of their stuffed animals disappeared;
there are no puzzles accessible without adult assistance; 
no crayons or coloring books can be played with without asking permission; 
and all toys containing small (easily lost) parts were sent elsewhere - unless they expressly asked for it to stay.

I'm really not a mean and horrible mom. 
The Beans still have plenty to play with! 
In fact, much of the time, they are using my living room blankets and every pillow we own to make forts, or they are hunting for Waldo, or reading, or playing with matchbox cars, or pretending to be fairies or princesses or explorers.
Trust me - these kids have plenty to occupy them!

Here is what our space looked like on Tuesday:

Then, on Tuesday night, My Love said the most marvelous sentence ever - 
"Honey, do you want to re-arrange the living room?"
He speaks my Love Language. 
(Which, if you are keeping track, now includes 1. Re-arranging furniture 2. Food 3. Sales)
So, after 2 hours of work - after the kids were in bed - the space looked like this:
(This is your sneak-preview...the entire room was re-arranged...but I'm not ready to show you yet!)

(The leather-ish chair is still in the same spot. I am in the hunt for a beautiful ottoman.)

The Large Car Basket - $1 from Dollar tree...I'm actually hunting for a deep, round basket to be freestanding out of the bookcase to hold the Large Cars and balls. :)

Every thing has a place - and the kids (mostly) remember where it day, the canvas buckets will be pretty ones that haven't been sat in and stepped on. That day is not today.

Oh, and please don't be offended at the gender-specific bucket names, my Beans came up with them. The titles make sense to the kids - and they know exactly what goes in each bucket.
The blue chair has been with us for 3 years now...and the slipcover is washable!

This little tool box was a thrift store find for $1 when I was decorating Boy Bean's nursery. Now, he uses it for storing his matchbox cars and toting them around. 

The Medium Car Basket - $1 from Dollar Tree. It holds all cars/planes that are not matchbox size or Large battery operated items 
(This bookcase is near the front of the room)

We do have other toys, but they are in the Bean's rooms: a small container of mega blocks, another bookcase of children's books, numerous instruments, a basket of stuffed animals/dolls, and a large bucket of dress up clothes. We were also given all the gear for the My Little Pony Town, which is kept in clear plastic tubs under the staircase. They must ask permission to pull out the Ponies, and they (should) put all other toys away before the Ponies come out. That doesn't always happen - but we're getting there! 

This is the best system we've ever had for keeping things tidy - it works about 80% of the time. :)

What do YOU do to keep the Kid toys/grown-up gear, tidy?

 Copyright 2013

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Zone 2 - The Living Room (Part 1)

In January, I told you about how organizing in this house was a'happenin'. I had divided the house into Zones to work on, and planned on slowly working through the entire house during the deployment.
The deployment that was cancelled.
But, instead of throwing my organizing plan (yes, I have a plan for organizing....mildly psychotic) out the window, I decided to take advantage of the Muscle in the house being home. :)
January - Zone 1 - was The Kitchen. It was 2 parts of organizing babble.
The good news?
All the changes I made actually WORK. Things have been consistently put away. The children are able to help with all the things I had hoped. I'm able to keep my areas cleaner - although the stove top is still the bane of my existence. (That and the shower. I hate cleaning those two things!)
The better news?
The success of the kitchen has motivated me to keep going through the house.

Side note - when I pick one zone, I still have to maintain the other zones of the house. So, sometimes even if my monthly zone is, say, the living room....I still may end up going through kid clothes. Life has to keep happening - and I can't always complete the zone I I do what I can and then start work on the other places.

My living room has been a source of struggle for me since the day we moved in. It is a HUGE room (don't ask the dimensions, I have no idea) with about 10 million windows. I LOVE it! All the sunshine is marvelous and feels so open. However, after living in 6 small and 1 medium was quite a change.

Here are 2 pictures showing ALL our furniture that wasn't expressly bedroom/dining room related....

Quadrupling the size of your house DEFINITELY makes your furniture seem smaller! 
And having a pretty house, makes the furniture that doesn't look so great REALLY stand out.
Oh well.
We had places to put butts.
Not pretty places - but comfy ones!

(I'm not even showing you the COMPLETELY empty back 1/3 of the room!)

In fact, it has been such a struggle - I posted about needing help back in November. :)

I've made a bit of progress...the 3 pillows in the corner? Fantastic find and they totally go with my owls.
AND thanks to my genius friend, Molly, I will change them into removable pillow covers that I can wash!! (Why that never occurred to me, I'll never know.) I just need to find a zipper for the 3 non-washable pillows...the Owl, bright Green, and Crazy Bird. (See below) :)

My new favorite piece of furniture - this super-awesome-completely-makes-me-smile-every-time-I-look-at-it TV Stand. 

Other pillow I love - it called my name from Garden Ridge. And all 4 pillows were on CLEARANCE!! People, that is my love language. Well, that and food.

These cutesy shelves were in the damaged section at Bed Bath and Beyond for $ I bought them. I had no IDEA what to do with them, but I figured it would come to me.
It didn't.

They sat in that very sad hodge-podge state for months.

But yesterday? That changed! Now they are filled with cute little things that I like! That go with our room! That I like! (Yes, I said that was double important)

I mean, seriously, how cute are those little speak no/hear no/see no evil owls?!

I also went through ALL of the toys and got rid of about 10 million things.....but more on the toy de-cluttering/organization, tomorrow. :)

And, most likely....the entire layout of the room will be flipped in the next 2 days. I told you I was taking advantage of having the Man home! :)

~Whitney Copyright 2013

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Who knew?

Who knew that finding out the LONG deployment was CANCELLED one day before My Love left would be hard news to take?

Who knew that we both would experience a blender full of emotions?

Who knew that the kids would be thrilled and ecstatic and have no trouble transitioning?

Who knew the grown ups wouldn't be quite as good at living out a limber schedule?

Not me.
Not My Love.

The roller-coaster of maximum emotion experienced in this last week...the week where he returned for what was supposed to be 4 days and then found out he was staying home until much later in the year....has come as quite a shock.

I didn't think my husband NOT leaving would fill me with an emotion other than elated joy.
But it did.

I was angry.
NOT about him staying.
But at how the news came out.
At the apparent lack of care our government has for the personnel it owns and the families attached to them.
At (what feels like) hours and months of work and prep to get our home and our children ready for him to leave....for nothing.
Anger about the plans that can't happen.
Anger about not getting to go to a Port Call. (Which is purely selfish, but it is an amazing perk of being a Military wife and I couldn't wait to finally go to one!!! I've always been too pregnant to go before.)

I wasn't excited about the actual deployment - but I guess I was excited for it to be a part of our story. It was finally our turn. Our friends have gone and gone and gone...isn't it time for them to get a break and for us to carry the banner?
It just doesn't seem fair.

I felt guilt.
Guilt that my husband would be home this Spring...and thousands of other sailors will not.
Sailors who already have missed half of last year at home.

I was confused.
Could I even be excited over this news?
Would they just change their minds again in two days?

And I am happy.
Thankful for each moment with My Love.
Thankful he is getting to experience this age - especially - with the Boy Bean.
Thankful all the weight that was resting solidly on my shoulders is no longer being born alone.

It is a tricky thing, this Military life.

So if my face periodically scrunches into confusion, I'm probably just recalibrating.

Because Holyheckamama, it is actually pretty hard.

~Whitney Copyright 2013

Monday, February 11, 2013

How to love a Military family....

Today I'm guest posting over at Life and Grace about loving on a military family....
which is slightly ironic now that the entire deployment has been cancelled!

Sarah is an amazing woman, excellent friend, and fantastic mama. 
So to be a part of a blog written by someone that totally awesome, is a pretty big treat!
If you do not already follow her blog - you should! 
She will challenge and encourage you. 
You will be a better person on this planet just for knowing her. 

I was quite excited about the series when Sarah first told me about it - and rather shocked that she asked me to guest post - because I'm a humongous fan of helping people out. Especially military families.

So, I'm here to share my suggestions on how to help military families dealing with a deployment. :) (This is neither all-inclusive nor 100% accurate...these are just my personal opinions. I have a lot of those.)

Helping a military family - loving on them - reaching out to them - is like reaching out to anyone, just the time table is super scrunched. Most civilians take 3 years to feel like they know someone "well." Military families just don't have that kind of time. Often, military families are closer to other military families instead of civilians - because the military fam will take a gamble on a new person quicker. (Please forgive the mass generalizations)

Also - I would say that every one of these could apply to a single person and a single parent. 

How can you specifically help.......

(To continue reading, please go to Life and Grace!)

~Whitney Copyright 2013

Friday, February 8, 2013

Cocoa Bean Moment

So, I'm sure we've all had that moment where you see a small child running toward you with chocolate somehow all over their hands and face and you grab a hold of the hand to protect something from being smeared to ruin.

Like, protecting a white, down comforter from 2 year old chocolate covered hands.
That belonged to this little face.

I reached out and grabbed his hands with one of mine. I pulled the chocolate off his face with a finger from my other hand.

I brought it to my nose.

And gagged.

It wasn't chocolate.

It was POOP.


And all over his hands.

After I took the Boy Bean straight to the tub and proceeded to triple-scrub my hands, I got the giggles.

Because really, I had almost eaten poop.

And while this memory isn't necessarily sweet is hilarious.

Tip of the day??

Always SNIFF before you TASTE. 

Happy smelling!

~Whitney Copyright 2013

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Ahhh, the military.

Yesterday, I was looking through our "love notes" from last year's Love Jar, and found this:

It was my 4 year old Jumping Bean's Love note to her Daddy. 

I Love when you go to work and sleep at our house. 
You are the sweetest ever.

Whenever Daddy gets to sleep at our house we are very thankful!!

Like today.
Daddy was supposed to walk on the boat tonight or tomorrow morning (after an unexpected 4 day port call) to leave for the big deal deployment.
And yesterday we found out that he won't.
The deployment was cancelled.
A day and a half before leaving.

While this is marvelous news for our household...and for over 5,000 other does present some difficulty for many of the personnel attached to our boat.

People have cancelled their leases and their phone contracts, sold their cars, and moved all of their possessions to storage. Some people have sent their family back to wherever they are from to have support and community. Now the active duty member is here - not deployed - and the family is not. 

Logistically, it is a bit of a challenge. 
Food, fuel, supplies....all have been loaded on the boat, ready for Deployment.
All personnel have loaded their personal effects on the boat in preparation for a long underway.
Whoever is making the decision based on dollar signs  - is forgetting there are people attached to every single one.
This impacts thousands of lives, intimately.

Emotionally, it is an odd grab-bag mix. 
I'm ecstatic he's home.
But I'm happy with reserve.
We have prepped and readied and trained for this deployment.
It is odd for all that work to not be used.
And, we still have friends deploying - just because we aren't doesn't mean the world is suddenly at peace.
I feel guilt over him NOT going - when so many I know have had to weather repeated deployments.

But despite all the crazy that is just normal life...

We are still extremely thankful whenever he goes to work and gets to sleep at our house.

Who needs a schedule anyway? :)

~Whitney Copyright 2013

Monday, February 4, 2013

Mom Style

This is what I wore this weekend, mostly. (dirty, un-brushed hair, no make-up)

What I didn't get a picture of was the snugli pack on my back filled with a screaming, ANGRY, 2 year old boy.

What isn't captured in these pictures taken by my String Bean, is the exhaustion from battling my Boy Bean for hours. Hours that included a trip to the Commissary that HAD to happen. (We were completely out of food)

You can't see the struggle through the store with all 4 children...while one is screaming at the top of his lungs....trying to stay calm, trying to get all the items on my list.

You don't see how badly I wanted to cry because of embarrassment.
Because of all the people shaking their heads and raising their eyebrows.
If only they knew how hard I was working.

What isn't in these pictures is the kind young man who saw me battling in produce - 
he gave me two thumbs up and said "You've got this!" 
And how that encouraged me to persevere through our trip.

You don't see the thoughtful middle-aged man shopping with his teenage son in the freezer section. 
You don't see him coming up to me, placing his hand on my shoulder and saying, 
"You've got this. 
Don't give up. 
One day - he will be a fine young man. 
Battle on!"

You don't see the wounds from the judging or the bandages from the encouraging.

All you see is an outfit.
But this weekend?
It was my battle gear.

Gray Shirt - H&M (2011)
Gray Tank - Target (2012)
Belt - Hand me down
Levi's Straight leg (2012)
New Balance Sneakers (2007)
Earrings - gift from Jumping Bean
Scarf - gift (2010)

 Copyright 2013

Friday, February 1, 2013

It's time for LOVE....

Last year, we tried a new tradition.

The Love Jar.

(Yeah, still working on a cooler name...still totally drawing a blank.)

Today starts day one of daily notes of how much we love each other. We will be filling our special jar between now and Valentine's day. Then, we will have a sweet breakfast of doughnuts as we talk about sweet things (loving each other) and how to be sweet.

Sounds pretty sweet to me!

 Copyright 2013