Archive of ‘Family’ category

No Closet Doors, No Problem!

Although Baby Brownie isn’t in school, there’s something about Fall that makes me want to organize. To start things over. To make a place for everything. To nest. During the summer we’re so busy doing things, going out, enjoying the weather and freedom from routine, that the house gets cluttered and at some point there’s a breaking point. I start to actually get ON the organization projects that I’ve been putting off.

closet door curtain

I’m not a naturally organized person. I like to call my house situation “creative chaos”. I tend to accumulate clutter so it’s nice when I have places to hide them away from plain view.

Baby Brownie’s closet was one problem area where the clothes, boxes of wipes, diaper pail refills, etc…were starting to pile up, and you could see it all. This is an old picture from over a year ago, even before it started getting messy.

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Eventually we want to get real doors for the closet but in the meantime there are so many other projects (new insulation and siding for the house, fixing up the loft guest room…). I picked up a shower tension rod from Walmart and hung it up with some outdoor curtains I bought last year from Lowe’s on clearance (for $6 a panel!).

munchkin

The grommets allow the curtain to go all the way to the ceiling, making it look a little more natural and less “hey shower curtain!” Now my little munchkin has a new hiding spot. Which can be kind of worrisome when she’s completely quiet in there and I can’t find her. She usually comes out and says “boo” when my voice starts getting frantic.

closet curtain open

I asked Chris the other day when we were putting the baby to bed, “Do you think her room is too colorful?” I thought maybe there are just too many colors; perhaps it was overkill. His response, “She’s a kid, of course it can’t be too colorful”. Ah well, that’s all right then. Tee hee. I do love colors.

See the rest of the colorful nursery tour here.

Toy Organization in the Family Room

The other day I had a little mom date with a friend after the babies were asleep (the dads stayed with the kids) and we went shopping at Daiso, a Japanese discount store that’s pretty common in Orange County (there are 3 that I know of). Yes, because that’s where we go for fun now. To a Japanese dollar store! I picked up these three cute little bins for $1.50 each.

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I don’t know if Daiso stores are common in the rest of the country, but I love them! They have so many cute items, many of them are much nicer than what you would get at a regular dollar store, and everything is $1.50 unless otherwise indicated. Cute little food containers, Japanese-style bowls and plates, adorable stationery, and pretty much every functional molded plastic item you could imagine. I also got a pair of baby chopsticks for Baby Brownie, a pinwheel, and a few Japanese drinks (cans of green tea were $1)…

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I had kind of been wondering for a while about what to do with the short cubbies in the Expedit media unit in the family room. We don’t have a whole lot of electronic components, just a blue-ray player, so I wanted to fill up the rest of the space with toy storage so Baby Brownie could reach. These bins were perfect for storing small toys and balls that would otherwise get lost in her big toy bins.

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In the left bin, I store a few diapers and a small package of wipes for when I need to change the baby on the go. Like when she’s playing and she’s got a full diaper and she refuses to have her diaper changed in her room because she doesn’t want to stop playing. She will literally run away and hide! At least now I don’t have to drag her kicking and screaming back to her room.

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In the tray on the right I have her peg puzzles stored as well as her magnetic drawing board and some sticker books. It helps to have them right there at eye level. Baby Brownie can see them and get them out herself and play independently. The baskets also hide the unsightly cords from the TV. I’m still figuring out what to do on the top shelf to hide the cords. The blue-ray player does get quite hot so I don’t want to put anything on top of it.

So now the family room is a little bit more organized. This room is pretty much Baby Brownie’s playroom so it’s nice to have it be a bit easier for her to access her toys.

How to Entertain a Toddler on the Plane

I’m not gonna lie. Flying with a toddler isn’t fun. Especially when you haven’t bought a seat for her (Baby Brownie is 1.5 years old) and your husband isn’t with you. BUT(!) I am grateful that I thought ahead and prepared lots of activities for my daughter to go through to keep her entertained and out of trouble. If you’re planning a trip with an active toddler, here’s what I found worked best with my little girl.

1. Stickers!

Baby Brownie’s at the age where stickers are fascinating. I brought books full of stickers of all sorts. She loved peeling them off the paper, sticking them on herself and on me, as well as on everything else she could reach. We played a game where I would say a body part and she’d try to put a sticker on it.

drawing board

2. Magnetic Drawing Board

Baby Brownie loved it when I pulled out a magnetic drawing board for her to play with (the one I have is not in color, and it’s by Lakeshore, but you get the picture). She quickly grasped how to draw with the stylus and pull the tab to erase her scribbles. When she was bored of scribbling with it, I drew shapes, animals, and flowers for her, which kept her occupied for a while. My magnetic board was lightweight, so perfect for the plane.

felt board house

3. Felt Board

The DIY felt board I made before we left was a big hit! My girl loved the face side best — putting eyes, nose, and mouth on the face. She made some pretty interesting Picasso-esque faces =). When she was done playing, she had a blast putting every piece, one by one, back into the plastic zipper bag.

ikea finger puppets

4. Finger Puppets

The inexpensive finger puppets from IKEA are perfect for the plane — they’re small, lightweight, interesting, and cuddly. We sang “Old Macdonald” with them, and Baby Brownie practiced putting them on her fingers. They were also a fun item for her to take out of and put in a plastic bag while we practiced counting. When it was time to nap, I put Baby Brownie in the Ergo and rocked her while she clutched one of the little animals.

5. Books

A few light, thin, paper books occupied my toddler for a little while. Leave the board books at home; they’re too heavy!

mr potato head

6. Small Toys

We found a mini Mr. Potato Head(R) at Dollarama in Canada (although it was $3), and it was surprisingly fun for Baby Brownie. She loved concentrating on sticking the arms and legs into the right holes. If you have a little toy like this that your toddler hasn’t played with yet, save it to give to her on the plane so that it will be fresh and interesting.

my first songs

7. Iphone Apps

Yes, I resorted to the Iphone. Even though all the other toys occupied her for much of the ride, sometimes I just needed a break from the constant interaction and teary toddler meltdowns. Hello, electronic babysitter.

The best app I found for my 1.5 year old was this one called “My First Songs” by Ringzero. It has a bunch of catchy songs like “Old Macdonald”, “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider”, “B-I-N-G-O” with amazing 3D animations. The animations are really cute and the song arrangements are catchy. There’s even a little game where you tap to the rhythm of the music, so it would be great for older kids too. It’s $2.99, which is well worth it, but you can download the “lite” version for free. I also had a few free Fisher-Price apps on there but “My First Songs” definitely kept her entertained the longest.

8. Ice Cubes

My husband suggested that I add this as an update because it really did entertain my daughter for at least half an hour. We asked the flight attendant for a cup of ice cubes and my daughter had fun taking the ice cubes out of one cup and putting them into another. It’s the simple things…

Have you traveled with your toddler? What worked best to keep him/her occupied?

DIY Travel Felt Board

My toddler and I are planning a trip to see my folks in Toronto pretty soon. It’s about a 5 hour flight, but we have a layover in Chicago for about an hour and a half. I’m thinking, the layover is probably a good thing so Baby Brownie can run around and work out her excess energy. But I’m still dreading the flight.

Now that she loves to run around and play, Baby Brownie can’t sit still for long…especially not in my lap (we didn’t buy her a seat). And she loves to get into trouble and play with stuff she shouldn’t be messing with. Other moms I’ve talked to say to bring lots and lots of activities to keep her busy, so I’ve been putting together a bag full of travel activities. New toys, crayons, stickers, books… and I saw this awesome idea for a DIY felt board so I made one to bring along.

diy travel felt board

I got this idea from a friend who got it from a blog but I can’t for the life of me find that blog again!!! So I’m very very sorry if I stole your idea. Just let me know and I’ll give you the credit!

Also, this felt board is NO SEW, which makes it really easy.

Materials:

Various colors of craft felt, including at least two (2) 8.5 x 11″ pieces.
Scissors
Fabric glue
Batting

felt board stuffing

I decided to stuff my felt board with batting to stiffen it a little but still keep it soft and plush and foldable. I just cut a rectangle of polyester batting a little smaller than my two 8.5 x 11″ pieces of felt, sandwiched it between the felt, and glued the edges of the felt with a bead of fabric glue.

felt board house

The rest was super simple. I just cut out some triangles, rectangles, and squares to make a house. I cut out other shapes to make a sun, moon, star, cloud, and tree. The components of the tree and the sun are glued together to make it easier for my daughter to recognize. The grass is glued down too. Everything else is loose so she can place them wherever she wants. When I have time I want to make a little cat and dog too.

felt board face bald

For the other side of the felt board I cut out a head shape (yes it’s silly-looking, but Baby Brownie doesn’t care) and eyes, nose, mouth, and eyebrows. The components of the eyes are glued together.

felt board face

Also, this silly bowl haircut. When I have time I’m going to make other versions of mouth, eyes, hair (maybe with yarn glued on) so she can change it up.

Everything fits really nicely into a large freezer bag, and it’s lightweight so it’s ideal for bringing traveling. You can make all sorts of scenes…your imagination’s the limit! I might also make a barnyard scene with animals, although animals are quite a bit harder to cut out than simple geometric shapes.

Any tips for traveling with toddlers? Any must-bring toys? Any advice would be appreciated!

A Bright and Cheerful Nursery Tour

It’s been a while since I’ve posted pictures of Baby Brownie’s nursery. The last tour I posted was before Baby Brownie was born, and there are a few functional updates that I added after she actually joined us. I also added a few more pops of color here and there.

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Compare this to the previous nursery tour and you’ll see a few small differences:

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First of all, we got rid of the rocker and replaced it with a small and super comfy loveseat. Baby Brownie never really liked being held and rocked (I know, what a weirdo!), and the loveseat allows us to sit and read a book with her, or just hang out in her room.

Plus, it literally just kills me when she lounges on the sofa like a big girl. She just loves sitting there like the big people and it’s kind of the cutest thing you’ve ever seen. Funny how the most inane things are freakishly adorable when it’s your kid.

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We also added blackout linings to the thin IKEA curtains. I just bought 4 yards of blackout fabric at Joann’s (used a 50% off coupon) and sewed them to the backs of the curtains; just one straight seam right at the top. Baby Brownie’s naps got quite a bit longer after we added those.

Oh and on the left of the above picture you can see the open closet. We still haven’t gotten around to putting closet doors or a curtain up, but I actually don’t mind seeing everything, as long as it’s moderately neat.

nursery 2

A folding table was brought over by the couch to hold the humidifier (the table is taller than the IKEA LACK table we had there before, which means we can put a few things on it without Baby Brownie pulling them down).

We added a larger, more substantial, and more colorful rug (from IKEA) to create more play space for her.

I added some Skip Hop Wall Decals on the wall over the crib.

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We didn’t really get a baby bedding set as we didn’t want a traditional crib bumper. We did eventually get a mesh crib bumper because the baby kept getting her leg stuck between the slats. We’ll remove that as soon as she shows signs of trying to climb out of the crib.

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We also didn’t go for a specific nursery theme. We just went with what we had and what worked. It all ended up matching pretty well. Lots of bright colors and animals!

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Numbered bins from IKEA hold random toys, books, and socks. Floral hooks from World Market hold her towel. Speaking of which, I need to add a 3rd hook to the left, don’t I? It’s looking pretty lopsided.

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These bins may not look like much but when I’m doing a frenzied last-minute tidy of Baby Brownie’s room it’s nice to just throw stuff in there.

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I know dark furniture isn’t as trendy now but I still like our dark cherry finish nursery furniture. The map print I bought online and finally put up securely with 3M Command strips after it fell down several times.

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I love that fox clock. I bought it in Toronto at the Superstore ($10! Can’t beat it!) with my sister who was pregnant at the time with Baby Brownie’s cousin. The two girls have the same clock hanging up in their room even though they’re several thousand miles apart with a 3-hour time difference =).

The art is a cheapo $2 Walmart frame I spray painted and I added some free printable art.

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I feel like the room is much more functional now, with more seating, the blackout curtains, some convenient storage, and a clock! And it’s definitely more colorful now too. Guess you can never be totally prepared for having a baby…you really just have to wait till the little one arrives to know exactly what you need!

Dear readers, those of you who have kids, what did you end up unexpectedly needing or not needing after your child was born? Did that change your nursery decor?

Disclosure: This post contains Amazon Affiliate links.

Sharing at The Shabby Nest, Remodelaholic, BetweenNapsOnThePorch, SavvySouthernStyle, ThriftyDecorChick and ChiconaShoestring!

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