Sunday, November 25, 2012

A House Divided Cannot Lose

 Ah, the Michigan/Ohio State game. Just as much of a holiday at our house as any other.  We are certainly a house divided.  #1 grew up in the Buckeye State and has two little followers.  Little Monkey Man had a unit in preschool about Ohio where they brainwashed the students by teaching them "Hang on Sloopy" complete with the O H I O.  Sick.  He has taken on a little disciple in Rosebud who now says "Go Buckeyes" with gusto.  I've lost her.
However, Snug loves Michigan and proudly wore his old Michigan sweatshirt to school last week even though it was much too small.  My parents brought him a new one to wear for the game that should fit him for a couple more years!  Sweet Pea doesn't have an opinion on the matter yet, but she wore Michigan because well, if you drink "Michigan Milk" you're gonna wear Michigan wear.  I'm hoping to keep her on the good side.
 It is a friendly rivalry here.
 And even when we're rooting for two different teams in what can be an intense game we're still friends.
 It is a lot of fun.  Even when your team loses.  Ahem.
 Oh!  And we have special food.  We always have chicken wings and fries that #1 makes in the backyard.  We also have other finger foods.  This year I had yellow and blue M&Ms and buckeyes.
 Poor baby woke up from her nap in time to find out her team lost.  I know baby girl, I felt the same way.  She wore (but I didn't get a photo of) the Ohio State diaper that we bought for LMM back when he was a baby.  It is OSU on the outside and Michigan on the inside.  Interpret that how you want.
Somebody was happy with the outcome!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Family Closet

I am FINALLY getting this post up.  I've been really busy lately, and life...well, it certainly isn't ever going to slow down!  I had to take these pictures and them take the time to label them, so that took awhile.  If you can't read them, click them and they should get bigger.

I get asked ALL the time "how do you do (insert topic here) with FOUR KIDS?  Frankly I don't think four is all that many, and I look to friends/blogs where they have eight or more kids for inspiration on how to organize my four  :o)  A family closet is something I'd seen various places and we decided to give it a try.  I'm partly not blogging about it till now because I wanted to make sure it was something we would actually use.
#1 an I do not currently use the family closet.  We will in the future, but that is another story for another time.  
 Above is how the closet usually looks.  Ok, put a couple of laundry baskets and a mound of laundry (right now HUGE as our dryer is broken) in the front and it would be a little more accurate.  I put my best foot forward and moved the junk.
 The clothes rack that was in the front on the other picture rolls out of the way and can sit out when I'm hanging up clothes (see far right of picture).  It houses the boys' church and school clothes.  Right behind it is a smaller one for the girls.  Basically any pants/shirts hanging are not for painting in or playing in the yard.

Each kid has a shelf for play/everyday clothes.  Their stuff is where they can reach it (sans Sweet Pea) but so far only Snug is responsible enough not to dump the piles off while getting his clothes.

I know that on the far left and bottom are some funky things, my paint program messed up the picture but I refused to go back and redo all of the writing.  I have two rolling carts with drawers that I used in our old house that are now repurposed to hold tights/leggings/outgrown socks/Crocs/sun hats.
 The large wardrobe in the back is all of the kids off season dress clothes or dress clothes that they have outgrown/someone else is going to grow into.  On the far left is another hanging thing that houses the boys' church shoes at the top (their everyday/school shoes are in crates in their bedroom but I don't want church shoes scuffed up), #1's work/church shirts that I've pulled from the dryer, and a hanging organizer that I keep the kids' sweaters in.
 This is an up close view of a toy organizer that I'm using for socks and underwear.  The yellow and blue bins are boys/girls unmatched socks.  Clearly it is time to dump them out and pair them.  The kids help me with that.  They each have a bin for underwear and socks (Sweet Peas has her onesies).  There is also a bin for long underwear that this summer I think I'll put swimming suits in.  The green bin is for seasonal clothes that I don't necessarily want worn all the time, but don't want to forget when the time is right.  When Christmas is over I'll put in St. Patrick's Day shirts or Valentine's shirts or whatever I find in their bins*.  They all don't have clothes for all of those occasions, but if they do I want to make sure they are used.
Here's a closer look at their everyday clothes shelf.  I labeled two of them so you could get an idea of what is there.  The girls have sweatshirts on this shelf, the boys do not.  They have them in their room for easy access when they need another layer to play outside.  Note that there are not PJ's anywhere.  These are still kept in their bedrooms.  We just find it easier.

Why a family closet?  This works well for us because I am dragging quite a bit less laundry back up the stairs.  I simply pull it from the dryer and put it directly away.  I am saving LOTS of time.  Also, when the kids had clothing in their rooms they tended to root through it and make a mess.  I am pretty sure I was washing clean clothes all over again, and there was some clothing that never got worn.  Now everything is evenly rotated.

*I have bins for each gender/size at our house.  Take for example Rosebud.  She is wearing 18-24 month clothes.  In her bin are her summer clothes (that aren't for church, those are in the wardrobe).    We are very blessed by hand-me-downs and if I end up with several pairs of say, jeans, I'll keep back a couple of pairs in that size bin to ensure that Sweet Pea will have some without holes when it is her turn to wear that size.  We are sometime SO blessed by hand-me-downs that I end up passing on clothes in the size my kids are currently in to other people.  We also have families that we swap clothes with when our kids aren't using that particular size.

I have a few rules about clothing.  For the girls it must be modest, even though they are small.  My kids don't wear clothes with certain cartoon characters or slogans that we don't care for.  Another rule I have is when I put a size away, if it doesn't all fit in one plastic bin I have to sort through and get rid of some things.  I think this might change for Snug soon as his actual clothes take up more space, but for now I am careful to only keep what will fit in a bin.
 I also am careful to only keep a certain amount of certain clothes.  If you look at the picture above you'll see that Rosebud (bottom shelf) has eight long sleeved shirts.  I took these pictures when (most of) the laundry was done.  No little girl needs eight shirts, but I won't keep any more than that.  If I am given more I'll decide which ones we'd get the most use out of and pass on the rest (or keep one or two back in the bin so Sweet Pea has some without stains).
I shop Goodwill, clearance racks, and kids resale stores, but you have to be REALLY careful when you do this.  People tend to see a great price on a cute item and think "wow this will save us money!".  However if you already have, to use the above example, eight long sleeved shirts for that child, buying one more doesn't save you money, it is wasting money.  I carry a spreadsheet in my purse.  It tells me exactly what I have in each size starting with the size Sweet Pea or LMM are in up to two sizes above what Snug and Rosebud are in.  It includes EVERY article of clothing in the family closet and bins along with winter outerwear, shoes, and even snow boots.  I can glance at my chart and know if this pair of boys jeans in a size 7 with no holes in them is something we need or no.  If I have 6 pairs in the bin, it is a no.  If I have 2 it is a for sure YES!.  My spreadsheet is very specific.  As soon as I buy something or they get a box of hand-me-downs or a gift from grandparents I update the chart.  It is as easy as putting a tally mark in the appropriate box.  Having the permanent chart be very specific keeps the task of updating it easy and doable.  If it isn't easy and doable, you won't do it!!!

Wow, that was a long post. Hope that was informative for at least someone.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Trick or Treat & 11 Months

 So, this is late for a reason.  Our "Beggar's Night" was scheduled for October 30th, but due to horrible weather, it was rescheduled for Saturday.  I took (thankfully) pictures on actual Halloween because the kids wore their costumes to a party at church.  I figured that I'd take some trick-or-treating action shots and then post.  This was not to be.
 I bought Snug's Buzz Lightyear outfit two years ago for him to grow into.  I got it for a couple of bucks on clearance.  I made his wings, and hopefully it will fit LMM in a couple of years.
 Here's the whole gang.  We had a theme this year.
 Here's the "out of this world" shot.  I love that they are both smiling!
 Jessie and Woody were very happy to pose for pictures too!
 I made this Woody costume (bought the hat at a resale store) for Snug two years ago.  LMM was thrilled to grow into it.  My favorite part is there is a pull string on the back of the vest and he'd pull on it and declare "there's a snake in my boots!"  He also told nearly everyone we met trick or treating to "watch out for monsters" with a mischievous glint in his eye.
 Sometimes I get shots of the kids that make them look so much older than they are.
 Look who is smiling again!  I bought her outfit on Amazon as I found it way cheaper than I could have created it.  While I really love to make their outfits, I have to consider which way is more cost effective.
 I made Rosebud's Jessie outfit too.  I bought one that was a once piece thing similar to the Buzz costume at Once Upon A Child, but it was several sizes too big.  I cut it into pieces and sewed/glued/pinned it back together.  Her hat isn't the right color, but a friend gave it to us and it was fine. The boots where LMMs when he was two.  (To answer the question from an earlier post the Halloween "tree" in the background was made by my aunt!  We put it out every year, but the lights didn't work this year, very sad.)

So the rescheduled trick-or-treat night was Saturday.  When we set off the sky was cloudy and it was misting.  When it started to downpour #1 ran back home for the van to pick us up.  It was about 40 degrees.  I am SO glad I didn't wait to take pictures, they would have been miserable looking!

 11 months old.  CAN YOU BELIEVE IT???  And she was all smiles for her photoshoot today.
 I cannot decide which ones I'm going to order.  I have been taking most of her monthly pictures instead of getting them done professionally to save money.  However, I have been really careful to print (I use Mpix) what I would normally buy and hang them on our wall/give to grandparents.
 I am THRILLED THRILLED THRILLED to announce that...
 ...she GREW this month!  She is now 26 3/4" (a quarter inch longer, and yes we are meticulous about measurement) and 15lbs even (up half a pound!).  I am so excited about that.
She's still nursing, but learning to take a sippy cup of water and took some milk in one from the nursery workers today (she won't do that for mommy or daddy).  She eats less baby food and more table food each day.  She cruises the furniture at top speed, stands alone for minutes at a time, and thinks about taking steps.  She'll tentatively put a foot out...think for a moment...then get down and crawl.  She opens all the cupboards, empties anything she can tip, and SMILES more and more.  If you think I sound like I'm grinning with this month's're right!!!!!