Dorothy has been living in filth. She’s a hoarder by nature, tucking baggies of rocks and shells and old toilet roll tubes away like squirrels do nuts for the winter. The difference is that squirrels eat all their nuts in the winter, but Dorothy’s room just gets more and more crowded with junk. Telling her to clean her room didn’t even help, because she wasn’t sure where to put baggies of rocks and old toilet paper tubes. I drove to IKEA right after Christmas to pick up some storage furniture to replace daintier but less useful pieces and enlisted her help getting organized. Fortunately, she got tired of helping after the first hour or so, so I got to spend all my “free” time for the better part of two weeks putting together furniture and throwing stuff away without her there to witness it. I’m sharing my after photos. She’s now one very organized 8-year-old, and my hope is that the new system will help her keep it that way. I bought 3-inch foam to make a seat on top of the shelf under her window. All her doll accessories are now tidily at hand. Don’t notice my measuring “oops” on the side of the seat cover! After spending that much time sorting through 3rd grade ephemera I apparently lost the ability to do simple math.
This chair was in her room before, but it got a coat of white paint and a new seat cover. On the wall behind her is a pouch she sewed herself to hold keepsake letters.
This IKEA shelving unit got a little dressed up with pretty glass knobs on the cabinets and drawers. She painted the ruby slipper canvas at an art camp last summer.
I found this earring tree on Amazon.com to keep all her ear candy organized. She had earrings crammed in boxes and baggies all over her room. We put some other pairs in ice cube trays in her top drawer.
I made labels with a craft punch for all her bins. We use a velcro label system for toy bins all over our house. I staple hook tape to the bin, and glue the loop tape to the back of our labels. I keep a jar of the extra labels on hand for when we want to repurpose a bin. The bins can be exchanged for others in our playroom and in Worth and Daphne’s room when they want to rotate playthings.
I bought a wall-mount lamp at IKEA and spray-painted it to match the room. Putting the lamp on the wall helped free up space on her desk and alleviated my long-standing worry that she’d knock it off and break it. Dorothy made the name banner hanging over her bed.
Here’s a final view of her new window seat. I left her doll-clothes storage system of a ribbon strung in her window intact because it’s pretty and functional. I think I’ve blogged about her quilt and curtains before. When we moved into this old house, Dorothy fell in love with the bedroom she now occupies and the specific wallpaper hanging on the walls. I removed wallpaper and repainted every other room in our house, but we’ve honored her wish to keep her vintage wallpaper. I collected old bedsheets in similar colors from thrift stores and made her quilt and curtains out of them. It’s made a sweet little-girl room, with a nice blend of old and new. I’ll probably flip out in a few weeks when she lets it get messy again, but I’m enjoying the view from the doorway in the meantime! Because of course, as soon as I was done with the job and turned the room back over to her all sparkly and clean, she shut the door and hasn’t welcomed any other family members in since. C’est la vie.
Since last spring I’ve had this niggling feeling that I should better organize our math manipulatives. We use the homeschool math curriculum Right Start Mathematics, which is a good fit for me and my third-grader, and it comes with lots and lots of little bits and pieces and sets of cards. I have a small secretary desk in my living room that is dedicated to holding our math supplies. The problem was that I couldn’t close it anymore because it was so crammed full with our manipulatives, cards, and the various sandwich bags or dog-eared envelopes I was employing to hold them. I bought some white zippers in bulk and used canvas left over from our field trip bags to make 13 zipper bags for our math supplies. I took the time to embroider a label onto each bag, which seemed like “OMG, have I really become a person who embroiders labels on to homemade canvas bags to hold math manipulatives?” but yes, it seems I have. Assuming we stick with this curriculum, I’ll be using these supplies for many more years, and I’d have been mad if my previous disorganized system had caused me to have to re-purchase supplies I could have kept track of better. I am not, under any circumstances, going to follow this project up by crocheting a cozy for our abacus. So here we go. Hopefully these bags and I will have quite a future together, and it’ll be worth the time spent when my current toddler learns her fractions with their help. And if there is just a little voice in the back of my brain that says, “really? You made special bags to hold math supplies?” I’ll just tell it to shut up. In Latin, because that’s all homeschool-y, right?
With this winter’s crazy displacement of the polar vortex nastiness, it was starting to feel like there would never come a time when I would not have to leave the house with 4 hats, 3 scarves, and 8 mittens or gloves each time I needed to run a simple errand. And if it seemed difficult to get three children dressed for errands in sub-freezing temperatures, that was nothing compared to trying to return to the house with the same number of things. Kids shed winter-wear (including coats) in inconvenient places almost constantly, and it seemed that by the end of a shopping trip (or field trip, or dentist visit, or whatever) I started to resemble a coat tree more than a mother. My answer to this was to sew myself the World’s Largest Canvas Tote Bag. It’s the same dimensions as my laundry bags from a previous post, which were modeled after the TJ Maxx reusable shopping bags. It’s big enough to hold everyone’s discarded outerwear, plus one large plastic fire truck. Don’t ask me how I know. It has served its purpose well. I embroidered my initials on it to make it feel more like an accessory and less like Mom’s a Sucker, but the free font I used turned out to be worth about what I paid for it–I don’t love it. The monogram doesn’t diminish the utility, however, and I’m happy to have solved my missing mitten problem.
Here’s Daphne modeling some of her warm winter handmades. The dress is a larger version of this green one from a previous post. It’s such a nice pattern.
We celebrated Fat Tuesday homeschool-style, with homemade pralines, jambalaya in the crock pot, and these craft foam masquerade masks. Now that Dorothy is old enough to be confident with the glue gun it has really opened the realm of crafty possibilities. She’s done a lot with craft foam lately, which has the ease of working with paper but the feeling of permanence you get from working with fabric. We cut out the masks based on an internet template, and Dorothy glued the baubles according to her and her brother’s preferences, then finished them off with soda straws. My older kids wore green hats from Target on St. Patrick’s Day, but Daphne got a homemade crocheted hat. I used a baby cloche pattern from Ravelry. She was the cutest little leprechaun in Kentucky, I’m sure.
This is certainly not the most exciting project I’ve ever blogged about, but it sure is useful. Each bedroom in my house is equipped with a laundry hamper. My usual laundry strategy is to fill great big TJ Maxx shopping bags with the laundry from the hampers, haul it downstairs, then drag it back up (clean) in the same bags. I have about six of the shopping bags and they are really just the right size for the job and have well-placed handles. The problem with them is that they are not very sturdy–the seams break easily–and I end up with empty plastic TJ Maxx shopping totes hanging all over the bedroom doorknobs, looking cluttery.
Rather than replace these falling-apart shopping totes with new store-bought ones I decided to just make some nice, sturdy ones just for the purpose of laundry. I bought pretty blue canvas fabric and sewed six new totes to the same dimensions as the TJ Maxx bags. Then I embroidered their purpose right to the front of them, so they won’t run off to get used for something else. Finally, I hung a hook on the back of my bedroom door to house the bags not currently in use so these won’t clutter up my doorknobs either. Now my when piles of unfolded laundry collects in my bedroom it will look so much cuter!