Monday, February 22, 2010

Den/Classroom REVEALED!!!

Okay, this is going to be a very picture-heavy post. So just be forewarned...

This is the room that I introduced to you all at the beginning of the month:

Now this is the part where it is going to get so embarrassing to share. Because I went around the room and took individual photos of each and every area. I literally took a picture about every two feet around the room so that you all could get a real good view on what I was working with. Except that I didn't want to share them all upfront. I figured that it would be well enough to share them now that I'm finished. So here goes. Starting at the corner closest to our sliding door entry - the main entry for our family.


And then a close up of those armoire doors and then a glimpse inside, shall we?

And beginning to move to the right to go around the room, we next come across the deep freeze and the bagging station I set up when I had a paper route. Which ended before Christmas. Having this area set up at that point in time was great. Because I needed it. But now that I no longer need it, it was a problem and things would get dumped onto the deep freeze instead of being brought in and put away. I was definitely one to blame for that.
The next problem with this area was the fact that the kids would take their shoes and coats and backpacks off right at the door - which is fine, except that they didn't have anywhere to hang them. Usually they got dumped on the other side of the door (which you will see at the end of this post) as the deep freeze dump spot was Mom's spot to put things.


Now the children have a nice (and attractive) place to hang their coats and put their shoes. The shoe mat I brought down from the living room, where our front door is. We never use our front door. The only people who use that door are service technicians, Boo's teacher and service coordinator and our friends, Chris and Missy. It just really didn't make much sense to have our shoes stored up there when down here is where they should be stored. Granted, I do have off-season stuff still stored up in the closet by the front door. It's close enough to have easy access to it in our rapidly changing climate, yet still put away and out of sight.
And then continuing on to our entertainment center:

I had this decorated for Christmas (then I decided it could just be called winter decorations, as an my reasoning for not taking the decorations down yet) and the book storage was a good idea initially except that the shelves were too deep and too cramped for the amount of books we had to store. And because of that, the kids would end up just stacking the books on the shelves. And we all just threw extra "stuff" on the shelves when we needed to do a quick pick up in this room. But the extra "stuff" never got removed from the shelves. There was also a gap between the entertainment center and the freezer where things would inevitably fall and be forgotten about, lost, or whatever. And it was hard to get inbetween there to clean it out because they were cramped together too.
But that is no more, as you can see from these after photos:

The next area is where my desk was. Here is the before picture of my (unusable) desk:

I cannot even tell you exactly why or how this desk ended up looking that way. I think that just because the whole room was cluttered and messy and whatnot, it just literally got lost in the mess too. I really wanted to have a desk to sit at and work, so when I brought this one in from the garage, I had high hopes. Those hopes lasted for, oh, approximately, ten minutes, I'm guessing. You'll have to continue to reading to see what the desk looks like now though. Because where my desk was before, is where the deep freeze is now:

By having the deep freeze here, it allows for a couple of things. One, it is no longer as convenient to bring things in and just leave them sit on top of the deep freeze because I am already so much closer to the kitchen already. The second thing is that we no longer have this congestion at the sliding door caused by people coming in, trying to set things on the freezer, take off shoes and coats, etc and allowing the heat to escape from the house out into the cold outside.
Next up is the before picture of the area next to Hubby's desk and then Hubby's desk:

We had developed some bad habits of eating at the computer. Well, technically, we still have those bad habits, but now we have laptops and so we can still eat at the computer if we want. We just bring the computer to the table. But then that seems really rude, so we just haven't done that either. This desk is mostly used by Hubby and the kids. Hubby uses the desktop and his laptop about 50% each. I use my laptop 100% and the desktop 0%. I don't think that all of the mess at the desk was from me, but since I haven't been sitting at the desk, it has been, um, a lot better. Which is totally embarrassing. I would love to say that it was all Hubby or the boys, but I'm afraid that is not the case at all, as you can tell by looking at those areas now:


Now for the stairs. Who wanted to attempt to get to the stairs to climb up before:

But now that we are in the after state, no worries and no problem!

Next up is NattyNu's desk area before:

Yet somehow, he always was able to get his schoolwork done and handed in on time. I don't quite get it. I do know that his desk (and well, to be quite honest, any flat surface in the room) ended up being a holding spot for things. I would pick things up for him at the store and leave them for him on his desk, expecting him to take them up to his room. That didn't happen often enough, and since we have rearranged and decluttered and organized, etc. in this room, I haven't been shopping for those extra kind of things. Thus eliminating the need for that. And I think from now on, I may just take the items up and put them away when I bring them home to alleviate that issue to start with.
And now NattyNu's desk are is Punky's little converted desk area:

I do realize that her "desk" is just really a small table (repurposed) but I felt that it was important for her to have her own little spot to work as well. She likes to do "school" worksheets and color as well and the boys would get frustrated with her when she used their desks. Since she isn't all that responsible just yet with art materials, she doesn't need to have drawers to store those kind of items. Instead, she "checks them out" from me. They are actually stored in the armoire, but the kids are not supposed to get into the armoire and so far, that has been working out well.
And the stand before it was Punky's little desk:

And NattyNu's desk area now:

Then it was JoNo's desk. Here is where his desk was before and in pretty much the same state as NattyNu's desk was also:

And where his desk was is now a neat bookshelf, featuring NattyNu's "Magic Treehouse" collection on the second shelf and the box on the top shelf is where I put my papers to recycle:

Next was the couch, back when this was the family room:

But now it is my desk area. Here is a couple of shots so you can see how nice it looks now. I love how functional it is! And yes, I have picked up the GameCube game and the pop lid. :) In case you noticed. I just didn't see them before I took the pictures.

And next to my desk is another bookshelf. I love this bookshelf (mainly because it's mostly mine!) The top shelf has Christian novels and Bible studies and devotionals and such. The second shelf has cleaning, organizing and self-help(ish) books on the left and then fun reads on the right. The bottom shelf has my binders and my box of words for homeschooling for next year. Oh and to the left of the bookshelf is my file system (in the blue file box) and on top of that are my laptop bag, Hubby's laptop bag, and my old laptop bag. My old laptop still happens to be in that bag as well. But I haven't been able to quite yet part with that paperweight. And to the right of the bookshelf is a little travel sleeper bed that I plan to list on craigslist or take into one of our used kids' stuff stores.

Okay, so much fun! But it's time to move on...back to the old yucky family room photos... This time of the end table. My oh my how we covered that thing in stuff!

But now that is where JoNo's desk is. Doesn't that just look so much better?

And then finally to wrap up the room... This is the shoe shelf, and the bottom of the shoe shelf and the floor in front of the shoe shelf. I cannot believe that we actually allowed that mess to exist. But the truth was, some of it I just didn't know what to do with. Or where to start. I was totally overwhelmed by it all.

But here we are now. Little Boo's corner for art. Notice the fact that I didn't have to take multiple pictures of the area? Lovin' that!

So, now a quick overview shot. Let's see that whole room before picture again:

And the after shot?

Oh yes, so so so much better! I can work, the kids can work, we can play, we can create. So much better than it was. And when we gear up for homeschooling beginning this summer, we will be good to go!


1. What was the hardest part of the challenge for you and were you able to overcome it?

The hardest part of the challenge for me was that we only have two trash cans and it only gets picked up once a week. :) In addition to that, there was also the added issues of changing our minds about what would stay and what would go and where it would be placed and how the room was going to function. We changed our minds a few different times. And some of the pieces were in a few different areas before they ended up in their final homes.

2. Tell us what kind of changes/habits you have put into place in order for your area/room to maintain its new order?

Well, for one, it's much easier to maintain the desk areas because everything now has a place. The older boys, while they still have drawers (and they do keep stuff in their drawers) no longer have art supplies kept in their drawers. It is much easier this way because now I can keep track of who has what and make sure that it gets put away when they are done using it. The same idea is true for my desk as well. I now have a designated place to put things, my files are set up and easily accessible. Even if the kids have pulled down a bunch of books, it only takes a few minutes to put them all back. All of the soft cover books go on the top shelf, hard cover on the second shelf, workbooks on the third shelf and textbooks on the bottom shelf. It's easy because everything has a place and everyone knows where that is. The labels I put up around the room help out some as well.

3. What did you do with the “stuff” you were able to purge out of your newly organized space?

We threw a lot of stuff away and recycled a lot of things as well. Some of the stuff actually belonged out in the garage and some of the things were moved to the kids' playroom. The couch, end table and entertainment center were all moved into the kids' playroom, for instance.

4. What creative storage solutions were you able to introduce in order to create additional space as well as establish some limits and boundaries?

A big one for me was to sort out our books into like categories and then to put them on the shelves available. Another was repurposing the armoire. I really wish now that I had taken a picture of what the inside of the armoire looked like before, but I didn't. It was basically used for overflow items for the bathroom (the door right next to the armoire) and for excess candles, etc. Just miscellaneous stuff. I used the inside of it for the art items storage area and then brought in the two sets of plastic drawers for storage within the area. I do not have an exact plan yet set up for those drawers but I'm thinking that they may become a spot for the kids to store their special papers from school. With two drawers left over, for something else. I also took an extra file box and used that to store all of the kids' art supplies. Now all of the supplies are contained in that one box. I may go back later and further separate it out, but for right now, this works for us. I also took a random tote from within our house and put all of the kids' construction paper in it.

5. Why do you think you should win this challenge?

Honestly anymore, I don't even care if I do win the challenge. I won this room. But since it is a challenge/contest and it would be really cool to win it, I guess I would have to say that I think I should win because of the total transformation of this room. This room went from one that was simply passed through to one that is used. It allowed my family to become closer and communicate about all of our individual needs as well as our family's joint needs for this room. I learned a lot about our habits and ways to change our home to fit or to alter our habits. We never had the shades open in this room as it is on street level and it was an embarrassment but now we often have the shades open and it looks so much more welcoming. We look forward to doing similar transformations in other areas of home as well. Some of them we will do on the blog, and some not on the blog. But for anyone who is interested, the playroom is next...

Challenge Update

So, here we are...the last week of the month. Sunday is our final day of the challenge and I think I'm going to make it! Oh my word! What an experience this has been! We have purged so much stuff from this room - and the more I get rid of, the more I think that there is still too much stuff in the room, but it's definitely getting there. And there's even room to grow in some of the organized areas. It's crazy - before there was NO MORE ROOM and now that there is room for everything and some! And I like it! A lot.

Hubby and the kiddos have been an incredible help to me in this challenge. It's great! And maybe, just maybe, once this challenge is done, little Boo will not be able to color on the walls anymore, since everything will have a place and that includes all forms of pens, pencils, crayons, markers, colored pencils, paints, etc. Actually (sly grin) those items already have a place. And I'm thrilled beyond belief that I have that aspect taken care of. We had a serious amount of pens and pencils and such. I, um, ended up just throwing a bunch out. I didn't even care if it was a good working pen or not. Unless it was a special pen to me (and yes, I do have pens that are special to me - I'm a freak and I'm happy with that, thankyouverymuch!) I would just toss them out. I figure it's cheaper and less stresful to replace the pens than it is to go through and check all of the other pens, etc. Ya know? So, I went with it.

So, anyhow, I have one more hour left to work in there before Hubby leaves to go pick up the kiddos from MIL's house, so I have some work to do - and when he leaves, I will take pictures. Mind you - the walls AGAIN need to be scrubbed (in some places, it's actually "still need to be scrubbed") but I'm going to have the kiddos do that this week. Other than that, the room is about 95% done - even with all of the last minute changes we have made.

It's so cool! *squeal*

Menu Plan Monday

Well, it's time to plan that menu again, isn't it? Well, I'm ready for it. Thanks to the littlest guy's newfound ability to tolerate some dairy products, it has opened up a lot of opportunities for us.

Monday - homemade beef stew
Tuesday - just Hubby and I so maybe sandwiches?
Wednesday - stirfry
Thursday - macaroni and cheese with tuna
Friday - homemade pizza
Saturday - lasagna
Sunday - chicken noodle soup

So there you have it - our menu plan for this week. Wonder how closely we will follow it this week?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Off Track

Why is it that when I have a plan to do something specific, that I end up doing something completely different? I have my sticky notes on my desktop right? I always have sticky notes on my desktop - but you can see them right here:

Mahjong anyone? Actually, that is precisely the reason I put my notes up that way. To uncover what I need to do next. And I think - although I'm not sure - but I think maybe I did one of the items that I had listed all the way underneath everything else. Sigh. Figures, right? Oh well! At least I have something to show for it. Introducing....our new coat hooks in the den.

Don't those look great? I love the way that they look right there. I was trying to decide between the way that I ended up hanging them, a symmetrical pattern with high, low, low, high, or in a straight line. Hubby suggested that we do it this way and well, I went with it. I was undecided and he thought it would be good, so that's what we did. And you know what? It IS good. I like it quite a bit! I'm so glad that I did it too!

The kids are thrilled with their new hooks too! Well, two of the three that are home right now are, I should say. And you see the spot where there is a paint missing from the wall above the hooks? Would you believe that was actually caused by thick old paint just flaking off? It's happening here and there throughout our rental house. I think I need to get in touch with management about it. Don't you think? In the meantime until they get a chance to come out and repaint or agree to let us do the repainting, I think I am going to put something over the coat hooks to "assign" them to each of the kids. You know - name recognition and all that. Plus, I have some really cute ideas that I could incorporate as soon as I find this particular shoe box. That has all the Dolch sight words plus the nouns, plus classroom labels plus some blank strips of this special paper in there. And I don't know what I did with it. Can't find it anywhere at the moment. Very frustrating. I spent a lot of time, effort and a little bit of money of it and now I don't have it when I'm just about ready for it! Grrr!

Oh well! It will turn up and until then, I can deal with looking at the horrible ugly patch of wall where I can see the drywall underneath. I can live with that...temporarily.

Oh - and one other thing that I did today...I built this:

We got this for Punky and Boo for Christmas. Punky has already added a butterfly sticker to the storage on the back, but that's okay. Boo doesn't really mind. He puts his colorful touches on any available canvas wall surface that he can.

And yes, I do realize that my dear little Punky is wearing a winter coat and no shoes. That is because although I have told her multiple times today that she is not going to be riding this bike outdoors, she insists on wearing her coat around the house - I think "just in case" I change my mind. I don't know. But this is one battle that I will gladly let my three-year old win. She wants to wear her coat around the house? Fine by me.