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The Toy Situation

I’ve been reading a lot of Imperfect Homemaking lately.  I find her completely inspirational. Kelly is the mom of 5, 5 and under; the youngest two are twins! She crafts, organizes and loves Jesus. She says she keeps her house about 70% clean  about 70% of the time–I love that, and can relate to her on so many levels. Did I mention she’s inspiring?

Look what I made time to do today: 

 I’ve been meaning to make toy bin labels for oh, about a year. Or longer. I had labels on some stuff in the form of jotted notes on scratch paper jammed haphazardly in the pocket of some of the toy bins, or a sample of the contents in the pocket; but didn’t never made time to make it pretty. Plus, not everything had a label, and as Kelly says, “A basket without a label will soon be a catch all for anything and everything.” (even though I used quotes, that’s just an approximation of what she says, but the concept is there.)

Aviana asked me what I was doing.
 I asked her what it looked like I was doing.
She replied, “Making labels to organize the toy bins.”
I told her, “Exactly.”
She responded, “I don’t think that’s going to help.”

Well, I hope it does. A mama can dream, right?

Besides making the labels, I emptied out the “toy box” in the living room, finding an amazing amount of missing pieces to many many different sets of toys. Including a single dart for Cadrian’s dart gun. I love making that boy happy!  
The  toy box is just supposed to be for a few large trucks and Magnadoodles and a few of Denton’s big toys that don’t fit on the shelves, but it doesn’t have a label 🙂 so it quickly becomes a catchall for everything that gets picked up from the living room floor.
 I’d rather have them in the toy box than on the living room floor. Or under the couch. Or behind the couch.

The black and white labels are a free printable from Lily Jane Stationary and the color ones I just made by finding a picture of what I needed from Google images and using Publisher. You can make the photos bigger by clicking on them.

And because I’m always curious about things like this, here are a  few details:
 The first picture is in the kitchen, where I supervised Aviana making cookies (which I didn’t do very well apparently, since she misread 2 1/3 cups of flour as 2/3 of a cup–that first batch  of cookies was rather flat), and frequently interacting with the boys.

The next two pictures are the toys. This is basically all the toys we own. I didn’t take pictures of the train table, or the dress up area, or the aforementioned toy box. We also have a tote of wooden blocks and another of Duplos. The girls each have a couple of dolls and some clothes for them.

The middle picture is in Cadrian’s room. His room is on the first floor, off the living room so it is also a convenient play area. In the cabinet below is the Animal Train, some big wooden cars and trucks, and the Wedgits.

The last picture is in the family room upstairs. The top drawer locks (and in fact won’t stay shut unless it’s locked) and holds DVDs and VHS. Yes, we still have VHS. They’ re only $.25 at library sales :-D.

The bottom drawer has a shape sorter and a bunch of upcycled water bottles with colored and/or glitter water (lids glued on) that I made for Toddler Bowling when Aviana was about 18 months. I can’t believe how those things have lasted, and how they remain a favorite toy, and how they are never, ever used for Toddler Bowling.

Our toy philosophy is open ended, imagination based play. We like wood and God made materials whenever possible.  We like the idea of less is more. If a toy isn’t being played with or asked for, or it’s just dumped on the floor repeatedly and walked away from, we donate it. I have a hard time with this especially if the toy was a gift or I bought it new. Toys should be an asset to children’s play, not play for them or direct their play. Play is the work of the child. We believe our home should enhance the imagination and fantasy of the child. (This is essentially the Waldorf philosophy of education.)

It’s sad to me how children aren’t playing any more–evidence to me of this is the example of Tinker Toys. We have a new set and a vintage set. The new set is marketed to preschoolers. They’ve changed the diameter of the ‘sticks’ and of course, lessened the complexity of the projects. Our vintage set was marketed to ‘tweens’. My guess is that most tweens aren’t playing with Tinker Toys anymore, but are playing with electronics. I think this is a grave disservice we’re doing to our children. Tweens are still very much CHILDREN and should be PLAYING.

Play nourishes children, and the toy situation should keep their imagination flourishing so they can grow to be healthy, creative, well rounded adults.

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A new addition

Not the baby kind…although we’re still working on that one. 😀

We are trying to figure out how to make a laundry room, a family closet, an office for the Kevin ~the farm~, a bathroom with a shower, and a mudroom. We have a room between our kitchen and garage we refer to as the summer kitchen (it used to be a true summer kitchen) that is 11×15 and we possibly would be able to add on to it another 18×15. We are having SO much trouble figuring out how to make everything fit and still not be crowded. How do people do this?

Our 162 year old house has a lot of square footage, but among its many drawbacks, has only one small bathroom, no well planned entryways, teeny or nonexistent closets, and no good storage. It’s not designed for modern living.

 Any ideas? Anyone? Anyone?

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Saving Souls and Decorating

Are you familiar with the Salvation Army?

According to Dave and Neta Jackson, authors of Hero Tales, “The slums of East London were a sad place to be at this time (the late 1800’s). It was said that every fifth house was a “gin house” with special steps to help even the tiniest children reach the counter. By five years old, many children were alcoholics. Some even died.
But the street corner preaching of the Salvation Army worked. In fact, so many people came to know Christ and stopped drinking and gambling that business began to slow at the gin shops. The owners, who had been getting rich by selling alcohol to these poor people were not happy and did everything they could to stop the street-corner preachers. But God would not let them stop the work of the Salvation Army.”
I think the mission of the Salvation Army has changed somewhat in the ensuing hundred-odd years, but it’s my understanding it’s still a Christian organization, still helping the poor. That’s God’s work right there.
Another reason why I really like the Salvation Army is you can score superfab deals like these:
Make me feel like I have a grown up bedroom now! We need a headboard and some grown up decorations on the dressers, like I dunno. Candles or statues or something. What do people put on their dressers anyway?
And for the record, we did not get the baby at the Salvation Army. He came with the room. 🙂
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Apr-16-2010-001

Nails

I put nail stickers on the girls today for being super duper trooper helpers today. They loved it.

And then, my wonderful sister-in-law came over and hung out with the children for five hours so I could get a haircut, go spend my Gymbucks, get a pedicure (thanks to my husband who got me the gift card for our anniversary in November–last year!–), and go to the grocery all by myself!

I got Aviana her watch on my little excursion–she is beyond thrilled to pieces.
The tile I’m standing on is what we’re thinking of having installed in our entire kitchen, replacing the beige you can see here in the prep area of the kitchen, and the beige carpet in the eating area of the kitchen. What thinks you?

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Whoo-hoo!

We’re ordering a whole hog!

I’m pretty stinkin’ excited about that because I love me some pork.

Pork chops every week for a year.Bacon. Pork roasts. Bacon. Pork sausage. Bacon. Ham. Bacon.
LOVE. ME. Some. Pork.

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I set a goal to myself to use my crockpot at least once a week in 2010.

Whoo-hoo! Totally rocking that goal.

(If you’re thinking, “it’s only the second week in January, Jessica” I have two words for you.

Shut. It.)
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Cadrian now has three words to his vocabulary.

Da! (Dada) HhhhhoT! (hot) and UP!

At almost 18 months, he never fails to get his needs and wants across, and he is all boy, so I’m not worried about his seeming deficit in the verbal department. Coming after little miss Brielle, it’s almost a welcome change.
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We got our upstairs landing redone, and are having the kitchen repainted!

Good-bye green plaid wallpaper and funky office ceiling and gross single bulb lamp with strange green velvet shade.

Hello gorgeous “rainforest dew” walls and perfectly ordinary ceiling and gorgeous chandelier that matches the one at the bottom of the stairs.

Yes, we still have the green shag carpet. *shrugs* I joyfully take what I can get.

Good bye thirty year old kitchen paint. Hello clean and shiny!

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Jun-30-2009-016

Special Delivery

I love deliveries. I would totally crush on my delivery people if I weren’t already happily married to the hottest guy EVER.

Usually it’s something for the farm. BOOOOOOORRR-ING.

But lately, it’s been fun stuff!! Like this light over my table. Isn’t it super fab? I’ve been wanting to replace the old light over the kitchen table since we moved in five years ago.

And, we also get to replace our other brass and smoked glass chandelier in the living room with this:

We also got some essentials I absolutely love. This detergent line is THE BEST
We give great credit to these vitamins and Omega-3s for our kids health and intelligence. (That and their mom is awesome !*tosses hair back and laughs*)

I also have gotten several books for me and the children lately from PaperBackBookSwap.

I’m still waiting for this dress.

And some more books.

I can’t wait. *rubs hands together gleefully*

I love deliveries.

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It’s Real Life

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Here is the badge you decided on and the code to copy to put on your post so the badge will appear on your page and will link back here to the fest.

I hope. Never having done this before, I used free tutorials at nearly two in the morning… That may not have been a good idea…

So on with the show–My Real Life

My fridge: I know the kitchen is supposed to look so much tidier without a bunch of magnets and whatnot on the refrigerator, but I just can’t seem to help it. We’ve got the girl’s toy magnets, alphabet magnets, the practice clock, our family magnets , our list of names for Baby C, the log for the summer reading program, a picture of K and me when we were dating, my check for one year’s salary as a mom he wrote me, the camera I want, some comics…The inside’s not too bad. I’m spoiled because I have a deep freeze in the basement and a second fridge on the front porch so I can buy in bulk and not have to worry about space.
Kevin and my closet: His laundry. Would you believe this house had no closets on the first floor until the 1960’s? This one Kevin’s grandparents put in as a present for his parents while they were on their honeymoon. It still has 100 year old wall paper high up, and it has a little cubbie door under the stairs for stowaways. Just kidding about the stowaways.
The kitchen sink: I don’t “do” Flylady, but her tip of “shine your sink” resonated with me, so I try to do that once a day.

The toilet: This house had no indoor bathroom until the 1950’s, so that door you see? It goes upstairs. It used to go into the kitchen, but now it’s in the bathroom. So when I have guests over for the first time, if I invite them to go upstairs (we have our TV up there), and then walk into the bathroom expecting them to follow, they get a little weirded out. Hmmm… Don’t enlarge this photo. We have rust in our water, plus I’ve only cleaned the toilet once since the cleaning lady quit.
My favorite shoes: Flip flops. I prefer to be barefoot actually, but these are the next best thing. This Target find has sparklys on them for dressier occasions. 🙂
My favorite room: My craft room. I scrap and make cards up here. I make hair bows. I read. I sew (kind of) The storage units you see were made by high schoolers in their woodworking class; several of us teachers commissioned them for only the price of materials! As you can see, I create here. I don’t clean. Really, I do clean, but only once the counter is too cluttered to do anymore.


My view from my favorite room. I love this south window. Even on the cloudiest day the natural light is the best in the house.
What my kids are doing right now: You can see Brielle and Aviana were both ‘helping’ me take pictures, but when I actually uploaded and worked on this post it was quiet time. Yes, Brielle is asleep, but does that freakish thing where her eyes are half open. It creeps me out too.
Do you like how she is “in” her room?
My laundry pile: My washer and dryer are right off the kitchen, next to the dishwasher if you are trying to get perspective. It’s convenient. The step stool is there too because if we don’t put it out of reach, Little Miss B will get into trouble. Which she manages without the aid of a step stool come to think of it.
Self portrait: I wanted it to be of my face, but also of Baby C. I like how this turned out.

So that’s my real life! At least for now… I hope we’ll do more of these to come!

I’m so looking forward to seeing yours–makes my voyeuristic little heart go pitter-pat!

If you would be so kind, please post your name and blog name and then link directly to your post, instead of to your whole blog.

For example I would put:
Your name: Jessica at Farm Fresh
Your url: http://myfarmfreshiowa.com/2008/06/19/its-real-life-2.html

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06-15-001

A little help please…

Welcome to the Farm Fresh Home. This is the main entrance into our home. I would like it to look more like this a majority of the time, with little more style– a la Pottery Barn or at least a JC Penney catalogue.
But this is what I usually walk into.

It’s partly their fault.

But mostly hers.

Don’t let her fool you. She’s not all sugar.
So what are your suggestions for making my porch look good and still be functional? Ideas that the girls can use themselves.

Keep in mind that in the closet, I have a bin with hats and mittens, and today I walked out to find them all dumped out so Brielle could use the bin to give the kitty a ride. I need lock box functionality that’s still accessible.

I know it’s a lot to ask, but that’s why I’m asking you–You’re good and creative like that. I love you guys!

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Happy Valentine’s To ME!

The pots and pans we had were cheap-ish ones I bought myself when I was single and didn’t even cook. The Teflon was starting to come off, so we decided to spring for this gorgeous Kitchen Aid set. Don’t you just want to cook something right now?

Also, inexplicably, when Kevin went to buy these, he also bought a four pack of toilet bowl cleaner. The pans I’ll gladly accept for a Valentine’s present, but toilet cleaner? Not so much!

And since we had all the furniture moved around anyway because of the carpet cleaning, I decided to rearrange. It’s pretty limited options at our house because of a sectional, and the layout, but I figured after three years of the same arrangement, it was time to mix it up a bit.
*That spindly plant by the couch Kevin gave to me when Aviana was born, (and it was huge and gorgeous then!). It was up in my scrapbooking room dying a slow painful death, but I’m now trying to nurse it back to health. *I’d really like to get rid of the stereo, and get something muchmuchmuch smaller, but I haven’t been able to convince K yet. It was almost more than he could handle to get rid of the CD cabinet and all the jewel cases and put all the CDs in the little zipper case.
*The little white hooks on the wall are from where we hung our Christmas stockings, and we just haven’t gotten around to taking them down. *I’m reading Voices of the Faithful and the complete Chronicles of Narnia.
*On top of the computer armoire you’ll see my bouquet from our wedding. The china hutches have slowly morphed into preschool cabinets.*On top is Aviana’s “grocery store” and all the puzzles. I am tired of picking up all the pieces again and again. The Montessori method of keeping toys(books, dishes ect) accessible to children is not working in our house at this time. *The curtain on the stairs is made of thick upholstery material to keep the heat from rising.

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