Saturday, December 31, 2011

Banging Wall

I just realized I never shared the gift we made for Margaret's birthday, a banging wall. It's the first of what we hope will be many playful installations in our backyard over the next few years.

I got all the pieces from the dollar store. We drilled holes in the pans and hung them with knotted twine from a lattice fence that runs through the center of our yard. We added hooks to hang large spoons and stirrers used to bang on the pans.

Margaret really loves going outside and making a racket with her banging wall. I've got my eye out for more interesting pieces to add to it over time. I've salvaged some pieces of an old metal xylophone that might be fun.


Friday, December 30, 2011

Toddler Art and Sensory Material Storage

For our updated storage, click here.

With all the new art and sensory box supplies Meg got for Christmas, I decided it was time to update her storage situation. I'd been shoving all her art supplies into pigeon holes above a desk in our kitchen and keeping extras in a desk in my craft room. This meant she had to ask for help accessing her supplies, and the storage areas were overflowing.

So, I took out her (mostly unused anyway) highchair and did this:

The table is a Lack side table from Ikea. Just $6, and it's the perfect height for her.

I didn't have a large budget, but I wanted everything visible, easy for Margaret to access herself, and somewhat matching and attractive, since it would be seen from the front door.

I started with a $15 bookshelf from Wal-Mart. We have 8 of these scattered about our house in various sizes. They're inexpensive, unobtrusive, and really functional.

I bought 2 quart plastic jars ($2 apiece) and 4-packs of food storage containers ($2/pack) for the art supplies and sensory materials.

Top shelf: crayons, markers, pipe cleaners, and various blank papers in a magazine holder.
Second shelf: shaving cream, water beads, grey moon sand, blue moon sand, pinto beans.

Third shelf: paintbrushes, glue, masking tape, empty containers for painting, collage material and play dough.
Bottom shelf: outdoor play clothes.

It was important to me that the containers be clear, because I find it easier to be creative when I can see all my materials at a glance, rather than reading labels or remembering what containers hold. I figured the same would be true for Margaret. I wish I didn't have to stack them all two-deep, but our space is finite, so you do what you gotta do. Hopefully, some rotation on my part will keep things fresh.

On the bottom shelf of the bookcase, I put a dishwashing bin ($2) and a CD organizing crate ($1). They hold outdoor messy play clothes, so we don't always have to trek upstairs before we head outside to play. I tucked a pair of old shoes for myself on the shelf and we hang our "messy jackets" on pegs beside the bookcase.

I'm really happy with this new storage arrangement. There's room for both the materials and my girl to grow and change, she can access everything herself, and it looks neat and orderly. Do we call that a win-win-win?


Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Tree Play Dough

Here's a fun, simple activity we did recently to get in the Christmas groove (and to occupy the toddler while Mommy got some Christmas gifts made).

Christmas tree play dough:

I made up a batch of dark green play dough using this recipe.

I started by giving Meg some Christmas cookie cutters to make prints in the dough.

Then we added a straw to "poke, poke, poke" Christmas balls onto the tree.

Note: It's imperative you chant the "poke, poke, poke" while attempting this activity for optimum results.

Then I gave her some shaped buttons I had laying around from another project to use as Christmas ornaments.

Placing and removing the buttons gave her some great fine motor skills practice using her pincer grip.

The "Christmas trees" produced were abstract and even unintentional, but they kept this busy little girl engaged for an hour and a half.


If you like it, then you shoulda put a pin on it:
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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

James' Closet

I don't play favorites around here. Margaret's closet got its own post, so it's only fair for James' closet to have a moment in the spotlight. (Please forgive the poor lighting in these pictures and the ones of Margaret's room. It's so overcast lately.)

The majority of James' clothes are kept at his changing table for convenience's sake. Can't walk away from a wiggly baby perched on the table, and I'm always noticing clothing needs at diaper changes: cold tootsies that need socks, a diaper leak on his jammies, etc.

I use Ikea Kusiner storage bins to hold his clothes. I love these bins so much. They're sturdy, roomy, have a see-through front panel to allow you to know at a glance what they hold, and they're a huge steal at just $5 apiece. I also love that they fold flat when not in use. We use them all over our house to store toys, books, clothes, stuff in the car, and more.

These ones hold:

Jammies and sleep sacks

Cloth diapering supplies

Onesies and hats

Bibs, burp cloths, and wash cloths

I also found some cleaning supply caddies at Target this summer for just $1.50 apiece. We use them to hold:

Swaddle blankets and pacifiers

Socks, mitts, booties, and shoes

Nothing too spectacular about his closet. His nightstand holds extra blankets. Beside that is gear he hasn't grown into yet. Up on the top shelf are extra disposable diapers, a container of teething toys/rattles for when he gets a bit older, and a bin for clothes he's outgrown and yet to grow into.

His clothes are arranged by size and, further, by type and color. Again, the closet neurosis. Just embrace it. My family has.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Margaret's Closet

Margaret recently moved to a new big girl room to make room for James in the nursery. With this new big girl room came a nice double closet. Quite the step up from her previous awkwardly-placed single closet.

We decided the best use of space would be to put her dresser in the closet. This would allow for more floor space in her bedroom for playing (and the new play kitchen she's getting for Christmas - shh!), and since her clothes are still so short, it maximized wasted space between the floor and the high clothing rod inside the closet.

On top of the dresser, we placed a little storage shelf that was a handmedown from my grandma. We keep her hair clips, headbands, comb, and hair ties in the drawers. We hung her hair bow holder on the wall beside the shelf.

Her hanging clothes are sorted by type (jackets, church dresses, play dresses, skirts, pants, pullover sweaters, long sleeved shirts, short sleeved shirts) on color-coded hangers, because I'm neurotic like that.

Her dresser drawers hold:

Jammies - It's Margaret's job to put these away when I'm folding laundry, so they're never folded.

Outdoor play clothes

Socks, leg warmers, tights, bloomers, and hats

I made the drawer organizers using old children's shoe boxes covered in the same drawer liner that, you know, lines the drawers. This was seriously a pain, probably because I was so finicky about not having any bubbles in the liner, and because I wanted to use one continuous piece of liner for the insides. Then again, it could have had something to do with the fact that I was 36 weeks pregnant and trying to maneuver around a giant belly. Whatever the reason, I really can't say the bang was worth the buck in this circumstance. Who ever even sees the drawer organizers?

Margaret's cloth diapers are stored in another handmedown cabinet from my grandma.

On the top shelf of the closet, I keep two open crates. One is for clothes she's outgrown and the other is for clothes I buy ahead in larger sizes. The open crates allow me to just toss the items in as I find/buy them, and I can sort through them at my leisure.

And there you have more than you ever cared to know about my toddler's clothing storage system.


Friday, November 18, 2011


As my masses of fans (*snerk*) may have noticed, I've been a bit absent as of late. Pregnancy, hyperemesis, bed rest for preterm labor, a painful joint condition, October festivities, and, you know, giving birth have kept us here at Casa de Wannabe a bit tied up. But I'm back, baby, and ready for action. I've got lots of sewing projects, organizing posts, and pictures of the kids to share. I'll work on getting those up whenever this little munchkin lets me set him down a moment or two:


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Meet James

Our son was born on 11/3/11 at 12:33 AM after 2 hours of active labor. He was 8 lbs 2 oz and 21” long. After much deliberation, we’ve named him James Desmond.

James was born at a darling birth center, The Birth Sweet. It offered a home birth experience without the nuisances of actually giving birth at home (having my house company-ready for the midwife, cleanup afterward, a 30 minute drive to the nearest hospital should something go wrong, sending my toddler away from home to be babysat, etc). The midwife and her assistant were so calm, encouraging, and capable. It was incredible to have such control over the experience, versus my hospital stay with Margaret. Given the chance, we'll most definitely be using their services for all future births.

First Photo

None too pleased with the change of scenery.

James surprised us all with his size and strength. He's been holding his head up unassisted since birth. At 4 days old, he'd already surpassed his birth weight. He definitely doesn't seem any worse off for the difficult pregnancy.

Naming him was a bit more of a challenge than we'd expected. We went to the birth with the names Michael, James, and Adam earmarked. Immediately after birth, all 3 seemed to suit him just fine. For the next two days, I couldn't decide on a front-runner at all. Fritz definitely preferred James, but I just wasn't positive it was "the one." Just before heading out for his first doctor's visit, I decided he looked very much like an Adam to me. My husband, easygoing guy that he is, said Adam was just fine if it's what I wanted, but I knew he still preferred James. Sitting in the waiting area of the doctor's, I finally decided that since I loved all three names equally and my husband had a specific preference, it only made sense to go with that one. So James Desmond he is. I'm very happy with that decision.

Margaret is ob-freaking-sessed with him. She can’t handle letting him out of her sight for a second, seems to believe it’s her duty to keep us apprised of all his needs, and wants to talk about nothing but the “day-dee.” She just beams when she sees him and can’t keep her hands off his fuzzy little noggin. Suffice it to say she’s smitten.

I'd say he fits in just fine around here.