Organization: Family Calendar

I am not a naturally organized person. I am not a person who craves order. I wish I were, but I’m not. With that said, with five people in this house, I’m striving for organization more. I’ve always been good at getting rid of things, but the things we need to keep, I need to develop a system for. Luckily for me, my good friend and neighbor is a naturally organized person…so I just steal her ideas and tweak them until they work for me. First up: the family calendar.

Last summer, I missed a couple of events or overbooked our lives because we didn’t have a family calendar that was visible. I’d plan something with a friend to find out B had a board meeting that night. Or I’d forget about a preschool birthday party and commit to family dinner plans. I’ve always kept a planner with a calendar, but it wasn’t accessible to everyone and it made double booking things – or forgetting to check the calendar – too easy. So, I turned to my friend. She had a pottery barn calendar and organizational system on a giant wall in her mudroom. We don’t have a giant wall. Or really a mudroom. But, I took her system and tweaked it to work for us. And it’s been great…as long as I write things down.

family organization

Off of our kitchen is a hallway that leads to the garage with doors to our basement, dining room and laundry room off of it – please excuse the garage sale staging area that my dining room is becoming (on the left). I have a bulletin board for the kids’ artwork and projects on the biggest wall, but the spot next to the door to the garage was big enough for a small scale calendar system.

dry erase calendar

I bought a small calendar at Target for less than $15. I think it was $12.99. I bought two sets of dry erase markers so that every member of our family could have their own color (I really need to find ultra fine point markers in other colors because those are my favorite – but the purple and orange medium point will have to do until I find those). The last day of every month, I clean off the calendar and write everything from my paper planner on the board. After that, any appointments get written on the board – it is the authority once the month is going. For appointments or commitments a month or more out, my paper planner is the authority – I keep it on the kitchen counter most of the time and just update it as things come up. B and I sit down once a week and mark out his travel, late meetings, etc for the next month(s) so that we know what we’re up against. And then, at the end of the month, I transfer it all to the big calendar that everyone can see.

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I store all the dry erase markers in the newly organized laundry room, which is one arm’s reach away from the calendar but keeps all the markers in one spot.

dry erase marker storage

This solution is hardly new or innovative, but it has made a world of difference in our lives and it took me until I had 3 kids and had been married 6 years to put into place, so now that it’s been working for us for about 6 months, I figured I’d share. Thomas loves reading what we’re doing (which means I have to write in code sometimes now that we have a reader since last week he said, “You’re taking us to the Rockies game on the 12th?!” spoiling the opening weekend tickets surprise B and I had planned for the family), B can quickly glance at the calendar when he’s wanting to schedule a golf game or beers with a friend, and I can easily tell when we have too much going on in one weekend and need to say “Thanks but no thanks” to other commitments.

Easter Recap

We had the best Easter Weekend this year. I love Easter – I love hosting Easter because it’s so easy, but this year I gave that up, and we kept it low-key. I often feel like if we don’t host so that both families can attend, I feel pressured to make it to both families for every holiday – but our families live an hour and a half apart. But I’m 30 now, so I’m more reasonable . My brother was in town, so we went to my parent’s because we don’t see him very often, and B’s parents came to Tom’s soccer game on Saturday and came over to the house to do Easter Baskets with the kids after that. It was perfect – no pressure, no racing across the state of Colorado to see everyone in one day – perfect.

 

We died Easter Eggs on Saturday morning with Kool-aid. So simple and easy. We hard boiled a dozen eggs, lost two to some violently boiling water, and should have boiled two dozen because the kids had a blast. Next year when Peter’s a part of the action, we’ll definitely have to up our Egg count.

Nell Easter Eggs Thomas Easter Eggs

Easter morning, a certain almost 5 year old woke the whole house up to go see the Easter baskets. The kids were pretty smitten. Our Easter Bunny keeps things VERY simple – a few candy filled eggs, a book, a small toy (our bunny opted for Legos over yet another stuffed animal…) and this year a new water bottle for each kid. And they were pleased as punch.

Easter Morning After we did our own little Egg hunt at our house, we loaded up and headed down South to my mom and dad’s house – we went to my old Elementary school for Easter Mass, then spent the rest of the day at my parents’ house, visiting with the family and letting the cousins play together. We took some family pictures, ate some really good food, and drank mimosas.

Easter Pictures

There was another egg hunt in my mom and dad’s backyard, and a LOT of backyard baseball.

Easter Day It was a perfect way to celebrate Easter – centered around Church and family with a little bit of candy and fun, just as it should be.

DIY Boxwood Wreath

Last week while the kiddos were napping, I whipped up a wreath for Spring for our front door. I’d been on the hunt for a great wreath that would take me from St. Patrick’s Day to Fall. I had a cute Valentine’s Wreath on the door for Valentine’s, but I really don’t want to store a wreath or door hanger for every holiday. So I was on the hunt for a season-less wreath – specifically boxwood that didn’t cost an arm and a leg – but couldn’t find one. Then, I stumbled across this tutorial on Pinterest for a 15 minute, $15 boxwood lookalike wreath and decided I could do it.

DIY Boxwood Wreath Our Hobby Lobby just moved and the day I went to the new store they had no grapevine wreath forms and no greenery out, so I went to Michael’s where I spent $30 instead of the tutorial’s $15, but it was a day when sometimes just being done with errands is worth an extra $15. And I did come away with actual faux Boxwood greenery instead of a lookalike, which Hobby Lobby doesn’t carry, so I was happy. The process was simple (and detailed in the tutorial linked above), but basically you stretch out the boxwood garland and use floral wire to wire it to the wreath form every few inches. I followed her easy bow tutorial, too, and in 15 minutes I had a wreath that will last me through the summer.

simple diy boxwood wreath

I love the greenery it adds to our navy blue door. We’re embarking on a big landscaping overhaul this Spring – we have the plans and will be planting this month or next, weather depending. But, I’m excited to add some greenery and life to the outside of our house – our exterior paint and lighting upgrades (the exact lights Joanna Gaines used on a house a couple weeks ago on Fixer Upper – I was patting myself on the back for picking them out on my own a full year before that episode aired) last Spring got us started in the right direction, and now it’s time to amp up our little cottage’s curb appeal even more. Can’t wait to see how our front yard takes shape this Spring and Summer!

Updates…

I have plenty of things in my head I could blog about…but life just gets so busy, and three weeks after Valentine’s Day how interesting is my valentines mantle? Ha! So here’s my typical “All the pictures in my iPhone catch-up”. Truth be told, I’ve been going back and forth about blogging and social media lately. And by lately I mean over the last two years. In my commitment to disconnect more frequently (and during the day) from technology, I post to Instagram far less. I rarely sit down at the computer during the day, and at night, on the weeks B is home and not traveling, I like to spend time with him. I deleted Facebook from my Phone for Lent and won’t be adding it back after it’s over — I was on the brink of just deleting my personal Facebook account, but decided to just remove the quickest access I had to it instead, so I only see things if I actually sit down at the computer, which is rare.  And can I say? It’s kind of nice. But then there’s the outlet of the blog – I like writing. I like the occasional family post, the pictures and the recaps of what we’re up to at this stage in our lives. I like sharing the occasional house project, but I’m a mom of three kids with a husband who travels 60% of the time…house projects are few and far between! And that’s okay – this is our life.  I love the community that so many of us built together 7 years ago when we all started blogging. But as our kids have all gotten older (and more numerous!), there’s less time. And more concern over privacy and kids. I don’t have a good answer, but I know the longer I wait to blog, the harder it gets to come back, so I’m recommitting to this old blog for the month of April to see how it goes.

So here we go, a quick catch-up:

I finished my third full Whole30 (my January Whole30 I didn’t finish, so I’m not counting that one) on March 15th. I lost 13 pounds, a couple inches all over and felt great – 6 of those 13 pounds were weight I gained over the holidays and the month of January, but the other 7 put me below my “happy weight”, which is awesome. I’ve done a great job of keeping with the eating – with the occasional treat here and there. B and I flew to Charleston last weekend for a wedding, and while I didn’t deny myself any foods I truly wanted, I definitely was conscious of how food made me feel. After three Whole30s, I’ve realized that I’m sensitive to gluten. Not intolerant, mind you – I like to be very clear on that in this gluten free world we’re inundated by – but just sensitive to it – it upsets my stomach and while I can deal with the discomfort, I feel better (and weigh less) when I avoid gluten, so that’s what I plan to keep doing. In the past, good craft beer has been the reason I’ve reintroduced gluten, but after this last Whole30, beer didn’t even taste good to me. (My first Whole30 recap is here).

 

With food kind of figured out, I’m turning my mind towards working out again. In January, I started P90x3. I loved the workouts, I felt strong and loved being in a daily workout routine…but I gained weight while doing it. And that was in conjunction with the failed Whole30 – part of why I gave up on the Whole30 in January was because I was annoyed at the scale. My friend and BeachBody coach was a huge part of getting me back into working out -and eating clean – last April. We both had newborns, and we both had baby weight to lose, and she was inspirational, challenged me to eat clean while doing a month long commitment to workouts through her accountability groups (if you’re looking to get started with a workout program, Jessica and her accountability groups are awesome – not perked to say that at all, just sharing the good :) ), and that’s when I found the Whole30. Jessica has been awesome talking me through the Beachbody programs and helping me find a program that works for me, so, I am starting 21 Day fix on Monday. I will be honest, I’m mostly doing it for the workouts. I’m scared to change my eating because I know that paleo and Whole30 work for me, but I will follow the 21 Day fix food plan as it fits into my paleo diet and am looking forward to the portion control portions of the program. But to fit this into my paleo diet, that means no grains or dairy (though I have promised to give vegan Shakeology a try) for me.

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B is traveling a ton for work, but he’s loving his job, and the two of us have figured out how to make it work. Thankfully, Facetime helps both the kids and me while he’s gone, and before he took the job we talked a lot about how important it was to me to not feel like having him around got in the way of our routine once we adjusted to his travel. The traveling husband and how we’re making it work with our marriage and the kids is probably a post of it’s own, and one that will continue to evolve…and I’m determined to blog more in April, so maybe I’ll get to that. But the long story short is: When B is home, we teamwork it like we always have, and when he’s gone, we talk multiple times a day so that he knows what’s going on, where we’re at with the kids, and how the week is going as a whole so he knows what he’s coming home to and he can pick up where he left off. It’s a lot of work, but doing that work is the most important thing for our family right now.

Thomas is in the homestretch of PreK and getting excited for summer. He’s playing soccer right now, and starts swimming lessons with Nell in two weeks. He’ll play T-Ball this summer (he’s psyched to finally be old enough – his June birthday put him past the cutoff date last year by 4 days). He’s getting more and more into Legos, but sports still reign supreme in his life. He’s a sweet, sensitive and fun kid, and we’re loving this stage of life where he’s doing “bigger kid” stuff, but still so small. He turns five in two months. Somebody hold me.

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Nell Caroline is 2 and a half, and you would know it. When Thomas was two and three, I remember telling people that his phases went in 3 month increments. We’d have a great 3 months, and then we’d have a rocky 3 months, although looking back at it I honestly don’t remember three month rocky stretches (ah, the gift of time and rose colored glasses!). Nell’s phases seem to go in about 3 WEEK increments. Which is exhausting, but thank goodness because the rocky stretches just about do me in…I can’t imagine if they lasted months rather than weeks. I went to confession at the start of Lent, and it basically turned into a counseling session about my sweet daughter, because my relationship with her was weighing heavily on my heart at the time. And it helped me enter these last 6 weeks with a different mindset – I’m trying to remember that I’m raising these children to be good people, to love God, and to share God’s love through kindness. And that starts with me. This is all probably another blog post in and of itself, but all this is to say that Nell and I are currently in a great phase, and I’m enjoying every second of it. I find myself thanking God each night lately for our good days, for his guidance as I navigate attempts at a whole new kind of attitude and disobedience, and for the sweet moments that remind me how lucky I am to have Nell’s perspective on the world.

IMG_7195_2 Peter Michael. B and I were gone for 4 days and we left our baby and came back to a toddler. He is into EVERYTHING. He’s walking, climbing, screaming when he doesn’t get his way and delighted by the sweetest, simplest things. I love 12 month olds, and I remember how hard it is when they feel independent but in reality are struggling to do anything for themselves. This baby boy of ours is so darn sweet – he’s snuggly and charismatic. I joke that he’s going to be our class clown, and I think he’s just going to be an easy going kid – used to rolling with the punches.

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And that’s our update. There are plenty of blog posts to come, and my goal is to blog 2 – 3 times a week this month. In reality, that will mean a lot of family posts, rather than a ton of house updates, but that’s our life right now. And I’m embracing it.

Peter’s Pete-za Party

So, Peter is one. My baby. I am mostly excited, because here’s what I’m learning as these kiddos of mine insist on getting older: They get more and more fun with age. Except, possible for 2 and a half…that age is knocking me down a notch or two in my parenting game currently. But there’s a little, tiny part of me that mourns the baby stage. Peter is very likely our last baby. I say very likely because I’m not ready to declare us done with squishy babies 100% yet, and I have an excellent girl’s name just in case. But we’re so content. This family of 5 of mine is perfect, and in all honesty, I’m looking forward to not being in an endless pregnant/nursing loop – I loved it, I’m beyond grateful to God for my family and my healthy body that helped me sustain life for the last 5 and a half years, and now I’m kind of excited to see what else we can do. But enough about that, let’s talk about Pete’s party.

 

I’m not a party person. Just throwing that out there. Entertaining, while I enjoy it, can overwhelm me a bit. I often wake up in the middle of the night after a party worrying that no one had a good time. And I’m not a normally anxious person. I’m starting to piece together after a few Whole30s that maybe just maybe the sugar and alcohol I tend to consume at parties are what cause my head to spin worrying about things I can’t change after a party is over, but that’s another story for another day.

I didn’t feel up to a big 1st birthday party this year (or, let’s be honest, I’ve never felt up to a big 1st birthday party but felt pressured to conform…but by baby #3 I don’t care about what everyone else does ;) ), so B and I agreed in advance that we would keep it to just family. Which is laughable because our in-town family alone means 30 people and there is nothing small about that, but family is family – they love you for who you are and I felt zero pressure to make anything pinterest worthy. I decided we’d have a Pete-za Party in honor of our Pete and one of his favorite foods, made up some adorable invitations, emailed them to our family because I knew I wouldn’t get them in the mail promptly, and that was that. We kept things simple: simple appetizers and snacks, take and bake pizza that we setup on the counter, and some simple, easy decorations. Peter had a blast watching his big cousins run around, he devoured a cupcake, and was passed from loving relative to loving relative for hugs and kisses all night long. And that’s all that matters!

As far as decorations go, I just printed out Peter’s monthly photos and strung them on my window in the living room.

monthly photos at first birthday party

Wrote some festive things on a chalkboard or two that I had around the house:

monthly photo display

pizza by the slice

I made a homemade vanilla cake with chocolate frosting. Simple, non-themey and deliciously homemade.

simple homemade first birthday cake

I hung kraft paper in the bay window in our kitchen (his invitations were on kraft paper, too) because those windows wreck havoc on pictures of the birthday boy eating his first bite of cake. It also gave me a surface to hang pennants off of, which was nice. I wasn’t really feeling the typical red and green Italian theme, so I added navy and just used red in accents. That made my not-so-red-loving-self happy.

cake table

first birthday party high chair

I plunked some fresh tulips in a tomato can for our homegrown pizza party:

flowers in tomato can

And that was that. A sweet and simple birthday party for our sweet Pete. And a celebration of our 1st year as a family of 5.

family of 5

A Gallery Display in Thomas’s Room

A year ago, I was scrambling to get Thomas and Nell’s rooms “finished” after moving in before Peter’s arrival. We worked with what we had, not wanting to spend a ton with a new baby on the way. So, a year has gone by, and there are a few things that just weren’t working in the kids rooms. So, I’m taking it one room at a time, getting things in working order, adding finishing touches and just giving the rooms a little new life for Spring. Thomas’s room is the first up. I’m excited to share pictures with you soon of his space soon, but we rearranged his furniture last week, I ordered him new sheets for his bed, am on the hunt for a solution for his windows, and am now focusing on getting something up on the walls.

 

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Nell-isms

Nell is 2 and a half. And she is full of personality, opinions, and, at this very moment in time, a lot of patience testing. My mom just laughs at her because she reminds her of me as a child. To which all I can say is that my parents are saints.

Screen Shot 2015-02-08 at 8.46.32 PM Carrying her Halloween bucket as a purse. In February.

Driving Thomas to preschool last week:

Thomas: Mama, I call our President Bronco Bama.

Me: Yeah, that was pretty silly when you were littler and thought he was named after the Broncos, huh? But do you remember what his real name is?

Thomas: Ummmm…

Me: Barack Obama. Can you say that?

Thomas: Barack Obama.

Me: Good! So since you know his real name, it’s probably a better idea to call him by his real name. It’s a respect thing, baby.

Nell (loudly and with emphasis): Well, I call him NELL MA-KEPITT!

Me: Oh yeah, Nell? Do you think you’re going to be President someday.

Nell: Yeah. It’s going to be SO cwazy.

Agreed baby girl, agreed.

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I went into Nell’s room to get her up from her nap to find her with no clothes on.

Me: Well hey there, Nell, how was your rest?

Nell: I taked off all my clothes because I was doing a dance class instead of my nap.

Me: [Pause to evaluate what my response should be...] Oh, isn’t that something.  Let’s get those clothes back on so you can come down and play.

(We later had the “NO grown-ups should ever ask you to take your clothes off body safety rules and oh-by-the-way, you will NEVER be enrolled in a dance class with a nudity requirement chat.)

 

At Target:

Me [Picking up a cute coral-y pink striped shirt on clearance]: Do you love this t-shirt, Nell? Should we get it for you?

Nell: Um, no fanks. That is not beautiful enough for ‘mys closet’.

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At the dinner table trying to get Nell to eat her food.

Me: Nell, can you eat this bite please?

Nell: Excuse me, mom. I is talking right now.

Resolutions Check-in and January Goals

So here we are in February. I laugh thinking about me this time last year – 8 months pregnant, so uncomfortable, and having regular contractions. For over a month. I remember being grumpy when people would try to plan things in the last two weeks of my pregnancy because I was obviously going to have a newborn and wouldn’t be able to be there. Ha! Sorry about last February anyone who knows me, I was not myself.

 

January was successful as far as goals go. My resolution to “Be Present” in 2015 has been mostly successful so far. There have been times where I’ve caught myself on my phone and needed to tell myself, “Put the phone down, do you want the kids to remember you as a mom who played games with them, or was constantly checking her phone?”, but I’m recognizing those moments and doing pretty well with keeping my phone in it’s designated spot while the kids are awake. So part two: disconnecting after they go to bed. This is hard when B travels – I find myself laying on the couch with TV on in the background and scrolling through blogs or Pinterest or Instagram on my phone. What’s the point??

No Spending January was great. As I’ve said before, this mostly comes into play – for me at least – with shopping. Groceries, I just buy what’s on the list that’s needed for meals that week. I fill the car up when it’s empty, but I don’t do an excessive amount of recreational driving – to and from preschool, activities (which are few at this stage in the game – but I know will be a big contributor to gas spending in our future) and to the grandparents on occasion. But shopping – throwing one extra thing in my cart at Target or Costco, or stopping into HomeGoods “just to look” are budget killers.  There were plenty of times when I filled my cart online and then had to physically remove myself from the office to remember that I didn’t NEED to buy those t-shirts for Tom this month. Or that, wouldn’t I prefer to buy those jeans after I finished my Whole30 and P90x3 and things fit differently? And honestly, this was a really good thing. I went through all of the kids clothes. Nell has so many (great and my style) hand-me-downs that all I need to buy her for summer are swimsuits and sandals. And if I’d just filled my cart, we’d have too much. The boys are a different story – Tom needs all new clothes for spring and summer, and Peter can wear a lot of Thomas’s hand-me-downs, but that three month difference in sizes makes a little bit of a difference, so he needs a couple things. I spent January assessing our closets and organizing what we had instead of buying more…and it was great! I have a couple house projects I want to put some money into (mostly paint purchases) in February, but otherwise I’m keeping shopping to a minimum again, preparing for spring wardrobe shopping for everyone (and a first birthday party! wahoo!) in March.

 

My Whole30 was meh this time around. This was my 3rd attempt and I didn’t finish. I knew from the start I wasn’t going to finish, and I was perfect for 21 days. But after my one allotted night of not perfect, I gave myself a lot of leeway. A few things: I weighed myself the morning of our party (B and I turn 30 within a month and a half of each other, and instead of having two parties, we decided to combine it and do it once) and had only lost a pound and a half. And I was discouraged. I KNOW this is why they tell you not to weigh yourself during your Whole30. Self sabotage. I’m back on track – eating Paleo with the occasional treat. There isn’t a good 30 day period for me to redo a full Whole30 until April, and I’m ok with that. I’ll consider it then, but for now, I think I need a break. I’m a big believer in moderation with diets, which is why I like Paleo and the Whole30 – you fill your body up with good, wholesome foods. Nothing processed, no chemicals. And I know that’s healthy,

But my workouts are going great! I am loving P90x3. I need a daily schedule and varied workouts to keep myself motivated. The workouts are challenging, and there are days I dread them, but I also feel like I’m getting back into my daily workout groove and it feels so good. P90x3 is BIG on strength – I am seeing muscles that have LONG been hidden. I feel strong and slim and healthy and over the first 30 days, I lost 2 inches in my waist and hips. I do think the strength and muscle building focus has a bit to do with my only losing 1.5 pounds over 21 days of perfect clean eating. I’ve talked to my BeachBody coach, and we think I need a more cardio based program going forward (T25 or Insanity Max are top contenders for April). I have a little less than two months left of P90x3 and I intend to finish it, but I will be adding running in soon (I’m a fair weather runner – March – June, and then evenings or early mornings July – August, and again September-October) to get my heart-rate up more.

So that’s my recap. How were your Januaries?

Kindergarten. Oy.

So, it’s January 2015. Which for some reason that I really struggle to come to terms with, means parents have to make decisions on school for their kids 8 months from now. I have to make a decision for my 4 1/2 year old that will go into effect when he’s 5 and 3 months. That’s insane to me. Since I found out I was pregnant in September 2009, our first baby’s June due date gave me a bit of anxiety. People I barely knew would bring red-shirting up with me. Everyone, and I do mean everyone, has an opinion on when a summer birthday kid should start Kindergarten. There is study after study showing that older kids do better in school and have more confidence. And there is study after study refuting those exact claims. So how the heck does a parent decide? I have friends with kids on both ends of the spectrum, and they all swear by the choice they made for their child. And I think that’s what it comes down to, you have to make a choice for each kid individually.

 

I remember when Thomas was brand new, our neighbors who had a boy 6 months before Thomas came down with dinner and a baby gift one evening. And as we were sitting in our living room politely chatting, it donned on me that this 6 month old would be in the same class as my infant. This sitting, almost mobile kid and my baby who couldn’t even hold his own head up, would someday be expected to walk to Kindergarten together. And I remember thinking, “Well, that’s that. Thomas will be the oldest in his class. No one can tell me that those 6 months don’t make a difference, even at age 5.” And then T started talking and walking and being a kid. And we kind of forgot about those 6 months. I say this simply to state facts, but T is a bright kid – he’s got a hell of a memory and an incredibly thoughtful persona. He knew all 50 states at the age of 2, he’s been reading since he was 3.5 and he asks questions that I don’t expect to hear from a 4 year old – he’s just an old soul. So, we knew that the school portion of Kindergarten would be easy regardless of when he started. But when T went off to preschool at 3, there was a pretty obvious difference between Thomas and his classmates. Size-wise for sure – he was the shortest in his class. But he’s also just a cautious kid. He’s an observer. A perfectionist. He’s a pretty typical oldest child, and in his class these past two years, he’s the only oldest – everyone else has older siblings, which makes a difference in how kids play.
And so, after much hemming and hawing, we’ve made a decision. Thomas is enrolled for five day a week, half-day Kindergarten at his current preschool – which has an excellent and accredited Kindergarten program. The intention is that he will do Kindergarten twice – so we’ll call this Kindergarten 1 and the following year he’ll do Kindergarten again at our local elementary school. The beauty of this arrangement is that because the class is accredited, if T’s teacher next year thinks two years of Kindergarten would be a disservice to him, then we will reconsider our plans and he can go straight into first grade. So really, we’re calling this a “buying time” year, but in a Kindergarten program that is incredible. And Nell will start preschool at T’s school next September, as well going two days a week. Thomas is so excited to have Nell at school with him, and Nell is so excited to go to school because she wants to pick out a pink backpack, a pink folder and a pink water bottle. Whatever it takes, right? And we’ll be in the same boat two years from now figuring out what’s best for Nell – and by then our experience with T will have shaped our own opinions, so I’m sure it will be an entirely different ball game. But right now,  I’m feeling pretty grateful that Peter has a March birthday and there’s zero gray area with that.

Play Kitchen Food and Accessory Storage

how to store play kitchen food

A year ago, Santa brought Nell a play kitchen for Christmas. We specifically asked him to bring a play kitchen that wasn’t pink and plastic because, regardless of whom a toy is brought for, everyone gets to play with toys in our house so we wanted something “gender neutral”. Santa picked the Kidkraft Uptown Espresso kitchen…I’m assuming he knew that primary colors were probably not my thing either :) . Anyway, the kitchen is awesome. Nell got a couple sets of play food along with her kitchen and some pots and pans, and then we asked family who wanted gift ideas to get her some more play food for her 2nd birthday last June. For Christmas this year, B and I gave Nell a set of play kitchen small appliances, and she also got lots of baby doll feeding accessories that we play with at the kitchen. We don’t have a ton as far as play food goes, and I know our collection will grow over the years, but a year in, I’ve found a system that works for us for organizing the stuff, and I wanted to share it with you.

I had no clue how to organize the play food at first – just kept everything in the container it came in and put it in the fridge. That only worked until she got more food and dishes and the little appliances we gave her this year for Christmas. So here’s what I’ve come up with and what has been working for us. First of all, I’m picky about play kitchen food…mostly because I love it, and I like playing with it with the kids. Nell has a little shopping cart that came from Target and all the food in it was dinky. So eventually, I just donated it all – we had a lot of repeats of certain foods that I liked better. I love the Learning Resources play food (we have this Healthy Dinner Basket and the Farmer’s Market Set – which my kids use to both play grocery store and “Church” since the baskets apparently remind them of the offertory baskets at Church…) as well as Melissa and Doug food – the slice and bake cookies are such a hit with Miss Nell she often sleeps with them. I have my eyes on a few other sets for upcoming birthdays, including this Pizza set and this Ice Cream set (mostly because I had a play food ice cream set growing up and it was my very favorite…told you, I love the play food just as much as the kids).

As for storing the food, all produce and food is stored fridge or freezer of the play kitchen. Anything that doesn’t fit gets stored in the toy cabinet for rotation. For now, all of our food fits into the shopping basket that came with the Learning Resources Healthy Dinner basket, but as our food collection grows, we may have to find different containers that rotate. All the produce that goes in the Farmer’s Market baskets fits in the shopping basket – for 6 months I resorted all the food every night, and then I decided that it was going to get dumped out anyway, so might as well just embrace it.

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Santa brought Nell a Bitty Baby for Christmas, and for now, all of her accessories fit in a small target container that are stored in the freezer. As her doll accessories and collection grows, I can foresee needing a different solution for that, but for now, this works. Nell is my organizational girl, when I gave her the tub she said, “For me? Oh fank you mama! I just yove it.” No sweat, kiddo. No sweat. She loves having her own container that’s just for her baby stuff. I foresee arguments over who gets to use the label maker in our future…

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Back to food: Anything that would get cooked in the oven, including baking sheets, is stored in the oven. Pretty self explanatory, no clue why it took me a year to get here.

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Dishes, pots and pans and small appliances are stored in the dishwasher in tubs I picked up at Target…they fit perfectly in the dishwasher of the kitchen. They do have lids, but I just store those in the toy cabinet because I find that things are more likely to get put away without the lids on, and these items are big enough I’m not worried about them walking away.

 

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And that’s that. It works great for us so far, and has a little bit of room to accommodate more. Nell and Thomas love to play together at the play kitchen. And Peter likes to be wherever Tom and Nell are.

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