Thursday, March 21, 2013

An Ombre' Dresser

Remember when I gave myself a deadline to finish 3 projects that had been lingering in the garage for way too long?

Well, I'm happy to report that I finished one! The dresser is finally out of the garage and in Brook's room where it belongs.

Last week I dug out my paint swatches, spread them out across Brook's bed and chose one that matched perfectly to the pink in her bedspread. A quick trip to the paint store while the Mister gave the dresser a light sanding and a coat of primer, and we were in business!

I painted the bottom drawer first, and then poured some paint into a paint tray and added a splash of white. A quick stir and I painted the next drawer. Another splash of white paint, stir, and repeat.

It's not perfect, but I am pretty pleased with how it turned out! It was a good way to step outside of my comfort zone, which is white, white, and more white.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Organizing Baby Things, Part 1

Babies come with a lot of stuff.

And they grow so fast - meaning almost as soon as you've organized one size of clothing, diapers, shoes, and hats suddenly overnight they have outgrown it and you are packing those things away and bringing out larger ones. It's a constant cycle.

And it's not only clothes! Babies go from swings and bouncy chairs to jolly jumpers and walkers. A highchair to a booster chair. Bottles to sippy cups, milk to solids . . . their first years seem to be a constant rotation of supplies and gear to meet their ever changing needs.

I thought I would do a series of posts sharing how I organize and store all of our baby things, and give you all of the little tips and tricks I have learned along the way!

Our first stop is Emma's dresser.

We opted for a long dresser instead of a changing table. I am still so grateful that we made that decision when buying our furniture during my first pregnancy four years ago: it has served us so well! A changing table is so limited in its use - before you know it, your toddler has become potty trained and suddenly your changing table has become a useless piece of expensive furniture and you now need to find a new place to store all of the things you had once stashed on its shelves.

Not so with a dresser. This piece can grow with Emma for the rest of her years growing up, or it can be repurposed somewhere else in our home down the line. It would make a great tv stand in our family room, or a buffet style server in the dining room. It could even function in the entryway as a place to store hats and scarves and drop our keys.

We topped the dresser with an inexpensive changing pad, and all of our diaper changing supplies are kept in the top left drawer so we can easily access everything we need without having a lot of clutter all over the top.

This drawer holds all of her diapers ( we use disposables until she can fit into our cloth diapers, more on that later) and anything else she might need during a diaper change or getting ready for the day. I keep Vaseline, a pair of baby nail scissors, baby lotions and diaper cream along with a pack of Scentsy Newborn Nursery wax that I use in her Scentsy warmer - it smells just like baby powder! There is also a stack of baby wash cloths that I get wet and use in place of disposable baby wipes. Much softer on her sensitive little tushie and cheap too!

The other top drawer holds all of her onesies on the far right. In the middle I have all of the hats that currently fit her at the back, and a stack of bibs at the front. It's never too early for bibs - I've learned they work great to protect her clothes from all of the dribbles and spills during feedings so I spend less time scrubbing out stains from around the neck of all of her outfits. On the left are some teeny tiny tights at the back, and in the front I cut down an instant oatmeal box to contain her tiny baby socks. Maybe not the prettiest storage solution, but I love cutting down empty food boxes to create my own drawer organizers because it's free and I am usually the only person to see the inside of my drawers anyway!

Below her diapers I store all of her clothes, which right now consists of about a dozen newborn size sleepers and two teeny tiny newborn dresses that she wears to church on Sundays. I cannot wait until she grows big enough for pants!!!

Underneath her clothes are the receiving blankets. A whole drawer full of receiving blankets? Yes ma'am! These puppies are essential to me, especially during the first few months. I use them to swaddle her when she sleeps, to tuck around her in the carseat when we go out and a heavy blanket would be too warm, to drape over the carseat to keep the sun out, to lay down on the change pad to protect my white covers when I know she's had a big blowout. They make the perfect nursing covers too!

On the right side, I keep our cloth diapers. Emma is still so small that these diapers go up to her armpits, so we are using disposables until she grows a little more. I have a mix of Fuzzibunz and Bumgenius and I cannot say enough about how much we love our cloth diapers; I will do a post in the future all about them.

Below that is a drawer full of blankets. I also keep her crib sheets and spare change pad covers at the back.

Stay tuned for more posts on organizing all of that baby gear! Up next - the diaper bag!

Tiny Baby, TONS of Stuff

Meet baby Emma! She graced us with an early arrival on February 11th, and we have been enjoying some much needed family time for the last few weeks. Our little peanut has been a very easy baby so far and I am enjoying being a momma to a newborn once again!

Along with a new baby though, comes new stuff. A LOT of new stuff.

Which is fun! I mean, who doesn't like opening presents? And getting out all of Brook's old baby things and reminiscing has been really special. I love having pink and purple take over my house!

But I am not a clutter person folks. I have a serious aversion to too much stuff. I am famous for walking around the house with a giant garbage bag and not stopping until it is full. We regularly take truckloads of things to our local thrift store and re-use shed at the local dump. My rule is, if I haven't used it in the last 6 months or I don't LOVE it - it goes. I am pretty ruthless in the clutter department.

So to have a constant stream of gift bags, dishes full of food, cards, and flowers comes along with a wee bit of anxiety for me. I appreciate each and every gift, don't get me wrong! But I cannot believe how much "Stuff" has moved into our house along with this tiny little 6 pound bundle.

The baby swing sitting in the middle of our living room, I can handle. The playpen taking up every square inch of free space in our bedroom, it's ok. The carseat and stroller now filling my entryway, whatever. But the stack of three dozen gift bags and the mountain of tissue paper - ACK! The row of empty casserole dishes and tupperware waiting to be given back to their generous owners - drives me nuts. The piles of special momentoes that I don't have a box to put in yet...eek!

Receiving blankets and pacifiers seem to be laying on every suface in the entire house, the laundry baskets are stuffed with tiny puke stained outfits, and the garbage cans are constantly overflowing between the diapers and all of the packaging and wrapping that has come into the house along with all of the new baby gear. Add in a giant  stack of thank you notes that permanently lives on my dining room table so that I can work on them whenever I get a spare minute, and a LOT more mess and clutter from the husband who is home on parental leave and I am ready to have a heart attack wherever I look.

I crave organization in a  bad way. A few days ago I even broke down into tears over how stressed out all this extra clutter was making me. My wonderful husband knew what I needed - not a nap or a massage. Just to clean.

He took the baby from me and kept Brook entertained while I had almost two glorious hours to myself, armed with Mrs. Meyers and a broom. I cleaned my kitchen, folded laundry, and took out the garbage. As much as I like a clean organized home, I usually don't actually enjoy the process of cleaning but this day every pair of socks I matched, every crumb I swept felt like therapy. The tightness in my chest disappeared with every dish I washed, and when I was done I finally felt like myself again.

I never want cleaning or organizing to come before my children. That old poem that says

                The cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow,
But children grow up as I've learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs: dust go to sleep,
I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep

definitely has a point! My children will never remember if the sink was always full of dirty dishes, but they will remember the times I played with them. And the times I said I was too busy to read a story, or built a blanket fort. I want their memories to be filled with many, many more "yes" moments from their mommy than "no" ones. I don't ever want to be so consumed with the daily drudgeries of running a home that my children miss out on quality time with their mom. 

But I also feel like one of the best gifts I can give my children is a clean, organized home. Space to spread out and play, rather than a space that is crowded with too much clutter. A sofa that always has room for the whole family to crowd onto, not littered with magazines and blankets. Room to run without fear of tripping over things. Freedom to spread out, to create a mess where a mess wasn't already. To grow up with the calmness and peace that comes with being in a space that is also calm and peaceful. I also want to instill the lifeskills in them that come along with having an organized home - time management, responsibility, teamwork. 

It's a balancing act.

  I will continue to clean. I will always make time in my day to sweep the floors and sort the mail. I will still tell my daughter "Not now, honey, I am busy" sometimes when I am up to my elbows in dishwater or making dinner. But I will try to remember that sometimes, that "Not now" needs to be replaced with an "Of course!" and I will dry my hands on a dishtowel and let my frying pan sit until the dishwater has long gone cold because I am too busy playing dressup to care.
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