Creating a kids work station

Creating a space where kids school aged can do work and pre-school kids can be creatively and practice their skills is so important in making sure you lay the foundation for good study skills.

When tight on space the kitchen table often becomes the best option.  As parents prepare dinner; questions can be answered, daydreamers can be brought back down and the unmotivated can be re-directed.  I had to create a quick and easy solution so when it was time for homework to pause and dinner to hit the table it was a quick clean up.

In a quick afternoon project we make this colorful caddy using

  • old soup cans
  • spray paint
  • a ribbon
  • hot glue gun
  • toilet paper tubes

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Wash and clean empty tin cans.  Using a variety of sizes worked well for us.  Peal the paper labels off and get ready for painting.  Spray paint two coats of any color of your choosing.  IMG_6214

Wait until dry and place a vertical line of hot glue on one can.  Press it onto its mate joining them together.  Repeat with additional cans until all 3 cans are glued tightly together.  Place fabric ribbon around all three and glue where they touch the cans and each other.  (The ribbon is purely decorative and doesn’t really provide any structural support in holding the cans together.) I suppose you could wrap the cans in some tight fishing line if you wanted more support, before putting the ribbon over it.

Using toilet paper tubes as dividers in the larger of the cans allows you to separate pencils from pens from highlighters from colored pencils etc.

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As time goes on and you use this caddy more and more you’ll realize what you want to add.  With a first grader we ended up making sure glue and a huge eraser were added.  IMG_6201There are of course tons of other products out there that help solve this need.  I’ve seen them made with plastic shower caddies and those are nice because of the handle.  I’m sure this won’t last forever but it’s gotten 3 good years thus far.

Happy crafting, cheers.

These boots are made for walking 

We are deep into boot season and with the styles including tall boots is there a good way to store them?   

We all dream of that walk in closet devoted to just shoes or the one Tim Allen builds for his wife in the show “Home Improvement” where they rotate to the tune of “The March of the Sugarplum Fairies”.  Yeah, yeah I’m dating myself.  If you have the space a line up is good especially for those that are rigid and will stand up on their own. What do you do with the ones that flop over?  I love this one.  Take a pool noodle insert it into the base of the heal and cut it using a box cutter to be the same height as the boot.  This will hold them in place and keep them clean and in proper shape.  Now finally if you have space with poles use pants hangers and clip them together and hang them from the tops.  Maximizing space and keeping care of the boots.How do you store your boots?  

Chores for Children 

When is it too early for kids to have chores?  Now I’m no child expert but having worked in youth development for 20 years and having two kids of my own; that I haven’t killed yet I feel like I can add my own two cents.  It’s never too early to help around the house. They live there don’t they? And some day you want them to move out and have their own homes. Right?

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(keep reading for your free download link)

As soon as they show an interest is when they should begin.  Toddlers love to sort; why not let them sort plastic plates and sippy cups. When they want to help sweep the floor buy a manageable hand broom or cut the handle off an older one. I got a dust buster hand-held vacuum and my 18month old loves to do the floor after dinner

I’ve attached below the kid chore tags that we’re now using. They were easy to make and were pulled together in an evening of searching the computer.  My kids are not fully reading so I added the pictures and words to help with both sides of the learning.

Print the kids chore tags on card stock, laminate and glue a magnet to them.  I tried hot glue, and than gorilla glue, a heavy duty epoxy kept them stuck.

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We’re trying a few methods.

1. All the tags go up on the magnetic hall door and they move them from top to bottom once completed.  This method was fine but I had to remember to move them back at night as well as pull those that weren’t relevant for the day i.e. trash night.  It also was becoming overwhelming as to trying to complete all the tasks.

2. If they are on the fridge it happens every day but if they are on the freezer door they happen only once a week.  This method worked until the little sibling started pulling them down. I also thought about printing them on different colored paper depending on their frequency.  (Way to supermom for me right now)

3. I select from the bag the chores for the day.  The rest just stay in the zip lock for another day.  This seems to work the best.  It isn’t overwhelming having all the chores out and I can pick and choose the most important for the day.

Let me know what’s happening in your house and if it’s successful.  I’ll take a helping hand anyway I can get it.

Here’s your free download use and enjoy.  Kids Chore Tags

Kindergarten Tissues, Cheers & Tea

Hello Kindergarten and hello new friends.  Did you realize that as your little peanut gets ready to start the journey of education you’re about to begin the journey as “so in so’s mom/dad”. Not only will your little one be making friends that may last the next 13 years and maybe beyond but you are too.

My oldest started last year on this journey and I figured I needed some new people in my village and tribe.  Ones who can talk shop with me when it comes to school politics, policy, and scoop.  I kept my ears open in August kinda hoping that the school, PTG, or 1st grade parents might host something like this. But with no avail I set out to do it on my own.

It was pretty easy. Picked a local coffee shop that was between all the elementary schools, had parking and an area to sit. I wanted to include all the elementary schools as my town has more than one. It made sense because as our kids grow the schools merge; plus the more the merrier. I made a public Facebook event grabbed as many emails as I could from school correspondences and Pre-K friends and hit invite.

I decided hosting it at a local coffee shop was the easiest.  It would have been awkward for people to come to my house. What I really liked is that it was no stress for me. I didn’t have to buy supplies for coffee and food. I left purchase up to each person and they could keep whatever time table they wanted.

The event invitation was worded as so…”Do you have a child entering Kindergarten this fall at insert school names here? Doesn’t matter if it is your first, last, or one in-between. Join other parents in a quick sip before you head to work or start the day. Consider it a chance to meet others who will be walking the same path of school for the next 13 years.  Tissues will be provided but Tea & Coffee will be up to you. Tell your friends and share the invite.”  Set the invite for 10-15 min pass the school bell which allows those that put kids on the bus to get there first; those that drop off to get out of the parking lot, and those of us that followed the bus just to sneak a peak time to drive by.

I did call the coffee shop ahead of time to see if they could do something special for us and to let them know we were coming.  Honestly, I had no idea how many people would come. I also made special tissue boxes figuring it could be an ice breaker and let those arriving know where all the Kindergarten parents were. FREE download below.

It worked out great. We had a good group; some came and left on their way to work, some stayed for over an hour and had breakfast. Doing it at school would have been crazy as our schools don’t have tons of parking and teachers and parents are already a bit on edge taking care of our kids and teaching them the ropes.

So now as a first grade mom; I’ll keep my eyes pealed on the first day, for those taking a few extra pictures, giving a few extra hugs and extend a tissue and an invite to coffee.

Have a great school year!

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If you are interested in a FREE tissue box wrap download them here..  You only need to print 2 pages per box so pick your favorite color combos.  Print them on regular paper and trim the edges.  A little scotch tape and you’re done.  These tags are designed for the square boxes not individual packets nor rectangular boxes.

Looking for other back to school ideas and tips?  Try reading Back to School.  Which is all about how to be prepared in the AM and for the year.

DIY Milk Bottles

If you’re joining us here from the Milk & Cookie Monster Birthday Party Page welcome.  If not you should check it out.  So you want to make some milk bottles?  Here we go… IMG_9699First things first.  Purchase and find friends who like to drink Starbucks.  After you’ve enjoyed the coffee drink, peal all labels off the bottle and give it a run thru the dishwasher.  I hand washed the lids to make sure I got all the “corners”.  IMG_7641.jpg

After a run through the dishwasher use Adhesive cleaner and a soft cloth to remove all ink stamps that have the expiration and lot numbers.  Allow time to dry and rinse clean.  IMG_7613

Grab a standard drill and drill bit that is just bigger than your straws.  Place caps upside down on a piece of scrap wood.  There is a circle already outlined inside each cap so you can follow that as your guide.  Sand all covers but be aware that light sanding makes for a better paint job.  If sanded a lot the covers when painted have a grainy look.  Rinse and dry.  Spray paint cover tops and side for any color desired.

I used oil based sharpie markers for writing names on each bottle.  These don’t wash off with regular hand washing but can be editied and removed with the use of nail polish remover or the adhesive remover.  IMG_9712Enjoy and have fun.

Milk in glass bottles thanks to Munroe Dairy.

Rock Around the Block

Summer it means, sun, fun, friends, and of course good old neighborhood block parties.  Thanks to modern technology, and a great group of ladies, the set up of our annual block party can be done in a few short emails.

A facebook group is where we kick it off.  Our event is held each summer when the weather is warm and being outdoors is a blast. We post the invite for all to come as well as hand deliver invites to each house and apartments; just incase there are those that aren’t online.

Perfect potluck.com also makes our life so simple and easy. We create an event and let everyone fill in what they are going to bring. This free service also helps monitor RSVPs.  Each family is responsible for their own chairs and drinks.

It is ideal to pick a timeframe that you’ll be able to capture most of your neighbors yet not interfere with major local events.  Our party starts at 3pm on a Saturday and usually wraps up about 11pm as we’re just having so much fun. It works well as some eat a late lunch and head home for the evening news and other call it dinner and are there well into roasting marshmallows.

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We kick thing off at our welcome table where we collect updates on address and contact info.  Neighbors can grab a food tag to label their dish. We print a large scheduled of events for $5; thanks to Staples and their architect prints. Highly recommended this simple printout size makes things be so clear and communicates to everyone all the excitement you have planned.

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We close off an entire street so if you too choose this route make sure you’ve gotten approval from your city or town.  Our local police department also drops off barriers to help with approaching cars and our little bikes enjoying the freedom of biking on a protected street.

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We always include a special guest of some kind.  Sometimes it’s the ice cream truck and others it’s the local Del’s Frozen Lemonade truck.  We allow purchase to be at the discretion of each family.  Everyone loves some entertainment. We make sure everyone has fun.  We’ve done large group games, water balloons, allow the teens to face paint the younger kids, we always fill a piñata and rent a moon bounce that we seek donations for at the welcome table.

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Each year a group photo is an absolute must. Kids grow, neighbors move, and some pass away.  Looking at the pictures year to year are lots of fun.  Our party has expanded to include an alumni list.  Some of us just love the right group and the good laughs.

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Hope you have a chance to get together with your neighbors and enjoy a wonderfully warm summer night.  It’s fun to look back and think this started years ago because some of us felt like we didn’t really know who lived around the corner.  We’ve now expanded to include 6 streets that all connect and with whom we know can all give the neighborly wave to each morning.

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Laundry, laundry everywhere.

It’s been a long time coming but I finally have pictures of my laundry room.  One of my initial post on my Facebook group highlighted a few special touches that I just can’t live without and how this small room to which I spend so much time in was so boring.

The plain white walls one window and no personality all began it’s journey in the middle of a snow storm.  There were never big plans to re-do this space as it was not high on the priority list but thanks to a good husband and a crazy color choice for paint we began.

In the middle of the snow storm with a best friend we witnessed the falling of 3 over head cabinets from the wall.  Comical to say the least.  Imagine 4 kids 2 guys out shoveling snow during a blizzard and me and a girlfriend holding up cabinets half connected to the wall.  Poor installation was ultimately the reason for their demise.  This than opened a conversation and a week of Pintrest dreaming of re-doing the space.  Now don’t confuse me with having a great budget and access to a total re-do, but rather create a better layout and some paint colors.

Some items that I already had and knew I wanted to keep included my lost sock board.  Which is available to purchase thru my Etsy store. This re-purposed board holds the single socks that are looking for their “solemates”.

Lost Sock Board

A cleaning how to list which I reference while trying to act like a detective and figure out what is it and how to remove stains from kids clothes.  This list is cut from magazines, online searches and my own mother’s suggestions.

And some sorting for bleach, hand washing and storage so I didn’t have to see bottles and supplies.  This room provides the most amount of light to our second floor so the door is almost always open.  I needed this space to look bright, tidy and function all the time.

So we began…  The joy of prep work and set up

I picked a crazy color, I know but the orange was such a contrast from the rest of our house which is coastal with blues, yellow, greens and whites.  This room could fill my need of vibrant color.  I was only doing an accent wall and it wasn’t the living room so my husband agreed.  Now for a mariner all he could say it that it was international orange. I think life raft or home depot orange is accurate for us lay people.  In any form it is bright, keeps the light reflecting into the hall bright and can show off my crazier side.  Behr Premium Plus – Flame 210B-7.

wall orange I wanted to add some baskets for sorting that were wall mounted.  My floor space was limited so anything I could hang up was key.  Found these baskets at Home Depot made some tags and they work perfect.  The basket is removable so I can dump the load in as they are full and really weren’t too expensive.  I knew I wanted to add to this space some of my kids artwork.  Figured if I’m spending so much time here the artwork with the crazy colors would fit right in and make me smile.  My daughter painted this hot pink mermaid and it’s by far one of my favorites.

Drum roll please.  The after photos…    Now I’m very thankful for a second floor laundry room; a true room not a closet and not in the basement.  I’ve hauled my share of baskets from basements to laundry mats and all the way back to mom’s house.  Use the space you have and make it work for you.  Possibilities are truly endless.