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.

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.

St Patrick’s Day

I sure love a holiday where drinking is the norm, and the food is simple and yummy.  This blog follows a week of festive fun from a play date at a friends house to a local weekend parade event.

Let’s get festive. Made these legging super quick last year.  Got orange leggings, took green scrap material and used my shamrock cookie cutter to trace.  Hand sewed the patches on so when the holiday is done and over I can remove them and have the basic orange back again.  I think she looked adorable as it was a chilly day and she needed the warmth.


Time to get the house festive this pot of shamrocks set the mood all month long at my friend’s house.  My March mantel exploded with festive fun.  Full post here.
IMG_3763 The tables look nice but let’s bring out the food.  Breakfast is served on parade day morning and my husband loves being in his “lab” making unbelievable food.    We eat like kings and queens.  Keeping even the fruit festive makes little fingers want to reach for more at the play date. IMG_3812pan cakes
The food continued all day long with festive pasta for our little people and a traditional Irish dinner with corn beef and cabbage for the adults.  Let’s top it off with dessert and delicious it was.  An Oreo dream so pretty as it was yummy. 

Happy New Year It’s 9pm!

New Year’s with kids just isn’t the same.  Granted now I don’t have to wear high heals and wait at the bar for a drink, but partying with the mini pack can still be fun especially if you can celebrate the ball dropping at 9pm!

We start with some sparkle cause who doesn’t like to wear a little sparkle to a party? If age appropriate once the sparkle has worn off it is time to don our baby new year suits.  The pictures get funnier and funnier each year.  Toss in the props and in our case see which kid cries first.

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This has become a hit or miss in our family but is still so easy and so fun.  Place bags with small goodies in them for each half hour as you count down to “midnight”  The bags are not filled with anything overexciting, as a parent, but for the kids are like gold.  We make sure we fill the bags according to what we’ll be able to handle.  For example the candy usually goes as to what will be right after dinner and the horns don’t make an appearance till the very end.

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Some winners for us include…

  • Candy (such as ring pops to ring in the new year)
  • Party Beads
  • New Year’s Crowns
  • New Year’s Horns
  • Gold Coins
  • Play dough Cans
  • Princess Wands
  • Bubbles
  • Stickers & Stamps

I’ve seen people that do some amazing things like make pizza with the dough in the shape of the year, balloon drops off the celling fan, and hourly party games and activities.  I’m not sure even for me if I’m into it that much.  Honestly I feel like New Year’s Eve unless you have a rockin’ party to go to like a wedding or an epic event is like prom; all hype and no big delivery.  Not to say I didn’t have fun at my proms but the getting ready was the exciting part.

Thanks to Netflix, they again will be streaming It’s Almost Midnight- Netflix 2016 Kids New Year’s Eve Countdown.  This 5 minute countdown which can feature characters of their choice is free for subscribers.  Don’t forget the bubbly juice in “fancy” glasses and let your countdown begin.

My girlfriends and I try these every year.  We even get them into bed by 9:15 but some how the girls wake up around 11:45pm.  Go figure, so we let them celebrate.  Hope your New Year is filled with sunshine, love and seashells.

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Share what fun kids stuff you do for New Year’s Eve.