Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Sister Act 2

It's been about a year and a half since we did a tour of the girls' room, and a whole lotta playing/sleeping/crying/giggling has gone down in there since then. I thought it would be fun to share some updated pics, to show what we've changed, what's still going strong, and what's a hot mess (we keep it real around here...even with our decorating).

The biggest change is that Fin is no longer in a crib. I honestly can't remember when we switched her to her "big girl bed" and I've already spent far too much time combing through my photo archives month by month to find evidence of the crib...but it was sometime around her third birthday. Piper crawled out of her crib when she was around 18 months old, so she was transitioned (in a hasty and hilarious- in hindsight- way) earlier than we expected, but Fin never had an issue with her crib. I figured as long as she's happy, I'm happy, so we didn't force a transition on her. But eventually she started to like the idea of sleeping in a bed like Piper, so we flipped the bed over and transformed it into a mini bunk bed for both girls.

Since the bed was designed to be a canopy bed or a bunk bed, it was an easy transition...Piper's mattress just moved to the top, and we got Fin a new mattress for the bottom. For a little while we had Piper using the ladder, but she was having a little trouble getting up and down in the dark (even though it's a really short bed) so we took the advice of a friend and got a storage system that doubles as a staircase. (That allowed us to rotate the bed around so that the ladder is against the wall, leaving the whole front/side of the bed open).

The storage has been awesome. It's so nice to have extra bins to store all their random junk treasured possessions. The first step is a little tall (it's more of a climb than a step) so we put a little step stool at the bottom to make it easier (and reduce the amount of jumping/thumping they do in the middle of the night.

And Fin loves her big kid bed (aka mattress on the floor), which also has rope lights installed. We found we were reading books a lot under there, so the extra light helps, but just looks cool. The rope light plugs into the wall, and after some failed cord clips, we just zip tied it around the bed slats. (and fear not for her safety...these pictures were taken a while ago, and show the cords/outlets more accessible than they are now. We've since scooted the bed over so the frame is blocking both outlets. The girls know not to touch them anyway, but the new set up prevents it from even being an option.)

And after all those for the not-so-good update: the bed paint job. Turns out somebody *cough, rhymes with Shmiper, cough* likes to pick at the bed rails, so the top of her bed is now sporting a two toned effect. Ugh. (my only consolation is that she at least wasn't eating the paint...) We've taught her not to do it anymore (now her worst bedtime habit is using 87 tissues per night and leaving them all over her bed) but now we'll have to sand portions of it and repaint. Not exactly easy when the bed is always in use. So for now it just looks a little janky (and we look a little negligent).

In the corner where the crib used to be, we put a little storage bench we already owned, but once we got the "stairs"/bins we really didn't need it, so it was a short lived option.

It's a pretty big amount of space, so it was shame not to use it...and we really needed a better spot to read books as a family (it was getting a little crowded piling in Fin's bed) so we decided to set up a beanbag corner! The girls each got a beanbag chair for Christmas, and we've spent pretty much every night since then cuddled up there together reading 17 library books in a row. (I'm a sucker for "just one more...")

So that's about all the updates...we did swap out a lamp (our entire house is pretty much a constant game of "musical decorations" with things migrating from room to room depending on our need at the time) And of course we accessorize with only the most sophisticated pieces: Frozen tissue box, alllllllll the nightlights, and a handmade sticker chart to encourage a certain little weasel to STAY IN HER BED FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. You know...the essentials.

I love these sisters, and their pretty, messy, pretty-messy space. And despite some recent complaints that they "didn't want GREY's so bo-rrrrrrring, mama!", I hope they grow up with fond memories of time spent in here together.

Cubbies/stairs: Ikea Trofast storage system
Bed: Ikea Kura
Bedside pocket: Ikea Stickat
Rope light: Home Depot
Bean Bag Chairs: Target Pillowfort
Turtle Nightlight: Cloud B
All other sources are linked in the original tour.

P.s. Check out more home related posts, here or here.
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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Little Pip-Speaks: Volume 28

Do I still blog anymore? Who knows?! But do my kids still say adorably ridiculous things? You bet your sweet bippy. 

Take it away, Pipster and Sister...

Pip-speak #1:
Piper {trying on a new dress}: Too big. And also too drowny. 

Pip-speak #2:
Mama {praising Piper after an impromptu Take Your Daughter to Work Day}: Everyone thought you were SO good today
Piper: Yeah. And cute. I saw an old lady and she said: "Ah-dorable". 
Mama: Is that so? Well, you did a great job. We were in meetings I didn't even want to go to, so...
Piper: Actually I liked the meetings. But- I didn't think they were that needful. didn't really need to be there. You just talked and talked. And I don't think that's that important. 

Pip-speak #3:
Piper: Did you know I have my boyfriend already?
Mama: No. who is it? 
Piper: It's Liam. He's also my friend. And my boyfriend
Mama: What's the difference?
Piper: I don't know. {long pause} And one thing: I also love him. 

Pip-speak #4:
Piper {while playing "pretend mommies" with Fin}: Tomorrow is a Friday and my baby doesn't have school so I'm gonna work from home. 

Pip-speak #5:
Piper: You are kind, daddy. I bet you'll make a great grandpa someday. 

Pip-speak #6:
Piper: What's that noise?
Mama: Daddy's putting air in my tires. 
Piper: Oh. It sounds like when air comes out of your private parts. the back. 
Mama: You mean a toot?
Piper: Yeah. But I didn't want to say it because it's a private word. 

Pip-speak #7:
Mama: Today I'm going to an event for moms who have jobs
Piper: But you don't have a job. 
Mama: Of course I do! 

Piper: No....a job is like a pet store owner, or a firefighter. You just work for the cats. That's work, but it's not a job. 

Pip-speak #8:
Piper: Finny, try and not spread that cough and get it mixed up with mine. 

Pip-speak #9:
Piper: Mama? When will my nipples have milk in them?
Mama: Ummm...when you're a mama.
Piper: Yeah, but what time?

Pip-speak #10:
Piper: Can we listen to "I can't stand it"?
Mama: What's that? 
Piper: You know- the gorilla's song...from Sing!

Pip-speak #11:
Piper {Seeing a Yuengling display at a store}: Dad! Here's your chance to get Eagle Soda! 

Pip-speak #12:
Mama {explaining why Dustin and I were wearing matching, personalized t-shirts}: If you got a shirt with three things about you, would it say? 
Piper: My shirt would say: Helpful. I'm five. Love my family. Miller's would say BANANAS, because he loves them.

Pip-speak #13:
Piper {trying on old clothes}: I'm getting bigger. Everything is growing out of me. 
G'mi: Are you sure you're not growing out of everything? 

Piper: Yes, I'm sure. Everything is growing out of me. 

Pip-speak #14:
Piper: Soup is like a bathtub for crackers!

Pip-speak #15:
Piper {watching Fin do a craft putting all of her sticker letters all upside down}: G'mi, sometimes Mama and I just shake our heads at Fin.


Finnish #1:
Fin {watching Lady and the Tramp}: Piper, don't worry. During the scary parts we can snuggle.

Finnish #2:
G'mi: Girls, you need to speak nicely to each other.
Fin: Ok. I will use ironing {honoring} words to God.  

Finnish #3:
G'mi: Will there ever come a time when you're too big to sit on my lap? 
Fin: Never.
G'mi: Well your cousin Ali promised me that she would never be too big to sit on my lap, but now she is!
Fin: Did she pinky promise or regular promise?

Finnish #4:
Fin {trying to earn a sticker by sleeping through the entire night}: I can make it to the green light. I believe in me. 
{the next night}
Fin: Mama...what if I don't believe me that I can sleep all night?!
Mama: You can do it! 
Fin: No! I don't believe me!
Dynamic Duo #1:
Fin {to Piper}: We went to the doctor and she weighed me and I weighed so many pounds. Mama, do you know how many?
Mama: 30
Fin: I was 30.
Piper: Well I bet I'm a higher height than you because I'm older...
Fin: No! I was really 30!
Piper: ...And the bigger you are, the heavier you are. 

Dynamic Duo #2:
Piper: I can clap with my eyes closed. 
Fin: I can clap with my eyes closed too. 
Piper: Finny, you're not having the rhythm with your eyes open. How can you have the rhythm with your eyes closed either?
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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Foster Care: Home Study Tips

If you watched our latest house tour, then you saw we're deep in the throws of prepping our house for foster care certification. Well actually...we were, but Saturday was our official home study walk-through, and we passed! Yay! So we still have to finish a little paperwork before we'll actually be certified, but we made it over the big hurdles of approval.

Throughout this whole process, I've been craving info from others who have gone through all of it before. I follow a few foster parents on Instagram, subscribed to a couple podcasts, and I've been pinning relevant things...(check out my Foster board for a few resources) all in an effort to learn some tips and get more insider info on what it really takes to foster. Someday I'll sit down and write more about our journey so far...the emotions, the conversations, our hearts behind the whole thing. But for now, while it's all still fresh, I figured I'd share a little about the little logistical details I highlighted in our tour. Hopefully it helps make the process a little easier for someone else!

(p.s. if you missed the tour you can watch the video here)

So the first disclaimer with anything foster care related, is that the rules and regulations range wildly depending on your county, state, agency, etc. So certain things we had to do may not apply to you, or there might be things other states or organizations require that we didn't have to do. And because I have a 3 inch binder full of info and requirements, there's no way to have one blog post actually cover all the things we had to know and do...But I'll give a couple tips and sources for the basic stuff at least.

Scroll to the bottom for full list all in one spot. 

The purpose of everything within the home study is making sure kids are safe, so a big part of that is securing anything that could be harmful. We were required to lock up any chemicals, cleaners, sharp tools, etc. And childproof locks didn't count. 

So we got some magnetic locks for our cabinets (for underneath each sink), and a new lock for the entry door from the garage (which allowed us to keep all of the paints, chemicals, and tools in the garage- basically making that whole space function as one gigantic cabinet). 

Guess what? More locks. 
All medication...alllllll medication (prescription, over the counter, mine, the kids'...all of it...) has to be locked up. So we got a new lockbox to store all of that. I had to root through about 5 spots (hall closet, kid's bathroom, our bathroom, the kitchen, my purse...) to find all of pills (turns out we still have random bottles of tums stashed all over the house, from my pregnancy with Miller) and it all just barely fit. Space is at a premium in this thing...we might need to chill out on the bulk sized bag of cough drops for a while.

Ok, I'm not exactly going to blow your mind with unique info here, but I at least want to be honest about how much paperwork and scheduling is involved with foster care...and this is only the training phase. I know it's only going to increase as we go on, so I'm trying to get my game right from the beginning. For now, I've got a binder with copies of all of our forms and training packets. I'm sure once we actually receive a placement, I'll have to get a more elaborate filing system, but for now at least everything is in one spot and not, say....crumpled on the floor of our van like too many of our other papers.

 In a related effort to control the paper chaos, - we've set up a "command center" in our laundry room, with our calendar and a place to house any important forms. We're required to post our escape routes (hand drawn and color coded!) so those have a spot here too.

The dry erase calendar has been a game-changer in terms of getting info out of my already too crowded head. We have a color coded system for that too which helps us keep things straight (Divided into: Kids/Family, Dustin, Me, Dates/Couple stuff) Sometimes if I'm really on the ball, we jot our meal plans in here too. And by "sometimes" I mean I think I did that for about 3 days a month or so ago. I have all of our actual commitments in the google calendar on my phone (Dustin and I make appointments and invite each other, so we always know what's on each other's schedules) but having it all written down helps everything live in one common place, and serves as an "at a glance" look at what's going on. We take a peek at it each morning and evening to make sure we're prepped for what's ahead.

Family Rules
Ok, this one is actually technically optional, but with all of the boring things we had to check off the list (fingerprints, physicals, lead paint waivers, etc. etc. etc.) I had to find my fun wherever I could. So when the agency told us it would be a good idea to post our "family rules" (it helps us identify what expectations and goals we have, and helps new kiddos understand our values) I knew I wanted to formalize it a bit more than just jotting some things down.

I spent some time drafting our list, which was a bigger undertaking than I thought. I used this post as a starting point, checked out inspiration on pinterest, and tried to land on things we felt passionate about without getting too strict, or too cheesy (easier said than done). Once I had the list finalized, I laid it out in Illustrator and printed it out. (There are a ton of great printable options on Etsy if you just want to add your name to an existing design was based on this one).

I'm proud of how it turned out, and while we don't always embody all of it perfectly (you'll notice perfection is not on the list!), it's a great tangible reminder of some of the things we're striving for.
(text version below in case you want to steal any of it for a draft of your own...)
The Bowden Family  
We work hard & play nicely
Always apologize & forgive
Learn from our mistakes
Speak kindly & listen patiently
Serve one another
We are first-time listeners
We use our manners
Take good care of our things
Share & take turns
Tell the truth & keep our promises
We are passionate, honest, grateful, curious, persistent and so very, very loved.
And a few things I didn't talk about specifically, but are still super important:

You have to have car seats ready for the age range of your certification, so since we're open to ages 0-5, we have to have options that can work for kids in that range. We have 1 infant seat, 3 convertible carseats, and 1 booster, so we're pretty much set. But we've found it's super helpful to have more seats than kids, so we can have some in each car (saves us having to switch out all the time). So depending on what placements we get, we may need to get another seat or two. (And while the Dionos seats aren't cheap, they're rated super high, are great quality, are suitable for a wide age range, and are just about the only thing we've found that can fit three across in the back seat, So: worth it.)

One of the things that's different about foster care compared to adoption, is that you have to have the room set up at the time of your home study (adoption has a different timeline, so you can get things once you're matched, or even after you bring the child home). Our certification will be for 1-2 kids (we're open to two in the case of a sibling set who needs a home together), so we had to get approved beds for two kids. Again- our certification is for ages 0-5 so we have two cribs that can transition to toddler beds. (We only had to have one set up because the other one is brand new in the box. Both had to be approved to make sure they meet safety standards).

Random other stuff:
  • Not technically foster related...but I'm proud so it gets linked here again: DIY Toy Hammock
  • Family favorites: Jellycat stuffed animals. If you're going to be a Bowden, for any length of time, these are practically required.
  • We have these cameras in each of the kids' rooms, and I love them. We can watch them anytime from anywhere, which is awesome if we want to play outside during naptime, or even check in at night when we have a babysitter. 
  • Our agency recommends having nightlights no matter what the kids' age, but the ones we currently have are just so-so (the sound/light is great, but the projectors- to cast pictures on the ceiling- broke forever ago). I might try out a new cute is this little owl?
  • I've been looking for foster care related books, and haven't found a ton, but You Matter looks so sweet (Check out the hashtag #charliethestork for a few peeks inside) and has a good message for any kid. (They're out of stock right now, but I pre-ordered mine anyway!)
And....that's about it! As I said, this is by no means an exhaustive list of all the things we had to do or buy, but it's the biggies (I'm assuming you can choose a fire extinguisher without my help). If there's something I didn't cover that you wish I had, please let me know!
Resource list: 
Cabinet Locks
Door Blocker
Medicine Lockbox
Dry Erase Calendar
Family Rules Sign
Infant Carseat
Convertible carseats
Booster seat 
Jellycat Bunny
Camera Monitor
Nightlight/Sound Machine
You Matter Book

P.s. If you just can't get enough of my baby gear related advice, check out some more lists of must-haves baby guides
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Saturday, March 18, 2017

House Tour + Prepping for our Foster Care Homestudy

Can you believe it's been a year and a half since I posted our last house tour video? Can you believe we've made nearly zero changes to our home in that year and a half? Well...believe it, because those are both facts. I wanted to do an updated tour so I watched the last video just to see what changes I should highlight...and...well...there wasn't much. (Fun fact...I actually accidentally wore the same shirt today that I wore in the last video, so literally nothing changes around here. Not even my clothes.)
It's astounding how long half-done projects can sit around, how many things stay on the to-do list untouched, and how much all of that fades to the background with all the happenings of regular life. So if this was purely a decor showcase, you'd all be rightfully underwhelmed.  But, today's tour serves another purpose- we were prepping for our final foster care home study. The home study was actually three in person visits where they interviewed Dustin and I (separately and together) as well as Piper. (Full story on that someday, because it was as hilarious as you would think an interview with a five year old would be). This last installment included a full tour of our house, with the assessor checking to make sure we had everything in order (so many little requirements and checklists) had everything filled out (more forms...always more forms), and were meeting all the safety standards (locks, locks, locks on everything).

So since our house was actually clean, and semi-put together I thought I'd take a quick spin through to document the progress/chaos (the assessment thankfully does not record if there are dot stampers all over the place, or if a certain three year old is in the background crying about receiving the wrong color tie-dye fruit roll up, whhhhhhyyyyyyyy?! Those are bonuses for your viewing pleasure.) 

And because I'm obviously totally on top of my scheduling game, the assessor actually showed up right at 10, rather than 10:30 like I was expecting, so the downstairs was filmed pre-study, and the upstairs was post-study. Spoiler alert: we passed (I'm not even sure it's called that...but we met all the requirements, which feels like a big fat A+ to me!) So now she'll write up our full report, turn in 87 more documents we prepped (exaggerating? maybe by 1 or 2) and the agency will send it all off to the county (or state? government of some kind) for final approval, and we'll officially be licensed.

So now on with the show:

House tour/prepping for our foster care home study from Courtney Bowden on Vimeo.

I'm planning a follow up post with more details on the foster care side of things, as well as some more shots of the changes we've made to the girls' room. So check back in if you're curious about all that. I'm starting to get my blogger groove back (I think...maybe...until I don't...)

P.S. You can see all of our house updates on our "home page", view #houseofbowden pics on IG, or check out the homestead archives. 
And foster care updates are on IG as well: #thebowdensfoster (though those may be few and far between as we continue to take our time and pray about how/when to move forward). 
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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Year of the Bird

Today is my birthday. Which of course, means I'm pondering the meaning of life, and other gigantic questions like when the heck did I get so OLD? And uncool?
At this stage of my life, I don't even pretend to be cool. I (still) barely how to use Snapchat, I won't rock highwaisted pants with a crop top, and...well, I don't really even know about enough cool things to make a compelling list of the things I don't do. But- I do occasionally hear slang from the whippersnappers (aka: my teenage nieces, and a few adorably young-professional friends) and have picked up a couple things here and there. 

So, have you heard of a Jordan Year

I'll save you the trip to Urban Dictionary and explain: 
The 23rd and best year of your life. Named in reference to Michael Jordan, superhero basketball player, whose jersey number is 23.

Well...clearly that ship has sailed for me. Womp, womp. Guess it's all downhill from here. Actually...guess it was all downhill from 10 years ago? Even wompier womp. It's a shame no one told me that I peaked (or maybe, was supposed to have peaked). If I had known at the time that I was having a Jordan Year...I could have, I don't know, made it a Jordan Year. Just dominating life all over the place, making a name for myself, solidifying a legacy.

(for what it's worth, 23 actually wasn't bad...during my Jordan Year, I completed my thesis in fashion design, graduated summa cum laude, got several job offers, accepted a position in a brand new field, moved to a new city, upgraded to a two bedroom apartment, made some new best friends, celebrated my second wedding anniversary, won my Fantasy Football League, and started this blog. So, yeah, as the kids say: NBD.) 

So maybe I had a Jordan Year after all, without knowing it? But rather than basking in former glory (fear not- there is sooooo much sarcasm to be read there), or wallowing in dreams never realized, it got me thinking about my birthday number this year: 33.

And immediately I thought of an iconic basketball player who donned that number: Number 33, Larry Bird.

As a kid growing up in the 80's/90's I watched a good bit of NBA (thanks, Daddy!), and even played my fair share of Jordan vs. Bird on my SEGA, so Bird is a pretty familiar figure for me. And while he may not get quite the attention given to Air Jordan, he's still a legacy in his own right. (I mean...he did guest star in Space Jam!)

So if my Jordan year has come and gone, taking with it the opportunity to be the best ever, what is it 33 going to be about? Well...maybe it can be my Bird Year.

Because here's the deal...there might be some debate around who's the best to ever play the game, but there is no disputing that Larry Bird was incredible (and could rock short-shorts and tall-socks like nobody's business). But here's the thing I didn't know: Bird is the only man to be named an MVP, Coach of the Year, and Executive of the Year in the NBA.

 That's a pretty sweet trifecta...

And that got me encouraged. Because let's be real. I'm no Michael Jordan. I so, so, so many obvious ways...but really, I'm not the absolute best at much. Or...anything. Don't get me wrong; I'm good at a lot of things. I'm even great at some things. But I'm not the tip-top, mic-drop BEST. EVER.

So a Jordan Year, while a fun idea, seems preeeeeetty much impossible.
But a Bird Year? Being really, really great, at a whole bunch of things? Being individually awesome, but also known for leading others? Being so solid in so many ways that the sum is even bigger than its parts? That feels like something worth chasing.

I'm not going to be the best mom this year. (Or ever. Even if that was a real thing). And I'm not going to be the best client service associate (and if I was, I'd want a snappier title for my trophy). Or wife. Or friend. get it. Nothing. But I can be a pretty dang good one of each. Like, the absolute best I can be at each of them. And then when it all adds up, I could be the only person to be named the top of my game in that specific combo of things...

I could be the only person to ever earn the title of Piper's Best Story Reader, Blondest Worship Singer at North Church, and Funniest Bachelor Commentator on Our Couch.

Or maybe: Miller's Favorite Snuggler, Most Committed to Finishing a Quilt in Under Three Years, and Best Grapefruit Cocktail Mixologist in the 'Burbs.

Ok...maybe my categories need some work. And yes, I realize that Bird didn't need silly qualifiers with all of his titles. He was actually certifiably wonderful at quite a few things. But you know what? So am I. And I've got all year to keep dreaming, keep doing, keep being awesome things.

Yep. I'm pretty sure Bird gonna be an All-Star year.

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Monday, January 16, 2017

Operation: Corral the Chaos

One of my unofficial resolutions for this year (and every year, really) is: Get Rid of All of Our Junk or at Least Organize it, But Actually, Yes, We Should Probably Just Get Rid of All of It

Sound familiar? Yes...for me a need/desire to clear out the clutter has been pretty much constant since...well, probably forever. I'm repeatedly astounded by the amount of stuff we've amassed, and constantly overwhelmed by the need for a better organizational system. And though the abundance of things isn't new news around here, surely the issues have multiplied since we added three children to the mix (no, they actually have nothing to do with most of my pack-rat ways, but they sure do have hoards of their own, so I feel entitled to shift at least some of the blame on them,)

We've gone through all kinds of mini-cleanups over the years, Kon-Mari'ing a closet here and there, purging a pantry or clearing out the garage...But the battle I'm currently losing? Toys. OH the toys. They're everything, and everywhere. Under beds, under furniture, underfoot...

Unfortunately, I didn't take any official "before" shots, but I trust you can imagine what it looks like to have stuff pretty much in shambles. Just in case you need a reference though, here are some throwback pics of some babies that might have grown up way too fast (oh...with some toy nonsense in the background): 

(This gratuitous baby shot illustrates except for how dang cute he was...)

Ok, you get it. We had a bins of toys overflowing with big items shoved behind them, strollers "parked" willy-nilly, and a bin of balls housed in the living room because we'd run out of floor space in the playroom perimeter. Not shown, are my children's beds, which each held approximately 26.4 stuffed animals a piece,

We needed a solution.

The good news is, I had an idea. The space between the wall and the cabinets in our playroom was perfect for our two bins of toys, but we were wasting precious vertical real estate. I thought if we could do some sort of hanging storage, we could take advantage of that space, and free up more room below to shuffle the toys around a bit into a system that made a bit more sense, and allowed a bit more wiggle room in the actual room.

I scoured Pinterest, sure that they'd have the answer, but didn't find anything that matched my vision. I wanted a hammock, but not the traditional triangle net type that I kept finding. I needed something a bit more custom to fit the exact spot we were working with. In my head, I imagined a simple system with rods and fabric, to form a sling. I figured some tension rods and a piece of fabric would do the trick, so after a quick pillowcase prototype assured me this idea was just simple enough to work, I whipped up the read deal. And low and behold, it worked...So now I pass on to you my latest organizational pride and craft joy- a DIY toy hammock:

Genius, yes? 
Ok..if not genius at least satisfyingly effective, right?

Because we had already cleared out as many stuffed "friends" as possible, this holds the core group of BFF's that our kids just couldn't bear to part with. We still have spots in beds reserved for the very special lovies, but this is a spot for the rest of the menagerie. And with them out of the way (but low enough that the girls can still reach them to play, and maybe even put them away!) we had room in the bins below to devote to dolls and balls (and whatever else these kids choose to amass).

And the best part is that the how-to couldn't be easier.
It just requires two tension rods, and one piece of fabric. The size of your fabric will depend on your space, but from side to side, it should be about 1" longer than the width of your space (to allow for hemming on both sides). The depth will vary too, based on where you're placing it, but with our 15" deep bookshelf, 19" of fabric worked well to allow enough swag to form a "pocket" for the animals without being so deep that little guys got lost. Whatever your "depth" is, double that, so you can make it one continuous loop. (so my piece was 39" total- 19"x 2 with an extra inch for seam allowance).

Once you have your piece cut, fold it in half lengthwise, and sew together to form the loop. Then make a 1/2" hem on each end to finish it off. Slide the tension rods in, and fit them to your space, adjusting the placement as needed. Done!

You do need to make sure the tension rods are tight, so the weight from the toys doesn't cause them to slip (this is part of the reason we chose to store stuffed animals here vs. dolls or something heavier). If you wanted to, you could use regular dowel rods with cup-hook brackets on each end, but I liked that this was a flexible solution. We can keep it as long as it works, and adjust it if needed. We could also add one on the other side of the cabinet (and park strollers underneath), or even do another level above this one (for toys they don't need to access constantly, but still can't live without? For top-tier stuffies?)

I don't know that Shark Tank is going to be breaking down my door wanting to finance my display of ingenuity, but I was pumped that a half hour of work and about eight dollars in supplies (the quilt fabric stash keeps on giving!) lead to something that so dramatically improves the function of this space.

And one project tackled means we're one step closer to total organization domination. Or at least one step further from being buried alive by our own possessions. I call that a win. Now...on to the basement. See you all in 3 years...

P.s. Let me know if you attempt a version of your own. While I still work to get our place in order, I'd love to live vicariously through the clean spaces of others!

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Thursday, January 5, 2017

Little Pip-Speaks: Volume 27

Been collecting some quips since the last installment...Recording their sayings this way will never do them justice (the inflection...the hand gestures...the adorable little impediments...!) but I just get such a kick out of these two wackos. And it's good to remind myself how cute they can be, after wanting to throttle both of them at bedtime most days. (Christmas break- best of times, and longest of times, amiright?) On with the show.....

Pip-speak #1:
Piper {with a stuffed animal under her shirt}: The hospital doctor just called me and said that my baby should fall out at any minute. We gotta go!

Pip-speak #2:
Piper: Peyton's birthday was on Christmas but I don't know what day. Like was it the one-th, the two-th, or on the actual day...? 

Pip-speak #3:
Piper {sternly, to a stuffed animal}: Come here. We have to have a nose-to-nose.. 
(after some appears to be similar to a face-to-face, and heart-to-heart)

Pip-speak #4:
Daddy: The neighbors got a puppy for Christmas!
Piper: They did? For Christmas? {confused} their stocking or...? 

Pip-speak #5:
Piper {complaining about getting sick}: And now my arm hurts....From catching my sneezes. 

Pip-speak #6:
Mama {driving to Christmas Eve church}: Ugh! I forgot Miller's bow tie. 
Piper: Well, that's ok. You don't want Miller to be handsomer than the other babies.

Pip-speak #7:
Piper {coming home from preschool with gifts in mid-December}: I can't wait to give Daddy his present. 
Mama: Well, I bet he's going to want to open it on Christmas.
Piper {eyeroll}: Oh you parents

Pip-speak #8:
Piper {during a drive around to see Christmas lights}: When it is very fancy of lights we call it a gingerbread house because it looks like candy. 

Pip-speak #9:
Piper {watching me clean up their accessory drawer}: Mama, we can get rid of the baby bows. 
Mama: How come? 
Piper: Because you're not going to have any more babies. 
Mama: How do you know? 
Piper: Because God came and sent me a message while you were looking for Fin's chapstick. 
Mama: Oh really... 
Piper: Yeah. He and Santa came. It was a very important meeting. 

Pip-speak #10:
Piper: I want mommy to sew a shirt for bla bla (her stuffed sheep) because he's always naked. 
Daddy: How do you know she can do that? 
Piper: Because mama is the best sewer. 
Piper: I mean, she sewed us those quilts, and those were not easy. 

Pip-speak #11:
Piper {to Fin}: Who was born as a baby first? Me. So I get to pick first. Then you comed, so you get to pick next. Then Miller will just get whatever's left. 

Pip-speak #12:
Piper {explaining why she got in trouble earlier for lying}: That day I was cranky and really upset with myself so I said things that really, really, really weren't true. 

Pip-speak #13:
Piper {bringing me a pair of sunglasses}: Mama can we tape these on bear? Because he looks super groovy.

Pip-speak #14:
Piper {seeing a box of Lucky Charms cereal at the grocery store}: Mama, when it's the green day...that leprechaun day...can we please get these?

Pip-speak #15:
{playing the animal guessing game}
Daddy: *makes a sqwuaking noise* 
Piper: Parrot! 
Mama: How did you get that? 
Piper: Oh. I just know my birds. Really well. 

Finnish #1:
{playing the animal guessing game, again.}
Fin: It's purple and pink. 
Mama {stumped}: Ummmm... Is it a unicorn? 
Fin: No.
Mama: Ok...Is it a pegasus? 
Fin: No. 
Mama {being ridiculous}: Is it a....magic bear? 
Fin {matter of factly}: Yes.

Finnish #2:
Fin: I can't zip this. 
Daddy: Do you need a hand? 
Fin: I have two hands.

Finnish #3:
Fin: Mouses does like cheese. But sometimes they eat chocolate chip cookies. 

Finnish #4:
Daddy: You know, someday you'll be too big for me to pick you up. 
Fin: I know. Because I'm going to be Super Man.

Finnish #5:
Fin {feeding snacks to Miller}: He just ate it right out of my hand. 
Mama: Like a little...what kind of animal does that? 
Fin: I think a skunk.

Dynamic Duo:
{watching the Thanksgiving Day parade}
Piper {sees Kermit the frog}: Hey! look at that green guy! 
Fin: Yeah we have him! 
Piper: Yeah! It's hermit the crab! 
{watching more of the parade}
Mama {sees Snoopy}: Look who's leading the parade! 
Fin: Yeah! He's part of snoopydoo! 
{making their own parade, throwing toys around like pretend candy} 
Mama: There are some weird things in this parade... 
Piper: Mama, anything can happen in a parade! 

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