Archive for March 2012

Making Room

March 22, 2012

Katie will be turning 4 in May, and as such she will soon be kicked out of the family bed.  In preparation, I’ve had to completely rearrange the big girls’ room to make room for Kate.  But I’ve also had to keep in mind that in two years, Sabrina will be four and moving in with them as well.  (We have a three-bedroom home, and my mother-in-law resides in the second small bedroom.)  I spent hours measuring every aspect of their room and researching on the internet before setting up a plan.

So, let’s take a tour of the girls’ new room.

Small Trofast Frame

Just inside the door we have the smaller of two Trofast frames purchased from IKEA.  This one has two medium size baskets (red) that are currently holding books and toys.  The smaller green box also has toys at this time, and the white one has diaper changing supplies. (Cost $43.99 not including tax.)

Bunk Beds and Large Trofast Frame

Bailey (9) and Piper (6) have been sharing a full-sized bed for a few years that I knew would have to go if we were ever going to fit four kids into this one small room.

I purchased this set of bunk beds (along with 2 mattresses) from Ashley Furniture for about $875 including tax, delivery, and set up.  I know that we could have found bunk beds and mattresses cheaper somewhere else, but I specifically needed some in which the ladder was flat against the bunks.  I also knew that I was not up to the challenge of putting bunk beds together myself.

In this picture you can also see the larger of the two Trofast frames from IKEA.  I needed something tall but slim to put next to the bunk beds so that Bailey could have a fan blowing on her at night.  It’s also an ideal place to keep her alarm clock and water cup within reach of the top bunk.

One of the perks of the Trofast frames is the versatility.    This large one has ten sets of rails that can be used with different-sized storage boxes sold separately.  On this one I put a shelf at the top to hold a tissue box and Piper’s water cup, out of reach of little hands that would make a mess.  Bailey and Piper each have a small basket (white or green) to keep personal items, and then the three medium pink baskets hold pajamas/leotards/underthings for Bailey, Piper, and Katie. (Cost $66.99 not including tax.)

Bailey's Bunk

The bunk beds have the added bonus of providing Bailey and Piper each with their own personal space.  I bought two Kusinar wall pockets from IKEA for $3.99 each.  Bailey keeps things like her bedtime reading, book light, and her sleep mask in hers.  Piper, as you can see below, has hers filled with stuffed animals; she’s also hung some sort of the toys from the bed frame.  Each girl also gets to decorate the wall in her area with whatever pictures or mini-posters she chooses.

Piper's Bunk

In two years we will need to get a second set of bunk beds (hopefully the same model), but right now we didn’t want to have an empty top bunk tempting dangerous horseplay.  Instead, I picked up this Sniglar childs’ bed from IKEA.  The size is in-between a twin and a toddler bed. It should hold Katie until she is at least six, and if need be, it should be fairly easy to dismantle and store away until needed again.  (The total cost for the frame, slats, mattress, and mattress pad was $149.66 including tax.)

Space Between the Beds

Even though we didn’t buy the second set of bunks yet, I tried to plan everything in the room around the space we would have once we do.  The second set of bunks will extend almost all the way to the storage baskets.  This is another reason why the Trofast frame was a perfect fit for that space.

One thing that you can’t see as well is the under-bed storage drawers holding most of the girls’ clothing.  Each bed frame has space for three under-bed storage drawers.  They fit perfectly under Katie’s smaller bed, but they are little short for the width of the bunk bed frame.  However, I was able to fit small storage boxes behind the drawers to keep them from sliding too far under the bed (and hide some junk stuff that some people weren’t quite ready to throw away yet).  There is also space for more junk/toy storage on either side of the drawers.

Under-bed Drawers for Bailey and Katie

Under-bed Drawers for Piper

I used simple sticker name tags to label each girls’ drawers and buckets.  I figured this would help me, the girls, and anyone else who might end up putting away laundry keep track of  where each person’s things belong.  At this point, all of Katie’s clothes will fit in one under-bed drawer, but I have a spare ready for when she gets bigger and needs more clothes storage space.  (3 under-bed storage drawers were purchased online for $79.98 including delivery.)

At the end of Katie’s bed you can see a Asa storage box from IKEA ($14.99 not including tax).  While there won’t be space for it once we get a second set of bunks, for now it was a cheap and space-efficient storage unit that has the extra bonus of being a prime place to set a fan for Katie if she needs it.  The fan you see pictured is the one Piper uses at night; I keep it on a decorative storage box (turned upside down) that someone gave us as a present years ago.  I move it closer to her bunk at night, and then I move it back in front of the electric outlet when I unplug the nightlight in the morning.  The leopard-print laundry basket was purchased at Big Lots last fall.

Katie's Bed and Asa Box

In order to make room for Katie’s bed I had to remove two large book cases that previously held Bailey and Piper’s nick-knacks and trophies.  However, we only really used the top shelves in order to keep the grabby hands of toddler sisters off their stuff.  A lot of the space really went to waste.  I replaced the two large book cases with a Stuva shelving unit from IKEA.

The Stuva system is another versatile storage option like the Trofast.  You can choose from three or four different-size frames and customize them with different colored doors, drawers, shelves, wire baskets, legs, or even a clothing pole.  I opted for a medium frame, three shelves, and two sets of doors (blue and white);  I also bought legs to give it just a tad more height.  ($154 not including tax)

Stuva Frame, Window, and Closet

You can’t really see them because of the glare from the sun, but the window has Guardian Angel window bars on it.  We had those professionally installed last summer.  Since we live in a three-story town home, they have given us a lot of peace of mind since being able to open the windows is a really necessity.  I also use thick black-out curtains to keep the kids from waking up with the early morning sun and losing heat through the thin windows during the winter.  The top of the Guardian Angel bar has perfect places to tie back the curtains during the day.

Bailey's and Piper's Nick-Knack Shelves

Bailey’s sports trophies and Bailey’s, Piper’s, and Katie’s piggy banks are kept on top of the Stuva frame.  The two shelves in the top half of the unit belong to Bailey and Piper.  The shelves are really deep, so I picked up two cheap wire pantry shelves from Wal-mart to maximize the space.  You can see Bailey’s new jewelery box on her shelf, and Piper has her snow globe collections, (more) stuffed animals, and her Fijit Friend on her shelf.  The doors keep their things out-of-sight and out-of-mind from Sabrina, who has become creative about standing on things to get whatever looks interesting.

The bottom half of the unit (behind the white doors) is used for toy storage.  There is also space between the unit and the window where I have three storage boxes with Barbies and other toys.  At this time Katie and Sabrina don’t really have many nick-knacks, but as they get older (and we hopefully need less space for toys) they can each take one of the lower shelves.

The Stuva frame does block one half of the closet, but I already had that blocked off with a different shelving unit previously.  I just use that half of the closet for “deep storage”, mainly boxes of outgrown kids clothes.  You can see all of Bailey’s, Piper’s, Katie’s, and Sabrina’s hanging clothes in the closet.  The three-drawer cart has (even more) of Piper’s stuffed animals in the bottom drawer and all of Sabrina’s other clothes in the middle drawer, but the top drawer is being kept empty until I need to start filling it with clothing for Baby #5 (due in August).  Some day soon I will have to get Piper to pare down her stuffed animal collection, because I might need that extra drawer for Sabrina or the new baby.

All total I invested about $1400 from our tax return into redoing the girls’ bedroom.  I really tried to think long-term as far as the needs for now and in the future in hopes of getting a lot of use out of all the purchases.  The space is clean and efficient and actually somewhat matches, which is more than I can say for any other room in the house.

Not Lazy, But Hazy and Crazy Days of Not-Quite-Summer

March 18, 2012

My husband has been on Spring Break this past week, and we’ve been enjoying some early spring weather with temperatures hitting the 70’s.  I wish I could say that we had used the time to do lots of fun things like going to the zoo or hitting a museum, but mainly we’ve been dealing with doctor appointments and home repairs/renovation.

After almost a year of doing my business in the dark, I finally have a working light in the downstairs bathroom.  The utensil drawer was rebuilt since the front of it completely fell off about four years ago.  We finally got rid of that hideous ceiling fan/chandelier in my bedroom.  I’m still in the process of reorganizing the girls’ bedroom with furniture from IKEA (thank the Lord for my power drill/screw driver).  Did I also mention that I’m horribly cruel and am not giving my kids a spring break from homeschooling?

I have been trying to take the girls outside to enjoy this nice weather for at least an hour or so in the late afternoon or early evening.  They’ve really enjoyed riding their bikes and getting to see their neighborhood friends for the first time in months.  It’s amazing how much damage eight little girls (ages 21 months to 9 years) can do with a bucket of chalk and a long driveway.

It’s also been nice for me to catch up with the parents and compare notes on how all the kids have grown.  I think my favorite part, though, has been watching Sabrina (21 months) really become part of the gang.  She is having a blast riding her push car alongside her sisters on their bikes, drawing with chalk, playing with the bouncy balls, and generally watching the pandemonium.  Sabrina has also been interacting more with Sophia, the youngest girl next door who is only three months her senior.  Last summer the two toddlers weren’t very sure if each other, but now they are becoming little buddies.

But all this warm weather has got me thinking about preparing for the summer.  We usually spend several hours outside in the warm weather, and I inevitably wish that I had certain things on hand in the garage instead of having to send Bailey or Piper in the house to get this or that.  So, I’m in the process of putting together a “Summer Kit” of things we might need while we’re outside.

On my list, so far, are the following:

  1. Sunscreen:  a face stick and big bottle for arms and legs.
  2. Band-Aids
  3. Hand Sanitizer
  4. Paper Towels
  5. Scissors (for opening freeze pops)
  6. Non-perishable (and Non-Melting) Snacks

I know I’ll eventually need to start keeping my cooler in the kitchen, so that I can restock it with cold water bottles everyday.  I’m not sure we’re to that point yet.  Right now we’re fore-casted to have temperatures at least as high as the 60’s for a few more days, but I’ve lived in Illinois long enough to know that it might get as cold as the 30’s again before the warm weather sticks around for good.  We’ll try to enjoy it while we’ve got it, though.

Some Sort of Quick Takes

March 9, 2012

Since I am not looking at blogs for Lent, I am not participating in 7 Quick Takes via Conversion Diary.  But I figured that I would post some sort of quick takes.  I don’t quite know how many there will be, though.

1.  My Lenten observances have been so eye-opening and just plain good.  Cutting out all of the blogs, avoiding getting into new shows on Netflix,  hiding annoying Facebook posts, and avoiding commenting on Facebook has opened up a ton of time.  At first I was worried that I might not know what to do with myself, but to be honest I don’t know how I ever had so much time to waste on that stuff because some days I am don’t have time to check my Facebook or e-mail at all.  Needless to say, the house is the cleanest that it has been in months.

2.  I was making an order from an online Catholic store, and I came across A Mother’s Rule of Life by Holly Pierlot.  I had heard good buzz about this book for years.  While I don’t see myself making a strict rule for myself, it was worth it to learn the 5 P’s of Marriage:  1) Prayer, 2) Person, 3) Partner, 4) Parent, and 5) Provider.  Those should be the priorities of married people in order.  For more information you’ll have to read the book, but, personally, it inspired me to incorporate prayer time into my daily routines in addition to making a few other changes.

3.  Another thing I ordered from the Catholic store was the March issue of Magnificat.  It’s one of those things I had seen around, and I thought might be interesting.  For each day of the month it has morning prayers and readings, the readings for the daily Mass, essays for contemplation, and prayers for the evening.  Every day I read the morning prayers along with the daily meditation from Amy Welborn’s A Catholic Woman’s Book of Days while I drink my coffee.  If I have time at lunch, I look through the Mass readings.  And sometimes I get to the evening prayers.  I really like that it’s a very slim volume that easily slips into my coat pocket when I am on the go, too.

4.  I’ve had a couple of different projects going on the past few weeks.  The most over-whelming one has been preparing the girls room in order to move Katie in there after she turns 4 in May.  Basically, I need to be able to fit three beds and clothing store for five kids as well as toy and knick-knack storage.

Phase 1 was just completed.  We got these bunk beds from Ashley furniture for $285; the mattresses actually cost more than the bed frame.  Then I bought these two Trofast frames from IKEA (one 57″ and one 37″) and a mix of different-sized storage boxes and shelves.  I wanted a storage system that would be versatile and would fit in the space between what will eventually be two sets of bunk beds.

I have more plans for the room, but I’ve been waiting on our tax refund which was just deposited today.  I plant to post pictures of the finished room when everything is done.

5.  Sabrina (21 months) is just having a language boom.  She’s putting together complete sentences left and right and adding new vocabulary words every day.  And it’s amazing the variety of foods that she is willing to try and actually likes.  She has been my best eater of the four so far.

6.  Piper (6) taught Katie how to use the mouse on the computer the other day.  Piper didn’t realize that she would be creating another computer addict in the house.  Katie now wants to play Jump Start Artist all day everyday.  So, I’ve had to pull my timer out in order to help her understand that she can only play on the computer for a limited time.

7.  Somehow I keep getting issues of a baby magazine.  My obstetrician office swears that they haven’t sold my information, but I don’t know how else I magically started getting these things.  The only other companies that could know I’m currently pregnant are the phlebotomist and the health insurance.  I usually browse through the magazine, but so much of the information is just so far removed from who I am as a parent and person.  Because this will be baby #5, and I’ve amassed quite a bit of experience at this point.  But even with baby #1 I could care less about coordinating baby gear or a perfectly decorated nursery.  None my babies have ever had a nursery at all.