Monday, August 6, 2012

the count down is on...getting set up for back to school

We actually have three different count downs occurring in our home right now but the first and my fave is school starting. (other two are birthday related)

Two more days.

I know I should be more upset about summer being over and losing my kids to a whole day of education instead of the never ending "there's nothing to do" around here. But I feel I am a much better mother when I have a moment away from my loves to regroup, find peace, do some planning and creative thinking...and really just have a minute for me. How selfish is that?

Well, now that we've covered the what an awful thing for a mother to say part of the post let me move on....

I had high hopes (probably a better title for this blog) for projects to finish before school started. But I'm going to pat my self on the back for what I HAVE accomplished.

Here's the rundown:

grocery shop (with coupons and a sale ad no less)
set up lunchbox station
organize fridge
kids haircuts
set up closets
set up desk/homework station
organize mud wall
school supplies shop for kids

Not too bad.  Is it sad to anyone else that one needs to write grocery shopping on the list of projects to complete? Well, with three kids, no food and not a drop of creamer for the desperately needed coffee, I put on some long sleeves (I'm still ivy infested) set out to another town and only ran into one person we knew. She was kind enough to not to ask about the welts. Mission completed. My kids will get through at least one week with a well nourished lunchtime. Put better lunch box planner on the list of things for Angie to work on.

The lunch box station is a must have in our kitchen. It took me a little while to figure some things out with our new kitchen cabinets but I think we're off to a good start. 

I always like to have my lunch boxes, baggies, Tupperware, napkins, utensils and a marker in one central location. That really helps streamline the mornings. The last home had the typical drawer-over-door base cabinets so it was easy to put the larger items in the cabinet and the smaller baggies and whatnot in the drawer. This home is set up a bit differently. I do not have any drawer-over-door cabinets but I am blessed with two deep drawers next to the fridge.

It was pretty easy to figure out where to put all the Tupperware and large items, but less obvious as to where to put the smaller items, they would be eaten alive in that deep drawer. I remembered I had a utensil basket and quickly filled that joker up with all my smaller items and placed it in the drawer. Now everything is in one place, I can pull it out when needed and put it out of sight when not. The lunchboxes are in the other drawer for now but they will soon be in the book bag/wash rotation. Lunchbox station: check.

The fridge: how I love the fridge. If you were to come into my home at any given, expectant moment, my fridge would be the only area I would be proud to show off.  Not always mind you, but the only.  I am not a neat freak in any area of my life (right, Mom?) but the fridge is the one place I can not stand filth. So after I grocery shop I typically have a date with the Clorox wipes. Yesterday I also managed to move around some shelves and drawers to better use the space.

The bottom fridge drawer is always the snack drawer in our home. Easy for the kids to see, grab, and for me to replenish. the drawer above that has less of a purpose. It will probably become the meat thawing drawer. (don't worry, my restaurant industry husband will quickly correct me if this doesn't comply with the health department standards)

Whenever I store my fruits and veggies in the drawers I forget I have them and then end up throwing money down the drain. A better place for the foods we should be eating? The top and in plain sight. Same goes for our leftovers. Why waste the food I wanted to save just because it's in the back somewhere never to be seen again? So up they went. I moved the milk shelf and deli drawer lower (this works because you usually are going into the fridge for milk, creamer and sandwich stuff and don't need a reminder to reach for them, same reason they put these items in the back of the store, plus the boys are better able to help themselves.) and the two shelves for fruits, veggies and leftovers went to the top. I also have the basket of fresh fruit on the counter above the lunchbox drawer. So far, so good. My kids have been reaching for the fruits and I already have a leftover lunch reminder.

Now on to the closets. I don't know about you but the getting dressed routine is the biggest hurdle of the morning. It really doesn't matter if I have them pick out their clothes the night before, their minds will change over night. I gave up this battle a long time ago. I really feel it's more important if it's clean, they are comfortable and it's weather permitting. (They walk out in a flannel coat in August if I let them) So most of the clothing chaos around here comes down to the storage. The kids have adequate amounts of clothing storage. It's a matter of how to set it up. I originally thought I could put out all the kids clothes and have a summer side and a winter side. But like I said, they wear everything, all the time. So I'm ending up washing jeans and long sleeve shirts that were worn for only a moment because it was too hot. So I think I'll go back to the swap out method we used at the last house. I'd rather do that than unnecessary laundry.

To the current situation... I'd like to create cute little decals for the closets labeling each shelf and area, but I'm still undecided if I will be painting the interior of those spaces anytime soon and don't want to waste the effort and decals. So the temporary fix?...painters tape. I walked each kid through their closet storage system and had them help me label. This will hopefully help the putting away of clothes process. Simple, easy, done.

One of the absolute favorite things about this house...a office in said basement. I have wanted my own space for a long time. Now I have it, OK I share it with Alan, but since I have yet to organize the space it is more of a storage closet now. It's on the list.

That said, I find myself still using my laptop upstairs in the living room or dining room. It really is the center of the home and makes the most sense for me to be able to have access to the computer without going downstairs. I love the idea of a mom's nook in the kitchen. No place in ours so I set off to create my own little nook of the home. The solution...the old foyer table we use in the dining room. Perfect. I currently have my computer stuff set up and one drawer designated as mine. The other drawer is to be the homework drawer. I'll get to that in a minute. The artwork above the table/desk has evolved from the masterpiece the boys made (below), to a cork board but now I think I'm thinking this is the place for the chalk board. I still want to write down our meal blessings as well as any other notes to self. A chalk board can also look stylish and not as cluttered as the cork board. I figure I'll save the abundance of artwork for the fridge and basement. Hopefully I can jazz up the space a bit more soon. But for now it's function before form.

The other drawer will be the homework station. Inspired my The36thAvenue, I would like to create a single destination for all of the items we will be using during homework time. I probably told you before that I wanted to use an area of the basement as their work zones. Well, school hasn't even started and I'm seeing fault in that plan. The best place for my kids to do their after school work is near the kitchen, where I will most likely be. So the same desk area I plan to use for me I will also store all of their school work goodies.  Simple enough.

The mud wall...because it's not a mud room. I have made some progress in the mud wall area. I managed to paint the bench a lighter, more fresh shade of gray. Really just to cover up the old red scratches that were taking over. I had hoped to have this area ready for the start of school but it really has everything it needs to work for us now...hooks. On the list of things to do in this area...hang a sorter of mail and paperwork (that stuff floods in the first few weeks of school), possibly an umbrella pot, and way down the road...a built in bench. Stay tuned for all that excitement.

And as far as shopping for school supplies goes, I have one out of two kids who has a list completed. This year after unpacking all of our clothes from the move I decided we would not be doing any back to school clothes shopping. Not a lick. Of course, this week I have been trying to get outfits ready and starting to rethink this for the little mess Miss. None the less, that was one thing off the to-do list. I do however have a pair of shoes for two of them I got on a crazy clearance at Target. One more pair for the middle child I will be mommy of the year in their eyes when I break them out the night before school starts. That's the idea anyway. 

Back to supplies...I decided, before the ivy outbreak, to take the boys out separately to do their supply shopping. A date of sorts. I might have spent more than I would have because I was buying for one and not two but it was still less of a punch in the gut at checkout opposed to previous years. So now Alex still needs his date with mom. Last minute?...why yes, I am.

Not on the list but equally necessary...AdaLove's nails. She has me paint them half blue, half pink. I hate it but she loves them. I'm trying to see them as Sleeping Beauty style.

There you have it. A rundown of our crazy back to school setups. Hopefully more to come...

And since this post took a whole day to complete here's a peek at the daily happenings....

The basement was the perfect setting for entertaining 6 boys and two girls. The boys played wii (and science projects, and puzzles, and swam...twice) while the girls played house...loved it.

And our little fashionista as she went to meet her new teacher tonight. She's going to have a great year!

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