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June, 2013:

A Room with a View

On Monday, I sent this email to a few of my bestest…

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Friday Princess and I took the 4Runner for its oil change at the Woodmen Auto Park. We left it and walked to Walmart for flip flops and water balloons, then walked to a few garage sales.

Princess and I fell in love with an old vanity and bought it . . . Hubby and Dude think it’s the ugliest thing on the planet, and while I don’t like the color they painted it and will strip it some day, Princess and I love the piece!

******Picture of ugly vanity attached. I personally like how I preserved myself – multiple times – taking the photo :-)

Anyhoo . . . Princess requested that when we put that in her room, we also rearrange her room – she wants room on both sides of her bed.

After I dropped her off at camp and got home yesterday, I may have moved her bed.

And then decided that her room just wouldn’t do.

And then took EVERYTHING out of her room, even the stuff on her walls – and put it in my living room (this girl had a LOT of crap crammed into her room!).

And decided that only room stuff will go back in there.

And decided that all the toys she has in there (dolls and stuffed animals) will be moved downstairs to the “Lego area” that gets very little use.

And decided that a trip to Bed Bath and Beyond – and probably The Container Store – are in order.

Before I go pick her up on Friday.

Sheesh – why did those people have to move to Brazil and sell that vanity? I had a FREE week on my calendar, people! And now, my evenings will be filled with organizing a 10-year old girl’s room.

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Here’s a photo of the vanity from the garage sale:

 

Yes, I paid too much for it – but we LOVED it :-) (Thanks, Hubby, for being the kind of Hubby and Father that doesn’t get upset or annoyed when us girls do stupid stuff!)

Then I got crackin’ on her room. It took me a couple evenings after work and a day to finish. I couldn’t bring myself to take before pictures . . . I felt no need to preserve for posterity the amount of clutter and crap she had in her room. So you get only the fun clean after photos.

This is the stack of stuffed animals she has to go through and purge. Seriously – this pile goes to the floor . . . the girl loves herself a good stuffed animal!

 

See the largish pinkish wheeled bin thingy? That came out of her room, along with the 9 baskets/bins inside . . . yes, there was THAT MUCH junk in her room that I got rid of, organized, or repurposed. I did NOT need to go to The Container Store afterall 😉

And one bin of miscellaneous stuff that I hope we can sell at the Boy Scout arage sale/BBQ fundraiser in July. But I am proud to say that these are the ONLY things that did not make it back into her room. I was able to get her AG Dolls and all their “stuff” back in there, with room to spare :-) And with as tiny of a room as she has, getting all of that back in there without breaking out in hives was no small feat!

So here we go with the big reveal.

First off – the left half of her closet.

I removed an entire dresser from her room (needed space for the awesome new vanity!). Um – I think the girl has enough shorts/skirst and t-shirts to last her for 3 months without me ever doing laundry. Sheesh! I hope that having them in here will help with the organizing . . . stuffing them all into small drawers was not working for anyone (but like her stuffed animals, she loves ALL of her t-shirts because they all have special meaning). The bin on the floor is full of bags . . . backpacks, Camelbacks, school bags, cosmetic bags, string bags for swim team . . . all bags she just HAS to have (and believe it or not, she uses each one of them on a regular basis).

Second up – the right side of her closet. Note that this used to be FULL of hanging clothes, which were mostly tossed on the floor.

 

Now it contains only dresses and some sweaters. I didn’t give anything away. Just moved it. Thanks, G’ma, for the tutu! My favorite thing about this closet? The BOOT hangers! The smaller ones are just waiting for her to come home from camp with her cowboy boots :-)

“Where are all her shoes?” you ask? Why, they’re behind her door in a couple new shoe/stuff organizers I got for her.

As with stuffed animals and t-shirts, the girl loves flip flops! And I LOVE organizers! These hold her bazillion flip flops, slippers, tennies, hats, belts, approximately 47 bandanas, and some other random things. And there’s plenty of room leftover for the shoes and other stuff she’ll be bringing home from camp. Not sure if giving her room to grow is a good thing – guess we’ll find out :-)

On to the side of her room you see when you’re standing in the doorway.

I’m happy when I see this – TOTALLY a girl room! It’s so bright and sunny and happy :-) This also shows you how small her room is – that is a regular twin bed, pushed up against one wall. Books and AG Doll stuff on teh shelves, the doll wardrobe is sitting on top of the white chest that has her blankets in it. I stuffed the doll bunk in there was well – she’s small and can fit through there, and it’ll make her happy that it’s in there. Jammies in the two storage cubes to the left of the dool wardrobe – alarm clock on top. I put her posters up high and her horse stuff down low. Of course, Tonks’ bed is at the foot of her bed and hasn’t been used since Princess left Sunday because Tonks feels privileged enought o sleep right between my and Hubby’s heads!

One late addition to the “horse wall” . . . the saddle pad that she doesn’t use that we repurposed into a Ribbon displayer thingy :-)

Finally the view from the window . . . the vanity!

Still not my favorite color, but what girl doesn’t want a place to sit and make herself pretty? I hung her jewelry things on each side mirror. Her jewelry box is on top of the cubes on the left (which hold all of her sweatshirts). And there’s the one dresser that remained in her room. My favorite find? The ottomon for her to sit on! It doesn’t match the vanity, but it’s a perfect match for her bed spread and curtains . . . AND it is a storage cube – both of her volleyballs fit nicely in there :-) Believe it or not, there are 2 whole empty drawers in that vanity – plenty of space for her to put her junk!

So there you have it – the mini makeover of a small bedroom with entirely too much stuff in it. All made possible because the buys at Toyota can’t complete an oil change in less than an hour . . . and because I felt the need to overpay for a vanity that Princess and I fell in love with.

Missing Princess

My Princess has been gone at camp since Sunday afternoon.

I haven’t gotten to see her or talk to her on the phone.

I don’t like that.

Maybe that’s why I chose to totally reorganize her room . . . so I could spend time with her stuff without just sitting in her room 😉

I get to pick her up today . . . and I can’t wait!

A week away is a long time . . . for me :-)

Weekend In Review

Once again, we spent the weekend in Denver at a baseball tournament. Love them – totally not complaining . . . but this weekend we took two vehicles because Princess and I had “stuff” to do. Here’s how it all went down – and why I felt like I’d driven to MN and back this weekend!

Friday 2:00 p.m. – 15 minute drive to riding lessons
Friday 3:30 p.m. – 1 hr 15 minute drive to the hotel in Westminster
Friday 5:30 p.m. – 15 minute drive to Boulder for dinner at the awesomest brew pub with some great friends. Fate Brewing Company – two thumbs on an awesome menu and amazing food!
Friday 8:30 p.m. – 15 minute drive to hotel
Saturday 10:00 a.m. – Drive to brunch, then to baseball field
Saturday 2:30 p.m. – Drive back to hotel for quick clean up and change
Saturday 3:00 p.m. – 1 hr drive to Parker for Grand Prix horse show jumping. Yay to Princess saying she does NOT want to jump horses that high. She says she will stop at 3 feet, or maybe 5 😉
Saturday 6:00 p.m. – 1 hr drive back to hotel
Sunday 8:00 a.m. – Drive to baseball field
Sunday 12:15 p.m. – 1 hr 40 minute drive to Girl Scout summer camp
Sunday 4:00- 1 hr 40 minute drive home

In there I got to:

Watch Dude’s team play some awesome baseball!
Catch up with some old friends over drinks and dinner.
Watch my first Grand Prix horse jumping event (the winner won $30K!). Very cool and very amazing. Can’t wait to go back in July and get there earlier to watch some of the smaller jumping events – and maybe shop :-) Such cute riding clothes for sale!
Have yummy girls dinner with Princess after the horse show and rummaging around a 2nd hand store.
Relax and enjoy drinks at the hotel with Hubby and the dad of a boy on Dude’s team while the kiddos swam.
Spend lots of time chatting with Princess one-on-one while in the car for many hours driving to/from horse shows and summer camp.
Check out the girls scout horse camp and see how awesomely excited Princess was to be there.

Oh – and when I got home Sunday evening around 5:30, I apparently thought it would be a good idea to honor Princess’ request and rearrange her room . . . which may have turned into a major undertaking of removing EVERYTHING from her room and stacking it in my living room while  we make her room back into a bedroom and move all the “stuff” down to the Lego table/play area in the basement. At this moment, she has a bed, a bookcase, and 2 dressers in her room. I still get to go through all of her “stuff” out in the living room – before I pick her up on Friday :-) Fun! No seriously – organizing makes me happy… especially when it involves a shopping trip to The Container Store. That place is like a candy store for OCD organizers!

How was your weekend?

Hair Yesterday, Gone Today

So the kiddos got haircuts last week :-) Princess was scheduled for a regular trim . . . she’s growing her hair out to donate it to Locks of Love. It was getting quite long – and straggly and hard for her to take care of after she rejoined swim team and began swimming 3 times a week:

 

She said she wasn’t ready to donate, which was fine with me. Ponytails and hats are great for summer anyway :-) I couldn’t go with for the haircut, but I had a feeling she might change her mind, so I sent Hubby with instructions on what she could and couldn’t do if she decided to donate (no shaved head, yes cute short haircut).

She sat down in the chair and had Ms Janessa measure “just to see.”

 

Turns out, she had 10 inches! So she came home with the cutest haircut ever . . .

 

And 2 ponytails to package up and mail to Locks of Love :-)

Then it was Dude’s turn. He just got a haircut a few weeks ago, but he was there for a specific purpose. The baseball team had a tournament in Omaha and decided to get mohawks for the trip. Ms. Janessa was so excited – it was her first mohawk!

Most of the guys got short mohawks, but he wanted to style with his . . . I wasn’t sure at first, but I warmed up to it and it turned out great!

 

Most of the boys on the team got mohawks . . . which they affectionately called Omahawks :-) LOL! Funniest thing . . . one of the dads found this license plate in the parking lot at the College World Series . . . perfect!

Here they are with their Omahawks! Dude asked me to shave his off this morning, and I gladly obliged :-) He had been scheduled to have Janessa shave it off on the 3rd before we head to Boy Scout summer camp, but he asked me to do it early. Fine by me! Now we’re back to both kiddos with cool summer cuts. Let the playing begin!

Girl Scout Campout

Sometime in early January, my co-leader B and I had a moment of weakness. We were chatting about how our schedules seemed to have gotten so busy with the new year and the spring events and extra work stuff.

In a moment of weakness, we both realized we had the same weekend “free” in May. So what did we do? We reserved some tent camping spots at a new local state park to take the Girl Scouts camping!

The couple weekends before the campout the weather was cold and SNOWY! We were a bit worried . . . and admittedly maybe a little hoping it would be too cold to go camping. We didn’t want the girls’ first experience to be awful and uncomfortable. But, the weather turned around and we were off!

B and I both love camping and were ready to go.

B had to travel for work all week and got back to Denver around noon on Friday. Hubby was awesome and helped me take a bunch of the big stuff down to the camp sites and helped me set up 3 tents, the food tables, the canopy . . . carry the firewood. It took us a couple hours, so I’m glad we did it! We didn’t get down there with the girls until around 5:00 p.m. – it would not have been fun to have to try to get everything set up with the girls before making dinner.

After we got the girls stuff settled in the giant 10-man tent (thank you QT for letting us use it!) . . . we paused for a quick team photo:

 

Then we were off to our neighboring camp site to make dinner of spaghetti and bread on the gas stove. It turned out great and was yummola! After dinner, Ranger Mike and Ranger Jenny stopped by our site to chat with the girls and make sure we were all set before it was quiet time at the park:

 

Ranger Mike is a new Ranger . . . and also in charge of the resident 4-foot bull snake, Chance. He invited the girls down to the visitor enter to see the snake on Saturday! Ewwwwwwww!!!

After a campfire and some yummy s’mores, we heard the 10:00 taps over the loud speaker from Fort Carson, just a few miles away. It was pretty neat! The girls got cleaned up and headed to their tent. The first night was a bit of a challenge getting the girls quieted down – there were 8 of them in one large tent . . . which was FUN and all they wanted to do was talk and talk and giggle and giggle! We had to remind them more than once what Ranger Mike said about quiet time at 10:00 and how they’ve had to ask people to leave for being too loud. They finally quieted down and were ready to go Saturday morning.

Some of the girls really like to cook and were very helpful making the bacon, eggs, and sausage while the other girls set up the fruit and utensils and helped make hot chocolate for everyone. Here they are enjoying their yummy breakfast outside.

 

After cleaning up, doing dishes, and digging the sump, the girls headed out to explore while they worked on their Junior Ranger books. They had to find bugs, complete crossword puzzles, and investigate pine tree bark scents (vanilla? cinnamon?) among other things.

 

They had a lot of time to explore around the campsite area, play, do what they wanted, and entertain themselves while B and I sat and relaxed and chatted. It was REALLY nice!

After yummy lunch, we headed to the Camper Service building for the Birds and Binoculars ranger class. The girls had a great time learning about birds and bird watching and binoculars! They even got to go outside and use their binoculars to identify different birds from their books:

 

After getting their Junior Ranger books graded and being sworn in, we walked to the other area of the camper services building to get some freeze pops on a hot day. Lo and behold, we saw Ranger Mike! He invited the girls down to the Visitor Center to see Chance. B and I seized the opportunity to disguise our planned forced hike as a walk down a grassy trail to the Visitor Center to see Chance. It worked!

The girls had a great time on the hike down and saw TONS of wildlife.

 

After a nice 2 1/2 mile hike, we made it to the Visitor Center. Ranger Mike had beat us down there in his pickup and had Chance out and ready to go. Not all of the girls were thrilled with Chance, but every one of them touched him and hung around for quite a while to watch him wrap himself around Ranger Mike’s waist and try to stick his head out toward the girls.

 

While the girls were entertained by Chance and Ranger Mike, B and I wandered around the Visitor Center. I took notice of the dates and locations of the recent wildlife sitings that were noted on the whiteboard.

Note the last entry – 5/17 Bobcat / Campsite 23. May 17th is the day we arrived. The girls were out exploring the campsites and the nearby trails. Campsite 23 was just up the hill from us about 20 yards. We KNOW that cat was watching the girls. Thankfully, they were loud enough that the bobcat didn’t want to come near us :-) Safety in numbers!

We hiked back to our campsite up the entrance road . . . completing our 5 mile hike by walking through site 23 and showing the girls just how close the bobcat was to our site and why it really was so important for them to make sure all of their smellables were put in the bin for me to take to the car each night.

Easy dinner of hot dogs over the fire followed by banana boats finished off our 2nd night at the campground. The girls were TIRED! They were quiet and sleeping by 10:00 rather than loud and roudy at 12:30 a.m. 😉 B and I took the opportunity to catch up on a little rest ourselves.

Sunday morning was a yummy pancake and fruit breakfast before packing everything up and hauling it up the hill to the vehicles. The girls got to go play at the playground while B and I hauled a few last items up the hill and did one last trip through our three sites to make sure it was all cleaned up and empty.

We finished with our Scouts Own before heading back to school to meet the girls’ parents.

Over all, it was a great weekend! The girls did awesome with only a few issues. The weather was perfect (it wasn’t even cold t night!). Nobody got sad, scared, or homesick. And B and I got to spend a weekend doing what we love – camping.

To all of the scout parents who kept telling us how brave we were and how hard it must be to take the troop camping . . . I say thanks and giggle . . . because camping is like a vacation – even when it involves eight 10-year old Girl Scouts :-)

It was a great way to end our Scout year, and the school year. Looking forward to more camping with the scouts!

How To Get Your Kids To Purge Their “Stuff”

Money. Offer them money.

Our game closet and toy bins were a mess. They contained things I KNOW they haven’t played with and have no plans to play with. Yet they have been unwilling to part with these items for the past 18 months.

So on Memorial Day – we had no baseball and no plans – it was a day to catch up on all the stuff we’d been neglecting.

I declared it Money Monday.

While I bagged pine needles and did other work outside, Hubby cleaned the entire inside of the house top to bottom.

I told the kiddos they had to clean out the game closet and the toy bins as well as their rooms. Anything they got rid of, we would donate to our Boy Scout troop for their annual Garage Sale and BBQ fundraiser. I knew they wouldn’t be willing to give much up, even though I knew there was LOTS to give up.

So I offered them money.

10 cents for each toy they gave up, 25 cents for each item of clothing, and 50 cents for each game they donated. They spent quite a few hours going through their things and playing with their things and discovering that some of the things aren’t as fun when you’re 10 and 12 as they were when you were 7 and 9 or 5 and 7.

So they were in the donating mood. They may have also been motivated by the need to replace a broken iPod screen (Dude) and purchase a service dog for her American Girl dolls (Princess).

After they added it all up and split it 50/50, I ended up paying them each about $20.

Yes – they had that much STUFF.

It was well worth it. The closet is clean, the toy chest is almost empty, the Boy Scouts have lots of stuff to sell, and I am happy every time I walk into the living room or open the game closet.

Now to find someone to haul away the ping pong table and fooseball table…