The Play Room

After reading Simplicity Parenting (a few thoughts on it here) I went through M's play room (she calls it her downstairs living room) and purged about half her toys. It still looked cluttered, but I reorganized the layout and found a place for everything.  I've tried to teach her how to clean up her toys but those who know me know I have no business teaching anyone anything about cleaning.

Simply getting everything in its place took so long we both ended up frustrated and irritable. Throughout the process M would find a toy she hadn't played with in a while and understandably want to play with it. The first few times I gently asked her to get back on task, then I finally resorted to the ol' standby threat, "Mabel, if you can't take care of your toys we're going to give them to someone who can." I had a box in my hand to really drive the point home.

With that motivation she picked everything up, threw it all in the box threat and asked me who would get the toys and where we were going to take them. She didn't see it as a threat so much as an opportunity to share. Lesson learned.

Since then we've been tidying a little bit every day but the room generally looks like the toy monster vomited a rainbow of plastic all over the floor.

Yesterday I gave it a thorough took a solid 8 hours.  Since it's clean, I took a few quick camera phone pics. I'm not one to miss the rare opportunity to brag about a clean room.

My system? I applied what I know about how Mabel plays:
  • she's more likely to play with her toys when she can see them; 
  • she won't dig through a giant toy box to get out one toy, she likes to peruse the buffet before deciding what looks fun;
  • she simply won't make a choice (i.e. she'll ask to watch TV) if given too many options;
  • she's much more imaginative if she has a place to park her rump and/or move around without obstacles; 
  • given a task she can do herself (e.g. hanging a jacket, putting away shoes) she rises to the challenge; it's a simple way to build her self-confidence and she loves knowing she can do something "by mine own self".

Going through the room, I made a small pile of toys to get rid of. Then I whittled the selection of books, puzzles, and art supplies to about half. Those went into a closet to use as back stock. I bought a few more baskets to organize the cubbies.  I like the clean look of those bins made fit these kinds of shelves and hide the clutter, but picked low-walled baskets so M can easily see what's inside. in loose themes like "things with wheels". At some point in the near future I'll add pictogram labels to each. I  moved a table in from another room, making a corner for crafting. Above the table are some cute little clips for an easily changeable display of her artwork. Just inside the doorway to the room are lots of hooks at her height for hats, necklaces and jackets. Below the hooks to the left is a sizable basket for shoes and slippers. Below the hooks to the right is a picnic basket sturdy enough she can stand on it and play with her nature shelf.

What's nature shelf? They're common to both Montessori and Waldorf philosophies. Generally it's an area dedicated to all the fascinating finds from the great outdoors. I took a wooden box some flash cards came in and made one (errr...asked Charlie to make one) for M. She loves collecting natural objects, examining them, and showing them off when other kids come over. This little area provides the perfect spot for that.

It's back to being a play room meant for play. At least for now.

Kids Clothes Week Challenge: Day 1

It's Kids Clothes Week and this blog has a great list of tutorials to try. What is the Kids Clothes Week Challenge?

Want to join? Go to Elsie Marley's blog and sign up, join the flickr group if you want to show off your creations, and dust off the ol' sewing machine!

I cheated and started yesterday because I have to take time when I can find it. Using the "It's Mother's Day and I want to sew" excuse helped me get the time to do it, though. Here's what I made: a Prudent Baby wrap dress in a cherry print with a gingham skirt. The fabric is from the same batch as this dress; there are so many great fabrics in that batch that I'm eager to make more more more cute pieces for little M and I won't have to fork over any money for materials. 

I should've done it with snaps like they suggest, but couldn't find any snaps and when time is limited you just have to go with the supplies on hand. Buttons, I've got lots of cool, old, pretty buttons so I used those. I'd show you the button holes, but these button holes are actually way worse than the first button holes I ever made, so don't look closely. Just look at M's cute little face and then glance at the dress. 

Mabel Monday

We had a low key weekend watching 7 episodes of Nip Tuck, season 1 {okay, so that was just me, not C}, eating junk food {practicing moderation} and fresh, healthy food from the farmers market.

Did a little bit of weeding, fertilizing with kelp tea, and wall-painting in the kitchen. We also added molding in the kitchen {tidying up all those little details we overlooked} and painted a coat of white over all the trim.

I scraped one section of the balcony, part of the prepping process for a coat of bright white to go on at a soon-ish point {probably in the fall}.

More than anything else we played and played and played and played.

C got out his lensbaby and took it on a short walk around town, I did a little bit of creative cooking {and it wasn't a total failure} and we harvested figs that are bigger than M's fist.

It was a good move putting the chicken pen around some of the fig bushes.

And we realized Mabel took her first steps a week or so ago. Don't ask me how such a milestone slipped by, but she'd been taking a step and falling. . . baby steps. They're tiny, practice steps, a little insecure; she flaps her arms around to balance and takes 2 at a time. My mom saw it and asked if we'd seen her walk. "Well yeah," I said, "but they're small. Do those count as her first steps?" Ummm, duh. Of course they do, but I think I'm in denial that she's ready to walk. Can't we just swaddle her up for a little while longer and keep her small and immobile while I catch my breath?

Actually it's exciting, and before you condemn me for wanting to stifle her, it's exciting to watch all these changes and celebrate with her as she grows, explores and learns. It's also getting harder and harder to get pictures of her that are in focus. Rats.