Train Playroom

It was 65° outside yesterday morning ♡ December 17th. 

By the time I took the kids to the playground in the afternoon it was 32 and windy 😦 

We can’t avoid Winter forever. I also can’t avoid Christmas forever. I’ve been slowing getting all of Little Man’s presents in the mail and pilling them in his room along with anything else I want to procrastinate on. After he laid down for a nap, yesterday, I decide it was time to get motivated. I’d gone to At Home and found a wire flatware holder that I planned to repurpose as a train shelf. 

It worked perfectly! 

I put together his Train Table and Gorilla glued the bridge together. The other pieces I left loose so he could rearrange. The top flips over and the other side is a chalk board. 

This wooden sign was given to us by a dear friend when he was born. 

I wanted this to be an uncluttered space where he could play and be creative without being over stimulated. 

I read about Toy Rotation about a year ago, and I love the idea. Last month I went through all his toys and clothes and donated almost 4 boxes worth of stuff. I tried to be purposeful with what toys he kept. In his closet are 2 shelves neatly stacked with toys that he can take out one at a time and play with in the open space on the other side of his room. The closet locks so he can’t just drag everything out and make mayhem. It’s been studied that children do better and are less overwhelmed when they do not have too many stimulating factors around them when they play. So we are implementing toy rotation. Also, the walls are not too busy. 

I picked up a few baskets at the Dollar Tree for his wooden train and blocks. I still need to find some clear contact paper to make the window so you cannot see into it (the parking lot is RIGHT there and my toddler doesn’t always keep his clothes on).

In the other corner of his room I will be installing these wire baskets on the wall along with a few small wall lamps. Then a few oversized throw pillows and his reading corner will be complete (I love how many books he was giving for Christmas. Thank you to family for understanding the power of reading).

The last thing I did was unpackaged all his gifts (make them play ready) and wrap them (STAR WARS wrapping paper found at the Dollar Tree!) 

If you have any creative Play Room ideas, I’d love to heat them! I’ll be sure to update with pictures of the reading corner once it is complete.

Happy Holidays! 

Update:

Today (December 23rd) I finally put the finishing touches on Little Man’s Playroom. His reading corner is set up. 

thThese baskets are from At Home. They are perfect for his board books. Instead of throw pillows I used some of his character pillow cases over new pillows. I put a spot light on the wall for better lighting at night. 

The window treatment I was looking for was $15 and I wasn’t ready to commit. I ended up getting some contact paper from the Dollar Tree that did the job perfectly. 


I decided the leave the final corner of the room empty for his to play and use his puzzles. 

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Holiday Gift Idea Guide 2015

It is the biggest shopping day of the year. If you are out and about today I hope that it is with friends and family and you are having fun (because that is what Holidays are about, not stressing and yelling to get something that is just… a thing) If you are anything like me you will be Celebrating Cyber Monday in your yoga pants with a warm cup of cocoa, followed by weeks of pouring over Pinterest and making as many gifts as possible.

 

Below I have complied a list of some small business, businesses that give back, made in the USA companies, and just plain old fun gift items. I hope it helps you find some creative and unique gifts that feed into the Holiday spirit of giving and less into the commercialism. 🙂

 

 

10891860_1036928119670888_8865607233591300579_nIf you know a little dancer, Honey Bunny Crafts and Stitchery makes gorgeous tutus, hair pieces, and bags. Small business run by a SAHM.

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Jamberry nail wraps are made in the USA and free of the 5 most harmful chemicals in most nail wraps and polishes. They make great stocking stuffers and teacher gifts.

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31 Bits sell 100% recycled Bead products made by Ugandan women. They empower these women through earning an income enabling them to provide for their families. They care for them holistically through counseling, health education, finance training, and business mentorships. After five years in their program, the beneficiaries are ready to graduate. A graduated beneficiary has her own business and is educated, healthy, and confident. She is empowered.

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The Little Bamboo is a Florida based company specializing in all natural bamboo products. The Little Bamboo has a growing product line from Bamboo Utensils. My family loves their charcoal soap. 

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It Works has tons of great products for those in your life who want to improve their health or already lead a healthy lifestyle. Their Greens help balance your body and Alkalize your blood.

1546463_959593117431773_8682779872435900694_nTree Change Dolls are based out of Australia, but are so amazing to me. She takes old dolls and makes them something that the average kid can identify with. Great for the young girls on your shopping list.

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Do you have a Gamer or Nerd on your shopping list? Treno Nights makes gorgeous tiny clay charms of all types. Earrings, bracelets, key-chains, etc. She is a small business run out of her home in TX.

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Coffee lover in the family? Three Avocados takes their profits and provides clean drinking water and education for those in Uganda.

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Glasstic Water Bottles are great gifts for just about anyone. You can even customize them. I love mine because I know it won’t shatter when my toddler uses it, I can put essential oils in my water, and I waste less plastic cups at work.

 

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Trades of Hope is another Fashion line that helps empower women through your purchases, and they have super cute stuff 🙂

 

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Inspirational Illustrations in Print or on Journals. She has new designs daily on her Facebook. Rose Hill Designs.

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Hand painted wooden signs created by a SAHM. Dezarea’s DeSigns.

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Tripp Tribe has Homemade body products created from simple, natural ingredients you can feel good about! Family Business. They are currently trying to raise enough money to bring their adopted sons home from Russia.

 

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Sassy Doe Soaps are wonderful soaps made from Goat’s milk, olive oil, and essential oils. It was the only thing I could use when pregnant on my face.

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Maple Syrup is one of my favorite Winter comfort foods. Tomapo Farms has Maple Candy as well. They will ship.

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What about the person on your list who has everything…and then some. How about the gift of Simplicity and Organization. Courtney Carver’s Project 333 has been a life saver for me. The Clutter Free Course is also an amazing book.

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Kids on your list? Or maybe that one person who LOVES purses? Abintra Designs has custom made handbags as well as Dino-sores (mini rice packs for hot or cold needs).

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If you have that Fashionista that is difficult to buy for, Chic Origins has vintage wear unique and affordable. Check out her small business on Etsy or Facebook.

 


Gifts That Keep Giving: 

  • Purchase them a class. Dance, Yoga, Zumba, Painting. Better, yet… sign yourself up too so you an spend time with them.
  • Museum passes, season tickets, State Park pass. Add a note saying that you will be joining them on one of their adventures to this place.
  • Donate to an Organization or Charity in their name.

 

Decorating for the Holidays

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I finally decided to set aside some time to decorate for the holidays. In a small space decorating can feel cluttery, so I kept it really simple.

Here are the “Joy” glass bottles I made for the window decoration. I haven’t set up the lights yet, but they will be strung along the sill with the pearls and beads.

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I made them out of bottles that I soaked the labels of off and scrubbed off the sticky residue with an old kitchen sponge.

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I didn’t have any red paint, so I used nail polish to paint on the letters and snow flakes.

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In the bathroom I put some cute Christmas tins for decoration (and to hold feminine products out of sight)

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And the last little project was this string of “Merry Christmas” bulbs. I wrote the letters on mini Christmas bulbs with permanent marker, replacing the first “e” and last “a” with a sparkle snow flake. I strung them onto gold beads and spaced them basically evenly.

 

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Merry Christmas !!!

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The Holidays

Happy Hoildays

Around this time of year I often hear people in the church saying “Keep the Christ in Christmas” and  “I refuse to say Happy Holidays”. Then there are others who during the different seasons get angry at Santa, the Easter Bunny, or Halloween. It frustrates me slightly that these people do not research their history or facts before they go around making political statements with their picket signs and arguments ready at hand. (ok so they don’t literally have picketing signs, but you get the point). It also saddens me that we want others to be so tolerant of our Christmas; but we do not think about their Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve, etc. I love Christmas. I am all for Christmas and saying “Merry Christmas”, but when I do say “Happy Holidays” I am talking about all of those Holidays. I wish the best for them in whichever Holidays they are celebrating in this season. It is not an “anti-Christmas” greeting for me.

As they insist on keeping the “Christ in Christmas” some people also look down on Santa, Christmas trees, decorating, and gift giving – blaming these things for taking away the focus of what this holiday is “supposed to be”. I would like to challenge your thinking in this area. For the next few minutes set down your vendetta. Open your heart and mind.

I had an interesting discussion one year about Christmas. Someone told me they did not want to celebrate Christmas with a tree and presents because it took away from celebrating Jesus’ birth. I responded with “I celebrate Jesus’ birth, death, resurrection, and life everyday in my relationship with Him. Some days I remember and celebrate it more than others, and yes it is nice to have days and times of the year to remind us of those things, but for me its more than just once every December 25th.” 

Christmas for me has always been more about the traditions. Hot cocoa. My favorite carols. Picking a card off of the Angel Tree and buying that child a present. Decorating the tree with my family for that moment of “ohh ahhh” when you turn on the lights. Seeing family that lives far away and only gets to come around a few times a year. Reading the “Birth of Christ” from Luke. Yankee Swaps. Gingerbread men… Well, you get the point. It is that feeling of love and togetherness. The little bit of magic that comes when the lights twinkle, the marshmallow in the hot cocoa gets on your nose, and for 5 whole minutes no one is fighting or stressed. We had plenty of presents under the tree every year, but the consumer mentality never was allowed to overwhelm us kids (and I don’t think it did my parents too bad either).

It was what my family made it. 

Now a days Christmas has become a day for many children and adults to get whatever they want (and watch out if they don’t get it) and many people go WAY above and beyond what they can afford to get lavish gifts for each other. That, more than Santa being made more important than Jesus, is what worries me about this holiday. I know the importance of Jesus’ life in my everyday existence. I don’t NEED a holiday to remind me. (even though it is nice to stop and remember) As the Holidays evolve in culture we have a choice in how they evolve in our lives. My single friends used to get so bent out of shape at Valentine’s Day. Well, then don’t celebrate it. Its NOT for you. You don’t have to be angry, make faces at people who do, or go ban the holiday (I’m exaggerating a little). If a holiday is not for you, don’t celebrate it. If it is, then CELEBRATE! 

Looking at the history for most holidays that are celebrated in America, they follow that same pattern. Most of us don’t actually know their history or traditions beyond what was popular during our childhood (or what adults have told us of how it was when they were kids or how it “should” be). The history is actually quite interesting and mind opening. *If you do not know the history behind the holiday we now call Christmas, I encourage you to read this article: History of Christmas.

For us Christmas is all about family. We will never go into debt to buy the latest things for each other or our children. In the end it will be more important for them to remember laughter over hot cocoa than the fact that they got a new iphone 5 or Wii U. Traditions that we create as a family will determine Christmas for my children. They will be different than the traditions of the people next door. They will be different than the people on the other side of the world.

And that is ok.

You do not have to follow the social standard for what holiday you celebrate or how you celebrate it. Because that is all that it is. A social standard. Whether that standard be set by the media to buy into the consumer mentality, or by the church to banish Santa and celebrate Jesus. You have a choice of how it is celebrated (if it is celebrated) in your home. That same right of choice is available to everyone else as well.

So celebrate however and whatever holiday you choose to celebrate this December. Enjoy it to the fullest with those you love. Be careful not to push your agenda on others. Know what you are actually celebrating before you go claiming what a holiday is “supposed to be”. Enjoy that hot cocoa, Christmas tree, Menorah, gift, Nativity, ham dinner with the cousins, Kinara, Holiday party. However you celebrate, do it with all your heart. Do it with joy. Because honestly, that’s what this season is universally about.