Wednesday, 30 July 2014

a school bag hook wall // getting organised for school life!

I have been itching to set the kids up with a better storage solution for their bags and coats. Behind Lily and Eli's bedroom door was a chaotic mess of 3M wall hooks and bags and coats shoved everywhere (including on the ground). Now half way through Lily's first school year and many more years of schooling to come, I wanted to set up a more spacious and orderly system. I had scrolled greedily through Pinterest, ogling at all the incredible deluxe built in entry way storage solutions but just knew that wasn't possible in our home. The layout of our home literally just did not have *any* wall space near the front or back door that could accomodate such a fancy pants solution (ummm... not to mention the cost and/or ability to create it!).

Then one day, as I walked down the hallway in what I like to pretentiously call 'the children's wing' haha - (the back of the house where the kid's bedrooms/bathroom are, which I love because it can close off from the rest of the house via a sliding door), I noticed a little stretch of wall that leads down to Miles' bedroom. Hmm.... perhaps this could take some hooks and storage? The hall is pretty narrow, but as it only leads to one bedroom (eg not a high traffic zone), I figured it was ok to make use of the wall. I shared my brilliant brainwave with Mark and he was totally on board! So, slowly but surely (life with small kids means no DIY project happens in a weekend anymore!!!), I hunted down the perfect sturdy vintage-style hooks (just loved the pretty colours) that I wanted and a nice plank of Tasmanian Oak.

I even managed to sand and seal the plank myself!! (proud smile). Well, this was after I called my dear brother-in-law (a builder) who laughed at me for five straight minutes while I whined things like 'Do I reallllllly have to sand it on every single side?' and 'Do I realllllllly have to do three coats??'. Well, yes, I did, so bit by bit, I eventually got it done. The kids even 'helped' ;)

Then Mark got it all mounted up on a Sunday afternoon and... presto, we were done!!!!!! Seriously - sooooooooo satisfying. Like, I just have to take a moment to bask in the satisfaction of completing a project for a moment.........

(Ok, where were we???!!)

Oh yeah - so, we put up two hooks for each kiddo, and one for 'extra' hook which is currently holding the swimming bag, but could also be for my handbag or sports bags, whatever. Full disclosure: I had originally planned for just six hooks, but a slight hook spacing miscalculation (by someone who shall remain nameless) meant we had room for a 7th hook. Thankfully I could buy one more individually and now I am actually relieved we have that spare hook for bonus stuff! Phew ;) All's well that end's well!?

We hung the plank a little high  so they can grow into it as they reach school age, (Lily can properly reach the hooks but Eli has to stretch!) plus I wanted to cover an old unused outlet that was randomly on that wall.

The kids looooooove having their own hooks to hang their gear. And even all loaded up, it looks pretty neat and orderly, with it all spaced out nicely. Chaos be gone, I say!! Lily hooks her bag and coat up every day after school, and its a great place to keep her library bag and other bits and pieces so they are not forgotten. Eli relishes any opportunity to hang anything he can from his hooks ;) I kinda love/prefer now that all the bags are not cluttering up the entry/front door but rather tucked away discretely near the kids' bedrooms - so it all worked out in the end :)

Okay, okay, I realise it's just a plank with some hooks on it. Nothing groundbreaking or orginal!! A zillion light years from the extravaganza storage nooks on Pinterest but I DON'T CARE, I AM SO HAPPY WITH IT!!!!!  I was so excited, I just couldn't help sharing our simple little DIY project :) Now, I am so tragic, I can't stop looking at it every time I pass down the hall, smiling to myself in a satisfied way. Firstly, 'cos a once dead space is now being so useful, and secondly because of the sense of accomplishment, actually getting something done!!!!

This is just stage one, I want to add some framed graphics on the wall above, and maybe a weely planner and whiteboard for the kids when they get to that stage... it will grow and evolve as the kids do for sure but for now - for my own sanity - I sticking a fork in this little hook wall and calling it DONE :)

I know there are a lot of pics but... the colours! so pretty!
That beige trim in the background? It's been on the to-do list to paint white to match the newly painted white walls for...oh, like TWO YEARS now. Sigh. If only funner projects didn't get in the way. Anybody wanna come paint some trim?! ;)

Always something special about seeing my three babies' names all in a row. Our little family. Sigh.

I got the decals custom made on Etsy for a little personalisation, so the kids know where their hooks are :)

As we are talking about school organisation, I thought I would also include a snap of our little 'home planning corner' which I set up after a 'groupthink' on Facebook, when I was asking for tips on how to keep on top of the mountains of school paperwork (so much paper!!!!). So, now I use mounted clipboards for each of the kids. It works so well to be able to clip papers up there and keep the most important or upcoming thing at the front. We also use the calendar (usually full, this is just a new month!), and a little whiteboard for my to-do list, and other charts and signs for various family happenings and 'teaching triggers'. It's busy (messy??) but it works for us, especially the clipboards!

Ok, so in theory we are now totally organised, right??! Let's see what happens in practise ;)

Sunday, 27 July 2014

30/52 - A 'Jesus' themed 6th birthday. Yes, really!


It all started on a Sunday. We'd had a church farewell luncheon that day (one of those yummy potluck spreads) for a dear family who were moving back overseas. Heartfelt speeches were made, about the blessing of the church family, and the way faith moved in the lives of this dear family and our church community. As people spoke, Lily was curled on my lap, and as it was during the gap between lunch and dessert, I imagined her more fixated on the chocolate treats to come. Instead, it turned out those little ears were soaking up quite a bit.

On the drive home, she suddenly announced decisively that she wanted 'a Jesus birthday cake' (not the butterfly or princess that she had previously been discussing) 'and I just want my church friends to come over, and have like a singing night or something like that'! There was conviction in her eyes (and in her heart). She had been moved by the words and the reality of what a life given to God means, and the blessing of church family. It seemed like she wanted to acknowledge the importance of that, and Jesus at the centre of it all, on her special day. Wow.

I admit I was a little bemused and surprised - as well as touched! I was sure she would change her mind back to something sparkly - but no. Again and again she reminded me of her hopes for a 'Jesus birthday' with a Jesus cake and church friends. I did gently steer her away from her first suggestion of a cake with Jesus on the cross (!!!!!!!!!!). It was not her year for a party after last year's extravaganza, but in light of such a heartfelt desire, we decided to ask our small group (who come over fortnightly anyway) to come early for dinner and some a capella singing as well. No decorations or fuss, just dinner (my slowcooker full of Lily's requested spaghetti bolognaise, which thankfully fed the crowd of 17!). After eating, we gathered in the lounge room for some singing (with the song list Lily had suggested, ranging from 'King of Kings to This Little Light of Mine'. She was beaming the whole night, it was just as she'd hoped.

With the hustle and bustle of the evening, and hosting and all, I didn't get any decent photos. But that's okay. A few grainy camera shots are merely triggers for the real memories in our hearts of a simply beautiful, very special night celebrating my precious tender-hearted daughter.

My girl, you are one of a kind. Never change, you are so wonderfully you. And yes, Jesus loves you. So do we. Happy birthday, my sweet, strong, spunky little girl.


'Mummy, the hippopotamuses are sleeping in my socks'

Just another day with my hilarious boy.

PS Oh yeah, I just noticed his socks don't match. Eh, no big deal. I gave up on matching socks long ago. Unmatched socks are the least of my worries!!


Mark and my dear step dad were installing a new car stereo in our car... and Miles was desperate to be part of the action. So I strapped him into Eli's car seat with an apple, and he spent thirty happy minutes munching away while keeping a close eye on proceedings. 


One day, Eli was really missing Daddy, and asked me to send Daddy a picture of him playing from my phone 'Take a picha of 'dis and send it to Dad!' - and then asked Daddy to return the favour.

So of course Mark quickly sent him this snap from the office. 

Too cute :) Love their bond, Eli just adores him so much.

Project 52: A portrait of my family, once a week, every week, in 2014.

More highlights from the week that was....

We had so much fun ice skating last time, so when we got offered some free tickets we snapped them up, keen to let the kids cement their new found skills. Lovely Bel came along this time and we all had a blast. Bel was a darling, going around and around and around with the kids.

Who is this grown up six year old, just skating merrily away?? 

Seriously?! These kids. I walk in after they have been playing in their room together before bed, to find this little 'presentation' awaiting us.... too funny, too cute. Love my babies. 
Finding the kids snuggled into bed together, Lily reading to Eli from her school reader, is a sure way to wrangle an extra ten minutes until bedtime.
Birthday preparations... kinda hooked on striped cakes now I know how easy they are ;)
Fairy Magic Wands for Lily to take to school as a Birthday treat to share. Breadsticks dipped in white chocolate and sprinkles. Easy and yum :) As I was doing these, I was trying to recall if 'in our day' we did the whole 'bring a treat for the whole class on your birthday' when I was in school. I don't think so??
For a Jesus themed birthday, I pulled out the nativity set, and added some green-dyed-coconut as grass - and lollies for good measure ;)
Thanks to a 'group think' on Facebook, this was the  'Jesus Birthday Cake' I came up with. Nothing fancy but I think
it filled the brief?! Lily was happy happy happy, so that was a relief!! ;)
A couple weeks ago I overheard a serious conversation between L&E:
'Eli, do you like Jesus?'
'Yes, I do because he always helps everybody.'
How is my baby girl six? Six years of motherhood, six years of blessings.
Of course we had to include an actual Jesus on the cake :) What, you haven't seen a Jesus action figure before?!??
Lily decided to keep Jesus on the side so 'he didn't wreck your nice writing, Mummy'. Being Jesus, he did not mind in the least ;)
Thanks to a little package from my dear friend Nicole who heard about L's chosen theme, Lily was able to make some special craft for the birthday dinner...
'You can have one.'
Necklaces and bookmarks for everyone who came. Kinda fitting for a Jesus birthday, for the birthday girl to make something to give away to others :)'

Here comes the cake!
A sneaky (over exposed) snap in the middle of the singing night. She was so thrilled to have everyone gathered together to sing about God. She is one of a kind, this girl :)
I made this simple banner for my girl on her first birthday... as I did for all my babies. I love pulling it out and hanging it each year... a special annual ritual. 

Lily's beautiful Kokeshi Doll collection is growing, thanks to Nana!
Tap, tap.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."
John 8:12

Thursday, 24 July 2014

kinetic sand // digging in!

Have you heard about Kinetic sand? Better yet, have you played with it?

When Mark's parents kindly asked what we thought Eli would like for his birthday, I was quick to suggest something I thought he would just looove - kinetic sand! I'd heard amazing things and I just knew it was the kind of thing Eli would love to dig his fingers into - literally. He loves his sensory play, that boy! It was the perfect gift that would get hours of play to come... (thanks Marg and Dave)!

If you haven't heard of Kinetic Sand.... be prepared for your mind to be blown, haha. Yes, it's kinda like regular sand... but so much more. It's 98% sand and 2% magic, as they say. That 2% being something called Polymer. Somehow, it sticks together, not spraying everywhere or getting under your nails so its great to play with indoors. It forms together in incredible shapes, yet with a slight touch, it comes alive, oozing and pouring away. You can slice and dice it and mold it and pour it. It's fluffy, it seems to almost move by itself. It's cool to touch, slightly damp yet not wet or sticky. It's just.... a whole lotta fun! Trust me ;)

Here is a clip that shows the wonders of Kinetic Sand.... (but you really have to feel it yourself!)

It is pretty pricey, but lasts a lifetime so if you think it's something your kids would realllllly enjoy, then I think it's a good investment. You can also get little kits of tools to take the play even further. Look around on eBay for good deals, though after much searching the best deal I found at the time was here. (It seems like the 5kg packs can be hard to find in stock?).

When Eli opened the gift on the night of his birthday, the whole family (including grandparents) could not stop touching this stuff... it really is an experience! I had seen and read so much, but it's true - until you touch it yourself, you just can't fully understand how intriguing it is, the way it forms and falls, it's so textural and soothing and just a sensory delight. Not to mention the endless creative possibilities.

These photos are from our first proper play session (of many more so far). So many ways to explore, this was just our first little taste :)

Melting from their hands.... it's amazing to see and  feel it 'pour'.

Notice how it doesn't all just spray everywhere like normal sand, so makes it a great indoor experience as does not get so messy. If clumps fall out, you can pick them back up by pressing them with another clump of sand.

Slicing and dicing!

We have yet to unleash event a fraction of the possibilities I am sure! So much fun to come...

If you have played with Kinetic sand before, fill me in with ideas of ways to extend the play. I saw somewhere they used ink stamps to press letters into the rolled out sand - fun! What else??