Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Molly's Room...Part Two, Her New Desk

Bookcases, book shelves, bins filled with books are such an important part of our home. Some of the books constantly are changing as my kids grow...board books give way to picture books, picture books give way to simple chapter books, and then the true chapter books start to slowly work their way onto the shelves. Molly used to have this bookcase in her room on the wall opposite her bed. I forgot to take a picture of it before we took it out, but it looked just like this one. When she was little, it was perfect. I had a few baskets filled with her favorite board books that we would read over and over again on the floor at bedtime. Slowly the board books gave way to favorite picture books, like Knuffle Bunny, Pinkalicious, and Fancy Nancy. Then early readers arrived, Little Bear and Frog and Toad took their place upon the shelf. Now at eight, Molly has many chapter books, favorites such as Mr. Popper's Penguins, Ramona and Beezus, and all the Bad Kitty books.

As much as I love the book shelf, in Molly's small room, it no longer utilizes the limited space there. Molly loves to write. She loves to do homework. After we went to Gettysburg over spring break, she asked me if we had any books about the Civil War. I gave her a number of books on Abraham Lincoln, Harriet Tubman, and a beautifully illustrated book called Henry's Freedom Box about a slave that mailed  himself to Pennsylvania to be free. But Molly really didn't have an adequate working space to do her writing. The doll house book shelf didn't give her any room for a desk so I knew we needed a change.

I saw this desk on Pinterest. It looks like a small girl's room, just like Molly's, but the desk definitely has storage space for books and a workspace big enough to do homework and write.

But then, I found what I was looking for here. I came across this blog about six months ago and I love it. She has such great ideas on how to keep your house organized and the ideas are usually such simple things you can do that can make such a positive impact on your daily life.

At http://iheartorganizing.blogspot.com/ Jen planned out a work space for herself. She bought two book towers from Ikea. These are the same bookshelves that I used in my scrapbook room except these had a single row of cubbies. I knew this would be perfect for Molly's room. It would still give her lots of shelf space for her books but it would also give her a work space to do her writing and homework.

Jen's plan for her desk.

The middle shelf was added and crown molding on top to make it look like one piece.

Then she added doors to the bookshelf. These you can buy at Ikea and are made to fit perfectly for this bookshelf. If you go to Jen's blog, she has a number of posts on the process of building her desk.

So I ran out to Ikea and bought the bookshelves and Chris put them together. I purchased the middle shelf at Ikea as well and it can be cut to any length needed. Now Molly did have this little desk or vanity table in her room but it really wasn't big enough to work at and her chair did not slide under it. That really drove me crazy because in such a tight space, even pushing the chair under the desk makes all the difference in the world. 

So this was the beginning. I had the bookcases. I bought the middle shelf, and I also bought the hot pink bins at Target so that Molly would still have some pink in her room, but I still had to finish the top with crown molding and get a desk that would be big enough for a growing girl.

Well, I had Ricardo, the painter, coming to my house to finally fix the ceiling in the dining room again! Remember those alligators in the bathtub? After he was finished, I showed him Molly's bookcases. I pulled out the laptop and showed him Jen's iheartorganizing blog. I showed him what I wanted for Molly's room and together we were able to come up with a plan. He came back two days later and this is Molly's desk now.

It's perfect for her small room. She now has space for all her books, all those hot pink bins are filled with books, a few shelves for just her girly stuff and a desk that she can grow into. Notice also that the chair can now be pushed under the desk.

Ricardo also added the light on the top shelf. He drilled a small hole in the shelf to feed the electric cord through and then it is tucked behind the bookcase.

I think I'm going to hang those pink organizers on the wall that Molly got from American Girl. I also bought an extra valance and if I pull the stitching out for the pocket, it will be big enough to cover the top of the desk. The plan is to get a piece of glass to lay over it, that was Jen's idea as well.

Molly printed out a Harriet Tubman quiz from Brain Pop Jr.

A friend of mine called me up from Target one day while she was shopping because she saw this canvas print and thought Molly would like it since she loves taking her horseback riding lessons. Thanks Lori, the colors are perfect.

        The real bunny foo-foo. I think he's liking the new room too.

Ahhh, my next project is to arrange all our pictures we made and hang them above Molly's bed.

Thanks to iheartorganizing, Molly's small room is a lot more functional.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Molly's Room, Pinterest, Etsy, and Lots of Inspiration

This was Molly's room back in July of 2010. My little girl loves clothes and two years ago she wore a dress to school everyday...everyday! There was a time that she didn't even own a pair of jeans because she really just didn't like the way they felt. Molly loved clothes so much, that there were days that she changed two, three, and sometimes four times a day. And that is why her room looked like this. Her closet was not built for a six year old.

The hanger rod was too high. Molly was able to pull her clothes down but when it was time to hang them back up, she couldn't reach the rod. You can see attempts of me trying to keep her organized with the bins on the bottom and the bins on the shelf, but it wasn't enough.

So we decided to reorganize her closet so that it would be more user friendly to a little girl. First, we gave it a fresh coat of paint. Molly had so much fun painting her closet.

But this was the fun part for me, organizing the new closet.

Ahhh, so much better. She is now able to reach all her dresses on the bottom rod and she now has bins that she can reach as well.

This is what her room looked like after we were all done. I loved her room. I remember being pregnant with Molly eight years ago and sitting on the floor with my big belly putting up the wall paper on the bottom of the chair rail...whimsical pink and green diamonds with cute purple flowers. Molly's room is small but when it was clean, it really was cute. Even though I decorated the room before Molly was born, Molly's favorite color turned out to be pink. Her closet was filled with pink dresses. But then one day she decided that pink was a "little" girl's color and she wanted her room to be painted. All of my kids start to show some independence at about second grade. They start to have their own opinions as to what they like and don't like. They also start to think about what others think, friends tell them that you can't wear Gymboree anymore because it's for babies, you should only wear certain kinds of sneakers or boots, and pink is for "little" girls.

So we began the long and tedious task of scrapping off her pink and green diamond wallpaper. When we were finally done, I think Molly was a little sad. I think she was missing it. I know she wanted a change but deep down, I think in her heart, she will always be a "pink" girl. I told her we would have some pink in her new room, but it would be hot pink instead of the "little" girl pink. Molly and I found some inspiration on Pinterest for colors as well as decorating ideas.

We found this room and Molly fell in love with the color. We had just recently painted the kids' bathroom this color, but she didn't care. This is what she wanted. We also loved all the pictures on the wall, some photos, some sayings, and some just art.

And here's Molly's room all painted. She had picked out the bedding in Bed, Bath and Beyond, notice we still have a little bit of pink to work with. Before, Molly just had a shelf above her bed. This time I wanted to try to create our own picture wall like our inspiration room. So last Monday, we had an extra day of spring break because it was a teacher workday so Molly and I got started on our project.

I found the M and the words at AC Moore, bought some paints that I thought would go with her room and we got started.

We painted a canvas with brown paint and then glued the M onto it. We put some Mod Podge over it and it came out great. We had the stickers from her bedding set. It came with wall stickers to decorate the room but we used them for our project.

We also got some wooden plaques and painted them. Molly had a book from American Girl with mini-posters in it so we picked out some with the colors of her room and used some more Mod Podge.

Nothing is on the wall yet. We were just playing around and rearranging the pictures. Two of the pictures I found on Pinterest as free downloads. I'm still waiting for a couple of prints I ordered on etsy as well, another favorite website of mine. So Molly's room is still a work in progress. So much inspiration out there on Pinterest and Etsy. I also found a great DIY desk for her room on a website for organizing your home. But I will leave that for another post.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Stay-cation, The Hunger Games and My Life as a Reader

 On our list of things to do this week was to go see The Hunger Games. I love that Timmy read the book in two days and that a book can capture his attention. Ryan did not read it, but could tell you all about it because of Timmy and other friends talking about it. Ryan's attitude is still, "Why read the book when I could see the movie?" It's a challenge to get Ryan to read, to find that "just right book." It can't be too long, short chapters always help, larger type is always helpful as well. If the type is too small and too many words on the page, it doesn't matter how good of a story it is, dormant readers won't read it. 

We were a little disappointed that it wasn't in the IMAX theater. I didn't realize it was only there for a week. But waiting a week to see it wasn't so bad because we were the only ones in the theater at first. The picture is dark below, but those are the boys trying to pick out a seat. Two other groups did come in after us, but that was it. 

I do have to say that they did a pretty good job of editing the scary scenes. The camera was jumping around so much that you really didn't see what was happening. Obviously, as a mom, I was concerned about the violence. The whole concept of fighting to the death for these young readers and viewers is a concern. That's why I think it's good to read what your kids are reading because you can then talk about the books together. After reading The Hunger Games, Timmy and I talked about another book we read, Hilter Youth.

This is a non-fiction book about what it was like to grow up in Germany during Hitler's reign. If you were a kid in Germany at the time, when you reached a certain age, you had to join Hilter Youth. "I begin with the young," said Hilter. "We older ones are used up...But my magnificent youngsters! Are there finer ones anywhere in the world? Look at all these men and boys! What material! With them I can make a new world." Timmy and I talked about governments using the youth. We talked about the careers in The Hunger Games that worked all their lives toward being a tribute in the Hunger Games and bringing honor to their district if they won. We talked about how most of the children didn't see it that way. We talked about how some of the Hitler Youth "devoted their energy and passion" to the organization and then there were other children that did not want to join.

I still wonder what it is about The Hunger Games that draws so many people to read it across all ages. Ryan says that he will read it now since he has seen the movie. Will it be the same experience as reading the book first? No, probably not, but if he reads it and then he reads the next one in the trilogy, he is reading, and that is my goal.

Right now I am reading Witch and Wizard by James Patterson. I picked this one up at the school book fair, again with Ryan in mind. It's got that same concept as The Hunger Games, young teenagers against the government. The reviews are mixed on Amazon for the book but again, I'm trying to keep Ryan, a dormant reader in mind. It's got short chapters, only 2 or 3 pages, which always gives the reader a sense of accomplishment. "Hey, mom, I just read five chapters!" 

Even though this week was spring  break and I tried to get some fun things in with the kids since we didn't go away, there were things on my "to-do" list that I wanted to get done. I still had piles of "stuff" sitting in my room left over from Molly's room makeover that needed to be sorted through. I had piles of books from Molly's room that we sorted through. She kept her favorites in her room and the rest were then moved down to the basement. 

After re-doing the boys closet back in January and now Molly's room, the books that have been moved to the basement had become disorganized. We have an air-hockey table in front of it and it sometimes becomes the dumping ground for "stuff." 

So the four kids and I went into the basement to organize the piles of books. I told them to make piles by authors' last names. They were on the floor and they busily started making their piles alphabetically. As we all started sorting through our books I noticed a wonderful thing start to happen. It was the same experience you get when you open a photo album. The kids and I were taking a walk down memory lane. I started to hear, "Mom, I remember this book. This was one of my favorites!"

While we were sorting, I noticed that Ryan was reading this book.

Then Molly noticed all her favorite Tacky books.

And then all her Piggie and Elephant books... Molly loves these books. I didn't at first see the value in these books for my little girl who was on the verge of reading chapter books at the time but then one night we were reading in bed together and I got it! Molly asked me to read all the Elephant parts and she would read all the Piggie parts. She was learning dialogue. She also was reading with great expression. She knew when to read with excitement and when to sound sad. These books were so much fun to read aloud together and I learned that from Molly.

Then Shannon found a Winnie the Pooh book and asked if she was too old to read it. You are never too old for Winnie the Pooh and so a book that was in her room years ago is now back on her book self. 

She also found this old copy of Black Beauty. This book was from when I was a kid and I remember my mother reading it aloud to us one summer. Shannon said that she remembers looking through the book when she was younger and only looking at the pictures. That book is now back in her room.

I also found myself looking at the books and remembering my childhood. Not only did I remember the summer that my mother read Black Beauty to us, but I remember when I was little and my mom reading The Little Engine That Could at bedtime. 

I remember her reading The Little Red Hen over and over.
This was one of my favorites..."Not I, said the Duck, Not I, said the Goose, Not I, said the Cat, Not I, said the Pig. Then I will just do it myself said the Hen. And she did!"

I also remembered reading The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew. I always was drawn to books and TV shows with big families. I thought that there was always so much excitement in their families. There never seemed to be a dull moment in their house and there always was someone getting into trouble or some kind of mischief. But the sisters and brothers always seemed to be there for one another in times when they were needed.

One by one my helpers seemed to disappear. I finally turned around from the book shelf and this is what I found. Four kids with books in their hands. I had lost my helpers to books, but I didn't seem to mind. When I look at them reading, I wonder what their memories of reading will be? We all have a "Life as a Reader," a timeline if you will of our reading life...favorite books that our parents read aloud, favorite books that teachers read aloud, the first time you read a favorite book, maybe the second and third time you read it, books fairs at school, library visits, monthly scholastic book orders, friends that recommend books, your first chapter book. These are all part of our "Life as a Reader." In ten or twenty years from now, what will their memories of reading books be as a child? I wonder.

 Our reorganized book shelf.