Organized Living: The Play Room

I was so excited when we moved to the new house and decided to keep our kiddos in the same room and use the second room as a play room. I liked that they would have a bedroom that was for sleeping, reading and resting – and a play room that could be a total disaster that I could shut the door on.

But alas, I can’t just shut the door. My hatred for all things cluttered, disorganized and messy, drives me to rally the kids into cleaning up the room daily. I can’t stand the clutter, the craziness! I think everyone in our house is all too familiar with my screeching demand for help to clean up.

I do have a rule that if I have to help clean up, I throw things away. The panic that arises when one of the kids sees me put something in my pocket as it’s destined for the trash, usually spurs them into working faster…but not better. So I added some details to the play room that will hopefully help them be able to keep their toys organized and make clean up easier.

I used these hanging storage racks from Target. They make cubes that fit in the drawers too that looked really nice, but I went with transparent bins with lids instead. I could only picture every bin being pulled out to discover what was inside…They work great because lots of different things fit in the spaces.


Next I took a picture of what was in each bin. I printed them in 3×5 size and wrote the name of the items inside for Baylor. She is amazing at memorizing words when she sees the definition in pictures.


I also used the labels inside of the fabric bins in the playroom.

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I think there are two ways you can organize the playroom – or any other kid space in your house: with or without your kids. Today’s project was done without them home. It allowed me to clean out some things and save my sanity by being able to quickly sort toys and have them actually stay where I put them. I take a trash bag and a “give away” bag in with me and as I clean, I sort. If you are worried about them noticing that something is missing, hide the bag in the closet for a few days. Or if you’re like me, you blame their disappearance on moving.

If you are feeling brave and want to clean up clean out with your kids, talk about what the goal of the process is before you start. When Baylor was little, we talked a lot about how not all kids have toys like she does. We talked about how it was important to care for those less fortunate and one of the ways we can do that is by donating some of our toys. We never ask them to give away anything they really love, but we do ask them to consider whether or not they think that toy could make a child who has no toys, happy. I’m always surprised by both kid’s willingness to part with dolls, toys and games in the name of helping someone else. I always let them deliver the bag to the donation site too to complete the process.

Good luck and happy organizing!

Mirror Mirror on the Wall

Ta da!!


When we I thought our living room needed an update, I thought we needed a mirror over the side board. We went round and round on what size, what kind, what shape…and then it hit me. I wanted a barn wood mirror. Specifically old barn wood that we found ourselves in Montana. And because I’m married to a carpenter, I get what I want (well that and I’m pushy…).

We got the barn wood this summer and PW and compromised on a taller, horizontal rectangle. He spent an entire day plotting out how to cut the wood that we had which was all different depths, slightly different lengths and with a lot of character to be preserved. He is most proud of the little dowel that was stuck in one of the pieces.


One thing we didn’t account for is how freaking heavy it is. Thankfully with several different heavy weight hooks, a lot of swearing and some luck, we made it happen. Thank you for being so good at this stuff PW!

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Some day it will be a common diagnosis. Someday it will be recognized as a real disease. Someday there will be a support group where individuals declare that they too, fell prey to an episode about re-tiling a bathroom and they now have to bathe in the kitchen sink because they only have concrete board on their shower walls.

That illness? That problem? It’s called HGTV. It’s a dangerous drug that sucks unsuspecting and often crafty but mostly completely unskilled people in. It convinces them that they too can redecorate their living room in an hour and for $10. They CAN lay a new tile floor. They WILL repaint their house in a day and that full scale remodels happen in a weekend.

And I’m here today, standing among my peers to tell you that I too have HGTVaTosis. I drank the Kool Aid. I took the bait…and while my results were good, I’m afraid it’s a gateway drug. Because now that the living room is done, I want to paint the  kitchen cabinets. And the sideboard. And make a headboard. And add on a room to our house. And and and…

Pictures to follow once we move back into our house.  Because when the painting gets tough, the tough go to Disneyland.

That will make sense too, promise.


Uh Oh…

As of Monday, the Wands have a new member of the family.  Name, details and more ridiculously cute pictures to come.

My sanity is SO overrated.


It’s the Little Things

Robert Earl Keen got it right. It is the little things that piss me off.

We were getting to a point in our house where the list of things that didn’t work was greater than the list of things that did work. Ok, not really, but you know what I mean. Every night I had to look at the hole in the wall that I created in a fit of frustration trying to re-install the curtain rod that Auggie had managed to pull completely out of the wall. I got a little over zealous with the drill and anchors….and well the result was not good. Peter finally stopped me and mysteriously fixed it all (I think there was some glue involved judging by the stain on the curtains…). But the holes and white patch remained.

Similarly, the weather stripping around the back door that had once been painted and was now chipping off was equally as taunting. All of the little things were easy enough to fix, if you had an hour or so of uninterrupted time. Which let me tell you how many of those hours I have.

I lamented to my friend Beth M about it and explained what I really needed was an older relative with a lot of time, know how and love for me who would come and putter around and fix stuff for free. She agreed she too needed such relative and we agreed to start looking through our respective family trees for candidates.

During a full there is too much to do and not enough time in the day Jessie Spano level melt down, I made a decision to just call the handy man and get some of this stuff fixed. Thankfully, our handyman has become family friend too – he’s a great guy who is wildly trustworthy and just really good at fixing just about anything (he just doesn’t work for free – so close to the dream!!). I made Rick a list and turned him loose with a box of paint and weather stripping. Two hours later, he was done, the house was cleaned up and he mentioned that he had fixed about 5 other small things (like the fact our front door wouldn’t stay shut unless it was locked) for me too. And his bill didn’t make me want to throw up, so that was a nice bonus. Thankfully he has known us long enough to know that I’m not entirely insane so when I got so excited about the painted wall, he doesn’t immediately call in the men with the giant butterfly nets and padded rooms.

The moral of the story? Life is too short to live with ugly weather stripping and to loose your sanity by trying to do everything yourself to save a dollar. Throw a little money at the the little stuff and enjoy some playtime with the kids.

California Love

This past weekend marked our 30th something pilgrimage to Coronado, CA. It was as lovely as ever, always a family affair and always so much fun.

This guy capital L LOVED the ocean. We could not keep him out of it. Wave to the face? No biggie. Freezing cold? Not a problem.

IMG_5632 IMG_5627 IMG_5617Our view from the beach


The only place this guy looks small

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Baylor is equally crazy for the ocean and sand castles. I love the urgency on her face to get the water to her sand castle.



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Mason looking a little afraid. Rightly so.IMG_5559

We ran into her buddy Tessa – you would have thought they hadn’t seen each other in years…




If this isn’t the perfect “big sister little brother” picture


Auntie Ali, Uncle Gary and Mason looking crabby


The Noni


PW took nap shift one afternoon which left me alone. On the beach. With trashy magazines. And boat drinks. HEAVEN.

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The view from our room. Noni goes to great lengths to get joined rooms, beach side, with patios. It is worth every ounce of effort!

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The Del at night


Spying on the spectacular beach wedding


This wedding was spectacular. They had chandeliers hanging from the structure and table skirts that looked like beautiful seaweed. It was stunning.IMG_5588

Amazing sunsetIMG_5587After a full day running on the beach, playing in the waves THEN hitting the pool, Baylor rolled over and asked what I was looking at on my phone. I turned to answer her and found this:

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So here’s to the end of summer, another great vacation and many many more!

Happy Valentine’s Day

Or as Baylor says “Balentimes” Day.

When you’re 3 1/2, nothing says love and Balentimes like barnyard animals. I sent her to school today with 22 handmade valentines – almost all of them containing pig, horse and cow stickers. I didn’t realize what she was doing until she was a few in and then I thought they were cute! Only she could get away with putting pigs on valentines.

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This is the one she made for me 🙂photo 5

Snow Day

When Peter and I lived in DC, we had no idea what we were doing when it came to freezing weather and snow. Having both grown up in AZ, we had never cleaned gutters (our desert homes didn’t even have gutters), removed hoses from the bibs before a freeze and we had no idea when you were supposed to put out salt (we actually thought you just threw it on top of the snow. That is not the case). Thankfully our landlords caught on and would let us know what to do. We also had a very nice neighbor that actually cleaned our gutters for us one fall. There was a language barrier so when we pantomimed asking to borrow his ladder, he just brought it over and got to work. We were never sure if he was being nice or if he thought we were too stupid to do the job ourselves. Our money was on the latter.

The last winter we were there, a HUGE storm was predicted – not unlike the one that is supposed to hit the Northeast today. We went to Target to stock up on supplies: salt, shovels, etc. except our cart also contained a lot of wine and a new sled. The storm hit over night and we woke up to a foot of snow. It was beautiful! We made coffee and snuggled back into bed to watch the news…only to have the power go out exactly 1 minute later. After waiting for a bit, we decided to go sledding. When we returned, still no power. We made breakfast on the grill off the deck and threw a bottle of champagne into the snow (see? our supplies were super important). We then bundled up, grabbed a dog to warm us up and read books. By 6pm there was still no power. And no heat. And no fireplace. We were woken up at 5am the next day to everything in our house coming back to life when the power came back on – we were bundled up like homeless people with both dogs under the covers.

So let this be a lesson to all you east coasters getting ready for the blizzard. Salt is all well and good, but make sure your sleds and wine supplies are stock piled too.

5pm Saturday



8am Sunday


There were steps under there somewhere


We were told icicles were bad news…I enjoyed every drop of them!


Abominable snow Travis!


We learned the hard way that the SUV should be the last one in. Trying to get the Audi over the ice berm created by the snow plow was challenging.


We couldn’t figure out where all the kids were…turns out they were waiting for the big dummies to shelp up and down the hill a few times and tamp down the snow.




What To Do…

What am I going to do with 8 silver champagne coupes? Aside from sitting pretty in the hutch, I don’t have a clue…and yet for $20, I couldn’t leave them at the store. They were crying out for a good home. Fancy drink vessels need homes too.


Happy Closet, Happy Momma

It’s Scottsdale Mom’s Blog time again! Check out this week’s post about getting your closet gorgeous, Oprah style.

Also, while you’re at SMB, check out registration for the next Mom’s Night Out on January 26th. The cost is $5 and it gets you:

:: a glass of wine ::
:: delicious snacks ::
:: a swag bag ::
:: raffle entry & chance to win spectacular giveaways ::
:: optional viewing of a movie (title TBD) beginning at 8:30PM ::

Seriously?! That’s a ridiculous amount of stuff for 5 bucks! Sign up on the website today!!