Wednesday, February 4, 2009

My First Carnival!

According to my newfound Blog Expert, Moriah at Please Pass the Salt, the party I referred to yesterday is called a Carnival. And it's today!

Except apparently a few of you thought the Carnival started at 6 am, (Lea.) I'm more of a late afternoon Carnival-Goer myself. That way I'm at my mental best, dressed appropriately,(and I've had time to clean my house for the pictures you're about to see.)

Fun is harder than it used to be. Trying to fit it in can wear a girl out.

The carnival is over here:

Officially we're supposed to be blogging about Taming Kid Clutter - but I've taken the liberty to blog about whatever I durn well please.

Just kidding, Shabby Nest and Pretty Organizer. I'm going to be a good guest and stay on topic (for the most part). I don't want to be like one of those people who goes to an all-planned-out party and brings her own exciting game for everyone to play, thus taking the limelight off the hostesses and drawing undue attention to herself.

My friends (the ones who don't know me in real life) know that I'm just a Big Ol' Humble Wallflower who hates attention.

The biggest help in conquering kid's clutter for me has been my mud room. We had to close off a pathway to our living room in order to make this narrow hall, but I can't imagine living in this house without it. We didn't realize when we moved here that we would be sending our children to school (after 23 happy years of homeschooling), but I'm elated to have this Shoe/Coat/BackPack Haven.

We painted the new wall with blackboard paint (the hooks are in order of age, but their initial are is up there, too - These are the No Excuse Hooks); we added a strip of wood with sturdy two-prong hooks, put in a long bench (from our previous dining table), added cute wire baskets for shoes underneath the bench - and then put nails above the hooks for each child's clipboard
(see next picture). There's alot of organization goin' on in this one area!

The mudroom looks a little different once the kids get home from school. You can barely see the wall with 7 backpacks and 7 lunchboxes hanging. Molly is sick today so she has the lone backpack and lunchbox hanging in the picture.

On a more decorative note, one practical organizational thing I've done is to place educational books around the main living areas in "centers". I know that my family looks at these books more because they are displayed in a way that "draws" you to them. These are art books, along with quality colored pencils - and a book displayed by an artist we are focusing on. They are on top of a wicker chest that sits behind a couch. The drawers in the chest have art paper in them.

This is a low table that sits underneath a window off our back porch, and it's being used right now as a "nature table". Nature books, some shells, bird flash cards, and a plant. If the kids find something amazing outside, (once it has died) they can place it on this table (for a while.) This is also in my living room, but that's OK - because a room should reflect the owners. And the owner of this room has lots of kids :)

Knowing where to put things is half the battle in organizing children. This is my stackable file holder where each child puts papers I need to look at. We used these when were homeschooling, but I've needed them just as much now that the children bring home papers from school.

To me, out of sight not only means out of mind, but also out of "use", which means we are wasting space just storing them. On the other hand, if they are 'in sight' then they will likely be read/watched/played. These are semi-organized by category (Veggie Tales, Nest videos, adventure, educational (those are the two on the upper shelf :), and bible.

I have a basket of my own no-touch DVD's, which are mostly exercise and cooking DVDs (which no one would want to watch anyway...but at least I can easily find them.)

Books make such great decorations. Especially when interspersed with other objects. Here are the Lamplighter books and some other children's books. I also keep my child training books here so I can at least look like I'm still trying.

I noticed several of the posters in the Carnival today were Basket Lovers. I also heart baskets, but hooks have a place deep in my heart, too. You might say I'm Hooked on Hooks (or you might say I've been working on this post on and off all day and now it's almost 9pm and I'm getting giddy....)

My boys share a room. There are currently 5 of them in there, down from 7. The older boys have moved out. Perhaps when they get past age 20 they don't want to sleep in a bunkbed in a room full of adolescent boys. Ya think?

My philosophy during 30 years of parenting and 11 children has been to house as many same-sex children as possible in the same room. We have had 4-5 bedrooms for the last 10 years, but I've still kept the girls in one room and the boys in the other so I could free up one room for a playroom and one for a guestroom. You can put alot of children in one room if they don't have to do anything in the room but sleep and dress.

Each of the boys has his own set of hooks. This has saved me loads of laundry (pun intended). Instead of putting their gently worn (hah! hah!) clothes in the hamper, or on the floor, or back in the drawer (ew!), they put them on their hook. I do, however, make them wear whatever is on the hook the next day - and I have been known to make them wear three pairs of pants at once if that's what's on the hook - but for the most part they do not abuse this hook-privilege.

The girls also have hooks but, unlike the boys, they don't mind using hangers, so there hooks are used mostly for accessories.

In our newest house the boys room is a converted garage, so I've been able to give them small bookcases to store a few personal items. The end of bunkbeds is the perfect place for a desk or small bookcase. Each bookshelf is shared by two boys.

Having so many children in one room (or one house!) has made me uber-particular about how things are stored. Clutter can easily get out of hand. The boys put their pjs under their pillows, their stuffed animals on their pillows (max of 3, the rest go in the playroom to be shared), and then they each have a basket at the end of their bed for nighttime reading or hand-held toys in case they wake up early. NO ONE gets out of bed until their alarm goes off (which is at least 30 minutes after their mama gets up. I need to be in charge of how my day begins - - even if it only lasts a half hour or so....)

Whew! I bet I've worn you out. I know I've worn ME out.
To my many, many readers :), don't forget to go by the Carnival Headquarters and check out everyone else's wonderful ideas. If I hadn't spent so long doing that very thing today I would have had this post done Long Ago.
Tomorrow I'm going to post my favorite ideas from the Carnival. But still...Go see for yourself!


Moriah @ Please Pass the Salt said...

Worn out.


-Julie said...

Wow! Did you say 11 kids?! You have some great ideas....I loved them all!

Wendy @ The Shabby Nest said...

What a great post! Lots to think about! You are an amazing organizer!!!! Thanks for joining in on the fun!

Meredith said...

Wow - you really have it all together!!! I got so many ideas - I think I need to re-read! Thanks for stopping by Tuesdays!

jax said...

This inspired me to finish the organization projects I started while Nathan was gone... our miscellaneous papers + files especially need some serious help!
I have been a basket person for awhile, maybe it's time to move on to hooks (although I don't think they'll help with the paper problem).

Pretty Organizer said...

Okay, I've decided I need a week in your shadow. Just a week... a clipboard of my own, some good chocolate, and you might need a switch to swat my rear end if I move too slow or fall behind on my lessons. AWESOME post. Is it crazy that I dream of being in the same state of mind as mothers of 12 or 13? Honestly... I have to look up to someone... People think I'M NUTS but you and I both know I'm not. REALLY! I'm not crazy because look at you over there with the organized mud room and the 5 boy packed bedroom.... SEE... YOUR not crazy either!! This is totally doable! LOVE IT. Great contribution to our party! I'll be checking back again:)

Cristin said...

Great ideas! I especially love the wall! Inspiring!

lea said...

that was so much fun. and i learned some things even though i have been to your house dozens of times. and i will let all those readers who have not been to your lovely home know that it really looks that way ALL of the time (with more bookbags and more real life people most of the time) but just that neat and organized....

Anna Sophia said...

I am in love with that chalk board! And in love with the fact that you have such a large family!! :) I hope someday we can more to our clan. Great post! :)

Krista said...

Good post. I enjoyed gleaning from your experience and wisdom of keeping things decluttered. That is still my biggest job with only two little toddlers!

Rachelle said...

Wow! You are an inspiration! I have a mere half dozen sons and the clutter is out of control. Thanks for the big family ideas. I would kill for a mudroom, but SoCal doesn't do mudrooms - no mud. Just sand. :}

Laura said...

I didn't realize that you had closed off an entry to your living room with the chalkboard wall. Very clever. I will just continue to work on contentment in my tiny house and let my friend help me with decluttering. So many great ideas (esp. the inspirations stations in the living room), but I don't have the room.

Cathy said...

I love all of the ideas! : ) It was worth the wait!
And I bet Molly loved being home on a carnival day!

jen said...

Thanks. This is my first time to read at your post & you gave me somany answers to the questions I have had the past four years in just five minutes! I'll be back.

busymomof10 said...

Wow, Princess Deb! Awesome post! I vacilate between being inspired and jealous! Will you come over to my house and help me get organized like that??? I LOVE your mudroom ideas!!! I just have three boys in school and no mudroom, but did buy a hall tree with a bench and hooks. (But, we use the hooks for jackets, because, I don't have a coat closet!) So, my hall is full of book bags, and lunch bags and smelly gym bags and basketball shoes, etc. I don't know how to tame all the clutter! And the boys room -- I have six boys in a tiny 11x11 room. Triple bunk beds! Hardly any closet space and room for only one chest of drawers in there. I have pretty much just given up on taming the mess in there. Thought about posting a sign -- Enter at your own risk!!!! Thanks for opening your home to us and sharing those wonderful pictures!!! You are such an inspiration!!! Hey, will you show some pictures of your laundry room next time??????

Debbie @ Cheaper By The Bakers Dozen said...

Yea, Elizabeth, I SHOULD show you my laundry room. then everyone would stop telling me I'm "amazing" :) The laundry room is not pretty, it's a glorified closet, really - but I do finally have a handle on it after all these years. Maybe I will post on that sometime. I used to think laundry was part of the curse, but I never could back it up Scripturally.

In fact, you'll notice not many of my 'real life friends' (the ones who see my day to day life) or older kids are writing in to tell me how inspiring I am =8-/.

Organization has been a survival skill for me. I just want to stay alive, sane, and out of Target.

michelle twitty said...

I LOVE the blackboard paint! Such a great idea. I"m sure you HAVE to be organized with that many kids. I have 3, so I can't empathize BUT its so important to be organized and at least pretend you have it all together! Great job and thanks for the ideas!

Astrid said...

WOW! WOW! WOW! I'm have awesome ideas!

jenjen said...

You have a very organized house! I LOVE that huge chalkboard and bench. That is so cute!

Thanks for the inspiration!


Miss Blair said...

Mrs. Pittman~

Leah and I were both looking at your *adorable* pictures (especially the chalkboard) and we both agreed that "the Pittmans always have the cutest ways of organizing." Thanks for sharing some of those "cute Pittman ways" with us.

In our Redeemer's Grip,


Pat said...

Okay, I'll admit that I'm a friend of Deb's, I have 9 kids, and I AM INSPIRED by her post too. She does seem to have a knack for organizing her home but keeping it so "warm and inviting" -- and she is a wonderful host!

We painted the top of our kitchen walls with blackboard paint and we love it! We use it for Happy Birthday notes, to shopping lists, to chore assignments for the day. Once in a while an older child, who has moved on (probably married) will come over and write witty statements or poems on the wall. It's fun! The little ones who visit love too -- actually, now that I think about it, everyone loves the chalkboard wall!

Kelley said...

Great post. Although you don't need to hear it from me you 20-something-comment-receiver!