Thursday, December 30, 2010


This is a test of automatic e-mail posting...

An Update: Dominic's Room

In Dominic's room I use the following method of keeping clean and keeping his interest:
  • keep it simple
  • keep it functional
  • follow the child
  • make sure it is clean every night before bed (at a minimum)
Anyone who has known me longer than a day knows that I'm a laid back type (read not too concerned with scheduling and order). My house is regularly messy, we're working on getting it regularly tidy. I clean in crazy bursts - one week I might be motivated from the time my feet hit the floor to the time my eyes force themselves shut, the next you will find my fruit snack packages littered on the nightstand, dining room table, and kitchen counters (inches from the garbage can, no less!). That simply isn't the case with Dominic's room.

When it comes to his room I am absolutely compulsive about keeping it clean. Montessori describes early childhood as a time of sensitivity to order. The "sensitive periods" she observed in children are periods of great ease of learning and magnetism toward certain aspects (be it language, refinement of the senses, or order). She acknowledges that these things can be learned at other times, but the learning that occurs in a sensitive period is effortless and tireless, whereas learning to clean at the ripe age of 25 requires much work and much coffee! Ryan and I agreed before Dominic was born that we want to provide an environment that is tailored to Dominic's developmental stages; Ryan is quite tidy (opposites attract, I suppose), so getting him on board with keeping Dominic's room clean was simple.

When Dominic was born his room still had the tack boards around the perimeter from when we pulled up the carpet. The floors were unfinished, he had zero furniture apart from his bassinet and a hand-me-down dresser and rocking chair. We slowly got some semblance of order in his room as the floors were finished and as he moved out of our room. As he's gotten older and his interests have evolved, the task of keeping his space engaging and orderly has actually become... I know it will be hard to believe... FUN!

What was once this:
Dusty, filthy "white" carpet (can you see where the previous owner's furniture used to sit?), smoke-soaked walls, hideous window treatments.

Evolved like this:
A little space to read with daddy and do some initial exploring. A place to rock in the rocking chair with mommy.
Then there was mobility! The items for exploration became more interesting and provided new motives for activity: to crawl, to pull up, to walk, to increase concentration!
The floor bed allowed him to crawl into his bed when he was tired or crawl out when he was awake. You can read more about that adventure in a previous post!

Now it looks something like this:

His shelf offers a few toys and has artwork at his level. Everything has a clear space, and the room is orderly enough for him to restore its order without the help of an adult (though he does still need reminders sometimes). He has a small chair, a curbside find that I reupholstered, with a couple stuffed elephants behind it to protect the wall until we come up with a better solution! His nightstand has books on its shelf with one or two ever-changing favorites on top. His floor bed now has a couple of his favorite stuffed animals on it and the line-up changes frequently.

The closet is home to toys that have currently lost interest, additional stuffed animals, and his changing mat propped up against the wall. We also keep the majority of his clothes and extra diapering supplies in the chest of drawers. the tall shelf outside of the closet has a few baskets and boxes that hold a couple options of clothing to choose from each day. The highest shelf holds his cloth diapers and grooming supplies. The little blue stool is a spot for him to sit and get dressed. We move it out of the way every now and then to measure him on the growth chart that Ryan was measured on as a child! He always puts his clothes into his own laundry basket as he takes them off. Rugs add warmth and character to an otherwise cold floor.

The artwork is hung at his level so he can develop his appreciation for artwork; ideally I would rotate art cards from my travels and visits to museums, but I haven't gotten to that yet. Recently we struggled with him removing the art from the walls and pulling out the brads/nails that were holding them in. This is often the reason that parents rebut the idea of hanging artwork down low... "they'll break the frames, or aren't you worried about the nails?", We handled that problem in this way: "You are taking the art off of your walls, that shows us that you do not want it in your room," we then took all of the art out of his room (and the nails that he could reach). A couple days later I started reintroducing it to the room, first asking if he would like to have one of his paintings back, to which he replied, "yeah!" He has been more delicate with the artwork and left it on the walls ever since. We use the same system when he misuses toys and it works like a charm; we've only done it a few times but it always seems to rekindle his sense of appreciation for his things and reinforce the household rules (mommy and daddy mean business).

He can turn on the lamp by himself, and the shelf is home to a simple collection of the toys that he is most interested in using currently. We just changed the shelf to accommodate some of his Christmas and birthday gifts, leaving a couple of his favorites from before the holiday on the shelf. Up top he has some cool pattern blocks and boards, his tape measure and a wind-up penguin. The second shelf is home to his train set, which has already led him to the discovery that magnets have polarity and he can now turn the trains around to ensure that they connect (cool!), and we just added his new car transporter and cars to that shelf (his current favorite, I think). The bottom shelf has a soft soccer ball (because there has to be something to direct hands that want to throw and feet that want to kick without a power struggle), a jingle bell stick, and a puzzle with true-to-life images of animals. We also have his new horse stable set up next to the shelf and a little potty next to the stable (just in case). Toys that are still age-appropriate, but have lost interest are stored in the high shelves in the closet. He has many puzzles, a shape sorter, a lot of percussion instruments, picture "classified" cards, and a few other wooden and spatial toys. We also keep his nice hard-bound books up high so they don't get accidentally ripped; we read them nightly, though, be not afraid!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Dreaming of a White Christmas...

I tackled two kitchen projects this afternoon, and
promise to embed pictures later.

So I saw this awesome tip on the blog iHeartOrganizing a while back and decided to try it out. Then I got a little carried away, and I applied this tip to ALL of my kitchen appliances (which includes a washing machine, and even showed the sink some love).

Step 1: get magic eraser wet
Step 2: scrub the heck out of the "ivory" colored areas of your white appliances
Step 3: wipe with a damp cloth
Step 4: Oooooh and ahhhhhh. (here's the comparison... sideways)

I saw this awesome tip over at The Borrowed Abode blog a while back and used that same damp cloth from step 3 on my first project to show our microwave a little extra love.

Step 1: wet a cloth, not damp, not drippy, just wet
Step 2: microwave the damp cloth on high for 2 minutes
Step 3: open microwave and using an oven mitt or rubber gloves to protect from heat wipe the inside of the microwave with the cloth
Step 4: pick jaw up from the floor and enjoy a sparkly microwave.