Monday, September 14, 2015

The Fruits of Our Labors

Anna June didn't get to go anywhere fancy like the beach, lake or river for Labor Day weekend. Instead, we went to her room.

(Warning - this is a long post. I haven't posted in a while - sorry!)

About three years ago, we repainted her room. I think I've been promising since then to show how it looks with her stuff in there.

I have not done this because I have been very embarrassed at the state of her room. Every now and then, we'd go through some aspect of her stuff (her clothes, her stuffed animals, her desk) and declutter a bit. But we never made it to camera-ready.

Recently, Ben went shopping and asked if I needed anything. I told him to be on the lookout for a shelf for AJ's room. I meant a bookshelf, but he came back with a decorative shelf, which, as it turns out, we also needed. (I should have been more specific.)

On the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, we went to Target to buy a couple of bookshelves so I could get this show on the road. AJ and Ben put them together, and then AJ and I got down to work. I supervised, mostly by holding things up and asking the question she got very sick of, "Keep or toss?" We actually threw away about four grocery bags of trash, and gave away about that many bags of usable items to the local charity thrift store. You don't realize how many kid's meal toys or birthday party favors you end up with until you just accumulate them for seven years.

We started by putting all the boxes on the shelves, as was my vision. She has a separate jewelry box for rings, and one for earrings, and one for ponytail holders, one for other hair items, etc. Before the shelves, they were kind of stacked on the floor. We had made previous attempts at organizing, but we really had to go through each box again to re-do it. I discovered what I had suspected was true - each time I told AJ to "clean" her room, she just threw things into whatever container was handy, resulting in toys in the clothes, clothes in the toys, hair things in the art box, etc.

So we worked from Saturday at lunchtime until supper on her room, making significant progress. On Sunday morning, we tackled her toy organizer, my least favorite part of her room. It is not in a very convenient place, but AJ insists she can still get to the toys she needs where it is. Now that we've made it clear what belongs in what bin (although we stopped short of labeling them), I think it is more reasonable.

The change I have seen is that this weekend, she was able to play with her toys when she was home. I gave her a five minute warning before it was time to leave, so she would have time to put away whatever she was playing with. I think there was a doll school and a picnic that she had to disassemble. But she did it without complaining. All the dolls are in their respective homes (for now) and ready to be played with again. Meanwhile, I have the floor space in the den and will not hurt my foot or break toys by stepping on them in her room. Wins all around.

Obviously, there are many things I'd like to do but haven't. I'd love to see her get rid of many more toys, especially the big ones. But I think that now that some of the junk is out of the way she can really see the toys she likes and actually play with them. 

So here we go with the pictures, before it gets messed up again.

Here is her bed. There's a dust ruffle on it, but as AJ pointed out to me, it has gotten shoved back and you can't see it right now. Instead, you can see the table-top air hockey game stored under her bed. And the knot-a-quilt project we (I) made recently is there for times when she needs an extra blanket.

This is her desk. There are lots of art supplies on or in it. Right now, there's a to-be-read pile of books on her desk. We're trying to get through these before we delve into any of the three or four series of books we have hanging around waiting for us. Some of these we read to her, and some she reads to herself. If we need to use the desk right now, we move the pile.

Here are the new shelves! I am so proud of these and so happy they have joined us! There's finally a place for her stuffed animals (I bought the bins probably years ago now, because they were on sale and matched the color of her room.) You can also see there's a poster for both Frozen (a phase she's getting out of) and Star Wars (a phase she is getting into). The baseball bat and bag are in front of the shelves because I was tired of kicking them around the kitchen. They'll be used again this week. The stuffed doorstop cat, Petra, is still very lifelike and catches people off-guard. You can also see her shelf of Precious Moments figurines. A while back, I asked for a shelf to hold them, and the auction house delivered (thanks, Nana, Granddaddy and Drew)!

Here is the shelf that Ben bought. We actually needed a place for her baseball memorabilia. You can see her baseball picture and trophy, along with a handmade card from Aunt Connie, a baseball made out of a paper plate she made at UAB camp, her game ball (in a case), the ball she got at the Brewers' game and the Bob Uecker bobble-head we got the same day.

We hung the shelf pretty securely to the wall, so when we ended up with a Jonathan Lucroy caricature from the State Fair (thanks Grandpa and Grammy!) we couldn't decide exactly where it should go. So it goes next to the baseball stuff for now.  Again you can see how she's not quite a baby anymore but just starting to be a big kid with her cross-stitch birth announcement from Aunt Connie next to her MLB baseball stuff.  The top of her chest-of-drawers is also a work-in-progress.

We were going pretty good until now. Here are the big toys. A big doll needs big toys, and, well, Lily Anna is a big doll. It is just coincidence that it is a combo of AJ's name and her best friend's name. We found a place to stash her bike, but the tent and the horse are still underfoot. They can't go in the closet - it's packed. Right now, they're movable and in a little cluster near the toy box. We already had the high chair, large cat, etc. so we're used to just kicking things around.

Here's another good part: the bookshelf. We worked on this a different weekend. We read a bunch of the books she didn't remember she had, and decided whether to keep or donate them. Now we have room for the vintage Wizard of Oz series our neighbors gave us (thanks Stella and Jimmy!). And I see I need to add her "six" shirt to a canvas and get it hung.

Over by the bookshelf is the window. My only constant request is that the air vent not be blocked. So far, so good.

Finally, we have the wall containing 3 of AJ's sticker-by-number projects, and the toy organizer, which, for now, is fairly organized.

So that's the grand tour. We're not ready for Better Homes & Gardens yet, but at least I have not felt like screaming every time I walk in there.


Annie Gallitz said...

OOHH!!! I Really REALLY LIKE the new shelves! They look beautifully arranged too. The bins for the stuffed animals are, like, PERFECT!!! WELL DONE , Laura and Anna June!! BIG job, hey ??? ( this propelled me back to my kids messy room days, I too wanted to SCREAM !!!! ) I love how AJ's bedroom is such a reflection of her and her interests! She is a cool kid !!!

Laura Gallitz said...

Thanks! AJ is actually better than I am about purging when necessary - she just needs a little encouragement to focus on the task. And of course, we need to be better about not giving her so much stuff. She has, like, every toy or kind of toy a kid could want. But we definitely have to be vigilant about removing when adding - there's only a finite amount of space. We're working on the rest of the house, but for now, I know if I say "go put Mrs. Potato Head away" she knows which bin it should go in.