Monday, February 25, 2013

Mommy's New Toys...

After nearly two years renting the Aramco washer and dryers which for lack of a better word are a piece of crap....I got new washer and dryers :)

The Aramco ones were old school top loading and with the water here being awful I was constantly getting bleach marks in my darks and my whites being not white. I would have to let the machine fill with water and then add my clothes which resulted in many times forgetting because I ended up doing something else and then having to wait for the water to drain and start again. It took forever!

So, when John asked me one day what were some of the top things that were irritating me about here that could be fixed....the washing machine and dryer was at the top of my list. Thankfully there was a family on camp looking to move and sell their front loading ones and so we got them for a great deal and I am one happy mommy to have cleaner feeling clothes and no more ruined clothes! 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Happy Valentines Day!

Peyton was so excited about Valentines this year. She remembered everything about it from the year before and was really looking forward to her party at school. About a week before we started working on making her Valentines and she had so much fun. Peyton LOVES crafts, art projects and we do something arts and crafts almost every day. I had brought some heart stickers and other stamps from the States back with us (so thankful that Michaels was putting it out on the last few days we were there) and we set up the dining room table as command central. She made a couple a day and by the time the party came around we had made 19 Valentines! She was so proud (and so was I) of all the cards she made!

The day of the party she dressed up in her heart shirt and I surprised her with a valentines bow and bracelet I found at Gymboree. She was so surprised and so thankful which was so cute!

They had a great party at school and she was loaded down with goodies during the bike ride home. And of course she insisted on carrying all of it herself! 

On the actual Valentines Day, John made everyone heart shaped pancakes and gave the kids gifts and a note. Graham got a bubble gun and Peyton a teddy bear. And then we were able to run errands go for lunch just the two of us which was so much fun and less stressful :) A great Valentines Day with all my loves!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Our Playroom Remodel

Something that has been updated/changed since the New Year was our playroom! And by far it is my most favorite thing that has been changed and updated! It was defiantly a spur of the moment idea that quickly grew and I love what materialized at the end of it!

Here is how it all started....

When we got back from the States, I started noticing that the kids were not playing with their toys very much. The TV was becoming a constant problem and they were constantly wanting it on which is why the TV time chart came into existence. But beyond that I was surprised that they were not playing with toys that they hadn't seen in a month. And then when Peyton had friends over they too were not finding toys/spaces to play. So, I thought that maybe they needed new/different toys which I was not all that excited about since I didn't know where I would put new toys. And yes, I know when you look at the after pictures you will wonder why my kids have so many answer.....spend April-October in Saudi and you try to come up with ways to entertain kids that don't involve constant need toys! Anyways.... I started researching age appropriate toys and quickly realized that they had most of them. what. So I started wondering if the space was not conducive to a good play environment.  

So I started researching playroom design and quickly realized that our playroom was designed all around the TV and not for play. This is what it looked like before from when I did my Saudi Home Tour blog post last year.

We had the room split down the middle with a TV area that we designed to be a second adult hangout area as well and then the toy area on the other side. We had two large side tables and then these cube ottomans to store toys and act as a coffee table. Not too bad but when I started thinking about it the whole room was centered around the TV, there were more seating areas for TV instead of play areas and too much furniture in there. 

So I started to plan.....

I made a new floor plan/arrangement, moved the TV armoire into Peyton's room for storage, the side tables into the garage for storage and the ottomans into the entry for a bench to sit on when you put your shoes on and the large chair into the master bedroom and bringing in a smaller chair. And then I made my Ikea shopping list which thankfully wasn't too long and even better was able to be completly funded (including a couple new toys) by money I made during some recent photography sessions! It was a pretty awesome feeling to be able to come up with the plan, the list and purchase it all with money I earned and not wonder if we could add it to the already discussed monthly budget....yeah for working!

And this is what we have NOW.....

Biggest changes were removing unnecessary furniture. We don't need a coffee table, or side tables in a playroom and we didn't need the other large chair in there. Also a big change was the TV being put on a shelving unit and taking all of the puzzles, games etc that were high in the armoire and putitng them in more accessible baskets which encourage them to use them more. I put several games on the shelf above the TV to keep pieces from disappearing! I also have plastic bins filled with activities that I have found online for us to play with when we are bored and since the pieces are already together it is quick and easy. 

I have also tried to create more stations. I have the kitchen station with all the kitchen toys near it. Graham is getting a BBQ grill set for his birthday which will go next to the kitchen :) It already has its own spot waiting for it :)

A reading corner with the tent close by (we always had the tent but never had enough space to put it in the playroom permanently but by removing furniture created so much open space). The book shelves were made from painted Ikea spice racks that were only a couple of dollars a piece. I have not put the art supplies in the playroom since Graham still needs supervision and they are in a good location in the kitchen (right off the playroom) pantry in an easy to access shelf/system.


I bought a car play rug to create a play space near the trucks and created that more of "boys" toys with cars, trucks, tools and some of the still remaining "baby" toys for when friends come over and then another area for "girls" toys such as baby dolls, My Little Ponies and the few barbie dolls that we have that never get played with until other girls come over. Even though we have the two gender areas..... at our house everyone plays with everything and it is more for my organization and for when friends come over :)

We did buy a train table later which took up some play space but is so worth it. Graham plays with it constantly and when we saw one in a store here for a reasonable price we decided to jump on it as we have not seen a train table here since we moved here two years ago! It was an early birthday present. 

I added in some new bright pillows and curtains and some new artwork that I ordered off of Etsy and printed here to make it more play/kid centered and because I wanted to add some cute artwork in there :)

Now our playroom it is just a space centered around play with many distinct play areas and all the days are easy to access. I am still working on picture labels for all the bins and just need to find somewhere to laminate them and then I will velcro them on everything to help kids find toys and aid in clean up.

We are certainly so blessed to have a huge and separate play room for the kids and I am so thankful that I was able to create a better space for them to play has certainly made my days much easier!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Soccer Season

The middle of January was the start of soccer season. There are four teams in Division 1 (4-5 year olds) and Peyton's team is called Marseille. There are six boys and two girls on her team. John is acting as a Assistant Coach and having fun at practice and the games and starting his daddy duties acting as a coach. They practice once a week and have a game every Thursday (our Saturday here in Saudi). So far her team has won all of their games and tied one of them.

I got pretty teary eyed the first time she put on her uniform. I can't believe I have a child in an organized team sport! She looks so grown up :(

What I am proud of the most with Peyton playing soccer is how much she hangs with the boys. She is SO TOUGH! The first game she got pushed and I was so nervous that she would melt down. Instead she got right back up and went after the ball. Such a tough cookie and not afraid to push back at times or give the boys a lecture on the rules :) She really does such a good job of going after the ball, kicking it out toward the goal. 

She also is so good at going out there when she is tired and I have seen her fitness improve so much since the first game. The first game she barely played because she was so tired and now she is out there a large part of the game. Such a hard worker! 

Since she was the one who was begging to sign up for soccer, I have been a little surprised that we have such a battle to get her there especially on practice days. She has fun at the games but I don't think she will be wanting to do this again next year. 

Graham LOVES going to her games to watch her. He is her best and loudest cheerleader and it warms my heart! He is constantly cheering her on, telling her to run, kick and go and claps for her. It is so absolutely adorable. I have a video of her playing and just writing about Graham reminds me that I should video him cheering for her. He is also a pretty good soccer player already and his kicks are actually stronger than Peyton so maybe that will be his thing. Either way, Thursday game days have been a blast watching Peyton and seeing her try new things and watching Graham and his support for his sister!