Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Weekend Project

Note: I've noticed that sometimes in the e-mail updates, you can't read everything I write because it cuts off the right side of the words. Remember, you can always go directly to the blog HERE to read the updates anytime and see the entire post.

Anyway, we had a very productive weekend around here. I have been wanting to do something about Dean's room for quite awhile now, especially since Christmas when Santa brought him the gigantic Train Table that has been taking up all the floor space in the middle of his room that he normally uses for alone playtime. Dean has (thankfully) always been really good about entertaining himself and playing really well alone in his room, but since we put the train table in there, taking up almost all of the big empty floor space, he hasn't really been playing in his room much - which makes my days much longer!!! When I received my latest Pottery Bard Kids catalog I fell in love with the Cameron Wall Unit storage thing. Here's a photo of it:
However, the price was just a bit prohibitive at $1800. I don't even want to imagine what the shipping to Maui would have been (probably another $1800!!!). So I set out to find cabinets and cubby systems that we could build ourselves to come up with something similar. We needed to combine Dean's previous bookshelf system that was in his room with the bookshelf that was in his closet holding random toys with his toybox in his room. I wanted something that we could hide all of his toys in to make the room just look more clean and organized (the large toybox basket thing just wasn't working anymore and was just making the place look messy and he was outgrowing it). Here are a few "Before" pictures of his room so you get an idea of what we were dealing with:
I thought the cabinets in the Pottery Barn unit would be a good idea for toy storage, allowing him easy access to a lot of his toys and making it easy for him to clean up (and hiding everything at the same time!). The cubby system on top would be nice for storage of all of his books (as he is now reading at about a 2nd grade level according to his preschool teachers - we can't keep him in enough books - he has A LOT of books and he spends a lot of time reading alone in his room and looking at books) and we could store some of his smaller toys in baskets in the cubbies as well. We also moved his dresser into the closet.

Our little weekend project was a HUGE success!!! We spent a total of just under $500 and ended up with a storage system that, although I'm sure it's not quite as nice as the Pottery Barn version, it's just as functional and it looks pretty darn close to me!! Joel did an awesome job building everything and I must say I did a pretty good job supervising!! AND there was a minimum of swearing and slamming doors involved in the project (which is quite an accomplishment when Joel is building and I am supervising). :-) Check it out:
Pretty cool, huh? And ever since the weekend, Dean is back to spending lots of time playing in his room - listening to music, playing with his train table, building lego creations on the floor, or just kneeling in front of his bed with a book. I think he just needs that space!!

The only thing left to do in his room (hopefully this weekend) is for Joel to finally build him an actual bed frame (we've just had his box springs and mattress on the floor since we moved him from his crib into his "big boy bed"). Joel's plan is to build a bed frame that has drawers underneath that we can use for additional storage, hopefully allowing us to get rid of the dresser in his closet. We'll see! We also want to paint one wall (the wall with the storage unit on it) a blue that matches his bedding - probably the blue of the large background that you can see in this photo of him reading before bed last night (notice the little "Grandpa CR" toy man from his Mainstreet Village collection. You can read the story about that HERE. He still insists on having Grandpa CR on his nightstand at all times. When we were putting everything away after the room re-do, I had put Grandpa CR back in all the Mainstreet Village toys and Dean had to go dig him out that night before bed, saying "Where's Grandpa CR? Where's Grandpa CR?". We very narrowly avoided a major meltdown!!):
I love that he will read himself to sleep at night after we have Family Storytime - this is a new thing the past few weeks. We've started allowing him to bring a few books into bed with him after we read him a story and we leave his light on. This has put an end to any resistance to going to bed most nights and usually he reads himself to sleep within about 15 minutes and we'll just go in and turn out his light. I hope he never loses this love of reading!!

Christmas Morning

OK, I think this will FINALLY wrap up my Christmas Festivities posts!! (and only a little more than a month after Christmas!).

We woke up Christmas morning and Dean was VERY excited to see that Santa had indeed come and left A LOT of loot!! It took a good while for him to notice anything besides the gigantic train table though...But after awhile we finally convinced him there were more (LOTS more) presents waiting under the tree:
Grandpa CR brought Dean a Coleman kid's backpack and sleeping bag that was a HUGE hit. Dean zipped himself up in that sleeping bag and didn't want to come out!
He napped in that sleeping bag and slept in it every night for I think an entire week!! Finally I had Joel roll it up and put it away one day when Dean was outside playing, hoping he wouldn't notice. We got lucky and he didn't seem to notice. So far, he hasn't asked for it yet. But it will come in handy when we go camping up at Poli Poli next month!!Dean also got a really cool watch from Grandma Jo and Grandpa CR that they bought when they were in Italy a few months ago. It's designed to help kids learn to tell time and for the most part it's working - Dean can pretty much tell you exactly what time it is when he's wearing that watch, which is really cool since Dean has had a fascination with clocks for awhile now! Here he is wearing his new watch:
And here he is checking Grandpa CR's blood pressure with his new Doctor's kit that Joel and I gave him:And another big hit was the Radio Controlled car Dean got from my Uncle Johnny. It took him a little while to figure out how to work the control, but he got it figured out for the most part and drove that thing all over the living room!!
As you can see, it was a pretty good Christmas for one spoiled little boy!!!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Christmas Eve at TuTu's

After Grandma Jo and Grandpa CR finally made it in from the blizzard-ravaged plains of Kansas, we headed to Kihei for our Annual Harper Family Christmas Eve Festivities at TuTu's (My Mom's) house. This year Aunty Jayci had the privilege of joining us. Grandma Jo and Grandpa CR were hungry after their long trip (and so were the rest of us!!), so we all ate almost as soon as we got there. As usual, it was nothing fancy - we like to have PuPu's (that's Hawaiian for appetizers) on Christmas Eve rather than a big traditional dinner.

TuTu did play a mean trick on Dean when we got there - she had a small gift wrapped up and waiting for him on the coffee table, sitting right on the Elf on the Shelf's lap. She told him the Elf had brought it for him from Santa and he could open it early. Dean got excited and opened up the little box to find it full of black rocks!!! He was so upset and cried and cried!! TuTu is so naughty! Those of you who know my Mom well won't be surprised by this - I'm sure she did something similar to us as kids (we had never hear of getting "coal" if you were naughty - it was always called "Black Rocks" at our house because she said we wouldn't have known what coal was anyway). Don't worry - Dean got her back. When she wasn't looking, he went outside and got a handful of lava rocks and put them in her stocking, then told her to come look, Santa put something in her stocking. She pretended to be very upset and cried - but I think Dean felt more guilty than TuTu did! Here he is opening his black rocks, so innocent, it won't be long before he learns not to trust that TuTu!!!

Once Dean got over his hurt feelings and we convinced him Santa didn't really bring him black rocks, it was just TuTu playing a dirty trick on him, the rest of the night was lots of fun! Dean got lots of good gifts, but I'm pretty sure Aunty Jayci was the most spoiled of the evening (SOMEBODY's Mom felt bad about her being away for the holidays!) - every other present was for Jayci!
But my favorite part? As usual, it was TuTu's "fireplace" that she insists on keeping going ALLLLLL night!!:
Dean did really well overall, taking turns opening gifts and helping everyone else open their presents too. Here he is helping Grandpa CR:

Dean was definitely worn out after all of the excitement, which was a good thing - Santa's helpers had A LOT to do after he went to bed!!!

Cookies for Santa

I know, I know....I'm way behind. I'll try to catch up.

So...where was I? Oh yes...Christmas Eve. As I said, we spent Christmas Eve morning hanging out at the beach, then we headed home for Dean to take a nap and to do some last-minute gift-wrapping while waiting for Grandma Jo and Grandpa CR to arrive from Wichita. After naptime, Dean was SUPER excited to bake cookies for Santa!! We made cut-out sugar cookies this year and Dean had lots of fun using the cookie cutters on the dough! Dean got a quick bath while they were baking, then it was time for the best part - icing and decorating the cookies!! We pretty much gave Dean free reign with that and he LOVED it! See for yourself...