A List Maker's Life: January 2014

Monday, January 27, 2014

Organizing a Home Library

One of my dreams for our new home was a huge built in book shelf.  Our house didn't come with one, but it did offer a great place to add one.  Kevin and I discussed dimensions, counted our tubs of books, planned how many shelves we needed and set off to buy the lumbar at the hardware store.  Yikes!  The price of the wood was much more than we were ready to spend (especially because we still want to finish the plumbed third bath on out lower level).   Plan B.  We headed to the local hotel furniture outlet to see if their warehouse was home to a cast off book shelf we could refurbish.  No luck.  However we walked out past rows and rows of headboards the employees complained they could not sell ~ our inspiration for building a  bookcase out of king size headboards.  The length: perfect.  The wood: pre-sanded.  The edges: nicely beveled.  The price: hundreds less than lumber.   We are excited about how it turned out!  Once Kevin's job of designing, building, and painting was complete it was my turn to load the shelves.

After sharing this picture on Facebook we had questions about how we organize books and what we keep in the storage baskets.  The organization may be a work in progress, but it is a start.  The large brown basket on the bottom shelf is for the younger boys to use when returning books since it is difficult for them to know where to shelve them. 

The other two baskets on the bottom shelf are home to many of our instructional books.  

Leveled Readers

Math & Science Non-Fiction Early Readers

On one side of the baskets is our collection of children's Bibles.  On the other side are the reference books (dictionary, thesaurus, etc.)

On the second shelf from the bottom picture books are grouped by topic.  Dog books, Penguin books, Patriotic books,etc.  We are working on separating each category with wooden paint sticks labeled with Sharpie.

The next shelf up is categorized by favorite authors or genres.  I have a significant collection of poetry books and another collection of ABC books.  We also have several books by Patricia Polacco, Tomie De Paola, Jan Brett, and Theodor Giesel grouped together on this shelf.  Toward the end is a basket full of piano books separating the picture books from the pile of school yearbooks.  

Shelf four is primarily chapter books sorted by author and series number: Magic Tree House, Junie B, Beverly Cleary, Box Car Children, and Baby Sitter's Club make repeat appearances on this shelf.  As dividers we used a few more picture books, all of our Cliffords, Mercer Mayers, Arthur, and Berenstain Bears.

Further up where the kids are not able to reach on their own are some favorites and collectible-type books: Winnie the Pooh, special hard covers given to our babes, and Golden Books.  We have also sectioned out any books about the history, or legends, of Michigan and specifically Holland.

The top two shelves, not pictured, are filled with Kevin and Katie faves.

Hopefully, in addition to being one of my favorite cozy corners in our new home, this will be a place that encourages our kids to read, read, read!

How do you organize books in your home?
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Tuesday, January 7, 2014


In honor of Snow Day #2, Winter Break Day #18, we are going a little Frozen!

The kids would really like to get outside to build tunnels and snow trolls, but the wind chill isn't going to allow it.  Instead we brought in an under the bed tote full of the freshest powder from the top layer on our deck.  Filled with snow animals and metal utensils their mittened fingers set to work building indoor winter caves and snow men.

Gathering 10 more cups of fluff we tried a recipe for snow ice cream.  It was a hit, although  Gibson did not find any logic in eating something so cold on a day that is cold enough already.  Gavin loved it until he noticed snow floaters in the melted ice cream in the bottom of his bowl.  Not quite as clean as it looks.  A bit of a science exploration here at our snack time!

In the afternoon we made a frozen snack for our yard's winter visitors.  Cleaning out our fruit drawer and cereal cabinet we arranged goodies in metal jello molds, sunk a loop of twine and filled them with water.  We are still waiting to see how long it will take them to freeze in the snow before we pop them out and hang them on the deck posts.

One of our children who is tall enough to reach the thermometer was a little over heated on this chilly day and turned our heat down to 61.  I couldn't figure out how the little bit of snow we brought in would cool things down so much, but now it all makes sense.  Just adding to the day's theme I guess.

Of course, the day wouldn't be complete without listening to the Frozen soundtrack (although, who are we kidding, it has been on repeat since December 26th.  All 6 of us have 100% of the lyrics memorized.

Happy Snow Day.  Stay frozen cozy!
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Monday, January 6, 2014


As an incredibly thoughtful Christmas gift our sister and brother-in-law commissioned a watercolor painting of our first house for us to hang in our new one.  It is a special reminder of the house we brought all four of our babes home to.

When we looked for a frame at our favorite home furnishing on a budget shop, they had a 2-for-1 deal on framed artwork.  We brought two home and disassembled one of them to hold 658.  Anne Hope suggested we could use the second frame for a painting of our new home. With the extra time this afternoon, and no where to go in a blizzard, she tackled the self proclaimed challenge by painting our new home with acrylics.  I was impressed!

For those of you who have been  "stalking the blog for a glimpse of our new place "...cough, J.J, cough... ;). Here is the first stop on your photo tour!

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Sunday, January 5, 2014

Creative Space

Vacation has a wonderful way of allowing us to tap into our creative spaces. 

Kevin is working on a neat pallet wall bookshelf in our basement.  Brings him back to the days of cutting bricks and arranging them to fit together just right to build the artfully random.

Anne Hope has figured out patterns for making her own candies out of perler beads attaching her creations to Rainbow Loom necklaces, magnets, paper clips, and key chains.  She has dreamed up a design for transforming our Doug and Melissa grocery stand into a Sweet Shoppe for a summer sale.

Gabe has been cutting paper, pictures, and playdough into piles of confetti.  Gibson enjoys writing captions all over the pages in his coloring books.  Fascinated with how letters work together to make words and how silly words sound when they rhyme.

Decorating projects have given me an outlet for my DIY desires as we make our house feel like home. Aside from mixing colors for many painting projects I enjoyed making felt flower pillows for our living room entrance.

We used the leftover paint and felt scraps to upcycle a pile of glass spaghetti sauce jars into decorative storage.

Still inspired by our time at Family Forward, Gavin amazed us as he quietly worked with Duck Tape to create the perfect case for his new DS.  He carefully constructed pockets for each of his game cartridges as well as the stylus, and fastioned it together with strips of velcro. Pretty clever!

As we head back to routines tomorrow it will be important for us to continue to carve out time for creativity!

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Friday, January 3, 2014

One Word for '14

It was our one word for 2013.

In reviewing the year past we are reminded choosing one word to focus 365 days on takes careful consideration. As it turned out, it felt a bit like we assigned our family a self fulfilling prophecy.  In reality, it had so little to do with ourselves. In prayfully seeking to embrace the unexpected and handle it gracefully, God gave us plenty of opportunity to practice.

Around October I began praying 2014's word would be slow, rest, or breathe.  Yet, with each list I began during the final weeks of December, one word stuck out - JOY.

In celebration.  In big events.  In parties.  In milestones.
As we watch our children on the athletic fields or celebrate their report cards we will clap our hands and shout with cries of joy.
{Psalm 47:1}

In trials. In disappointment. In mourning. In tears.
As we face the trials of 2014 we will consider it joy because the testing of our faith develops perserverance.
{James 1:2-3}

In giving.  In plenty.  In need.
As we enlarge our community, give thanks for our income, and share our abundance with those in need our joy will increase.
{Isaiah 9:3}

In the ordinary. In the every day.
As we make our family meal, gather to eat, drink, share stories of the day, clear, wash, and put away dishes each evening at we will do so with joyful hearts.
{Ecclesiastes 9:7}

In parenting. In discipline. In teaching. In consistency. In mentoring.
As we train our children to act virtuously, moral, and upright we build their potential for joy.
{Proverbs 10:28}

In relationships. In meeting neighbors.  In supporting friends.  In starting new schools.  In fellowshiping with our small group.  In sharing traditions with our extended families.
While we love to communicate with facebook, text, and email we look forward to talking face to face so our joy may be complete.
{2 John 1:12}

In the questions.  In the wrestling. In the big decisions.
Although we have not seen Him, we love Him.  We believe in Him and are filled with inexpressible joy.
{1 Peter 1:8}

In the many tasks listed in the small boxes on our new calendar. In our jobs. In forgiving others. In the early mornings. In the late nights.
The joy of the Lord will be our strength.
{Nehemiah 8:10}

Welcome 2014!  May this year be full of the joy and peace that comes from trusting Him.

JOYful with hope,

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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Kicking Off a Charming 2014

Our day started with an early trip to the sledding hill in Holland. A crazy cold experience.   The snow has been falling steadily, each of our steps the first on a giant white canvas. The first memories of a new year.

Under their snow gear each of the kids wore jammies.  They didn't take them off the rest of the day.  Anne Hope pointed out, "this is the first time EVER that you didn't make us get dressed right away in the morning." Perhaps our "one word" should be CHILL.

Perler beads and Playmobile took over the dining room table during the afternoon hours. Followed by piles of 2013 magazine scraps to finish up our year in review collage.

While it wasn't a spectacular spread, dinner was served by candlelight.  A New Year's Day tradition, we mulled over wishes, hopes, and dreams.  Set our mission.  Smiled over charming good fortunes. This year Gavin assigned each of our mystery charms an appropriate statement.

For Kevin, a sunflower promises a year with plenty of room to spread out.
Gavin's butterfly encourages him to give grace.
A ladybug for Gibson carried the message - don't worry about fitting in.
Anne Hope's rock charm reminded her to believe in yourself.
Gabe's, be colorful, was inspired by the Rainbow Fish charm.
I discovered a shell, don't stay hidden.

Each phrase uniquely fits or already applies.

Several rounds of Tenzi and the crew is all tucked in.  Tomorrow Kev heads back to work; vacation was amazing, but now it's over. As for '14, well, this is just the beginning!
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2014 Predictions

~We will get a dog
~I wil visit daddy at work
~I will ride in the plow truck
~I will scare all the trick or treaters with my costume

~Someone will build a toy Hagrid
~We will ride in a plane
~We will get another baby
~Uncle Nick will get married

Anne Hope
~Daddy will give lots of kisses
~Gavin will wipe off all the slurpy ones
~Our family will go to Florida again
~Maybe we could go to Boston

~I will get a drum set and take drum lessons
~The One and Only Ivan will be made into a movie
~I might get new DS games for my 10th birthday
~Anne Hope will win the Derby Race
~The prince of England will become the king
~We will see a tobyMac concert

~Some of the kids will switch schools
~Gibson will learn to ride a two-wheeler
~The Tigers WILL finally win the World Series
~The Red Wings will not make the playoffs for the first time in over 20 years
~We will meet a lot of new people
~Gibson will start soccer
~It will be a LONG winter
~Republicans will pick up the house and the senate

~Kevin will finish the basement
~American Idol ratings will go back up and be family friendly enough for our kids to watch again
~After saying so long to Helen DeVos Childrens Hospital and their specialist we will be happy with Gabe's care at U of M and a new advance in medical equipment/procedure will make life easier for Gabe

Joy. Community. Contentment.
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