Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Summer Lovin' {Boy Style}

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I feel like summer really started for us this week.  Ethan is out of camp, and we are finally home not needing to jet off first thing in the morning and be somewhere.  While I hesitated making a list because I do not want too structured a summer for us, I have been inspired by all of the great summer ideas from bucket lists to boredom jars.  With my 5, 4 being the ripe ol' age of 1, we need to plan before heading out of the house...not much spontaneity here at the moment, but that day will come soon enough!  

During naptime today E and I sat down and created our thoughts on fun for this summer.  He had some great inspiration from camp, just listen to these awesome classes he had...Bubble-ology, Art of Math, Pharoahs, Mummies, and Pyramids, way cool {thanks for raising the bar camp teachers!} We cheated a little and added some things we've already done.  Really what we want most...

to enjoy life OUT*LOUD...OUTDOORS!

{hello summer!}



Just enough structure to keep things movin' along,
love this from somewhat simple


crafty kids

for the big boy
*reading nook playtent {inspiration here}
an outdoor version, genius!

*make real lemonade and experiment with different flavors
*make Wild Kratts creature power suits
*put on a play
*outdoor bedtime reading {counts toward library reading} up next
Boxcar Children and more Magic Treehouse Series
*catch fireflies
*celebrate turning 6 at the beach
*hold a yummiest s'mores concotion contest
*constellation finding {using 6th birthday present}
*take in a drive-in movie
*go rollerskating
*make pyramid plans
*write in hieroglyphics
*make a mummy
*create Tangram pieces and puzzles
*experiment with different bubble formulas
*nighttime scavenger hunt

all-time favorite for summer roadtrips, B-I-N-G-O



for the little boys
*go wild at the zoozoozoo!
*play outside in pjs before bed
*take a bath outside {see the trend?}
*explore by walking and holding hands vs. stroller time
*start ABC photo wall {reincarnated from big boy era}
*visit the butterfly house for the first time
*sand and water galore!
*make snacks more fun
*dig, climb, run and jump
*talk about everything we see and do
*enjoy lots of things from the big boy list because we love imitating our superstar big bro!

I could go on and on this is going to be such an exciting summer for them!

for all

*ocean in a bottle
*water balloons

become a superhero

carwash

Family Fun

how amazing would this be to recreate {kid style}

great rainy day activity, indoor fort building, check out these kits!












more rainy day fun, shadow puppets


via DesignMom

eat outdoors, after all everything tastes better outside!




I would love to hear...what are your summertime faves and traditions?  What do you do to mark that summer has really arrived? 

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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Preview: DIY Valances

Valances can be tricky.  I usually find them a bit boring or too matchy-matchy.  It's hard to know what to do with the space above the windows, especially if you have higher ceilings.  While you can always go for the drama of hanging the window treatments higher,sometimes the space would be overwhelmed with all the fabric.

We started building our own valances in our first home, thanks to a few tips and tricks we learned from my sister and brother-in-law. They are a great way to add character to our builder grade home.

Here are the valances I designed and my talented hubby built.  Making your own allows for more custom design and fabric options and ways to coordinate with other materials in the space.  These happen to be in our bedroom and tie into the design of the headboard we also created.

{The window treatments don't photograph as well here, but I love the fabric, I just need to make them fuller.  I created these when I was far along in my pregnancy with our quads}.


I love our oversized headboard and had always wanted one, even more so after finding this great fabric. We went for years sleeping in our then guestroom {now occupied by 4 little guys} and did nothing to our room.  We finally took the plunge and all during the pregnancy I was so happy to have a comfy place to rest!  I will have to show you the opposite wall though where our sad tv sits on a rubbermaid bin.  We've got big plans for the rest of the room, but we'll get back to them in a few years, too many other priorities!  



{sorry for that headboard tangent, just wanted to show how valances 
can tie nicely in to the other elements within a space}

We have a few more valances to create and one to redo so I will be posting those in the coming weeks as we go, along with the how-tos.  

Cheers to a great rest of your weekend!! :)

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Friday, June 24, 2011

Friday Feature, House of Fifty Blog!





Good morning friends and Happy Friday!   There is an extra pep in my step this morning because I am at the House of Fifty Blog today!  I wrote about a topic close to my heart and my interests as a mom of five, inspiring kids through design.  I loved putting it together, so stop on over and take a look, and let me know what you think!


While you're there enjoy the gorgeous current issue of House of Fifty!

Thank you House of Fifty for having me, and Janell for all of your support, I enjoyed my visit!

Here's to a beautiful weekend for you all!!

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In the past few years designing kids rooms has grown immensely, and it is so good to see such an interest and some really amazing spaces being created!  I love that we seem to think much more about the spaces our children inhabit than we used to {compared to my childhood circa 1980s}.  Yet, I can't help but think that some of the design elements we infuse into these kid-friendly spaces are maybe not as much about what inspires them as much as they are about how it looks in our home or what we think kids would like.  Is the room designed with kids in mind or is it designed for our kids?  I do think we can have spaces that look beautiful and cohesive to our home, a common challenge, but we must give considerable weight to how our little ones react to the room.

When I think about how my five boys respond to design, I know it is usually how the space makes them feel.  If you ask your child how they remember a big event, they often describe a detail or two, but overall they remember it by the feeling evoked.  While 4 out of 5 of my boys cannot yet describe their feelings beyond a few words, what I can get is their emotion, which is key. As a mom with a high interest in design and how it affects us, I have realized that kids are so much more in tune with their surroundings than we give them credit for.  While they may be resilient and adaptable, their curiosity thrives in spaces where they first feel safe and secure.

Inspiring the Magic and Wonder
More than enjoying a colorful or themed room, my boys would love a room that evokes a sense of magic and wonder, one that just is special. I cannot think of a time other than now to use those as the primary design elements.  How fun would this be?

"A little nonsense now and then is cherished by the wisest men" - Roald Dahl
 


I realize we all can't live with swings hanging from the rafters of our living rooms {sharing problems here for starters}, but we can channel that whimsy into something that is extraordinary and unexpected like this little teepee nook {and not permanent}.


flickr photostream-somethingshidinginhere

or so comfy, cozy and special like this reading nook...


House Beautiful, May 2011

All children love hidden spaces.  I still recall my dentist's office having a playroom with a tiny hole to crawl through that opened into a bigger playroom, it was just so cool like this space, begging us to follow the little ladder...



If we do move our littlest guys into 2 separate rooms, we plan to connect the rooms through their closets located just on the other side of the wall.  It would be so fun for them to have a secret passage to get from room to room.

Bedrooms
{BOYS}


Evoking that sense of wonder and whimsy with big doses of practicality, these bedrooms would definitely make an impression on a young boy...slide, treehouse, who wouldn't love either?





{GIRLS}

I can think of all the dreams, stories, nighttime chats among sisters that would take place on these two gorgeous beds.  I am sure these little red beds would be fondly remembered forever.  



and what little fairy princess would not adore this sweet little spot?


Sharing Spaces


We will always have this dilemma in our home.  My quadruplet boys are in one room right now.  There were many constraints at the time it was created but I still wanted to reflect each one individually in the space.



Whether we keep the boys together, or move them into separate rooms (2 and 2), these following ideas gave me some inspiration.  I just love this first idea {left}, they each have a little cocoon with their favorite possessions, but they can easily get to one another. The girls room {right} is so easy and relaxed and such a fun space to hang out as sisters.    


     Eve Robinson Associates, Inc.                                                        via pinterest


Learning through Play, Lessons from Good Design
Good design can teach kids about function, organization, and making choices.  Playrooms are such a big source of inspiration for little ones.

With our home's open floor plan, the playroom for our little boys is in plain sight.  It does get tricky to keep it clean, but the space itself is so fun an inspiring.  If you see toys in my home, you know I have small children who are learning and growing.  Someday we hope to finish our basement and move the playroom there, but I truly believe my kids have benefited when super little by having a playroom so centrally located in our home.

In our playroom they can make choices and there are many opportunities for being creative, a felt board, dry erase board/easel, and chalkboard are all easily within reach along with dress-up and so many other choices.  I also believe in everything needing to have a space in a playroom and cleaning up throughout the day.  While kids need to be able to be creative it is difficult to function in chaos, so some sense of order needs to be re-established.
{the little boys current playroom}



gorgeous with so many different options, possibilities and well-organized



this one just plays to the imagination so well...



and this free-spirited and fun-loving space



finally a little inspiration for those of us literally driven up the wall by little lego pieces...



Staying Inspired as Adults
When was the last time you read a children's book?  They are full of inspiration and help us remember what it is to see the world in that wonder-filled way.  We do have an abundance in our home of books and we treasure it!  I will truly be so sad when there are no longer bedtimes full of whimsical, fantastical stories. Lucky is the child whose room is full of great reads like this one...



Every family needs some inspiration to catch their eye as they walk out the door.  To send the reminder to the brain that is on overload with everything else life encompasses that this is what matters this family...you, I don't think design gets any more inspiring than that.

Encouraging your kids on their way out the door, 



I love these family rules too, maybe just catching the eye on the way out the door will provide that gentle reminder we all need.



I have realized that at the end of the day, we are still adults trying to create spaces for our children who tend to be much more open-minded, boundary-less, and engaged in their surroundings and in all of life than most of us adults. While we all have constraints, we can still create spaces, moments, and celebrations that are special.  We cannot give up on any of that because it the legacy we leave our children to give theirs.







Saturday, June 18, 2011

Party Inspiration Board No. 1: Where the Wild Things Are

Less than 3 months and my littlest guys will be TWO!  While I am not ready to think about it, a little birthday theme popped into my head the other day from the boys' nursery {below}.  A Wild Rumpus would be so much fun!  I compiled an inspiration board, I am really liking this idea a whole lot!



Inspiration Board No. 1, by moi, Little Marvels Designs

Sources as noted above
No. 2: beyond cute and perfect for this theme by breedingfancy on ETSY
No. 3:  sweet print in NanLawson's ETSY shop
No. 4:  gorgeous canopyohdeedoh, my party: matilda
No. 5:  cupcakes Claire_Issa on flickr cupcakes
No. 6:  goldcrowns Century Novelty
No. 7:  invitation by PaperCutCouture, ETSY
No. 8:  wildthingslippers  from Happy Feet
No. 9:  incredible cake from cake and everythingsweet.blogspot.com
No.10:  let the wild rumpus begin kids tee LADYGREENEDESIGNS (ETSY)
No. 11:  invitation by katiearichards, ETSY
No. 12: insanely cute and perfect costume by PAULAandERIKA (ETSY)

I would enjoy planning this one for my wild things x4!!!!

This is a sample of a board I can put together to inspire your little ones next big milestone (I can also come up with games, favors, how-tos, etc.), please visit Little Marvels Designs for more information.

Want to see more? You can follow me here, would love to have you!

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Vacation!

It was long overdue {by about 10 years} and we are truly happy we took our first family vacation to South Haven, MI, just the seven of us {just, funny}.  Ethan wanted more than anything to be on a beach in celebration of turning six.  We scaled back on his birthday, made adjustments, rented a home during off season, stayed for only a couple precious {rainy and cold}days, and made the best of everything.  We had an amazing time and made some beautiful memories.  All of our boys were truly fantastic.  There was no time to relax in the traditional sense, and of course some things were harder away from home, but we figured it all out together.  Beckham learned to scale the pack n' play so instead bedtime turned into cuddle-fest.  These were moments we had with Ethan that I longed to have with all my boys.  I feel like God made those moments happen for us on our trip, to slow things down, and just remember how beautiful it is when we are being our family, together.  We were all sad to leave but so content to have made these memories.

Some of the things we loved about South Haven...
* The people, so sweet, so many came up to us and told us how blessed we are, how adorable our boys are, just truly wanting to be kind.  No one yelling crazy stuff. Nice.
*on our first walk through town the insane downpour held off until we literally just stepped under the awning to where Matt {smartly} parked the car...see even the rain is nice in Michigan!
Golden Brown Bakery, for E's delicious cake and the 2 dozen cookies for $5.00, plus the owner came out to tell us about his teenage triplets ;)
Clementine's was super accommodating and commented on how well-behaved the boys were, very kid friendly.
Captain Nemo's for lunch, the staff was awesome.  Aside from everyone staring at us through the window when we were trying to eat ;) it was fun.  Again, great people working there.
Oh My Darlings (next to Clementine's get it?) where E purchased {thanks to his birthday money from Grandma Helen} a rocket powered by newspaper, a bike airplane, the infamous extend a fork, swedish fish and 4 little bulldozers for his brothers.
South Haven's Lighthouse, E thought it was super cool!
Our Own Private Beach seriously it was chilly, but so gorgeous and most of the time we were there, just our family!
* Last but not least, Harbor Club South Haven where we stayed.  Beautiful home, couldn't touch it during the peak season, a huge treat, major planning for us, but the absolute perfect layout with a finished basement!  {hint, you can still rate our entry to be HGTV'd and have our basement finished here.}

And as the true Chicago suburbanites we are, when all else fails we strongly believe when on vacation you have to channel a little Clark Griswold.  One of my all time favorite quotes "fun, we're going to have so much damn fun it's going to take plastic surgery to wipe the smile from our faces."  Now that's the vacation spirit!

Here is a little more from the Griswolds...err...the Krols :)






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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Green-ing up the Place

On one of my too infrequent, but fun and quick trips through Home Goods, I found this vessel for a mere $10.  I usually walk away, thinking I still don't need it, but I just thought I have seen these at other {overpriced} home stores and this is a great find.



It sat on the countertop until we came back from vacation.  I wanted to fill it with Michigan sand, but we hadn't snagged enough. E had collected some rocks, shells, and picked up some sea glass at a cute little shop, but he wanted it all in his room to remind him of our trip {sweet}. Time for a new plan.  After looking around the house realizing we have only 1 pet fish {sam the man} and no plants to water {thankfully}, I decided to make a terrarium.

Here is what we did if you'd like to make your own.  You can make it even more original by using an unexpected container.  In addition to the vessel itself, you'll need...
*sand, gravel, or both,
*soil preferably one that is good for indoors
*indoor plants, select the right type, i.e. low, mid, high-light
*accessories...rocks, shells, garden gnome :)

First grab a cute little helper. 


Next, fill the vessel with some sand/gravel mixture, or layer the sand and gravel to crate and base/filter.  You could also add some charcoal, we didn't have any so we skipped it.  


Then add your soil.  {make sure to use a really snazzy blue plastic shovel}



Plant your greenery.  Sprinkle in some extras, like the Michigan rocks E decided to lend to the project ;)


Add a small bit of water, put on the lid, and there you have it!



It's a fun project for kids too.  You can also discuss filtering water, they can help select plants for the right conditions in your home, etc.

All-in-all the cost of this project was less than $20...way less than what you would spend on the glass container itself.

Best of all, it looks beautiful and makes us happy.  :)


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