Thursday, February 7, 2013

Ellie's Toddler Room and Simple Lives

I am one of those lucky people who go to know my great grandparents.  They were incredible people and I am so thankful that they were so present in my early life. I have distinct memories of their home (where my beautiful rug once lived) all of which take place at an age when their beds were at eye level for me.  My great-grandfather is someone what I wish I could meet again as an adult. He deeply felt the need to create. He was constantly making little things, usually of porcelain that he painted, and giving them to us children.  He was a builder and a fiddler, and I remember his workbench in the basement being organized and full of treasures. He was a diligent recorder of family history and I remember pulling photo books down to have them read to me again and again, looking for my spot on the tree. Their home was next to a small river and being there always meant discovery and exploration.
I realized at some point that he and my grandmother didn't actually share a bedroom, which was a complete shock to me at the time.  My home was built at a similar time, which I suspect was a contributing factor in us wanting to buy it, and has the exact same bedroom layout: a hall off the main living area separates two equally sized bedrooms with a small, narrow bathroom in between.  There's no "master suite" to be found.  We chose the bedroom farthest from the street to be ours and eventually made the other one Ellie's.  We love having her so close, and with the floor bed, if she needs us, she simply opens her door and walks down the hall.  The rest of the house is closed off at night, so it's safe for her to be in her room or with us. 
Today I'm going to show you what Ellie's room looks like. It's set up to be completely safe for her, though she rarely spends time in there completely unsupervised. She prefers to play alone but with us near her.
We had Ellie next to the bed in a bassinet for the first few weeks of her life and eventually she moved between a pack and play next to the bed for the first half of the night and into our bed after the first wakeup.  This just worked for us until she was about nine months old when bed sharing just wasn't working for HER anymore. She was too stimulated being with us. She'd roll around, flail her arms, and didn't get rest.  Transitioning her to the crib we'd purchased and set up down the hall when she was born was much easier than I thought it would be. She simply prefers to sleep alone. I was prepared to cosleep (despite how much it hurt my back) if it meant more sleep for us all, but it didn't.
She was only in the crib for a few months before we decided to transition her to the floor bed. We transitioned her at 13 months when we completely revamped her room. Here's a very incomplete "before" picture of the "nursery", which was typical: pictures on the walls, long curtains, pretty little crib.  It wasn't really being used at this point.

And here are some photos from earlier this week. Her room gets the best afternoon light in the house and I love pulling back the blackout curtains to let the sun stream in the windows.
Left to right: The changing table is unpictured but it's right inside the door.  Then comes the glider, which is much more comfortable than the rocker.  She has a little reading corner with a rocking chair and book shelf. (We need about 12 more bookshelves, but this one houses her favorites right now.)  The sweet chest in the corner holds all her extra sheets, blankets, and stuffed animals.  She's messing around with the potty chair these days, so I keep it out for her.  Under the West window is her main work table with a few activities.  The right corner has floor pillows for cuddling and reading and her bed is just inside the doorway.
She has this pendant light from Ikea, which is way too dim but makes the coolest shadows on the walls.
We couldn't be happier with the floor bed. I wish we'd transitioned her sooner. It's just her crib mattress on the floor. She ended up crawling around the floor a bit on the first few nights but got it after that. She does still mostly fall asleep in my arms. Hopefully someday she'll just put herself to bed like magic.
Cuddle corner. I got these two unused floor pillows from Freecycle and sewed the covers from fabric I had sitting around.  The other pillow is made from a chenille bedspread that I loved and my mother secretly bought for me. She's so good. You can see her pajamas hanging up in this picture. We hang them up each morning when she gets dressed and she gets them when I get her ready for bed at night.
The little table was actually left with the house. The corners are a little sharp so we try to keep them covered with the bumpers, but like most baby-proofing stuff they just seem to attract her attention.  
The table is the perfect height for her to work at and it's so pleasant with the sun shining in. I can't wait for summer when we can open these windows again.  
 The reading corner. When Ellie was first born, we bought a bunch of little quilts from thrift stores. They so easy to throw around under everything. Her great grandparents bought her the rocker which has a music box attached to it so it plays when she rocks. Mostly she just loves climbing up, grabbing a book, and sitting in her chair, pointing at the book. You can see her little dog calendar hanging up here. It's too high because she can't see it very well, but she sure knows it's dogs and loves pointing at it and saying "arf arf!".  It's quite a thrill to change the picture each month, too.  The big elephant was a Christmas gift from Ikea and my grandmother gave us the bug for my baby shower. It has a light inside and displays stars and the moon on the ceiling while playing soothing baby music or white noise. It's pretty much the coolest.
Her favorite books right now.  Charlie Parker Played Bebop is really fun, and every toddler should have some kind of picture dictionary. This one is just ok.
We still have her changing table in the corner. It holds all her cloth diapering stuff.  Her dirty clothes basket is on the bottom shelf.  She puts her clothes in there when she gets undressed. The main worry with babyproofing rooms is to keep children from pulling furniture on them so most people bolt down anything heavy. This table is really light and I don't think it would hurt her if it fell over. That said, I think we're going to get rid of it soon because we rarely get to actually change her up on top. 
The shelf above the changing table holds her disposables for night time (cloth overnight has given her a rash) diaper creams, extra pacifiers, and socks and shoes. Again, this isn't the safest thing so we're trying to wean her from the loud white noise and get rid of the CD player. I've tried repeatedly to leave it down but she can't keep her hands out of it.  Working on it.  Cloth diapers go in the metal trash can on the right and trash on the left. 
You can also see an outfit hanging on that shelf. One of the things I've learned to do to make my life easier is to pick out and compose a bunch of outfits for Ellie ahead of time. When we do laundry on the weekends, I bring all her stuff in her room and hang it up as outfits. Then I bring two out each day for her to choose from. This photo shows the outfit that wasn't chosen that day. She'll get another one to pick from the next day. Sometimes she passes over the same outfit for days before finally choosing it. 
Here are some of her outfits in her closet.  It's also home to her toys that she's not using. We try to rotate only a few at a time so there's never too much out at once. I go through her closet every few weeks and weed out things that don't fit or suit her anymore.  I've got a box in there of clothes and toys that she'll use in the future.
To the left I have baskets and containers that I use to present activities.  (And a pink tent, of course.)
And that's it! Of course it's not always this clean, but I can usually return it to this state in just a few minutes. Managing the clutter is constant but it's worth it to keep up on it. I just need to get that done in the rest of my house.
Here she is asking to go outside. "SNOW" she says.
And eating Tiny But Mighty popcorn and watching Sign Time. 
I hope you enjoyed our little tour, and please ask in the comments if you have any questions. Does your little one sleep on a floor bed? Your bed? A crib?  It's such a personal decision, as is everything related to kid sleep! 
Finally, it's time for SIMPLE LIVES THURSDAY! I apologize for the times I don't get it up. I think there will just be weeks were I only get up the hop and not a post and I'm sorry for that, but I'd rather have it up than not.
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moroccan beef
1. Moroccan Ground Beef (or Lamb) by Easy Natural Food. "We have a ton of grass fed ground beef in our freezer from the 1/4 cow we purchased last year, so I'm always trying to come up with new, tasty ways to eat it all."
2. Microgreens- Bring the Garden Into Your Kitchen by Preparedness Mama. "I came across a cool gardening idea a while back and I think it's the perfect cure for the wintertime blues." Strawberry250
3. Grain-Free Strawberries 'n Cream Porridge by Sweet Basil 'n Spice. "Since I am trying to do my very best to only eat grains that have been properly prepared (to improve digestion and neutralize any nutrient blockers) by either soaking or souring with my sourdough starter, coconut flour comes in handy when I haven't planned well."


Vegetarian Chef said...

Was that not a great gift knowing your great-grandparents? I only remember my great-grandmother from my father's side, she passed away when I was around 10. But my family, especially my mother was very intented on teaching me our family heritage. I had that luck to remember all the sisters of my grandma and I talked for hours with them about the history, the war, the family. Unfortunately I am the only cousin who really cares about our heritage but I am a lucky guy to say that I know my roots. Talk to your parents, or grandparents if they're alive, ask them questions, make a family tree and write everything down. One day your children will be as thankful as I am to my mom and her aunts for knowing the own roots. Knowing that all bonds us to the generations before and makes us even more responsible on different issues which not always might be easy to accept - like the history or the past connected to the own country and national heritage. It's a part of us and somehow a part of that past lives in everyone of us.

Stacy Duffy said...

I really love the idea of putting outfits together on hangers ahead of time and letting your child choose which one to wear each day. It gives them choice, but cuts down on all the craziness.

Our little guy still fits in his mini crib. He is pretty content in his crib so we haven't thought about changing it out yet. My biggest concern for our future is creating a room that he can share with his sibling. This will be especially tricky at night since we will obviously want them to keep from waking each other out at night. When I think it might be impossible, I just think about all of the families before me who shared rooms (and all of the families who currently share rooms).

Thanks for sharing Ellie's room layout! It is great to get ideas and to see what works for different families.

Karrey said...

I'm totally stealing your outfit idea, once C has moved past the "onesies and babylegs" phase. And E's room look fabulous!

Linda said...

Does E express any interest in either of the metal bins for trash or her cloth diapers? We have our trash bin in a similar spot as you and I was wondering whether it will become a liability once the baby starts crawling or toddling around. Do you plan on keeping both bins out in her room for long?

Alicia said...

Chris, your post inspires me to pick up some more of this stuff from my grandmother. Nobody seems to care that much about keeping it going and you're right that I need to pass it on.
Stacy, the outfit thing has been life-changing. So easy. I have no help for room sharing. We kept Ellie in our room for the first nine months, which would buy you a little extra time. Did you ever do that with your eldest? As much of a hassle as it will be at the beginning, eventually they will be snuggling and telling each other scary stories at bed time. I hope your pregnancy is going well! You're almost there!
Thanks, Karrey!
Linda, Ellie is mostly really good about her bins. She has started taking the diaper liners out of the trash but she always brings them right to me and seems to just be doing it for my attention. I think the best approach is to have them there and teach them that they can't touch them. But it really depends on your kid. Ellie has learned about the diaper bin well but couldn't keep her hands off the CD player so we had to move it or she would have broken it.

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