DIY: 3 bedrooms+6 Kids=Rethinking the beds

With 5 kids, 3 bedrooms and a baby on the way we had to re-think our bed configuration and of course where to put the clothes with less space. We originally had planned to add another bedroom because our floor plan includes a ‘teen room’ and an open area above the main entry. After reviewing the floor plans and looking into the truss situation we starting surfin’ the web for innovative bunk bed options. Once the kids saw how cool the bunk beds could be they decided they really liked that option. In fact THEY preferred to share a room rather than have us make the ‘teen room’ into a bedroom. Apparently they really like that living space to hang out and watch TV (Yes, we are those mean parents that refuse to let them have a TV in their bedrooms).

We found some really cool bunk bed options but some of them were in the $2,500 dollar range. (They do provide free shipping-seriously? As if that would get me to jump on that deal..ha ha ha). We found tons of other DIY’s from other families in the same or similar situation. It was a ton of fun to find many other great blogs to follow :). In the end we decided we would build them ourselves (by that I mean my husband) and that we liked the ‘L’ shaped triple bunks. We found some inexpensive plans online but decided we’d make our own. (My husband was pretty confident I guess). Although he is NOT a carpenter by trade I trusted him to complete this project. He felt some kind of calling to do it as his Dad built his beds and my Dad built mine as a child as well. Must be some type of Daddy right of passage. 😉 I was happy as long as they were strong/sturdy enough to handle 3 boys. I got my way and he used carriage bolts with the 2×4’s and 2×6’s which somehow made me feel better. I was impressed at how sturdy they turned out to be.

Back on the bunk beds…He built each each bed first building them to the measurement of the mattresses. Then we hauled them up to the bedroom and determined the height we preferred for the middle and top bed. Here is what they looked like put together. (although we have since added railing to the side so they don’t roll out of bed and added the same ‘head board’ as shown on the middle bed to the bottom one.)Triple 'L' Bunk Beds

The most impressive part of this whole project was my amazing husband completed it on a drill weekend. Nothing like working all week and then doing some carpentry on the weekend after 2 long days as a soldier. The Red Green show says, “If women don’t find you handsome they should at least find you handy.” I feel blessed because he’s both. ❤

You may be wondering where the other 3 kids will be. We’ll the only girl has her own room (spoiled princess). The baby and our almost 2 year old are in the third room. The crib, changing table and a toddler bed fit nicely. We don’t know the gender of the new baby but are assuming it’s a boy (we have 4 already so odds seem to favor boy). If it turns out to be a girl that will really be interesting. Stay tuned….

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DIY: Organizing closets for 6 kids!?!?!

Preparation for Baby #6 means hauling the baby bins from the basement storage and organizing the baby clothes. This made me somewhat frustrated as ALL of the kids closets and drawers were a mess. We had 2 dressers in each closet for socks, undergarments, pants and shorts. We would hang all of the tops above despite the massive amount of hangers. :/ Trying to put this away was a challenge with so many drawers open and shut. The kids seemed to be constantly breaking the drawers or ‘pushing out’ the bottoms as they stuffed the drawers with the clean clothes. (Laundry day at the Menne house is pretty interesting) I wanted some sort of bins for their clothes but didn’t know how it would work. This is what my hubby came up with.

Closet Organization 1

Each child has a color for their bins and they have 1 bin for each drawer that used to be the dresser. We once again hung up the tops. You’ll notice the shoe storage in the middle. This is my way of keeping sane but I’ll get to that in a minute. Back to the bins, in order to allow the kids to help with putting things away we labeled each bin with words and drawings. It’s hard to see in the second photo but we did our best to draw socks, tights, etc. and then label them with words as well. We used post-it’s and clear contact paper.

Closet Organization 2

Back to the shoe storage bins….At some point on the weekend (when things are less crazy) I take the time with each child to help them pick out 5 outfits for the week including socks and undies and we fill each shoe slot with 1 outfit. This makes mornings much easier on all of us because they know where their clothes are, they match (for the most part) and they have the independence to open the closet and find the outfits on their own.

This project was completed a few months ago and has been going well. I am SO happy with how it all turned out.

How do you keep your kids clothes organized? I’d love to hear your ideas!! Please share 🙂

Starting our Summer

As an educator I am blessed to have time with my kids during the summer. As an administrator I am still pretty busy for ‘off all summer’ but I do get to spend plenty of time at home just being a Mom which I absolutely love! To start summer for a Type A person like myself it means switching from school calendars to home activities and from hockey practices to library activities, etc.

The first thing I did was get the chore chart all ready for the summer chores the kids do. The next thing I do is figure out a summer schedule. I am okay with being flexible and changing things as needed but I like having a schedule to be sure things like laundry IMG_4441are taken care of and the kids have time carved out for reading books and keeping up with their math skills.

Once the kids and I had determined our summer schedule and talked about the different expectations for summer vs. school year we took a trip to the public library to find out about the summer reading program and any special events. The kids had a great time picking out books and seeing what was in store for the summer reading program. It took no time at all to fill up the calendar with activities, story times, crafts, etc. Summer practically plans itself! 🙂

There are a couple of things we have decided to try as a family this summer that we have not done before and I am excited to see how they go.

1-We hear so much about the 1:1 initiatives but they are typically laptops or iPads….Well the Menne family is taking on a 1:1 technology to reading imitative. The kids were a bit apprehensive at first but so far (a few days into it) it’s going well and they seem to understand in order to earn technology time they have to read. Twice already I have been trying to get their attention where normally they would be zoned out in front of a TV or engrossed in a DS game but I have found them reading. A nice surprise right?

2-I have heard about the toy bin/tote with the chore envelope where parents pick up any toys found on the floor and put them in the bin/tote and in order to get them out the child has to pick a slip from the envelope complete the chore listed on it. The kids are against this idea but I gotta tell yea, I am psyched to put some chores on the list like cleaning up the bathroom floor. (With 4 boys in the house their aim isn’t always great and I could use some help cleaning up the potty area).

I’ll have to post later in the summer my feedback on how those new things go. What summer plans does your family have? How to you keep your family busy during the summer? Or maybe not so busy? (That is tricky too) Do you have any tricks to share or any thoughts on these ideas?

The Battle of Organization is Always Waging

I’m somewhat embarrassed to share this but as always helping others trumps any amount of embarrassment. Why embarrassed? I seem kinda’ crazy with a storage room full of diaper boxes right? Well trying to keep 5 children clothed without buying new items for each one saves me time on getting rid of them as well as time and money replacing them when the next child needs it. Growing up in a large family I remember “hand-me-downs” and may have grumbled about it but don’t recall being traumatized by it. (Eventually as I got older I know I owned clothing purchased just for me.) When the kids are little not only do they not care if it’s hand-me-down clothing but sometimes they even enjoy it! My kids love getting something from an older sibling and the oldest thinks it is pretty cool to see tiny outfits on his little brothers that used to be his. He often says, “Man-I was that small!?!”

So over the past 10 years I have tried totes, bins, boxes, baskets, etc. but it has been a struggle to keep the clothing organized in such a manner that I can 1-locate it, 2-find the appropriate size, 3-keep adding to it. After moving too many times to recall at the moment and having various spaces for storage of said items I think I finally have it down to a science. Clothing Storage

This is one size of my storage area (Yes, I said MY as my husband has a different room to store his military uniforms and other items because he and I are not on the same wavelength when it comes to keeping things organized). This started with my lovely hubby installing some inexpensive plastic shelving units and as you may notice lots of diaper boxes.

When I first started this process I tried to use plastic storage bins but had difficultly stacking them (they crack and sometimes break) and their sizes tend to differ not to mention they can be costly. I switched over to boxes when my children started using Luvs diapers but as we transitioned back to other brands I kept using whatever diaper boxes I had because they worked and they were free. They stack nicely and aren’t too large to become heavy.

For some time I wished that Luvs would leave a nice empty spot on the size of their boxes so one might be able to write right on the box but somehow I don’t think a diaper company cares about the re-use-ability of their products box. I had to settle for making my own labeling system so I use either mailing labels or post-it notes and of course my favorite sharpie marker. (who doens’t love a sharpie??) labeling

I have them sectioned off with girls clothing on the far left and the boys on the right with some overflow area next to boxes of shoes. I also decided to add some hanging area for some heavier winter coats and such by using a shower rod which works pretty well.

I have a large laundry basket I keep in my laundry room specifically labeled for clothing to go in storage so when I do the laundry I can just grab the items that are too small and toss them in. When I find time (albeit it isn’t often) I can haul that basket to the basement and place those clothes in the right box according to size. At that time or when one of the kiddos needs bigger clothes I just grab the box(es) I need and bring up the clothing.

It’s a bit of work to get started but once you get a system down it can be a life-saver in both time and money.

Happy hand-me-downs my friends 🙂

DIY Wedding Style

Spring is fast approaching and I am certain will bring with it many weddings and or wedding planning. With weddings on the horizon I thought I’d share some trials and tribulations I experienced during the last wedding season.

The bride and groom were looking for a creative way to showcase the table assignments and a few tables at the reception. They wanted something that could bring the décor together and be very functional. After searching the internet and getting feedback from them on what they desired the decision was made to make giant framed chalk boards. Here is where the ‘fun’ begins….

The Final Products

The Final Products

DIY Wedding Style

I started with a trip (okay MANY, MANY trips) to Hobby Lobby and was able to snag VERY large frames on clearance and a couple smaller ones as well. I also picked up small wooden squares and dowels. I found ribbons that matched the wedding colors at the Dollar Store. (I was totally surprised). I had to go to a number of Menard’s before finding the chalk paint I needed and also got flat black spray paint. After trying a few different places I found thin pieces of wood for the back of the frames.

I think I found the twine at Michael’s and wood glue as well. The hardest item to find was the chalk markers which I ended up getting at JoAnn’s Fabrics.

1-Painted all of the frames with the flat black spray paint including the dowels

2-Painted all of the flat pieces of wood with the chalk paint

3-Drilled holes in the small wooden squares

4-Painted the small wooden squares with the chalk paint

5-With the help of my Father-in-law I got the wood cut to attach to the frames

6-Using the pneumatic nail gun I stapled the backs to the frames…

7-Measured, cut and glued the dowels in place to divide the large frames into 9 sections each. (one section per table)…

Power tool girls

Power tool girls

IMG_1572

Paint & Glue

IMG_1607

Divided into sections

IMG_1612

Demonstration of size

Final Product

Table assignments

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Poem to describe the table names

IMG_1979

Head table

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Name banner

8-Used a few of the chalk markers to write on the boards (they require water and a rag to erase and don’t wipe off like chalk does while still giving the look of chalk)…

9-Strung the letters with the twine & wrote on them…

10-Dressed up the frames with the ribbons as well as some pine cones collected from nature…

Tips to pass along…

  • Everything I read said not to try this as it takes too much time and money. I agree. It’s way more time than anyone would want to put in. I am not kidding when I say it took all summer to complete for a fall wedding. You had better be well paid for this kind of work or really love the people you are making it for. If you are the bride I do NOT recommend taking this on!!!
  • Chalk markers are great but don’t wipe clean from chalk paint. Apparently only actual chalk boards.
  • Chalk paint is not cheap
  • Large frames are expensive
  • Last but not least-Hand written items take a long time
  • Changes happen….spelling, guest list, etc.

If you are tackling a wedding DIY-Good Luck 🙂















Keeping my LARGE family organized

As a working Mom of a large family there are a few things I do to keep my sanity. Often people ask how I do it all and honestly, I don’t know. I just do it. I usually reply with, “I don’t know,” or “I do what I can when I can.” I don’t claim to be supermom or anything like that. I just do the best I can with the time, tools, & talents and Lord has blessed me with. Could I be better? Of course! I try to improve all of the time and seem to find tricks here and there to help me out along the way.

A year ago a relative asked me for advice on how to balance work and home and although I was really excited to share and honored that she would think ask me I was a bit shy about admitting to some of the things I do to keep my big family organized. Running a house with 7 people is a tough job sometimes and I don’t as much sleep as I would like….but I wouldn’t have it any other way. 🙂

So, on with the confessions of a working Mom.

photo(9)  1. Locker System: This keeps everyone’s stuff’ in one spot. Assuming they each put their items away that is. Each child has their own locker with 1 shelf, 4 hooks, a drawer and a spot for their shoes. We keep their Bibles, lunch boxes, helmets, & diaper bags on the shelf. They hang backpacks, coats, etc. on the hooks. Their shoes, boots, and flip-flops on the ledge and their drawers are filled with hats, mittens, scarves, etc. We cut an outdoor rug to go on the ledge to keep the wet shoes and boots from ruining the wood. We also put a long roll of that same outdoor carpet in front of the drawers so they can walk into the house without making a big mess on the floors. photo(11)I’ll admit it took some training to get the kids to each put their stuff away but now they’ve got it.

2. Morning Message & Chore Chart: At school the kids get a morning message every day and they seemed to get accustomed to knowing the date, day of the week, and what’s for dinner type of things so upon their request I added this to the dry erase board which already included a chore chart. Every night I look at what the next day has in store and include that in the morning message so when the kids are going off to the bus they can see what to expect. (It also helps me to remember what is coming up as well). The chore chart came about after deciding making copies of a chore chart was wasting paper. The kids liked how visible the chore chart was as well as the ability to keep tabs on how well they were doing for the week. All it takes is a large dry erase board and some electrical tape and you can make one really easily.

3. Cork cork boardsBoards: Every child seems to have their own calendar of events, newsletters from school, & appointment cards. In order to keep it straight who has what and when I picked up these cork boards from Hobby Lobby so each child could have their own board. The younger kids boards are filled with well baby check ups, notes about when their teeth come in or where they should be developmentally based on their age. The older kids boards have their school lunch calendar, homework reminders, invitations for parties, etc. At times these have been a life-saver for my sanity.

4. Desk Space: With so many kids and some of them sharing room there isn’t a ton of deskspace in their bedrooms for a desk and frankly, we don’t like the idea of the kids working on homework in their rooms. We would much prefer they use computers and the internet in a common area where there are others around to help them when they need and keep them focused on the issue at hand. With so many people using the same desk we needed storage space for their paperwork, folders, pens, etc. Again-Ikea to the rescue. My hubby installed the shelf and other storage items allowing each child to have their own space. I love the chalk circles for notes & reminders as well. I am pretty sure we got those from Target. The giant desk calendar seems a bit much but works great to have a master calendar of our families events & appointments. (I would LOVE for it to be a giant computer monitor or digital frame to show our Google calendar or sync with it but I have yet to find such a product). We also added some plastic storage bins below for art supplies, craft supplies and play-doh. 🙂

5. Laundry: Doing laundry for 7 people can be overwhelming but thanks to the layout of our house the laundry room is on the second level slaundryo it’s much easier to keep up with it. The kids helped me label baskets (Found on clearance at Lowe’s)  so even if they can’t read, they know that the one with the picture of the light-bulb on it is ‘lights’ and so on so they help out by sorting their own laundry. Being the room is so close they frequently help me switch loads when I ask them. The biggest challenge is putting it all away. I have a nice long counter in the laundry room which is lined with bins (again-one for each child) and an equally long rod for hanging their clothes on. Once a week (or when the bins are full) the kids are each given their bins and clothes and we put them away together. I am working hard on getting the older ones trained to put theirs away without just stuffing it in their drawers all willy-nilly.

Yes, I am a control freak and crazy about organization but hey-it works for me. This is by no means the right answer for any other household. After getting over my embarrassment regarding these organizational quirks I decide it’s worth sharing if it might help someone else. I hope this post helps you in some way. 🙂

Dreamin’ up a DIY

As a little girl I played barbies, played house, etc. and had all kinds of little girl dreams of what my future husband would be like. They usually involved a knight in shining armor on a white horse or a prince of some sort. I have to admit, I got all I dreamed of an more.

He is so stinkin’ amazing! One of his ‘Menne’ talents have to be his handyman skills. I can be a pretty demanding woman because I tend to like things in what some may refer to as apple-pie-order. (Yes, I will admit to being a control freak). In order to keep things neat and orderly with 5 kids there have been some things I wish for and things I dream up that I don’t even know even exists. Somehow, someway he manages to understand what I am conjuring up and then makes it happen.

After our more recent DIY I decided I should share my ideas and his talents to anyone else who may have similar problems and provide some insight into how we deal with them. – And of course brag about my awesome husband 🙂

Problem #1: Garage Storage

With a large family garage storage 1we have a lot of stuff; bikes, camper, trikes, toys, powerwheels, wagon, strollers, lawn mower, snow-blower, hockey equipt., etc. We have a 3 stall garage and 2 vehicles so one might assume we have enough room. Not so 😦 I prefer that we part the vehicles in the garage and also like storing the camper in the 3rd stall which leaves little space for all of those other things. I wanted a way to hang the bicycles up from the ceiling but yet wanted to be able to reach them on my own. I laughingly asked for a way to magically pull the ceiling down with a rope…We’ll ask and you shall receive because this is what my husband came up with. All of the kids bikes are now within my reach and yet the little kids toys are still able to be stored and taken out for use very easily. I love it! (He also added a shelving system for the kids hockey equipment which saved space as well)

Problem #2: Entry Way

We have a locker system for our family when we enter the house through the garage but places to hang up coats, put on shoes, etc. when guests come has proven to be a challenge. We had a small piece of furniture with had hooks on it and a bench connected to it but it had been moved a few too many times and was broken and really too small for the area. Feeling like the entry way was not a functioning part of our home and without a place for people to take off their shoes without getting water and dirt on the hard floors I decided it entry waywas time for a change. As luck would have it, many stores have specific ‘entry way solutions.’ Who knew?? I guess not me. We’ll, after searching many DIY blogs, articles and stores this is what I dreamed up. A large rug to entry way 2allow for moving with shoes and a place to put them, a bench to sit down and put your shoes on, a place to hang up coats, a shelf, frames and mirror to give it more of a home feel. Of course my husband was able to deliver. After a trip to Ikea & Menards that is.

We removed the trim and inserted storage cubes are from Ikea to serve as a bench. The pillows/cushions didn’t fit perfectly but I decided close enough. The shelf, frames and mirror were also Ikea. The hooks & rug came from Menard’s. The square frame is a shadow box which houses the skeleton keys that were the actual keys from our first house. I now feel this part of the house is really connected to the rest and completes our home.