Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Toy Storage Solutions?

This happens to me occasionally: I get an idea for something and then I can't rest until I come up with a solution. With Ella's birthday coming up and the new baby due in December, I need some affordable solutions for toy storage. I've followed the advice to put away toys that my daughter has grown out of and I rotate toys in and out, but I'm still left with the puzzle of organizing the toys we do have out.

I need some toy storage ideas that will work in our family room. It's important for Ella to be able to see the toys and easily access them or she won't play with them. I've seen some cool storage units online, but I don't have $150 plus to organize toys right now. The biggest problem is the mid-sized toys, like the little people vehicles, and a way to keep the toys organized so they aren't jumbled into a big pile and don't overrun the space. I have the books and puzzles on a shelf in her room and the stuffed animals and dolls in fabric bins, but I'm not sure what to do with the remaining toys.

Does anyone have any suggestions for toy organization that's worked well in their home? I'd love to hear any ideas!*Rebecca made a good point about cost, so here's my addition for today. If you have a solution that does cost $150 or more, I'm interested as well. I just don't want to randomly buy and expensive unit.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Obama in Springfield!

Here's Senator Obama from our side view, fairly far back in the crowd.

When Tim and I heard that Barack Obama planned to visit Springfield, Illinois for his big vice presidential candidate announcement, we thought, "We should go." Since Obama is a Senator from Illionis, he decided to return to the state capitol for his big announcement. This was exciting for us, because it's about a 45-minute drive from Jacksonville to Springfield. We wondered how Ella would do at this kind of event, but decided to just go for it. You don't get the opportunity to see a presidential candidate - let alone a dynamic one like Obama - every day. So, we braved the heat and the incredibly long line to see and hear the candidate in person.

This is Senator Biden speaking, with Senator Obama sitting in the chair next to him.

Obviously, it was hot! We'd walked for about 30 minutes to get from our parking spot to the end of the never-ending line. Then we waited, stood, and walked in line for at least an hour. Luckily, we had lots of snacks and water to get us through. Plus, it was cool to be part of the energy and excitement of the crowd. Ella really did well with all of the people and surroundings to look at. Once we got onto the grass, we settled by a somewhat shady tree and danced, read books, and tried to cool off. Ella's shoes soon came off and we got more water to drink and pour over ourselves. We didn't capture many of her smiles, but she liked the music and clapping with the crowd.

These images give a small view of the enormous crowd there and our place in it.
We enjoyed being part of the excitement of today! The heat, standing, and long lines were definitely worth it to hear Senator Obama speak and to say we had a glimpse of him in person! I took Ella to see John Edwards at Everett Community College last year and now she's seen two of the 2008 Democratic presidential candidates. Hopefully one day I'll be able to tell her we took her to see the President of the United States!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

My Love/Hate Relationship With Gymanstics

I've enjoyed the Olympics this year more than ever before. I'm not sure why. Sports and competition aren't really my thing. I think it has quite a bit to do with having a DVR and being able to skip over the commercials and boring stuff. Plus, Tim traveled to Denver the first week of competition and it kept me entertained at night. Watching Michael Phelps successfully swim through so many preliminaries and finals was, of course, thrilling. I actually got out of my chair a few times in eagerness during those close calls. Plus, I can't get enough of Misty May (great name ;0) and Kerry Walsh playing beach volleyball. They're so confident and such great sportswomen and I love that two women are (arguably) the best volleyball players in the world! I've even watched diving and the marathon with some interest.

Then there's gymnastics - my feelings are so mixed about this sport. I can't deny the incredible athletic and artistic ability of these men and women. They do things with their bodies that are almost beyond imagination. For that reason, I am captivated by the sport. On the other hand, it's a sport of impossible perfectionism. The entire judging system is a negative one - it's all about finding errors and taking away points, rather than awarding points. This seems a fundamentally depressing and flawed way to judge talent. Plus, I feel like many of the athletes jack up their start values, knowing they'll mess up, hoping that value will make up for their mistakes. How is possible that so many of the world's top gymnastics can not stick a landing? As I watch, I'm fascinated and impressed, then frustrated by the judging. Plus, why can athletes in swimming and running tie for a medal, but not in gymnastics? Poor Nastia. I think I'd rather compete in (and, at times, watch) a more objective sport. When Michael Phelps won his gold medals, they might have analyzed how he got there, but they ultimately gave him the gold based on his hand reaching the wall first. That clearly made him the best. So much more satisfying.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Ella Anecdotes

You'll have to indulge me today. I have a few cute Ella anecdotes that I thought it would be fun to share.
The other morning, I poured our cereal and sat down to have breakfast with Ella. Before she started eating, she looked at me and said, "pray." I was so excited because I've been trying to build the habit of praying before meals for both of us. It was so sweet to see that she knew this was the way we started our day.
Generally, Ella sleeps through the night. In fact, I don't think we could have a better sleeper (no, she's not perfect, but we really appreciate this part of her personality). The other morning, she woke up at about 5:45 fussing. I decided to try and let her soothe herself back to sleep. When she didn't settle down, I went in to check on her. The poor thing had her left arm looped through the crib bars and couldn't get it out. She was repeating to herself, "It's ok. It's ok." She smiled when she saw me and was more upset that it wasn't time to get up than she was about her arm!
Every day, she comes up with a new word or two: it's incredible. Yesterday, she pointed at a picture of Tim and I and said, "I see Daddy, Momma." She is such a delight and I love how much her vocabulary and comprehension grows each week. I am so excited for her 2nd birthday!
I can't get pictures to work with my blog right now, but will add some later.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Toys R Us Coupons, Anyone?

I found this great toy online at Toys R Us for Ella's birthday. I'd really like to get it for her, but the shipping is only $2 less than the price of the item. Does anyone happen to have any Toys R Us coupons or free shipping codes that work online? I'm having one of those mom moments where I'm now obsessed with getting this item, but can't bring myself to pay the shipping. I've signed up for their mailing list, but I guess it takes awhile to come. Thanks!