Mar 30, 2012

Beginning Bento

How I managed to live this long in the dark about Bento box lunches for kids, I will never know.  If you're not sure what I'm talking about, check out  these magnificent examples from 
I'm in awe.  I want one!  I feel my latest obsession coming on.  
Since I'm impatient as well as obsessive.  I had to try something bento-ish the very next morning. 

This is the result.  Obviously, I've a long way to go and there is only so much you can do with PB&J.  But I am hooked none the less.

Signs of Spring

 Last weekend my oldest son was super excited because he found a bird nest in the bracket that connects the TV dish to the house.  Carefully peeking inside, we saw 5 bluish speckled eggs.  Two days later, I went back to see if I could get a picture of the eggs, but mother nature had other plans.

This is what I found in the nest.

2 days later, they're a bit fluffier

This is the fellow who flew away from the nest as I walked up.  He watched me the whole time.  I believe it is a house finch.
Another picture of the mom or dad taken while it was visiting our bird feeder. 

New Loft Bed and Boys Room Makeover

Soon after our youngest was born, we entertained the idea of selling our less than 1700 sq. foot 3 BR/2 1/2 BA house and finding something more "comfortable" for our growing family.  As luck would have it we stumbled upon a house we loved, with owners willing to wait until ours sold.  We quickly decluttered,  scoured our home, and got it listed.  At the time, the baby was in a crib in our room and we were making the best of things until our house sold.

Then, things took a bit of a turn.  The local housing market, which had been surprisingly stable compared to the rest of the nation, took a nose dive.  Several other houses on our street went up for sale and the house we wanted to buy...

Well, lets just say thing's didn't quite go to plan.

So here we are, 3 years later in the same house we started in, with bigger kids and more stuff.  The baby, now 3, shares a room with his 8 yr. old brother, and while they get along rather well, their things do not. Between Lego's and toddler toys and miscellaneous "treasures" that all boys seem to collect, there is hardly space in their room for a twin bed and a toddler bed, let alone room to sword fight and do all the things that little boys do.  

With our youngest ready to move into a big boy bed, a rather large problem looms on the horizon.  How on earth can we fit a second twin bed into the room?  With moving not presently an option, we had to find a way to make the space work.

BEFORE:  On a good day, it looked like this.  BTW, the little guy had a toddler bed frame,  but he refused to sleep anywhere except the floor so we just got rid of the frame.

Let the Planning begin!
 The new room needs:

  • space for 2 twin beds, personal space for each boy to keep/display his "treasures"
  • additional storage for toys, place for little guys clothes (they've been kept in our closet since he was born
  • room for books
  • floor space to play.  

It also needed to be easy for the boys to clean up on their own (wishful thinking on my part), fun, affordable and ideally could continue to grow with them and suit future spaces should we move or add on to our home.

I scoured local stores, the internet, anything I could find for products, and inspiration, starting with a bed.  Bunks beds seemed the logical choice.  They're fun for kids and take up less space.  The 8 yr old could sleep on top, and 3 yr old on bottom.  But what happens when 3 yr old wants to climb the ladder, which he will?   

We needed a bunk system with stairs.  Stairs and storage!

The kids LOVED this bed from Furniture Row.  But at 51"x84"x92" it was no space saver, and at $1098, it wasn't in the budget either.  Plus, no stairs.  Sorry kids.

Oh and isn't this one just amazing!  Totally impractical for us, but too cool not to share.

"Practice" book case and floating shelves
from plan.  

Can we build it?
Since nothing we liked fit our budget or needs, I started thinking. Maybe we could build a bunk bed.  True enough we didn't have the skills or tools, but we could borrow both from family, and I was willing to do my homework to save $$.  

After a bit of hunting around for plans, I discovered the "Holy Grail" of all free plan sites.   

The site didn't have exactly what I was after, but it did have several plans that were very close, and a nice tutorial on a program called "google sketch-up", which I could use to modify the plans.  Best of all, there was a brag board which showed pictures of project from first timers like us.  If they could do it, so could we.  So I practiced on a few small projects, asked for a table saw for Christmas and polished my skills with sketch-up.  By mid march when my dear sweet mother-in-law offered to take the kids for 2 nights, hubby and I were ready to begin.  

Yes we can !
Two days, several splinters and a few ciders later, not only had we repainted the boys room and cut down the plywood for all the projects, but we also had this to show for our efforts:

Same twin bed from before,  new loft bed built from modified
version of Ana White's plan.  Stairs designed by me.
Two weekends later and though our organizing projects are just beginning, our building projects are complete, at least for now. 

 The stairs got a much needed rail to steady the little
 guy as he climbs up, and I built a narrow bookshelf
 along the back wall.  Big brother can display his smaller
 Lego creations on the top 2 shelves and eventually put
 books on his shelf like his baby brother has on the 
"practice" shelf I made earlier.
Speaking of the practice shelf, it got a
 coat of paint and ABC's.   

This under the bed storage unit is a modified version of Ana's "cabin dresser bookshelf" which can be found here .  It has 2 cubbies and 3 shelves in front, and shelves in back that line up perfectly with the  opening under the stairs.

That means you can use the space for storage, or remove the toys and use it as a tunnel, a cave, a tent, or even pretend you're Harry Potter.  Someday soon I'll be adding doors to this area and the one on the other side of the stairs.  Since my little guy loves to play "let's answer the door."

Did I happen to mention those stairs all have built in storage boxes, or that there is a storage cubby under the 2nd stair that is perfect for a sleeping bag, and display shelves on the side of the bed for a rock collection.

Oh, and one last thing.  
Can you keep a secret?  

I'm not at liberty to disclose the exact location, but somewhere, and I'm not saying where, but somewhere there is a secret compartment for all of big brothers top secret stuff.

If you like this, You'll LOVE  

Free Plans for Loft/Bunk Bed Storage Stair System
(as seen above, includes stairs, book shelf and handrail)

 My other DIY Projects. 


All my Free Plans 

Free Plans for the Mega Mom Board