Category Archives: Organize the Kids

Backpack Wall part 2

Here’s how we built it:

  • After measuring and marking our wall VERY carefully, we mounted the first 1×6″ on left side (because it was against a wall) using a level and screws
  • Next, the horizontal pieces, across the bottom, middle and top. MAKE SURE you get that middle one (or whichever one is holding your hooks) into studs!!
  • Now measure and cut your 1x3s, and mount those above and below (on mine, the lower ones were approx 20″ tall and the uppers were 10″)

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  • Optional, but I found it looked nicer WITH it… the 1×3 went across the top like a little shelf (we just used a hammer and nails since this won’t actually be bearing any weight)
  • We used wood putty on the screw holes and seams, and let it dry (and so ended DAY 1)
  • The next morning, we sanded it down best we could, wiped off the dust, and prepared for the process of painting.


We taped off the walls and floor, got out our gear and set to work painting. and painting. and paintinGAH. (This took about 4 coats, including primer.)

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Riiight about now is when I decided chalkboard paint would REALLY pimp out the Pinterestness. Ooh, and the wall on the left, too. I made too much anyway. (Then I mixed another batch because the first batch was light gray and chalk is white. Duh.)


I let it all dry overnight (finally it’s the end of DAY 2), to give the paint/chalkboard time to set up. (Also note, you’re supposed to season your chalkboard before you use it or you’ll end up with un-erasable lines later!)

Here it is… before and after! Phew! (FYI, that is an engineering print from Staples for $7, but that’s another post for another day.)


Here’s what I messed up on, so you don’t have to make my mistakes:

– So, 1x6s are neither six inches wide nor are they one inch thick. Shenanagans, right? They are actually 3/4″ by 5.5″, so take that into account when measuring and cutting. Same with 1x3s – they are 3/4″ by 2.5″ (I know… holy fractions, Batman).

– Walls and floors are NOT level, so WAIT to cut the smaller pieces until after the big ones are in place, then measure the space again. What should be 19.5″ in your design ends up being 20″ in real life, so don’t waste ya wood.

– Chalkboard paint can be made in any color, but make it dark enough so chalk will show up. (Again, duh.)


for supplies and measurements

The Lazy/Cheap DIY Ruler Height Chart

I’m lazy. And cheap. I like making stuff from stuff I have lying around, even though it’d turn out better if I went and bought nice new materials. Case in point, my legit new ruler height chart.


  1. The height charts I bought when my boys were babies only go up to 5.5 feet (and are decorated with cutesie planets and generic cartoon soccer balls).
  2. Fine when they were babies, but my 9 year old is already over 5 feet tall…
  3. I don’t want to put height marks on a random wall, because when you move… sniffle.

Solution: These super-cool giant rulers I see on Pinterest!

I can do that. What do I have? Oh, look… a big ole flat piece of plywood, saying ‘let me be your ruuuler.’ Perfect. Hey! Some white paint. Excellent. Let’s go.

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STEP ONE: Size. My plywood is already 10″ wide. (I’ve seen them 6″ up to 12″ wide, but IMHO, less than 6″ wouldn’t look sufficiently ruler-like.)How tall do I want this? Well, my husband and kids are freakishly tall, so I don’t want it to end before 6’6″.  My plan is to hang it 6″ off the floor, and have it end at 7’6″. I have high expectations, apparently. Measure twice, cut once!


STEP TWO: Smooth. Sanded it down to make it as smooth as possible. I think sanding actually makes plywood rougher. Oh well. (I’m cheap.) I also tried to round the edges a bit, to make it look klassy.

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STEP THREE: Clean. Not gonna lie, I used my leaf blower to get all the dust off. (I’m lazy.)

STEP FOUR: Paint! My can of Zinsser is all dried out. Boo. But my can of BEHR Premium Primer+Paint is ready to go. Yay! And these rollers are meant for “smooth surfaces.” Psht. Whatever. Don’t you love “helpers?” Here it is after like 6 coats (I kept thinking one more coat would make it look smoother). You don’t need that many.

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STEP FIVE: Sharpie. This part took longer than I thought. Anything you have to do with repeated precision over and over… ugh. (If you have thoughts on how I could have done this faster, I’m all ears.) Part of the problem was the uneven surface of the plywood.  And it ruined my sharpie. If I had a nice, smooth piece of hardwood, it would have been much easier. (Cheap/Lazy.) I keep telling myself it adds to the charm. I made the foot hashes and 6″ hashes a little longer than the little inch hashes, just a like a real ruler.

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STEP SIX: Numbering. THIS process was great. Found an American Typewriter font, typed 1-7, made the font as big as would fit on a sheet of paper, and printed it out. I don’t really want to cut all these out to trace them. (Lazy.) Don’t want to go buy mailbox numbers instead. (Cheap.)

But I found that if you roughly pencil the outline on the back of the paper, then flip it over to the front and trace it with a bit of pressure, you’re left with a very nice carbon copy (actually, graphite copy) to guide you! BLOODY BRILLIANT.


STEP SEVEN: Hang it. This thing is heavy, so it’ll need to go into a stud. I hate trying to put something with a claw hanger at the right height, because I don’t have XRAY vision (also, lazy), so I’m going to drill a nice lil hole two inches from the top and put a big ole nail in the wall. It still wasn’t easy getting it on the wall at the EXACT right height. There may be a few holes hidden behind there… sorry, honey.


I hung it at the top of the stairs.

There. Finished. Well, except for remarking all of my kids’ heights up til now. But I’ll just let it stay pristine for a while.



Here’s what I messed up on, so you don’t have to…

If I did it again:

  • I would use a smoother piece of wood (EVERYthing would have been easier)
  • I would use black paint and a precision brush instead of a Sharpie (because it looks a little dried out)
  • I would stain the wood a light brown instead of using paint. The paint seems to be a bit glossy, which looks nice, but the marker ink will sit on top of the paint and may smudge before it dries. (Buuuuut, cheap.)
  • Also, if you are right handed, start your marks on the left, and go from there, lest you feel the wrath of Sharpie smudges. (Um, we’ll file that under stoopid.)
  • Lay out the line for your numbers before you start putting them on there. Mine are a little crooked. (Lazy.)
  • Don’t try to hang it by yourself. Sooo glad no one was filming that for a reality show.

So, what do you think??







Create an Arts & Crafts Station

Ever feel like toy stores are just full of button-pushing toys that light up and make noise? I’d rather play with stuff from Michaels and Hobby Lobby, myself. My middle child is just the same. LOVES to color and glue and cut and paste the old fashioned way… as it should be. So when the opportunity presented itself (we moved his older brother out of this shared room and into his own room), I decided to give my little creative guy an Arts and Crafts Station!

I’m a little obsessed with the playroom environments I’ve seen on PlayAtHomeMom, where their (super-lucky!) kids are surrounded by opportunities to be creative through the Reggio Emilia Approach. So I created a mini-version!


Removal of the abovementioned older brother’s dresser and ladder to the upper bunk left a nice, open corner in my son’s room. I had most of these materials around my house, but this space needed:

  • Kid-sized table and chairs
  • 5″ or 6″ wide piece of wood for shelf (mine was leftover from another project)
  • L-brackets and screws
  • Ten plastic containers from the Dollar Tree
  • Various arty and crafty materials, also mostly from the Dollar Tree
  • Décor (guess where I got the frames… that’s right)

Tools needed:

  • Level
  • Power Drill
  • Power Screwdriver
  • Pencil
  • Stud Finder (My husband always jokes that I’ve got one built in. Har.)

First things first, measure your space and decide where everything will go. I had a 48″ piece of wood, which suited the size of my table nicely.

Once you’ve got a plan, use the level to mark where the shelf will go. Mine is about 15″ above the table top to make it easy to reach even when he’s sitting down.

Attach your L-brackets to the wall. Use a stud finder and drill into the studs, or use wall anchors in sheet rock. I used two brackets, but if your shelf is more than 3-4 feet long, I’d use three or more.


Set your wooden shelf on top of the brackets (double check that it’s level) and screw it on.

Next, fill all your little containers with fun, colorful doo-dads! Mine include pipe cleaners, googly eyes, pom poms, beads, feathers, clothes pins, etc. plus glue and scissors.

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I also put out his favorite markers and some glitter pens, plus crayons, color pencils and construction paper (not pictured).

On the walls, I knew I wanted something personal and colorful, so I searched for printables for my lil Beyblade-loving boy… there was an unsurprising shortage. So I made my own! I found pictures of his four favorite Beys, used Photoshop to make them black and white, erased the black parts and put the white leftovers on colorful backgrounds. I added their names in a cool white font and had them printed at Kinkos for 59 cents each. Dollar store document frames and viola! (I know it’s really voila, but it makes me chuckle, K?)

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Verdict: he LOVES it. He’s never been more content to play in his room, and the first thing he made was a thank you card for me (awww)! A big thanks to PAHM for inspiring my guy’s creative station!

Super Easy Kids Arts and Crafts Station

As always… here’s what I messed up on so you don’t have to!

  • Measure twice, cut once! (Or in my case, measure twice, do your math right and double-check it before banging nails into your wall to hang pictures.)
  • Lucky accident that my containers fit on that shelf so perfectly, because I didn’t measure them before I bought them.
  • Make sure you buy enough of each supply to make the container look kinda full. I ended up going back for another pack of googly eyes and beads to fill them up more.

(Should anyone ever actually want to use my Beyblade decor, feel free… here they are.)



Thanks for reading my blog!!

The Backpack Wall

My children’s brains: enter house, drop wet backpack in entryway, proceed to fridge, what even is a homework

**Now updated with a helpful-ish supply list and step-by-step… uh… steps**

I was perusing Pinterest for the meaning of life, aka storage and organization ideas, and/or survival tips for raising three boys. No luck there, but I did find this.

Once my wheels were turning (my husband LOVES it when that happens*), I realized that the corner between my kitchen and family room was four feet of empty, wasted space.

*he does not love it

I sketched out a design with graph paper and *mumbles under breath* PowerPoint, taking into account my number of offspring and that stupid outlet. (Whoever thought those bin shelves would be [a] useful or [b] attractive was incorrect.) (That’s me, I was incorrect.)

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Here are the supplies I needed:

  • About 2 days, coffee, snacks and a helpful and patient life partner (optional, but highly recommended)
  • 1×6″ wood planks (mine used five pieces cut to 48″ long)
  • 1×3″ wood pieces (about 60″ worth was used for the 4 vertical dividers and another 60″ across the the top as a shelf)
  • Hooks with accompanying screws (I used 3 hooks)
  • Screwdriver and screws (they should be long enough to get through your wood, 1/2″ of drywall and into a stud)
  • Drill and countersink bit for pilot holes
  • Wood putty, putty knife, sandpaper
  • Paint and various accompanying painty stuffs
  • Basic tools like a level, measuring tape, stud finder, etc.
  • (And he used a li’l oscillating saw to cut the base molding and quarter round from the wall)


–> Next, here’s how we built it –>