Friday, January 6, 2017

Ode to the Family Room

I'm getting this our a bit late.  Sorry folks.  It's been a busy day.  Kevin is a bit sluggish and I am keeping a close eye on him.  I feel it's more the medications he is on and being sleepy than anything.  He had a rough night last night of tossing, turning, and talking in his sleep.  Really, he was crying out in pain mostly.  That man!   He takes enough medication to knock out a horse, or two, or three, yet it still doesn't touch the pain he experiences.  It's frustrating.  There is a lot that goes on with Kevin on a day to day basis, but he has asked that I not share certain things.  He gets embarrassed, which I understand.  So, please know sometimes I can't tell you everything out of respect for Kevin.  I've written down several things so I remember, but I hope to never be at a time and place to share those things.  Let's move on........

Today, I'm writing about organizing the family room, or TV room.  Now, before I type another word, I want to say one thing.  If you've ever been into my home, you know that it's not always picture perfect.  We live here.  The laundry room, admittedly, is my biggest struggle because I have two kids, two dogs, and a husband still living in our home....need I say more?  We do live here.  I don't want to give the impression that we don't.  I never wanted to be one of those Mom's that road their kids until every room was cleaned to her specifications either.  I didn't want to be the mean Mom.  BUT, I do admit, a messy house does make me mean quicker than anything else.  That hasn't ever changed.  Messes make me cranky.  But, it's that very reason that I have to try and stay on top of things.  Trust me, it isn't fun having to be the one to get after people all the time.  I would much rather they pick up after themselves instead of me hounding them all the time.  Ten minutes each morning cleaning, in an organized home, and you can smile the rest of the day!  It's so worth it.  Let's face it, we are all happier when things are in order!  Now.  Let's talk about the family room.

The family room is the room, aside from the kitchen or the bathroom, that gets used the most.  The family room is lived in.  Usually, a TV is found in this room, which invites casualness.  Lying around on sofas, with blankets and pillows and treats.  All of which mean that things need to be picked up frequently.  Our family room is teeny tiny.  See....

As you can see my main gallery wall has met with a few falling pictures.  I need to put them back up and I just haven't had the chance.  

This is what that gallery wall should really look like....

Anyway, moving along....  As you can see the TV stand is now at an angel and spills out slightly into the opening to our living room.  I did say this room was teeny tiny.  

Side Bar:  Have I told you about this temple picture?  I know I have in the past.  Let me explain.  So, years ago my husband's oldest brother wanted to give his parents something special.  So, they went and purchased a large framed color painting of the Mesa Arizona LDS Temple.  Each of the boys were still a little to young to have served missions but what they did was attached a school photo of themselves below the temple and made a promise to their parents that they would go inside the Temple someday.  Then as each boy reached their goal to attend the Temple for their own endowments the date was written in on each of their photos.  That painting of the temple still hangs in my in-laws living room today with the photos of each boy and the dates still attached.  Well, I absolutely LOVED this idea and I wanted to carry on this awesome "tradition" these young boys had started.   Now, even though I couldn't expect my children to come up with the same idea for Kevin and I, I could do something similar to encourage and remember those special days for each of our children.  So, I put up a black and white picture of the Temple.  The black and white in my mind symbolized that the Temple wasn't quite a reality for each of our children yet since they really didn't know everything that happens inside until they experience it for themselves and it comes "alive" for them, so to speak.  Then I hung a sign above with words from a Primary song, "I love to see the Temple, I'm going there someday...."  As each of our children have reached their personal goals to go to the Temple to receive their own endowments I took a picture of them standing outside and saved the card they received.  Next to our black and white photo of the temple is the color photo of each of our children on the day they go through with the card in the frame as well.  Then on the day they are sealed to their eternal companion we will add a second color photo of our child and their sweethearts as well.  All but one of our children have reached this goal so far.  Our youngest child still needs to receive her endowments, but she is a bit young still.  In time I'm certain we will see her make those sacred covenants as well.  Our wall is filling up and I absolutely LOVE that!  The wall and our memories of each of these special days give me a sense of pride like nothing else does, and it all started with the desires of three young boys all those years ago.  I wonder if they realized the influence their choices would have on generations and even a sister-in-law for wanting to follow their example?  This is what is really important.  This is what binds our family together forever and we are so very grateful for these saving ordinances that have blessed our family and our lives so much!  Enough said.

This is the view for the corner spot on the sectional.  I'm talking we have wall to wall sitting space in here.  ~smile~smile~

Then this is the other wall.  I've taken down all of the photos of our four children so I can move them to the living room.  This way, Kevin can hang his Rams Jersey.  Eventually I'll figure out a place for him to also hang or display his Raider's Helmet as well.  It's a work in progress.  

Our family room use to be a bedroom, but it was converted into an office originally and we decided to use it as a family room.  I just prefer to have a separate living room without a TV in that room.  It just works best for us and gives us a place to (try) keep company clean.  Essentially, our family room is really a TV room.  We make it work.  Here are some ideas for staying on top of and organizing the family room:

The remotes to all the electronics can be a serious issue.  Sometimes there are just so many of them!  Have a container in a central place or a drawer that the remotes can call home.  There needs to be a few hard and fast rules about remote controls established as well.  They should NEVER leave the room!  They should never be stored near liquids.  And they ALWAYS should be returned to the "remote home" after each use. 
Movies can be an expensive nightmare.  Here's how we use to store our movies and it worked for us for many years....that is, until our kids got older.  We separate the children's movies from the adult movies....for two reasons.  Our kids didn't need permission to watch the movies on their shelves.  AND  They had to ask to watch any of the movies in our library.  You also need to establish rules about movies.  Movies may be found in one of two the DVD player or in the case.  Period.  This prevents scratches and lost movies.  Let me make another suggestion.  Make sure to write your name on the DVD cases as well as the CD if you loan them out to friends and family.  I've lost a few of my favorite movies in the past, never to be seen again.  Also, if you have a large movie library and do loan out your movies, it's a good way to keep track of who's borrowed what and the date that they took it.  There is an awesome system for keeping track of books and movies called My Library.  You can input information via bar code scanning or ISBN, and it allows you to catalog all kinds of media (not just books).  It also has built-in features for tracking borrowing/loans, allows you to rate items, features streamlined back-up options, and can handle up to about 8,000 items at a time.  Also, storing your movies alphabetically makes it so much easier to find them.  I also prefer to get rid of all the cases for our movies and store them in one of those DVD Binders.  It really is a space saver.  

Have a large basket in the room to store a few blankets and throws.  Even if your family doesn't fold them  and roll them before putting them back in the basket when they are done, at least they'll toss them in on or around the basket.  That's better than finding four blankets in a pile on the floor or sofa.  Now, I will admit we have got away from having the blanket basket in our family room.  Since the room is so small and my kids are old enough to be able to fold a blanket by themselves, we have installed a blanket ladder in one of the corners of our family room.  Take a look.

I searched high and low for one, but didn't want to pay the prices I was finding.  So, I went searching on Pinterest and found plans to make my own for only $5.  Who can beat that?  AND, our blankets are tucked away in the corner and ready for anyone who needs one.  Love that!

Back to what we were talking about....

It's a good idea to have an identifiable blanket for each person.  This will eliminate fussing over who gets which one.  Those fleecy blanket/throws are perfect for TV watching and are all on sale after the holidays for about $5 a piece.  They are a great investment.  Also, make sure you put the blanket basket/ladder away once the weather is warmer.  Why have a basket/ladder in the road all summer when they won't even be touched until fall again?

We do eat in our family room.  Treats are allowed anything and we have "picnics" whenever we get take-out or order pizza, just for fun.  We also have TV trays tucked away in the same corner the blanket ladder is in so they are handy.  It also helps that as soon as you're done eating, take the time, hit pause and take the dishes to the kitchen.  This prevents spills and messes later.  Trust me.  If you do eat in the family room and it's not near the kitchen, keep an extra salt and pepper shaker and a napkin container in a drawer in the family room.  That saves you from having to search for them at the next meal.  

If you craft in the family room, have a shelf, drawer, large basket or container to contain it when you are finished for the day.  This prevents things from coming up missing and keeps things like knitting needles or scissors from poking holes in the sofa cushions, or worse yet....the people in the family room!  

In our current home, our family room is so small, it's not possible, but in other family rooms, we've had a game table in a corner.  You can use a card table or an old small kitchen set, but it's a great place for playing games and working on puzzles and keeping the family together.  Even if you are working on a craft at the table while everyone is watching TV,  you're together.  It also keeps things off the coffee table (if you have one in that room) and floors.  Oh, how I miss a game table!  

CDs - As you go through your home, keep your eyes open for any loose CDs or cases.  Collect and gather them together in one spot in the home.  Make sure that every case has the proper disc inside.  If you don't know where the disc is, set aside the case.  If your discs have broken or lost cases, a good place to keep them is in an inexpensive CD storage binder, available at most box stores or even Best Buy.  Amazon has them as well.  You can store 4 discs and their notes per page in most of them.  I have a friend that tossed all of the CD and DVD cases and stored all of their entertainment in several of these binders.  In fact, as I mentioned before, she had ten large lawn sized black garbage bags full of just cases when she was done.  WOW! Decide if you have old music that you no longer care for.  Many music and bookstores will purchase used CDs.  Organize your music by genre, artist, or both.  Try to have one central location to store all music, even though it may be played throughout the house.  With iPods, iPhones, and ITunes available, you can download all of your music and then store the actual CDs in a storage area.  

Games - Okey dokey....I have to be completely honest here.  I've thought long and hard about what needs to be done with our board games.  That same friend that got rid of all of their CD and DVD cases, also got rid of all the boxes and plastic from all of their boardgames.  She placed all the pieces and instructions in large freezer size zip lock bags and put them in a large tote.  Then she put all the game boards together and stacked them in the other side of the tote.  I absolutely LOVE that idea!  However, there are some disadvantages to doing the storage bag idea....For starters, a lot of games have the directions on the box lid, and it's a lot easier to look for the correct game box than to go through all the storage bags when you want to play a particular game.  In reality, I seriously doubt my family would go for this since some of the games are pretty expensive.  I guess I will have settle for things just being contained in their boxes and in a nice neat stack.  I do think something needs to be done to save space.  Our board games live in our hall closet and there really isn't much storage space in this house.  It would be nice to regain a lot of my shelf space in that closet some day.  So yeah, games....stack the boxes neatly on the shelf.  How's that?  Any other great ideas?   The only other option is to buy less games....what?  Spoken like a true game scrooge.  ~smile~smile~

Go through your games.  If you are missing half of your Monopoly money, toss it and get a new game.  Anything that's missing parts, has broken pieces, toss.  If boards are torn, repair them or toss the game.  If it's a game that you don't play anymore, donate it.  There was a card game we use to play often enough that it became one of our regulars.  It was called Spite and Malice.  I loved that game.  We have an old one, and it doesn't have all the cards with it, yet I refuse to throw it away until we find one to replace it.  I keep looking at all the stores we go to hoping to find it again.  Sure, I could go online and pay some crazy price for it, but who wants to do that when the original only cost less than $10?   My biggest problem is the sentimental aspect I guess.  

Cards - We play a lot of non-gambling type card and dice games.  At one point we had a large storage basket with decks of card games and tins of nothing but boxed decks of cards.  You can also use the storage bag idea full of open decks of cards that are labeled 2 decks, 3 decks, 4 decks, 5 decks.  Then if you play a game and need 5 decks, you can just grab that bag rather than having to shuffle 5 separate boxes of cards before playing and then sorting them out when you are done.  This is a great time saver!

Puzzles - When a jigsaw puzzle is done, take a photo of it and pass it on to someone else.  There's really no need to keep fifty puzzles you have already solved in a closet, unless you truly do rebuild them.  Just don't store them.  Pass them on or donate them.  Puzzles with lost pieces should be tossed immediately.  

Now this is KEY!!!  Have a small, discreet trash can in the family room.  This room needs one because people do spend so much time in it.  And empty it often!  Since our family room has two entrances, we usually keep a trash can in the hallway, out of the way, that way it's close but it's always the quickest to fill of trash in the house and it's not from anything's candy wrappers, old papers, and packaging from everything that gets brought into the house by the kids.  

Bottom line, keep ahead of the game in the family room.  You'll be able to enjoy it and relax more when things are "together".  It really is the "together" room, so why not keep it that way. 

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