Tag Archives: Military

Turning Drab Army Housing Into Our Home: Organizing Our Lives

As promised, here is the article on our Family Command Center.

Welcome to the first post in the series: Turning Drab Army Housing Into Our Home! As noted in the series introduction, one of my priority tasks was to turn a blank hallway wall into a practical and usable space that will keep my family organized and on task.

As you may know if you’ve been following my blog, I have two teenagers, two dogs, and a very busy husband and I have ADHD (also know as forgetful).  I will be attending intense 5 week courses through the University of Maryland soon and I’ve just picked up a part-time job on post. Life is about to become chaotic again–Yay! No, really–I’m happy about that!

As it is now, the kids bicker about chores–who did what and when (so does the hubby), so I spent hours cataloging the various chores that need to be done around here and created an amazing (at least I think so) spreadsheet. Here is what my first rough draft and testing center looked like for about a month.  It worked out very well, so I decided to forge ahead and finish the project.

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I spent several more hours pondering what the space would like, what I needed to buy, and how I wanted the space to function.

I printed out my pages and slipped them into plastic page protectors and then taped them to the wall.  It worked out well for a test run.

Because I live in Germany now, and am not familiar with the best places to shop, I ordered almost everything that I needed online.  Some of the following images are links to the items that I purchased online (photos that are links are noted).

I printed out my final spreadsheets and framed them. I use a wet erase marker to write on the glass.  Each Sunday, they get erased and I change the dates, notes, and menus.

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8.5″ by 11″ Frames Opens Link in new tab To Product information at Target.com

We are a family of “fairsies” so this requires alternating kitchen duty. I know that I have kids and most people with teens assign kitchen duty strictly to the kiddos, but we are all very busy (well maybe not me right now) and feel that taking turns lessens the burden. So, I came up with this chart.

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4″ by 6″ Frames Links to Product information at Walmart.com

The kids only argue when they together, so they have been paired with a parent. It’s working out very well.

And because I am a control freak by nature, I also create a task list for kitchen duties and a monthly task list.

Organization to the Extreme
Organization to the Extreme

After most of my products arrived and a trip to Ikea, I laid everything out on the floor along the Command Center wall.

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I purchased the dry erase calendar and wet/erase markers (which I prefer) at my local PX (it’s like a target).

After taking care of sick kids and getting over the bug, I finally started mounting everything to the wall.

I’m going to share the OOPS moment with you so that you don’t make the same mistakes!

I mounted all of the frames to the wall using a level to make sure the frames were all very straight.  I wanted a unified look, so I installed them flush against one another.

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It was going to look fabulous! Except that I forgot that the only way to insert the glass is to flex the frame corners! I could not get the glass in there if my life depended on it! So, back to the drawing board I went.

I needed a spacer so that each frame was lined up as exact as possible–because I’m a perfectionist.

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The solution was a dvd case.

*Hubby and I were NOT born in the 80’s–we were born in the 70’s, and this dvd has some cool highlights that we both sort of remember and remember well.

Anyway, here is how I used my “spacer”

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All that was left to do was fill in the frames, mount the calendar, and add a hanging file system and my Ikea finds.

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Only one thing remains: A large hook for my purse that will be mounted under the files.

One project down, several more to go. Stay tuned for the finished Coffee Station project!

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Turning Drab Army Housing into Our Home: Blog Series Introduction

Home vs Residence

Home isn’t simply where you sleep or live–it’s the space in which you do your living, and as such it should reflect your personality and express your lifestyle.  It should be a place that makes YOU feel welcome and comfortable.  It should function in a way that makes your life just a tad bit easier.  In all, it should be YOURS and not “theirs” (aka the manager/owner).

The Renter’s Dilemma

Because every rental comes with its own special set of rules, renters often feel that they must live with those white, off-white, or other bland colored walls.  Though we are allowed to paint our space, I am going to try my best to avoid it simply because I don’t want the hassle of repainting them when we leave in 3-4 years (which is inevitable in the Army).  We are however, allowed to mount pictures and shelves with no repercussions or special repairs before we move out.

In this blog series–which I will complete over the next year–I will share the process of making any drab rental into your home.

Drafting Ideas

I have several ideas brewing already and can’t wait to share all of the finished projects and rooms with you.

Here are some of my plans for our new space.

The Entry Nook

After entering the house, there is a longish hallway with an opening to the immediate left that leads to the sitting room/dining area followed by a strange alcove that sort of looks like it could be a closet, and then another opening to the left that leads into the kitchen.

I call this weird space the Entry Nook.  I want to use this space pragmatically, but make it stylish at the same time.  The idea is to have a dresser with four drawers (even though I drew it with three)–one for each family member.  Hats, scarves, gloves, umbrellas, purses–or whatever can be stored here. It is a dropping zone right now, and I hate it.  Here’s what I’ve come up with so far.

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 The Dining Room

This is our dining room. In this picture it is pretty empty because I took it the week after we moved in (2.5 months before our furniture arrived).  This is still the basic plan, but we are planning on buying Ikea’s Ingatorp table and Ingolf chairs in white.

The door in the picture leads into the kitchen. The bookcase corner is positioned between the dining room and living room, but the hubby wants to put a large fish tank there. It is still under debate.

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Blank “Hallway”: AKA the Family Command Center

As I mentioned before, there are two openings to the left of the entry hall. This area is almost like a small hallway. There is a good sized blank wall and an otherwise useless space.  Here, I have a temporary “command” center.  I should have all of my supplies for this space in the next week or so.  This will probably be the topic of my second or third posting in this blog series.

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The Coffee Zone

We are coffee LOVERS in this house. As soon as I saw this kitchen, I knew exactly how this space would be used.  After a recent trip to Ikea, I now have pretty much everything I need for this space and will be posting about it soon.

To help make more sense of the layout of the house, I’ll tell you what is behind this wall: It’s the Entry Nook!  And behind the wall of the command center is the guest bath.

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I am very excited about the upcoming projects and hope you will enjoy this blog series.

Tschüß!

It’s the Polizei!

Today I drove to Czech for the first time.  I’ve been there before with my friend, but until today she always drove.  I’m one of those people who can’t remember how to get to a place unless I am the driver.  We took my big American sized minivan.

Why is it called a minivan when there is nothing “mini” about it?

Getting to Czech was no big deal.  We went to our usual little shop where she bought her smokes and coffee, and I bought a bag of coffee beans.  Next up was a kännchen Kaffee (a small pot of coffee) while we enjoyed the warm spring weather on the patio.

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Kanchen Kaffee

After we finished our coffee in Czech, we drove back to Germany; our next destination was the used furniture store to look for a bookshelf and small dresser for myself and a wandshrank (a kitchen wall cupboard) for her.

We had barely crossed the border–which isn’t as clearly marked as you would think–when I saw flashing blue lights in my rear-view mirror.

What the heck?!?!  I was on a narrow busy street so I pulled into the nearest parking lot, all the while thinking what did I do? I know I wasn’t speeding. I didn’t miss any stop lights or signs. I stayed in my lane. I even remembered to turn off my head lights–always drive with your headlights on in Czech, but NOT in Germany!

The Polizei said something in German. My nervous response was “English?”

Just to let you know–I am ALWAYS nervous when I get pulled over for any reason–which is very rare! Being pulled over in a land that is foreign was quite frightening–especially since I had no idea what I did wrong and have very little understanding of the language.

I fish my Visa and my special driver’s license out of my purse while my friend hands me her identification.

The irony of the whole ordeal was that not an hour before this my friend and I had a conversation about Visa’s, German Laws, and passports.  Then my husband called and asked me where his passport was.  As a military family living abroad, I have to have my Visa on me at all times.

Apparently, there was a theme for the day.

So, the Polizei is standing there and asks if we came from Czech.  Thank God I was in the car with a local (meaning a German)! I might have peed my pants otherwise! She told him that we did just come back from Czech.  He wanted to know what if we purchased cigarettes.

Here’s the low down on buying smokes from Czech if you live in Germany. Each person is allowed to bring 4 cartons across the border.  My friend bought 4 cartons. We were good. I had to open the back of the van and show the Polizei our merchandise.

There is a big problem with smuggling and black market goods in our area because we are so close to the border, so the Polizei randomly pull people over when they cross the border from Czech into Germany.  I knew NONE of this!  I was convinced that I was being pulled over because of my big American van.  My friend explained it all to me and repeatedly told me that I did not get pulled over because of my”American” vehicle, but I’m still not entirely convinced.

After I got back into the van and the Polizei left, I exhaled, put my head on the steering wheel and tried to calm my nerves.  I was not ready to drive anywhere! So my darling friend, who desperately misses having a huge American sized van offered to drive.

Needless to say–but I’ll say it anyway–I let her drive.

The rest of the day was a blast and I got to hang out with some really cool Germans and have a few laughs.  Thanks to these awesome friends that I am making,  I’m understanding more of the German language.

Overall, because of the experience, I’m not so scared of the Polizei now and I have something to laugh about in my old age.