Thursday, September 3, 2009

Newspaper column

I no longer live in a house. I live in a toy store.

I remember the days when my beautiful decorative baskets were filled with the latest issues of Bon Appetit magazine instead of overflowing with colorful plastic apparatuses that beep and sing if I bump into them.

I remember when I could walk from one end of my living room to the other without having to step over a knee-high kitchen.

I remember when the only lawn mower we owned cut grass instead of blowing bubbles.

Those days are long gone.

When we bought our house three years ago, my husband and I spent months getting everything exactly the way we wanted it. We changed light fixtures, took down a drop ceiling, painted nearly every surface and even replastered walls.

And when I wasn’t wielding tools or a paintbrush, I was scouring stores and Web sites to find exactly the right accessories to decorate each room. I painstakingly selected picture frames, throw pillows, wall hangings, mirrors and wreaths that would complement each other.

It took a lot of work, but we were proud of the result.

Then our daughter came along — with all of the inevitable stuff that follows.

At first, the toys were contained to her room, but the creep was slow and steady. A bear would find its way down the hall and into the bathroom or a doll ended up downstairs after getting flung over the gate.

Now there isn’t a room untouched.

Our once spa retreat-inspired bathroom has a giant green frog tub scoop suctioned to the shower tiles.

Our office has a toy chest that barely shuts. And the door should have a warning sign that reads “BEWARE OF THE BLOCKS.”

Our dining room often hosts dinner parties for very important guests like Elmo, Brobee and a yellow bear amusement park prize appropriately named Cheesey.

When a contractor working on a foreclosed house in the neighboorhood recently knocked and asked to use our bathroom, I welcomed him in with the warning to watch his step.

On his way out, he complimented our place.

“It’s really nice in here,” he said.

I thanked him, but added that it used to look a lot nicer while gesturing to the tiny cookware set sprawled all over the couch and the little piles that have collected in the corners.

As a father of two teens, he just gave a knowing smile. Then we shared a laugh as I walked him out.

The whole thing got me thinking. I might not have a magazine-perfect house anymore. There are things in each room that a real estate agent would tell me to get rid of before trying to sell. And a TV decorating team would gasp in horror, ready to pounce into a sleek redesign.

To me, I guess it might feel like I live in a toy store most days, but really, our house just became a home.


the_plainsman said...

A cool story, one of life's chapters, of how a house becomes more than a collection of rooms we live in. Well written.

Kimber said...

I'm SOOO with you! We've done our best to contain our son's toy sprawl...but I'm pretty sure it's a losing battle. We replaced a rod iron/tile coffee table with a huge padded toy chest in our family room...but there's still a basket full of toys in the corner. The collection of pottery that once sat on our fireplace is now in storage and a large comforter covers the entire base to pad inevitable falls. :) But, I wouldn't change any of it.

Fit Mama said...

too true... we try to banish the toys to the corners after bedtime, but it's really a lost cause :)

Ray said...

That last sentence was so sweet. ;o)

On another note: A BIG HAPPY BIRTHDAY SHOUTOUT TO "JERRY!!!" That birthday Jerryism was great. =D

Jennifer Suarez said...

You hit it right on the nose with you last line! You gave me a big smile with that one, and as a parent, I totally understand what its like to live in a toy store too. Thank GOD for the playroom!!

nikbv said...

Yeah, children will do that to a place.

Candi said...


You are so right. We were expecting our second baby and lost it about four weeks ago. My oldest is a little older than Allison (he turned 2 a month ago) and you come to appreciate every magnet-alphabet-letter, every little ball rolling around in the floor, every car you step on, and all of the mountains of bath toys you have to navigate through to take a shower.

They are priceless, and nothing makes a house a home like the presence of children.

Kristin said...

I think it would be neat to see these newspaper columns in an actual newspaper. I think if I ever go to Pennsylvania for some reason, I'll definitely have to pick one up somewhere.

leogoddess59 said...

heh, my daughter has two little boys, aged 8 and 6....enough said