I know. It’s been forever. First we were busy with Christmas and visiting relatives in Vermont. And Cute W’s been home from work, so we’ve been on extended vacation mode. We’ve been doing things like learning how to play our new cooperative game, Forbidden Desert, binge-watching Modern Family, and testing which chocolate chips produce the best results when combined with the homemade mint ice cream from my new ice cream maker.
It’s some pretty serious business, people. It feels a bit like we were sucked into a time vortex for a while, but I believe that that can occur if the entire family wears pajamas into the afternoon. Sadly, it’s back to reality for everyone tomorrow, but with this ridiculous sloppy weather, I feel pretty confident that there won’t be much venturing out for today, at least.
From the above description, you might have the idea that we’ve been complete slobs, but that’s not true. You’ll remember that prior to Christmas, we were de-cluttering, and that effort has continued. For example, now that we’re well into the 21st century, we’ve said good-bye to mountains of cassette tapes.
I also tossed out a massive pile of tri-folds full of (mostly M’s) scholarly work. I’m sharing this as a tip, actually, to those of you with younger kids. What I should have done was to take photographs of these presentations immediately upon completion, then recycled them about a month after they came home. Then I would have a record of all of that fine work in mint condition, and I’d still have closet space. Instead, we stockpiled these little gems long enough for the glued pieces to detach, the paper to tear, and, in some cases, for mold to form. By the time I took photos last week, much of the splendor had faded.
But finding this Learning Fair project form when M was in third grade made me chuckle:
Third grade! My small girl had attended several fairs and observed other kids showing off their pets or their drum sets, displaying American Girls and LEGO creations, and surreptitiously handing out M&Ms, but she was determined to do a cheerless report on Japanese internment during World War II, complete with stark black & white photographs. I’d encouraged her to dress it up with some props (maybe luggage with the few belongings she’d take if someone decided to intern her?) or an interactive quiz or some colorful borders, but she had a plan, and it was all about the facts. Maybe because it seemed more grown-up? I don’t know, but she had a plan, and she learned, dammit. So cute.
Anyway, all of this de-cluttering was in service to our big Christmas plan. Neither girl had given us many ideas for Christmas gifts, and a couple of ideas that were offered were rejected (a puppy and a kitty were mentioned frequently). The girls are tough. Neither of them actually wear earrings or other accessories very often, they don’t like frills or make-up products, and I’ve realized, over time, that when I get them kits, the kits stay tucked away on a shelf unless I take charge and do the activity with them. In the past, they’ve paged through catalogs (I’m a big internet shopper, so I get tons of catalogs), but I feel like when they circle those, they’re pretty much just manufacturing “needs” out of nowhere, and that’s frustrating. So we were pretty stumped.
We decided to go with a basement playroom re-do. The girls have long enjoyed our playroom, from way-back-when it included a play kitchen as well as for long hours of Barbie play.
The girls have pared down their toys quite a bit, but there are still plenty down there: blocks, American Girl dolls and accessories, craft supplies and more. But they’re getting older, and we’ve been meaning to make a shift to a more tween-to-teen style hangout. Plus, we thought it would be great to have a tv down there. Our house is pretty small, and with the designated homework spot in the dining room, it can be annoying when one daughter’s still doing homework and the other daughter has a small window of tv-vegetation time before heading off to some practice or other.
We decided to focus our Christmas gift-buying efforts on playroom decor that would make the room seem more fun. In order to make room for new stuff and let the room look more grown-up without denying the girls the toys that they still love, we set to work on one of the storage areas, trashing old stuff so that it could become a walk-in toy closet. And meanwhile, we attempted to act like we were just de-cluttering for the heck of it so that it would be a surprise.
It was tricky. For example, I’d faux-casually ask the girls how they felt about certain things in the room to gauge whether they could be trashed. One tough one was our glider and ottoman, left over from when I was pregnant with M. The upholstery was pretty trashed (here’s the ottoman):
Cozy, but ugly, and all in a faded, splotched denim blue that didn’t work with all of the turquoise furniture the girls had acquired over the years. In fact, I mentioned just over a year ago that the girls kept buying trendy turquoise furniture that didn’t match the yellow playroom walls.
But, back to the glider and ottoman. M wanted it gone because it’s so ugly, but J strongly wanted to keep it, or to keep the ottoman, at least. I sighed and said that I wasn’t going to keep just the ottoman without the rocker, and we were at a bit of a stalemate. So I had to get creative with that one.
The glider issue is funny, though, because I remember that when we bought it, we went with the denim upholstery because it seemed the most non-nursery-neutral. I had the idea, as we plunked down the cash, that once the kids were beyond the rocker stage, we’d move it into our living room or something. Because a rocker is the sort of thing that grown-ups have in their living room. Which means that 13 years ago, I was still under the delusion that something magical would happen that would make me fundamentally change my perspective on everything from its current state to that of a grown-up. I thought that some sort of chemical balance would shift that would make me become a person who wants to sit in a rocker instead of slobbing all over the loveseat we’ve owned for more than twenty years. It’s having children grow up, I guess, that’s made me realize that I’m never going to feel like a “grown-up” grown-up, like the ones I knew when I was a kid. Right now I feel like a 20-something matryoshka doll encased in an outer shell that someone’s painted with stray grey hairs and squinting lines, and at some point, we’ll both be trapped inside a shell with saggy breasts and hot flashes, and my children will have no idea that the real me is still trapped in the damn thing.
Speaking of which, on my last grocery trip before Christmas, I noticed that Hannaford was getting people ready for hardcore family quality time:
That’s right: flasks! I resisted. I’m afraid of flasks, actually, and have been ever since I foolishly took a sip of something from my sister-in-law’s date’s flask at Cute W’s ex-girlfriend’s wedding. It was shortly after college, and I had a pretty high tolerance, but after that fateful sip (chug, maybe?), things quickly turned ugly.
Okay! So the basement playroom’s done, and I’ll have a “reveal” post, along with whether the kids were okay with some redecoration instead of a kitten, coming soon.