The things that will never make it in the baby books and other musings from a stay at home mom

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

My brightly colored plastic world

I don't watch home decorating shows any more.

I used to love Trading Spaces and pretty much everything that HGTV had to offer. I'd watch those shows and devise wild plans to transform my own home into a decorator showcase (sometimes on a shoestring budget and other times with no regard for the cost involved). Not much of this planning ever made it to actual execution, but it was fun to dream. The time has come, however, for me to face the truth. And the truth is, the only decorating style I'm going to have for the foreseeable future is Early Fisher Price.

We have a reasonably large house, but the only two rooms we really live in are our kitchen and adjourning family room. I vividly remember when Julia was born and the Gymni and bouncy seat took up permanent residence in the family room. I hated coming downstairs and seeing them cluttering up the room every morning -- they looked so bright and out of place there. But I knew it wouldn't be long before she outgrew those baby diversions, and I figured then we could put a tasteful toy box in a corner and there would be a place to hide all of her things at night where I wouldn't have to look at them. Yeah, right.

It came in waves after that... the hideous exersaucer that was again palatable because it was just a short term addition. The multiple baskets to hold the toys that just kept multiplying as we slept. The storage cubes that replaced the dangerous coffee table and could hold more toys. I thought I'd hit the ultimate low that first year when we gave in to the need for a safe place for our child to pull up and cruise and bought her an enormous plastic Fisher Price monstrosity called (shudder) the Crawl n Cruise Playground. Not only was it huge and brightly colored, it made a ton of noise. Julia loved it. I wanted to cry every time I looked at it. I used to drag it behind the couch at night after she'd gone to bed to try to hide it from sight and try to pretend that my family room wasn't being overrun by plastic.

Two years later, the mere idea of being able to hide all of the large plastic items in this house from sight is a joke, and not the funny "ha, ha" kind. All of those toys that Julia enjoyed in the first year are back out in my family room for her baby brother to enjoy these days, but now they're joined by all of her 3 year old must haves -- a play kitchen and a tea party set and a dollhouse and a vacuum cleaner and a vanity and a cradle and a highchair and a Lego table and 47 different dolls and... the list goes on and on. I've been telling Paul for weeks that something has to give. I know all about the toy rotating thing, and I do some of that, but these are the toys my kids play with each and every day, and I'd end up schlepping tupperware bins out of closets every day if I even tried to take most of this stuff out of circulation for a while. And yet, we're so full to capacity that even when everything is "put away" at the end of the day, the shelves are crammed full, the perimeter of the room is lined with toys and there are still half a dozen dolls and toys I can't find a creative home for. The Hanukkah gifts have been shoved into our last available nooks and crannies. But Christmas is 2 weeks away and our interfaith children will no doubt receive another windfall then. And their birthdays are only a few weeks after that, at which point 30 children will arrive for their joint birthday party bearing (God helps us) presents for each of them.

Which is why, at 11:00 last night, Paul and I were dragging couches around the room and bringing old Ikea bookshelves up from the basement and trying desperately to reconfigure our family room into what it has truly become -- a full service playroom. The room looks a little odd with all of our embellishments, but we did create some much needed storage space (not enough for what I know is coming, but it's a start) and what I think will be a better play area for my kids. I was pretty pleased with our progress at the time. But as I sat at the kitchen table drinking my coffee this morning and surveyed the sea of brightly colored plastic that has become my family room, it hit me -- I've officially given up. Gone are the dreams of the beautifully decorated house. In their place, there are only elaborate schemes to embrace the toys that have taken over my world. Before Julia and Evan came along, the only toy in this room was the big screen TV Paul had to have when we first bought this house. Now I'm desperate to replace that space hogging device with a Plasma screen version that can hang on my wall... do you know how many big plastic toys I could fit in the area that TV currently occupies?

Once upon a time, I wanted Vern Yip to come make over my family room. But I know he'd just get rid of all of the toys in favor of some aesthetically pleasing design. And really, what fun would that be?


At 3:29 PM, Blogger Gretchen C. said...

Sounds exactly like our living room. And this Christmas will come the final indignity: We're going to move our marble-topped coffee table into the garage and replace it with a Little Tikes picnic table. Hardly matters, though. The marble-topped coffee table has long been used solely for the boys to play and snack on while they watch T.V., and furthermore, it has a "bra" around it, you know, one of those stretchy things you put around table edges with padding in case one of the kids falls and smacks their head on it.

And just when we were about to get rid of the Exersaucer and rattles and boppies and such? I go and get myself pregnant again. *sigh*


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