Monday, June 23, 2014

Children live here












At the end of a long day alone with my children, after I'd gotten the littler one to bed and the bigger one supposedly attending to his dental hygiene, I stopped and looked around. The place was kind of a mess, the mandated daily toy-pickup event having been rather haphazard this time. I was tired and so were they. Our day was not very good. This morning's trip to Target was fraught with squabbles over juice-box flavors and complaints about the air conditioning (it was blowing pretty hard, I have to admit). Lunchtime brought more disagreement; apparently, the meatballs in our canned Italian Wedding soup were distributed unevenly. The afternoon was long and boring, it being too hot to play outdoors. I decided to go to McDonald's for dinner, out of sheer laziness. They thought it was a treat. There was more arguing there; someone threw someone else's Happy Meal toy down the twisty slide and that wasn't fair. I played Solitaire on my phone and tried to tune them out. We came home and they went to bed and now I'm decompressing. It's a long day when you're doing it all by yourself, and I'm thankful that it's not the usual situation for me.

We'll clean up some more tomorrow. It's looking a little bomb-shelterish right now, but that's okay. In fact, I sort of enjoy it when this happens; I like to see what they've been up to. It's never very neat around here anyway. Their things are in every corner of the house; toys and books turn up in our bedroom sometimes too. They're mostly free to play where they like, and they spread out very efficiently. They didn't clean up particularly well, but the basics are covered. Lego has been shoveled into a corner of the family room, books and papers are piled somewhat neatly on various tables, they put their bikes and riding vehicles on or near the patio, as requested. It's not so bad. But there are reminders of them everywhere I look. I think it's a sign that they are happy and comfortable here. I like to think so, anyway.

Our home is lived in. Sometimes, I look longingly at home-decor blogs or online stores, wishing I could have fancy new things which haven't been pounded on with sippy cups or spilled on or had mouths or noses wiped on them. I don't have a showy home. I probably never will. Most of our things were old before we got them, by way of the Salvation Army or roadside throwaway heaps. We got a beautiful coffee table out of an apartment-complex dumpster once; we took it home and refinished it and we're still using it 15 years later. I look around myself and every piece is a memory: the rocking chair where I nursed my babies, the homeschool cart which has been, at various times, a liquor cabinet, microwave stand, baby changing table and rolling bookmobile, the aforementioned coffee table which we rub with Johnson's paste wax every few weeks to keep it shiny. We live here, all four of us. We laugh and cry, eat and create, live and love.

42 comments:

  1. The memories you are making are so much more important than having a perfect, spotless home! You're doing it the right way and you won't regret it because those days pass too quickly!

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  2. I have those days...infact I had a bit of a day like that today! The ups and downs of being mom can be wearing but these days pass and then the really good days just sparkle! And your kids' bits around the house made me smile! Our space is so small that I am constantly just arranging their bits to keep an open path for walking! Such a beautiful post friend.....and such a great job you are doing! Nicole xoxo

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  3. Hi Jennifer,

    I remember those days too - when our kids built huts in the lounge and the place often looked a mess.
    As long as your kids are happy and having fun - I say just ignore the mess. As Mari said the days pass by quickly and before you know it they are grown up.
    enjoy your week
    hugs
    Carolyn

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  4. I'm sure they are the days your children will look on with great fondness. Mine are too old to leave toys around the living room now & while I don't miss the random Lego piece left on the floor I do at times miss the big toy tidy up at the end off the day. On the other hand most of the mess is now kept on the youngest bedroom floor, no doubt that will spill out sometime soon. Have a great week.

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  5. And these are the things that make a house, a home... and yours sounds like a lovely, happy one to me.
    Hugs to you, and I hope today is filled with love & laughter :-)
    Xx

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  6. It's what makes a home, with each piece you have built a life for all of you, hope today is more harmonious
    Clare xx

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  7. I agree with Gilly, signs of living make a house a home. You wouldn't want to stop children from having fun because the lego brick colours don't match the stylish home décor. I sometimes feel like crying at the end of the day because it has been an endless day of squabbles and arguments. My strategy is ignoring the additional burden of tidying mess etc and be nice to myself. We have a small living room, which I try to keep clutter free (but keeping the homely feeling) for an evening retreat. The rest of the house? If it is not dangerous or utterly disgusting, it can stay as it is until another time. Look after yourself tonight, you need your batteries recharged for another day. It will be a good one! xx

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  8. Such a lovely post. Real life is the thing isn't it? And it's always refreshing to see blogs that reflect that. I can totally relate to the uneven meatball distribution drama. These things are very carefully monitored around here too and any unfair advantages are immediately brought to my attention. I hope today is a better day for you Jennifer. CJ xx

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  9. It looks like a happy family home where everyone is comfortable doing their own thing!!!! And the bickering is really quite normal too!!! Even that passes as the grow older!!!!
    Love
    AMarie

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  10. That's how my house looks when our little grandson comes for the weekend! Happy family life, there's nothing like it. Enjoy.

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  11. I admire you... in fact, I admire every mother... I don't have children, and when I see my friends/read stories from mothers on Blogger, I have to admit évery time : I wouldn't be able to cope...
    My gosh, you must have elephant skin (belgian expression to say you can put up with A LOT).
    Respect !

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  12. When first scrolling through the photos, I couldn't help but think it's not children living here ... you have artists, scientists, engineers, musicians ... etc etc. Your kids have sure had a busy time of it, but it looks like great fun to me. It would be hard to play indoors all day because of the heat. Is there a pool near you? That's the only way we survive the hot days, and sometimes it was just a large Tupperware box filled with water and buckets and boats, all under a large umbrella or sheet strung between tree branches. My sisters' kids were all older than mine, and I remember saying the same things you've said here. They both reminded me that the kids' squabbles fade into the past eventually, and you're faced with teens & adults soon enough. Forget the squabbles and enjoy the chaos of their activities, even if you can enjoy it all only after they've been put to bed ;) I hope it cools off a bit for you so you can all get some relief. Wendy x

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  13. It's wonderful having children and seeing their things around the home. At the end of the day when I go around and pick things up, I often think there was a time when there were no kid toys around.- Those times were boring! ;)

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  14. Another beautiful post, cherish every moment, they are soon grown and fly the nest xx

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  15. You wouldn't want it any other way. It's their home and they try to keep it looking well even if that isn't exactly what we would call a show house. It doesn't matter. What's important is that they're loved and know it.

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  16. Enjoy these days because all too soon the only thing they leave around are dirty plates and stinky laundry which really DO NOT photograph well.... and I've tried!

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  17. If all those toys, paintings, etc weren't there, you'd miss them terribly. As would I. Our homes are what they are because of the joy that is our children. I couldn't imagine my life without mine, and my home would be soulless.
    They'll be grown up before we knew it - then what will we do?
    Jill xxx

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  18. Signs of a happy home. How I'd love to turn back the clock and have toys strewn everywhere, now it's just empty glasses and plates after they can't be bothered taking them out after they've eaten or dirty laundry, and even Daniel's turns up yet he lives away at uni.

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  19. And it sounds like a happy home, nothing wrong with McDonalds for tea - I have a few afternoons like that at this time of year!

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  20. It's how a house with children should be Jennifer.I wouldnt dare take photos of my house after my grandchildren have been here though! Everything looks as if it has been blitzed!

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  21. Who wants a house that looks like it's out of a magazine anyway? I certainly wouldn't. Although we don't have new furniture, etc., our house does stay picked up and neat because it's just Hubby, me and Chloe-dog. I would give anything to have a shovel-full of legos in the corner again. Believe me, we had legos aplenty when our boys were small. And we had tents too. Enjoy these frustrating days Jennifer. You WILL wish them back someday. Hard to believe but oh so true.
    Many Blessings my friend,
    Betsy

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  22. I'd trade my now-neat, toyless home for one strewn with toys and other signs of kids living here in a heartbeat. Although, maybe it will kind of be that way one day again (toys all over) when I have a grandchild/ren. Though I certainly don't miss those incredibly long, exhausting days with squabbling kids, especially when you're doing it alone! (My hubby always had a goofy work schedule.)

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  23. Your house is similar in kid decor as ours! Legos here and there.. deck full of toys.. bikes and sticky drips on the table.. but we are bonding closely with our 2 grandsons so it's all good. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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  24. Hey Jennifer,
    I've read your post with a wry smile. I've had one of those days today. I really hope you had some valuable you time in order to recharge the batteries. I relax by reading my favourite blogs, among other things. Olly would love that rather fabulous pop up tent!
    Leanne xx

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  25. A lived in home is the best, it makes for a lovely place to play and create. As my friend always told me, "The days are long but the years fly by" That sums up being a Mother I think.
    Hugs,
    Meredith

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  26. I couldn't have said it better myself♥️
    Cheers!
    Linda :o)

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  27. Your house looks great in comparison to mine most days :) My boys have a huge bin of Legos that they love to spill all over the floor and then I end up having to clean up. Your house looks cozy, warm, and perfect to me. And I love that your coffee table was a rehab that someone else didn't want :) I did that with our dining room table. Someone had left it in an apt we moved into. It was in horrible shape and I redid it. It looks great now though :)

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  28. I very much enjoyed reading all of this and took me back to living with my four ☺

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  29. 'Walking' around your home, filled with colours and shapes and stimulating signs of activity, I felt re-energized and ready to start my own day, which we've been warned, will be heatwave hot. Those tents look pretty cool right now.

    Poppy

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  30. Hi Jennifer, I have been missing you feeds some how (I have been having some bother with blogger) so I have just done a whole heap pf catching up on your summer. Thanks for inviting me to the blog hop, I don't always check out that email but I am thrilled that you thought of me. I have the feeling our general outlook on life, family and stuff is all really similar. Anyway, who wants a home like a magazine when you can get things for free!! Love to you Jo x

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  31. I remember walking around a show house on a new estate not long after we were married and thinking it looked so amazing. So much space and clean and tidy. Then another lady who was also wandering around with her husband turned to him and said "This isn't real. Where's the Lego? Where's the jigsaw puzzle pieces? Where's the dog hair? Where's the family?". I've never forgotten that lady and her comment.
    Even though our children have grown and left home, we still don't live in a "perfect house". I like to think that we live in a perfect home though. Where all our life is on show. I think your home looks perfect too. More power to real perfect homes! :o)

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  32. What an honest post about real life with kids, so refreshing to read. It feels good to know that there are other homes out there like mine. Sometimes I bow my head in shame when unexpected company comes over and there is toys, blankets and things all over the place, the kids spread throughout and I sit crocheting with the sink full :/ lol But this is life with kids. If I would keep my house spotless then that is all I would do until bedtime. Lovely post and thanks for your comment. The purple flowers are called Lupine :)

    Have a good rest of the week :)
    Birgitta xx

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  33. It looks very normal to me Jennifer my place was exactly the same when my four kids were small but I didn't really care, as long as they were involved in something and enjoying themselves then that was fine by me. Enjoy it while it lasts. :)

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  34. Such a gorgeous real post...thank you for this. xoxo Jen

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  35. Our house often looks like this too. I have certain areas where i don't bother with any day to day tidying, but once a week try and have a sort out. Usually while they're at school so they can't interfere! I think your home looks cosy, comfortable and colourful, and I imagine it's a happy and chilled out place. x

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  36. Love this post. They will remember that they were much loved: free to play and be happy in their home - what better gift can you give them? I run an art club after school each Thursday (as a volunteer) and it is amazing how many children don't do any craft at home - because mummy says it's too messy... or they are only allowed their toys in their rooms. I don't comment back - I of course do understand it creates a lot of work giving kids freedom for such play but I choose differently. Our home is certainly not a show home either. It will never be the tidy, clear surfaced places I see and love on decor blogs. But I know my kids feel safe and happy here. It is not just my home - we share it - as do you with yours. That's not to say I don't squeal with frustration when I stand on yet another bit of Lego!! Don't put the things away tonight - have a rest - they'll only get them out again tomorrow!! J9 x

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  37. Oh, I love a house that looks lived in. Especially by children.

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  38. Sounds as though your house is a home. Whenever I complain(ed) about mine, my husband says its a home. With particular emphasis on home. Pulls me up short and makes me smile.

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  39. Oh what a great post! I know exactly what you mean, no matter how hard we try, our home is always going to be messy. Clean (ish), but messy! We have decided now that we will never have more than one room tidy at any one time. But, it's a home with three children who love to play and run around. They like to pour their own drinks (and forget to wipe the spills). They like to play outside but always forget to wipe their feet when they come back in. They like to play with one toy for a bit, then move onto the next one without putting away the first one. It goes with the territory! I am sorry it was a bit of a long day for you today. It sounds like the bears might have been having a 'tired' day, we have this with ours sometimes and then on other days they just get on so well! :)

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  40. Jennifer, you write with such honesty and humour about the ups and downs of life in a real human family and your photos show that life beautifully. I recognise everything you say from my own past experience, even to the squabbles about apparently unequal distribution of food. :-) It's always hard coping with the children on your own, so I hope you take every chance to have some me-time when they are in bed.

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  41. I love this post! It is so real. My house is no show home either and I can't imagine it ever will be. That's what my girl-shed is for for I eventually get one ;-) x

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  42. I loved this post Jennifer. My girls are only just starting to bicker and its not real bickering as only one can talk! This morning the littlest was a bit overzealous waving the tv remote around and resulted in a whack to her sister's head! And breathe. I just left the bricks/musical instruments/other stuff and went to work....I try to chuck it all in a box at the end of the day but sometimes it just gets left in a heap!! We have a new rule though -No toys in Mummy and Daddy's bedroom. Just one space without a mess to tidy. It seems to be working...a bit. :)

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