When Matt and I were newlyweds, I gathered pictures and other decorations with which I carefully decorated our living room. Having Cherokee blood in our family, I joined a ceramic class and made Indian vases and a southwestern style lamp for even more budget-friendly decorating. I was proud of the living room when it was finally done.
Then, we had kids and like a caterpillar, the room slowly transformed.
It was little things at first. We had a baby bouncer, which only took up a corner of the room. Then we added a swing, followed by a playpen. Stuffed animals, blocks, activity centers, toy pianos and every other baby accessory imaginable soon joined the furniture.
When they began to crawl, we added a walker; along with baby gates. The lamp that took me three months to finish came crashing to the floor shortly after the walker. Thankfully, Aubrie wasn’t hurt, but it sent me scrambling for non-breakable lamps and plastic decorations.
Anything that was remotely attractive and breakable was removed to ensure that the kids wouldn’t get hurt as they took over, er, I mean, tooled around the house.
I consoled myself with thinking that when they got older, I could again bring out the handmade pottery and lamps. Sadly, things didn’t go quite the way I’d hoped. I was able to bring out breakable objects. But, after the kids became teens, the real take over began – quickly.
Urban sprawl is tame in comparison.
At first, the girls were crazy for Dance, Dance Revolution, the dance game that comes equipped with a floor mat. They’d dance around like pros, making it look easy and fun. In the interest of full disclosure, it looked like an enjoyable way to work out; it piqued my interest.
So one day, when they weren’t home, I tried it. It started out slowly, and I was beginning to get the hang of it. Then it sped up a little, then a little more, making me nervous because the mat was wiggling around the faster I went. Before I knew it, the mat slid out from under me, sending me to the floor with a loud thud and making the walls rattle. In turn, a picture came crashing down from the wall, and on its descent, took out one of my homemade Indian vases. As the vase toppled over, it hit the edge of one of the dogs’ water dishes, causing it to capsize, showering water all over the floor. It coursed quickly toward the electronic dance mat, sending me in a full out Rambo style leap to snatch it up before it got wet and shorted out.
Later, when Matt noticed the missing vase and the fact that there was no glass in the picture frame, I did what any good coward would do – blamed the dogs.
Unfortunately, Dance wasn’t the only electronic game that made its home in my living room. Video games of every kind took up residence, and there were game controls and disks littering most surfaces.
Then they decided that they wanted to play their musical instruments together so I had keyboards, guitars, microphones and amplifiers scattered everywhere. We tried to get them to move to the garage, but they complained it was too cold or too wet or too something.
Next came Halloween decorations that the kids fell in love with and didn’t want to take down. We have a bright orange, ceramic jack o’ lantern sitting on the fireplace, a four foot skeleton dangling on the wall next to it, and some origami cross bones on the mantle.
Recently, they’ve made room for a non-Halloween framed picture of a character named Peeta from the soon-to-be-released movie, “Hunger Games.” It’s a step in the right direction, I hope.
Because they also love Christmas, the skeleton sports a Santa hat all year around and hangs next to a stuffed Herbie from Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. To their credit, the nativity scene is front and center and also displayed 12 months of the year.
However, closer inspection of the manger scene will reveal that, at least in our home, the three wise men weren’t Jesus’ only visitors that night. Standing next to My Little Pony and Spiderman, holding his double-bladed light saber, is Darth Maul.
It’s a shocking discovery, but then again, that night was filled with miracles.
Matt and I finally gave up on inhabiting the living room. We knew that we were fighting a losing battle after our third child, Boy, was born. Still, being a man who likes a good Lazy Boy and a large screen TV, Matt decided to build onto the house.
Not willing to admit defeat, but mostly so it wouldn’t sound like total surrender, we built it out of windows and called it the sunroom. It’s filled with a big comfy couch, and Matt’s “toys.”
Unfortunately, we didn’t take into account other invading forces – two large labs, a cat and a ferret. Being the creatures of comfort that they are, they used to sleep on the couch in the living room. They, too, were banished and have taken to sleeping on Matt’s over stuffed sectional sofa amongst their pull toys, balls, and squeaky stuffed animals. Unwilling, yet again, to admit defeat, Matt is meeting with a contractor, measuring tape in hand.
When I asked what we were going to call this room, without skipping a beat, he said, “Locked.”
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