dazzling and interesting on a shoestring
Oh, yes, it’s spring here in the land of the destitute. Everything is blooming: the nasturtiums have declared their mission to take over the balcony, and the Japanese maples have filled out so that it feels like we live in a tree house. Our ducks made their stopover on their flight back to wherever it is they spend the summer. It’s all very lovely.
The inside of our house, however, is less lovely. Boxes have piled up in the closets, the book hospital where toddlers have overenthusiastically loved a few books has made a mess of my bookcase. My desk has turned into a storage unit, even if I have resigned myself to the fact that I will not be sitting at it anytime soon. And then there’s the dirty windows, the filthy rental carpeting, the couch sprouting week-old popcorn, and my winter-worn and mother-weary face.
So some spring cleaning is in order. Here’s the list (if you didn’t know already, I’m a list-maker):
I am happy to report that as of this posting, the list is about 2/3 completed (note that I crossed those items out—a wonderful feeling), and that my husband is the one that deep-cleaned both bathrooms. Did you know, men, that cleaning the bathroom increases your sex-appeal by 42%? Proven fact. (see picture above for further proof of my guy’s cleaning prowess)
The closets were purged of all clothing that didn’t fit, wasn’t interesting or wasn’t going to be worn. Those items, both kids’ and adults’, went to Macedonia. The discarded baby equipment and some baby clothes went to a center for young mothers.
A few select, fancy and seldom-worn items went to consignment. In order to sort through and re-organize the six boxes of baby clothes that I have (hand-me-downs, leftovers from Big Sis, and a handful of family hand-knits) I enlisted the help of my parents. They came down for the day, card table in tow, and set up shop in my living room to sort, fold, wrangle toddlers and also to run the carpool to school. I couldn’t have done it without them. The living room was completely full of bags, boxes and stacks and stacks of little girl clothing. I could have opened up a consignment shop of my own on the spot. I’m kicking myself for not taking pictures, but you’ll just have to use your imagination and my sparkling description as a prompt.
The local high school rummage sale provided us with a new bookcase for the big girl, and an old vintage dresser for the little girls. This enabled us to put the bookcase that formerly belonged to Big Girl into the twin’s room. And now everybody has room for all their books, the paper/tear-able books are out of little harms’ way and I have an excuse to buy more books. I love Spring!
Lovingly strewn about the decade-old rental carpet, now christened with baby spit-up and spilled bubble bath soap despite our best efforts to clean it and vacuum on a weekly basis, are toys, the occasional dirty sock, mommy’s water bottle, lengths of ribbon from heaven-knows-where, and books. For babies, books are not just about their content (or their ‘aboutness’ as my Information Retrieval class professor might say—fyi, I’m in grad school for Librarian-ness) but about their physicality and their ability to fit in one’s mouth in a satisfactory manner. In other words, babies chew on books. So, therefore we have lots of bright colored books and board books, which get left on the floor once the desired amount of mastication has been achieved.
We have no changing table, because I think changing tables are bulky, dangerous and essentially useless. Basically, they’re stupid. Other than that, I have no opinion about them. I can’t change a baby from the side very effectively—I need to stand at her feet to change her. We change our babies on a plastic mat on the bed. The folded mat and the package of wipes kick about on my desk, the bed and, here, the floor.
To keep a child still while changing their diaper (or nappy, as we say in our household) we need chewable toys—see aforementioned bit about board books. So we provide organic cotton-stuffed vegetable toys that were a generous gift from a generous Auntie and Uncle. Jemima Puddleduck was also a gift, though I don’t know which store she waddled from.
And that is how we live—clean but happily cluttered, with toys, art projects, laundry and babies strewn about the floor.
ABC board book by Matthew Porter
Ten Little Caterpillars written by Bill Martin, Jr., author of such classics as Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? and illustrated by Lois Ehlert, who has written and illustrated half of the toddler favorites in our house, such as this one.
The adorable Veggie set, including string beans, mushroom and a carrot and tomato (not pictured here) come in a cute little wooden crate from Under the Nile, which also carries organic cotton baby clothes at extremely reasonable prices. I cannot find the veggies on their site at the moment, but here’s a link to their other extremely cool toys.