Looking lived-in

6 01 2008

       I picked up a women’s magazine in a friend’s house.  It fell open to an interior decorating article, which of course I read.  I’m kind of decorating-challenged.  What some women do almost instinctively I really have to work at, so I always enjoy books and articles on the subject.  
       One thing this article kept stressing was the importance of little homey touches to make a house feel “lived in.”  Personally, I would assume that any house containing people would automatically look lived in about three weeks after the decorator left with her last pay-check.  But maybe not.  Maybe there are people who need help to keep their environments from looking cold and sterile. 
       To help people like this (none of whom, I assume, are reading my blog) I looked around my house for “homey touches” that let you know that my house is “lived in.”  I found:

– A glass jar on the window sill containing two halves of a dead bumble bee and half a banana.  (Supplies for the afterlife?)
– A Lite-Brite work in progress, spread across the kitchen floor.  
– Sixteen shoes consisting of six pairs and four singles jumbled in the hallway.
– An eraser stuck full of straight pins and with eyes drawn on it posing by the pencil sharpener.
– Plastic dinosaurs eating each other in the houseplants.
– Two yellow marbles rolling around at the bottom of my waterbottle.
– Three tubes of toothpaste, nine toothbrushes, two hairbrushes, and two soaking wet towels strewn over the bathroom sink.
– All the boards but one taken out from under the bunks and forming matchbox car ramps in the boy’s bedroom.
– About sixteen flowers cut out from magazines and taped all over the headboard of my daughter’s bed.  Scissors, tape & scraps left on her night table, of course.
– Shredded scrap ends of yarn, snipped with scissors and strewn like confetti over the doormat, steps, and front sidewalk.
– About twenty rubber bands snapped around various places (door knobs, handles, stuffed dog necks, lamps, books, videos, cups, and the baby’s wrist.)
– Hemp rope tied around the legs of one of the beds.
– A few miscellaneous odds and ends: a christmas ornament hung from a nail on the wall, a rolled-up hammock in the living room recliner, a cup full of pencil shavings on the wardrobe in the hall, half a hot dog in the diaper bag, tweezers hanging from a blind cord, a plastic snake coiled up under the computer desk, etc.

Sometimes I feel like I live in an I-Spy book.  You never know where you’re going to come across the barbecue tongs, an earring, the screwdriver, two grapes, or a knob off the stove.  One of the more common exchanges you hear around this house is “Mom, where is my…?” and the response, “Oh, wait- I just saw that somewhere. Let me think…”

 If you wanted to be negative you could say that my house is messy and chaotic.  But look on the brighter side- it’s also a treasure hunt!  You never know what you’re going to find if you look under the couch cushions or empty the pockets in the laundry.  For about a week the house was infested with acorns.  Every time I swept or tidied I filled my pockets with acorns.  I threw out every single one I saw, but still they rolled out from under book cases and peeked out of shoes.  They appeared in the dirty dishes and floated in the bathwater.  I could have sworn they were breeding in the walls like cockroaches!  But one day they just disappeared, and I haven’t seen an acorn in months.
       I like to think of it as one of the mysteries of children.  Things appear and disappear.  Everyday objects get turned upside down, used as vases, put on heads, decorated with stickers, or made into caverns for lego robots.  Few things stay where they’re put, but in return things that you had forgotten about suddenly appear.  And things you wouldn’t have noticed in their proper place suddenly speak to your heart or grab your attention.  The little sock, the blue bead, the single crushed dandelion, a cut-out heart, a penny, a ring.
         Childhood isn’t one big thing- it’s an accumulation of little things: little handprints, little moments, bubbles, kisses, melted candy in pockets, sand in tiny blue shoes, little dolls and little rocks, tiny treasures that look like junk to adult eyes.  Childhood is bottle caps and chocolate coins, pink shoelaces and barettes that look like stars, sparkle lip gloss, yo-yo strings, live frogs and dead spiders, soap shaped like a seashell, holes chewed in the bread bag, cheerios under the rug, tears on long eyelashes, and a small hand wrapped around your finger.
        Little children are experts at living life to the max, being in the present, and taking it one day at a time.   Maybe the reason these young, hip magazine people are having trouble with sterile decorating is because there is very little real “home” in their homes.  In lives full of jobs, restaurants, night clubs, travel and social climbing, there’s no room for children, the messes they make, and the life they bring.  And though sometimes I may pretend I envy them, with their nice clothes and nice cars and clean houses, I don’t really envy them.
        I’ve made my bed and I’ll lie in it, cookie crumbs and marbles and spit-up and all.  Yeah, definitely looking lived-in!




10 responses

7 01 2008

i love this, angela. i am so sorry i missed your going away party saturday. I had fully intended to be there but was really not feeling well. don’t suppose there is any chance you me & abbye could do lunch again? i’ll call you tomorrow. really loved this post.

7 01 2008

I love decorating, but I do my best to not let it keep my house from being “livable”. The treasures that my girls drag in are more precious to me than anything money can buy. I enjoyed your entry. Thanks. Jan from http://www.unique-baby-gear-ideas.com/

8 01 2008
Neal Wilhite

My turn to say I told you so. I haven’t been there in almost two weeks. I’ve had nothing to do with things being out of place.

And now you’ll be coming to a place that I’ve been keeping clean with just me to put things out of place. I wonder how lived in it will look? What life will these little hands have written upon these walls?


9 01 2008

Oh where, oh where, has Angela gone?
Oh where, oh where, can she be?
Is she in the small house in Goldsboro,
Will she post, I hope soon, for me?

Missing you and hoping you’ll be back online again soon! It’s lonely in Cyberspace without you.

9 01 2008


Hope you’re settling in and not feeling too crazy! Thanks for stopping by for lunch the other day. I’m glad we had a chance to give you big hugs (because we know how much you LOVE hugs!). We miss you already – please post soon and let us know how the move went. Love you!

15 01 2008
Linda Miller

Happy Birthday Angela to one of the most loving and understanding hearts I’ve every known. I’ve spent the last 4 or 5 days putting away our Christmas decorations and digging a path through our house again. While trying to sort a bit to make a new home for the watch your Dad gave me I came across a wonderful letter I had saved from you several years ago. You were extremely busy getting prepared for a visit from Robert and Kristin way back before they had either of their little ones and took time to share a bit of your heart with me. You mentioned that often when you were really busy cleaning you would remember the placque that my Dad gave me early in my marriage. I always loved it and laughed because it declared a house should be clean enough to live in and dirty enough to be happy. And you were very quick to understand the reasons he gave it to me. I also know how often you felt I needed to let ours pile up a great deal higher than I did. Now you would be proud of me, Sweetie. “When we have the time to,” is coming into my vocabularly a lot more often than it used to. I re-read that precious jem of a letter again, laughed and cried with you again and tucked it away in my jewelery box so I’ll have the opportunity to find it again. Love, Mom

17 01 2008
April McAllister

Hey Angela, been thinking about you. Hope you are getting settled and feeling better. Hows hubbies job going? We miss you at small group.

20 01 2008
Grandma Wilhite

I’ve missed your blog. Hope Neal was able to get your computer up and running, after it’s upside-down ride in the moving van.
You know you found a kindred heart when you say “lived-in look”. You already know I’m a slouch, and I’ve no excuse at all, with only two ?consenting? adults on board. I’ve heard it many-a time that nobody at the end of life says “I wish I’d spent more time cleaning house.” I do, however, say that when I get caught with unexpected company at the front door!
I’ve spent the evening with Savannah making an apron just her size. I had found a pattern, and she looked with me at the life-time-accumulation of piece goods in my Mother-in-law’s cedar chest. She wanted to use all of them. I talked her into choosing just 5, then spent the rest of the evening cutting strips and sewing them together. Once that is done, we’ll put the pattern pieces over it and cut it out — and sew some more! It won’t be Pretty, but it will be just what she wanted! And I don’t think I’ll regret letting her choose the colors! Our house bears the evidence in the living room, the front bedroom (where the cedar chest is) and in the back bedroom where I set up the ironing board. There are bundles and strips of cloth and pattern pieces everywhere. Well, live and let live!

22 01 2008

Where, o where, is our Angela? We miss you!

22 01 2008

For those on the Angela watch with me, she is supposed to have internet service set up on Tues., Jan. 22nd! Oh, that’s today. Please, Lord….let her return again to cyberspace!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: