A Man’s Home is His Castle

Super Daddy is the man in our house, here and as the saying goes ‘A man’s home is his castle.’ Or in our case, pills his toy factory, playground, soft play and personal zoo, especially at feeding time.  It’s not that his table manners are that appalling, he does just like to throw his dinner on the floor every night then when he gets out of his chair he’ll scoop up and eat the more interesting looking elements of the food debris– oh, I’m talking Little Monster Blue now, and not Super Daddy, although he did eat a kebab off the floor of our car after dropping it at his feet on the way home after a very drunken night out…..

So, I’m off to visit a new friend on Thursday night, a fabulous lady and super working mum of two herself, who I have known through a mutual friend for over 4 years but only just sat down and eyeballed her over coffee for the first time a few months ago. I’ve never been to her house before, our ‘dates’ have so far been on neutral territory. But on Thursday, I’m off to her abode for a wee glass of wine.  We had an email exchange today which confirmed my attendance on Thursday (though we’re not being too formal!) and I asked for her postcode given my geographic abilities are somewhat limited without the aid of my trusty sat nav. Postcode provided, looking forward to seeing you pleasantries extended, then a heavily laden warning of ‘take the house as you find it, I refuse to decorate until No.2 is older.’  Oh, I hear you, loud and clear.

We’ve lived in our current home for just over 7 years, taking a fairly big jump up at the time in order to buy a house that would become our family home. We had visions of a home we would grow into, which would be filled with the love and warmth that a little family brings.  We didn’t bank on the huge amounts of paraphernalia that would take over our home as that little family grew.  Initially, when Little Princess Pink was a baby, her nursery was the focal point for all things child-oriented, with just one small cupboard in the kitchen being allocated as storage for bottles, sterilising equipment, formula powder, measuring spoons, then progressing to teething rings, then finger foods, weaning spoons and bowls, Annabel Karmel cookbooks and the odd ready prepared jar of baby food (or ten). Then slowly water squirting toys started popping up in the bathroom, board books found their way to the pile at the side of our bed, a toy box in the corner of the dining room and eventually a ball pool in the living room…

There does not remain one room in our house that has been untouched by the littlies.  My idea of tidy has morphed from a minimalist, clean, clutter free living space, with plumped up cushions and perfectly aligned curtains to an overflowing toy box pushed as far behind the side of the sofa as it can possibly go, with a myriad of toys piled precariously on top so that none of them are lying on the floor and the ball pool pushed neatly against the radiator under the window, which is actually still in the middle of the floor. Where the storage in my bathroom once had a lovely stacking unit which housed my Clarins Gentle Foaming Cleanser with Shea Butter for Dry / Sensitive skin and the oh-so-wonderful Hydra Quench Rich Cream and Ultra-Matte Rebalancing lotion, it now contains baby shampoo, bath cleanser for eczema prone skin, which resembles lard, three small plastic boats (one with Igglepiggle in it) Foam Letters N, G, X, F, H, Z, O and P (we once had a full complement of 26 but who knows where they’ve ended up – I should probably check LMB’s laundry basket) and a sparkly mermaid bathtime book – which LMB loves. Hhhmm.

The rustic solid wooden table and chairs in our dining room have slowly edged towards the wall on one side of the room and the remaining floor space has been commandeered by Rose Cottage (aka a full size Wendy House), a toy box containing puzzles, another toy box containing wooden toys and games, a bookcase (supplementing the bookcases in each of LPPs and LMBs bedrooms)  a toy box containing musical instruments, a toy box with puppets, yet another toy box containing those bigger chunky toys that don’t really have a ‘category’(!) – you know, shape sorters, a pirate ship, a fire station, Noahs Ark,  a Barbie Unicorn, a Farm, an abacus; a toy box filled with the plastic characters  from the aforementioned articles – pirates, a parrot, a farmer, a sheep, a chicken, a cow, a pig,  Noah and Mrs Noah, Lion (x2), Hippo (x2), Giraffe (x2)……and a cuddly toy (or ten.)

In addition to the toys, games and books that have become part of the furniture in our home (literally – as I did catch myself going into the playroom the other night to get the Dora the Explorer stool for the piano in order to use it as a footstool) so too have the reams and reams of artwork our children have crafted and created on a daily basis.  The side of our fridge is adorned with first finger paintings, little cards with gummed paper circles and feathers stuck on, glittery and sparkly collages, LPPs first proper drawing of an animal, along with a photo of her drawing it, and sticking her tongue out in concentration like her Daddy does. Our mantelpiece has various sizes of haphazardly cut cards (with safety scissors!) all with the drawing of the moment on the front – which is LPP on the waterslide on our holidays and a dolphin.  Although on Friday we did get a drawing of a fairy castle with LPP in the turret, and a prince in the garden below carrying a lollipop for her. Like her concentration face, she clearly gets her romantic cues from her Daddy. Our shelves in the kitchen house a variety of ‘junk modelling’ creations, or ‘art projects’ as we call them in this house – the latest addition was a paper aquarium which took an eternity to make and I ended up doing the bulk of the colouring, cutting and gluing and LPP got the good ‘decorating with sequins at the end’ part (Thank you Auntie Joanne and Auntie Lottie!)  In both the kids bedrooms, a mini canvas hangs on the walls with a pink handprint and a blue footprint, made in February 2009 – a lasting memory of the teeny size of my babies, and a reminder that they are getting very big, very quickly.  And in the hallway, right at the bottom of the stairs about a quarter of a metre high, is a large orange squiggle, created by little hands – probably an early attempt at a dolphin and a waterslide. I might just have to put a frame round it, because like my new friend – I refuse to decorate, probably until my no. 2 is at least 18.

So if a man’s home really is his castle, then ours is one made out of yoghurt pots and cereal boxes decorated with smudgy fingerprints on mirrors and orange squiggles in the strangest of places, there’s three day old toast on the floor under the kitchen table and a toy pink flamingo which has been on the stairs for over a week now, but it’s our home and its filled to the brim with sparkles and memories and lots and lots of love and laughter.

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