beth woolsey

mess maker • magic finder • rule breaker • kindness monger

Decorating Tips

My kitchen is Tuscan yellow.  A cheerful but soft shade that compliments the white cabinets, enormous farm table, and terracota counters.

My five children romp and frolick in this idyllic location, playing kindly with each other, offering to help with chores, and always remembering to wipe their feet on the mat.

Only one thing mars this picture.  An off-pink plastic tub that has lived on my counter for two years this Friday.

The tub was given to us at the neonatal intensive care unit when Cai and Cael were born in 2006.  In fact, we arrived home with three of them and found them the perfect size and shape for stashing temporary baby-paraphernalia around the house.  Need a tub o’ baby medications?  Find the tub.  Quick-access diapers and wipes?  Another tub.

Over the past two years, we’ve managed to consolidate the tubs and eliminate two.  All that remains is the tub that sits next to the kitchen sink and holds toddler cups and their accompanying lids and valves.  Anyone who’s had toddlers, particularly two at a time (which we have… twice), understands the unique organizing dilemma posed by toddler beverage containers.

Out of room in the cupboards we specifically designed to reach all the way up to our 9-foot ceilings, and under toddler-induced pressure to provide beverages on demand, we opted for a temporary tub-dumping solution.  Remove cup parts from dishwasher, dump in tub.  Pull parts from tub, serve juice.

Easy system.  Excellent thinking.  Ugly tub.

If anyone had told me two years ago that pink plastic tubs would become a permanent part of my home decor… well, I wouldn’t have cared, but that’s just because I was overwhelmed with two newborns and three older children.  But eventually I would’ve cared.

Most of the time, I forget to notice the cup tub.  It begins to blend with the rest of my kitchen.  Every once in a while, though, I see it again.  And as I looked at the pink tub again tonight, I was grateful for it.

Two years ago on Friday, we brought Cael home from the hospital.  Six weeks premature but with a clean bill of health.  Cai followed just a few days later, and our at-home odyssey with five children began.  Some of our moments are ugly.  And some are beautiful.

This is probably as good a time as any to admit that my Tuscan yellow walls when splattered with Cael’s chocolate milk look a little like what you’d find in the bottom of the upstairs toilets I rarely scrub.  My white cabinets are still white under sticky fingerprints.  And my terracota countertops are laminate that’s just barely beginning to bubble and peel around the sink.

My children don’t always play nicely, or offer to help.  And I don’t even have a mat for shoe-wiping, so I’ve proactively pre-empted their need to wipe their feet.

But sometimes they do.  Sometimes they stop at the back door and remove their muddy shoes just because they thought it would be a nice thing to do.  Sometimes my daughters clean the laundry room without being asked.  Sometimes my children romp and frolic and share.  Sometimes my countertops are clean and my toilets are scrubbed.  And often we tell each other we love each other and share our good, bad, pretty and ugly moments at the giant farm table.

And I appreciate those moments more because of the ugly pink tub and the chocolate milk spots.

Don’t tell my kids.

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2 responses to “Decorating Tips”

  1. Ha. The chocolate milk splatters made me think of that time when I was childless and unwisely agreed to watch a friends three children while she and her husband took a (very) late honeymoon trip to Hawaii. For a week. Did I mention I didn’t have any kids? Or really know that much about them? Anyway, we had blueberry smoothies for supper one night that week, and they were much too thick to sip with a straw style sippy cup. So I just put it in a plastic cup and gave it to the three year old anyway. “Be careful,” I told her.
    Yes, as a mama of five, you already know the ending of this story. Blueberry walls, floor, chairs, pants, AND curtains were definitely in my future. 🙂
    Oh, well. I guess now that I have a daughter of my own, that’s messy moment I’ll know to avoid. Thin out that smoothie and get the sippy cup from the tub! And I’m looking forward to many more beautiful ones… 🙂
    Thanks for this post.

  2. sweet! this all sounds very familiar 🙂 especially the part about chocolate milk splattering all over the walls (or pants, curtains or stacks of papers-waiting-to-be-graded-by-mommy-or-daddy for that matter! which taught us a wise lesson to leave things like that where they belong: at work!)
    and we do have mats for show-wiping, I can assure you that doesn’t mean that the kids actually use ’em for that exact purpose… (though rumour has it that they make awesome ‘flying carpets’ 😉

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