Monday, August 23, 2010

Annual Leave. Well Spent.

That's vacation in government-speak. And my annual leave (which need not be taken only annually)  is up for summer 2010.  With my non-work days (Mondays/Fridays) and a switch up in my work days on my last week, it means I have had a couple days short of four weeks off.

I blogged excessively about our 12 day road trip. What have I done with the other twelve days?

Usually when Husband and I return from holidays we need holidays. Two years ago we planned separate getaways after our family week. Last year, Husband and I took a week off while the kids went to day camp.

This year, because things went so well, we thought we'd find a project where we could turn the house upside down, get messy and prevent us from enjoying another moment in peace.

Yes, we took on a redecorating project.

Husband and I have two enduring problem areas in the house: the kitchen table which is perpetually covering in kid projects (markers, stickers, toy pieces) and the den. Which used to be the family (i.e. MY den) where I surfed the Internet, minded the family finances, blogged and drank coffee.

With our super computer literate children, we were banging heads, sometimes literally to get to the computer.  I could almost live with sharing.   When they're at school I have my turn. But what was driving me to distraction was their need to bring kid clutter.

They would be finished their turn (and they often play nicely taking turns on some such game) and they would leave behind the following:

1 bowl of fishy crackers
2 stuffed animals
3 blue markers
4 random pieces of paper with passwords and sign in IDs
5 Lego Star Wars characters

Now, I live in my own glass house. I struggle mightily to keep my work space usable, even at work. Paper overwhelms me, even though Husband files all the monthly stuff and papers we need to keep. So you this equation:

Mommy Clutter + Kid Clutter Squared = Hip Deep Piles of Stuff

And what happens with hip deep pile of stuff is you can never clean. And the place borders on an environmental disaster.

So, Husband and I mused on how to tame the 2 clutter areas in the house without evicting the children.  Intersect this with the need for a new computer and the idea of a GROWN UP OFFICE was born. 

Husband and I have come to realize that our house, which is far larger than we need, has way too much square footage committed to people under 5 feet tall. (I just make the cut off).  They have their rooms, the family room, the kitchen table, and the den. They even have been known to spread into the living room and dining room with encampments of stuffies under the tables and ad hoc book binderies.  But none of those are their official play places.  They have the upstairs over sized bedroom as their playroom. Plus about 40% of the basement is where they play with their friends in the rec room.

We are taking back the house.  Well, part of it.

The upstairs playroom is now the big people office.  I told Husband that I really wanted this to be a nice place I would want to be in . And would want to keep tidy. Husband was all in for any plan that would entice me to keep neat.

And that meant making it pretty.  So we have moved the mother of all IKEA wall units to the basement. Along with a lifetime of books, videos, tapes, games and puzzles. We've painted the walls. Put up new curtains. Bought a little new furniture plus my shiny new computer.

Apart from the computer it's been a bargain basement project with the re-purposing of a number of random pieces.  But Husband and I each have our own desks.  On the non office side we have an aging couch, an old TV and our elliptical trainer here as well. (TV only so I don't realize how long I have been exercising).  I dream of a sleek new love seat and flat panel TV on the wall, but that will have to wait.  Probably for lottery win or discovery pot of gold in the back yard left by trolls.

The children are allowed in with supervision but NO TOYS, MARKERS, STUFFED ANIMALS OR ART SUPPLIES may accompany any kids into the adult zone.

In case you missed it, here is the view from my desk
(Yes! We live in a beautiful place):
But what about the kitchen table problem? 

We have moved a craft table into the kids' den. Which they will undoubtedly clutter up permanently. But at least Husband and I will be able to occasionally eat dinner at the kitchen table instead of juggling plates of food on our lap in the living room.

How have the kids taken to having their own den?  While Jackson is still smarting over the fact that he doesn't get to breathe on, touch or watch YouTube videos on my computer, I think he's embraced the whole concept:
Sydney is also okay with it:

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