Last summer I spent weeks researching and designing an entryway storage system / mud room that would work for our family of 9. We had fast outgrown the set of hooks we had been using and had nothing in the way of shoe and boot storage. Basically we piled all of our shoes by the front door leaving the door almost always blocked.
Kevin did most of the building using a base of some old cubbies that we found a few years before. They were left to the curb of the elementary school up the road. When we brought the cubbies home I painted one set and we stored the other in the shed. Our family finally warranted the use of both now, so out of storage the other set came and per my plans, Kevin built a bottom for them where boots and sneakers and sandals could be kept. We added bead board to the wall and added lots of coat hooks to that and the interior of the cubbies. After a couple of coats of paint we topped it off with baskets from the Christmas Tree Shop. The baskets are used to keep out of season items.
It was a vast improvement over our previous arrangement for containment of shoes, jackets, bags, and backpacks. Each of the school age children were assigned a cubbie, Kevin got his own, and the littles and I share the other two. No longer would we have a heap of shoes/boots blocking our front door.
It worked great for a few months, ~G was 16 months and not quite walking when it was finished. Once he was truly mobile at around 18 months he discovered the mud room. It was then that ~G began his love affair with shoes. He carries them around, tucks them all over the house, and generally plays with them as if they are toys. They could be a car zooming across the floor or toppled off chairs, the pseudo cliffs that abound around the kitchen table. He tucks them all over the house in unexpected places and generally has a good time with them. They are his go to toy.
Our new shoe storage system basically became ~G’s favorite play space. The only thing I could think to do was to tell everyone to hang their shoes on the hooks.
Of course we do not always remember… and then a shoe or two or three goes missing. We can usually find one at least, but not the match. Especially if you are going out, assume your shoes will be there and need to leave soooooon.
So here we are on Monday and Tuesday of this week, days after returning from our fantabulous vacation in Massachusetts visiting my dad and other family and friends AND our pool party weekend at Kevin’s Aunt and Uncle’s in New York. Sometime between Monday and Tuesday one of Kevin’s Birkenstock sandals that he has had for years disappeared. On Monday he wore his sneakers to the town pool when he got home from work not quite sure if he had misplaced his sandal or if it was actually missing. We were in a bit of a rush to get to the pool so we didn’t take the time to do a thorough search.
Yesterday after working on the cleaning crew at our local elementary school he came home and it was hot and muggy. He was taking the kids, yes all 7, to a Boy Scout meeting one of our sons had. I wasn’t going to be home, I had a summer book group meeting. All the poor guy wanted was to wear his sandals. We looked high and low throughout our fairly messy from just-getting-back-from-a-ten-day-trip house and the shoe was no where to be found. I asked Kevin if he had checked the trash. He said he looked through the top layer and found nothing.
He left with the kids for the meeting. I had about a half hour before I had to leave. I ate the last 15 or so M&M’s from our COSTCO sized bag we had brought on vacation. When I went to throw the bag away I decided to check the trash a little more thoroughly. I hesitantly dug past the top layer, to the dirt and poopy diaper cavity, and there it was. ~G had trashed it. I felt like a miner striking gold. I smiled and then wrote a note to Kevin for when he arrived home and placed the sandals and note on the kitchen table.
I felt so satisfied and imagined how happy it would make Kevin when he came home tired from his day of cleaning at the school in the heat and then wrangling kids at the Boy Scout meeting… It felt so good to have gone the extra mile, literally through poop to get him something he cared about. I love the times when I can purely not think of myself and give a good gift (it is a muscle I need to use more and more).
AND then today…
Well, ~O got a Lego stuck in his nose this morning. It is amazing, our speech therapist who was here for ~G this morning commented, that with 7 kids in the house this is the first time this has happened. She was just finishing up her time here with ~G when 4-at-the-end-of-August, but officially still 3 year old, ~O came out of his big brothers room crying saying his nose was bleeding. I didn’t see blood so I asked if he put something in it. He said yes, a Lego. I couldn’t see it, but sat him in the kitchen and told him not to breath through his nose. I fumbled around looking for the pediatrician’s number thinking we would have to go in and have them remove it.
Once I got through to the nurse’s station she asked me if I knew which nostril it was in. I said yes and she told me to block one nostril and then put my mouth on his and blow. Really? I was a bit incredulous at this response. She must have sensed my hesitance and then affirmed that I wouldn’t hurt him by doing this. She told me to call back if it didn’t work. Ha! OK… I was willing to give it a try.
So I knelt down, the speech therapist was keeping ~G busy and thankfully didn’t rush out. It was nice to have a little moral support. I blocked the one clear nostril, put my mouth on ~O’s, and blew hard. I didn’t feel a Lego, but I did get snot all over my face! I tried one more time. Still didn’t feel a Lego, but ~O could tell it was out. Once I got up to my feet I found the Lego on the floor, it must have blown past me.
What a rush. Motherhood. It is a ride for sure.
My mum would be proud. Digging out shoes from the poopy garbage and blowing Lego’s out of my kids’ noses. Life sure is an adventure!
Have any out of your comfort zone stories to share? I’d love to hear them!
Love from Vermont,