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Victoria’s Victorian Secret

I blame Victorian Magazine for starting me down the path of misguided inspiration.

Back in our Diaper Days, I bought one just to admire a living room that wasn’t covered in toys and spit up. It called to me like a siren to a drifting sailor. Not a single thing in that period of my life was “done” or “clean” or “beautiful” for more than two seconds together.

The glossy layout room, however, had clean and coordinating furniture complimented with glossy tables, bouquets in crystal vases, meaningful family photos tastefully framed and artfully placed. The floors had pretty rugs, the walls had faux paint, the lampshades had tiny crystal beads.

Sign. Me. Up.

Where to begin?

Hm. The only space I could find that the kids couldn’t reach was the ceiling.

Except the part over the bunk beds. That had footprints on it.

No problem. Start small, right?

So I took the broom and carefully went around the perimeter of the living room ceiling, getting down a few years’ worth of cobwebs. Instant improvement. Only a little of the popcorn came down. The kids had a snow day. It took the rest of the morning to clean the mess. It took months of staring at that magazine while nursing before I mustered my next ambitious plan.

There came a day we decided “That’s it! We are sick of sagging, ugly second-hand furniture!” We need something rugged yet regal. Sturdy yet sleek. Cleanable yet classy. We brought home the most beautiful set of leather couches you have ever seen. They were the real deal. They were placed lovingly in the room and the plastic packaging removed. They smelled delightful.

They were a presence.

And then the unthinkable happened. A small child, without warning, enjoying everyone’s happy awe, pranced in and sat on a couch. The poor thing could not have known that this was art, not furniture. That it represented a sizable chunk of our family change. That if so much as a crumb or scratch appeared to mar the view, all would be lost, she would never have attempted it.

Accompanied by a fatherly shriek that closely resembled a little girls’, the couch was rescued from this threat on its life. The couches were carefully re-bagged and returned to their rightful owners the very same day.

Gone now are thoughts of wallpaper or using any color of paint on the walls but white.  Deep colors chipped if so much as a nerf dart hit them. Doorjambs collected daily handprint donations of catsup and mud pie. Nope. White washable paint, by the five gallon drum, for every room of the house and applied frequently is how we roll.

On the upside, it’s a very fast clean for a room. On the downside, it takes the average kid less time to muck it up than it took you to prep the job.

If only I had looked carefully at the photographs, I would have discovered Victoria’s little secret to a sparkly perfect house sooner. There were no people in it. I suppose Social Services would have something to say about locking the kids outside. More on that in a later blog.

As I could not have a lovely house and my lovely kids in the same place at the same time, my Victorian Magazine era wound slowly to a natural end. It isn’t about the house after all, of course. It’s about the family that lives and loves and prays and plays in it.

Published inLiving Larger


  1. Rebekah

    photoshop and the internet have solved it all for us, steal photo of lovely living room off internet then photo shop family into said photo.. ta da. Takes a miracle but doable.

    • Yep, and then don’t have company over. Tell everyone you fired the maid and until you hire a new one, the place simply isn’t presentable “right now”. Meet for coffee, flash said photo around. Look innocent.

  2. Abbie

    ; ) I would give just about anything to have a visit back to The Diaper Days with our kids……lovely….

    • Jolie

      I have a feeling many of my blogs will wander there. Send a request if you have a particular day in mind. We’ll go visit it.

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