IKEA: Deconstructing My Feelings

All I wanted was a lamp.

Since moving to the Cozy Cottage, IKEA has become a champion for my journey to minimalism. Their furniture has clean lines, and a lot of it is built for small spaces. And it’s affordable. For example, our IKEA bed is the bomb. It has four huge drawers beneath the bed. It’s brilliant! We don’t even need a dresser.

But this last trip was … not good. It started out on a bright note, but by the time we got home, we were tired, frustrated, irritated with each other and … still didn’t have a lamp. It started me thinking … is IKEA really a champion for minimalists? Or is it the bane of our existence, with its labrynthian layout and low-cost/poor quality items that aren’t finished until we lug them home and pour our own sweat equity into the construction via Allen Wrench? It left me feeling confused.

I decided to work out my feelings about it on Facebook. This is my post from last Sunday:


TRIP TO IKEA IN 13 EASY STEPS [a love story]

1. OMG. We’re at IKEA! I love IKEA
2. Look at all the great stuff!
3. Where am I? Didn’t I already pass this display?
4. OMG! I love this [thing I have to assemble myself]
5. Where are you?
6. Do you like this [thing I have to assemble myself]?
7. Why don’t you like it?
8. What do you mean? I don’t think it looks like that.
9. Well, if you don’t like it, then I’m not going to get it.
10. Fine.
11. OMG. I hate IKEA
12. Are you mad? I’m not mad. I think I’m just hungry and tired.
13. I’m sorry. But I still hate IKEA.


What followed was a very boisterous exchange of ideas and commiseration from many of my Facebook friends:

From Suzy: “The problem appears to be you missed a step–sit down at the restaurant and eat meatballs somewhere between Steps 6 and 11. Meatballs make everything better.”

From Amarelis:  “Too accurate. IKEA is always a good idea until you actually start shopping.”

Shannon: “I’m going tomorrow but have the item # and bin so I will be in and out! I’m convinced this is the way to do IKEA!”

Liz: “I bought glasses there once. It’s true, you get what you pay for. They were broken by the time I got home!”

Kathy: “I buy lingonberries by the case (way cheaper than anywhere else) because I make lots of Swedish chili in the winter!”

Mmmmm, Kathy, you tempt me with your talk of Swedish chili! Tell me, are the lingonberries kept in stock near the exit, or do I have to search for them somewhere on the third floor between duvet covers and the wine racks?

While I’m still left sorting out my feelings about IKEA, I do know one thing: I have some pretty awesome FB friends.

Rob sums it up best:

“I always get so Sklerf when I go there–at first it is Ploog, and then it gets Flurgen.”

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The kid goes to camp

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Photo by Erol Ahmed on Unsplash

We dropped off our third child at camp over the weekend. He’s 14, and it’s his first time to be away from home. We left early, drove two hours to the University of Illinois, where he will spend a week playing tuba in band camp. He is matched with a roommate he’s never met before, will sleep in a dorm room, and will likely learn to navigate the campus like a pro by the end of the week.

My life flashed a little before my eyes as we drove towards the camp to drop him off. I couldn’t help but sneak glances into the backseat and see my boy–my baby boy–looking out the window, absorbed in his own thoughts. His face is taking on the elongated angles of a young man. But all I see are his trademark chubby face and sparkling eyes, the mischievous glances he used to give me as a toddler. I can still hear the cute high-pitched voice he used to talk and laugh in, now deepening as he slowly becomes a young man before our eyes.

This is the deal we sign up for as parents. If we are lucky enough to have children, our life is swept away by a torrent of 2 a.m feedings, diaper changing, snotty-nose-wiping-potty-training-temper-tantrum-ing years that seem to chew you up and spit you out. It’s exhausting, hilarious, maddening, heartwarming. Each year brings new challenges, many that weren’t discussed in What To Expect When You’re Expecting. Just when you think you’ve handled one problem, another one crops up. You’re batting away obstacles and quietly celebrating each small victory, and if you’re even luckier, you have a partner who can bat away and celebrate alongside you.

Next thing you know, you’re dropping him off at camp, trying to figure out whether he wants you to hug him goodbye, or whether a public show of affection would embarrass him to death.

And yet, this is what I want, isn’t it? I want a young man who is independent and can handle himself when I’m not there. And there he is, smiling at me, waving, then turning on his heel to go into the residence hall, alone. He didn’t even hesitate. He’s ready. I’m ready.

Back at home, I’m wondering about him. I hesitate, then decide to text him.

Did you find out which band you’re in?

40 minutes go by, then a reply:

Symphonic

I answer back immediately: Woo! Congratulations!

Another 30 minutes go by.

Thanks, homeslice

[He calls me that–homeslice. Sometimes I’m dawg. On really good days, I’m Schmom. Or Mom.com.]

I exhale. He’s fine. I’m fine. I’m not going to text him again.

He’s fine.

Three Things I Don’t Need (Since I Bought a Small House)

The greatest lesson the Cozy Cottage has taught us is the lesson of letting go. Letting go can be a joyful thing. Letting go feels like removing weight from your shoulders. Each day, we’re walking a little lighter and more freely in our little house. I’ve compiled a list of three things I can do without. I don’t need them! I’m free!

1.) Microwave To be honest, this one scared me. I mean, who doesn’t love the smell of microwave popcorn? Or the satisfaction of heating water for your tea right in the mug? And what about re-heating leftovers? No, I definitely wasn’t ready to give up the microwave. And still … it took up precious room on the counter. And how much did we really use it? So I carried it down to the basement. It wasn’t plugged in, but it sat down there, just in case. A week went by. One night, my son brought it up to heat up some water for hot chocolate. But then I showed him how to heat it in a saucepan on the stove. It didn’t take that much longer than the microwave. Mind. Blown. The microwave is gone now. I make popcorn on the stovetop. It’s delicious. I make tea in a kettle. And leftovers get re-heated in a pan. Except for pizza. Have you ever re-heated pizza in the oven? It’s heavenly. Try it. You’ll thank me.

2.) A Fence Our dog Baxter is an active guy. He loves to chase squirrels, rabbits, and squirrels. Oh, and squirrels. Our last house had a nice yard that was entirely fenced in. The Cozy Cottage does not. Before we moved in, we thought, “Of course, we’ll have to put up a fence for the dog.” Well, we haven’t, and we’re not going to. We love the way our back yard opens up to our neighbors. We’ve had so many wonderful conversations with the folks on either side of our house, and many of those conversations wouldn’t have happened if we had a fence. Also, we walk more. Baxter refuses to let us laze on the couch. When he’s gotta go, he’s gotta go! So we get up, and we take a walk. A lot of times, my husband and I walk together, and we have uninterrupted conversation! Or sometimes I’ll grab one of my kids, and I love hearing what’s going on in their world. Best of all, sometimes I walk alone. I have real thoughts, and I can finish them. I’m getting closer to solving the planet’s problems and world domination. Fence? No thanks.

3.) Master Suite In the near future, I’m going to devote an entire post to our “Master Bedroom,” because even I can’t believe in our bedroom setup. Our house has two bedrooms. That’s right! So it’s taken a little creativity to make sure everyone has a comfortable place to sleep. I used to think I wanted a giant bedroom with a sitting area, maybe even a couch and a desk, and an adjoining bathroom with two sinks so my darling husband could brush his teeth at his sink while I washed my face beside him in my sink. Our reality is nothing like that. Our Cozy Cottage has one bathroom, and sometimes it gets a little crazy, especially when five people are trying to get ready at the same time. But our little “master” bedroom is just enough for our queen-size bed, a lamp, and a little bookshelf. We have one closet and no dresser (but thanks to IKEA, our bed has four spacious drawers beneath it). You know what? My tiny bedroom is awesome! It’s pretty easy to keep neat, and there isn’t room for a lot of extra junk in there. Therefore, it’s a very relaxing place to be. When I go in there, I know I have a lamp, a book, comfy pillows, and my jammies. Turns out I don’t need the other stuff.