Life is absurd. And life is precious. Family is a lot of both.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Stylish...with Children

I adore parents who make big families look cool. And lately I think there is no one as cool as the Novogratz family. In case you haven't heard of them because you don't inhale HGTV and magazines like I do, they are a couple of decorators who have seven kids (all theirs), yet exude that aloof, stylish factor that is almost always mutually exclusive with parenthood. Almost...but not always thanks to these genius people who somehow manage to combine nine lives into one amazing lifestyle. Am I gushing? Yes, I am. And not just because I'm envious of their creativity and business success. Mostly because I want to know how in the world they get so many people to agree to such a funky, out-of-the-box aesthetic. (Want examples? Click here for fun at home with Rob and Cortney. Yes, I feel we should be on a first-name basis.)

We only have eight people in our family but there are enough opinions running rampant to make it seem more like 16. Or 24. Consider the day our enormous sectional couch was delivered. It was a joyous occasion given that our former seating arrangement had involved one love seat and two small chairs. Family movie night meant a pile of beanbags dragged from other rooms and a lot of complaining. I liked the way our small furniture didn't overwhelm the living room, but had to agree that being able to pile together on one couch would be nice. And it was. Until we started arguing about where to place it.

In my opinion, the person who comparison shopped, did the sit test, chose durable upholstery, scored a great deal and negotiated the terms of delivery should have ruled. But I was overthrown in a very noisy coup. It was decided by the decidedly un-expert decorators that the couch should sit on an angle directly in front of the television. From the back of the crowd I suggested placing it against the wall to leave more open space but was quickly, fervently, rudely I think, shut down with the ultimate argument: "We won't be able to see the TV as well." Fine, I agreed. And then I spent the next four months with a crick in my neck (it was too close to the screen) and a bruise on my hip (the corner seemed to jump out and attack me at least once a week).

Then came the day of the Christmas tree. Absolutely the only way our 9-foot tree would fit  in our living room was to move the couch. To the wall. When it came time that night to watch Elf I noticed we were all seated together and I heard not one complaint about seeing the screen. I, being an expert, kept my mouth shut.

Then came the day the Christmas tree came down. Suddenly there was a chorus of "Hey, let's leave the couch like this." and "I think it looks better with more space in here." and "Why didn't we put it here in the first place?"

After retreating to my room to pound my pillow (an effective parenting tool, by the way), I just smiled at them in acknowledgment that it's really a good thing I live with so many experts.

The big comfy couch against the wall...perfect!
So, Rob and Cortney, here's my biggest question. I read that you two have similar tastes. But surely out of your seven offspring, someone wants a more (or less even) traditional stamp on his or her clothing or bedroom. Surely. Do you put down your ultra-cool cowboy boot-clad foot if one of the kids wants to wear Crocs? Do you threaten grounding to the kid who asks for a Pottery Barn quilt? Is there no allowance for she who wants to spend her money on a "Wizards of Waverly Place" lunchbox?

I'll likely never get a chance to ask these style gurus my question in person. But I think I may have found the answer when I read about how they named their children. I guess Wolfie, Bellamy, Tallulah, Breaker, Five, Holleder, and Major never had a fighting chance to buck the uber-cool vibe their parents have set.

In hindsight I'm wishing we'd named our kids Aretas, Epaphroditus, Pleasance, Naaman, Salihah and Airic. Unusual, yes. But each one has a meaning that includes something about being agreeable.

And I could use a lot more being agreeable around here. Especially now that I am in the market for a really great coffee table.

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