When we were first married, we rented a furnished studio apartment. Our table was tiny and two of the four chairs were stacked in the closet because there just wasn't room for them.
For our next apartment we went to the thrift store and bought a horrid (but cheap! We were still in college!) table and chair set - which we left on the side of the road with a 'free' sign when we graduated and moved (they were picked up almost before I put out the 'free' sign).
In North Carolina, we picked up (or got suckered into) an English pub set at an antique booth at the Raleigh flea market. It was cool. Tiny, not practical at all, but cool.
For several years, we were the gathering place for my family when my parents came in from out of state. The pub set wasn't cutting it, so we eventually got my parents old dining room set (which has like 13 leaves, I swear - it's huge!). I love that set. My parents bought it when I was about 9 or 10, and I remember thinking as a kid 'This is nice.' I've always loved it, and was happy to have it in my home. It's oval, and a beautiful, dark, glossy rosewood. Ahhh.
But, quite frankly, it's too nice for us. We recovered the chairs, and had the hardest time keeping screws in the seats after that - resulting in most guests being very surprised when they slipped off their seat, and one chair breaking into smithereens.
Also, we had to keep a pad/tablecloth on it all the time. That's hard when kids want to do school on it (you need a book under the paper), or you just need to wipe up one spot.
I've been thinking a lot about how schooling is going to go in the fall. And one of the things I decided was that we needed a new table. Something wipeable. And a little smaller, to make room for some cabinets I would like to hold school stuff. I figured I'd look this summer at thrift stores, yard sales, classifieds, and if I hadn't found one by August I'd buy this table from IKEA.
So, having just decided that, I checked the classifieds online, and found that exact table. And eight chairs, much like I would have picked out myself (except I wouldn't have picked white!). In perfect condition. In my own town.
It was too easy. I'd just decided this, right? But I called, and it turned out I could go see them that very afternoon - and my mom happened to be up so I had someone to watch the kids. It all just came together, you know?
Anyway, that is a very long way of telling you that We got a new table - and I love it!
It's very wipeable... and sturdy.
We were going to put one or both leaves in it, but decided to keep it at it's smallest for everyday use. And it's working for us.
I was also thinking of getting a preschool table for the boys to work at - something where their feet touch the ground. I pulled this table and chair set (we painted it for Princess when she was two) down from Monkey's room and put it in the living room temporarily. It's been cloudy and rainy, so sometimes little changes like this work wonders.
It's not quite big enough for two kids to work - but I figure between the table, counter (assuming I keep it cleared off - heh), this little table, and their own desks, the kids will have plenty of workspace choices next year.
p.s. I also bought another Nintendo DS from the classifieds this week - and guess what - I talked the seller down $15! I stink at bargaining. Generally, if something is priced too high for me I just don't buy it. But I think this was easier for me because we offered/counter-offered via email, and it ended up being a great deal - I'm proud of myself!