Domestic Bliss

Beware the Husband who Works from Home

August 17th, 2012 : No Comments »
Monday, August 27

Text from Phoebe to Brad
Gone to gym. Please try and get out of bed before noon so Lata can change the sheets.
Posted in Chapter One, Domestic Bliss, The Nanny Files

Left Holding the Baby

August 29th, 2012 : No Comments »

From: crystalwalker@sterlingmorris.com
To: gwalker@plunderhogg.com
Can you PLEASE come home early for once to shoot some hoops with your oldest son? Kevin-John claims not to have been assigned any homework yet, so he’s moping around the house and tormenting his younger brother. No wonder Karson feels obliged to resort to violence with his peers at pre-school.

From: crystalwalker@sterlingmorris.com
To: gwalker@plunderhogg.com
Fine. Just don’t come crying to me when the cherubs start sending you their therapy bills.

From: phoebegb@sahmsrule.net
To: crystalwalker@sterlingmorris.com
Subject: Blood-curdling Screams
Heard what sounded like distant wails coming from the vicinity of your house last night, and briefly considered offering to help with Baby, until sanity in the form of one of Lata’s pisco sours intervened.

Everything OK?

From: crystalwalker@sterlingmorris.com
To: phoebegb@sahmsrule.net
RE: Blood-curdling Screams
Cries of anguish were not Baby’s but my own reaction to George’s announcement that he’s going fishing in Wyoming with a couple of clients next week. That leaves Nina and me behind to cope with all the cherubs. He claims the trip is strictly for work, but he did admit to feeling the need to get away from all the demands placed on him at home these days. Doesn’t he realize that a maternity leave spent running a household with four demanding children is not exactly spring break in Daytona for me?

I know we both made the choice to move to here and have another baby. I just failed to anticipate I would be raising it as a single mother. Was this what the Sisters at my Catholic girls’ school meant by having it all?

From: phobebegb@sahmsrule.net
To: crystalwalker@sterlingmorris.com
RE: Blood-curdling screams
If Brad so much as thought about taking a trip without me after I had just given birth, he’d be a hunting souvenir by now. As it is, your predicament is but a distant memory for those of us who feel our husbands don’t travel enough.

In theory, Brad is responsible for bringing in all the household income, while I do everything else. Since the most common alternative to this arrangement appears to be for a woman to bring in the income and do everything else, I prefer to delegate at least one responsibility to my other half. To be fair, Brad does like to cook, but I’m not sure the occasional bowl of homemade pesto, delicious as it may be, is enough to make up for the fact that he has singularly failed to provide any significant earnings for a substantial period of time. And while I do believe in the man, I am also rather anxious about the dwindling size of our savings account. At this rate, we can barely afford to send one of the twins to community college.

If only I could remember which one promised to administer my sponge baths once I’m in the nursing home.

Text message from Crystal to George
What time will you be home tonite? In case u forgot, it’s Nina’s night off. U can’t possibly expect me to cook dinner AND handle homework/bedtime 4 all 4 cherubs alone. Can u?

Skye Chat
crystalwalker
do u happen to have some of Brad’s pesto to spare? George just texted to say won’t be home till 10, and cupboard is bare. Willing to pay top dollar!

phoebethompson
Will ask Brad asap.

Text From Crystal to Phoebe
Pesto = DELICIOUS. Please tell Brad he’s a godsend!

Posted in Chapter One, Domestic Bliss

Mani/Pedi Therapy

August 29th, 2012 : No Comments »
From: phoebegb@sahmsrule.net
To: crystalwalker@sterlingmorris.com
Subject: Domestic Bliss
What a charming picture you and Baby presented when I stopped by to drop off the pesto yesterday evening. There you were, snuggled up with this sleeping bundle of potential, while I was forced to return home to the same tedious old husband and rapidly aging children, whose personalities (and issues) were only too real.I know this is only part of the picture, and that babies are exhausting, but Brad has started pushing me to have another one of late – either that, or go back to work. Seeing as we are unlikely to conceive the old-fashioned way, I suppose I’ll just have to step up my volunteering (important to look busy) and hope his patent comes through in time for us to adopt a child before some Hollywood celebrity gets to them first.

From: crystalwalker@sterlingmorris.com
To: phoebegb@sahmsrule.net
RE: Domestic Bliss
You have an amazing ability to filter out the rest of the story while you were visiting yesterday. Didn’t you notice Kevin demanding I allow him to download slash metal music on his mePod, or Kimberly whining that her life was ruined by the arrival of another girl in the family? How could you miss Karson trying to turf Baby out of her bouncy chair when he thought no-one was looking?

Thank God, I had a bowl of Brad’s pasta to look forward to after I had wrestled (almost) all of them into bed. That stuff is addictive. The last time I remember getting that excited about a bunch of green leaves was back in college.

Skye Chat
phoebethompson
Keep quiet about pesto and there’ll be more where that came from. In meantime, do hope you get some sleep! Should help in these and so many other matters. Find weekly mani/pedis especially helpful for relaxation, and my last luxury (aside from Lata) to be discarded during tough times. Just so happens I have an appointment in half an hour. Care to join?

crystalwalker
Yes, but concerned au pair and George will judge me for being frivolous. Used to be so much easier to slip into salon on way home from work.

phoebethompson
Remind me where George is traveling next wk? As for Nina, just say u have an important meeting to attend, which is TRUE. Do you think Lata believes me when I walk out door dressed in power suit and return with fresh coat of OPI’s Slutty As a Presidential Intern? A hard stare is usually all it takes to silence that mocking look in her eyes.

crystalwalker
George claims the fishing trip is essential both for work and his mental health, as he finds it hard to relax w/o some kind of rod in his hands. Guess I’m entitled to feel the same way about pampering. Besides, while cat’s away, mice will play, right? I’m in.

phoebethompson:
Lata just showed up wearing favorite pair of jeans again. Swear she only does it to prove she looks better in them at fifty than I do at…well, let’s not go there. As soon as I wrestle ‘em off her, I’ll swing by and pick you up.

Tags:
Posted in Chapter One, Domestic Bliss


But where are you, darling?

August 29th, 2012 : No Comments »

Text from Crystal to George
WTH is your travel itinerary? U promised to email it before u left! Can’t BELIEVE how irresp. Ur with 4 chrbs at home. U cd be mauled by bear and dead for weeks before we found out!

Text from Crystal to George
Can’t BELIEVE u wd go somewhere w/o cellphone coverage.

From: crystalwalker@sterlingmorris.com
To: jsmith@plunderhogg.com
Subject: Travel Schedule
Dear Jane,
Can you please forward my husband’s travel itinerary for the next 7 days ASAP? He promised to get it to me before he left, but it must have slipped his mind. My children and I will sleep much better at night knowing where my husband is.

Thanks.

Crystal

Posted in Chapter One, Domestic Bliss

When Hubby’s ‘Business Partner’ Turns Out to be a Woman

August 30th, 2012 : No Comments »
From: crystalwalker@sterlingmorris.com
To: phoebegb@sahmsrule.net
Subject: Help!
May need more than a fresh mani/pedi to get me through latest marital crisis. Just before he left, George told me that someone called ‘Taylor’ from the office would be accompanying him on this trip. Naturally, I assumed that Taylor was a man, but when I happened to call George’s office about his travel itinerary this morning, I discovered that Taylor is in fact a twenty-nine year-old WOMAN. Turns out, your tip about gender-neutral names was right on the money.

I am currently leaning towards painful castration, but suspect my hormones may be messing with my judgment. I considered sending all the cherubs to him IMMEDIATELY, but then realized they may get an education for which they are not yet prepared. Any advice before I choose to exercise my second amendment rights?

From: phoebegb@sahmsrule.net
To: crystalwalker@sterlingmorris.com
RE: Help!
I’ll be right over. Please resist the urge to do or say anything you might regret in the meantime. I’m sure there must be some innocent explanation, even if I can’t for the life of me think of one right now.

From: crystalwalker@sterlingmorris.com
To: phoebegb@sahmsrule.net
RE: Help!
Just left a message for George at the lodge where he and Taylor are staying, saying there’s been a family emergency. Didn’t specify what. Thanks for coming over. Don’t know what I would do without you, esp. now that I appear to be on the brink of becoming a single parent for real.

Posted in Chapter One, Domestic Bliss

Hawaii 5-0

January 7th, 2014 : No Comments »

Michelle Obama

I find it amusing that President Obama’s 50th birthday ‘gift’ to Michelle was to leave her behind in Hawaii with friends, while he high-tailed it back to DC with Malia and Sasha.

Since this is exactly what Brad and the twins probably wish they had given me for Christmas, I know what President Obama and the girls likely had in mind: leave the b. at the beach and enjoy two weeks of peace and quiet while mom recovers from her holiday insanity.

Of course, I may unfairly be ascribing my own holiday madness to Michelle, but the Post also reported today that Mrs. Obama’s 50th birthday party invitations for later this month came with the instruction to guests ‘to eat dinner before you come.’

Now if that doesn’t sound like someone who’s had it with having to feed, fete and generally cater to other people’s needs, I don’t know what does.

Anyone else have an idea why the Obamas aren’t willing to spring for dinner when it comes to celebrating Michelle’s big 5-0?

Phoebe

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted in Current Affairs, DC, DC Diary, Domestic Bliss, Family Values, Politics, Politics and Propane


Surely it was him, not me

January 24th, 2014 : No Comments »

Seems it’s rather more difficult than I imagined to hire a caregiver for my father, Phoebe. Yesterday, I met a lovely woman, Louisa, who came more highly praised than a DC private school child. My dear sweet father (that’s the one who showed up yesterday anyway) was well-attired, polite and only mildly feeble. Louisa was charmed, if I may say so myself. I even, ahem, showed her our video clip to add a certain, “Je ne sais quoi” to our DC street cred.  It was with much alarm and surprise that I discovered, late last night, that she chose another family over us. She claimed they had a greater need and wanted to “stay in touch.” Felt much like one of my college break-ups in which my boyfriend claimed, “It’s me, not you,” when indeed we both knew it was the opposite. Next time, dear Phoebe, there will be no “dressing up” of the old goat. Full bipap (look it up rookies) and no teeth will rule the day. Didn’t bother dad at all, btw. His only comment, “She wasn’t good lookin’ enough anyway.” My midwestern sensibility will not allow myself to entertain the notion that he may have acted in an untoward fashion when my back was turned. Denial is the root of family bliss, after all.

Crystal

2014-dad-revised

Posted in DC Diary, Domestic Bliss, Friendly Encounters, Medical Madness, Oldest Swingers in Town

The College Countdown Begins

August 21st, 2015 : No Comments »

2015-08-17 16.37.07Dear Crystal,

As the mother of four cherubs, including two young adults, I know you are already familiar with the process of seeing the fruit of your womb going off to college, so I am hoping you can advise me if the turmoil I am right now, both internal and external, is to be expected.

To whit, is it normal to feel both bereft at the thought that the baby you once carried on the crook of your hip everywhere will never live at home in quite the same way she once did again, and simultaneously irritated that she is trying to engage you in a deep philosophical discussion while you are trying to eat breakfast in peace?

Is it OK to fall over oneself to do as much as possible for said offspring, by way of shopping, laundry and list-making, then find yourself being driven crazy by their inability to choose between laundry hampers at the Container Store, which is generally your happy place?

And is it to be expected that in spite of the fact they have more or less managed the entire college application process themselves, and held down two part-time jobs successfully most of the summer, all it takes is two weeks of witnessing them hang around in ratty old t-shirts and pajama bottoms all day, watching Netflix, for you to start panicking that they will never figure out what they want to do in life, let alone find someone to share it with?

Of course, it doesn’t help that I seem to have chosen this particularly inconvenient moment in time to embark upon a comprehensive attic to basement de-nesting exercise, when it could easily wait another year, when my second and last chick will fly the coop. I blame Marie Kondo and her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up for selling me on the illusion that I can sort out all my emotions and all my life-problems just by sorting out my shelves. Right now, I appear to be stuck with more of both, and I fear the solution may end up involving putting myself out on the curb with all the other old baggage.

Please tell me there is hope.

Phoebe

***

Phoebe,

Speaking of wombs, I often wonder why my college-aged darlings seem to want to return to it more than the ones who emerged from it much more recently. I suspect, as in all matters of the heart, Phoebe, distance–lots of it– makes the heart grow fonder. Once tucked into dorm rooms, one’s children seem to both relish the pleasure of independence, naturally, and long for the parental servitude of home. The impressive number of heartwarming texts from my offspring while not in my presence is encouraging. However, after a summer spent with so much quantity time with all of my children, I know their looks of disdain for me are surpassed only by my snotty flip of the wrist when discarding yet another carelessly discarded empty juicebox or water bottle in their presence. Can’t wait for my eldest ones to be back in their vastly overpriced maturation pods so that I can long for them (and they for me) again.

In sum, Phoebe, it should not be forgotten that this is as much your journey as theirs. A near constant reminder of that, while their nerves are frayed with anticipation for their new life, is likely to create just the right friction necessary for the the last goodbye on campus to be one they cherish forever.

Crystal

 

Posted in DC, DC Diary, Domestic Bliss, Motherz in the Hood, Parenting

5 Ways I Failed at The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

November 6th, 2015 : No Comments »

If you are one of the few people on the planet who has yet to discover Marie Kondo’s jewel of a book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I pity you. For the last four months, I have been obsessed, taking literally every single thing I own out of its habitual resting place, holding it in my hands, and weighing whether or not it brings me joy. Then, depending on what I decide, I either toss it aside for trash, recycling or donation, or carefully consider where it truly belongs, before placing it in its new home.

After all this time, I’m still only about two thirds away through my possessions, but I am far enough along to concur with the book’s premise that the process has been life-changing. Not only can I see exactly what I own and love in one place, easily accessible when I need it (including all my summer and winter clothes, which Kondo advocates storing together, rather than separately), but I can also store clean laundry and stuff I have just used more quickly and efficiently than I ever believed possible. In the process, I have also discovered wads of cash in the pockets of clothing I haven’t worn in years, and many other items that I thought were lost (including a brand new evening clutch in my emergency supply of vodka), solving several nagging mysteries at the same time.

Most importantly, I’ve rediscovered a sense of pleasure in my home – something that I haven’t felt for years, as the chaos of raising children while attempting to run a household and hold onto some semblance of a satisfying career intervened.

But even though I am a true believer when it comes to the Marie Kondo method, and I’m not quite done with it yet, there are a few discoveries I’ve made about myself that are not so joyful. Namely:

1) I would have made a great Nazi
As soon as I saw Marie Kondo’s book on the bookshelf at my local independent book store, I knew I had to have it. It was the literary equivalent of love at first sight, which perhaps explains why I was prepared to drink her Kool-Aid and follow her method without first fully understanding why. I realize now that I would probably have fallen for the orderliness of Hitler’s Nuremberg rallies just as fast. (All those people in uniform neatly lined up, sieg-heiling away in unison! What’s not to like?). As time passed, however, and I got more immersed in actually tidying my house, I was almost relieved to discover that there are a few areas of tidying where try as I might, I will never be able to apply the KonMari method to its full, terrifying effect (see below).

2) I am, and will always be, a sock torturer
Marie Kondo advocates rolling pairs of socks together after laundering, rather than folding one sock over another to keep them together. She claims this enables your socks to breathe, whatever that means in the context of inanimate objects. Try as I might, however, to me, this way chaos lies. Maybe Ms. Kondo only owns a few pairs of argyles, but I have a landfill mountain on laundry table made up of forlorn, lone socks. Why on earth would I choose to recreate that in my sock drawer?

3) Things We Don’t Like Will Always Be With Us
Even though I did try, faithfully, to follow Marie Kondo’s maxim about only keeping things that bring you joy, that just isn’t practical in the real world. If I were to get rid of every single thing in my house I didn’t like because it was either ugly (but practical), or appealing but used, chipped or full of holes, I would be left making breakfast without a single working spatula, wearing the only pair of pajamas that passes muster, and my worn out BCBG cashmere sweater, which still gives me joy, even though it’s more thread than fluff these days. Much like the friend you would like to cut out of your life, but keep running into, there will always be things we don’t like but can’t get rid of populating our lives.

4) I will continue to lose things like my keys, because I am a lazy purse slob
I love Marie Kondo’s suggestion that we empty our purse each night, and carefully put the contents away, thanking each item first for its service during the day. But once again, try as I might, this turns out to be the last thing I feel like doing at the end of a long day, when all I want is to collapse on the sofa with a cup of tea – or something stronger. As a result, I continue to carry the same purse full of junk with me everywhere I go, which weighs more than the average three-month old. It’s also the reason I continue to lose my keys on a weekly basis, in spite of the fact I even have a Tile tracker on my key chain (which right now is helpfully marking my keys as ‘out of range’). Sigh.

5) Americans own way too much stuff to keep it all in one place
One of the things Marie Kondo insists you do, as you go about finding homes for all the possessions that continue to bring you joy, is to keep the same types of things all in the same place. This worked well for me when it came to gathering up, say, all my umbrellas, and finding a new home for them on a shelf. But I discovered that it works less well for things like my shoes, which try as I might, will not fit on the one small rack I have to devote to them in my wardrobe. As a result, I am forced to cheat and keep my boots downstairs in the coat closet, and my running shoes in a basket by the front door. Doubtless, Marie Kondo would be horrified, but I suspect the average American just owns way more stuff than the average highly poised, immaculately dressed young Japanese woman.

There is, however, a silver lining to all these sobering revelations. In the process of reading, and applying the methodology of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I quickly discovered that deciding whether or not something brings you joy can be applied to everything in life, including people. Indeed, one of the things that sold me so quickly on the book is the testimonials from some of Marie Kondo’s readers, who cheerfully announce things like (to paraphrase): ‘First I tidied my house, then I got a divorce!’ Who could fail to be charmed at the prospect of reading a how-to book with opening gems like that? Naturally, I immediately turned to my family and told them the last thing I planned to do after tidying my house was to line them up at the bottom of the stairs and decide whether they were keepers or not – on an individual basis, of course. I haven’t got that far yet, but the warning still stands, and I find it to be a useful mantra to apply to every area of my life. Husbands, kids and family pets: you have been warned.

Posted in DC, Domestic Bliss

Back to The Novel