Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Only Thing Worse Than a Smug Married Couple...

Although AZÚCAR definitely wins the gold on this tag, I want to play too.

What is your husband’s name?
His name is Awesome! Haven't I already explained that?


How long did you date?
Long enough for him to know what he was getting into.

How old is he?
He's five years older than me.

Who eats sweets?
The children.

Who said I love you first?
I was a wimp and said it in French. So it wouldn't count. He called me on that. But I think he said it first, in English.

Who is taller?
Him. He's the tallest, oldest, most in-graduate-school guy I ever dated.

Who can sing better?
Him. I don't sing.

Who is smarter?
He thinks I am, but that's not so. Of course, he may have figured out that I love the fact he says that. He runs a good PR campaign and never flinches.

Who does the laundry?
The nice man in the shop around the corner.

Who pays the bills?
I pay most of them, because it's fun.

Who sleeps on the right side of the bed?
There's a right side?

Who mows the lawn?
Awesome mows the lawn. But if we get a push mower I may try it for exercise.

Who cooks dinner?
I do. But I'm competing against the great chefs of Europe. Stuh-ressful!

Who drives?
a hard bargain? Awesome.

Who is the first to admit they are wrong?
No one. What kind of marriages are you people running out there?

Who kissed who first?
If we kiss each other, isn't it at the same time? Okay yes, it was Awesome who started all that.

Who asked who out first?
I never asked Captain Awesome out.

Who wears the pants?


Friends who should do this:
you.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Riche people in New York

Greetings, and a Merry Christmas Week to You!

I am on my fabulous Christmas vacation in Manhatten. I'm benefitting from one of those odd frugally-rich situations. Captain Awesome sublet an apartment from a friend for a couple months, and has lots of too many air miles to fly his offspring around with, so we are all here, crashing at his flat.

And watching hours of Disney Channel on the sublet big-screen t.v.

Other than the relatively cheap free flights, apartment we had to have anyway, and television viewing, everything else has been properly expensive. The adorable little neighborhood restaurants, relatively pricey. Shuttling around town on the subway--family too large to fit in taxi--adds up. Christmas tree lights and paper towels in city hardware store, probably more than I'd pay at home. My children look absolutely adorable and might be passing as privileged natives of the casually-dressed juvenile variety. Though at one point I did look at them all and realize, of course they might be passing at natives: all but one are wearing shoes and coats and hats and pants purchased in our nouveau-riche era.

What else? We went to the Toys R Us at Times Square, so the children could buy presents for each other. Toys R Us has a ferris wheel inside, of all things. Parental executive decision is that the line is too long, so we didn't do that. And an animatronic dinosaur rex, that was cool. Captain Awesome, his usual awesome self, managed to find a cash register with almost no line behind the dinosaur. As opposed to the snaking huge long line to the other cash registers in front of Terrible Rex.

More and more I have less and less to say on my blog here. Money changes the context, but most the things on my mind are almost unrelated to money, so they're out of scope of this webspace. I'm less shocked and dazed by my life these days. So, here is ordinary in an extraordinary context: Awesome is having a hard time sharing his apartment with us, though he invited us all here. And when I first arrived I discovered he and his friend decorate in high geek--cables and cords and connections snaking all over the small space, files and electronic storage and in-process projects laid everywhere about. Which I had immediate affection for, being a technophile girl, but nevertheless started bargaining for some space to put the kids suitcases or give them some table room. A sort of ordinary, inescapable marital clash. But in Manhatten. Where with all the city has to offer, we are punctuating our adventures with television.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Was I always this lazy?

spent the day in bed, wearing that green wool sweater I bought at Goodwill years ago, just reading.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Rich are like me when shopping?

Paco Underhill was in Science Friday December 14th, talking about the anthropology of shopping. Since I used to work in retail I was fascinated, but I was caught up by this tidbit in particular:

Underhill divided shoppers into three groups in our current economic environment. People who are struggling for the necessities. People who have close friends or families struggling for the necessities. And people who, say, have their mortgages paid off, who are doing fine but know that this is not a time for conspicuous consumption. The third group is still spending money, but in less viewable ways, such as taking vacation trips.

Kind of freaked me out, because I'm not buying much in the way of things, and haven't much of a taste to buy things. Particularly since all my family doesn't have it as easy as I do right now. And we are taking trips. And I have been spending money on services.

download Ira Flatow's "Science of Shopping" interview with Paco Underhill. The description of three groups of shoppers begins at around 19:30.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

What to get the Riche | The Riche-O-Meter

My children want me to make a wish list--they want to buy me presents, isn't that sweet? I told them what I wanted most was for someone to clean up the backyard, but apparently that is not selling.

Since many times before I've had to shop for someone who has everything, and now I am someone who has everything, I've decided to post my list for your edification.


1. CD: Day & Age by the Killers. Because I don't want to chose between being human or dancer.




2. Wool socks, in patterns and colors my children think are boring. Particularly the ones by SmartWool, since they wash up nicely..



2a. Of course, hand-knitting me socks is even better, using hand-dyed yarn. Of course, that's really more like a $400 present, when you get down to it. But since I don't knit, when you knit I think you're the Yarn Harlot.




3. Food. I like smoked salmon, and those Liberty Orchard Aplets and Cotlets. I like the 1930s fancy box, but you can buy the smaller, less expensive one. My food hang-ups are related to loving where I live and where I'm from.



4. Dean Harris jewelry at Target. And the presentation is great--put it in this lovely moss-colored box and/or bag. What's scary is that I like all of it, except maybe the peace sign stuff, so anything my kids get I really will want to wear, not just because the kid picked it.



5. Replace any of my well-worn paperbacks with a nice hardback edition.

Edited to add:

Emily M. of Segullah suggests: A subscription to a cooking magazine. I say, wow, thank you! One of my sisters gave me a subscription to Bon Appetite one year, that was one of the best gifts I ever received. Becoming riche hasn't changed how much I would enjoy that.

Also, I love Eliza Magazine for edgy modest fashion, and I love getting the magazine by Segullah.

Send me a virtual present in a comment, under $25 but preferably under $12, and I'll rate them on my Nouveau-Riche-O-Meter.

Friday, December 12, 2008

I spawn my own legal entity

You are probably all responsible, upstanding citizens. I, however, and new at this, and am only trying because, since I'm rich-rich-rich I have no excuse not to be.

With that in mind, today I signed my will. So did Captain Awesome. Up to this point, guardianship of our kids rested on a handwritten letter, and a well known understanding that one of my siblings has been rooked into agreeing to raise them if we died. I know everyone should have a will, but while my net worth was in the negatives, I just didn't get around to it.

And today, more interestingly, we are signed a trust. So at least there can be some money to raise my little monsters if Awesome and I aren't there to do it.

I think the last time I heard of a trust it was in a Lily Tomlin movie where she's so rich she puts her spirit into another body instead of dying. So rich, her kleenex box was filled with monogrammed cambric hankies.

I do think about getting monogrammed cambric hankies.

Anyway, all my stuff is now owned by this legal entity, which I have control of with Captain Awesome. We signed many signature pages, our attorney witnessed it.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Yes I did

I paid a team of people, not to dust and mop my house, but to sort and organize it. I worked alongside the team, that basically put my house through a 40+hour workweek of adult female sorting and decluttering in one day.

Yes, I know. Extravagant, extravagant proof that I am crazy. otoh, what could be a lovelier fantasy dream come true. Done. Overnight. Cleaning a house is a snap with no clutter. The kids' rooms are all neat--much easier for me to enforce the pick-up-your-stuff rules. Much nicer now that everyone has a dedicated spot for homework.

I still have some bags of papers to sort through, and we didn't hit the garage. Flylady would tell us this will never work--much better to establish routines and all this would melt off anyway.

Captain Awesome thinks I should also spring for a team to do the full-house spring clean--dust, mop, clean the windows, etc. Then I'll just deck the spotless halls.

I think this benefit may have bested the new bike rack.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Public School in a Private-ish Community

I was excited to make a donation to the elementary school's never-ending fundraiser. Well, I've alway given a donation, of about $20 a year. And we are lots of customers at the pancake breakfast. I didn't think beyond that, because I could never have made the suggested donation of $500 per child each year, so I didn't even try. I gave something because I knew the committee could use that to show a high percentage of families participating in the fundraising.

Yeah, $500 per child. "It's much less than private school tuition" goes the argument. Also, there were charts comparing our school funding with Scarsdale, New York. Five hundred each is a lot of money, especially if, like me, you are someone who has procreated freely. No bulk rate guideline on the donations--after all, who around here has more than two children, spaced at least seven years apart?

The local kids, they're being raised very well, with great parental attention, with love and resources. Lots of resources. I like these local children, they're very sweet and sincere. And bright and talented. Not snotty, materialistic, or spoiled. They make nice friends for my kids, though I worry about mine having to compete against them to get into college. They're always going off to Guatamala to build orphanages and stuff like that. Apparently sacrifices are not the only way to raise children well.

I was excited to make a "real" donation to the fund, but I forgot to actually write the check.

And, hey, let's pretend that was on purpose. Recently I got the flyer that read: Donate during these two weeks, and the mystery philanthropist will match our funds. Cool. I almost felt like a venal and clever contract lawyer, writing more of a check than Ms. Mystery planned to match.

Also found out that week, it's the grandparents who write a lot of these suggested donation checks. So other people are living the $20 level.

Today there's a charming handmade poster by the school admin office. In crooked but legible writing, in utilitarian blue marker, it lets us know we raised $175,000 in our two weeks. Which will be matched.

I thought that was an astounding lot of money.

Money donated almost entirely not by me, I assure you.

It really is different out here.

But I should have figured that out at my first high school PTA budget meeting, when I found out that, as usual, the parents had supplemented their children's education by raising one million dollars. Now, I know the tax-supplied school budget is several million dollars, but the parents giving $1M blew me away.

Excuse me, I have some reading to do. To understand the big numbers.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Real boots.

I bought boots. Which I will now post about, at length. Because the Riche are self-indulgent.

I didn't want flat-heel equestrian style, because I don't ride a horse. I always wanted girl boots with a heel. And I do mean ALWAYS wanted. Because since the 1980s IS always.

I used to handle my long-time wish for boots by sour-graping the boots in the stores. You know, when I took my children to buy the good shoes, I would also go look at the boots, and tsk-tsk how none of them were done quite right. A boot with an unfortunate embellishment here. A suede book that is so lovely but really not practical. And of course, none of the boots are made for walking--what is up with the 4 and 5 inch heel? I like to walk. So, why admit I could not afford boots? I could criticize them for free.

Yes, I noticed the boots you wear to church. Every.thing.about.them. And I wished they were mine.

So, while I was out visiting Bob and Bob and Bob on Monday (who knew that accountants, insurance agents, real estate agents, and doctors would be my new social life?), I went into the conveniently-located department store and asked the young woman at the shoe counter if Macy's had any kitten-heeled knee-high boots.

And she had no idea what I was talking about.

I can only hope she usually works jewelry. Or socks. Because otherwise, she should be reading Manolo's Shoe Blog until she gets up to speed. Because I love shoes, I could visit the shoe department anytime there is something new to see.

Fortunately, I was soon rescued by Ham, who not only knew what a kitten-heel is, but opined that whenever one finds a good shoe with a kitten heel, one ought to buy it immediately. I liked Ham immediately, obviously. After we lamented the world shortage of kitten-heels, I spotted over his shoulder a boot with a relatively sane 2 1/2 inch heel. I'm sure he never would have offered me this inferior substitute, but I was game.

I rolled up my jeans so I could see them on. And Ham told me to tuck just the hem of my jeans into to top of the boot. "You need to wear it tacky," he said.

"Sloppy, you mean? Casual?" Ham was born in another country, and he speaks more languages than I do, including the language of fashion.

"Tacky," he said.

"Tacky is good?" I say.

"Here," he said, and deftly tucked the hem of the jeans half into the inner top of the boot, so the jeans hung lopsided and sort of ruched over my knees, mostly above the boot. "or you could roll them."

"I'm going to wear them with a skirt," I said. I was feeling like a foreigner in the land of half-tucked boots. "Most of the time," I added, to show I was appreciating his advice.

So now I have boots! I wore them to church--with comfy unmatched athletic socks. Because, no one can see your socks when you wear boots!

I think I need another pair, in an unexpected color. These are the classic black knee-high ones I dreamed of. I need another pair, because now that *I* have boots, they will be completely out of style by 2010. So, expect to see me in boots A LOT through 2012.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving Weekend

Hello All!

I'm still away with my family. I hope you are having a lovely Thanksgiving too! I'm having such a good time.

This afternoon Captain Awesome took one of our children out on an excursion. Turns out they ventured into the Black Friday madness and came back with a laptop computer. Which I then designated as a family computer with a homework purpose, much to the child's disappointment. It's really nice, but I didn't really want a laptop in the house to manage. Maybe I'll bolt it to a table somehow.

I'm typing on it now.

I'm getting almost used to this new marital pattern, where either of us spend that much money and doesn't need to tell the other first. In this case, Captain Awesome seems to have found a way around my insistence that Christmas presents look somewhat like they did last year--by putting the new computer into immediate, non-Christmas use.

I thought the laptop was great when he showed up with it, though I'd explained my misgivings earlier. And, I was embarrassed what my bigger family would think, impulse buying a computer. Just the people staying at this house know. So far?

This is the first I've seen most my family since the Nouveau life. Everyone is treating me the same, which is good. Still willing to loan me a spare coat for the kid who forgot to pack one, not expecting me to go buy another one just because I can. And I'm less concerned about do-you-like-my-kids, do-you-like-my-husband. My husband is an incontrovertible success, and he did it his way. And if my kids are in some ways like him, good for them too. I'm so relaxed and enjoying my big family, it makes me see I really was pretty wrapped up in worrying about what they were thinking about us.

But maybe all this healthy perspective is simply because I'm older?

Nah. I think I'm getting this ten years ahead of schedule.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Shoes

Lest you think I'm not spending money--

I always had plenty of shoes. When one of a certain category broke down, I'd work around the hole until I could replace it.

--running shoes for exercise
--sandals for summer and to not wear running shoes all the time
--hiking boots for hiking and for not wearing running shoes all the time in the rain.
--black shoes for church.
--pink shoes for church.
--a couple pair of too-high satin strappy sandals you can't really wear anywhere.

But now I have an absurd number of shoes.

All of the above, plus:

brown sued ankle boots
capri-style sandals, but with wedge heel, 2 pair because I liked them so well
black ugly funk shoes for walking, which actually hurt my heels. Need to take 'em to the cobbler or give up.
Classic knee-high black boots (!!!!) Just bought them this month. Dang I love them. I wanted this category for 15 YEARS.

Being Riche Uncovers Other Problems.

I've always been one to snack at night. Something about having the kids finally abed after a long day. However, until recently, there wasn't much that was yummy in the house. Yummy in the junk food way.

However, these days I have plenty of money for processed and pre-prepared snacks. And in the last month--still not losing any weight--I figured out finally there's a name for eating until you're too full.
Duh: b i n g e     e a t i n g .

In fact, I think there's been examples of binge eating, binge sleeping, and binge reading in what I've been thinking of as my transition.

So, I thought about those three years in the middle of my motherhood experience so far, the three years when I was pre-baby slim. That time started when I lost weight without dieting, which I've never been able to explain. The "glory years" the now-teens don't want to hear about. And just now I realized those were the years I didn't snack at night, at all. I think of those years as being when I was so happy. Which is funny, because some of our most financially challenging years were in there, and one of my kids was drowning at school and I didn't know why. But I was making cheap art and taking belly dance, I had some friends to hang out with, and I was feeling my big feelings.

My life is absurdly easy now, right? Except that, duh, I don't feel happy all the time. I still have big feelings. Or at least, I suspect I do, under all my lectures to myself about how easy I have it, and how I have resources to address problems so there is no reason to get worked up about anything, and how I should not be disappointed (over the house that got away) or frustrated (that I can't find a place in the house to keep my sewing machine) or worried (about my kid facing some difficulty). Or unseemly happy.

No, I don't expect you to feel sorry for the poor little Riche Girl. But maybe, at times, maybe *I* better expect to feel something for her.

Because the stuffing of random food down my throat has got to stop.

</violins>

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The one that got away

The Riche Lady is very sad. Captain Awesome found the perfect house for her, and put a big bid on it. Nouveau Me was so high-strung excited she has not posted for days, afraid to breathe a word about her perfect house, nervous to notice she was thinking about the many splendors of the house. Today we received our answer. The owners have decided not to sell. They have decided to keep the perfect house in their family.

Darn. I wanted to keep it in my family.

I am sure I will have perspective on this later. I will laugh at how silly I am. Blessed with so much. And how amazing of Captain Awesome to do all he did to get my house. Uh, not my house.

I know in real estate you're not supposed to fall in love. However, this was certainly an unexpected way for it to end in heartbreak.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Public Patronage

So, tonight Captain Awesome and I went to see Art on a Stage. We've been really excited about this event, watching it come together for premier. In fact Awesome contributed some money to support the Next Art Project so they could perform New Work.  Captain and I are into New Work.  Captain Awesome told me they might have our names on a program or possibly announce our names aloud in connection with that. Ick.  

Typical of our craziness, Awesome flew in from Tampa just a couple hours before the show. I came in from my last set of kid carpooling after him, with just enough time to change out of my jeans. I even thought of not changing, time was so short.  But I put on my black travel palazzo pants--though the zipper is catching, I learned in Europe that these pants go with everything--and my Look Nice Anthropologie sweater--sweaters don't need ironed. I quickly put on those dangly big pearl earrings Awesome bought me, worthy of Scarlett Johansson. No time for makeup, which I hadn't bothered with all week. No thought to change my shoes--I just kept wearing my favorite sandals although they are cracking. And carried my Rich Lady bag. In between making sure the kids were getting dinner, and the kids could reiterate how to spend the evening obeying rules.

Funny, in the movies that's not part of the getting-ready montage.

We arrived at the auditorium. My friends were there, and the people I always see at this kind of thing.

Then the show started. The Art was amazing. I could do this every month.

And at the end, they not only announced our names, but made us go up on stage to be acknowledged with Behind the Scenes people. Yikes! I managed to chose not to be terrified. And they said how much money we gave, I felt sort of astonishingly exposed. Yeah, I was glad I'd put on more serious clothes. Though I was in the shallow end of what to wear, at least I was in the same pool. Most women hadn't confined themselves to one layer like I had, but had jacket and scarf and pin and savoir-fair. Actually, it may be I did had savoir-faire.  I was so high off my enjoyment of the event, so delighted with the Art, that I didn't much care what I looked like. Though I was still capable of thinking thoughts like--the stage lights would have washed out my makeup anyway, so it doesn't matter that I'm not wearing any, and hope I remembered to tug my sweater down, so my belly's not gapping out between the bottom of the sweater and the waistband of my pants--and goodness sake, stand up straight and hold my stomach in!

I found it easy to smile at the performers upstage from me. I loved the show.

Afterwards, we mingled. There were drinks and snacks. I talked to people I wanted to see, and we didn't have to stay too long. I must say, Captain Awesome, networking gregariously, is a natural as a patron of the Arts.

And I can go along too.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Rich, and You're Rich Alone.

Yesterday when I went to pick up the dry cleaning, I saw that the coffee place on the corner had closed. I'd never eaten there, but my daughter had.

I went Christmas shopping at one of my favorite mid-range department stores this week. To my surprise, everything in the store was 40% off. The store is in bankruptcy.

My parents' 401K took a big hit. If there was more time, they'd probably be okay. But it really is time for them to retire. I wonder how much of my husband's money would make a difference for them. But I haven't talked to anyone about it.

I've got family in Michigan: bail-out or bankruptcy, I get how the auto industry affects everything there.

As grateful as I am to have no financial worries over my own little family, I worry in general and wonder what if anything I can do.

When Captain Awesome made his project pay off big earlier this year, that was a big surprise to me, even a shock. But I never foresaw life would go on to this.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Travel!

Captain Awesome bought US ALL airplane tickets, and we're flying to have Thanksgiving with my parents.

I am sooooo excited. Planning the packing instead of the menu. And, I'm actually okay with giving up my Thanksgiving hostess superpowers for one year.

Of course, one of the kids who has never been on a plane doesn't want to go. My initial bribe is a new book.

How about you? Do you arrange the china and roast the turkey?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tagged: Seven Random Facts About Me

I've been tagged by Mommy Madness of Stretched to New Limits Everyday! Thank you, Mommy Madness.

This is the first time I've ever been tagged! Money has again gained me entry into genteel society!



1. I'm wearing (on the day I found I was tagged) those new flat Bjorn sandals I blogged about earlier, a brown dress from Layers, over which I pulled a hoodie with an advertising logo on the front. Sometimes the riche lack style.   Though I'm trying to convince myself this is beach-style. Like we don't wear to church. Are you convinced?


2. Captain Awesome wants me to hire someone to clean so I'll have more free time for myself and the creative projects which I like do. Free time for myself so I'll be cheerful, creative so he can enjoy a boast. I don't scrapbook

but 3. I do have creative abilities I have actually been paid for in the years B.C. (before children.) Awesome wants back the woman he married, now that he can afford to be her patron.

Dream come true, right?

BUT, I haven't yet hired anyone, though Awesome brought this up months ago. I'm nervous about having to hire or possibly fire someone, and I'm afraid I'll lose my tenuous grip on reality if someone else cleans my bathroom.



4. Captain Awesome doesn't want you to figure out who I am, since in all my blogging candor I am about as lovable as the Heinz heiress. He loves me anyway, but we don't expect you to. Therefore, I am nervous to reveal ANY random facts about myself. In fact, Captain Awesome suggested I not comment on your blog until I learn how to mask my IP address. That was an educational conversation.


5. I do not have, and have never had, a diamond ring. Until recently I took this as a sign of my personal lack of materialism, and my laudable political sensitivity for my brothers and sisters in Africa. Now we know it was all merely lack of opportunity. Which we should have figured out from the monthly gazing into the Costco diamond display.


6. I would never, never, really wear the hoodie with the advertising logo on the front to church on Sunday. Though the hoodie is so very comfortable, especially if I accidently sit in the back row with the cool ladies in Relief Society, where the air conditioning is in overdrive. I used to blame that cold air on men in jackets, but now I believe we're just doing our best to alleviate the suffering associated with menopause. Or global warming.


7. Apparently, I would wear to church a diamond ring. Or a brown dress from Layers, with a ketchup stain on the sleeve, that could be covered by an advertising hoodie. I've done at least one of those things before. After all, church is for sinners too.

And now I will tag:

Heidi Ashworth of Dunhaven Place, who's first novel just was published.

Amy of I Wish I Was in Dixie who's been offline lately, but I've been following her move to the new house. Hey Amy, do you have internet yet?

b. of i gotta b. and Good Mommy/Bad Mommy, who is wiser and kinder than me.



Thanks again, Mommy Madness, and sorry for my months-long delay in taking up this invitation. I was going to quit blogging, and then blogger suspended my address as a possible spam site. So your tag really came when I was feeling quite low, and I thank you for it. You were like my super-tuned-in blogging VT.

Satiated.

I was in an Apple store and already owned everything I'd probably want to buy.

Mind you, I'm sure I could have pushed admiration into desire if I'd wanted.

The shopping district was decked out for Christmas. Beautiful. I walked around a little and then went home.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Like the star of a Woody Allen movie

Those Woody Allen women. Living in amazing Manhattan apartments with lots of books, wearing great hats, and spending an hour each week in analysis.

I can be rich and neurotic too. But, since it's a New Century, I'm not going to hire a Freudian analyst. I'm hiring a Personal Coach. Talking to you blog readers here has helped me so much, and Thanks Again for the Comments. However, I need some practical encouragement on how to handle my schedule and my house, whether or not I'm still looking for a job (Before I became such a lady of leisure, I was working on getting employable this year, if not outright employed.) And maybe someone to report to, when I have another one of those days when I do no housework or cooking. i still seem to spend so much time stunned.

yes, we should all be stunned by sudden money.

I sent my prospective coach pictures of my totally messy house to quickly explain my organization problem. And an email of how I spent my time one typically crazy day. All those kid pick-up and drop-offs, and delivering the forgotten lunch, and squeezing the dinner in before some athletic practice or school event or youth activity. Ms. Coach acknowledged me, in her reply email, for all I'm doing to support my kids. Which was interesting, because all I had seen were the inefficiencies. And interesting, because she undercounted how many kids there are.

And I asked her if she would be comfortable working with a Mormon. Because Mormon I am, and if she believed I just took away her/others' right to marry, then perhaps our working relationship would be strained.

My first idea was to hire a caretaker, like you might hire for an aging parent, if I could find one who would do housework alongside me, and interrupt my train of thought by starting a conversation when I get the thousand dollar stare.

In a normal world, I suppose I would have asked for help from a visiting teacher. Or found a friend to play trade-off organization/declutter buddy.

Yes, that's the other thing for my coach list. I should figure out how to make some friends. I thought I was too busy before.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

My new buddy, the jeweler

I finally figured out how to get into the jewelry store. I took my rings in to have them resized.

Thank Heaven for Sundays

On Sunday, there's no shopping.

In my case, there's not even thinking about shopping.

There's no attempt to sort the bills. Or clean the tubs that should have been cleaned before. I do sometimes iron.

On Sunday, we still eat breakfast late, and snipe at each other about who's turn it is for the shower.

At church, I'm not really listening to all the talks. I'm managing my offsprings' reverence with tools in a bag. I'm careful not to wake Awesome, who fell asleep, nodding. I'm trying to remember someone's name. I'm noticing that C. is here. I'm wondering what it is like to be old, I'm admiring babies, and I'm wiping my eyes carefully so my makeup won't smear.

We don't eat out--for Sunday, I'm actually prepared. I put some chicken and onions in the crockpot in the morning, and some rice in the rice pot. When we got home from church, I saw that I hadn't turned the rice pot on.

And that's okay, we just ate 40 minutes later. There's no where we have to be.

If I hadn't done the crockpot thing, we would have made pancakes.

On Sunday, the home teacher arrives, and of all the things we talk about, some quite tenuously related to the scripture he brought, none of them are money or how I'm dressed.

Late on Sunday night, some of the kids will realize they have more homework, but they manage not to need me to go buy a paperclip or purple marker.

On Sunday, the hymns we sing are the same.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Turned into a cheerleader.

So I was out with one kid (only one!) and she was hungry, (we had been to the doctor) so we went through a drive-through to get her a munch.

(I didn't do a lot of eating out, or fast food before. So, even the casual use of the drive-through is an eye-opener. However, this also proves I was never poor, since I always had the stable place to live and to store food that needs cooked, and to cook it. Some people are buying off the dollar menu for a reason, and there is something missed by the judges huffing that they should spend their money wiser.)

This time, I did something I've never done before. I ordered myself a drink without food. Heck, I'm so cheap, my usual practice at the drive-through, was to take it home and consume it with drinks purchased in large containers at the grocery store.

Though I never managed to be as cool as my mom, who would get the hamburger instead of the cheeseburger, since she wasn't about to pay 10 cents per slice of cheese on our sandwiches. She put Kraft cheese on them at home.

So, while I was ordering my child a cheeseburger and drink, I decided to get myself a drink. I'd already had lunch, but I was a bit thirsty. I'm serious. I've never done that.

The strangest feeling then came over me-here I am, driving around in my minivan, mind you. I'm 40 something in age and nearly 40 in extra pounds, and I suddenly felt like...a high school cheerleader. Queen of the prom. Golden.

Do you remember those girls in high school, sometimes the most beautiful women you'll ever see in real life (what movie is that from?) Haven't thought about them in years. They were driving their cool cars, not running off to their homework or part-time jobs, and they drove by drinking soda from the fast food. Using straws and disposable cups. Sometimes they'd go get soda in the middle of the school day, during break! Drinking soda from the fast food was conspicuous consumption to me. I never had money to go buy by-the-cup soda when I was in high school. I suppose they were drinking diet.

I also had no idea, in my sheltered and happy teenage years, what kind of unseen difficulties some of those apparently blithe high school princesses may have had. Sometime in the 5 and 10 and 20 year reunions, you find out whose parents had drinking problems, or were sleeping around, or beating them up, or were simply unavailable. That brave skill of keeping problems backstage is not one I ever picked up.

But for me right now, with my soda and straw, twice as old, with the sun shining on the dashboard, I'm everything I thought they were, and I have everything I thought they had.

Funny what set that off.

Of course, I won't make it a habit. I'd rather eat organic, and I'm still freaked by the amount of pollution cars put out idling in the drive through.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Eat too much, sleep too much,

Too much!

Don't get me wrong--it's totally pleasant that I can now solve problems with money.   But, I still haven't gotten a handle on my schedule.  I used to wake up before the kids, get organized, get myself ready for the day.

Now I roll out of bed to drive one to seminary, drive back and assist everyone else getting off to school.  Then I come home, and without any clear plan, I go to bed.  I take a morning nap.  I have no young children at home anymore, and the sleep is delicious!

Sometimes then I go shopping.  All by myself.  

Obviously, the housework isn't getting done.

The other morning, the pre-seminary teenager looked over at me making lunches and said, "isn't that what you were wearing yesterday?"

"yup.  I just threw it on to drive out to the chapel."

"so you haven't had a shower?"

"uh, nope.  I usually take a shower after I get back from the elementary school."

"so, that means that if you stop and talk to a teacher or anybody, you're talking to them without a shower.  in yesterday's clothes.  That is so GROSS."

"uh, yes, I suppose it is."  I'm looking down at my hands, where I am making HER lunch, wondering why this is happening to me again.  "but I usually don't talk to anyone."  I'm thinking about the fact the shower probably won't happen until noon today.  Looking forward to going back to bed.  

I'll eat at 10.  I'll eat at 4.  I'll eat again at dinner.  Though I'd like to lose weight, lately I've been taking to stuffing myself.  And I do mean stuffing.  At night, I eat until my stomach is in pain.  I wonder if it will burst.  Then about 9 I am so tired, I go to bed before the teenagers.  But when I get in bed, I just start reading.  Because it's probably not that I'm so tired, as much as that I'm so tired of them.  Of being on duty, really.  

I'm addicted to pleasure.  I love eating and sleeping.  Somehow there's always something to do besides working.

And here's my soundtrack:

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Looking for Role Models in the Media: Maid to Order

Maid to Order

I haven't seen this movie in a really long time. In fact, it may not have ever come out on DVD. But I do keep remembering things about it since I became rich.

For one thing, the rich couple that hires Ally Sheedy displays a principle I think may be important. Inconsistent spending. It costs a lot of money to keep a staff. Then the rich wife yells at Ally for not saving the aluminum foil so she can redeem it. Later, when the rich couple puts on a charity benefit, the wife bargains with the floral designer to use cheaper materials and donate services. All so she can present a bigger check from the benefit to the charity. Which redeems her inconsistent money spending in our eyes.

Right?

I would totally trust Beverly D'Angelo to be my fairy godmother.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Mom, don't ever change. Your clothes.

I'm in the kitchen, prepping dinner.  I had spent the morning trying to declutter my room, and as a reward in that process, I found a jumper I bought last year, as summer dress from the Gap outlet.  Although the weather's changed, I put it on.  In the words of my favorite expensive designer, see what happens when you dress up a little?

Teenager comes in, "is that a new dress?"

Me, "no, I bought this for last summer.  I just found it in my closet.  I've been looking for it."

Teenager: "because you're buying an awfully lot of clothes lately."

Me, "an awfully lot?"

Teenager, "yes.  too much."

Me, confused.  "I have been buying some clothes, but so have you."

Teenager, "but I'm using my allowance.  And I needed clothes."

Me, "and I don't need clothes?  don't you think I have something like an allowance?" 

Teenager, being disgusted.

Me, being bewildered.  

Teenager, "are you sure that's not a new dress?"

Me, "yes, but would it matter if it were?"

She also complains if she catches me wearing make-up.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Is there an obligation to look good? All the time?

Yes, I have been watching more cable television. In a way, isn't that letting myself down? Let's face it, to the degree I ever fantasized about having money before money unexpectedly happened, I never was thinking "ah, if I were rich, I would sit on the couch and watch lots of cable t.v.!"

I've been watching What Not To Wear. And Tim Gunn's Guide to Style. So last night, being at some store that will be open after 9:30 p.m., buying some unexpected office supply item my kid absolutely needs to finish some two-week project in one night, I found myself wondering would Tim Gunn approve-or would he at least forgive?

No he would not. Because, even if you throw a classic trench coat over it, and carry a $400 purse, Tim Gunn does not approve of wearing gray sweatpants and a t-shirt when you run an errand.

And he's right.

But he told me about 15 minutes too late.   In this way, Tim Gunn differs from a spiritual prompting.

==

Now as I'm writing this, I wonder if I really would ever stop and take more time redressing myself after most the kids are in bed. The trick must be to have the errand outfit hanging on a hook--like a bathrobe, or a superwoman costume. Actually, most definitely like a superwoman costume.

Maybe Tim should get back to me after he has a handful of kids.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Rethinking the move

Captain Awesome is emailing me prices of houses in our old neighborhood in the Midwest, and prices of houses in Utah. Telling me we could retire in less than two years if we move out of state.

Whiplash. Used to be I was the one petitioning to move somewhere affordable.

Suspicion. Is Captain Awesome capable of retiring under any condition anyhow? I've hardly seen him work less than a 70 hour week.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Looking for Role Models in the Media: Real Housewives

Real Housewives, of Orange County, New York, and Atlanta.

Absolutely no help. Good grief, that one in Atlanta is someone's kept mistress. I almost liked that Duchess in New York who's writing the book on manners, except for the way she treats people.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Riche burn more fossil fuels

Last year I wouldn't have turned on the furnace yet. It's just a bit in the morning and maybe a bit after dinner when the house is cold.

Instead I lit the pilot and turned on the furnace. So nice this morning.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Like the Home Shopping Network, but more subtle

First there were the joys of cable television with its many channels.

In the last couple days I discovered I can order movies. They play instantly. I put the kids in bed, and now I've watched Penelope, and Men in Black, and Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, and James Bond. And the R-rated Four Weddings and a Funeral. It's nearly 3 in the morning, and I'm going to be trashed tomorrow.

But the laundry's folded!

Monday, October 27, 2008

shopping, not for breakfast anymore

"I wonder if I should l take myself out to breakfast?" I wonder out loud.

Captain Awesome is sitting beside me in the car, typing on his laptop, making phone calls, and Captain knows what else. That's why I am driving, as usual. Also, I drive so he can go directly from the conference to the airport without having to park the car.

"Didn't you get breakfast?"

"The kids ate all the pancakes, so I'm hungry." I'm trying to recover some of my dropped skills, like making pancakes for breakfast on a school day. The kids have been missing the things I used to do to improve our lifestyle with minimum outlay, like making pancakes for them in the morning, or making biscuits to go along with dinner. Or doing their laundry on time.

"You should have breakfast at the conference," says Awesome, and somehow I'm managing to look back into those green eyes while driving. "They have a good breakfast at this hotel. And you could come hear my presentation. You've never heard my presentation."

"Um..." I say. My hair is still wet. I have on no make-up. The shirt I threw on with my jeans is extremely wrinkled. "I'm not exactly dressed for a conference." And I don't like hotel breakfast. They're always boring: refined flour, air-dried cantaloupe, sour orange juice.

"I think you look great." One of the things about Captain Awesome, is he really means it when he says things like this. I think it is actually one of the keys to his success. He sees the positive and pulls out all the stops. This is not, however, a skill I have. I know if I try and go to conference breakfast, I'll just be uncomfortable and self-conscious about the wrinkled shirt and the sockless tennis shoes and the wet, uncombed hair. I grabbed my wallet but not my purse. I don't even have lipstick. And if I go hear his presentation, I'll only hear how the delivery differs from an ideal.

And I'm bent that he's leaving again.

We arrive and say goodbye. From here Captain Awesome will fly directly to Tampa. The Captain is kind of upset that I'm blogging all his travels to A-list cities as going to Tampa, but he's the one who wanted me to try harder to be anonymous.

Now I'm alone in the big city. Six months ago, if I had spent the gas to get up here and had a little money in my pocket I definitely would have continued to nearby Flagship Department Store--once I got a dress there for $35, the selection at Flagship is wider than at home and the discounts deeper. And if I were up here with no money I would have fumed at the lost opportunity. Right now, I could also go look at furniture or fabric for my theoretical new house.

Instead I pull into traffic and head home. It's not just that I'm half-ready for the day: I could buy a clean shirt at Flagship and get a set of make-up that I probably need anyhow. This is what it is: I want to finish cleaning up after the pancakes, I want to keep my exercise schedule, and I want to do the things I used to do regularly, not the things I used to do rarely.

On the drive back, I eat the dehydrated apple slices and crackers left over from yesterday's carpooling as my breakfast.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

In which I join the gym

So, I joined the gym, which meant I had to do an orientation on the cardio and weight machines.

Which have changed since I used them in high school. There is a keypad and display on each machine. It tells me how high to set the seat or arms or legs, what my weight-lifting target is, it counts my lifts for me, and it clucks at me if I lift too fast to be effective.

Albus did my orientation. Nice guy, older than me, very kind. I was ridiculously self-conscious about the weight-lifting. I didn't know how anything worked, I didn't know how hard to work, and I was very worried about my back and knees. I was embarrassed that on any arm machine, I'm pushing or pulling only 15 pounds. Good grief, most babies I pick up must weigh more than 15 pounds. The bags of groceries I carry in from the car must weigh more than 15 pounds.

Albus had some really good pointers that came out in conversation. That made me wonder about hiring a personal trainer.

Then Cedric took over on the orientation. Cedric was a twenty-something, an ex-football player I'd guess from his build. So suddenly I was old and fat and stupid. Where Albus cautioned me about not overdoing it, Cedric was perplexed why I wouldn't just do as much as I could. He reminded me of myself in college.

I've been to the gym an handful of times since then. Because of Albus I felt like I could do it. Because of Cedric, I got braver and upped the weight load on about half the routines.

I haven't lost any fat, but I'm becoming aware of my own body again. Whether I'm standing up straight. Where my limbs are.

I will say this: exercising does take an amazing lot of time. On the days I lift weights, the excursion to the gym is more than 90 minutes. Not the lifestyle of a working mother. But I'm going to see where it leads.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Fashion: Controlled by the Rich and Powerful

Do you know the real reason low-rise jeans are everywhere in style? That's so old chunky biddies like me can wear a small jean size, despite the fact we have 35-inch waists!

Do you know why bangs are making a comeback? That's so chunky old biddies like me can hide the wrinkles on our forehead. We weighed that against how much fatter our faces will look, and hiding the wrinkles won. Take that, you 20-year-old wrinkle-less models!

Do you know why they play all those old songs from the 80s and early 90s at the stores? That's because that's my favorite music!

Bwah-hah-ha-ha!

Edited to add comeuppance: I decided to trim my bangs again after writing this post. Stupid, overconfident me, I cut them too short, thereby dropping the socioeconomic level of my hair by at least two levels.

Now I'm afraid to go back to the Bobcut Salon until I grow them out, because when Bobbie sees what I did to myself, she's going to throw up her hands.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Indulgence: New Bike Rack

Spoil me! I bought a bike rack for my car!

oo0o, it is so nice. Much easier to use than the one I got at a garage sale that almost immediately fell apart.

I know the weather's going to make it pointless soon, it would be more sensible to wait until Spring.

But why be sensible? Bwah-ha-ha-ha-ha!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I go to the salon, and I experiment with tipping

Last week I called for a same-day appointment. Captain Awesome was getting back early from Timbuktu, and we were going to go to dinner with someone who wasn't mormon. I needed eyebrows. I made the appointment, but then showed up late. They put me in the waiting room the same length of time. Then a young Russian woman who happened to be there that day waxed my brow, quickly enough that I wouldn't be late to pick up the kids, and she wouldn't be late to her next appointment.

At the front desk, I tipped her $20.

Twenty dollars?!! said the receptionist. I think mostly that was about it not being a mistake I'd be angry about later. I was surprised $20 was enough for her to check, and I was surprised the attitude about receiving a tip isn't take-the-money-and-run.

"Yes" I said, giving her my best level gaze. "Her work is totally worth it."

Not that I'm going back anytime soon. But I was feeling very grateful, that she had done a good job, that she had fit me into the schedule, and that I was going to arrive at the elementary school on time.

I'm looking forward to Waiter Rant's next book on tipping.

The Secret Millionaire

http://blogs.wsj.com/wealth/2008/05/15/tvs-new-secret-millionaire/

Sunday, October 19, 2008

I wasn't drinking coffee

My girlfriend was in town for the weekend, and invited me to join her in the city for brunch. Captain Awesome encouraged me to do it, though I would miss church.

I didn't know how traffic would go--it turns out there can be very little traffic on a Sunday morning. Also, I left early, once everyone else left for church. So I arrived a whole hour early. There is an Anthropologie store nearby. I knew it would be there, right by where I would park.

I decided to go see what was there.

I have a few friends who decorate and dress very stylishly, in fact in the very Anthropologie style, without ever shopping there, and possibly without ever going in. I'm not like that, and I'm fascinated by this store. My decorating gene is broken, and I'm a perpetual "before" of what not to wear. I used to wonder, if I could just go in the store and buy everything the way they have it, if it would still be cute when I took it home. I haven't tried it, but since I've been able to, I've suspected it would not.

I ended up trying on a couple things, which is more than looking. And then, when it was obvious I would look better in the elegant sweater than the t-shirt I was wearing, I decided to buy it. And the other sweater. And a handbag.

I started chatting to the gal who rung up my sale. She has the same number of children as me. She works there full time. I used to work in retail, so I was asking if she got the "good" schedule, working the shift that starts in the morning. Retail jobs are hard to work around a life. She has to close once a week, so that night she's not home with her kids.

Of course, by shopping there today, I am contributing to the fact she doesn't have Sunday home with her kids.

When I connected up with my girlfriend, she didn't have time to stay for a full lunch. We grabbed coffee instead, so she could catch an earlier flight home. Of course, "grabbed coffee" means I had hot chocolate, while she had coffee. I was wearing my Sabbath-breaking sweater, and my shopping bag was parked by the chair.

There are times, when it's clear, I'm doing it all wrong.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Costco is full of stuff

I was really at Costco to get toilet paper. I started meandering, and found myself face-to-face with an X-box game system. You know, like the one your son goes to the neighbor's house to play. And I thought: I could put that in the cart.

And then I turned around, I guess I was standing in the Christmas section, in the middle of the store. And there was stuff to buy, everywhere. In colors. It was garish.

I don't think I've ever really looked at Costco. I just go in, buy my toilet paper, or my 50lb sack of flour, I don't look around. Suddenly, at Costco, and everywhere else, there is all this stuff to buy, that I could buy.

I could just put that X-box in the cart and run. To the check-out, that is.

It's like I moved here from Russia. I'm wowed by things on the shelf.

Though actually, these days, there are more millionaires in Moscow than anywhere else. Or was that billionaires?

They call it a halo setting

No, that's not my ring. But it is very pretty.

I was at Costco again...and drifted over to the jewelry case.

I don't know what it is about me and my fascination with diamonds. You can refuse the diamond culture in Provo and then discover yourself wondering about it ten years later.

Not too long into our new situation, Awesome and I had a conversation, where we reaffirmed it is more important to buy a house than a diamond. And, also I learned that it is going to be hard for Awesome to buy me a diamond. Apparently guys measure each other based on the rock the wife is wearing. So much better not to play the game.

Most the engagement rings in the case this time were halos. I was surprised. The first I'd ever heard of halos was on Pricescope earlier last month. But then, less than ten years ago I was so fascinated by the Tiffany Lucida, and now I wouldn't want one.

I wonder what it is like to have a diamond ring for many years. It would help me know what would be worth buying, if any would be worth getting at all.

in which I give a gift

I've never been good at gifts. I'm embarrassed when I receive them, and I'm stressed when I try to give them. It really has been rather convenient, that I simply haven't been able to afford them for so many years.

So this year, for his birthday, I decided to buy Captain Awesome a pair of sunglasses. Real sunglasses. Maui Jim's.

I drove everyone in the store a little crazy picking them out. I wanted something that would look great with a suit. But not make him look like a hitman.

So, he opened the box, he was delighted, the kids were delighted with cool dad. The sunglasses made their way into the glove box of the car. He never wears them.

They cost more than $200! So much for me and my gift-giving abilities.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

What would you do with a million dollars, part 26

While driving my daughter to seminary, we're reminiscing about the house close to where we're driving, the one we lost the bid on.  The kitchen was small, but it did have a gas stove, which is a particular hang up of mine.

Daughter: Mom, oh my gosh! We could have a stove where all four burners work!  That would be epic.

And I wonder why I'm having adjustment issues.

impart of your substance

There are ads on the radio, a chain of stores collecting coats for foster kids, a fundraiser for the homeless shelter downtown. I have an impulse to give, but then instead I wonder if I would buy the right kind of coat or if the church that runs the homeless shelter hates mormons. And then I do nothing.

Monday, October 13, 2008

So, today my card was declined.

Office Lady: So, we have some payment plans, she picks out papers from clear boxes on the wall, and once that's settled we can set up your next appointment.

Office Lady: now these hours, some of them will be for time spent on phone calls, time reviewing files...

Me: I understand, and I am cutting her off when I say this. I have a lawyer and an accountant. I don't expect them to do all the work I pay them for in my presence.

Me: I don't need to see the payment plans. I'll pay now. We'll make the appointment now.

Office Lady: Okay, but there's no rush.

Me: I know this might seem somewhat impetuous to you, but I made this decision a year ago and I've been saving the money. So, I'll pay the full amount now. and I put my credit card on the table.

Office Lady: okay, then let me recalculate. I'll take off 5%.

Office Lady, says something polite, and swipes card through little machine that looks like a black printing calculator. Same kind of machine as they have at the orthodontist.

beepbeepbeep.

Office Lady: Oh dear, your card has been declined.

Me, having flashbacks, to times this has happened before. Usually this happened before because Captain Awesome was out doing some awesome thing for his company, out of our checking account. I have no idea what my face did at this point of the conversation. I am trying to figure out how this could be happening.

Office Lady: Let me just run it again. Sometimes it just doesn't go through.

beepbeepbeep.

Office Lady: Oh dear, your card has been declined again.

Me, thinking this was never going to happen to me again, ever in my life.

Me, wondering if people whose cards have never really been declined, have this reaction too, or a different one.

Me, thinking about how much money is in the bank. A lot. If it really is gone, where would it be?

Office Lady: I'll just go downstairs and use the other machine.

Me, somewhat aggressive: Has it ever, ever been the case, that when you go downstairs, the answer is different? No matter which machine you send the message from, the answer must come from the same server. The same answer.

Office Lady doesn't answer.

Me: I'm not sure what the problem is, but another machine isn't going to make any difference.

Me: I'll go to the bank. I'll bring you the money now.

Office Lady: oh, that's not necessary. You can send the money later this week. You don't need to pay now.

Me: I'll go to the bank now. I don't know where my checkbook is anyway.

Office Lady: Actually, it is a bank holiday today.

right.

Me, peeking into my purse. Perhaps for my keys, I have had enough. But there, at the bottom, between the crumpled grocery receipt and the unopened package of screws, is the checkbook. Where were you when the PTA donation committee came by?

Me: Look, here is my checkbook. I will write the check now. It will clear later this week. I don't want another errand to run later.

I write the check. The amount is some ridiculous number, like a Sudoku game on some smaller square, where no two digits can be used twice. It was a different number, but a number like this, before she took the 5% off. I suppose it is supposed to make me feel like the number has been exactly calculated, that each penny reflects some costful effort they will expend on my behalf. It makes writing the check more onerous, since each place value must be written out on the line, and it will all barely fit in.

I am sure Office Lady is assuming this check will bounce. I am sure she thinks I am playing my part of some elaborate game, the game where her previous move was to offer to try the credit card machine downstairs.

I sign the check and leave.

I consider, briefly, going straight home rather than to the mall next door, where they sell the jeans I need. At home I can get online and see what's up at the bank. At the mall, I may get to play card declined again. At the intersection I decide a normal person would go ahead and buy the jeans, since I'm on this side of town. Stick to the original plan.

The card works fine at the mall. I give it a workout.

At home, online, I see that my money, more than enough to cover the check, is still in the bank.

Perhaps the fraud department doesn't like Sudoku numbers anymore than I do.

In which I console myself by going shopping

My one pair of pants died this weekend, the pocket ripped leaving a hole behind, and I had to borrow a pair that belonged to my kid.

So at the near-to-errands mall, I went to Gap and bought jeans, and then cords, and then a couple t-shirts. The colors were absolutely delish. Rusty red. Cranberry. That deep Fall blue. Livid green. Anyway, apparently I was having some kind of sensual color experience there. And then socks for $2 pair. And socks for my kids so they won't steal mine. Then I drove across town and bought myself new running shoes And a $20 watch with a set of wristbands in different colors.

Then I went to pick up the kids, and realized everything I was wearing is new. I had changed into the new clothes, piece by piece, along the way. That was very odd.

Pretty soon I will run out of things I obviously need. I need something better to do than shopping.

No longer about my hair color or dress size.

I just realized. If Captain Awesome died, someone might want to marry me for my money.

Dang, that's weird.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

I came clean to Captain Awesome

So, I told Captain Awesome about my blog.  And, after he picked himself off the floor laughing, he told me to shut it down.  

Okay, I said.  But, it's very funny.

But no one should know who we are, he said.

Well, that's the problem.  Some people figured it out.

Well, then you should shut it down.

I looked very sad.

He started laughing again.

Okay, he said.  Just don't make us look bad.

Captain honey, looking bad is the whole point of this blog.   The fact is, I'm very bad at this.  I do look bad.  

He's still laughing.

and he said I could keep telling my story.

So, here I go.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Hire an Interior Designer

Today I paid an interior designer $280 to talk me out of moving the piano and keep me from pulling a couple bookshelves off the wall.  It's sort of like hiring your own suicide watch--lady, step away from the crowbar.   

I stacked the deck by renting a storage unit first, to which I carted off our excess of furniture and boxes this afternoon in the van.  After the designer told me what to keep.  Four trips in the van. 

 Sometimes I think I've fallen into hiring people to rubber stamp my own decisions.  I had my feng shui close to right, but I'm happier now that the room is further adjusted.  Someone might argue that the room looks pretty much the same as it did before, except clean, and that person might be Captain Awesome when he gets back from Tampa.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Pickle Relish Sandwich

This morning my daughter made a pickle relish and ketchup sandwich for her lunch. I've never seen her do that before.

"Honey, do you want some ham on that?" I said.

"No, I don't like ham."

"but you want a pickle relish sandwich?"

Child rolls her eyes at mother.

"Well, okay," I say, "I get it, I love pickle relish too."

Yeah, I made pickle relish sandwiches in college. Because I was broke. Developed a taste for them. I don't know if the kids have ever caught me still doing that, in the corners of their lives.

Right now I have peanut butter and jam in the house, and ham, and tortellini, salad stuff, ritz crackers, several containers of restaurant leftovers, and sufficient cash for school lunch. But my daughter wants a pickle relish sandwich.

Good think there are no rich people police.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Money leads to character weakness

It's a heat wave, so we have ants in the kitchen. Captain Awesome is out of town at some conference in Tampa, and I'm worn out. So I took the kids out to dinner, why not? There's a little Americana place in town I've always wanted to try, a place the Captain thinks looks bland. The owner/chef was praised in some ten-year-old restaurant review for his Osso Buco, and I still want to know what Osso Buco is.

I think it has something to do with ox, I told my kid. No, that's not quite right.

Anyway, it was lovely. Surprisingly lovely. Dinner at home I'm the full-time conversation and anti-poke police. "Listen to her. Let him have his turn. That wasn't necessary. That was mean. Your space goes from the crack in the table to the corner." Instead, unexpectedly--the meal at the restaurant was like eating out with friends you love, who are shorter than usual. Glad to chat about their various areas of interest and expertise, and no need for me to hub or police the conversation. And one of them colors on her paper placemat a little bit, like that mathematician you know.

Considering what I was expecting, I'm not sure why I took them out. The pleasure of the experience certainly blunted the pain when the $100 bill arrived.

And so much easier to kill ants in an unused kitchen when we got home.

Then somehow it snowballed after that. We're out of bread, let's go out to lunch. I don't want to make sloppy joes, let's go get chinese food. I simply stopped cooking.

It was at the Italian place, hundreds of dollars spent unnecessarily later, that I gracelessly announced tomorrrow was Fast Sunday. The only thing on the back of my mind was my abandoned diet.

"What?" said my teenager, "We shouldn't be eating now!"

Oh. whoops.

I couldn't believe how my stomach growled at church, contracting after too much eggplant parmesan and crusty bread.

That's also when I realized I had also missed, had completely spaced-out forgotten, the week-ahead women's session of General Conference.

I've been so proud of the things I've done, to make this family, this quirky family, work on its own resources and strengths. My cooking family meals was one of my prides. I would have said cooking was a choice and a necessity. But seeing how, at the chance, I repeatedly didn't just didn't bother, I'm concerned about what other choices, weak choices, I'll be letting happen now. Now that I have the option.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Mr Gosh-I'm-Bored, shut down this blog.

Okay, so I'm unintentionally not so good at being nice. And several people have figured out who I am, though I was supposed to be doing this anonymously. So, I'll probably be shutting down

Friday, September 26, 2008

A swing in my step.

So, my five-carat friend took me shopping again. To Nordstrom Rack. Since I spend too much on jeans at the Gap and not enough on t-shirts at Target, she's taken me under her wing. What I've been doing is not a grown-up way to dress, and it doesn't hide my paunch.

I did figure out a couple years ago I dress just like the nannies on this side of town. Except the nannies do iron their t-shirts. On the other side of town, the nannies are young glamourous Europeans dressed for a Vogue photo shoot.

What they do have a lot of at Nordstrom Rack, besides shirts with buttons, is shoes. I scored a pair of Bjorn sandals.

Yesterday I wore my new t-shirt dress (fashion baby steps) with the new sandals and carried my Rich Lady Bag. I felt kinda...cute. Or better than cute: a little elegant. And tall--I can't explain that, the sandals are flat.

So, I ended up in this office waiting room, every one who arrived before me having taken the few available chairs. I just stood--the only one standing--and held my fancy bag and felt like Audrey Hepburn, happy with myself. After awhile, one of the guys stood up and moseyed over to another standing place. It took me a few beats to realize he was freeing up a chair. I waited a few beats more to see if he meant it, and then I sat.

Somehow it was a little bit like a hand-off in a spy movie. He could give me his seat, as long as he wasn't, acknowledged to be, you know, giving me his seat. No eye contact.

Fortunately, none of us waited too long after that. I had probably been more comfortable standing in my deceptively cute hiking sandals than he was standing in his dress shoes. I couldn't thank him, since it never happened, but it did make me feel quite lovely.

And quite up to being the wife of Capt. Awesome.

I venture into the electronics store.

Last time I looked at big screen TVs, which was a theoretical exercise, they had to have a 18" cube media box attached by wire nearby, to interpret the signal. Capt. Awesome said it wasn't like that anymore, but I didn't believe him. So today I went and looked at TVs that hang on the wall.

They don't have a media box. Yeah, you all already knew that. The clerk who helped me thought I was a little crazy to think so, but he was probably in high school last time I looked at TVs.

They all hang on the wall, they all can be angled to be seen from a couch, they all did whatever I asked about. The clerk was very kind, though you could tell he thought I was just off the boat.

Which I am.

Azucar has good things to say about DVR, so I'm thinking about that too.

I didn't buy a TV today. I'll want one in the new house, so I needed to know what parameters these TVs have. I thanked the clerk and enthused to his manager about how helpful he'd been. Rich people who don't buy things have responsibilities.

--

In other technology news, my teenagers were sharing an iPod tonight, though in our family now everyone owns their own iPod. Anyhow, they were sharing, each with one of the earbuds, singing along to each other. Drove the rest of us in the car a little crazy, since we couldn't hold a conversation, but the rest of us were younger sibs who still worship the teens, and me who thinks singing teenagers are sweet.

Bad form to be jealous?

I am totally digging the fact that excellent writer/bloggers whom I stalk are commenting on my blog, to console with me on my good fortune, and even leaving comments! I don't want to drop names and further rub in the perks I'm enjoying with my new wealth, but let's just say someone looked up from her navel long enough to look at me.
"This is entertaining, but I don't know if I can read your blog because I'm SO. JEALOUS. Seriously. Is that bad form to say?"
How could it be bad form to say "SO. JEALOUS."? We both know *I* started the bad form by talking about the money AT ALL.

Let's face it: we all know the correct Mormon way to be rich is to be indistinguishable from anyone else in the ward in a quietly conservative way, and more polite, and then to finance secretly other people's missions. Put on your financial burka, sister!

But I won't. Or rather, I won't be properly reserved while anonymous on the internet.

Besides, I'm probably going to drive you all crazy by not doing the things with the money that you would do.

But the real skinny is, and I only tell you this because you might be called to visit teach some poor little rich sister, I do hate it that you're jealous. Totally uncomfortable. Because I am so uncomfortable with myself.

So far I am not fulfilling any of the good-behavior fantasy guidelines I had worked up for rich people. And I am growing mightily uneasy, despite Capt. Awesome's steady assurances, that I am not measuring up for what is expected of a rich man's wife.

Bad form?!! Bad form would be to stop visiting my blog. Come often. Advise me what to do. Ask questions. Though believe me, money has not made me smart.

The Jeans Industrial Complex



I own one pair of jeans. I hate shopping, and until recently I didn't have a lot of money. But I did splurge on the jeans. I went straight to the Gap, where they would have something that fit, that would made me look good, and that would look like it was from the current decade. Whether or not I know what the current decade looks like.

I wear the jeans nearly every day. I wash them once or twice a week.

Yeah, I still haven't gotten around to buying a second pair. Or rather, I did, and my teenage daughter took them. She didn't mean to--they were mixed up in the laundry. So now she's wearing another pair of mid-rise slightly-loose-on-her jeans, bringing her total up to 3. Do you think I want to take her to a store and mess up that?

Also, this amuses me because I have to buy my jeans while she's at school and then hide the bag. Because my daughter disapproves of The Gap. She's concerned (and rightly so) about labor abuse in third world countries. [check out the comments, we have exonerated the Gap, and I am now shopping there guilt free.] Fortunately, she doesn't look at the labels of jeans that just show up in her laundry basket.

Recently I raised all the children's allowances significantly. Now she has to buy her own clothes. She likes clothes, but she's virtuously not shopping. Something to do with the carbon footprint.

I bought a couple t-shirts at Target this week. $6.48 each. I don't know what human suffering that's predicated on. But to solve the problem of clothing myself when I was just out to buy a crockpot was more than I could pass by.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

In which I write a check for a whole lotta money, and look like an idiot

Even though I was only moving money from one bank to another, that's definitely the biggest check I've ever written. You'd think such an event would have my undivided attention, licensing neglect of everything else. But no. Mostly my brain is full of how to pick up children from schools on opposite sides of town, and when am I going to make dinner.

Me, to bank clerk: this is my account number. Would you confirm I'm putting this into my own account, an account with my name on it?

Guy in suit: okay, just a minute

Me: I think the account is filed under my financial advisor. (note: the account is NOT in the advisor's name. but they don't treat advisor accounts like normal accounts.)

Guy in suit: What is your advisor's name.

Me: /blink. blink.

I had just come from a meeting with my advisor. Isn't his name Bob? But then the mortgage guy is Bob. The real estate agent tasked with finding our million dollar house is Bob. And the accountant has always been Bob. What is it with all the white guys named Bob?

Guy in suit: Well, what company is your advisor with?

Me: uh. uh. Fidiciarysomething?

Guy in suit: Ah, Famous Fiduciary Empire that owns the big building in the city?

Me, miserable, and horrified by the thought of Empire touching my money: No, this is a smaller company. Fidush, Fidush, Fidush...

it's not coming back to me.

Guy in suit: well where is your advisor's office?

Me: uh, outside of town, one of the suburbs...

Dang, which suburb was it? It was one of those nice suburbs--was it the one to the east, or the north? Dang, if I could remember which direction I would know. But I've never been there.

I think about telling Guy I just came from a meeting with my advisor, in the coffee house down the street. But I'm feeling like too much an idiot. At the moment I don't know the name of the person I have investing my money. From what I know, I can't prove he even has an office--I've certainly never been there. Add to this the fact that my husband, my advisor, and etc., are all Mormon, this is starting to look like a classic Utah con job, without the actual Utah. But my husband has known Bob, or whatever his name is, for years, since back in college, and chose him to be our advisor back when I was still cooking up with 47 ways to eat our food storage.

Guy in suit, glancing at change his computer screen: Ah, here is your account. Yes, your name and Capt. Awesome's name are on it. And your advisor, Bob of Fiduciary Twoguys.

Me: Thank you. May I have a receipt?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Education Specialist Today.

Today I'm taking my son to an education specialist. He's struggled in school. Looked like dyslexia sometimes to me. Teacher thought it was ADD. That was miserable--she has me convinced now that everyone in the family has ADD.

My son seems so bright to us. But it doesn't show up in his work. He could pass third grade if it were an oral defense. He hates, however, to write anything down.

I couldn't afford an intervention before. Yeah, I know that supposedly you can get one in any economic bracket. I'm not good at arranging things like that. In this case, I'm grateful to be rescued by the money.

Edited to add: The office called and the doctor had an emergency to attend to. So, hope and anticipation for another day.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

How I didn't lose any money in the stock market

Dumb Luck

More money than I care to admit, and none of it in the stock market.

Since we're shopping for a house, we have all our money in money market funds, through Fidelity and Charles Schwab. We wanted the money to be pretty liquid, so when we find a house, we can bid on it immediately.

We haven't found the house yet. So the money's just been parked. The money was "not working," as they say. And that's why we didn't lose 10% to 15% of it like everyone else.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Ikea lets me down

Today, while my children were at school, I decided to drive out to Ikea. We have broken too many of our plates, and now I can't set a matching table unless I get out my grandmother's dishes. Which I do every Sunday, but I don't want to break them with ordinary use.

I love my Ikea plates. White with a blue-gray rim. $3.00 a plate. And Pokal 12-ounce glasses, less than a dollar each.

Ikea discontinued my plates.

They're making the plates in new colors, a lovely robin's egg blue that clashes with what I have. And the new plates are bigger instead—13" across.  We'll all get fat filling plates that large.  And they cost more than twice as much.

And Ikea hasn't, according to the helpful clerk, had my Pokal in stock for months.  So we're still drinking out of mason jars.

I'm going to have to start all over again, with new everyday dishes.

Edited to add: Dishes acquired! 12 Fitz & Floyd white porcelain dinner plates, under $50. We can use them with the bowls, etc. I already have. I was proud of myself for not letting the teens bully me again out of all-white plates.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

What the Riche learn at the Health Club

I'm keeping up with my daily cable television goals by going to the health club. I started going in the morning because that's when the music videos play, and I'm still kind of a dope with my new iPod. I've got two albums in there: the first Killers, and Weird Al. Guess which one I want to replace with ten hours of J-Pop. Sorry Al.

So my video news for the day is that Pink has a new Word of Wisdom commercial out called Sober. The video includes a European landmark, which I recognized from my Grand Tour this summer. I am so trés cosmopolitan! Though I've never barfed in a toilet like Pink does.

I am now resolved, not only to wear the magic girly brown t-shirt for workouts, but also the push-up bra I accidently wore this morning. Because thinking it is possible that I look good in one of those unavoidable mirrors is much more motivating than free cable music videos.

And hey, at least I'm not wearing make-up.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

I thought I'd be thinner.

One of the first things I thought, was, that now I could lose weight. I'm carrying an extra 30 pounds in the last five years: my faux pregnancy, my stress weight.

And why not lose the weight? I can buy strawberries out of season. I can join the gym. My stress should be gone. No reason for me to still be so not myself.

It would just drop off, right?

Four months, and I can't seem to make it to the gym. Or even on a daily walk. I keep eating stuff. I can't concentrate. And my weight, of course, hasn't changed an ounce.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

What I know about wealthy mormons

Wealthy mormons give away money.

Wealthy mormons host ward events at their large houses.

Wealthy mormons are frugal. Think of Mitt Romney bringing his own popcorn to the movie theater. Think of the wealthy family in the ward where I grew up. Their house was mind-boggling. Double curved stair, like in Gone With the Wind. Big pool in the backyard, surrounded by gardens. Let everyone in the stake hold their wedding receptions in the backyard. And gave great advice, like where to buy shiny shoes cheaply, rather than renting them with the tux.

Wealthy Mormons are led by the Holy Ghost. One particular wealthy family had one of the two extant original sunstones from the Nauvoo Temple in their backyard. As garden sculpture. At one point, Brother Wealthy sold it, knew he should, though he wanted to keep it longer. Shortly after we had one of our big earthquakes, and that stone would have been cracked where it stood.

Wealthy mormons are gracious, socially appropriate (Mormons are always socially appropriate, right?), and not showy.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I, on the other hand, like to speak up. I'm kind of tacky because I like to wear what I want and do what I want. I never arrive anywhere on time, and I'm more truthful than helpful.

My faith is the same, which is to say, I'm drifting a bit.

I'm pretty much delighted to throw off being frugal. Today I took my son and his friend and his friend's mom to the most expensive ice-cream shop in town, that I know of. Because it was there, near where we needed to be. Because it was fun. I bought bison last week and cooked it into our tacos. Grapefruit in a plastic container, that someone else had peeled and sectioned.

As far as traditional entertaining goes, thank heaven someone else will have a bigger house. I'll never be able to break my husband's habit of inviting over 30 people without telling me, and telling them to bring the food.

I've been amazed how it is so much harder to give away money now than it was before I had it. All the money now, has plans. I want my house. And my retirement. And my children's college. And, a large heart-shaped diamond ring. Too bad I don't have a big bosom to go with that last one.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

My girlfriend's diamond ring


My girlfriend let me try on her diamond ring. She says I'll get over my penchant for a heart-shaped diamond soon, and better get over it before my husband buys me a diamond.

Her ring has a huge emerald-cut diamond at the center. I think she caught me staring at it earlier. And I do mean, huge. I think it might be four or five carats.  It's like a J-Lo Ben Affleck ring.  What is wrong with me that I know about the J-Lo ring?

That's really just an entirely different animal than those rings I've been admiring at Costco.

I couldn't put it on all the way--her fingers are slimmer than mine. I wish I could kick off the rest of this post-pregnancy weight.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

I'm supposed to teach my children how to handle money.

Right.

Instead, I just raised their allowances by a decimal point.

My brilliant and talented husband, Captain Awesome, is appalled. "They'll all start drug habits with that kind of money!"

Are you kidding? I'm going to be fining the living daylights out them. I charge to take you to school when you're late. To fetch your homework. To redeem the P.E. shoes you left in the living room...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Paying Tithing

The first tithing check after the big event was for a lot of money. Because I had just deposited ten times that into my personal checking account.

You know how they say it will make no difference in how they treat you—the bishop, the clerks who might have seen you check. It's true. Everything else might be topsy-turvy, but these relationships--to God, to my church family, are the same. Thank heaven.

I think it would be that way, even if there weren't other far wealthier people in the ward and stake.

Monday, June 23, 2008

First Visit with the Accountant

When the Accountant told us to buy a house and take out a mortgage, I cried. If I ever had a dream about being rich, it was to have frugally handled my money so well that I was debt free, and freely owned my house. Maybe this overnight money isn't the same experience as having saved up money over 20 years, but I hoped at least to get the same end result. It meant so much to me, all those conference talks, all that prophetic advice to get out of debt! Now apparently, I'll get in debt anyway for the tax break.