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:

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.