Saturday, July 23, 2011

In an old house in Paris

Madeline is a standard in our house. So much so, that on nights when Monkey continues to want stories long after it's time to sleep, she recites it to herself in the dark. Four year old rebellion.

Good thing the lights are already off and she can't see me grinning like a fool.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


After almost seven years in our house, I am finally ready to make something work in our living room. Which you walk right into from the front door, so it's the first-impression maker of the whole house. Unless you count the yard, which I don't count because the idea of tackling it is so overwhelming I've decided to ignore it.

Back to business. When we bought the house, there was a run on older family members downsizing, cleaning out, etc., that ultimately meant we were offered ALL of the stuff they didn't want. And in moving from a one bedroom apartment to a four bedroom house, silly us thought that was great. And I guess it was, for a time. Until we realized none of it went together, wasn't our style to begin with, and trying to get rid of it would be loaded with sentiment for the original giver. Crap.

But I'm obsessed with Young House Love - does anyone else check in every day? It makes me feel empowered to tackle these projects that seem so HARD. They did a post a while back on a gallery wall, which started my dominoes falling about our entire dining room/living room/staircase/upstairs landing zone. And after a few weeks of mulling it over, browsing online, and seriously assessing my own resources - financial and time - I think I have a plan of action that will leave it all actually presentable. I KNOW.

1. Gallery Wall. Our living room already has a deep, colonial blue accent wall around the fireplace, which I love. First step will be to paint the opposing staircase wall the same blue, and then take all of the beloved pictures scattered around the house, put them in white frames, and create a staircase gallery wall. I figure it will provide a double whammy of getting a lot of clutter off our various horizontal surfaces, and remedy this big, blank space our stairs have been since we moved in. I may carry the gallery wall up to the small upstairs landing that is currently nothing more than a clutter magnet. Not sure I'd paint up there, though - might be too dark.

2. Living Room makeover. I'm going to move an antique secretary we currently have to just to the right of the front door and start actually using it as a mail zone. Right now we have a wobbly little table there (bad idea with the Lion) that is covered with PILES of mail. The secretary will help me get in the routine of sorting and throwing away every day, then coming back to bills and other things that need to be handled on a regular basis. How do other people handle this?

We have WAY too much color in the living room right now, what with the deep blue accent wall, light blue inherited sofa, green print chair, and predominately red (but does pull in the other colors) rug. The rug and green chair are getting relocated to other places. I'd like to buy two of these chairs to go across from the light blue sofa, with a small, dark wood cabinet between them.

Then I'd like a neutral rug to tie it all together, make the room brighter than the red rug does, and just generally calm things down. Something with a soft geometric print, maybe. Like this.

3. Dining Room makeover. The dining room is also really dark. There's a big, heavy rug from my Dad, which he says he doesn't care what we do with, but I do. A dilemma yet to be solved. Maybe my brother also cares about it and would like to give it a good home? :)
So I think I'd like something like one of these, so both brighten things up, make it more neutral, and tie into the adjacent living room blues. The rug on the left is probably my preference, but my husband seems to dislike the natural materials (this is jute) category of rugs, so I'm also considering a blue dhurrie like this one, on the right. While I love it, it might be too much to have it be so similar to what I'd like for the living room. Blech.

4. Spare bedroom/office. This place is a total junk room right now. When we had the basement finished, everything that was in it went into this unused spare bedroom on the main floor, and we've never recovered. Now every time he cleans up, dearest husband simply takes everything and puts it in there. Not helpful. My goal is to throw away almost everything in there, move in the living room rug and maybe green chair, and turn it into an office and functioning spare bedroom. Which we need now that our amazing nanny occupies the basement room. It needs to be emptied and painted. The previous owners left it a heinous orange color. I'll also need to take down some 70's era wall shelves. Think Mike Brady's office. Bad juju.

I may also put the green chair on the upstairs landing, if I find another place to store my bulk diaper purchases. And repair my childhood dresser with the drawer fronts hanging off the frame. Yes, I'm serious. It's all glamour here, folks.

So now I need to figure out how all this should start. I think I need to force myself to show some real commitment to this before I buy the chairs or a rug (if I finalize a rug choice), so right now I'm looking for time to paint the staircase where the gallery wall will go. Paint is also so motivating - you really can make a huge impact with not so much work, once you've gotten the hang of it.

Wish me luck, people.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

This makes me feel stupid

I just bought one of these. Because I was getting tired of buying ridculous numbers of swim diapers for Lion. And since Monkey is doing "pre-team" (when you're too little for the real swim team - adorable, I know), everyone will be spending a lot of time at the pool this summer. Except me, of course. I'll be working. See yesterday's post about wanting to be my kids' nanny.

Back to the point. It came in the mail yesterday - super fast shipping as always, courtesy of, and I have no idea what to do with it. Do it go over a regular diaper? Stand alone? Serve as a swim trunk? Go under a swim suit?

I got nothing. Anyone know how to use this?

Seriously, people, I have master's degree from a top tier university, but I'm stumped. Maybe if I'd gone for the PhD?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

God grant me the serenity.

How do you wrangle with the green-eyed monster? I need some guidance.

We have a lot. We really do. We have a great house, healthy kids, secure jobs. We earn more than well more than half of this country, and once you think globally... it's not fair. I know this rationally. But there are things we cannot have that I struggle with. It's mostly the non-material things that require financial resources. I'd like another child. But I'd also like the two kids I have to want for nothing... at least nothing important. And we think school choice - which for our area means private schools - is more important that just about anything. And even though our new nanny is a rockstar and I can honestly say I have NO concerns with her, I'd like to be my kids' own nanny. I want her job, and she works for me. There are other things, of course, like world travel and a bigger house, but those are secondary to the things that really make my heart hurt.

How do you talk yourself out of these wants? I feel whiny and ungrateful, and I'm trying to shelve them, but they don't go away.

Counting my blessings...

...and enjoying the ride. That's the title of my next life chapter. With the official start of our new nanny yesterday, me on week five of new job, and summer activities in close to full swing, we're out of transition. Which is good, because I really suck at managing transition.

Monkey did SO much better with the departure of our temporary nanny than I'd expected. Part probably owing to the very conscious gradual start of new nanny, and part to her age and greater realization of the role a nanny will really play in our lives. I really can't blame her. When someone spends 40+ hours a week caring for you and lives in your house, of course they start to seem like a permanent member of the family.

Lion is just fabulous. He's at the sweetest stage, all cuddles and smiles and new words. He's also busy as all get out, and learning how to work the world to his advantage. If you try to take something away from him (remote, diaper cream, phone) that he wants to keep, his first line of defense is to rest his sweet little head on your shoulder and snuggle with you. Manipulative little charmer. How'd he figure that out so fast?

Here he his with his lovie, Rhino. I thought I was super smart and got two new ones for when the first inevitably got grubby, but he caught right on and now has to have all three Rhinos in bed with him. Crap. Does that mean I need another nine in safekeeping? Are all three going to get nasty simultaneously?

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Like riding a bike... just jump right back on and start pedaling, right?

Our lives have sustained a huge amount of transition in the past few weeks. As I mentioned earlier, our nanny of seven months left with very little notice in April, leaving us hostage to whatever it took to make child care possible, and sucking up every moment of my time - spare and otherwise - to finding both immediate/temporary and long term child care.

There was yelling. There were tears. There was a significant sleep deficit. There was also my acceptance, for the first time, that as desperately as I want another child, we just may not be able to handle it. If it wasn't for my Dad and mother-in-law, who covered many, many days of care for the kids, I likely would have lost my job. As it was, I exhausted literally every last hour of leave I had painstakingly hoarded back from maternity leave.

And then I left my job. I'd been unhappy there and hunting for a while (read: years), but to no avail. Then I was fidgeting with my iPhone during a meeting and noticed I had a message on LinkedIn. From a recruiter. For a firm I know and respect, but hadn't reached out to on my own. It was job karma. So I did three rounds of interviews and got an offer. An actual good one. With flexibility. Working for... get this... a MOM! Of multiple, young children!

The clouds have parted, people.

So maybe it wouldn't have mattered if I'd lost my job? Just kidding.

So I started here last week, and while I'm still getting my sea legs under me, I'm really happy so far. Fingers crossed for me, ok?

Back to the nanny front, we have temporary coverage in the form of a wonderful college student - also the daughter of Monkey's preschool teacher. So we, Monkey included, already knew and loved her, and she's been a Godsend in getting us through. We have a new live-in nanny starting in the next few weeks, and I think she's going to be a rock star. Again, keep your fingers (and toes!) crossed for us, as I really don't think we can handle another nanny transition. This one has been really, really hard on Monkey, and we're still figuring out how to get her fully back on her spunky little feet. But it has shaken her confidence in the predictability of her life, and that is yet another variable in the neverending self-loathing of a working Mom.

Friday, May 13, 2011


I've been totally MIA. Lots going on here. Working with a temporary nanny, went to the beach for a week, started a new job this week. So my apologies.

And regarding my last post on the Versatile Blogger award thing,

I know. OK? I can count, really I can. I just..... couldn't narrow it down any further. OK?!?!?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

You like me! You really like me!

Woot! I didn't think anyone was even reading this. OK, I get hits each day I can't trace back, but I sort of figured they were me. Or someone I know and just can't i.d. But there are real, live, virtual friends out there! Yay!

Never mind. That's an exaggeration, but it is really nice and sort of surprising to finally have proof that this might actually be engaging to people. And to people whose writing I like and respect, even better. So Donna at Wicked Censtable has nominated me, and I'm really excited. Apparently there are rules.

Thank the person who gave you the award. That's sort of already covered, but just to be sure I play by the book. Thank you, Donna! You've really boosted my ego, and validated the time I've been struggling to justify putting into this. It was starting to feel like a really selfish, fruitless endeavor, but I'm so excited to know I might have been wrong.

Tell you seven things about myself.

1. I'm about to change jobs. I'm just incredibly excited. I've been at my current job for almost eight years, and it is high, high time for a change. It'll be my first experience with the private sector, and take me back to my policy roots, which I've been sorely missing. Good stuff.

2. I'm a grammar geek. Not that I claim it will always be perfect here, mostly because I tend to opt for the punctuation that I think will read more like a voice actually talking to you. But those are usually conscious choices. To illustrate my full nerdiness, you should know that I'm boycotting the new rule that you should only put one space after a period. I disagree on principle, and I'm not budging. So there.

3. I live in my home town, essentially. A few blocks away from where both of my parents and my mother-in-law grew up. That probably doesn't seem like a big deal to most of you, but in DC it is really unusual.. This is a damn transitional city, and people are generally surprised to hear I'm a native, not to mention third generation. It's virtually unheard of.

4. In the four years I've been a parent, we've bought six strollers. This is ridiculous, and brings shame and failure to my over-researching ways. They just all had their failures, and I couldn't seem to find one that worked for everything we needed.

5. I'm a no-holds-barred preppy. I'm happy to sport Lilly Pulitizer and Vineyard Vines, although they are often too rich for my blood. J. McLaughlin makes me weak in the knees. It's not that I'm super overt about things in general, or am as social as I think the style generally impliesIt's just that this is the stuff that, well, seems to look right on me.

6. I've suffered twice now from post-partum depression. It was very different each time, and it's in the back of my head as a factor in whether we'll have a third child. I came out of it each time without medication, but both times it had an incredibly debilitating effect on my relationships and this second time on my career, and I'm not sure it's a good idea to put myself and my family through it again. If I do, you can be sure I'll seek out some pre-emptive help.

7. I'm stressed out the privacy implications of blogging. I'm truly grateful that people are connecting with what I'm writing. After all, without that it's just a diary, really. And i never got the point of a diary, although I did try several times. But I'm leaving out the kids names, and crossing my fingers. I'd love other bloggers' (or anyone, for that matter) thoughts on how blogging impacts your personal life, and whether a reader or event related to your blog has ever crossed a line that made you uncomfortable. I feel like it's the blogging elephant in the room, so to speak.

Nominate 15 bloggers of your choice. This is hard, since there are so many I love. Especially since most of them are WAY better read than I am. After all, almost everyone is. :) Here goes nothing.

Kludgy Mom
Bringing Up Bumble
Not Super... Just Mom
Theta Mom

Our Little Baby
Young House Love
Tidbits Parenting
Me as a Mommy
Harper's Happenings
Fordeville Diaries

Thursday, April 14, 2011

And aWAY we go!

Our nanny left this morning. At 4a.m., to be precise. Monkey had a really hard time saying good bye last night at bedtime. There were many, many rounds of hugs, and we indulged lots of extra stories and cuddling and singing to help her get to sleep without being too upset about her friend leaving. I had a knot in my stomach all night long, and I wish I understod why. It's not like I didn't know this was coming! But still, I'm really sad it didn't work out, because while it wasn't perfect, the arrangement did acheive a measure of stability that our family had been lacking. I'm trying to consciously tally what I think we did right and wrong, but that's an imperfect system at best. I did have my first taste of how I feel about people who hurt my children, and it's not pretty. Yes, I know kids are resilient. Yes, I know they'll bounce back and I'm certainly optimistic that our next nanny will stay longer and be a better fit in any number of ways. But still, I would have kept her around and just dealt with all the little problems if it meant keeping Monkey and Lion with someone they liked and had a repartee with. You know?

So we are officially here in limbo land. Lion is spending the day with Granddad, and Daddy picked Monkey up from school. Tomorow will be the same, except that I'll do the picking up. And we're trying very hard to make this seem like a fun vacation and added bonus parent time for them instead of "Holy crap I don't have this much leave to use what the HELL are we going to do?!?!?"

Which is, of course, what we say to each other after they've gone to bed.

And then we have the new nanny debate. Do we hire the one we sort of like who's ready NOW? The one who we think would be 'okay' and save us from limbo? When do we stop holding out for Mary Poppins? 'Cause I've met Mary Poppins, and she's not available until August.

How long do we keep churning and interviewing and background checking before we feel comfortable pulling the trigger?

More importantly, why am I writing this instead of checking someone's references? See ya.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

We're in so much trouble...

Monkey is a smart little cookie. She's been lobbying for a dog for a while, and we keep telling her that we might get one in a few years. Not one to be easily dissuaded, she's got the full court press on her father, who she clearly knows is the easier target. What is it about Dads and daughters? We drove past a woman walking her dog yesterday, and from the backseat of the car comes, "Daddy? Why does that lady have a dog?"

I saw it coming, I swear, but couldn't act fast enough to save him. "Well, Monkey, I guess because she wanted one."

Trap door swings shut on Daddy. Little voice from the backseat pauses, then, with perfect, innocent inflection, comes "But Daddy, I want a dog, and I don't have one."