Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Fancy Mothering

Are we done with these bloody bank holidays already? Maybe some folks out there enjoy an extra day of “rest” but here at the Fancy Home they are anything but a holiday. Bankers don’t get bank holidays, remember? And Nanny #1 v2.0 takes them off, if you can believe the nerve. (Actually, she’s completely entitled and I enjoy the occasional Mummy day. But still. It reduces optionality.) In truth, the Minis and I had a truly lovely day yesterday but it left me wondering. Who is really responsible for the fact that they are growing up into lovely, engaging and well-behaved children? I want to think it’s Fancy here. But I’m not sure. Turning a critical eye on my parenting skills, I’m going to say that yesterday was not going to win me any Mother of the Year awards. No, seriously. Okay, you judge.

It started off okay. We all slept until 8. Then the Minis watched 3 back-to-back episodes of Elmo while Fancy here unpacked the Ocado delivery (I know, I love Ocado). What was I to do when they got into the groceries and began screaming in delight? Yes, they did have a breakfast of spicy tomato puffs and chocolate. So sue me.

Elmo exhausted, we turned to musicals. And then some cartoons.

The Minis have now moved past chocolate and have grazed on cereal, a container of pineapple and several sips of coffee. (Stop! I turned my head for one second!)

H came lumbering down the stairs around 11 (it was a rare bank holiday on both sides of the pond. Which meant he could work from home. Apparently also from his bed, with his eyes shut. What a talented man.) “Can I go to the gym?!” I exclaimed, barely containing the desperation in my voice?

“Sure. What time do they nap?” he answered.

“Oh, we’re skipping naps today. They slept late you know.”

In a shocking Fancy Marriage Moment, he sat on the floor and pulled out the Legos. Fancy here made a beeline for the door, running into spin class just as the lights went down.

Not only was I not winning Mother of the Year, Wife of the Year also slipped from my grasp. Because yes. That was a lie. The second I got home, into their cots went the Minis. How else would they make it to the end of the day?  I really needed an extra hour of peace. Honestly H. You’re so gullible.

Naps over, we were off to their scheduled art class. Seriously? Who comes up with this stuff? Toddlers + paint brushes? How does Nanny #1 do it? The minute I realized what was about to happen I called a time out. The Minis were stripped down to their Nappies. Yes, some eyebrows were raised. But TC and The Princess thought it was hilarious, smearing paint all over their bodies and screeching in delight. It was very Lord of the Flies. And really quite awesome. Plus saved Fancy here some laundry. Clever, no?

Cookies and fruit bars on the way home. In the rain. Without the rain cover. Because when we left, it was sunny. And Fancy threw the rain cover back into the house as we departed, muttering, “Can’t understand why Nanny #1 always insists on keeping that stupid thing snapped to the pram.” Oh. I see.

Into the bath they went, bits of glue and paint and cookies and grime swirling around them. Sometimes we skip a bath on a Mummy day. But that wasn’t going to fly this time.

And finally dinner was served. They threw it on the floor. I guess cookies at 5pm will do that to you.

Tossing the last of the Minis into bed, I poured a fat jug of wine. “That was a lovely day!” I told H. Just thank God they’ve got the Nanny tomorrow to get them back on track. You know, nutritious and carefully timed meals. No 6 hours of television. Remaining fully clothed in public. Little things like that. 

What do you think?

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Fancy Therapy: From the Depths of Chaos...

“I am actually glad I saw that. I was seriously concerned for your physical safety.”

Fancy Therapist and I were having a chat last night via video. We’d run over a bit (I’m lying. He was late.) Nothing unusual happened. It was just 5pm at the Fancy Home.

The kids were getting out of the bathtub and began climbing the stairs, screaming some combination of  “Mummy!” and “We’re starving!” (In toddler talk- Din!  Mo! Milk! Cookie!). “Dinner’s on the counter! Be right there!” I called to Nanny #1. Upon hearing my voice, the screaming intensified. Then the door rang. Ocado.

Nanny #1 and I nearly collided on the stairs as she tried to corral the Minis toward their chairs and I went to let the groceries in. Upon seeing me, their screaming reached new levels. Pulling one child off my leg, I grabbed my frozen food and threw it towards the kitchen, simultaneously pitching boxes of diapers downstairs. Ocado man dodged flying packages of wipes as I tossed ice cream into the fridge. More screaming. This time for pork chops. Some food got thrown. TC poured a cup of water on her head. Fancy got an Ocado bag wrapped around her ankle while trying to cross the baby gate and nearly plunged to her death.

And all this while holding my laptop with one hand and screaming at the horrified face watching me, “Hang on! One minute! Sorry!” I extricated myself and refocused on our conversation.

“What the hell? What are you doing? Is this how your household functions in the evening? I mean, I know you are stressed but it’s actually quite fortuitous that I had an opportunity to witness it all. Picture’s worth a thousand words, you know. I thought you were going to actually fall down the stairs and die. Right there in front of me. Unbelievable.” FT clucked his tongue and just looked at me.

“Well, that was sort of a bad moment. Just the groceries came a little early and we’re running a little late and I had some ice cream in there and TC is going through this Mummy Thing and…”

“And you need more help. Period. Jesus. Stop managing your household budget like you’re still in graduate school. What are you doing? We just actually were talking about this. It’s not a good use of your professional self to spend 2 hours dropping off H’s shoes for resoling and mailing packages. But he’s not going to do that either and he’s entitled to shoes without holes. And you have a career to maintain. It’s not okay that you have groceries delivered at the same time the Minis are eating just because you don’t want to sit home and wait during the day. You hire someone. My wife and I make a fraction of what you guys do, our kids are grown and we still have a fulltime, English speaking, errand running person in our home.”

“So you’re getting another Housekeeper,” he continued. “Or a PA who’s physically in your house at your beck and call. (I have one but she’s off site and just does calendar and travel kinds of things. No groceries or dry cleaning.) Someone who can go buy detergent or an onion or whatever shit you need. And you stay sane. Seriously. What a joke. I don’t want to see that kind of crap ever again.”

I love FT. Guess we’ll be starting the interviews soon. 

Monday, 23 May 2011

Mr. Fancy Has A Fit

Early in our relationship H and I had seriously different incomes. Duh. Having been burned by women “looking for a sugar daddy love,” H was a bit of a-- oh how shall I put this—complete arse at times, handing me the dinner bill and the like, “in the interest of fairness.” Step in Fancy Therapist who explained to him that making his girlfriend overdraw her checking account in a feeble attempt to “keep up her end” and then watch her spend two weeks walking around town (because she didn’t have enough cash for a taxi or new Metrocard and was too proud to ask) was obnoxious.

After some time, H came to realize that Fancy here is not reckless when it comes to spending. In fact, if anything, he’s often encouraging me to spend money. And we have a strong agreement that any purchase over a set amount (which has obviously increased over time) requires notification of the other party. In other words, while we have our issues, whether Fancy dropped £1500 at Selfridges that week is not a sore point. But occasionally someone gets a bug up his butt. Like this morning.

“Did you check your emails? I emailed you last night!” (Yes, because that is how normal couples communicate. We email each other. ) “I’ve stopped the automatic monthly payment to your one credit card. Did you know there was still that much money going there? You never use that card! It’s your US-based card. I bet it’s got 10’s of thousands in credit on it. Do you know what the balance is? Huh? Huh?”

Let me explain something here. The reason for an automatic payment was because our last argument about this card was regarding late payment fees. And while it is true that I don’t use that card daily, it’s the one we use for all US dollar transactions. It’s in my Amazon card details. And one of us has an office in the States. One of us is there a lot. And it’s not me.

So to quiet him down I stacked the children on the sofa and went on line. And then I handed him the computer. Wordlessly. 

“Oh. Those knives I bought when I was in the US last time. Yeah, those were expensive. Uh huh. And the books. Oh, our new Kindle. Ah. And I see you’ve got Fancy Therapist on there too.”

Yes darling. Your Amazon obsession. And my Fancy Therapist. Who has spent a lot of time teaching me how to handle the tantrums of a very large toddler. No words. Patience. Let him wear himself out. Maybe even realize he’s being a bit silly?

Pacified, he trotted off to the office. And we’re keeping the automatic payment.  

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Fancy Must Haves

I feel a bit like Oprah. Kate Takes 5 wants to know what Fancy can’t live without? Like my most loved products? Now, don’t all go rushing to look under your seats for the keys to a new car or anything. This is just a list. Not a giveaway. And technically these aren’t all “products” in the truest sense. But throw me a bone. I’m more of a “big thinker.” So, back to Frau Fancy’s Favorites: (drum roll)

  •! Wheel falls off the Fancy Pram? New one delivered by 1pm the next day. Don’t know what to send as a thank you after a dinner party? Try a mandoline slicer! With gift wrap! There is no reason whatsoever to set foot in a shop again. Unless it is to go try on evening gowns. Amazon doesn’t do those.

  • My computer. My poor little MacBook Air, with the little food crumbs stuck to the keys and the dried up drops of red wine across his top. I love you, Mackie. You’re my best friend.  

  • Flash Wipes. Baby Wipes. Tooth Wipes. Stain Wipes. In other words, WIPES! Love them. Can’t go anywhere without them. What did we do before wipes? I think it involved a spray bottle and paper towels. How barbarian. Wipes are so much more refined.

  • My Star Alliance Gold card. First class check in, even when I’m sitting in back. Lounge access all the time. A look of deep respect from the airline staff. Free wine. The day that envelope arrived in the mail, well, that was really a stand alone moment in Fancy’s life.

  • Booze! Can’t get the bottle open fast enough once the Minis have drifted off. Okay, I’m lying. No, not about struggling with the opener. I just don’t always wait until they are in bed. I just can’t wait until they are old enough to go pour me a refill. There's just something about that glass at the end of the day that says, "Congratulations. You survived yet again." 
And there you have it. None of them necessary to my survival, not one thing on that list more important than my little girls, H, or my family. But lovely little slices of happiness all the same. 

Monday, 16 May 2011

Fancy Potty Mouth

If I’ve said it once, I’ll say it a thousand times. A good Nanny is worth her weight in gold. I just can’t emphasize it enough. From potty training to finding swimming lessons to emptying the diaper pail, finding someone with intelligence, experience and motivation is a challenge but worth it on every level. Other qualities I think are important? Well, organization is one. Basic first aid knowledge obviously. And then there is the element of creativity that can’t be ignored. Example?

Fancy has a potty mouth. I know you don’t believe that. Fancy’s mouth is not exactly Fancy. Well, at a business dinner when she’s playing “Corporate Wife,” it’s controlled, articulate and deferential. But 3 am in the Minis’ room, trying to find a lost dummy under a cot? Um, not so much.

So the little Fancies are talking up a storm. And The Princess has turned into a little parrot. Everything from “Sushi” to “Tacky” is pouring out of her mouth. Which means, of course, that she is also repeating words learned at less refined moments of her day. Such as at 3 am, when her mother is crawling under her bed looking for the dummy she tossed overboard.

And this is where a good Nanny again proves her worth.

“It’s okay! I’ll tell people she’s saying, ‘Fork!’”


Wednesday, 11 May 2011

UnFancy Combinations

Once again, Kate has hit a Fancy bullseye. I love walking around criticizing pretty much everything. "Can you believe she's actually wearing a bow in her hair and is past puberty. Crikey." Or "Really? Artichokes and Chardonnay? Seriously?" So "Bad Combinations" is right up my alley, don't you think? I think we could actually make this a weekly meme. I didn't know where to start or end. But for today's entry, here we go.

One group is trying to do exactly as you say, the other is attempting the opposite. It doesn’t work.

Full make up/ Therapy sessions
I once thought about making a line of cosmetics that don’t run while crying. Do you know how difficult it is to have an effective Fancy Therapy session before you are meeting H at a business dinner? I’m all about letting it out and knowing that my face might fall off stunts my emotional growth.

Red wine/ Dating
I actually used to carry these little tooth wipes in my purse when I was single. On our first date, H and I actually consumed 4 bottles of red wine. (I know, that is truly horrifying. In my defense, that was over several hours. I know. Quiet.) I had to keep nipping off to the loo to wipe my lips and teeth clean.

Vegetarians/ Dinner at the Fancy House
I’m not sure what offends them more: the side of beef on the Fancy Grill, the cowhide d├ęcor or the poster depicting various cuts of pork hanging in the kitchen. It’s not like we don’t offer vegetables too but somehow it just doesn’t seem to work.

Live animals/ formal wear
Fancy here has no problem wearing animals that have gone to the great animal kingdom in the sky. It’s only fair since I have no problem eating them. And so long as they have already made the journey. And their identifying parts such as faces, claws and teeth have been removed. But wearing an animal that is still moving. Still breathing? Is licking my ear? That’s where I draw the line. And I do believe this also qualifies now as a Frock It entry. Efficiency Rocks! Meet Rachel Weisz's 2004 Esquire cover frock. I hope she didn't catch a chill. Or get envenomated.

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Fancy Helps Out

I would like to think that I’m a good employer. My goal in life might actually be to hire just one or two more people and then find myself featured in one of those “Greatest Companies to Work At!” articles. Really, just a couple more employees and I might qualify.

Anyhoo, I really try to make sure my staff knows that I appreciate their hard work and lately it seems to have been paying off. Nanny #1 v 2.0 has been with us for a couple weeks and actually brought me flowers the other day. Apparently her last employer must have been a real class A bitch if she thinks I deserve tokens of gratitude. Jesus. I still make her wipe the childrens’ butts and do the dishes. I’m not that fabulous.

Being a good employer means several things, in my book. Firstly, pay fairly. Is it really okay to cheap out on 25 quid a week salary when you spend 10 times that on dinner out? No. It’s not. At least not to me. Especially when the job involves poo. So we pay both generously and fairly.

Secondly, I make it a point to sit down with my help periodically and make sure there are no concerns or feelings brewing that I need to address. This makes me look like I care but actually it’s entirely self-serving. Find out about problems too late and you’ll be wasting time interviewing new Nannies. No time for that.

But last week showed me one more way to keep the staff content. Show them unexpected acts of kindness. Something greater than going home an hour early. A real demonstration of thought and consideration.

Nanny #2 has been looking for a new weekday job. Not fulltime but enough to supplement her work with us. She has been interviewing everywhere and was very disappointed to have found a family she really cared for but who only needed her for half the hours she requires.

“I just don’t know what to do. They are so lovely and so right for me in so many ways but I just can’t take a job without enough hours.”

And here’s where I saw my opportunity. Fancy is nothing if not kind.

“Would it help, I mean would you like to have another day here? Maybe come mid-afternoon and do some housekeeping and then help me with bedtime and stay late so that we can go out? If it would help, we could do something like that.”

“Really? Oh my gosh! That’s so wonderful! Yes! Oh I’m going to go call the other mother now. Thank you!”

I was glad to assist. I want to see my employees happy. And if this means she has a chance to catch up on the laundry mid-week, rather than stress about doing all the ironing on a Saturday, then that’s what we’ll do. If it means that I need to find social events to fill an extra night during the week, then I guess I’ll have to ask my PA to get on the case.  If that’s what it takes to be a good employer, even if it means a little sacrifice on my part, well, then that’s just what I have to do.  

Friday, 6 May 2011

Fancy Frocks

**Warning: pregnant women, those with a delicate constitution, individuals who were recently immunized or had abdominal surgery, Tea Party members and anyone drinking a diet Coke at this very moment may wish to look away now. **

As you might recall, Fancy here wasn't terribly hip in high school. I never got invited to Homecoming. Good thing since it might have interfered with my Science Team competitions. Yes, I was that awesome. I did, however, go to Senior Prom. My mom helped me pick out a great dress. It was white and black and had a big (I'm talking 2 feet) bow across the middle. It was actually supposed to look like a wrapped package (oh, I don't think she realized the implications of that, dear Mom!). I looked fabulous. And my date was lead trumpet in the band. We were, quite possibly, the coolest couple there. (And by "couple" I mean "Science Team squad members.")

Anyway, searching for some way to get in on This Mid-30's Life's meme "Frocked" I came across some fabulous prom dresses. Did you know there are whole websites dedicated to bad dress choices? Yes, that's how rampant poor taste has become. In fact, when I'm done writing this I'm going to go downstairs and ask the Nanny to teach the children the meaning of the word, "tacky." And whether they go to prom or compete at the Periodic Table competition, I'll make sure they have a good stylist.

So, back to the point. The one dress that made me actually laugh out loud, pee myself a little and nearly vomit at the same time? Here you go. There are no words. I've nothing else to say. You're welcome.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Fancy Pleasures

This week’s Listography courtesy of Kate is one that Fancy here can really dig her teeth into. After all, when one has multiple employees, it gives one plenty of time to pursue those activities--be it cultural, educational, professional or involving a video game--which one truly enjoys.  My life is all about pleasure! But simple pleasures? What does that mean? I tried to look it up. There is no online dictionary definition for “simple pleasures.” At least that I could find. One article defined it as “free” and another as “unexpected.”

Oh and it’s the name of Bobby McFerrin’s 4th album. Yes, the man who brought us “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” knows a thing or two about simple pleasures.

Anyhoo, back to me. Fancy simple pleasures?

Free crap. Fruit baskets in hotels, complimentary bottles of beer with my takeout. Whatever. Fancy loves, loves, loves free shit. Does that shock you? I know. But it’s leftover from when Fancy wasn’t. I can’t help it.

A properly made bed. Crisp sheets, perfectly ironed duvet. No wet towel thrown across it or ass marks from someone plunking himself down on a perfectly made bed to pull his socks on. Doesn’t he know that the Housekeeper went to a lot of work to make the bed look that nice?

The Princess’s little bitty hands squeezing my shoulder to patting my cheek. So soft and tiny yet amazingly powerful and sharp. Like little talons. I wish they could stay so small forever. But then I guess she would look weird as an adult, wouldn’t she? I mean, assuming the rest of her grew.

Tough Cookie’s laugh. I’m not sure what is so funny, but clearly it is. So much so that her whole body has to double over and her pudgy hands have to rest on her knees while she chuckles and guffaws. I hope her whole life is that awesome.

Booze in the morning. Airplane lounges are good for this. There’s no such thing as “noon” in airplane land. Yes, I’ll have another glass of champagne. Thank you.

And there you have it. Off to lunch at Costco’s. They’re probably handing out some awesome samples today….

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

10 Fancy Rules

My pal Moomser apparently doesn’t have enough on her plate, what with kids, a sick husband and traffic in Italy. (That’s a story: hey H, would you rather feed and bathe the children and police them in this hotel or return the rental car in central Rome? Yes, that was Fancy, screeching around the Colosseum, swear words flying.) No, the woman also wants to take on a new meme. 10 things she’d like her children to know.

I’m not sure I can stop at 10. I mean I have to, so I will. But  the Minis have years and years of listening to their mother’s rants about the world, human nature and British Telecom ahead of them. But a quick 10? To warm up? Alrighty I’ll try.

1)   Money isn’t everything. It’s a nice thing to have but it also creates a different set of burdens and worries. People without enough of it have problems that you can’t understand. But don’t make all your big decisions in life based on it.

2)   Having money doesn’t make you better than other people. Working your hardest in school, always doing your best, realizing your dreams and being nice to people along the way? Well, that does.

3)   Don’t count on an inheritance. That’s not really our financial priority.

4)   Don’t be a snob. People hate snobs. Sometimes the best vacation is camping and McDonald’s can hit the spot. Just because something costs more money doesn’t make it better. 

5)   He’s just not that into you. If he is, you’ll know it.

6)   The man you want in life is kind, smart and funny. He is  hard working and has goals. But be very careful if he consistently confuses the words “goal” and “money.” 

7)   Speaking of your future man, they kind of man you want isn’t looking for a well-tanned beach bum without an education or personal accomplishments. At least not for the long term.

8)   You never know who will have your back and who will stab it. Except for your family. We always have your back. Be kind to us.

9)   On the same token, you never know who will be there for you when you really need them, so treat everyone you meet with kindness and respect. Unless they work for BT. They will never be there for you so don’t worry about it.

10)  Vodka. Not gin.  

I am exhausted. Here we are still working on “don’t touch Mommy’s Mings!” and I’ve gone all deeply philosophical about character and personal qualities and good martinis. Knackered. Must go rub my face in my cashmeres and recharge. 

Monday, 2 May 2011

Fancy Clean Out

We’re getting  a new closet. Yes, you all recall the 40 something year-old tantrum, complete with tie throwing and foot stomping. Well, the contractor has been here, the plans are drawn up and now I’m just waiting on a date. And as soon as I get that date (2 days they said! Do you believe it?), I’ll make sure H is far, far away. The thought of living with him while his bedroom is ripped apart is about as appealing as scrubbing my own toilets. No thanks.

Anyhoo, everyone knows that when you get a new closet, you must have new clothes. And new clothes mean the old ones need tossing out. It’s the law. So I’ve been gradually pulling things out and throwing them into a large pile. A large pile in the middle of the floor, thereby compounding H’s ever-growing agitation at the state of his wardrobe. Har har.

The housekeepers have been pretty good about avoiding this pile, after a few misguided attempts at “helping” that resulted in all my rejects finding their way back onto hangars. And I really have to commend them on keeping this pile separate from the one next to it: H’s dream wardrobe. You know, the clothes that he insists on keeping because one day “they’ll fit.” Right. Moving on.

This weekend Nanny #2 called downstairs.

“These clothes, can I take them to the charity shop around the corner? I should do that for you. May I?”

Well, who am I to argue? Been meaning to for weeks, but the thought of lugging huge bags of clothing down the road sounded more Homeless than Fancy and I’ve procrastinated.

“Sure! That would be really helpful. Just don’t throw H’s clothes into that bag!”

“Oh, his inspiration pile. No, I won’t do that. He needs that.”

She’s so understanding.

And then down the stairs she came, lugging two giant loads of clothes in designer shopping bags she’d found in the laundry room. But you know what happened next, don’t you?

When you are a packrat (as I am), it takes a huge amount of effort to throw clothes into the reject pile. My cleanout has been brutal. If it hasn’t seen the inside of a taxi in the last year, bye bye. Itchy? Bye. Too big/small/pink? Bye. And the whole collection of elastic waisted IVF clothes? Ciao bella.

But Nanny #2 felt the need to exclaim over each and every single piece of clothing. “Oh, but it’s beautiful!” she cried, trying to convince me that each and every piece needed to go back upstairs. So I cut her off.

“Look, pick one thing that you want me to keep. There is a reason that each of those made the pile. Yes, I know those trousers are linen but they are gianormous. And that skirt? Every single egg collection. Chuck it. And you are, of course, welcome to keep anything you like.” She clearly needed concrete directions, limits and an element of choice here if we were going to get anything done.

So after much hemming and hawing, one sweater stuffed into her bag, and one blouse back in my closet later and stage one of The Great Closet Adventure is over. Of course, as I think about this, my closet sort of extends to my dresser, doesn’t it? Which means new lingerie. Oh, I’ve got a lot of work to do.