The 4th Birthday Party

Why did I worry? That’s what my friends were saying as Vivien’s party was in full swing. There was room. Plenty of room. I think I have big house syndrome. I have a skewed perception of space from my year of living large.

The bouncy fit fine straddling ours and our neighbor’s yards. The kiddie table and chairs in front of the garage. Enough seats around for adults to perch, and the kids were happy with playset. When Cinderella arrived she did her parachute games/face painting thing on the grass. I think she was the Rolls Royce of Cinderellas. I hate when you hire a princess or fairy, and they show up with ill fitting wig and tats. When some of the girls said, “Did Cinderella leave?”

I said, “Yes.”

“Awwww…”

“She had to go meet Prince Charming,” I said. “They have a cute loft downtown.” The girls were listening.

And my sister Carole quickly added, “But she is going to finish college.”

The only misfire was that Mark didn’t buy enough water bottles for the hot day, and our guests were wilting. Next time one of those tubs with spigot for water.

Vivien was very happy. Her best buddy stayed most of the day with her, which was great. I started writing my thank yous as they played. ‘Cause I either right them right away or a year later.

And all those toys and hunks of plastic she got? Love it. I don’t rag on them at all. It was fun for her to open and the ones she didn’t immediately grasp I stashed for a rainy or cranky day down the road.

She really loved Zingo. It’s a kid version of Bingo. Boy was I happy. ‘Cause I love Bingo!

White Trash Couch

Well, we are wrapping up “Madoff Week” here on Cool Mom. Our money being stolen caused one behavioral change in me: how I reacted to Vivien getting furniture or rugs dirty. Before I would be like, “Oh, Vivien, you need to be more careful.” The first week after we found out the trajectory of our lives was up for grabs, I practically cried if she spilled on my couch, “Vivien, this cost mommy a lot of money” (when she had it).  “Please no more food near my couch.” (I started calling everything ‘mine,” taking it all personally).

Then I realized that having a 3 year old and wanting to preserve furniture that I could no longer afford to replace was setting us up for failure. So, this was my temporary solution. A little later, the couch you see was loaded up and sits in my mother in law’s spare room. I had two couches; now I only have room for one. And there is NO eating on it. The good thing about a small house is Vivien can see the TV from our dining room… and the computer… and the toaster… you get the picture.

Honey, We Have to Move

So, here I talk about how to handle the move with the wee ones. It was VERY emotional at times before we moved. Hearing little Viv say she didn’t want to move was a knife in my heart. I I think from the comments I get from all of you and from my own experience, a reversal of fortune is harder because you have kids, but it’s what also makes you get through it. Also, my stepson is a no-drama kid. I say, “So, your room is going to be smaller; is that okay?”

“Sure, that’s fine.”

Later, “Um, there isn’t enough room in the house to hang all of our art work; would it be okay if next to the Simpson poster we hang these art photographs?”

“Sure, that’s fine.” Phew.

When I was single and childless, and I was unemployed for a while or had ive with my parents after college because I didn’t have a pot to piss in and student loans to boot, it wasn’t great but not that big of a deal. You know other friends who also don’t have much. You get a six pack together and watch TV.  In my 20s when I wanted to go to Europe, I put it on my credit card and then ate cereal for a few months at home alone till I made some payments on it. Nothing that kicks you in the gut. But when you feel like you are letting your kids down, when you aren’t giving them the life you had dreamed for them, that can send you to a dark place.

But if it wasn’t for my kids’ If it weren’t for my happy-go-lucky daughter, my even-tempered stepsons, my supportive step-daughte,r and a newborn boy who needs me totally, I could have easily gone off the rails. To be jolted like this without my wee ones, well, I’d probably be shooting heroin in my gums.

Happily, a fresh coat of pink paint and white shelves really made the difference for Vivien in the new house. I shelled out the money for that happily. She has not missed a beat and loves her “new, pink room.”

For anyone else who has had to guide their kids through a similar transition, I welcome hearing about how you did it.

I Am a Madoff Victim

This has been the hardest blog post for me to do. When I vlogged about my miscarriage that was challenging, but this has other layers to it. By revealing about how we were robbed, how we are part of possibly the largest financial fraud in US History, I am not only disclosing my own life, but the life of my family. I didn’t blog about this before for many reasons. Chief was absolute shock. Then, it was too painful to discuss except with very close friends. I still have some friends I haven’t told. Sometimes it exhausts me too much to do so. Then when I wanted to blog about it, my husband didn’t want me too. I think like anyone who has either been in mourning or been the victim of a crime there are the stages you go through. For me this was both. We were robbed. Someone sits in jail right now because of what has happened to us and thousands of others. And it has altered the trajectory of my life. Many assumptions that I made are no longer valid. To have a secure retirement gave me a buoyancy I no longer possess. I would like that back.

I also didn’t want to blog about it if it was just for me to vent. I didn’t start this online adventure to be a Dear Diary, but I have been touched by comments that some of you have made on this site about your own struggles with the economy. So, I thought maybe by doing this we could help each other through a historical low. One of my initial reactions when we heard that our money was gone was to beat myself up… and my husband. We should have been more diversified ( we were, but not enough), we should have done this or that. And it did help when we realized that we were not part of a small fund like we had been led to believe, but a world wide one where people more savvy or richer than us were also robbed. Mort Zuckerman, Kevin Bacon, Steven Spielberg. And also better people than us, Elie Wiesel (who steals from Holocaust survivors?!)  I also started to hear from friends and neighbors how they too thought they might need to sell their house or move in with relatives, and it was for other reasons than our own, a real estate deal gone south, unemployment.

So, going forward I’m in a sense catching you all up with what I have been personally struggling with for the last 6 months. There is so much to say about this. But I’m still going to have some funny blogs and funny videos, because my whole life comedy has meant a great deal to me. It is healing (remind me to tell you about doing improv for chronic pain patients), and it has dictated my entire career to me. And like the saying goes, tragedy plus time equals comedy.

Have you heard about the pregnant lady who found out she had been robbed? Ah, yeah, not funny yet.

Empty Room Syndrome

So, the house we recently moved into is the only house I have ever owned (I’ve had condos, and I still have one of those money pits, but that’s another story). It’s only the second place I’ve ever lived where I had a dining room. So I was really excited to create a grand, almost theatrical space. We eat in the kitchen or on the back porch most of the time, but I envisioned the dining room to be a place for special occasions, for adults to gather while the kids are out back.

Note the wallpaper: it’s from England, it was pricey, it took months to arrive. The china hutch is Heywood Wakefield, which I have collected for years (I found this piece for a good price on craigslist); inside it is my wedding china. My wedding china! Don’t I get a room that is befitting my wedding china? Doesn’t a woman who waited to get married get to have the dining room of her dreams?

Apparently not.

Moving

All weekend I was on a tear to get ready for our move on Monday. While I did the the physical act of preparing to move here were the three things running through my brain.

  1. Is it better to make a day of fun for Vivien during this transition or stick to a routine? As in we go to an amusement park so the move seems like a happy thing or keep it really regular in terms of schedule, oh, and 48 hours later we are somewhere new.
  2. Why, oh, why have I kept all this crap?! Have you ever done this? Find Post-Its with a barely readable scribble on it, or a phone number of someone you don’t know and you think “Why, oh, why did I save this?” It’s like mover/cleaner Daph thinks regular Daph is a messy, eccentric pack rat. Why does it take a move to make me decisive?
  3. I’m not helping Hillary. Tuesday is the Pennsylvania primary and I woke up Saturday saying to Mark, “I have to make calls.” I wasn’t in the mood. I did make one (you can go to www.hillaryclinton.com and they have a page set for people to call in the primary they are focusing on) and the lady said, “I’m voting for her, but thinking of not cause I’m tired of all these calls.” I decided to be easily discouraged. Maybe I would only hurt her cause. But, I still want her to win and did read a few articles that got my girl defender dander up. Obama is acting as if he is not a regular pol while acting like a regular pol. In the past few months such emotion would have translated into action on my part. Now, I really need to organize.