knockdown drag out fights (with yourself)

In ALL, INTERIOR DESIGN, INTROSPECTION by Stephanie Klein52 Comments

The move, or rather, the transition to Boca has me freaking out. See, when we’d first discussed the job opportunity, Phil explained that he’d travel to Florida every other week, from Sunday night to Wednesday. My immediate reaction wasn’t at all unlike hearing the news that my parents were divorcing.

No, not tears, not betrayal, a family ripped apart, but instead, all out materialism. A dream of better and more. Of a breezy jet setting life of luxury with double. Two homes, two worlds, more. It’s horrible to admit. When my mother told me she was leaving my father, moving to Florida, that I could have her cashmere sweaters, that I’d have a home in Florida, too—I was giddy, and somehow, it felt like Disney World.

Eventually, the sheen dulled, and the grit and disorganized knot of mess crept in. I was angry with my mother, ached for my father, and then, there were tears. Life went back to the ordinary lull, to to-do lists, cluttered cars, gum wrappers, half-empty everything. It’s worse than “back to reality.” It’s the disappointment that can come with high expectations. Sub-par. The newness is gone, and too much has happened to take it back. I know this.

Yet, when Phil mentioned his quickie getaways to Florida, I got the giddy going. Awesome. What an excellent break, Sunday to Wednesday. I’d still get him on the “good nights.” I could fall asleep to chick flicks, groove to clit-rock, make “my way” more than a Sinatra ballad. And then…

Then, suddenly, as of this trip actually, I’m beginning to feel the rug. It’s nowhere near my feet anymore. Now there’s talk of moving in, furniture and all, by June 1. Ta to the part of Texas that’s nothing like Texas. When did this happen?

Just as I’d imagined a lush life with two sets of parents, two bedrooms, and a life of more, I began to excite in the possibilities. In floor plans and soaring ceilings, community living with happy hours and more (transplanted) New Yorkers. A walk from the ocean, fresh stone crabs, palm trees, and finally good Italian food again.

Then I arrive in Florida, not as a daughter visiting for a week, but as a potential resident. I research different neighborhoods and begin to dream in floor plans. A calendar of happy hour gatherings while kids paint pottery and eat hotdogs. An activity director, wine tastings at the clubhouse, special events for one and all. I was excited about a community and ready for the “Wow Factor.”

But each time I found a home in our price range, with lit tennis courts, pilates and barre classes, a fitness center, community pools, babysitting, and a social calendar, Phil would carp about something really trivial.“I don’t like that there are marble floors everywhere,” he said, shaking his head.
“Do you know how loud they are? You’ll hear every conversation, we’ll be all up in each other’s business.” This is coming from a man who has worked at home, up in my business, day in and out for the past five years.
“Seriously? You’re saying no to this house,”—a house with a warming drawer, gas range, spa, and outdoor kitchen—“over gorgeous white marble floors?”
“Not just that, but there are random stairs and steps. We’ll all trip and kill ourselves. And the owners are moving to Africa! Do you know what it’ll be like if there’s a leak? That isn’t covered with some service agreement. And where’s the landlord? Taking photos of lions. Sorry, it’ll have to wait.”

For the past four years we’ve lived in a home with a sunken dining room, where anyone, at any time, could plummet to his death, and not a comment. But now, because the master bedroom steps down off two steps, it’s a no go. And *here* is where we insert my “Wow.” Dude, you’re either in or you’re out.I get it. I do. I just wish he’d admit it. Why can’t he say, “This is an awesome house. And I know we’d be happy here, but I’m nervous about succeeding. What if things don’t work out? Then we’re paying out a lot of money, not to mention a mortgage for a home we rarely see.” And if that’s the case, then I should stop looking to rent a home, and act as if Florida doesn’t exist. No move. No packing up of home, no waving goodbye. I don’t do “one foot in” unless that foot is lodged up an ass.

We’re back in Austin for Passover. Phil’s sister and niece are coming for a visit. Already Phil turns to me and says he needs to book his next trip to Boca. How does May 1 – May 13 look? How does it look? It looks bleak as fuck. Either he’s gone for two weeks or we go with him, living “in-between,” without a house, without other kids with whom to play, without a neighborhood, without school or camp. And I’ll likely become a cutter, searching for self-mutilation tools in pancake houses. Instead, I’ll play the role of single mother in Austin.

Supportive wife. I keep saying it. This is a wonderful opportunity. Do not add more stress to his life; he’s under enough with a new undertaking, people to hire, a business to run. Grow up, woman. Besides, it’s a rental, a year of your life, so stop obsessing over amenities and elementary school districts, never mind about having a fenced yard. You’re not buying the place, so who cares if the ceilings are low and you have to share a closet with Phil. Never you mind that you’re in a community full of golden oldies who’re literally trying to pass HOA rules to drive out teens, or in a family-friendly community of 1970 homes, dimly lit, with ceilings you can touch.

My answer to my very mature questions: piss off, lady. You can talk a big game of being a supportive wife and not minding, being a trooper, but you’re the one who’ll be home when he’s at work, left to walk the dog and exercise the rambunctious children. Who cares if the kitchen is antiquated and there’s no bathtub? You will care, quite a bit, when you’re tripping all over each other, bickering about piles of clothes. Not to mention how bleak things look for Mr. Bikini and his patch of grass. Not only will you be pulling your kids from school, but you’ll also be pulling yourself from the friends with whom you’ve fallen in love.

Holy reindeer balls. Seriously? You lived in a Manhattan box and shared a closet once upon an engaged life ago. You can make anything work. So, be positive! Be supportive! Life’s an adventure. You’ve moving closer to family. The beans will be near your mother, grandmother, and sister. So, quit your whining, girly. There are new friends to make, restaurants to relish, and corners to be turned.

I want so much to force this—to make it just happen already. Pick a house, rent it, be done with it already. I want to will things done, have answers, know that it will all work out, know if I should enroll the kids in camp in Austin or Florida, know where I’ll be in a month, if I should begin to pack up a home. But the truth and heart of this post is this: I can’t always have the answer. I can’t force things, and I need to be better about feeling confident enough that no matter where we are, what is determined or decided, it will all be okay. We will all be fine. Because at the core of all of it, there’s love. And I really am a supportive wife. I have to learn to let it go and see what comes back to me.

So, big whoop. Girly, if you wind up in Boca, you load-up on anti-depressants, watch your chick flicks, get your clit-rock groove on, and start redefining “my way.”


  1. I read your post and it sounded familiar to my own inner musings.
    Often, I wonder why men don’t have these internal dialogs, in which they put themselves in one’s shoes as much as one does in theirs.

    I have these same struggles, mainly because I feel I don’t have equal input into our household, I moved to his country, I left my family in mine, I had to do an MA so I could level my education to this country’s standards but still he makes more money, I work a modest job.

    Love is not the issue, there isn’t a day that goes by that he doesn’t say “you are the love of my life”, but the differences in our income and our “capabilities” have me always thinking that somehow I have to buckle up, keep quiet and adapt. If he wants to sell the car it’s his right because “he pays for it”, even though I like to have it so we can leave the city once in a while, that if he wants to paint the walls yet again, it’s his right because “it’s his apartment”. That if my best friend moves away and I am sad about it, I just have to enroll in some courses so I can meet new friends, while he has his childhood friends here…

    And yet I have sort of the same debate you depict here, I should be grateful that he takes care of me, that I shouldn’t be so demanding and keep my cool, that I have so much more than I think, that I shouldn’t “want” anything more. It’s like I’m not allowed to voice my needs because things are fine and wanting more just makes me an insatiable bitch… etc. This becomes some sort of contamination that gets fuzzier and fuzzier: it becomes resentment.. and that is not good.

    So what to do? I come back to my initial question… if they can’t put themselves in our shoes, why do we have to? What would the consequences be if we didn’t? It’s hard work to be weighing every single act or word.. I know that my husband will never say a mean thing to me, it is I who seems to create these alternate worlds where I think FOR him… but I think that voicing our needs is really important; how we do it, that’s art.
    Remember happy mom, happy family!

  2. This post really hit home for me today…thank you for posting this and for putting into words what I feel so much of the time and can not articulate. That is why I totally love reading your work!

  3. Your brutal honesty about yourself always amazes me.

    I love adventure and highly recommend it. Am not sure, though, that Boca qualifies.

    A memoirist makes a living at looking back. But we live our lives with an eye toward the future. What do you see in your future?

    That period of time when someone’s career-building is hard, but add to it a wife and kids who also have needs, and it’s orders of magnitude harder. If this is the right career move for Phil and won’t hurt yours,you have to look at it as an investment in your family’s future. Has to happen.

    But: bigger question–what IS your future? In fact, what do you love about your life? I see country clubs and mani-pedis and houses in numbing gated communities. It seems so narrow for someone so young, too young to not have broader adventures, even as a couple, as a family.

    Yes, yes, the media deals, the “fame” etc. To me? ho-hum. Can still have that and the even more fun. More fun to me? Taking the fam to Paris or London to live. Or even that kind of vacation. Which I haven’t heard you write about taking. Moving to Austin or Boca? Not earth-shaking experiences.Paradigm changes, but what kind?

    I think I know what prop trading is. Can he not continue to telecommute?

    Only you know what turns you on. Here’s what it looks like from the outside:

    Manhattan-fabulous. Austin, orders of magnitude less cool. Boca-not cool at all. Boca’s a place for seniors. When you’re ready to hit the golf course, wear sun visors & culottes, settle in behind gates and be taken care of.An “activity director?” Are you a senior citizen? Wine tastings AT THE CLUBHOUSE? What about wine tastings in France or California??

    I wonder why Phil’s health isn’t a reason to do more and wider things, instead of drawing in. Unless he can’t travel like that.

    My question is: are you both ok with how you have drawn your life? Have you narrowed it too muvh? I can’t rightly judge if you are ok with your horizons, even if i want to.

    As for two homes, I had them til last year. One in Florida, one in California. I have a maltipoo dog who would fly with me either every two weeks or every other month. I think it would be hugely hard to do with kids and a bigger dog.

    My husband sold his home in Coral Gables and I sold mine in Tampa. We were lucky to do so and get out. The real estate market will be 10 years in the recovery so renting is a good idea. You haven’t said if you’ve got a finite time there or not but especially if you do.

    I understand career decisions made to support building a future. If you have to go, you have to go. And of course, make all the best of it.

    There are, though, bigger questions about how you want to live that I hope you are discussing. I know we only see a snippet of your life. But that’s what I think based on what I see. Blessings to you and your family.

    1. Author

      I’m still desperate to get to Burma / Myanmar. Of course I want to whisk the kids off to Paris, Italy, London, Spain! Who wouldn’t? I’ve wanted to take a vacation, to go explore, for a long time now. I don’t want to be away from the kids for too long, and I’m not about to take them to Paris by myself. It’s hard enough taking them to a bistro by myself, never mind another country.

      Here’s the thing. We currently belong to Barton Creek Country Club in Austin, and it’s heaven. Forget geriatrics. We’ve made friends with young couples, couples with grown children, couples with kids. And with FREE babysitting/childcare any time we use the amenities, we’re there a lot. Almost every Friday night, we head to the bar, eat dinner there, happy hour, etc. And there are PLANNED ACTIVITIES throughout the week. A tennis boot camp for me, followed by a New Zealand wine tasting, with face painting and a carnival for the kids. Or a nature walk, or mini-golf for Lucas & Abigail. Basically, there’s always something to do, which is useful when you’re living in THE SUBURBS.

      I think I make the most of any city. We hit all the seasonal events, fairs, Dino Digs, and children’s museums. Local parks, flying kites, playground outings, swim lessons, sports, ballet, etc. BUT… but the country club is fantastic. The kids love it. We get to knock back some adult beverages poolside, and everyone wins. After work hours, Phil and I head to the tennis courts and use the ball machine. Mostly because I love to say “ball machine.”

      Now, with the news that Phil’s begun a new job in Boca, and we have the opportunity to rent a home for a year, I think it would be ANOTHER great way to meet new people. Mind you, most of our friends are not from the country club, but again, we go at least once a week. And currently, we do not socialize with any of our neighbors in Austin. It’s just not that type of community. And I ain’t the type to Bunko or Bridge. Though, I’d try my hand at Mahjong.

      That said, THAT’S why a social director is great. It’s like Club Med. Especially when I’m traveling to LA or on book tour, Phil has a built in social life, with free babysitting, while he hits the gym, the courts, the bar. It’s just damn nice to have when you have kids. Essential? No. But nice? Hell, yes.

      1. Loved Carol’s comment. It is quite remarkable that you reply with what sounds like a brochure text for gated community living…

        You are about my age Stephanie, and are living a life less adventurous than my grandmother.

        To each their own, but I know I would feel buried alive in your life of country club activities and materialism; suffocating.

        I am moving to London, England with my man in three weeks. We’ll get ourselves a teeny apartment for starters, where we’ll trip all over ourselves and be happy as two clams. I have butterflies in my stomach all day long.

        1. Adventure has nothing to do with travel. Adventure is taking risks, reaching out to new people, inviting strangers to stay in your home, sleeping in a sleeping bag outdoors. Even in your own backyard. We can all find adventure, wherever we are NOW, not where we plan to be in 3 weeks.

          I’ve lived in an apartment, all up in each other’s business, but it’s not anything I want to do with children. My kids share a room not because we don’t have the room for them each to have their own, but because for most of your life you end up having to learn to share. Sometimes it’s closet space, taste, compromising plans and careers.

          You don’t know, you really can’t know, if you’d feel buried alive in my life until you actually live it, as me.

          1. I fully agree with Stephanie- it’s adventurous to find pleasure and inspiration no matter what the situation. If you constantly have to move to another country to not feel “suffocated”, how will you ever be happy with what you have?

          2. Stephanie,

            I love your life, minus the kids, and the full time husband.
            Kids, require more attention than I care to give, and husbands make me claustrophobic.

      2. Thanks for that explanation-it’s a world I know nothing about. I can see the allure from a practical standpoint.

        I still say get your butts out of the country, even with kids (bring nanny!). There’s nothing like it. I know that you are adventuring in your way, but since you have the means, I encourage you to step out in new and exciting ways now, while you are young. Work is all well and good, but when life is over, it’s not something you’re going to wish you did more of. You, may, though, wish you’d sipped wine in France together or strolled the streets of Rome.

        Blessings and good health to you all.

        1. Author

          Understood, and totally agree! Live life with gusto (and sunscreen)!

          Phil is starting this new job, so he’ll want that up and running before he jets off to vacation abroad.

    2. Personally, I think the country club sounds pretty damn nice! Boca will be fine. Buy some fucking Lilly Pulitzer and a sun hat. I know you’ll make the best of it no matter what. With a little imagination you can find fun and adventure anywhere. I’ve travelled widely but have experienced some of my life’s greatest adventures here at home in my teeny tiny little town.
      I bet people said the very same things to you when you announced you were leaving NYC for Texas.

  4. Before I say anything I have to first admit that there are times when you might come off a *little* spoiled and a touch overindulgent (and I’m only saying it now because I have a feeling that one of your other followers might give you a ration of s**t on this one)but THIS is not one of those times. Yes, you could just suck it up and live in a crappy house for a year. But a year is a long time! It would be one thing if it were just you and Phil, you could compromise, make sacrifices. But you’ve got the beans, and they are used to a certain way of life, and you should be preserving that as much as you can. So I would say that until Phil can be all-in as far as picking a house in FLA that you can both live comfortably in/with, stay put in Texas. That doesn’t make you unsupportive at all, but you have to be supportive of the kids as much, if not more, than you’re supportive of your husband. But you can’t live “in-between” with two small children, it’s just not fair.

    1. This. Alternatively, return to NY, either the city (no lugging strollers around anymore) or Nassau County. It’s your home turf. Phil commutes to FL. Done & done.

  5. Today I learned I have thyroid cancer, no insurance and I am waiting for a letter from the free clinic in austin to let me know when they can schedule me for a biopsy. Hope your day is going better than whine.

    1. Anna,

      So sorry you have to deal with this. I just want to let you know that I went through this last year and though there are four different types of thyroid cancer, it is a very treatable cancer, with a success rate of over 95%. I got treated and am doing great now, please email me if you want to talk. I hope you’ll hear positive results from the clinic in Austin, Ill have my fingers crossed and be thinking of you. if you want someone to talk to.

  6. Aw man, I can’t imagine how you feel (I’m currently in an opposite relationship, where my boyfriend moved into MY shoebox in NYC, leaving behind all his friends – and gainful employment – to be with me). That said, and know this isn’t self-promotion (because I WISH I could take pictures like she does), but there’s a blog written by a woman who lives in Naples, she has two young daughters, and I shit you not, every day it makes me want to pack up my things and move to Florida and raise a family and nest. I don’t even know if such a suggestion is helpful – you might not need any emotional tugs at this point, but, hey, if emotional tugs and daydreaming is what you’re in the mood for, I suggest checking her out.

  7. Jesus, is there no limit to how spoiled you are? Did you even read this before posting? You come off as a spoiled, shallow, self-centered baby. So your choices are a tacky mansion or a total dump, really?

    Let the poor guy go – let him move to FL without you and get some peace from you.

  8. Many years ago, when our older son was 2, my husband commuted to Chicago each week. He was there 5 days, home on the w.e. It was very difficult for both of us. However…were I in your position, I’d do as Andrea suggests and stay in Texas while Phil does the commuting. It will be a more stable environment for the twins, their (and your) friends already will be in place, their school situation will be settled, and you won’t have the mortgage plus a hefty rental hanging over your heads. Good luck to all of you. This isn’t easy.

  9. Wow. Thank you for this. I think I have to copy and paste this to my fridge: “I can’t always have the answer. I can’t force things, and I need to be better about feeling confident enough that no matter where we are, what is determined or decided, it will all be okay. We will all be fine. Because at the core of all of it, there’s love. And I really am a supportive wife. I have to learn to let it go and see what comes back to me.” I hope you don’t mind.
    We had a conversation last night about possibly moving back Stateside sooner than expected and immediately my mind goes to “where will we live, what school will my sons go to”
    Thank you, again, for this. People all around the world are going through similar things, and it helps to know we are not alone in the struggle with major life decisions.

  10. I’m not an SK groupie but I feel compelled to defend this idea of the house SK wants. First, they clearly have the means for a cool house. Second, she enjoys cooking and nesting, so why should she not have that part of what she wants if Phil has to make this move? And finally, to SK: homes in Fla. are wayyy cheaper than many other big markets; I doubt it’ll be a dump by most standards either way. But fact is, we paid $4K for a rental house last yr that WAS a dump (SF Bay area) but it had 5 BRs and took our big menagerie without any additional fee… Boca is cheaper; you don’t have to be in a cookie cutter gated comm. and could do better in a more eclectic neighborhood. More fun, too.

  11. Addendum: Or you move back to NY with the kids and he commutes.

    Florida really sucks.

  12. Here is a nice thing to consider “Bloom where you are” i read it before different places. Make the best of where you are (or end up) and that is a life lesson in itself. Phil has a life threatening heart condition from what you’ve shared; the pressure at a new work venture makes it that much harder for him. And from what you’ve shared here it is clear he is less into material things. Maybe a middle of the road rental is fine until he feels he will have job security. Why did he leave working for himself? Times are hard for everyone even people used to not worrying about money.
    Home is anywhere- ANYWHERE- you family is. End of story. You will hopefully not have to live through a house fire or natural disaster to appreciate the weight of this statement. I have 3 family members who did and they were shocked at how little the home loss meant compared to still having their kids/spouses to hug in a little shitty apt. while waiting for insurance money. Anyway- looking at how much worse it could be when you are starting to panic is helpful.

    I agree with Carol on the geriatric sounding lifestyle of the ‘community living’. Watch you get there and hate it, creepy cliques and strained social gatherings! Who knows. Point is that stuff sounds so anesthetized and white washed. Do you need a pre packaged life? Do you even want one? From all you have written here I would scream ‘NO!’. It’s a safety net, a cop out from the real world. It is too ‘neat’. Letting someone else pick out activities for you might sound reassuring and nice but it’s giving up control and creative license for your life. You will have plenty of time for that when you check into Shady Oaks in oh, 50 years or so.

    One summer of the kids not being in camp is nothing. Take them out on adventures you plan. I know you work but even once or twice a week, something you plan for them trumps camp. Break the routine. The universe is forcing your hand and telling you to improvise, have faith it will work out and telling you to put your ego on hold (the part that wants the details/etc all now!) and enjoy seeing what happens next. Scary if you think too hard but it could be fun if you approach with the right mindset. It doesn’t have to be permanent you have money and options to move if it sucks.
    One more thing- I cringe when you write the ‘clit rock’ thing i’m not prude but it’s so gross!

  13. Stay in Austin and let him commute. You can have the best of all worlds…enjoy the time when he’s gone and make it all about you and the darlings. You can indulge all of the things you love to do that drive him crazy. Then, when he’s home make sure it’s all about him. No fighting, no bitching, no guilt. Make home a place he’s dying to get home to. It’s actually the perfect situation. The babies stay in a stable environment – mama’s happy – when daddy’s home it will also be happy…and best of all, you don’t have to get divorced to get some space.

    Fate’s thrown you a very cool opportunity here…I say embrace it.

  14. My husband has commuted to work in another city for 14 years now. Half time here, half there. It has truly killed our marriage.

    If living apart part of the time is in your future make sure it is a TEMPORARY thing.

  15. perspective…. you’ll be so much closer to nyc. right there, is a huge plus.

    and yes, well, it might be florida, it doesn’t have to be boca raton. there are many close by towns/counties that are quite nice.

    and it isn’t forever. deep breaths and pack carefully.
    this too shall pass.

  16. SK, your honesty is admired, and instructive for many of us. I wish you the best. Your husband’s reluctance in choosing a home is a bit worrisome; I almost felt a pang of “he doesn’t want her to be in FL with him.” I hope this is not the case.

    1. Drusilla nailed it – beginning of the end for this marriage IMO.

    2. Author

      Thanks Drusilla. Phil is now committed to finding us a place that I don’t despise and that’s close enough to his office. We’re real close on making a decision within the next day or two.

  17. I love moving to new cities, falling in love with them, finding all their hidden goodies, the things that make them unique. I’ve been mulling that over since first reading your post, then today I found this in the Post:

    It’s a fascinating glimpse at the history of Boca by one Julia M. Klein – any relation?

    Anyway, it makes Boca Raton sound simultaneously charming and scandalous, which sounds like quite a good locale for a writer who is much the same.

    Best of luck to you during this time of transition.

  18. I have trouble to understand the big emphasis on “free babysitting” when you have enough money to shop for a 2nd house and one with warming drawers and marble floors and huge bathrooms such as you posted last week……With obvious luxuries such as those mentioned, and a nanny and multiple vehicles, and the jewelry and perfumes (in the $ hundreds $) and luggage (in the $ thousands $) and the techno gadgets (Apple stuff) that you’ve previously posted about including photos and links to…I have to wonder who really cares about free babysitting?

    I remember reading Stephanie’s blog when she was single and living in New York. She had barely enough money to pay her rent and buy her groceries. She got an extra $100 from her Dad which totally made her day and helped her survive another week. That Stephanie was much more interesting and had a deeper sensibility. She was much more real and relatable. I miss her.

  19. Ok, I know that there is a LOT more going on in this post than the details of a potentia home, but I’d just like to say, as someone who has lived in it: Marble floors do not echo. They aren’t loud and they look beautiful.

    Otherwise: I, for one, do not think you are materialistic for wanting to live in a nice area with amenities. You have twins and a career. Just like Sunday-Wednesday turned into two weeks, turned into a possible one year move, one year could turn into two, etc. It is important to be happy and comfortable. If you are stressed at home, with your career and two kids under 5, how can you be the best supportive wife you can be? Maybe you don’t need marble floors, but maybe you do need a bathtub, or two closets, etc. It’s not materialistic to know what you can’t live without. If it was a relationship, you’d be giving that same advice.

    Best of luck!

  20. I am a guy who grew up with a father who travelled frequently for business. I felt he didn’t witness his kids growing up in the same way he would have if he was home more. There was always a bit of a gap in the relationship. So my point to all the moms saying stay in TX and let hubby commute: I think ultimately young children derive a tremendous amount from sustained contact with both parents. Also, both parents have a continuing opportunity to bond with kids going forward. If you do follow the commutation path I would guard against each parent falling into a defined role due to the commuting. It is a bad precedent to set.

    1. Author

      Totally agree, and thanks for the insight. Neither of us wants the commuting lifestyle, with Phil away, me with the kids. Phil home on weekends. We just don’t. What’s most important to us is that it’s the four of us, no matter where we are, together. Phil and I are deciding on a home to rent in FL within the next few days.

  21. Am I the only one who can’t read the comments because they’re displaying in 2 pt font? IE 7 user here.

  22. What planet are most of these commenters on, suggesting Stephanie move to a different state than her husband because, omg, Boca might not have a ton of culture. She’s moving to Florida, not some backwater village with no airport and one bus-stop. Boca wouldn’t be my first choice of where to live but I’d absolutely support my husband in his career (as I pursued my own–something Stephanie can do from anywhere) and make anywhere we live our home. Paris or London? What are you people talking about? Who gets to pick up and move to Paris or London with 2 kids? Get real. This is 30 minutes from Miami, aka New York south. Stephanie will be more than fine.

  23. …and you’ll be able to wear lots of pink and green with impunity!!!

  24. Austin & NYC obviously have a lot going on culturally. I have several friends who moved to various locations in Florida for career opportunities & were back in the SF Bay Area or the East Coast within two years. I kept hearing the phrase “cultural wasteland” applied to Florida.

    I moved in summer 2010 from SF to a town 15 minutes from Buffalo, NY. My husband had to finish up in Silicon Valley & wasn’t able to join me until December, though he flew in for weekends a few times a month. We don’t have kids, but this six-month setup was great for our 18-year marriage. Things had grown tense & this gave us some breathing room. Husband got physically tired but he’s a frequent-flyer-mile whore so secretly he loved it. :)

    We could have bought a fancy condo during our 15 years in SF but we never bought into the “logic” that $800,000 was reasonable to drop on a 1BR condo. I despised SF by the time I left…expensive, dirty, broken public transit…a lot of practical things became unbearable and yet there were still people coming into the city with their rose-colored San Francisco glasses on. I couldn’t understand, for example, people jerking off about how great the Mission was with its bookstores & restaurants & whatever, but no one ever talked about how filthy the streets were & how drug deals went on openly everywhere. But hey, you’re cool if you’re a white person who chooses to live in the Mission! Or if you run around Pacific Heights with your yoga mat! Or are one of the cool millionaire moms of Noe Valley! Appearances are everything in SF.

    We moved to the Buffalo area to be close to my husband’s family in the area & my family in Massachusetts. (Aging parents/illness.) We bought our almost-100-year-old house for $150,000 cash. It’s my husband and myself, have 1800 square feet, a porch, a garden, a big backyard, central air, room for our two dogs & one cat. We have an award-winning public elementary school in our neighborhood & there are many kids on our street. We live in a village and can walk to the library, restaurants, coffee shops & a hair salon/spa that rivals the place that I went to in SF & spent $150 on a haircut. Sounds like Pacific Heights! And it’s lovely! There are parks everywhere. When I walk the dogs, people say “hello” as you pass.

    And no I’m not a fat chick in a Sabres sweatshirt, though yes, WNYers aren’t as svelte as their SF counterparts. I’m cute, I look nice but I am not a Carrie Bradshaw image-y type. I find it all very tiring. Blessedly, you can live here in Western NY on little money and I LOVE that the atmosphere is no-bullshit & no one gives a crap if your bag is Coach or a Target special. I have two neighbors, one a retired teacher and one who is the director of our village library, who are kind, who smile & who have already helped me when I locked myself out of the house. We saved our Silicon Valley money & my husband went from working 12hr days at a stressful, the-job-follows-you-home type of job to a 30-hour-a-week seasonal government job that provides health insurance & I don’t have to work.

    My point is, Stephanie’s life sounds exhausting in the appearances, the wants. Everything that needs to be HAD. Life can be different. I’ve never been so happy to be out of California. Even this past winter.

    By the way, my Bosch 4-burner gas range — price tag sub-$1,500 & perfect for a passionate home cook — has a warming drawer.

  25. Well…”The Wow Factor”…asking for advice on outfits…publishing photos of grand marble bathrooms in houses you are looking at…descriptions of the country club lifestyle…

    Or to put it simply & not flippantly at all, it is my personal impression from your website that you care very much about appearances. Even with “warts & all” writing and photos, that’s a feeling I come away with, very strongly.

    1. Author

      I think there’s a difference between vanity and trying to do what you think people expect of you. I’m vain, no question. Selfish, sometimes. Self-centered, absolutely. Do I turn to friends for advice? Of course. But, that doesn’t mean I care about appearances and what others think of my lifestyle or decisions. If I had cared, I’d have stopped blogging a long time ago, when the nasty comments came in aplenty. It sounds like what you’re describing–and I could be wrong, as I most often am–is a show-off, which is different than a people pleaser who’s worried about how others view them.

      And you’re right (if that’s what you’re saying). I can be a show-off. Maybe it’s a cover for some insecurity. Sometimes I do things to make myself feel important (but don’t we all, even a little bit?). But I genuinely don’t live my life hoping others approve of it. I like nice things, organized, beautiful things. Things that make my life easier and more delicious.

      And, for the record, I could never afford that bathroom! It was part of a 17.9 million dollar house. Wait, let me rephrase. I could afford that bathroom, and only that bathroom. And the “Wow Factor” is a real-estate term, where a broker wants his/her client to walk into a home and say WOW, for whatever reason moves them.

      Also, I’ve always worked hard for everything I’ve wanted. I haven’t taken or asked for money from “Daddy” or anyone else since my earliest days in college. So, as easy as it is to call me spoiled (not that you have), I’m a very hard worker who’s well aware of her blessings.

  26. I haven’t commented in awhile, but I have to today. Home is where your heart is. And your heart is where Phil and the children are. A house is just temporary, ALWAYS. Some are nicer than others, some are bigger than others, some are more comfortable than others…but it’s still just a house, and temporary. Put on that mindset, and you’ll find the place you need for the time you’ll spend in Florida. Keep the Austin house, rent a reasonable ‘get away’ home in Florida that will serve the purpose. That purpose, being Phils job. The rest of the family can adapt :)

    ok. my more than 2 cents worth.
    Huggs to you and Phil and the tots! Good luck!

  27. If he is only going to be gone for part of the week, why bother totally uprooting your life and that of your kids? Why don’t you just stay in Austin while he commutes back and forth? I know you & the kids would miss him, but plenty of families do this & are just fine. My husband is gone Monday through Thursday most weeks. Frankly – and I can say this from experience – you guys may get along a lot better if you’re not in each other’s faces all the time. Plus, think of how much money you’ll be pouring down the drain by paying a mortgage in Austin & rent on a big family house in FL, as opposed to Phil renting a small apartment just for him. I know you guys enjoy a financially comfortable lifestyle, but money saved is still money saved.

  28. This is a great blog ,i really appreciate it !
    I appreciate the hard work you have put into this blog and post

  29. I think many of the comments miss the fact that you are speaking of the internal push/pull between being a partner and letting your significant other set the course of not only your relationship but how you are going to spend actual time in your life (the 24/7/365 kind) and the will, both inborn and learned, to be accountable, make decisions, make things happen. Many modern women spend about third of our lives with our parents learning what it means to be in a family, a third being fiercely independent and doing for ourselves, and a third learning how to integrate the first two parts into a working and loving partnership with another person. It is hard. Sometimes a warming drawer can become a symbol of this entire struggle.

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