sinking in the Boca real estate market

Aside from stories, I don’t sell anything. Photographs, art, books, scripts, words, I sell. I don’t sell out people or cameras I’ve outgrown, mostly because I’m loyal and lazy—though, not necessarily in that order. I’m not a I’m not a commercial real estate agent, I also don’t sell houses,  glass or otherwise. But…

But I need to rent a house in Boca Raton for a year, and we’re willing to side-step a broker (keeping the owner from paying the fee). This blog, and more pointedly its readers, have always been a remarkable source for my family. I’m not speaking in advertising dollars but in support, in friendship, and in wisdom. I felt less alone in all of it. Whatever “it” was. Being single. Moving to Texas. Having sex. Not having sex. Fertility challenges. Pregnancy. NICU nights. Lucas’s brain surgery. Phil’s heart surgery. Giving up Linus. Taking up with Bikini. Feeling like a traitor. Wanting to pass Phil’s testicles over a French mandoline.

Once strangers, and readers, some of my closest friends have become just that because of this Greek Tragedy blog. Hell, I met my husband through this small white screen! And once again, you’ve reached out to me, offering advice on schools, synagogues, babysitters, restaurants, and communities. Thank you! You fukcing rock. Seriously.

A facebook friend and reader has introduced me to her family, truly warm, understanding, welcoming people. They have a home in Woodfield Country Club, and although they’d planned on selling their house, not renting, they were willing to rent to us for the year. Win win. We agreed on a price, terms, all of it. Then, not Phil, but I was terrified.

Because the house has a pool.

No, this has nothing to do with my wiggling my bod into a swim suit and everything to do with my fears of accidental drownings. It is my greatest fear. Not just my own children, but if another child comes to our home to play. You can’t look away for a second. I’m sick even writing this. The though of lifeless bodies, sprawled, floating, hanging, at the bottom of a pool. “With twins, one follows the other in.” I can’t, CAN’T, take it. Locking doors with bolts, adding alarm systems, it’s not enough. I’ve heard stories of kids that found their way out of the house through the garage, and within moments, it’s all too late.

If there’s a pool, there simply must be a child safety fence put up. Only to put one up, the installer must drill small holes into the decking, and some homeowners, understandably, aren’t comfortable doing that. So, now, we’re figuring out our next move (literally). So, if you know of anything, anyone, we’d love to know. In the meanwhile, I’m here in Austin, stalking Gwen Hurst for her intensive (read: Nazi-esque) swim lessons, once again.



  1. I don’t know how these install, but I know a lot of Texas families who use this pool net:

    Did the homeowners already say no to any drilling? Seems strange to me because literally EVERY home with a pool we’ve ever been to in Texas has some sort of fence/net/gate attached.

      1. Ugh. It seems like such a standard thing in Texas. My folks have an indoor pool, with a locked door and they STILL have a katchakid because my dad is paranoid someone could break in and drown.

        Good luck on finding another solution.

        Random stalker-y side note, a few months ago I saw you and Lucas at Sephora near the arboretum and I wanted so desperately to say hi, but you looked really focused and I didn’t want to be weird. So, hello now. And those were great boots you were wearing :)

        1. Author

          How sweet! And you should totally say hi. Though now I want to know 1) What boots was I wearing; 2) What in the hell was I doing dragging Lucas into Sephora? Must have been on our “date,” where I dragged him to J.Crew with me, then to return stuff or buy something at Sephora, then to Barnes & Noble to play with trains and get our read on. Say hi next time, lady!

  2. Stephanie, get thee to the ISR website and find an instructor in your area. I can put you in touch with someone if you’d like…it is truly peace of mind and I have seen the training from start to finish, seen it WORK. Just an idea, one that allows you to be proactive instead of fearful. The training is for children up to 6 years old.

  3. I don’t blame you. Pools and kids, well, they do need 100% attention. You’re busy and can’t keep a total eye on things. And if you’re like me, a total control freak, it’s not like you’d leave that responsibility to a nanny.

    Although these home owners sound wonderful, I think you are wise to look further.

  4. You are very smart. My husband is a fireman and the experiences he has witnessed are horrible… kids + pool = tragedy. I don’t care if they can swim or not – they can still easily drown.

  5. That’s weird about the holes because we live in Florida and have a pool and it is the law now to either have a fence or the alarm. I definitely recommend an alarm system that makes a noise anytime a door is opened and then the alarm that goes off when anything breaks the surface of the pool. This should help to ease your mind anytime the twins are out of sight. I would think it would be hard to find a high end single family without a pool in Boca.

  6. I would never have a pool with kids your age without a serious fence or full time supervision. I would be up all night worrying.

  7. Not to downplay statistics or your or the readers’ fears, but I grew up in Ft. Lauderdale and our house had a pool. Perhaps it was because my dad was a life guard in high school and college, but I was basically thrown into the pool at 6 months of age. And became an excellent swimmer, if I may say so myself. It was the 80’s so our pool had neither an alarm nor a fence, but perhaps because I learned to swim (and swam like 3 to 4 times a day) at such a young age, there was no concern. If your kids don’t know how to swim, then perhaps it’s best not to have a pool. But I am of the opinion that the ability to swim (and subsequently not be freaked out by any body of water) is such a vital skill. If your kids don’t know how to swim, they need to learn to do so pronto. You can more easily control the environment in your own home, but the pool and beach (birthday and otherwise) parties that come with living in Florida will cause you endless stress if you aren’t proactive about this asap. I should also add that the kids will become paranoid about pools/swimming if you project an attitude of fear.

  8. I think the issue is not entirely whether Stephanie’s kids can swim (and it seems like she has plans for them to learn), but whether it would be possible to watch out for every kid who comes in the house.

  9. I think having a pool with small children is like having a potentially mean dog. Statistically speaking, it won’t hurt you – it is friendly – it is safe and won’t bite – but damn…if it does…not okay. You’re smart to be wary…not paranoid/scary but careful. These babies aren’t replaceable.

  10. Stephanie there’s something wrong with the comments section. I emailed you about it. You can’t read anything, its just lines interspersed with your photo (I guess when you’ve replied to a comment).

    1. Author

      Are you using Internet Explorer 7 by chance? If yes, then I’m working on the bug fix now. Please let me know if you are indeed on IE 7. And thank you!

  11. I’m not sure if this is really off-base as I’m a NYC girl without so much as a fire escape nevermind a backyard, but is it possible to just drain and cover the pool?

  12. Well, for what it’s worth, you are completely right to hold out for the safety fence or net. Florida leads the nation in child drownings (apologies to your under-eye area). But this is easily addressed with a fence…

    Since it’s a year, have you considered a condo with shared yard/pool? We used to have a place in Highland Beach, near Delray. It’s a cute area and there are some spacious condos near the beach etc. GL!

  13. Not sure if the twins have had swim lessons, but we loved Emler in Austin for excellent training. They have times where the kids have to “fall in” the pool clothed and get out by themselves, too. I know this doesn’t solve the issue of playdates, and I’d still be concerned about the lack of a fence too.

  14. Stephanie, you are so very very wise to take the risk of a pool seriously. Most people don’t take it seriously enough. Good for you.

  15. I hear your concerns-I had the same nightmares in my head when my children were small. Is there no security fencing on this pool currently? Isn’t that odd? It would be a deal breaker for me too unless my children had been thru a solid course of swimming lessons and I knew they were capable.

  16. we have had a pool for over 3 years, and i made sure my then almost 5 year old could swim before the pool was finished. then last summer my 1 year old had swim lessons through an ISR instructor. actually she didn’t learn to swim but rather how to float incase she did fall in the water. a week or so after finishing the course, lola was walking around the pool and went to get some rocks out of the planter by the pool and fell face first in the pool. we were right there, and before i could get to her she had turned herself over and was floating just like she was supposed to. isr truly does work. it will give you peace of mind. in fact, lola is set to take “swim lessons” with the same instructor starting in june.

    as for other kids coming into your yard to swim, be sure to put locks on your fences and keep them locked so other kids can’t come onto your property.

    oh and our neighbors have the catch a kid net, and they say it’s a total PITA to put over after they finish swimming every day. i think they put the net over the pool half dozen times in the 3 years they’ve had the pool. i would go w/ the fence around the pool before i would go w/ the netting.

  17. Stephanie,

    I am so thankful that you are not considering a gated pool in your new home. I have a pool (installed when kids were swimming well) and it still to this day makes me cringe when small kids are around. When a child slips into the water, it literally makes NO SOUND. I experienced this when I was standing around a neighbor’s pool with my 3 year old. I turned around and he was at the bottom of the pool. No splash, no sound, nothing. Luckily I was right there. Afterwards I had nightmares for months with the “what ifs”.

    There will be plenty of time for backyard pools when the kids are older. Even though I read you through this blog, I feel like you are moving away. Silly, I know. The best of life in your new journey and remember to leave good footprints on those beautiful beaches.

  18. Stephanie-
    We love Gwen Hurst! She taught both my 3 & 5 year old to swim in 4 days last summer. It’s painful to watch but you’re done in a week. Emler likes to drag it out for years & will totally drain your wallet. Sorry to see you’re leaving Austin. I guess I won’t be seeing you at the Target Bux or HEB Four Points anymore. I have been moving along with you from the NY area, to Austin. Good luck in Florida!

    1. Author

      Yes, my kids took a week intensive with Gwen last summer (I have video footage somewhere). And after four days, they were each swimming, unassisted, across the length of the entire pool. We continued to practice, repeating all we did with Gwen, for the rest of the summer. But during this trip to Florida, it was as if they’d forgotten it all. It’s like speaking another language. If you don’t use it, you can lose it.

  19. Hi Stephanie – I can’t believe you’re having trouble finding an acceptable house to rent in Boca – I live here and all we hear is about all the foreclosures and great deals people are getting. You are working with a realtor – aren’t you? I am very familiar with the Woodfield Country Club property. I work in the interior design field and my boss lives in WCC – he has many relationships with high end realtors. If you need any info please let me know.

    1. Author

      Thank you so much Lisa! We are working with a broker, and I hope we can find something in WCC that makes sense. We’d be renting for a year. The deal we had (but that I couldn’t do because of the lack of ability to put up a pool fence) was that the owners would pay the $2500 food/drink minimum, they’d pay all the club monthly dues (because they pay them anyway, whether or not we live there). We’d pay the transfer fees and $5200/mon. rent. (which in a year, is an extra 62k in their pocket. So, yes, we’re still looking. I do love WCC though, especially the Kids Corner and shaded playgrounds.

      I’ll be looking at Mizner’s Preserve in Delray as well. Know anything about it? Family friendly?

      1. Stephanie-not sure if you found anything I’ve been out of town for a week & 1/2. As soon as my boss comes in I’ll ask for his opinion of Mizner Preserve and anything else he can think of.

        1. Ok – here’s his suggestions: Mizner Preserve, Seasons (Boca), Mizner Grsnde, Bristol Point, Les Jardins. They’re all in the same general area. If you need anything else just send me an email. Here’s a link to our website:

  20. I have family in Woodfield, actually just came back from there last night. It is gorgeous. Teach the little ones how to swim and keep an eye on the doors…don’t let that stop you from a great home experience.

    I have brought my kids down there since they were in the womb and our house has a pool, a little extra work on my end but no worries ever since!

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