We left our rental in Vienna,VA for an entire week in exotic Oakton, VA (adjacent suburb). Not only is our Vienna rental not big enough for everyone, but it would have been too depressing here. My mother-in-law was here at our rental for a total of 14 hours and it gave her the major heebie jeebies. Nothing escaped her derision. The formica! The linoleum! The broken plastic toilet seat! The ridiculous excuse for a sidewalk! The horror. The horror. Sound exactly like my blog? Yes. She and I have much in common.
The only thing she deplores more than our rental is Kent’s Balinese furniture. She almost threw up when I told her those pieces are going in our formal living room.
Kent: We get more comments on that Bali furniture than on anything else in the house. Everybody asks about it.
Me: That doesn’t mean they like it. It just means it’s the dragon in the room that has to be addressed.
So off we set for an enormous multi-million dollar rental house in Oakton which slept at least 18 people. Cherry hardwoods throughout all three levels everywhere but the full baths. Pool. Fully decorated in a lush, brown, Old World style. It was super nice, but also looked like everything in it could have been purchased at a Kirklands store. So many generic botanical prints. I’m trying to trash it a little so that I won’t get an inferiority complex about my new construction. I love my house so much more though. Now that the lighting and floors are in, my new construction really has some character.
This was the least dramatic family gathering we’ve ever had. I mean, it had it’s dramatic moments (broken toilet spewing raw sewage all over my poor mother-in-law at Cold Stone, niece barfing in Kent’s car from heat exhaustion after trying to walk the National Mall in late June, Salty falling in the pool and swallowing a bunch of water–I HATE POOLS!!), but no interpersonal conflict besides the usual 3 year-olds batting each other with Barbies. No adult screaming matches over burnt bacon on Christmas morning, if you know what I mean. I think much of the success of the gathering is due to me being super laid back, totally out of character. I let Kent lead the show and accepted that our 18 person group with 4 stroller kids and a wheelchair was just going to be slow.
Heat generally turns me into a Mr. Hyde, but I was only mildly horrid when it actually came time to try to arrange a sweaty family picture in front of Mt. Vernon. That’s practically a smile from me! I had thought it was a physical impossibility for my lips to turn upward at the corners when I’m outside and it’s above 88 degrees in Virginia.
And well, maybe they’ve finally forgiven me for the way I flew about on my broom hexing everyone before and during my wedding. Never plan your own wedding. Rather, never be me and plan your own wedding. However, definitely be me and help someone stage their house! A blog-reading friend is selling her house in McLean and hired me to help her stage it. How delightful to help someone else pick out lighting, focus color schemes, and plan furniture placement and wall hanging groupings.
To sum up, Family Reunion 2014 = wonderful time.
P.S. Re-reading this I realize how painfully fixated I am on home decorating and design right now. Maybe by fall I won’t be viewing the whole world as just so many floorplans and soft furnishings.
P.P.S. Another highlight came in Sweet Water Tavern. My mother-in-law has a long and glorious history of getting the staff at restaurants to write down their recipes for her, but this was a new twist. She really liked the collared shirts of the waiters and wanted to buy one for herself. So several irresistibly persuasive conversations up the management chain and one trip to the basement storage room later, and she strolled out of there with a Sweet Water Tavern uniform shirt of her very own. I defy anyone else to pull that off. I couldn’t.