The Rathole Next Door

swank_bhead_houseI know I’ve mentioned before that we live in an affluent neighborhood in Atlanta called Buckhead. The houses in much of the neighborhood look like this one. However, we like to say that we live on the wrong side of the tracks in Buckhead. Or, “Buckhead adjacent,” since it reminds Ad Man and me of living in Los Angeles where any structure within 10 miles of Beverly Hills is referred to as “Beverly Hills adjacent.”

Don’t get me wrong, I love our neighborhood and the homes are far from cheap. Well, I should clarify that they are not “cheap” unless you moved here from San Francisco like we did. (We spent the first few days of our house search running around all giddy yelling, “Holy crap! They’re giving houses away here!”) The difference is that the McMansions being built amidst the 1950s ranches in our neighborhood are far smaller than the legit mansions just minutes away.

When we were in the process of buying our home, there was a house next door that appeared rundown so we asked neighbors about it. We were told that the house belonged to an elderly couple who were poor health and didn’t have family living nearby. People in the neighborhood pitched in and took turns mowing the couple’s lawn. We thought, “Now, that’s the kind of neighborhood we want to live in!” But, by the time we moved in, the house next door was empty. Well, not empty, exactly. It was still full of furniture and personal belongings and curtains were hanging in the windows, but the elderly couple had moved in with their daughter a few hours away.

And, that is exactly how it has remained for the past seven years. We’ve met the couple’s daughter and her husband a couple times, and they’ve made a show of removing a stack of boxes every other year or so, but as far as actually doing something with the house, they’ve always appealed to our sympathy. They live far away, they both work and have kids, they’re dealing with her father who has dementia (the mother has since passed away), etc. They’ve alternately claimed that they were going to renovate the house and move in and, more recently, tear it down and rebuild. My requests for a timeframe always go unanswered.

front_door_trashWe and other neighbors have been more than patient. Others would have firebombed the damn place years ago. Instead, we’ve watched the house, which is on a large piece of property in a great school district, deteriorate to the point where it will no longer be salvageable, even if taken down to the studs. Imagine this…the home (which we’ve come to refer to as the Boo Radley House) has been un-air-conditioned and unheated for seven years. In Atlanta! Things are gross in the summer in Atlanta even with air-conditioning. We’ve complained to the city and it was condemned at one point a few years ago, but the homeowners just hired a yard service and had workers do some cosmetic fixes. That was apparently sufficient for the City of Atlanta.

Other than keeping the grass mowed, the house is again in a deplorable condition. Workers who were in the house years ago reported that it was infested with rats and covered in mold. And, to think, it’s right next door. Delightful, huh? It’s always a fun topic of conversation when we have guests over for the first time. Anyway, the reason I tell you all of this is because I HAVE HAD IT! I’ve decided to take on the owners of the house and the city like it’s my full-time job and I want to keep you updated on my progress (or lack thereof).

So far, I’ve done a bunch of research about the city codes and the Office of Code Enforcement records, which is the most I’ve used my law degree in the last eight years. I’ve also gathered documentation between me and other neighbors and the city, our city councilman, the code enforcement office, the homeowners and others. I’ve written a letter with the advice of a friend-of-a-friend who held a high-level position in the city and knows how best to get the attention of the people who might actually do something to help us. I’ve taken photos of the falling-down house and I’ll be walking around the neighborhood getting as many people to sign the letter with me as possible.

If all of the above efforts don’t work, I have a few other tricks up my sleeve. Stay tuned for updates. If any of my lovely readers has advice or a contact in the City of Atlanta Office of Code Enforcement, please let me know!

Lock Me Up and Throw Away the Key  

list_insane_asylumThis list of reasons one might be committed to an insane asylum in the late-1800s is one of my favorite things. It comes from West Virginia’s Hospital for the Insane which still stands and is open for “Heritage” and “Ghost” tours. Huh? If I were committed to a creepy insane asylum, that would be the very last place I’d choose to haunt in my afterlife. I’d choose something more like the Bora Bora Nui Resort. Yep, I would haunt the shit out of one of those little villas set literally on the ocean. I should mention that the asylum also hosts Zombie Paintball and and a drag show, both of which sound a hell of a lot more fun than being spooked by pissed off, long dead lunatics.

Reading through the list of reasons for committal, it’s clear that I would have been a long term resident at my friendly neighborhood insane asylum if I were around in the 1800s. This is, of course, presupposing that I’d survived the Salem Witch Trials prior to that. Let’s peruse the list, shall we? I suspect a good number of us would have been potential patients at the asylum. Right off the bat, I’m screwed:

Intemperance and Business Trouble.  I’ve been known to imbibe an alcoholic beverage or two in my time and anyone who reads this blog knows that, despite my license to practice law, I’ve earned approximately zero dollars over the last eight years. If that’s not business trouble, I don’t know what is. While I wouldn’t necessarily draw a causal connection between intemperance and my business trouble, both of these character flaws exist simultaneously so I’d have to plead guilty on this one.

I clearly have a Hereditary Predisposition to insanity. Thanks a lot, Mom. I would also be remiss if I didn’t blame my grandmother and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins. You’re all a bunch of crazies, but I love you.

Ill Treatment by Husband. Check. Um, here’s an idea though…perhaps they could have thrown the husbands in the asylum, not the long-suffering wives!

I don’t think they could get me on Imaginary Female Trouble. All my female trouble has been based firmly in reality. I am, however, clearly suffering from Hysteria (i.e., “female trouble”), an Immoral Life (see Intemperance, above), and Laziness. I’m also guilty of Using Medicine to Prevent Conception, Menstrual Derangement, Mental Excitement and, worst of all…Novel Reading!

Overaction of the Mind would be a yes; Overstudy of Religion, a definite no. I have been accused of Political Excitement, especially since moving to the South. For some reason, I was considered very calmly political when I lived in Berkeley, California. I can also be Bad Company at times, just ask Ad Man.

I don’t think I’ve ever had Bad Whiskey, but whiskey has definitely been bad to me. I am pleased to report that, as far as I know, I have not suffered from either Bloody Flux or Brain Fever. Neither of those symptoms sounds like a good time.

As for the rest of the first column, I admit to Business Nerves and Congestion of the Brain. I’m sure I displayed both to a few judges in Los Angeles County courtrooms. I’m safe on the rest of the symptoms in that column, but I’m not going to make any promises that Desertion by Husband won’t be forthcoming.

I definitely have Domestic Affliction and Domestic Trouble, but again, why do I have to go to the insane asylum while the real culprits, my husband and children, get to walk free? Actually, I should throw our puppy Birdie in there, too. Am I the one who barks at my own tail and pees on the kitchen floor? I think not.

Not sure what Excitement as Officer means, but if it involves a sexy policewoman’s uniform and stilettos, I can’t absolutely rule it out. A girl’s got to keep the home fires burning, if you know what I mean.

Yes to both Fever and Jealousy. Suppression of Menses? Hell yes! Shout out to my IUD! Time of Life? Well, this one depends on context. Is it like, “Woohoo…I’m having the time of my life!” If so, then I’m sure that’s occurred in one 4 am Chicago bar or another when I was in my 20s. If instead, it means “The Change,” then no, not yet, but check back in five to ten years. I’m sure I’ll be plenty deranged by then!

asylum_buildingI think we’ve sufficiently covered Uterine Derangement and Women Trouble. Add those to Hysteria and Menstrual Derangement. Jeez, you’d think getting one’s period was like catching the Black Death back then! Hmm…I wonder what the gender was of the person who wrote up this list. Such a mystery. I guess we’ll never know.

Do you think Shooting of Daughter had to be an actual shooting or would merely contemplating be enough? I’m going to read this literally and say no, I’ve never shot one of my daughters. Not even during a homework meltdown.

Gathering in the Head is one of my favorites. I’ve spent many years in my head, but as far as I know I’ve always been alone in there, so I think I’m OK on this one. And, if Greediness means hiding the good chocolate from your children and eating it after they go to bed, then I’m greedy as hell.

Grief? That’s a topic for another blog post. Let’s just say grief is the only thing on this list that’s actually gotten me close to requiring hospitalization. Speaking of which, today is the 12th anniversary of my mom’s death. I’d like to believe she’d be MommyEnnui’s biggest fan if she were still here. Thanks for the twisted sense of humor, Mom. It’s serving me well.

Hard Study could have gotten me committed to an asylum a few times during law school. Instead, I went with outpatient therapy and tequila. Rumor of Husband Murder? Much like Shooting of Daughter, this one depends on who’s spreading the murderous rumor and whether empty threats count. As for Seduction and Disappointment, I’d refer you back to the same Chicago bar in my 20s. I’m sure this one was checked off back then.

And, finally, Dissipation of Nerves. For this one, I looked up dissipation and found a number of interesting definitions: “breaking up and scattering by dispersion,” “wasting by misuse,” or “a process by which energy is used or lost without accomplishing useful work.” Considering the fact that I spend much of each day gathering in my own head, Dissipation of Nerves could be my middle name!

Well, there you have it. I would have been the ideal candidate for commitment to West Virginia’s Hospital for the Insane if I were around in the 1800s. The good news is that pretty much every one of my female friends and a good number of the guys would be committed with me, so at least I’d have company. Imagine all the fun we’d have drinking, being lazy, reading novels and just generally living an immoral life. Doesn’t sound so bad now, does it?

How many reasons would you have had for being locked in the insane asylum?

My Journey From Love’s Baby Soft to Chanel No. 5

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My summer scents and year-round favorites

As I’ve mentioned here before, I have a bit of an obsession with fragrances. This fascination began when I was young and realized that smelling certain scents brought on a rush of vivid memories like nothing else. To this day, I can’t smell Ivory soap or sulphury well water without thinking of my grandmother and long, summer days spent running wild on her farm in Indiana. My father will forever be tied to the scent of cigarettes and Aqua Velva aftershave (thankfully, he quit smoking many years ago). Anytime I smell oil paint, linseed oil or spray-mount adhesive, I’m transported back to college where I studied art and design. Some smells immediately send me into funk of homesickness from missing California.

I actually met Ad Man in my second year of law school while on vacation in Los Angeles, staying with mutual friends. We quickly fell in love and I was heartbroken when I had to return to Chicago at the end of my visit. We traded t-shirts so we each had something that smelled like the other. (Sixteen years of marriage later, however, I gag when I have to put his workout clothes in the washing machine!) I kept that t-shirt carefully sealed in a plastic, zip-lock bag in hopes of capturing his scent indefinitely. Sadly, it faded within a few weeks. To this day, my memories of our early relationship are inextricably bound with various LA smells…the scents of salt water, eucalyptus trees, dry desert air, night blooming jasmine, bicycle grease, the mix of freshly squeezed juices at the Beverly Hills Juice Company and coffee roasting at King’s Road cafe.

love's_baby_soft_bottleI was a confirmed perfume fan from a young age, counting Love’s Baby Soft, Lauren by Ralph Lauren and Anaïs Anaïs as teen favorites. However, it was actually my mother’s death and the subsequent birth of my daughters that set me off on an olfactory treasure hunt. My mom wasn’t a big scent person, but I do remember her going through phases of wearing Gloria Vanderbilt and flirting with various Avon perfumes. When my mom died, I found myself wishing she’d had a signature scent so that I could track it down, envelop myself in the fragrance, and feel her presence again. That yearning along with my very real fear of getting the breast cancer that claimed my mother’s life and leaving behind young children, led me to seek out a signature scent for myself as a way of providing that connection for my daughters.

I started off seeking a light, clean musk that people would relate to me without consciously thinking “perfume.” I wanted something that could reasonably be the natural smell of my skin, but better. For obvious reasons, perfumistas call those types of perfumes “skin scents.” My friend M from law school always smelled so good and it didn’t occur to me for quite some time that she was wearing perfume. The scent seemed to emanate from her pores. I asked her years later what the fragrance was and it turned out to be a, very inexpensive, Cuban, baby perfume called Para Mi Bebe. I tracked it down on Amazon and ordered a bottle. It was still beautiful and brought back clear memories of law school (good and bad), but I found I couldn’t wear it because it was seared into my brain as M’s scent. It was eerie…like trying on someone else’s skin. So, my search continued.

Photo: Tena Keefe

Photo: Tena Keefe

Luckily, early into my explorations, I discovered samples and decants. Otherwise, I would have gone broke buying full bottles of perfume searching for just the right one. (To make matters worse, it turns out I have very expensive taste. This, of course, did not surprise Ad Man one bit.) Many perfume companies and retailers give out or sell small samples of their perfumes so buyers have the opportunity to experience the full range of a scent and judge its longevity and intensity before making a purchase.

Decant companies and individuals who sell decants have extensive selections of different perfumes and sell anything from a small sample to a few ounces of a fragrance decanted from its original bottle. Decants allow you to own a large number of different perfumes without having to pay for a full bottle that you might not ever get through, especially if you have a sizable collection. And, when I say sizable collection, you have NO idea! I’d say I own about twenty full bottles of perfume and hundreds of decants and samples. It’s certainly nothing to sneeze at, but in the world of perfume fanatics, mine is an extremely modest collection. Pictured here are some of the drool-worthy collections owned by perfumistas I’ve since gotten to know across the globe.

After trying a number of different samples of skin scents, I decided on a lovely one called Musc Bleu by an Italian perfumer Il Profumo. It is a soft, clean musk perfume that makes a perfect everyday scent. Mission accomplished, right? Well not exactly. I quickly realized that there are occasions on which one doesn’t want to smell sweet and soapy. For instance, there are times when I want to smell enticing and sexy as hell. There are also cold, winter days when I crave the feeling of woody, spicy warmth and humid, summer days in the South when I prefer a scent that’s icy, green and citrusy.

Photo: Victor Wong

Photo: Victor Wong

I came to understand why someone might “need” a diverse selection of perfumes for different seasons, events and moods. It’s a rare perfume connoisseur who considers one scent to be his or her signature and wears it year-round. I’m reminded of the time, before we got married, when Ad Man sat me down and informed me that he would be needing eleven bicycles. That sounds like madness for someone who isn’t a cycling junkie, but he went on to list each one of those eleven bicycles: a road bike, a mountain bike, a fixed-gear bike, a beach cruiser, a BMX bike, a track bike and I can’t remember the rest. Believe me, anytime my darling husband balks when I tell him I need a new perfume, I remind him of this conversation.

Through the search for my “Holy Grail” scent, I discovered thousands of other people just as infatuated with scent as me. That’s the beauty of the internet. How else would I have ever met so many others who share my obscure hobby? Perfume lovers are a generous bunch who love to share their knowledge about our mutual passion. I’ve learned more from my perfume forum friends than I ever could just poking around on my own.

My samples and decants

My samples and decants

In the last couple years, I’ve been sniffing samples, reading about the art of perfume making, and learning about the science of smell. (Interestingly, scientists don’t yet know exactly how our noses identify different scent molecules.) My friend S shakes her head every time I add another perfume book to my Goodreads list, but I find it all fascinating. I’ve also been saving for, buying and being gifted with an array of fragrances. It continued to bother me, though, that I’d gone in the exact opposite direction of my goal at the beginning of this adventure. Instead of discovering the one scent that would be my signature and comfort my loved ones, I’d confused their poor noses even more!

That was until recently when I had the girls with me at Neiman Marcus which is, in my opinion, the best place to peruse fragrances in Atlanta. We sniffed some new releases and chatted with Mack Jones, sales associate extraordinaire. After lingering around the Maison Francis Kurkdjian counter with Mack, we moved on to the classics at the Guerlain counter. Biggie and Smalls tested perfumes until they were scented all up and down their arms and each held a bouquet of paper tester strips. We talked about our favorite smells; chocolate chip cookies, newly sharpened pencils and puppy breath ranked high on all our lists, and each made our pick for the prettiest fragrance. We didn’t buy anything that day and I’m sure we drove the other sales associates crazy. What they probably didn’t appreciate, though, was that they’d gained two perfume fanatics and customers for life.

eli_garden_0511I, on the other hand, gained something even more valuable. I’m now able to rest easy knowing that I’ve passed along a curiosity about, and a passion for, fragrance to my daughters. When I’m gone, they’ll have a myriad of scents to remind them of me, and not all just in perfume form. I hope they will pick up a handful of topsoil and smell its sweet, loamy odor and enjoy the sharp, green scent of tomato stems and leaves and remember our attempts at gardening in the steamy Atlanta summers. I want them to smell the warm smokiness of logs burning and think back to reading books by the fireplace, the whole family snuggled in pajamas on a winter night. The girls will each have a collection of my perfumes to enjoy as well since, as Ad Man likes to point out, it will take more than one lifetime to use all the fragrances in my collection by then!

A few notes:
1. Two wonderful decant companies in the US are Surrender to Chance and The Perfumed Court. Ebay is another good source for fragrance samples and decants.
2. My favorite online source for perfume shopping is LuckyScent. If you live in, or will be traveling to Los Angeles, be sure to visit their boutique Scent Bar. Both have an amazing collection of high-end designer and niche scents.

The Back-to-School Curse

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Still Life with Dog and Sick Kid

Things have gone from bad to worse at the MommyEnnui residence. I don’t know why it always catches me off guard when things go horribly awry at the beginning of the school year. I really should write, “Don’t celebrate yet! The shit’s about to hit the fan!” in my calendar on the first day of school every year.

I already knew last week was going to be difficult. It was the second week of school, we have a new puppy and Ad Man was scheduled to be out of town for several days. That meant that I’d have to get two sleepy, stubborn kids up at the crack of dawn, supervise their morning routine, make lunches and have the girls ready to get on the bus at about 5 minutes past the crack of dawn. I also had to simultaneously get a sleepy, stubborn puppy outside to go potty, somehow convincing her of the urgency of the matter, and then keep her from chewing on the children while they tried to avoid getting ready for school.

We managed to do it, despite a few mini-meltdowns by Biggie and Smalls over the outfits they’d picked out themselves just the night before and complaints about their breakfast which would have been deemed disgusting and inedible no matter what I put in front of them. Surprisingly, Birdie cooperated, contentedly spending time in her crate when I couldn’t follow her around at every moment. I tried not to make eye contact with her for fear of breaking the trance.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing though. This was the first week of homework for Smalls and, borrowing from her sister’s playbook, she cried, whined and ended up doing a half-assed job of it each afternoon. Biggie, on the other hand, was delighted that for once, her sister was the drama queen. She took advantage of the rare opportunity to be the “easy child” by being excessively cooperative and pleasant. Both girls have gotten really good at capitalizing on the other’s foul moods. Generally, it’s Biggie throwing a fit and Smalls smiling sweetly at me, saying, “I love you soooo much, Mommy!” These kissing-up skills should serve them well in their careers someday.

When Smalls got off the bus the next day complaining of a headache and stomach ache, I assumed she’d just developed an allergy to homework. I told her to go lay down in her room if she wasn’t feeling well. After about a half an hour of helping Biggie with homework, I realized that Smalls still hadn’t emerged begging for snacks and began to get concerned. I discovered her asleep in her room with the covers over her head, soaked in sweat. Yep…she was running a fever. At this point, I ran outside, shook my fist in the sky and yelled, “Noooooooo!!!” OK, maybe that part only happened in my head.

It turned out, I had my darling Smalls home with me for the rest of the week and through the beginning of this one. We spent long days watching High School Musical, High School Musical 2, Camp Rock, Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam, Princess Protection Program, Freaky Friday and much, much more. If I see one more Disney Channel star, I’m going to lose my freaking mind!

After 2 trips to the doctor, 2 strep tests, 1 mono test, lots of poking, prodding and pleading for a prescription for antibiotics (that would be me), it turned out that it was just a really nasty virus. Ugh…virus. That word dreaded by parents everywhere because it means you are officially powerless to do anything but wait until the virus is damn good and ready to release your kid from its evil clutches. Poor Smalls was stuck with the thing for 6 days.

Oh, and how could I forget the best part? On Fever Day 2 while Ad Man was still out of town, I had Birdie out to attempt a walk. This time, she took a few steps then planted herself on our neighbor’s uphill yard refusing to leave. I ended up carrying her down a set of uneven steps and twisted my ankle so badly I was sure it was broken. I hobbled home carrying the dog (who’s 20 lbs. now, by the way) and immediately iced my ankle while watching it swell up and turn purple. So, there I sat crying with a erratic, potty-training puppy, a sick child and a husband in Texas not returning my texts or calls. Because, you know, that’s how we roll here at MommyEnnui headquarters.

Without access to my absentee husband, I turned to Facebook for support. The best advice came from my friend S who recommended “B.R.I.C.E.”…bourbon, rest, ice, compression and elevation. Many other friends offered their sympathy and asked if they could do anything to help. Those from far away generally just said they were looking forward to a blog post about the whole debacle. So, this is for you heartless bastards.

On the morning of Day 7, I limped to Smalls’s room to check her temperature. Suddenly, the heavens opened up and rays of golden sunshine pooled on her IKEA rug. (Now that I think of it, that could have been dog pee, but I digress.) Once the room cleared of fluffy, white clouds and angels’ wings, I was able to focus on the thermometer stuck in Smalls’s ear which clearly read 98.6! (That’s 37 degrees Celsius for you Europeans with your fancy metric system.)

My joy overflowed, but after 6 days of vegging on the couch watching TV in her pajamas, Smalls was a little less thrilled with the idea of dashing off to school. Regardless, to the school bus she went! I celebrated by sitting on the couch acting as a buffer between Birdie and the furniture, quietly drinking my tea, and watching something (anything!) other than Nick Jr. I actually left the house to sit in a coffee shop with other adults and begin this blog post. I grabbed some groceries and headed home to the dog. It was a wild day of freedom.

Throughout the afternoon, I hatched big plans for the next day. I was super excited to finally get back to my favorite morning hot yoga class. I laid out my clothes and put all my gear in the lovely, as yet unused, yoga bag my step-mom gave me months ago. I planned to finish this post and finally get it up on the blog. I was also going to make one of the zillion tasty recipes I’ve posted on Vegetarian Mamas recently but hadn’t been able to make with a new puppy and sick kid all up in my grill. I crawled in bed that night knowing that Ad Man would soon be home and feeling optimistic for the first time in a long time.

Same Couch, Different Kid

Same Couch, Different Kid

The following morning, I awoke with the sun…and the whining dog and the prodigal husband attempting to pry the children out of bed. When I stumbled out into the kitchen relieved to see Smalls still looking perky, Biggie moaned, “Mommy…my head hurts.” I held my breath as Ad Man stuck the thermometer in her ear, glanced at it and then turned to me with a look of such pity, it sent me into a complete psychotic breakdown.

I don’t remember much after that other than hearing Ad Man’s faint voice from far above the deep, dark place to which I’d sunk. I’m pretty sure he said, “I’ve got to go to work…you know, that place where people praise and throw money at me for a job well done. How’s that law degree working out for you? Oh, by the way, I have to go to San Francisco for a couple days next week.” Or something like that.

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge!

mommy_ennui_ALS_ChallengeMommyEnnui took the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge this weekend. Well, actually, I did it twice! After the first take, Ad Man realized that my iPhone had run out of recording space mid-splash. Of course, he was more than happy to douse me with ice cold water again the next day! If you’d like to see the video of take 2, wherein I get bonked on the head with a big ice ball, click here.

The purpose of the Ice Bucket Challenge is to raise awareness of ALS. If you’re not familiar with the devastating disease or want to know more about the Challenge, click here. I have, in turn, challenged two of my favorite blogger friends, Joanna Pritchard of Poppy’s Style and Kris Willcox of Rhapsody in Cool. I’m counting on you, ladies!

Puppy Ennui

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This gallery contains 4 photos.

I’m pretty sure I’m suffering from puppy postpartum depression (“PPPD”). I just called Ad Man because I was lonely and feeling frustrated by doggy parenting and ended up crying on the phone like an effing lunatic. I’m now sitting at … Continue reading

It’s a Girl!

birdie_sitting_0714If you’ve wondered about the radio silence at MommyEnnui lately, I’m happy to announce that it’s due to the arrival of this gorgeous girl, my new daughter Birdie! I’m using her real name here because she is far less likely than Biggie and Smalls to accuse me of exploiting her for page views when she’s a teenager. Miss Birdie is a 4 month-old* pointer/hound-of-some-sort mix and the fur-covered apple of my eye! (Apologies for the disgusting visual.)

The details of her provenance are sketchy because her birth mother was apparently a bit of a whore who was unable to name the last fellow who humped her let alone identify which stud fathered her bastard children. And, while she may regret the anonymous hook-up that resulted in her getting knocked up with multiples she couldn’t afford to feed or send to puppy school, we’re pretty damn happy about it!

This is my first time raising a puppy, so a number of things have come as a bit of a surprise. For example, it turns out that dogs aren’t born inherently knowing how to walk in a straight line or having the slightest idea why one would want to do so, for that matter. I also didn’t realize that I would get virtually no help from Biggie and Smalls because they’d spend the majority of the time standing atop chairs, screaming in fear of Birdie’s needle-sharp piranha teeth. Every person we told we were thinking of getting a puppy said the same thing…”hide your shoes!” However, no one warned us that little missy would also attempt to eat clean laundry, dirty laundry, the shirts off our backs, rugs, bugs, rocks, sticks, weeds, grass, trash and much, much more.

The good news is that the rest of the family is similarly riddled with character flaws, aggression issues and eating compulsions so I think Birdie’s going to fit in just fine!

*It turns out that Birdie is not actually 4 months old as we were initially told at the shelter where we got her. A further inspection of her paperwork revealed that she’s actually only 2 1/2 months old. This means that she will be a bigger girl than we expected and that we will enjoy 1 1/2 additional months of having our appendages punctured by the dog version of a lawn aerator. Wheeeee!!!

A Day in the Life of a Stay-at-Home Mommy Blogger

When I was an entertainment lawyer in Los Angeles my life was pretty glamorous, at least on paper. I was married, without kids, Ad Man and I had plenty of time and money on our hands. I wore the finest in lady-lawyer pantsuits. I spent time on movie studio lots, went to premieres and loaned my bathroom key to celebrities in my office. I never could have foreseen what my days would be like 10 years, 2 cities and 2 kids later. I’ve recorded one average day in the life of MommyEnnui below. Brace yourself for the excitement and please keep your hands and arms inside the ride at all times.

another_day_in_paradiseThe alarm on my iPhone goes off at 7:30 am because Biggie and Smalls have gymnastics camp this week. Feel the pain of having to get out of bed before I’m damn good and ready and making sure the kids leave the house looking somewhat presentable. Seriously dread the start of the school year which is coming in 2 short weeks. Curse the Atlanta Public School District. Curse my friends in Los Angeles whose children don’t go back to school until after Labor Day. Curse Ad Man just for fun.

Jump in the shower and ignore the fact that my legs are less than silky smooth. No time to shave today. Figure no one’s checking out my legs these days anyway. Quickly blowdry the front of my hair and hope no one notices that the back is still dripping. Contemplate yet again whether I should get my bangs cut or keep growing them out? Bangs or Botox…bangs or Botox? Realize I have to make a decision before my hair appointment first thing tomorrow morning. Know I’ll never actually decide and will let my stylist make the call.

Things I can count on to happen every single day…Smalls throws a fit and cries when getting her hair brushed and I threaten cut her hair short. Biggie realizes she’s forgotten something vital just as we’re pulling out of the driveway. The girls complain that their car seats are too hot, they stage a sit-in under the tree and refuse to enter the car. (I have no doubt they would do this if we lived in Canada.) Envision myself tying them to the bumper and dragging them to gymnastics.

xanax_better_momPick up their neighborhood friend for carpool to camp. Chat with my friend, her mother, who’s rocking a similar “disheveled mom” look as me. Notice that my friend is at least dressed in workout wear. Feel bad for not even pretending today. She mentions her fear of the start of school but remains fairly calm (or at least well-medicated). Full-on freakout mode shouldn’t hit for at least another week at which time we’ll support each other with beer on on the porch and offers to share Xanax. Feel deeply grateful to have found friends who are as neurotic as I am.

On the way to camp, realize that I’ve put my bra on twisted not once, but twice. Hope this isn’t a bad omen for the day.

Go home to blow dry the rest of my hair and brush my teeth. Watch a stupid segment on the ‘Today Show’ with Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn. Feel offended on Tim Gunn’s behalf for this clear waste of his time and talent. Count the days until the new ‘Project Runway’ season starts. Changing of the ‘Today Show’ guard. Think about how much I love Hoda and and would really like for her to find a good man. Wonder how she manages to restrain herself from slapping Kathie Lee Gifford.

heidi_montag_manipediConsider folding clothes and cleaning up the kitchen. Decide to get my nails done and write instead. Hop into our crappy, 8 year-old Passat station wagon and drive to the nail salon. Count the numerous very fit, very blonde, stay-at-home moms in workout gear, getting mani/pedis. Think about how no one in this place has any true understanding of the reality of everyday life for 90% of the people in our country. Realize I should hardly be one to judge. Defend myself in my own mind, pointing out to a nonexistent other person that I spent time on Skid Row and produced a documentary on homelessness in LA. Know that nonexistent person would say that doing a documentary about something is nothing like living that experience. Make myself stop having an imaginary conversation with no one.

Go to Starbucks to write. Lunch is an energy bar and an iced green tea. For the 5,000th time, think about how annoying lunch is, occurring in the middle of the day when I’m trying to get stuff done. Such an imposition.

Sit outside to enjoy the gorgeous weather. Take in the blue skies, temperature in the low 80s, and lovely breezes. Realize that not one part of my body is sweating…a rare state indeed. A 50-something year-old woman sits down to share my table and we can’t help overhearing the couple at the next table, who are obviously freshly divorced, argue about who’s going to pay for their kids’ private school. The woman and I eye each other nervously. The bitter couple leaves and my table mate says cheerily, “Man am I glad I’m single!” We chat about the pros and cons of marriage for a bit and she goes on her way. Acknowledge that I’ve had an amusing chance encounter with a stranger. I usually try to avoid those.

Check email. Check Facebook. Start to look at sandals on sale, but stop myself, recognizing the classic signs of a writer procrastinating. Peruse my extensive list of topics to blog about and reject all of them. My brain is too fried to actually craft an essay of any quality, so I decide to spew out a stream-of-consciousness, day-in-the-life kind of thing. Doubt anyone will read it. Write it anyway.

I know it’s time to stop writing when I have to pee. Head to Target because I need a couple things and because the bathroom there is fairly clean and smells like Froot Loops. Feel happy that Target has finally decided to ban guns in its stores so I can discontinue my boycott. Three weeks without Target was a serious sacrifice. That alone should show my dedication to the cause. Spend $96 on nothing. Forget to pee.

Get back in the car and consider the fact that I never once forgot to pee or eat a meal before I had children. Blame them.

Inhale a banana and peanut butter and greet the girls when they’re returned to me from camp. Ask how their day was and get vague and unsatisfying responses. They do, however, insist that I watch them do cartwheels and bridges in the front yard for the next half hour. Suggest they come inside for a snack and watch a TV show. Acknowledge that a better mother would stand outside all day cheering on their impressive gymnastics skills. I am not that mother.

bath_salts_0714Spend the rest of the afternoon alternately listening to squabbles over whose turn it is to choose a show, reminding Smalls to go to the bathroom, thinking about the fact that I have no plans for dinner and doing nothing about the situation. Pry the girls away from the television and attempt to entice them into taking an early bath in order to avoid an evening drama. Fail in that attempt. Instead, the girls busy themselves by planting land mines of tiny toys with sharp edges all over the house.

Text Ad Man to ask when he’s planning to leave the office. An hour and a half later, when I’ve given up on him and started cooking the girls an inspired meal of macaroni and cheese, raisins, and almonds, finally receive a text back saying he’s going to be late. Think, “No shit” but do not reply. Pour a sizable glass of wine.

Biggie and Smalls beg to take a bath together then spend the entire time fighting over tub toys and who’s taking up more space. Smalls cries and complains during hair washing, because the child apparently has the world’s most sensitive scalp. Plan to call the Guinness people if we all survive this bathtime. Listen to yet more high-pitched arguing and threaten to take away their reading time before bed. Plan what I’m going to wear to the ceremony when I receive my parenting award.

Supervise the drying off, hair brushing, donning pajamas and brushing teeth process. Just as the last preparations for bedtime are complete, Ad Man walks in. The girls squeal, “Daddy!!!” and run to hug and kiss him like they hadn’t seen him just this morning. Give Ad Man a dirty look, say, “They’re all yours,” go refill my wine glass, and take off my bra. Consider my job complete. Spend the rest of the night zoning out in front of the TV with a computer on my lap, thinking about how I really should be working out instead.

Lather, rinse and repeat tomorrow.

Hot and Bothered

As a writer whose life is an open blog, I’m often asked for advice on a number of sensitive subjects. Luckily, I have no shame. Today’s topic is how to spice up your relationship after those white-hot first months as a couple have passed. I’ve found that social media and electronic technology are wonderful tools for staying connected with your partner, which will enhance your relationship both in and outside the bedroom.

Below, you’ll find a number of sexy tips along with real life examples from my own 16-year marriage to the handsome and talented Ad Man. I don’t mean to brag, but as you’ll see, our sex life is still smokin’ hot even after two kids and many long years together. Here are some things that have been successful for us:

1. We try to keep our lines of communication open at all times.

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2. We surprise each other with flirty text messages during the day. For example, I’ll entice him with something like:

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Ad Man’s texts rarely vary, but they never fail to get me all hot and bothered. Two of my favorites are:

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3. I take photos and email them to him at work so he feels more connected with the girls and I at home. Here’s one from a few years ago…

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4. Because Ad Man is often out of town for business, he posts photos on Instagram so it’s almost like I’m there with him. Almost.

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5. Sometimes we even bring technology into the bedroom.

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6. I’ve taken advantage of Facetime and Skype to have intimate conversations with Ad Man while he’s on the road. I don’t have video, but a few months ago I called him via Facetime late at night, all wet and completely nude. Our conversation went something like this…

“I’m running around naked because your daughter just barfed all over her bed, herself and me! Why doesn’t this shit ever happen when you’re home?!”

Well, I hope you’ve picked up a few tips for using technology to help keep your sex life fresh and exciting. These are just a few examples of what has worked for my marriage. I’m sure you’ll think of many others. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go text a sultry photo of my bare derriere covered in mosquito bites as yet another reminder to my dear husband that if he doesn’t call the exterminator tomorrow, he’ll be sleeping in the back yard. Yep, we’re sexy like that.