WTF Wednesday

Well, my feelings of health and well-being were short-lived. I now have a miserable cold. I also have a husband who’s worked late every day this week and two daughters who have been, shall we say, challenging. So, this WTF Wednesday, I’m going to let the photos do the most of the talking.

I’ve been saving these inexplicable celebrity photos in MommyEnnui’s “Random Awesomeness” Pinterest file for an occasion such as this. Celebrities…they’re just like us, only infinitely more strange!

keanu_on_the_rocks

“Bartender, I’ll have an ‘Introspective Keanu’ on the rocks.”

arnold_and_friend

Arnold’s manager clearly misunderstood when he was instructed to bring “a beautiful doll who won’t talk back” to the bodybuilder’s dressing room.

leo_and_daniel

Not sure what’s going on here, but I think it’s clear that Leo, Daniel and the animal actors nailed the choreography!

ziggy_terrorizing_children

Iggy terrorizing a couple young glam rockers

glenn_and_sweaterboy

Glenn and Woody looked in their closets and thought, “Hmmm…what outfit will best express that I’m creative and stylish, yet likeable?”

nimoy_xmas_sweater

And, this is photo of Leonard Nimoy in a Bigfoot Christmas sweater is why I have mad, phat love for the internet.

Back and Forth: A Tale of My Spine Told Through Photos (Blatantly Stolen from the Internet)

As you may know, I’m just emerging from a week away from the computer during which I took a complete break from writing. After months of dealing with worsening back and neck pain, enough was enough. In an effort to heal my gnarled spine, I had to do something drastic. How did I get to be such a pathetic physical specimen? Easy. I spent far too many hours doing this…

hunched-posture-computer

Which left me feeling very much like this…

old_lady_hunch

So, I set aside the computer and spent some quality time with my chiropractor who tried just about everything to get me back in line, including some of this…

brunette_woman_adjustment

…and a little of this…

huey_lewis_chiro

…except that my chiropractor doesn’t look like Huey Lewis. In fact, mine is actually the perfect blend of this…

Concentrated male doctor looking at x-ray picture of spine in th

…and this…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And when I say he tried everything, I mean everything. Neither the tiny pogo stick…

chiro_pogo_stick

…nor the laser gun seemed to do the trick. I left the office feeling defeated.

chiro_jackhammer

The next morning though, I awoke feeling quite a bit better. And, after a blissful afternoon of this…

blonde_woman_massage

I felt like this…

flying_baby_pool Hopefully, that wonderful feeling will remain after I return to doing this…

bikram_yoga

I won’t hold my breath that I’ll be able to do this though…

woman_ponytail_yoga

And, let’s be honest, in hot yoga I actually look more like this…

makeup_after_yoga

Now, I can finally get back to doing this…

woman-writing

…and all is right with the world.

R & R

birdie_5_months_1014Dear readers, I’m a mess. I know it goes without saying that the inside of my head is an untidy place, but this time I mean I’m physically falling apart. My neck and back are tweaked and I haven’t been to yoga in longer than I’d like to admit. I have a hunch (get it…hunch?) that much of my problem derives from being bent over a computer all day. Well, actually, it’s more than a hunch seeing that both my chiropractor and acupuncturist have pointed to my far-from-perfect posture at the computer as one of the main culprits causing my back issues.

Another major culprit is the furball pictured above. Miss Birdie has quickly gone from cute, little puppy to big, strong puppy with places to go and people to see. I take her for a couple walks a day, so that’s a lot of being yanked along by a leash. Me, that is, not Birdie. She has a magical new harness that has lessened the pulling significantly, but I still bear the wounds of her less civilized days.

This is a very long way of saying I’ve decided to take a leave of absence for a week to rest and rehab my aching back. When I’m done writing this post, I will tuck my computer away in a safe place, (or better yet, have Ad Man hide it from me) and not pick it up again for seven whole days. Instead of spending hours every day draped over a glowing screen, I will check in with my chiropractor, actually use the massage gift certificate Ad Man and the girls gave me for Mother’s Day, and drag my sorry ass to yoga. If I really, really need to check email or Facebook, I will do so on the tiny, uninviting screen of my iPhone.

So, ta-ta for now, my friends! I shall return in a week a changed woman, or at least one less dependent on anti-inflammatories and heated neck pillows.

Friday Favorites

Party Down 2009 Key art

Party Down, Starz Network Original
Party Down, a half-hour comedy series that ran on Starz network from 2009-2010, is the funniest damn show you’ve never seen. Sadly, though it was a favorite of television critics, Starz cancelled the show after only two seasons due to low ratings. The series features an oddball group of aspiring actors and screenwriters in Los Angeles who work as catering waiters to pay the bills. The cast reads like a “who’s who” of some of the best comedic actors working today. It includes, Adam Scott, Jane Lynch, Lizzy Caplan and Megan Mullally along with an assemblage of amazing guest stars. It is laugh-until-you-cry funny. And, lucky you, Party Down is streaming on Netflix.

L'Occitane_shower_oil

L’Occitane Almond Shower Oil
L’Occitane’s Almond Shower Oil is heavenly! Like so many of L’Occitane’s products, this stuff smells divine and the light, almond scent stays with you all day. It’s darn near magical as well. When you pour out Almond Shower Oil, it has the consistency of a thick body oil, but mix it with water and rub your hands together, and it transforms into a foamy body wash. Amazing, I tell you! It moisturizes like an oil, but doesn’t leave you feeling slimy. This shower oil is the absolute best thing for keeping your skin from getting dry and flakey in the dry winter air, so stock up now.

Vidalia_Chop_Wizard

Vidalia Chop Wizard
OK, I’m not one who falls for “As Seen on TV” gadgets and I probably would have pooh-poohed this one if a friend hadn’t recommended it to me. I love my Chop Wizard! As the name indicates, It’s wonderful for dicing onions quickly and easily, but you can really use it to chop virtually any vegetable or firm fruit. You should see how fast I can whip up a batch of veggie chili using this baby! I like to chop up a couple onions all at once and then freeze them in separate zip-lock freezer bags. That way, I always have diced onions ready when I’m trying to throw together a quick meal on a weeknight. The Chop Wizard can be thrown in the dishwasher and all the parts pack up together for storage. Good lord, have I officially turned into a housewife, or what?

BedtimeMath

Bedtime Math: A Fun Excuse to Stay Up Late by Laura Overdeck
I never thought I’d see two children fighting over who gets a book of math problems next, but Biggie and Smalls both love Bedtime Math (and will argue about any damn thing, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised). Biggie is an avid reader with simply no time for math. The sight of a math worksheet is enough to throw her into an instant homework tizzy. Smalls, on the other hand, adores math and could do word problems all day long. Amazingly, I found this series of books that’s perfect for both girls. The problems in Bedtime Math are humorous and the illustrations are fun and colorful. Also, each “story” is followed by three different levels of problems, so the books work well for a range of ages.

jeni's_ice_ceam_9

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams
I consider myself a bit of an ice cream aficionado. Hell, the amount of it I ate during my two pregnancies alone gives me the right to judge. And, in my humble opinion, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams are the absolute best. They’re insanely creamy and chock full of the world’s freshest, yummiest ingredients. (Sorry…I’m prone to hyperbole when it comes to Jeni’s ice cream.) Jeni’s has some amazing year-round flavors like my two favorites: Salty Caramel and Brown Butter Almond Brittle. Jeni (yes, there is a real, live Jeni) also does a range of seasonal flavors that you sure as heck won’t find in your usual grocery store freezer section. The recent “Late Summer Harvest Collection” included Roasted Strawberry Buttermilk, Backyard Mint, Sweet Cream Biscuits and Peach Jam, and Sweet Corn and Black Raspberries. I mean, come on! Jeni’s, which is based in Columbus, OH, has opened a handful of “Scoop Shops” in the US, but can also be found in gourmet stores and ordered online from Jeni’s website.

It’s ‘WTF Wednesday!’

It’s another new MommyEnnui weekly feature! On WTF Wednesdays, I will present to you a random assortment of things that make you say, “What the f**k?!” Today, we cover ridiculous vintage paperbacks. Next week, it could be something mind-blowing from nature, an asinine quote by Sarah Palin, or a review of a shockingly bad sitcom that somehow made it onto network television. The possibilities are endless.

** Click on any paperback below to launch a slideshow with larger images.

Friday Favorites

It’s a rainy Friday here in Atlanta, perfect conditions for online shopping and maybe even making some homemade almond milk. Do I know how to party or what? 
mally_face_defender
Mally Beauty Evercolor Poreless Face Defender
Just yesterday, I was standing in front of the mirror thinking, “My skin looks pretty good for a 45 year old.” Then I made the mistake of looking at myself with my glasses on! Yikes! Apparently, there’s a damn good reason our vision starts to go downhill the same time our faces start to show some serious wear and tear. Enter Evercolor Poreless Face Defender by Mally Beauty. This stuff is magic and that’s no exaggeration. No regular pressed or loose face powder is truly translucent. It tends to settle into fine lines and make aging skin look crepey. Not pretty. Mally’s Evercolor Poreless Face Defender, on the other hand, is totally invisible, yet it leaves your skin looking dewy, but not oily, it erases large pores and imperfections and it’s light and velvety on your skin. It’s kind of like an airbrush for your face. Like I said…magic.

hanky_panky_boyshortsHanky Panky boyshorts
Hanky Panky’s boyshorts are my very favorite undies. They’re sweet but sexy, super comfortable, and they don’t show lines even under my skinny jeans. They also come in an incredible array of colors and patterns. They are, admittedly, pretty spendy, but mine have lasted years with machine washing in a lingerie bag and hanging dry. And, Hanky Panky has many different styles, from low-rise thongs to vintage-style, high-waisted briefs, if boyshorts aren’t your thing.
woolrich_whitecap_bootWoolrich Whitecap Bootie Slippers
I’m one of those people who, unapologetically, still wears Uggs. I love my Uggs. Maybe it’s the LA girl in me. I used to tell Ad Man I wanted a pair to wear as slippers in the house in addition to the ones I wear outside (we’re shoes-off in-the-house people). Unfortunately, that would be a ridiculous amount of money to spend on slippers. Luckily, I found the perfect alternative last fall. These Woolrich Bootie Slippers are cute, warm and easily as cozy as Uggs. I actually look forward to cold weather so I can pull these babies out of the closet.harvey_milk_stampHarvey Milk Forever Stamps
Harvey Milk was an American politician who became the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in California when he won a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. He was also an outspoken advocate for for the LGBT community. It is about time he be be honored with a U.S. postal stamp and take his rightful place beside other, more well-known, civil rights leaders in our country. “It takes no compromising to give people their rights. It takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no survey to remove repressions.” -Harvey Milk

homemade_almond_milkHomemade Almond Milk
And speaking of milk (har, har), I feel it’s my duty to tell you how easy it is to make your own almond milk. Stop buying the stuff in the carton! All you need is raw almonds and water. Easy, peasy. If you’re feeling a little more energetic, my very favorite almond milk recipe from Oh She Glows (a fantastic vegan cooking website) adds a bit of vanilla, a pinch of cinnamon and a few dates for sweetness. It’s absolutely delicious!

Ellie's_nut_milk_bagEllie’s Bigger, Better Nut Milk Bag
And, a bonus favorite thing today is my new nut milk bag! (The jokes practically write themselves.) The process of making almond milk and other nut or coconut milks is pretty simple. Depending on your preference, you may choose to soak your nuts overnight. You then throw the nuts, some water and any other ingredients you like to use for flavoring into the blender until everything has been mixed to a pulp. Then, you get to the only tricky part of making nut milks…straining the liquid from the pulp. I have done this with both a fine sieve and cheesecloth in the past and, while either method does the trick, they tend to be messy and a bit of a pain. To make this process much, much easier, get yourself a good nut milk bag (try to say it without giggling). With a nut milk bag, you just pour the pulp mixture from the blender into the fine mesh bag, tie it closed and squeeze out all the liquid. Homemade almond milk is less expensive and so much yummier than the almond milk you buy at the grocery store!

Calculating Your Whine to Wine Ratio

grocery_store_tantrumAs an avid childhood fan of ‘The Brady Bunch,’ many of the story lines and lessons learned on the show have stuck with me through the years. I truly believe there are few experiences in life that can’t be related back to a Brady Bunch episode. But, as far as the delightfully terrible Brady sequels go, I remember only two things. First, Cindy carried her lisp into adulthood. (I’m not sure why Carol and Mike never sent her to a speech specialist. I mean, they had a live-in maid; it’s not like they couldn’t afford it.)

The second thing that stuck in my consciousness from the short-lived series, ‘The Bradys,’ was poor Marsha’s fate. When Marsha gave up her career to become a stay-at-home mom, her ego sustained quite a blow (sound familiar?) and she turned to alcohol for solace. She eventually dried out in rehab after getting in an alcohol-related accident with her kids in the car…a true Brady-style happy ending (Marsha’s recovery, not the car accident). To this day, I still think of Marsha when I pour a glass of wine at 4 pm hoping it will sustain me through the long hours until bedtime.

I know I’m not the only mother who, at least occasionally, reaches for a wine glass for emotional strength. As a matter of fact, just this morning I just ran across this quote from Her Majesty, Duchess of London and New York, Gwyneth Paltrow: “I drank like crazy [when the kids were babies]. How else could I get through my day?” See ladies? We’re in good company. If Gwynnie, with her team of nannies, chefs and personal assistants can’t get through the day without a little vino, is there any hope for the rest of us?

In an effort to keep us all out of rehab, I have developed this handy list of parenting situations in which you may find yourself, along with the corresponding amount of alcohol that would be appropriate in each circumstance. I must stress though, never drive when you’ve been drinking, especially with your children in the car. We owe it to Marsha to learn from her mistakes.

Example #1: Your son needs help on his math homework, but it appears to be written in another language. “How many rectangular arrays can you make of these twenty-four crayons?” Wait…is this math or art homework? Your kid, of course, has no clue what a “rectangular array” is despite having spent thirty minutes on it in class that very day. You text a friend who has a child in the same class. She is no help and neither is her kid. Your son moans, lays his head on the kitchen table and makes a point of sighing dramatically.

Appropriate response: Pour a glass of wine. Sip it over the course of the evening.

Example #2: You wake before dawn to your preschooler crying because “Blue Mousie” is just out of reach at the foot of her bed. Rather than moving an additional two inches, she yells to you to retrieve the matted, stuffed mouse. She refuses to wear her favorite dress (the one she wore twice to school and once to bed last week) complaining that it’s “too itchy.” After extended negotiations, you agree to send her to school in pajama bottoms, a Snow White costume and rain boots.

When you arrive to pick her up, she throws a fit and makes you peel her, one finger at a time, from the swing to which she’s clinging with a death grip. She’s still doing her best spawn-of-Satan impression when you get home. Maybe she’s just hungry (…said every hopeful parent since the dawn of time). Take a deep breath and make her a snack. It should preferably be a snack containing some sort of fruit, vegetable or protein, but if things continue to go south, swallow your pride and bust into the hidden Halloween candy. You still have hours to go before bedtime. If the snack fails to remedy the situation, sit her in front of the television, and wallow in feelings of guilt and inadequacy.

Appropriate response: Drink one glass of wine. Yearn for another, but realize that you never made it to the grocery store today because you were combing the town for a pair of yellow tights for tomorrow’s preschool performance.

Example #3: It’s your daughter’s “busy day.” As soon as she gets off the bus, you rush her into the house to don her soccer gear and stuff a granola bar in her mouth. Remind her to bring her backpack and a pencil so she can do homework in the car. You’re ten minutes away from the house when your daughter realizes she’s missing her homework folder and one shin guard. Screw it. Let her have one bruised leg and do homework during dinner. Sit in the minivan during soccer practice so your younger kid can knock out his one sheet of homework. Unfortunately, you’ve failed to stock the car with safety scissors and a glue stick.

You return home after soccer only to discover that the dog has diarrhea. Disinfect every surface, then attempt to simultaneously make a passable meal while overseeing both children’s homework. Your husband calls to say there’s a crisis at work and he won’t be home until after bedtime. Your son gets gluestick on the shitty dog and your daughter throws herself on the floor whining that she’s “toooooo tiiiiiirred to do homework!” Realize that, next year, you’ll likely have two children playing sports and moaning about homework and one husband still working late.

Appropriate response: Drink one glass of wine and don’t bother putting the bottle away. Drink another glass while eating leftover mac ‘n cheese from the pan.

Example #4: In a moment of weakness, you volunteered to chaperone your son’s second grade class field trip to the zoo. You’re running late because, well, you have kids. You drop your daughter off at her school, then try to determine whether you have time to pick up a much-needed cup of coffee since you left your to-go cup on the counter at home. As you pull into the Starbucks parking lot, your son starts whining, “Nooooooo, don’t stop heeeerre…I’m gonna get the last seat on the bus and have to sit next to someone stupid!” Remind your dear child that we don’t call people stupid and promise him chocolate milk if he’ll shut the fuck up (in much more sweet and motherly words of course). Get to the drive-thru, take one look at the line and acknowledge that you’ll never make it to school on time if you stop. Abort the mission and head for school. Your son now starts wailing because he wants chocolate milk and continues until you screech into the parking lot at school and drag him onto the bus by his elbow.

In the ape house, the boys loudly discuss daddy ape’s “wiener” while every mom within earshot glares at you in disgust. Three of the five kids entrusted to you run off (your son leading the pack) and disappear into the reptile house while you’re standing guard by the men’s room waiting for the other two to emerge. Despite these incidents, you’re successful in returning all the children safely back to the designated meeting spot outside the zoo gates. You now have a splitting headache from caffeine withdrawal and the incessant boy chatter (and burps and fart jokes) still ringing in your ears. At this point, your son realizes that you didn’t make a stop at the gift shop before exiting and throws an epic fit. The entire episode is witnessed, of course, by the class room mom. You know…the one with the perfect highlights and angelic children? Repeat after me…”I will never volunteer to chaperone a field trip again. I will sell things, I will make cupcakes, I will help grade homework, but dear lord, NOT another field trip!”

Appropriate response: When you return home, polish off a bottle of wine by yourself. Fall asleep on the couch at 8:43 pm while watching an episode of ‘Castle’ you’ve had on the DVR for the last two years.

Example #5: Your daughter is in rare form. Nothing is going right for her today and it’s all your fault. This morning, she is devastated to find out that you washed her black skinny jeans with the gold pattern on the pockets instead of her black skinny jeans with the studs on the pockets which are OBVIOUSLY the ones she NEEDS to wear today. Are you TRYING to ruin her life?! She, of course, misses the bus because she has LITERALLY NOTHING to wear! Your formerly sweet daughter silently mopes the entire ride to school. You drop her off and briefly consider just continuing to drive until you run out of gas in a small town where you’ll start a new life under an assumed name. You shelve that thought, though, when you think about your younger daughter who’s not a teenage asshat yet and still needs you.

That afternoon, your left eye starts to twitch when you hear the middle-school bus lumbering down the street. You hold your breath wondering which of your daughter’s personalities will be returning home today. Unfortunately, it’s the evil one again. You make the mistake of asking about her homework. She grunts something unintelligible, pulls textbooks and notebooks out of her backpack and dramatically drops them one-by-one on the table. You ignore her theatrics and encourage her to head to her room and get started so she’s not doing homework all night.

Not two minutes pass when you hear her screech, “Get OUT of my room! Mooooooommm…I can’t do homework with this BRAT in my room!” Your younger daughter manages to gasp through her sobs, “I. Just. Wanted. To. Show. Her. My. Wiggly. Tooooooooooth!” You calm her down and suggest she stays as far from her hormonal sister as possible. You poke your head in the demon-child’s room and remind her that she needs to be kind to her sister or she won’t be going to her best friend’s sleepover next weekend. She responds by wailing, “Mooooooommm…you DON’T understand! She ALWAYS comes into my room and I can’t do my homework. It’s NOT FAIR! Why do I have soooooo much homework and she has like four math problems? And, I can’t even think because I’m LITERALLY starving!” You back out of her room quietly in hopes that she’ll be so busy ranting, she won’t even know you’ve left.

Your younger daughter spots you in the hall, tiptoes over to you and says, “Um, Mommy? You know that project I told you about yesterday where we’re supposed to do a report on a book and then dress up as the writer and give a speech about the book and the author’s life? Well, it’s due tomorrow.”

Appropriate response: Screw wine. Grab the tequila.

Friday Favorites

Because I really should have skipped law school and become a personal shopper instead, MommyEnnui will have a new weekly feature starting today. In Friday Favorites, I will feature a random selection of my favorite things…five favorite things to be exact because, well, it’s fun to say. Feel free to comment with a few of your favorite things. I may just include them in a future list.

Working_Hands1. O’Keefe’s Working Hands Hand Cream
I have to give a shout-out to my dad and step-mom for introducing me to this amazing hand cream. I’ve tried so many different creams, cuticle oils and even moisturizing gloves looking for something that would heal my dry, ragged cuticles, to no avail. That was until I tried O’Keefe’s hand cream. This stuff truly is magic! Also check out O’Keefe’s Healthy Feet Moisturizing Foot Cream. Ad Man swears by it.
leather_baggu_bag2. Leather Baggu bag
I’m a huge fan of Baggu’s ripstop nylon reusable bags. They come in lots of fun colors and patterns, are practically indestructible, fit tons of stuff, are machine washable and fold up tiny so you can carry a bunch of them in your purse or stuff them in your car’s glove compartment. But you know what I love even more than Baggu’s reusable bags? This luscious version they’re now making in leather! Isn’t it gorgeous? I soooo need one. Ad Man, are you listening?

Fiona Bra by Moving Comfort? - Blush/Crimson3. Moving Comfort sports bras
I’m a 34D which makes it difficult to find supportive sports bras that aren’t absolutely hideous. When I started a running program a while ago, I made do by either layering two tank-style compression sports bras or even ran with my hands across my chest at times trying to keep those babies from bouncing me right off the treadmill. Then, I discovered Moving Comfort bras. I’ve since worn a couple different styles from Moving Comfort and they’ve all been wonderful. They’re cute, supportive enough for high impact sports and don’t squash your boobs beyond all recognition.

A_for_Abigail4. A is for Abigail: An Almanac of Amazing American Women by Lynne Cheney
After you’ve gotten over the shock of me recommending something written by a member of the Cheney family, hear me out. This is a fantastic book that celebrates a diverse group of history-making American women. Every girl will be able to find a hero here. Honorees include founding mothers, artists, scientists, inventors and entrepreneurs, journalists, educators, feminists and sportswomen. Biggie and Smalls love this book and I so wish I’d had one like it growing up.

duralex_picardie5. Duralex Picardie glass tumblers
Duralex’s Picardie tumblers are a French design classic for a reason. They come in a wide range of sizes from a tiny juice glass to a tumbler that’s perfect for a decadently large, ice cold beer. When Biggie was transitioning from a sippy cup to a “big-girl” glass, I bought the small size tumblers for her. Duralex uses tempered-glass, so they’re perfect for kids, they hold both hot and cold drinks, and can be thrown in the dishwasher or microwave. I brew hot tea directly in a large size glass and then dump in a bunch of ice to make iced tea. I also love that the bottoms are completely flat, so you don’t get an annoying puddle of water in each one that you have to dry when unloading the dishwasher. It’s the little things that make me happy.

Homework: An Unnecessary Evil?

girl_homeworkI’ve discussed my feelings about homework here before and it has become a bit of a recurring topic here and on the MommyEnnui Facebook page. A friend just sent me this fascinating article written by Valerie Strauss of The Washington Post and now I’m even more convinced that homework is a waste of time. A number of studies have shown that homework is virtually useless in increasing grades and test scores. Instead, it adds stress to children’s lives, causes conflict between parents and kids and keeps children from exploring new interests and engaging in active, creative play.

I know I’m not alone in this; I have many friends who feel the same way. However, I also know that many parents still believe children should be given homework, some even complain to teachers that their kids aren’t being given enough homework.

I’d love to hear your responses to the above article. What are your reasons for supporting or not supporting homework? Should math be treated differently from other subjects? Does your opinion change when a child gets to middle school? How about high school? I know we have a number of teachers here. What are your thoughts on the subject?

If you, like me, are convinced homework is an “unnecessary evil,” what do you think parents can do to change policies in our kids’ schools?

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!