Holy Crap! I Got a Job!

50s-wife-listI promised you big news and I’m finally ready to deliver. Those of you who’ve been following MommyEnnui since its birth, know I’ve spent the last handful of years engaged in increasingly more focused efforts to find a (full-time, outside of the house) job. In fact, I began writing this blog the day Smalls started kindergarten. I wanted to document my journey from reluctant stay-at-home mom back to career woman never imagining the journey would take almost five years and have such a profound effect on my self-esteem.

I tend to minimize all that I’ve accomplished in these past years, a fact that Ad Man pointed out while reading a rough draft of this post. So, to remind myself that I’ve been far from idle, here are some highlights: I decided to try my hand at writing and discovered I’m actually pretty good at it. I won a couple blogging awards, was asked to write a blog post for Sony Pictures’ ‘Sex Tape’ and went viral(ish) with my piece ‘Last Days of School: It’s the Crap, Crappiest Time of the Year.’

I got other paid writing jobs including blogging for an awesome science curriculum company called ‘Getting Nerdy with Mel and Gerdy’ about women scientists in history and girls and women kicking butt in science today. I’ve also done freelance copyediting and writing for the company that just hired me full-time (I’m getting to that. I promise.) I’ve rolled up my sleeves and happily taken freelance jobs for which I would have been considered overqualified ten years ago, including slinging pancakes, and working as ‘The World’s Oldest Production Assistant’ on a true crime television show for the Discovery Channel.

I’ve done all of the above seeking my ultimate goal: to get my career back on track by landing a full-time job. And as you already know from the title of this post…I actually got one! It’s an awesome job! I’m super psyched! And I have no clue how the hell I’m going to manage it! (My exclamation mark key appears to be stuck!)

I got my official offer letter a few days ago, and since then, I’ve been attempting to work through my feelings so I could share them with you. To be honest though, my brain is still playing a nonstop game of mental pinball bouncing between excitement, relief, pride, disbelief, guilt and chest-crushing panic. I’m set to start work on June 1st and the girls only have two days of school left. (My timing is impeccable, as always.) That means I have nine more days to hire a nanny, buy grown-up clothes, organize the house and prepare my family to function without my 24-hour-a-day presence.

Here’s the the exciting part though. I’ll be working at an ad agency here in Atlanta doing a wide array of things. They’ve basically created a job for me (#thankingmyluckystars), taking advantage of my varied skills and experience (that’s a nice way of describing my resumé which is, shall we say, eclectic). I’ll be helping to manage the office and assisting the Managing Director, keeping an overall handle on workflow, writing and copyediting, providing legal guidance and, most importantly, planning office parties!

Because I’ve already worked on freelance projects for the company, and have met most of the team, I know I’m joining a great group of people. I’m also guessing there will be far less modern_wifeyelling, door slamming, whining and crying than at my current job. I can almost guarantee I won’t have to remind anyone there to go potty either.

You’ll recall, however, that I’ll simultaneously be meeting with architects, designing a home, overseeing the construction of said home and preparing to put our house on the market. So, to summarize, I’ve willingly put myself in the position of starting a new, full-time job, parenting two children and one dog, selling a house, building a house, writing a blog, attempting to stay fit and making sure Ad Man at least remembers my name…all at the same time. Am I crazy? Absolutely! Can I manage it all? That remains to be seen, but I wouldn’t bet against me if I were you.

Quite a Bit of (Leaky, Crumbling) Property

Hello, my long lost friends! When last we spoke, MommyEnnui headquarters was undergoing The Renovation that Wouldn’t Die. (Click the link to be reminded of the sad state of our bathrooms before renovation.) I so wish I could tell you that nightmarish chapter of my life was past and now I just sit around now reminiscing and chuckling to myself. In reality, our new bathrooms finally look fantastic. No holes in walls, no F’ed up tile job; they are a thing of beauty. But, as you know, sometimes horror lies beneath even the most beautiful façade.


Kids’ bathroom, after

Let me paint a picture for you. A very excited Biggie and Smalls are taking the inaugural bath in their now functional tub (well, the shower is functional). They’re happily splashing around together despite the fact that they’re humongous and are wedged pretty tightly in there these days. I’m looking on, pleased to have finally closed the renovation-from-hell chapter of our lives, when I hear Ad Man calling from downstairs. I think, “What the hell? He knows I can’t hear him with the tub running,” sigh to myself and go to find out what all the excitement is.

I find him standing in the downstairs bathroom, with an odd look on his face. He says, “Do you hear that?” I, of course, assume he’s gone off the deep end, but humor him and try to make out the phantom sound that’s the source of his discontent. Turns out, it’s not a phantom sound at all. Alas, it’s the distinct sound of water leaking and dripping inside the walls.


Master bathroom, after

I take off up the stairs like a bat out of hell, pull the drain on the girls’ bath and tell them to get out of the tub NOW! There’s water leaking into the basement! This does not please them. I tell them they’ll have to shower in my bathroom instead and the mood goes from bad to worse. Smalls is now crying and Biggie is throwing an epic fit. I mentally thumb through all the parenting books I’ve read in rare moments of optimism, reject all advice contained therein, and instead yell, “DO YOU THINK I’M HAPPY ABOUT THIS SITUATION?! GET. OUT. OF. THE. TUB!!!!” So, long story short, the nightmare continues.

Now, a rational reaction to the foregoing would be to swear off any future home projects, right? Unfortunately, Ad Man and I rarely make rational decisions. Instead, we’re doing the exact opposite. As of two weeks ago, we are now the owners of a crumbling bungalow on a large lot in Decatur, Georgia. We’re planning to tear down the crumbling bungalow and build a brand new, modern Maison MommyEnnui where it once stood. Yes, we’re building a house. Yes, we’re f*cking insane. And yes, by the time our dream house is built, there is a very good chance Ad Man and I will no longer be on speaking terms. After the closing, our banker said, “You own quite a bit of property now” which I thought was hilarious. Yep, that’s us. Atlanta land barons.

There’s good news for you, though, dear readers. In an attempt to preserve my sanity, keep a record of the all the gory details, and give you ample opportunities to write “Today, I’m feeling grateful I’m not MommyEnnui” in your gratitude journal, I will be blogging about the process of building a modern home on a modest budget with absolutely no previous experience with designing or building a house. Sounds like fun, huh?

Since one of our northern friends called us rednecks for moving just outside the city limits, I feel compelled to point out that Decatur is one of the most liberal spots in the South, which suits Ad Man and I perfectly. It’s very family friendly (for families of all races and sexual orientations) and has top-rated schools through high school. Redneck it is not. We love Decatur and have lots of friends who live there, but it’s really the schools luring us there. The thought of not spending $50,000 plus per year to send two children to private school was very enticing and, despite my determination to stay in the neighborhood and house that we love, Ad Man’s argument in favor of great public schools won out in the end. This leaves me with ample bargaining power, a fact which I plan to remind Ad Man of often when it comes to designing and furnishing the new house. “You got free schools…I get a pool. And a hot tub. And a pool boy.”

I’ve narrowed down our list of dream architects to three, each of whom I love for a different reason. Next steps are to choose one of the three and start the months long process of designing the house. We also need to get our current home in shape to list. We were able to buy the lot without having to uproot our poor children, but we’ll have to sell it before we can close on our building loan. I sound like I know what I’m talking about, don’t I? Well, it’s been a steep learning curve and I’m sure I’ve still just scraped the surface of the knowledge one should have before beginning such an ambitious project.

On top of all this change, I’m hoping to be able to share some more big news with you very soon that will make it painfully clear I’m a masochist with the worst possible sense of timing. No, I’m not pregnant. (Oh sweet Jesus, no!) Stay tuned.

A Tale of 2 Mardi Gras

We have a guest blogger, y’all! Well, actually she’s a guest haiku-er. My brilliant and hilarious friend, Amanda Lockwood wrote this series of haiku as she walked in the Mardi Gras parade in her family friendly neighborhood in Decatur, Georgia. I had to share it with you because it nearly made me pee laughing (good thing I had those c-sections). Enjoy!

A Tale of 2 Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras. Nineties.
A bottle of warm Jäger.
The drunken parades.

Let me show my goods.
And, man, are they good! And firm.
And worth the best beads.

Vomit behind wall.
Illegal public peeing.
Make out with stranger.

Make it home by five.
Five AM, naturally.
Then, begin again

Two thousand sixteen.
A bottle of warm water.
A sober parade.

Nope. No goods to show.
Goods gone bad. Gravity bites.
No beads for these boobs.

Where is the bathroom?!?!?
Seriously, where is it???
Two kids. Bladder’s shot.

No kissing strangers.
Should I make out with Husband
and mortify kids?

Make it home by five.
Five PM, naturally.
Go to bed early.

No Krewe of Zulu.
No Krewe of Rex or Bacchus.
Krewe of Gives No Shit.

The Renovation that Wouldn’t Die

Yet again, I’m apologizing for disappearing on you. This time, I blame my bathrooms. I’ve been elbow deep in renovating two of our three bathrooms, and when I say “renovating,” I mean supervising others who are far more qualified than I am to do the actual work.

When we moved into our house eight years ago, we knew we’d have to redo the bathrooms sometime in the near future. Well, the near future became the far future and we’re finally hunkering down to get it done. To explain the state of our bathrooms, I’ll have to give you a little history about the house. Our home was built in 1954 by an architect for his family of ten to live in. Yes, he and his wife had eight children. It’s a really wonderful mid-century modern house that’s more than large enough for Ad Man, the monsters and me, but the thought of living in it with eight children runs shivers down my spine.

There were a number of owners between the architect and us, most notably an inept contractor who bought the house when it was listed as a teardown, did a half-assed renovation and flipped it. (Thankfully, there was one owner between the flipper and us who bore the brunt of the half-assedness.) The contractor’s clumsy work was most prominently displayed in our two upstairs bathrooms. When we moved in, the tub and girls_shower_funwall tiles in the master bath had been reglazed (poorly) and the floor was covered with nondescript, beige floor tiles. Biggie and Smalls’s bathroom, which also serves as our guest bath, had reglazed tiles, the same beige floor, and an original, extremely crappy shower we used maybe once. In fact, the girls most often used the shower as a hideout or reading nook. Here’s an old photo of Biggie and Smalls in their favorite playhouse.

pink_bathroomWhile biding our time, we painted the rooms, changed out the lighting and hung some artwork. That made the bathrooms livable for a while. As time went by, though, the reglazed tiles and tub chipped and showed their true colors…1950s Potty Pink to be precise. Don’t get me wrong, if our bathrooms looked like this one, I’d be the first one out shopping for vintage poodle accessories. Unfortunately our pink bathroom couldn’t be saved. Here are a few “before” photos of the bathrooms. Sadly, we don’t have any pictures of them in their original, mid-century glory.


When we started to demo the bathrooms, there were a few surprises in store for us. First, our wall tiles were glued directly to inch-thick concrete. Apparently, that’s how things were built in the ‘50s…strong enough to withstand a Soviet attack. So, what we thought was going to take two days (one per bathroom), stretched into a full week.


Tub ‘o Rubble

Then, we discovered that there were beautiful, original mid-century tile floors under the ugly-ass beige tiles the evil contractor thought would be more appealing to a buyer (who is this person with a love for all things beige?). I was shocked to see what good shape the original tile was in, but it was covered in glue and filth and couldn’t be saved. It was seriously heartbreaking. I’ve been gazing longingly at my neighbor’s original tile for years without ever suspecting that a similar treasure lay just beneath my feet at home.

I’m a newbie to renovation, so this process has been quite enlightening. Essentially, it all boils down to the following series of events, just repeated over and over until the project is done…or until you kick the contractor out of your house vowing to finish the damn thing yourself.

Here’s how it’s going for me:
1) Someone asks me how I want something done.
2) I tell that person how I’d like the thing done.
3) The person tells me why it can’t be done that way and, instead, does it the way they’d already planned to do it before asking for my input.


Our bedroom, throughout the holidays. Good thing we have a guest room!

It’s maddening! Add to this the fact that the renovation is already weeks behind schedule and you’ll understand why my stress level has been through the roof. Perfect time to have a bunch of family in town for the holidays, right?…

Update #1:

Please note that the holiday I was referring to above was Thanksgiving. I set this post aside for a few weeks since there were a few things going on (holidays, Biggie’s birthday, never ending renovation…) and suddenly here we are with Christmas just days away. One might think I’d be luxuriating in my fabulous new bathroom by now, but sadly, one would be wrong.

The bathrooms still aren’t done-done. Actually, I’m convinced they may never be. We’re damn close, but there are still a few tiny problems. For instance, we can’t seem to find a faucet for the master bathroom that doesn’t leak. We’ve been through three already. And, I insisted on black fixtures, so I can’t just pop over to Home Depot whenever we need a new one. Also, when I recently attempted to give Smalls her first bath in the girls’ brand new bathtub, water came out of the back of the faucet where it attaches to the wall, not from the actual faucet itself. I’m pretty sure it’s not supposed to work like that.

We have friends coming into town from Los Angeles, and staying with us, in five days. Five! I will not be sharing a bathroom with three other adults and four kids, so the upstairs baths had better be in working order by then. I don’t care if I have to pay a plumber triple overtime and hand forge a black faucet myself!

Update #2:

We’re now weeks into the new year and guess who still doesn’t have fully functional bathrooms? You’re right! It’s me…the one with the hairy legs. It seems we still have an issue with hot water, or lack thereof. The best it gets here is lukewarm. No one ever says, “I can’t wait for a nice, lukewarm shower!” And, that’s in the downstairs, unrenovated, not-at-all-beautiful, bathroom. In the new bathrooms upstairs, you have two choices of water temperature: cold or ice cold.

It’s now the middle of winter, so it’s damn cold downstairs. Alas, I’ve been taking warm showers in a freezing cold bathroom since before Thanksgiving, hence the hairy legs. I’ve taken advantage of a few unseasonably warm days here and there to shave, but the rest of the time, it’s so freaking cold, I’d shave off my goosebumps and quite possibly bleed to death if I even tried. I’m sorry if I sound bitter, it’s just that I am.


Girls’ bathroom, in progress

The story just keeps getting better. It seems that the problem is that there’s a spot in the system where our hot and cold water lines mix, making our tankless hot water heater get all confused and serve up only water the temperature of spit. It took two plumbers and two weeks to diagnose the problem. But here’s the fun part…we are going to have to break through one of our newly built and tiled walls to fix a valve that our “contractor” apparently installed sideways. I seriously couldn’t make this up.

So, now we’re in the process of getting bids from plumbers and contractors to undo what we spent the last few months doing and then do it again, correctly. I could cry. Considering the foregoing, you’d think we wouldn’t want to renovate or do construction ever again. In my case, you’d be right. Ad Man on the other hand, wants to sell our house, buy a lot and BUILD A NEW HOUSE. He’s trying to kill me. Please send help!

mission_accomplishedI must end this tragic story to spare both of us, but I promise I’ll get back to you soon with “after” photos. The bathrooms really do look fantastic (pre-re-renovation), but I’m too superstitious to call anything finished until after I’ve taken a hot shower in my lovely and functional new master bath. Remember this? I don’t want to be that guy.


But wait! There’s more.

PS: Our friends did come in town for a visit after Christmas and stayed with us. It is a tribute to them, some of our oldest and best friends (K and I have known each other since fourth grade), that they didn’t complain once about their piss warm showers. I guess they were just relieved to find out we finally have three working toilets in the house.



20 Things More Fun than Discussing Politics on the Internet


  1. An emergency c-section
  2. Being trapped in an elevator with Ann Coulter
  3. Listening to your child practice the recorder
  4. Passing a kidney stone
  5. Teaching your elderly parent how to use “The Facebook”
  6. Breaking the news to your kid that his pet died
  7. A Brazilian wax
  8. Tearing your achilles tendon
  9. Being buried alive
  10. Having your heart broken
  11. Being wrongly imprisoned for life
  12. Gonadal torsion
  13. Giving driving lessons to a family member
  14. Puberty
  15. Working on a film with Michael Bay
  16. Having a Hysterosalpingogram Test (Trust me.)
  17. Taking the California bar exam
  18. Being kidnapped by a drug cartel
  19. Bed bugs
  20. Trying to reason with an irrational 2 year-old (Never mind. That’s the same thing.)

How to do Homework: Two Perspectives

This is what we look like doing homework together. Dad is an integral part of the children’s education. Or, wait…maybe this is the UPS guy.

How to Do Homework
by Smalls, age 7

1. Get off the bus. Take as long as humanly possible to walk the 50 feet from the bus to the front door.
2. Ask Mom if you can go play with friends, willfully denying the existence of such a thing as homework.
3. Ask Mom for a snack, then ask for another snack. Continue over and over until dinner.
4. Beg Mom to let you watch TV despite the fact that you’re well aware you have no screen time on school days.
5. Whine about how much homework you have.
6. Pull out a homework sheet, glance at it and start crying, insisting that you haven’t learned anything even remotely similar to it in class. Continue crying and stomp away when Mom tries to help you.
7. Just generally whine and complain.
8. Insist on playing with the dog whom you ignore at all other times of the day.
9. Wander off.
10. Whine some more.
11. Play with a toy you haven’t laid hands on in five years.
12. Finally, do a page of homework. Complete it in approximately 4 minutes after spending the past 45 minutes avoiding, whining and complaining.
13. Realize that your homework sheet is two-sided. Cry and slump down in your chair until you slide onto the floor under the table.
14. Repeat until homework is finally completed many, many hours later.

How to do Homework
by Biggie, age 9

1. Get off the bus. Drop backpack on the lawn assuming your mother/sherpa will bring it into the house.
2. Ask Mom for a snack. When Mom reminds you she’s not a delivery service, point out that getting your own snack will just distract you from your studies. Also remind mom that she picks out healthier snacks than you do. Dig in your heels and enjoy this battle of wills.
3. When Mom opens the refrigerator door to pour herself a much needed glass of wine, appear suddenly between her and the wine. Linger there while mentally cataloging your snack options.
4. Ask Mom if you can have the leftover mac n’ cheese. Eat it cold with your hands.
5. Ask Mom for another snack. Repeat until dinner.
6. Stage a sit-in to protest the injustice of your younger sister having less homework than you.
7. Yell at your sister for whistling or singing or breathing while you’re trying to concentrate.
8. Storm off to your bedroom, slam the door and turn on very loud music.
9. Climb up to your top bunk and read a non-school book until Mom comes to track you down.
10. Realize you’ve left a page of homework at school but try to hide this fact from Mom who is constantly nagging you to be more responsible.
11. Excuse yourself to go to the restroom. Spend an additional 20 minutes reading a non-school book in the bathroom.
12. Offer to take the dog for a walk.
13. Try to negotiate with Mom for a 10 minute break after each page of homework you complete.
14. Suck it up and finish your damn homework.
15. Head directly for the door and attempt to flee before Mom reminds you that you have piano lessons.


Mommy Memory

the_brain_eatersBiggie and Smalls made a visit to the dentist this morning. The appointment was at 8:40 am, so we actually got to sleep in a bit. I can’t say it was a relaxing start to the day, though, since Ad Man woke me up in a panic. “It’s 7:40!!” I had to do a half asleep, self brain scan, quickly going through the following inquiry: 1) Is it light or dark out?, 2) What day is it?, 3) Weekend or school day?, 4) What time does the bus come?, 5) Holy crap, we’re late! Is there a reason we slept late?, 6) Yes, dentist appointment! What time is the appointment?, 7) Can I get away with not showering?…and on and on until I determined that we were perfectly fine and had plenty of time to get to the dentist’s office (without me showering, of course.) The foregoing took approximately 2.5 seconds.

It amazes me that I can’t walk into a room without staring blankly and asking whoever is nearest, “Is there a reason I came in here?” And, yet there are moments when, barely conscious, in mere seconds I can flip through my internal calendar and determine that, yes, today is the day when both girls have appointments, that I’ll have to rush them back to school because Biggie has “lunch” at 10:30 am and I don’t want her to miss it and starve all afternoon, Smalls has violin at 5:45 pm, Biggie has piano at 6:00 pm, and Ad Man will be home for dinner, but not to worry because we have leftovers in the fridge. It’s no wonder that in my downtime I’m a blathering fool who can’t seem to memorize my own husband’s cell phone number.

I call this phenomenon “Mommy Memory.” Mommy Memory is a tricky thing. Like a toddler in a bubble bath, it can be slippery and unpredictable. When it comes to mundane, everyday tasks, it will let you down every time. Like, for instance, you know that little part of your brain that reminds you to move the load of wet laundry from the washer to the drier instead of leaving it to fester for days growing deadly spores? I don’t have one of those. I’m pretty sure it came out with the placenta when Biggie was born. I do, however, have a precise mental record of the bowel movements of each of my daughters and my dog. Hey, don’t judge. Some superpowers are more advantageous than others.

Ad Man has no such powers. His memory is reserved almost exclusively for work, driving directions and sports stats. He may have twenty-five things on his to-do “list” at work, but he doesn’t actually keep a paper (or computer) record of anything. It’s all neatly filed inside his head. But, ask him to remember anything I’ve ever told him and we’ve got a problem. I’ll say, “Honey, remember you need to get home early tonight because there’s that thing at school we need to go to…” and I’m greeted with a quizzical stare. He’ll insist I never told him about The Thing at which point I will lose my f’ing mind because we had a conversation about it just last week…a conversation in which he was an active participant. Moreover, I’ve written The Thing in all caps on our family calendar and mentioned it in passing, yet again, just yesterday.

I hate to generalize, but I will anyway. I don’t think men’s brains have the capacity to store and retrieve information regarding the minutia of everyday life. I should actually say men or whomever in a couple is not the primary, day-to-day, childcare provider. (You know who you are.) At the dentist’s office this morning, there was a dad who’d apparently gotten suckered into kid-taxi duty. He impatiently paced around in his business casual uniform, cell phone at the ready just in case someone at the office called about a problem with the big presentation or couldn’t find the TPS reports. He also appeared to be approximately 98% clueless about the details of his child’s life.

Clueless guy–let’s call him Stuart–was there with his sweet, teeny-tiny daughter who was at most five years old. I got the vibe that Stuart’s little girl was there for her first filling or some other potentially scary procedure. At one point, a nurse came out to the waiting room to tell Stuart that they were just getting ready to start and his daughter was being a trouper. Stuart did not seem at all concerned. The nurse went on, “She’s chatting away telling me she just went to a  birthday party and it was so fun with the magician and bouncy house…” as Stuart just shrugged his shoulders as if he were being asked to recall the date on which his daughter lost her third tooth.

I observed this exchange thinking, “I’ll bet his wife (or husband or nanny) could tell you the name of the birthday boy and his parents, that he is allergic to peanuts and that he was the one who hit another kid with a stick at preschool two years ago. She would also have remembered that the kid is obsessed with snakes and, therefore, purchased the perfect Jr. Herpetologist Kit for his birthday gift. Stuart’s wife knows this because she actually listens when her daughter chatters on about her friends, her day at school or the birthday party she attended yesterday.

memory_illustrationNot only does she listen to what her daughter tells her, she remembers it. She carefully stores it in her brain files knowing this information could prove valuable someday if, say, the dentist’s nurse happens to mention the party in passing or when she finds herself wandering the toy store aisles looking for a birthday gift for no-peanuts-stick-swinging-snake boy.

Mommy Memory is not without its drawbacks, however. Mentally storing an infinite number of tiny bits of detailed information means that other things have to go. An internal hard drive can only hold so many zeros and ones. As I mentioned, I can walk from one room to another and in the course of a few steps, completely forget the purpose for my change of venue. See? One bit in, one bit out. I may remember the name of the paint color in that room, but have no recollection that I was on a mission to track down that book I was reading. You know, the one about that woman? It was made into a movie? With that actress who’s divorced from what’s-his-name?

Alas, Mommy Memory, with all its positives and negatives is mine to keep. It’s not one of those things that eventually go away after your child is born, like milk-filled porn boobs or the ability to eat ice cream every night with no effect whatsoever on your waistline. So Ad Man, please stop taunting me for not being able to recall the directions to anywhere, ever, and I won’t ask you to remember which brand of little girls’ underwear runs small and which one has itchy waistbands. Feel free to thank me for keeping your already touchy and dramatic daughters from being tormented by their underpants. You’re welcome.

Random Childhood Tales: That Time I was in a Gunfight

gunfightatredsandsWhen I was a kid, my family had an RV trailer that we kept at Bear Cave Campgrounds in Buchanan, Michigan. My brother Jeff and I spent much of our summers there waterskiing, catching crawfish in the creek, fishing for Bluegills, sitting around campfires and running wild in a pack of other kids our age. I would often bring my best friend Kathy with me as the boy-to-girl ratio was decidedly heavy on the boys.

One Friday afternoon when I was about nine years old, my family plus Kathy were heading up to Bear Cave from our hometown in the Chicago suburbs but we had to first make a detour to my grandmother’s house in Hammond, Indiana to drop something off. After a quick stop at Nana’s, my dad pulled into a gas station to fuel up our 1974 green Lincoln Continental. My grandmother’s neighborhood was nice, but Hammond is about the midpoint between Chicago and Gary, Indiana, so even at that time, other parts of the city could be sketchy.

My dad got out of the car to pump gas, my mom sat in the passenger seat and we kids stretched out in the backseat while Kathy talked. My parents referred to my best friend as “Chatty Kathy” for good reason. She could talk nonstop from Lansing, Illinois to Buchanan, Michigan without so much as a prolonged pause. The Lincoln was like a living room on wheels though, so there was a good four foot buffer (but sadly for my parents no soundproof barrier) between Mom and Dad in the front seat and the backseat where we kids kept our mobile entertainment station stocked with snacks, books, Smurf figurines, melted crayons and MadLibs.

Kathy continued her monologue as my dad moved the car to the air pump in front of the garage. He was outside filling the tires and minding his own business, or at least that’s what we thought he was doing, when suddenly he tore open the front door of the Lincoln, yelled at us to “Get down!” and grabbed his gun out from under the floor mat.

I should point out here that my dad is a retired police officer. Dad was a cop in my hometown for twenty years. His career highlights included being “Officer Friendly” in the elementary schools in town (including mine) and arresting my friends and classmates for various infractions. Luckily for me, by the time I got to high school, he was a detective and no longer on party-busting duty. That he never had to arrest my brother for doing something stupid is a miracle of weeping-Virgin-Mary-statue proportions.

So, the fact that my dad was packing heat was no surprise to any of us. My brother and I spent much of our formative years at the police gun range and my father was rarely without his trusty sidearm. However, it wasn’t every day that Dad whipped out a loaded gun and told us to duck. Kathy, Jeff and I wisely hit the deck while my mom peeked over the back of her seat trying to figure out what the hell was going on. That’s when the gunfire started. I remember the next few minutes in slow motion. I began crying and begged my mom to get down, Jeff stared wide-eyed, frozen in place and even Kathy was rendered silent.

The three of us freaked the hell out when, despite the wailing police sirens that had joined in adding to the panic, we could clearly hear bullets ricocheting around in the mechanics’ bay just feet from where we cowered in the car. My mother finally saw the error of her ways and joined us on the floor, so by then, none of us could see where my dad was. My crying turned to screaming as I envisioned my father lying in a pool of his own blood. Even at that age, I was a glass-half-empty kind of girl.

Then, just as quickly as the craziness had begun, it was all over. After a half a minute of silence, we dared to inch our heads over the car seats and were able to confirm that my father was still in an upright and undamaged condition. Dad stuck his head in the car door, said everything was OK, and went to talk to one of the handful of Hammond police officers who’d appeared on the scene. Those of us in the car remained baffled as to what just happened and I downshifted from screaming to crying once again, this time, because I was sure this whole shootout thing meant we wouldn’t be going to Michigan for the weekend after all.

vintage_copsHowever, after just a few minutes of chatting with the Hammond cops, Dad hopped in the car, tucked his gun back into its cozy hiding spot and we were on our way. This time, my dad was the one with the story to tell. As it turned out, two guys broke into an old lady’s house in Gary, Indiana, robbed her, and stole her car. Dad spotted a police car heading toward the gas station in Hammond in hot pursuit of a car whose inhabitants were speeding with guns drawn. Dad, of course, figured the cops could use some backup. As an adult, I’ve often questioned his sanity at that moment.

The bad guys started shooting at the cops, bullets missing their intended target, and instead whizzing past our car and bouncing around in the mechanic’s bay like a macabre pinball game. The cops shot back at the guys in the car (I’d like to point out that this was a fairly busy day with many people out walking and driving), and my dad shot at the stolen car’s tires, eventually blowing out two of them and stopping the bad guys a ways down the road where they wisely surrendered and were arrested.

After all the cops-and-robbers excitement was over, Dad asked the Hammond police what kind of paperwork they would need him to fill out. Apparently, in my hometown, if an officer discharged his weapon, he’d be required to fill out piles of paperwork. But the Hammond police just shook Dad’s hand, thanked him for his help and said he could pop into the station sometime the following week to give a short statement. No biggie. There was no need to let a pesky gunfight ruin our fun weekend.

As you can imagine, we were the stars of the campfire that night regaling the crowd with our shoot-’em-up adventure story. The incident is, of course, seared permanently in my brain, but it’s funny the things that occur to me now that I’m around the age my parents were at that time. (Older, actually. Lord help me.)

As a parent myself now, I can’t imagine the conversation my mom must’ve had with Kathy’s mother when we finally arrived safe and sound at Bear Cave Campgrounds and tracked down a pay phone (remember those?). “Um, hi Barb…this is Anne. We had a little incident on our drive to Michigan and I thought you should know about it. Everyone is OK, but…” That’s one parenting moment I’m glad I’ll never have to experience!

True Stories

I asked my friend Sarvi Chan to write a guest post for MommyEnnui because, well, she’s just one of my very favorite people. She’s brilliant, talented, funny as hell and a fantastic mom to her similarly brilliant and talented young daughter. I met Sarvi when I lived in Los Angeles, but it’s only since we both procreated and became conflicted stay-at-home moms that we’ve become kindred spirits. Not a week goes by that I don’t wish we lived in the same city again. I think you’ll understand why.



And she’s beautiful, too!

When I was a kid I had lots of ideas about what adult life would be like. I imagined a very specific kind of wardrobe and lifestyle for myself. While the electric blue tube top I thought I’d wear when I was *really old*, like sixteen, never materialized, I did actually manage to make a lot of those early dreams come true. Having a kid wasn’t one of those dreams until I was in my mid-twenties and The Craving came upon me. Ten years later, the stars finally aligned and then it was a mad scramble to try to get sleep, school, and schedules under control. Now that my daughter is five years old, I’m finally catching my breath while trying to find that wardrobe and lifestyle I mislaid somewhere…

What I Feed My Kid:
Pepita-cherry oat cookies
Cold somen noodles with a ginger-sesame sauce
Basmati rice with barberries
Jasmine tea limeade

What I Feed Myself:
Coffee that went cold hours ago, microwaved
The ends and skins of vegetables
Whatever crumbs of pepita and oats fell through the grates of the cookie rack onto the countertop

What My Kid Wears:
Linen, silk, cotton, and wool blouses, coats, dresses, and pinafores that I custom make for her at home
Handmade shoes from Italy and Spain

What I Wear:
T-shirts from Target and Ann Taylor Loft, all of which develop a series of small holes right around the level of my belly button, within three wears
My mother-in-law’s Birkenstocks which were too large for her and which make farting noises with every step I take

Where My Kid Goes:
The theater
Ski trips
National Parks

Where I Go:
The same places…
…as mule for carrying her food, beverages, sunglasses, and any heavy or bulky items without which she refused to leave home, despite my swearing that, this time, I was going to make her carry them herself!

What My Kid Does During the Week:
Goes to school

What I Do During the Week:
Binge-watch Broad City and The Mindy Project, because that’s the sweet, sweet perk of being the grown-up.

Ding, Dong, the Witch is Almost Dead

champagne_houseI just realized that I haven’t filled you in on some exciting news. Remember my post about the vacant house next door? If not, please read parts one and two of the abandoned house saga here and here. Great. Now that you have all necessary background information, you’ll understand my excitement when I tell you that the house is finally FOR SALE!!!

I’ll back up a bit so you can fully savor this sweet victory with me. You may recall that, at the end of our last installment of the house drama, the owners’ daughter told us she was getting bids to have the house torn down in March. We were cautiously optimistic. It was no surprise, however, when March came and went and the house remained (barely) standing.

Despite being approached over the past few years by builders offering respectable sums of money, the owners’ daughter has steadfastly refused to sell the home. I can only assume she’s done this for some sneaky estate tax reasons. She actually told one of the builders that she was waiting for her father to die to sell the property. Charming woman.

The eyesore remained and we felt defeated. That was, until the day Ad Man saw a notice tacked up on the front door. It was a letter from the city informing the owners that they were overdue on taxes for a number of years. If they did not pay the taxes due, in full, by X date in August, the house would be sold at auction. This was great news!

I went back to work, reconnecting with the builders I’d approached about buying the property and others who’d expressed interest in it. I wanted to avoid having some schmuck we didn’t know buy it at auction and build a hideous McMansion on the lot. Yet, the weeks ticked by and still nothing happened. Well, nothing other than the owners’ son-in-law requesting to connect with me on LinkedIn. Huh? Um, no.

for_sale_sign_boo_radleyThen one day a couple weeks ago, I left the house to do what I like to call “Mom Circuit Training.” You’re probably familiar with it…you know, home to Target to Trader Joe’s to Whole Foods and back again. I’d arrived home and was unloading the car when something caught my eye. I wouldn’t have believed what I was seeing if our painter weren’t in the front yard to confirm that there was, indeed, a For Sale sign in the front yard of the Boo Radley house!

My first instinct was to walk up and down the block banging on pans like the neighborhood gossip town crier. Instead, I quickly sent off texts to Ad Man and a couple friends and wrote an email to the rest of the neighbors that began…”Good tidings of great joy I bring to you!” (See? All those years of Sunday School weren’t a total waste.) and closed with a proposal that we all get together the following weekend for a celebratory glass of Champagne under the gigantic tree next door.

Our excitement was tempered a bit when we found out the house was listed for $600,000. You read that right…six hundred thousand American dollars for a house-turned-wildlife-preserve that’s being held together with mold and cobwebs. Prices are skyrocketing in our neighborhood, but this was ridiculous! We were all concerned this meant the owners weren’t actually interested in selling the property. I was baffled as to how the owners’ daughter convinced a legitimate real estate agent to list the property for such an inflated price. My friend E called the listing agent to see if she was serious about the price (E honestly thought it was a mistake) and it was obvious from the agent’s response that she hadn’t actually seen the house before listing it.

Since my “Lipstick on a Pig” email to the owner’s daughter, she’s refused to communicate with me, instead sending all correspondence to Ad Man which we both find pretty damn funny. Most recently, she asked Ad Man to please, “tell your wife not to talk to any of my workers.” This was apparently in response to my chat with a couple 20 year-old guys with a moving truck she hired to take things out of the house. I said to one of them, “You know, you really shouldn’t be in there breathing that air without a mask.” He responded, “Yeah, I know. I just called my boss about it.” Unfortunately, they continued working and his partner told me that it was no big deal; he did this all the time.

I was apparently a troublemaker and completely out-of-line for being concerned about these young guys breathing black mold for hours on end in exchange for what was likely not much more than minimum wage. If you want to be horrified (and who doesn’t?), take a look at this web page for all of the potential effects of breathing in toxic black mold spores. Anyway, Ad Man responded to the owners’ daughter by saying basically…1) I don’t TELL my wife to do anything, and 2) If we’re concerned about a dangerous situation inside the house, we’re not going to keep our mouths shut.

The following weekend, a bunch of the neighbors enjoyed a lovely afternoon gathering on the lawn of the shanty next door. We drank cheap Champagne in plastic glasses while trying to identify the brown gunk oozing from the yard’s ancient, neglected tree. It was fucking poetic.

PS: Last week, the real estate agent finally came by to check out the local rattrap in person. The next day, the listing price of the house was reduced to $425,000 and designated as a teardown only. Anyone want a prime lot in Buckhead? You can build your dream house and the neighbors are awesome!