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.

Checking In

Hello, my lovely readers! I just wanted to take a minute to check in and let you know that my posting is going to be a little spotty for a while. Alas, life gets in the way. Needy children, a needy puppy and a husband who has been working late most nights are requiring me to put MommyEnnui on the back burner.

I’d also like to take some time to try my hand at writing a few pieces for publication elsewhere. Unfortunately, magazines and other websites often accept only work that has not previously been published, even on a personal blog. So my plan to kill two birds with one stone by submitting pieces I’ve written for the blog isn’t working out as I had hoped.

I promise I’m not disappearing though. I’ll continue to post here and on the MommyEnnui Facebook page. If you’re not following on Facebook, please do. I occasionally post short pieces and things I find on the web that I think you’ll find interesting or funny only on the FB page so the MommyEnnui blog doesn’t get too cluttered.

To thank you for sticking with me through thick and thin, I’ve dug up some WTF Halloween costumes from the internets just for you. It is WTF Wednesday after all!


I know, I’ll be Tinkerbell. No, wait! Pregnant Tinkerbell…that’s even better!


In case you couldn’t tell.


Is there a pun here that I’m not getting? A reference to a movie I never saw?


Sexy Bert and Ernie, of course.


Someone call PETA, immediately!


Sweet Jesus…no!!!


Unicorns prefer classic, camel jackets, and eating babies.


Um, this CAN’T be good luck.


Yes, this appears to be an Easter costume, but if there was ever a photo that belongs on my blog, this is the one.

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!


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


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.


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


Iggy terrorizing a couple young glam rockers


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


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

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


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.

Breaking News: Evidence Proves Bush Defaced Spanish Painting

putin_defaced_painting_spainFormer President George W. Bush was interviewed by his bad-girl-turned-bumbling-but-lovable-news-correspondent daughter Jenna Bush Hager this morning on the Today Show. Bush, who is known worldwide for his paintings of dogs (and the occasional cat), revealed his new series of paintings of famous world leaders including Vladimir Putin and Bush’s own father, former President George H.W. Bush.

As an art lover, I took it upon myself to study the former President’s paintings in detail and came upon a startling discovery. Readers may recall the Jesus fresco in Spain which became art world news in 2012 when it was defaced allegedly by elderly woman who fancied herself an amateur art restorer. I, however, have uncovered undeniable evidence of a conspiracy to cover up the fact that the famed fresco was actually defaced by George W. Bush! Judge for yourselves, but I think the evidence speaks for itself.



The New Phonebook Is Here!

liebsterMy first Liebster!  I feel like Steve Martin in The Jerk when the new phone book arrives!* The lovely and talented Gabriele Neumann from Basically I’m Complicated has nominated me for the Liebster Award. The Liebster is given to new(ish) blogs by other bloggers who dig them. And, when another blogger says she digs MommyEnnui, that makes me one happy girl. Thanks, Gabriele!

The rules for the award appear to be somewhat fluid. There are numerous variations floating around the internets, so I just chose the ones I like the best. Sometimes I’m wild like that.

As a nominee, you are required to:
1. Thank, mention and link to the blogger who nominated you.
2. Answer their 10 questions.
3. Nominate 5-10 other bloggers with less than 2000 followers.
4. Give your nominees 10 questions to answer.
5. Notify your winners by commenting on one of their posts and linking them back to your post that nominates them.
6. Proudly display your Liebster Award button on your page.

Here are Gabriele’s (extremely difficult) questions and my answers:

1. If you could only to listen to one album for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
If I could listen to only one album for the rest of my life, I’d be really depressed. So, my choice would be The Smiths ‘Louder than Bombs.’

2. If you could never have to eat or even see one food again, what would it be and why?
Any kind of meat because I’m a vegetarian and it makes me squeamish.

3. If you could ban one fashion trend, what would it be and why?
High-waisted, super short denim shorts.  Ad Man and I were at a music festival this past summer where approximately 85% of the women were wearing awful, high-waisted jean shorts. I refer to them as “denim diapers” and they’re flattering on exactly NO ONE.

4. If you could learn a language you don’t already know, which one would it be and why?
French. I’ve always wanted to learn it because I love Paris and would like to be able to say more than just “Deux, s’il vous plait” while pointing at a bakery case of pain au chocolat. Also, my daughters are learning French in elementary school and I want to make sure they can’t swear at me in another language without me knowing.

5. What is your least favorite quality about yourself and why?
I am a huge pessimist.  I wish I could be more positive because I suspect I’d be more likely to take chances and risk failure thereby also risking wild success.

6. What is your proudest accomplishment in the past year?
MommyEnnui, baby!  I’m thrilled that my first experiment in writing anything more than a legal brief has been so wonderfully well-received.

7. What are you really excited about that’s coming up in 2014?
Getting back to Los Angeles. We haven’t been back in a year and a half and I’ve been terribly homesick lately.

8. Who (or what) do you think is really overrated?
Sex in the shower. It always sounds like a good idea but ends up being really awkward.

9. You get a free one week trip for two to anywhere in the world! Where do you go and who do you take with you?
I would take Ad Man with me to The Four Seasons Bora Bora. We haven’t had even a night away together without the kids since Biggie was born eight long years ago. That’s just sad.

10. If you could be best friends with a fictional character, which one would it be and why?
At the risk of sounds like a giant nerd, I’d have to say Dr. Who so I could travel through time. Having people constantly trying to kill me might get a bit tiresome though.

Questions for my nominees:

1. What dead person would you least want to be haunted by?
2. If you had to be trapped in a TV show for a month, which show would you choose and why?
3. If you could have personally witnessed one event in history, what would you want to have seen?
4. What three words do you think are the most fun to say?
5. If you could cast any actor now alive to play you in a film about your life, whom would you cast in the role and why?
6. If you could trade one body part with anyone else, what part would you choose and with whom would you trade?
7. What are your five favorite smells?
8. What place in the world would you least like to live?
9. If you could choose your own nickname, what would it be?
10. What one book could you read over and over again?

Thanks for celebrating with me! I’d love to hear your answers to my or Gabriele’s questions.  Please comment below.

* Here’s a special bonus for those of you who read my whole list of questions…

Enough of the Pink Already!

pink_ribbon_soupI’d like to bid adieu and good riddance to October, also known as Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  My mother died of breast cancer in the middle of September, 11 years ago.  Every year, shortly after I’ve successfully navigated the crushing blow of the anniversary of her death, I’m faced with a big, pink bomb that explodes everywhere, covering every surface, product and event for 31 looooooong days.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for all the money raised and the awareness that is spread. Luckily for my daughters and I, breast cancer is no longer considered an embarrassing, somehow shameful disease that’s only whispered about with immediate family members. Dollars raised during the month of October every year go toward funding medical research that has resulted in earlier detection methods and more effective drugs to fight the disease. Women are now fully aware that they should be “feeling their boobies” monthly in order to “save the tatas!”

But, even my mother, while battling the disease, was sick of the “pinkwashing.” Shortly before her death, she told us that she wanted any donations made in her name to go to the Muscular Dystrophy Association, not to breast cancer.  She felt that breast cancer research had plenty of money and that it was time to give other diseases the same attention.  And, that was more than a decade ago!  I can’t imagine what she’d think these days when pink ribbons are as ubiquitous as Kim and Kanye.

My objection to breast cancer awareness month is a little more personal and maybenfl_pink_ribbon even selfish.  I just need a fucking break already!  Imagine this…you have a loved one who has, sadly, died from being shot in the head with a cannonball.  Communities are up in arms about the number of deaths caused by cannonballs every year, so a month is designated as Cannonball Awareness Month.

Baby blue is chosen to be the color symbolizing the fight against cannonball deaths because, you know, boys mostly use cannons and baby blue is for boys.  Your orange juice has a baby blue ribbon on it saying “Be aware!  Cannonballs kill!”  You go to get your nails done and pick up the special, limited edition nail polish in a lovely shade of baby blue for Cannonball Awareness Month. Professional football teams replace their usual shoes with baby blue ones and paint an enormous baby blue ribbon on their field.

There are countless fundraisers for cannonball awareness.  The nightly news has a special series about the dangers of cannonballs and the anchors interview the tearful relatives of those who lost their lives to cannonball injuries.  You just want to pick up a few things at Target and there are kids’ t-shirts saying “My mommy is a cannonball-to-the-head survivor!”  Your vitamin bottle has a baby blue ribbon on it.  Your Kleenex box bears a lovely pattern of baby blue ribbons.  Your favorite magazine contains articles about people who died of cannonball injuries, inspirational stories of cannonball survivors and tips about how to avoid being hit in the head by a cannonball.

Everywhere you turn, there’s a reminder of your friend or family member whose death is still a raw spot in your heart.  And every single baby blue ribbon makes you sad because you still desperately miss the person who died from being shot in the head with a cannonball.  Maybe they also make you scared because people in your family have a long history of being hit with cannonballs and there’s a good chance it could happen to you.

If I sound bitter, well, that’s because I am.  Can we please start supporting other causes? How about colorectal cancer?  Or Alzheimer’s disease?  Or, at the very least, if we’re going to stick with boobs, can we focus on an aspect of breast cancer that doesn’t get enough press like the number of young women who are diagnosed every year? Consciousness has been raised.  Let’s now focus that consciousness where it’s most needed instead of just painting everything with one enormous, pink brush.

I’m begging now.  Can we all just go back to spending the month of October freaked out by the fact that there are already Christmas decorations on display?!