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Monday, March 31, 2014

I SUCK AT SPENDING TIME WITH MY KIDS

There. I said it. I'm not great at hanging out with my offspring. When we go somewhere, like a museum, or the Little Red Lighthouse, or whatever, that's cool, it's fun. Here we are at the Botanical Gardens, on cloud nine:

OK, The Kids Look Miserable But Take My Word For It, We Had A Great Time
But just chilling around the house? At this, I do not shine.

That's not something mothers are supposed to have trouble with, or at least not something that mothers are supposed to admit having trouble with, but there you go. I just don't love a lot of what my five- and seven-year-old boys find amusing, like beating the shit out of each other or telling jokes about butts. I am also a huge failure at creating periods of structured play throughout the day (I mean seriously? I can't even...)

So for most a lot of the time that my kids and I are in the same room, I am on the computer. If it wasn't for our mutual love of Lego, it would be even worse.

It was pointed out to me a few about five hundred times that this was not an ideal situation from a mother-son bonding perspective, and I instituted mandatory (for me) crafts time with the kids. It has been a smashing success, if I do say so myself, even taking into account that hideous red wreath I had to hang on my door the Christmas before last.

What I have learned is that to have fun hanging out with the boys at home, I need to be doing something I think is fun, too. Well, sort of fun. OK, really just something that doesn't make me long to be mile and miles and miles away, single and childless, preferably with a stiff drink. So, on the off chance that there are other mothers out there who feel the same way, here are some of the hits from Craft Time with the Kids:

SUPERHERO NIGHT:
I had leftover supplies from the (actually totally kick-ass) Superhero Party that I threw for William when he turned 4 (seriously, that shit was like something from Pinterest, or a real Mommy Blog--any day now I will get around to posting about it). We took the capes (aprons with the strings cut off - I'll explain in the party post) and masks (bought on Etsy - how did I live before Etsy???) and made up our own superheroes:

It Escapes Me What Our Powers Were, But We Were Very Powerful
KNIGHT NIGHT:
Andrew and William started demanding shields, and I thought (foolishly) that it would be the perfect project. I did not know that posterboard is a total bitch to cut, and needs primer before painting, and that spray paint has fumes... Well, it was a hit, despite being a much longer undertaking than I realized:

Supplies: Primer, Gold and Silver Spray Paint


William's Shield, Primed
Andrew's Shield, Primed and Taped
William's Shield, Painted
Andrew's Shield, Half Painted
Andrew's Shield, Painted
William's Shield, Finished
Andrew's Shield, Finished
All in all, a success. Although it was interesting that Ted was loathe to give up the location of the box cutter I needed to cut the posterboard, instead just offering to go get it himself...

ASTRONOMY NIGHT:
I did not think this was going to be fun. I was wrong. I bought some cheap solar system kit at Michaels that had foam balls for the planets and dowels to hold them in their positions to the sun. You guys, I loved this activity. The boys shared, dividing up the planets, and the result was impressive. Well, I thought it was cool. I was easily more excited about it than either kid:

The Solar System On Our Coffee Table (Yes, That's Pluto -It's Clearly Old)
 All of this is to say that there is hope for anyone. Seriously. ANYONE. If I can find a way to spend time with my kids that doesn't end with one or all of us in tears, then anyone can. I promise you. It's just a matter of looking at the Venn Diagram of what you like to do and what they like to do, and choosing from the overlap:


Our next plan is to build a boat. Seriously. It's going to be awesome.

XOXOXO
ABC
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Saturday, March 29, 2014

CLIENT #11: LONG-DISTANCE DESIGN PT. 1

So having run through most of my friends and relations (or at least those I could boss into "hiring" me), I turned to the World Wide Web to find a new client. And much like chocolate and wine, I find that the Internet rarely disappoints. Readers, I convinced a stranger he was in desperate need of my expertise (I was right).

Let me start by saying: Kids, don't try this at home! It is not safe to "meet" people online and definitely do not let them attempt to hire you! And never agree to actually meet them, like in real life where they could kill you! That is crazy talk!

Now that that's out of the way, first of all he wasn't a stranger stranger, he was a friend of a friend...sort of. Look, it's a long story, OK? Don't worry about it. I didn't end up chopped up into bits and stashed in anyone's freezer so just calm the fuck down. Jeez. He lives like 100 miles away, which is a really long way to go to kill someone.

You may be wondering how the hell I worked my magic in his bedroom (that came out wrong, but you know what I mean) if he lives so far away. Well, none of this would have been possible without the miracle of modern technology, and I'm not (just) talking about Facebook. I'm talking about Room Sketcher, an amazing site that lets you create a 3D floorplan of a room, or even an entire house or apartment or whatever. So my new client took photos of his bedroom and gave me the dimensions, and I was on the job.

I will admit that had I seen exactly what the job was, I might have been a little less hasty in accepting it. Client #11 was living in what can charitably be described as a crack den. I'm not kidding:

I can't even...
I Don't Know WTF With the Fan in the Middle of Winter
I Also Don't Know How The Cat Looks EXACTLY The Same In Two Pictures
You will see that I wasn't fucking kidding. BUT. He is actually an awesome guy - smart, funny, like a father to his 9-year-old niece, and obviously a fairly secure person since he is letting me show these pictures to all twelve fifteen of you guys. Most importantly, he was willing to "try a new look" (Shut up! I was being diplomatic!). So once I stopped trying to figure out how he hadn't ended up on an episode of Hoarders and got to work with my fancy 3D floorplan website, things moved pretty fast.

I'm Not Sure Why the Ceiling is Tan
Or Why I Can't Close the Virtual Closet Door
The Bed Looks Weird Because It's Two Beds, One on Top of the Other (Don't Ask)
The cool thing (well, one of many cool things) about Room Sketcher is that you can dictate the dimensions of the furniture, so you really see what will work and what won't in the space you have.


TIP: It helps if you put in the correct measurements for the room, which at first I did not, so I had like a whole bench-at-the-end-of-the-bed thing going on for a while, and there were several IM fights with the client over whether or not it would fit before I realized I was the idiot. #winning

This concludes Part 1; tune in for Part 2, in which you'll see if I manage to make my virtual dream a reality, and I also meet Client #11 in person and live to tell the tale!

XOXOXO
ABC




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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

IF EYES ARE A WINDOW TO THE SOUL...

I have a friend who moved to the country at the same time that we did, into a lovely white house in Connecticut. Her house is, and I am not being modest, much nicer than mine in pretty much every way - it's bigger, it's on more land (with lower property taxes - fucking Westchester), and has a better location.

But every time she comes over, she stops for a second and looks up at my house with something like envy. It's not really envy though, it's just that my house is made of stone. And what she's thinking is: OMG, they are so lucky, they NEVER have to pay to get the exterior of their house repainted.

This is true, and it's a good thing, because Ted, being as, uh, thrifty as he is, would likely hire Painters-R-Us or something, and then the outside of the house would be as fucked as the inside currently is, what with us going on a year with no cleaning lady and me being a really, really, really bad housekeeper.

But about a year ago, I was talking to my friend Laura and she asked me if I my house had shutters on it, she couldn't remember. And I was like, I don't actually know... Which is when it occurred to me that if I DID have shutters, they probably sucked because I couldn't even remember if they even existed.

After I went outside, and saw that the house I live in did indeed have shutters on it:



I decided that they did indeed suck and plus I hated them. "I must have new shutters!" I decided. "And they must be green to match the door and also not have those slats." Sadly, I am married to someone who would rather paint shutters on the house himself than pay for new ones (I'm actually surprised that this didn't occur to him).

Anyway, I finally wore Ted down (I AM RELENTLESS) although it took about a year (HE IS VERY CHEAP) and now my house has beautiful new shutters. In a spending frenzy, Ted also hired a company to repaint the trim (and FYI they killed two of our trees and left cans of paint thinner all over the front yard for my kids to find and drink so my misgivings about his hiring practices are once again validated - see also: Wedding Videographer).

Here is the house now:



I am aware that the difference is not immediately apparent, but trust me, the house looks better. And now the shutters match the door (insert your own "carpet matches the drapes" joke here), which is the kind of thing that makes me happy (look, these days I'll take what I can get, OK):


So yes, it's just "window dressing" (see what I did there?), but whatever exterior-of-the-house projects I can tackle so that I don't have to deal with the fucking disaster that is the inside of the house is an awesome idea in my book. Stay tuned for my next post on the rickety, wobbly, tippy stone steps to the backyard, known in our neighborhood as the "High Street Death Trap for Toddlers," and the make-over these steps received. I'll get to the inside of the house. One day soon. Definitely.

XOXOXO
ABC
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Sunday, September 15, 2013

BACK TO SCHOOL ITEMS I'LL BE NEEDING

It's that time of year. The temperature drops, the leaves change, and kids go back to school.

Parents all over the land have received reams of paper in the mail, half of which is useless and can go straight into the trash, and the other half of which contains vital information that you will never again be able to access in any form.

Andrew is in first grade, so this is my second year dealing with the onslaught, and I thought I was prepared (I've pretty much given up on Will's school. I've been a parent there for 4 years now, and they know I am completely useless and fuck everything up by forgetting things like snack or to pick up my child at the end of the day).

However, once again I have been bested by the school district. I'm pretty sure that I threw away the all-important piece of paper with the Byzantine system for organizing each school day by letters A-F (don't ask).

Which might not sound like a big deal, but certain things like gym and art and music only happen on certain letter days, and if (for example) your kid goes to school on a gym day and isn't wearing sneakers they make him sit on a bench and watch everyone else play for the whole period. And don't tell you.

And good fucking luck trying to get another copy of the schedule, because no. Just... no. It isn't possible. Trust me. So, you know, there's that.

I did purchase all the items on Andrew's teacher's list and got it all to school the day it was due, although of course I fucked that up, too. Andrew came home from school that day and said, "Did you know, Mama, that ALL the pencils you sent to school with me were UNSHARPENED???"

I did see on the list that we were supposed to send in two boxes of #2 SHARPENED pencils. I was also smart enough to realize that the chances of me buying said pencils, taking them out of the box (all 48 of them - two boxes of 24), sharpening them, and returning them to the box to be packed up with the rest of the crap on the list was never, ever, ever going to happen.

Thankfully, Amazon sells presharpened pencils for assholes like me who can't be bothered to sharpen their kids' pencils. And I was positive I bought the presharpened pencils, but of course when I went back to Amazon and looked, I had purchased regular pencils by accident. It's my kid's third day of school, and I have already failed first grade.

Anyway, enough about kids and all the shit you have to get for them! Don't I deserve new clothes too, even if I didn't outgrow all my old ones? No? OK, fine. (OMG Ted I heard you say "no" the first time you total cheapskate!) But I am getting new notebooks. A lot of new notebooks.

(I'll come clean right now: this is one of those really annoying blog posts where there are no links to any of the shit in the pictures. So when you want to buy one (or more) of the following notebooks - and you will - go to google and type in the text from the cover and the word "notebook." You should be able to find it that way. Sorry, but I'm too busy looking for that fucking schedule provide your lazy ass with links.)

Notebook #1:


This notebook is ideal for work. I plan on taking it to important meetings, leaving it on the table long enough for everyone to read the cover, and then after anyone says something stupid I'll just pick it up and take a quick note. In other, totally unrelated news, I may soon be looking for a job - hit me up on LinkedIn.

Notebook(s) #2:


It's hard to say which one of these gems I like more. There's something about "that's what she said" that never gets old for me. Same thing with the response "your mom, " or really any indication of inappropriate relations with someone's mother. Always funny. Yes, I have the sense of humor of a 12-year-old boy. But the first notebook in this pair is even better because yes, everyone else IS doing it wrong. Why don't people just LISTEN to me???

Notebook #3:
Such obvious genius. I am an overthinker in just my regular, unaltered state (well, unaltered by illegal substances). So once I smoke pot, shit gets intense. And one of the questions I always (every. single. fucking. time.) find myself overthinking is: Would this concept be equally awesome if I weren't high as a kite? With this handy item around to jot things down, I will finally have an answer.

Notebook #4

Oh, Yoda, sage of the Star Wars chronicles. Confucius has nothing on you. And you uttered many pearls of wisdom, including but not limited to, "Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering." And, "Always pass on what you have learned." But the ultimate advice is right here - words to live by, indeed. (None of this is sarcastic, by the way. I am a total Star Wars loser and mean every word)

Notebook #5:


I was a terrible student. Terrible. I exerted the least possible effort at the last possible minute. The fact that I got through an Ivy League institution at all, let alone in four years and with decent grades, is an embarrassment to higher education in America. But I am an awesome employee, and have been since my first internship. I work incredibly hard, am intensely loyal, and don't try to steal the job of the person I work for. However, I realized early on in my career (such as it is) that you don't need to work very hard to be successful, because most people are doing even less. It seems to me that most people try much harder as students than they do as workers. Either that or most people are just morons, and I met more of them once I graduated from college.

Notebook #6:
I will buy these two at a time, so that when I reach the end of one I don't have to scramble around  while waiting for the replacement to come in the mail.

Notebook #7:


No one likes a person who goes around saying "I told you so." Unfortunately, I speak from personal experience. Now people like me, who are right about everything but no one ever listens, can vent their validated feelings in writing and possibly hang on to whatever friends they still have.

Notebook(s) #8:

Obviously, one purchases this set and immediately throws the "hipsters" one into the trash, because who the fuck has ever met a hipster they liked? But the other two are a great way (if you don't take the word "met" too seriously) to keep track of books and art that you come across and fall in love with. The stuff we love probably defines us better than anything else, even better than the stuff we create.

Notebook #9:

Yeah, yeah, I know. I don't really see this happening either, but it's nice to have goals.

Notebook #10:


Isn't this what most notebooks really are, in the end? The only difference between your stupid Filofax or Moleskine and this gem is refreshing honesty. And there's nothing I love as much as refreshing honesty (except blissful ignorance). The first thing I'll be putting down in this one is "Find that stupid class schedule."

XOXOXO
ABC


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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

ROAD TRIP: PART TWO OF TWO

I am certainly not very mindful of the speed limit as is clear from the previous post. And I am probably not the most conscientious of drivers in general. However, I have managed to navigate the roads for 20+ years without ever hitting an animal. I mean, there have been close calls - but I've been lucky, and careful. I mean, I don't eat animal products. I have a son who carries bugs, no matter how small, very carefully out of the house so that they can live the rest of their full and satisfying lives trying to get back into my fucking living room. I am an animal lover.

On the way back from South Carolina, my luck finally came to an end. And boy, did it go out with a bang. Or rather, a bump. A very, very large bump.

I was tooling along at a relatively sedate 80 mph in the middle of the night. Everyone else in the car was asleep (as I've mentioned, Ted is not a night owl). And right out in front of me lumbers this... creature. I mean, I couldn't have swerved out of the way if I had wanted to - there was NO time. So, one HUGE thump later, I squeak loud enough to wake up Sleeping Beauty.

Ted's like "What's wrong?" I'm like, "I hit an animal." He asks what kind, and I am momentarily at a loss. I literally have never seen anything quite like the thing that strolled out onto I-95.

But it was vaguely familiar, and in a second it comes to me. I say to Ted, "Remember the Princess Bride?"He's like, "Oh boy. You hit an R.O.U.S.?" And yes, that's exactly what I hit:


I mean, but EXACTLY. All I could think of the entire rest of the way home was "Thank God we rented a minivan for this trip because there are probably animal guts all over the front of this car, and if it was ours we'd obviously have to sell it."

But hey, on the bright side: no ticket!

XOXOXO
ABC

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Saturday, July 13, 2013

ROAD TRIP: PART ONE OF TWO

Every year we drive to South Carolina to spend a week with Ted's entire family (and then some) on Edisto Island. Why? Because for some reason, Ted's mother and step-father have settled on this random island as the ideal vacation spot, despite the fact that it takes all of their children a minimum of 12 hours of driving to get there. You can fly, but last summer the tickets were $700+ EACH. Also, when you drive, you can bring more shit. Which is obviously awesome, because who doesn't love traveling with two small children and enough luggage for seven sherpas?

This year, we followed our finely-honed practice of leaving at 1:00 AM, so that the vast majority of the driving is done overnight - the kids sleep and there's no traffic: win/win.



As usual, I drove most of the way down (Ted is a fragile flower who needs a solid eight hours of sleep, or he just isn't himself. He also drives the speed limit, which means we'd get there halfway through the week of vacation).

Things started out swimmingly. We hit New Jersey at 1:30, Delaware at 3:00, Baltimore at 4:00 and flew into Virginia at around 4:45 AM. That's where things started going wrong.

Now, the speed limit in Virginia is 70 mph, which might lead one to believe that they take a carefree and relaxed approach to how fast you go on the roads there.

Interesting Fact #1: This is not the case.

As I blew by the state trooper, I knew I was fucked before I even saw his lights go on.

Interesting Fact #2: State troopers in Virginia drive Mustangs.

And those motherfuckers are FAST. Don't take my word for it - watch one kick a Camaro's ass on Consumer Reports' Auto Test Track:


I was doing close to 90, and he was up my ass from a dead stop in about 4 seconds. And Officer Peterson was, to say the least, displeased. Apparently he clocked me going 88, which is considered "reckless driving," and for which one must appear in court. In Virginia. When I told him that no fucking way was I coming back to fucking VIRGINIA on August 9th to appear in traffic court, he threatened to take me to jail on the spot. And it gets better...

Interesting Fact #3: It is NOT legal to drive with headphones on.

Though I personally don't think Officer Peterson had to be such a dick about it. "I don't know what state YOU live in that you think it's legal to drive with headphones. Ohhhhhh, New York!"

Interesting Fact #4: Southerners are apparently blind to the obvious awesomeness of New York. (I don't think Ted's Yankee cap helped.)

End result of our trip through Virginia:



Ted demoted me to "Passenger" at the next exit. But only for about an hour and 45 minutes, because he was still tired (I told you!). So I was back behind the wheel when we saw the first sign for South of the Border:


Usually when we go by South of the Border, it's not open. But since we left a little later this year (and had a small delay in Virginia), it was open for business by the time we got to the North Carolina/South Carolina border. So we stopped. 

Interesting Fact #5: South of the Border is not exactly what I thought it was.


Thankfully, my kids are not rocket scientists and did not notice that South of the Border bears absolutely no resemblance to a "really fun amusement park" and had a great time.


Yes, they are in their pajamas. At this point you may be wondering why we do any of this in the first place. Here's why:
















It really is paradise once you get down here. And the time with the family is priceless. So on that note:


Tune in tomorrow to find out how the drive home went :)

XOXOXO
ABC
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