Thursday, February 16, 2017


The other day (OK FINE IT WAS WEEKS AGO SHUT UP) when Ted picked up the boys, he dropped off a giant box of books. I moved out of the house in Hastings in September of 2014 which means it has taken more than two years to get all of my books moved to Connecticut (if this box is indeed the last of them), a fact that will not surprise a single person who has known me for a long time. 

I read a lot. And I reread a lot. So if I like a book at all I keep it, because at some point I will read it again. Yes, the Kindle has changed my life but I am old and was alive for a long, long time before the Kindle was invented and over those many years I managed to amass a lot of books.

Anyway, Ted, having clearly ignored the well-known "Pack Books In Small Boxes Because They Are Heavy" rule, somehow managed to carry this from his car to right inside my front door without giving himself a hernia.

I am not going to lie: It took me two days to even open the fucking box. And when I did finally open it, it was clear that not opening it had been a wise move and I should probably have just taped it back up and ignored it for a few more days. 

But sadly, the box was in probably the most inconvenient place in the entire house and even I, who can overlook piles of laundry and detour around mountains of Lego for weeks, was unable to keep pretending the box wasn't in the way. So after a couple more days, I attempted to unpack it.

You can probably see where this is going. Believe me, it got worse before it got better. But eventually I was able to get rid of the actual box, leaving only the contents. 

Yes, that is the entryway to my home. No, it was not possible to open the front door. 

What you see in the picture above was the status quo for longer than I am willing to admit but today when I got home from work, I was finally ready to deal with the situation. 

This is progress. At least at my house, right now. I will admit that the bar is not particularly high, but 2017 has been a bit rough so far and I am going to take the wins where I can get them.


Pin It!

Thursday, December 22, 2016


Usually around this time of year, I write a hilarious post about the hideous and painful process of taking a decent photo of my demon spawn delightful offspring for our annual holiday card. This post, while holiday-card-related, is a little different and a lot less hilarious.

While looking for a card to send this season (and doing it way too late, because that's how I roll), I found myself at odds with the available templates. I do not feel joyful. I am not wishing good things for all of my fellow men. I do not see much peace in the world right now, and I sure as shit am not merry. So I was having a bit of trouble finding a card that felt both seasonally appropriate and also honest. And then I came across THIS bullshit:

What the fuck? What the actual fuck? Who the FUCK is ordering this card and sending it to friends and family? Are there people out there who seriously believe 2016 was awesome???

This silly, unimportant, holiday card template made me unbelievably angry. It made me angry at the fake Ericsson family going about their stupid imaginary life of white privilege with sleds and ice cream and walking to school with dumb pink and blue lunch boxes or whatever the fuck those things are in that picture on the left.

It made me want to take those fucking pies and smash them into the faces of every single person who isn't concerned that 2016 signals the beginning of the end of the world, who isn't sad to the bone about the people we lost this year, who isn't afraid for the civil rights and physical safety of women, minorities, the LGBT community, or anyone who is "different" in any way at all, every single person who isn't crying real tears over what is happening in Syria while the world stands by and does nothing (I know that two pies would not be enough but I am willing to bet the Ericksons are the kind of people that bake a lot of pies as good, wholesome, family fun).

Yes, I am willing to consider the possibility that the Ericksons may be innocent victims of some misplaced anger on my part.

I showed the holiday card template to a friend of mine (a kind and intelligent person who shall remain nameless as she would probably just as soon not be connected in any way to this particular post) and said "This makes me want to create the real version." She was like, "Go for it." And that is how I spent last night.

Let the following be a lesson to everyone that telling me to "Go for it" is not something one should do lightly:

I am fully aware that this is in NO WAY a complete representation of the myriad ways 2016 sucked. There are many, many (MANY) more images I wanted to include. But you have to take into account the spatial constraints under which I was forced to work: It's a 5x7 card, not a billboard. (Oh, a billboard! Now THERE's an idea...)

I was also becoming more enraged and depressed while making it, and while there are valid reasons to be both right now I am trying very hard to not be full of anger and fear and grief (or at least to not be paralyzed by anger and fear and grief). Which is difficult when sifting though images of the events of 2016. So I opted for "done" in the place of "perfect" and stopped after a couple of hours.

Readers, do not worry. I have come down from Rage Mountain and will not be sending the above to the people on my holiday card list. I ordered appropriate cards showing my sweet boys being happy, reveling in the innocence that comes from being eight and ten years old and not yet knowing how horrible a place the world can be. I will be putting those cards in the mail tomorrow (shut up, I am going to the post office TOMORROW, I swear). And in the meantime, I am using sites like this to make sure I stand up, speak out, take action and never, ever, ever stop fighting.

Happy Holidays and Lots of Extra Love to Absolutely Everyone 💗


Pin It!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016


After finding out that I was on the way, my mother and father got married in 1972. They had a lovely wedding in the backyard of a friend's brownstone in Greenwich Village. I arrived in December, leaving them little time for a honeymoon.

So when I was about six months old, my doting parents left me with Auntie Ann Burr and Uncle Michael and they flew off to Africa. I can only imagine my Aunt and Uncle were thrilled, considering they already had six children of their own, the youngest of whom - my Cousin Timmy - is just a couple of years older than I. But they are truly lovely, lovely people and have always insisted that taking care of me was a joy and the addition of an infant to their household for weeks and weeks was pure pleasure.

Touring Africa in the early 70s seems to have been fairly adventurous, not to say rugged. Judging from the photos it was like a far cry from a typical luxurious, romantic vacation celebrating newlywed bliss, but both my mother and father look as happy as I've ever seen them, standing outside an insane army green canvas tent in which they slept on cots on the Masai Mara. 

In addition to the happy couple, there are dozens of pictures of wild animals. Going through the (many, many, many) boxes of photos in the house while growing up was always interesting: Oh, look! Here's me as a toddler on the beach! Here's Sissy in a highchair with cake on her face! Here's a lion on a rock?!

Anyway, my father had several of the photos blown up and framed; I remember them hanging on the walls as a child. Fast-forward 40+ years, and seven or eight of them ended up in my basement - old, faded, and looking every bit their age. My mother still has the film, and I could probably find it and have decent prints made but I kind of like them better this way. And nearly two years after moving in to this house, I finally got motivated to hang them in the basement/playroom. 

It was a total nightmare. 

I wanted, reasonably enough, to hang them in a row, the same height and spaced evenly on the wall, and not end up looking like an incompetent or perhaps intoxicated person hung them. But not only is math is far from my strong suit but the photos are still in their original frames which weigh about 40 pounds each and none of the hanging wires are the same length (because of course they aren't).

In an attempt to not fuck the project up completely, I drew a picture that I could use as a guide of sorts. Well, "drew" a picture...

You will note that I am artistically as well as mathematically challenged. But you can also shut up because it worked perfectly!

Elephant, Antelopes, Giraffe, Birds of Some Sort, Tree, Rhino, Lion Cubs

Full disclosure: It sort of worked almost perfectly. There are several holes in the wall behind more than one of the photos.

But I'm happy, and will stay happy until one of my unbelievably active and wildly uncontrollable boys chucks a baseball or something across the room and shatters glass all over the floor. 

And yes, I am aware of the hideous popcorn ceiling, but after removing it in the bedroom next to the playroom, I can tell you it'll be a while before I summon the energy required to do the rest of the basement. Get off my back! Jeez.

Pin It!

Sunday, April 3, 2016


Without fail, every DIY project I attempt reaches a point at which I sit back, survey my surroundings, and wish with my whole heart that I had hired someone to do the job. Below is a photograph of this exact moment in the whole covering-my-kitchen-counters-with-a-giant-granite-looking-sticker effort:

After choosing to ignore the one consistent piece of advice in every single video and comment on Amazon ("get someone to help you!") and deciding to attempt this by myself, I got, like, one side sort of done and was sad sad sad.

Covering your ugly laminate counters with a giant sticker that looks like granite (SHUT UP IT DOES LOOK LIKE GRANITE) is hard. And yes, doing it alone was probably harder, but I honestly can't imagine a scenario in which I would still be speaking to the person I asked for help after trying to do it with together. 

Lo, after a few hours of sweat and (almost) tears, the green counter was gone!

Pretty nice, right?

But my dreams of a "new" kitchen were bigger than just getting rid of the green. I wanted to add a counter where there was just a sort of half of a wall with a top (best shown in the picture above). I really, really wanted to make a kind of "breakfast bar" there to provide an alternative to the dining room (in addition to the "the floor of the family room" which is where my kids currently eat most of their meals).

After much research (and a trip to New Haven), I was the proud owner of the IKEA SALJAN Countertop,  four IKEA EKBY HENSVIK Brackets, and four IKEA INGOLF Bar Stools. All I had to do was get it on there (this part I did have help for, and a good thing I did because the new counter is level/properly attached and supported/actually safe for children to be around, none of which would be true had I done it alone).

Add some sticker granite to that bad boy, and we're SO CLOSE to finished...

All that's left is replacing those three recessed lights with pendants (which is waaaaaay easier than it sounds, thanks to lights like this) and my Kitchen Update is a wrap!


Pin It!

Sunday, March 20, 2016


As a Pinterest addict user, I have long been aware of online companies that take one of your kid's drawings and makes a stuffed animal from it, but never really seriously considered using one. Both of my boys are very, very into stuffed animals in general, forming deep and long-lasting attachments to several specific favorites, but the seven-year-old does way more drawing than his nine-year-old brother ever did. 

My sister (also known as the worst client ever, or Sissy) was kind enough to tell young William all about these magical places that would turn one of your drawings into an ACTUAL STUFFED ANIMAL! He had even knew which drawing he wanted to have transformed - a masterpiece in crayon of a cat that appears to have eight legs but, it has been emphatically explained to me several times, only has FOUR legs, the other leg-looking-things are just spots. 

For weeks, he kept asking if we could have "Jake" made into a stuffed animal. After checking out the Budsies website and seeing how much it was going to cost for this to happen ($89), I did the best I could to put William off and just sort of hoped he would forget about the whole thing. 

But, while he cannot manage to remember to hang up his coat or where he put his backpack or anything that is actually helpful, when it came to Jake as a potential stuffed animal William's memory was like a steel trap. Week after week, he asked. Until I caved. 

(I did not, however, completely lose my mind. I opted out of paying $39 more for a larger version. I was also more than willing to forgo a "birth certificate" for Jake, saving another $5.)

I am really, really happy I caved. William was in love the second he saw the "real" version of Jake. Months later, he still wants Jake with him in bed every night, and carries him around the house during the day. As for whether or not William is correct about how much "Jake" looks like the drawing, I will let you be the judge:

Jake (The Stuffed Animal)
Pin It!

Thursday, February 25, 2016


When I moved to Connecticut, I was lucky enough to find a house I loved. Except for the kitchen. I only really "liked" the kitchen.

My dream kitchen involves white cabinets, grey streaked granite countertops, a stainless steel undermount sink, glass subway tile for the backsplash, pendant lamps over a breakfast bar where the kids could pull up stools for a meal... Never mind, I'll just show you:

So the dark wood cabinets, green laminate counters, recessed lighting, no counter for the kids, green laminate counters, and white drop-in sink - while not awful and certainly much, much better than it could have been - were making me sort of sad, kitchen-wise:

Yes, That Is A Baking Sheet In The Sink. Yes, I Was Too Lazy To Wash It For The Photos.
Also, This Is Easily The Cleanest My Kitchen Has Been Since Moving In.
How Much Do You Love The Decorative Tile Above The Range?
My initial plan to cure me of my kitchen sadness involved a new counter, sink, and backplash. After a trip to Home Depot, a visit with one of their "Kitchen Consultants," and a ballpark estimate of $3,000 (and the Kitchen Consultant wouldn't listen to me AT ALL and just kept saying that everything I wanted was impossible and basically trying to boss me into dumb ideas, so I wouldn't even be getting what I wanted anyway. Not that I'm still bitter about those three hours of my life that I will never get back or anything.)

Needless to say, while my kitchen was not ideal there are several (SEVERAL) ways in which I would rather spend $3K than on renovating my kitchen into something I also don't like. I began to explore, uh, less expensive options. Well, to be honest, I started looking for the cheapest possible way to turn the current kitchen into something I loved. (I am an optimistic person.)

Granite is too pricey? No problem! Head to Amazon and search for "instant granite." (No, I am not kidding.) After reading A LOT of customer reviews, and looking at A LOT of customer photos, I ended buying this. I know. It's a sticker. It's basically (slightly) fancier shelf liner. I am aware. However, two rolls cost me $120 and I figured if it looked terrible I could chalk it up to a learning experience.

My sticker granite arrived and I could barely wait to get started on the magical transformation of my sad-making kitchen:

Sticker Granite! AKA The Beginning Of  Magical Kitchen Transformation!
After watching at least ten video tutorials, it was clear that unlike shelf liner (I assume, I have never actually lined a single shelf so I don't know for sure), the installation of sticker granite is no joke. 

From the videos, it was clear that it was important not only have all the right tools, but (and every single video stressed this) to get someone else's help. Apparently turning laminate counters into "granite" with a giant sticker is not a one-man job.

I was all set with the tools:

Water Sprayer, Staple Gun, Hair Dryer, Painting Tape, Box Cutter, And Plastic Smoother Thing.
But despite the (in retrospect, very good) advice given out in all of those video tutorials, I chose to go it alone on the installation. I have no explanation as to why I thought this was a good idea - it was not. At all. In the next installment, I will elaborate on exactly how bad an idea it was. Stay tuned!


Pin It!

Monday, November 16, 2015


Hello, my name is Ann Burr and I am addicted to Pinterest. Awareness is the first step, or so they say. But honestly? I'm probably not going to be trying to quit anytime soon. Pinterest is a time suck, but it's not crystal meth or anything (and kids, crystal meth is really, really bad and don't ever try it, also you probably shouldn't be reading this blog because there's lots of swears).

The worst thing about Pinterest, in my humble opinion, is that it sometimes tells enormous lies and makes you think you can do things that are not actually possible. I know this because I have fallen for these lies several times.

But every now and then,  Pinterest is nothing less than a gift from the heavens, especially for DIY kid-type stuff. That Christmas was a smashing success and had the added bonus of saving me some money and making me feel crafty. Win/Win.

The feral children little angels are 7 and 9 now, and my house is basically an armory for Nerf guns and those fucking foam darts I spend hours picking up off the floor, which is an exercise in futility because there are always more.

So when I saw this: seemed like a perfect project, despite the fact that the child in the picture is clearly cheating by shooting from a distance of maybe 6 inches and also the way those corners of the cut-out squares have no tape makes me crazy. 

But other than that, it seemed like a great idea. The kids could shoot at something other than each other (or me), and who knows? Maybe one of them would develop amazing accuracy, and take up riflery. 

I spent a lot of time lost in daydreams of one or the other of my progeny participating in the Olympic Pentathalon (I already have them fencing and taking horseback riding lessons - add shooting and they'd be more than halfway there) and as soon as I came to, I clicked through to find this blog post which explains how to make the thing, step by step. I immediately started looking for an appropriate piece of cardboard. 

Fortunately (for the credit card companies) I shop online. Like, a lot. Which means I have an inordinate amount of cardboard in the house at all times (except for the afternoon of the day we go to the town dump and chuck it all down the recycling chute), so finding exactly what I needed was not a problem.

I'll spare you the painful details involved in the actual work - mostly because I forgot to take any pictures while I was doing it - but suffice it to say that cutting any sort of thick-ish cardboard into a decent circle is  a total bitch, even with a box cutter. Also, you have to weight those circles with pennies taped to the back because otherwise they won't hang properly from the straw-holder-thing, and figuring out how many pennies is enough weight but not too much is a really annoying process.

Once I finally had the circles cut out, two went to the boys for decorating, and because shooting is for girls too (and because pink duct tape is awesome), my Significant Other's progeny and I got the other two. 

Not bad, right? Of course, seeing it next to the original I'm annoyed that it's not nice and white, but whatever. At least MY cut-out squares have tape corners! (I may need to get a life.) By the way, my next project is painting the brass on those fireplace doors black. Checking Amazon, I see I ordered the paint for this project on October 15, 2014, so you know. Any day now.

As it turns out, it's a very, very good thing I didn't spend any more time on this Nerf target than I did, because none of the children had any interest in it at all. In fact, and this is absolutely true, I haven't SEEN the fucking thing in weeks and when I asked one of the boys where the hell it was, he looked at me like he had no idea what I was talking about, let alone its location. I mean, this house is big, but it's not THAT big - where did it go???

So in the end, I'm not really sure whether to put this project in the "win" column or not. I mean, it came out pretty well. But it was never used. Not once. And as it has apparently walked out of the house on its own, the thing may or may not be possessed. Let's call it a draw.

Are you guys craft-masters, capable of anything Pinterest throws your way? Or have you failed as miserably as I have at something that looked so great pinned to your board? Share with the group!

Pin It!

Sunday, October 4, 2015


Let me start by saying that before I had two male children, I MAY have labored under the delusion that all sex-typed behavior was due to nurture rather than nature. I was sure I would have enlightened boy children who gave equal attention to trucks, toy guns, and dolls.

Nine years, twenty five Nerf guns, several hundred rounds of foam dart ammunition, and countless hours spent longing for decent hearing protection later, I have come to realize that boys and girls are indeed different in many ways that have nothing to do with societal expectations.


Boys and girls are also nowhere near as different as a parent might be led to believe when shopping for a halloween costume. Yes, there have been great strides - the news that Disney will no longer market their costumes to specific genders is welcome indeed. But it's still a fucking problem, and one that makes me crazy. OK, crazier.

(As a child in the 70s, I often longed for "boy" toys, such as an X-Wing Fighter and a TIE Fighter and the enormous Death Star, but it never even occurred to me to ask for stuff like that so I never got any which is probably contributing to how mad this all makes me, but whatever.)

There has apparently been much Internet buzz lately about a police officer Halloween costume, or rather two police officer Halloween costumes. One for a boy, which I imagine looks like a police officer costume, and one for a girl, which apparently looks like something one might see on the stripper who shows up at a bachelor party. 

I'll be honest, I haven't seen either one. I haven't even looked. I'm very busy browsing Craig's List for things I don't need and planning DIY projects for the house and wondering why the laundry is NEVER EVER DONE and frankly I don't have to look to be fairly certain that the little girl costume is beyond inappropriate and why make myself sad?

My point (yes, there is one) is that it's not just the blatant sexualization of little girls by big companies that mass produce Halloween costumes. I saw this on Pinterest the other day, and my heart broke a little:

She wants to be BATMAN! This is not a Batman costume. Even the small child who is going to have to wear it knows enough to say OUT LOUD that it looks too much like a princess - "lol"! 

I get it. I have two boys and I long (LONG) for a daughter to dress in tutus and bows, and I buy such items with reckless abandon for my Goddaughter (who, alas, by age three already had her own boho chic look going on and isn't much interested in my gifts).

But don't force your daughter to be a princess when she wants to be a superhero.

And lest you think there are no tutu-free options for girls who want to be Batman for Halloween, behold:

The same Pinterest search I had to do to re-find the original sad-making tutu pin turned up this awesomeness (OK, the gogo boots are a bit much but jeez, stop bitching about EVERYTHING):

This Batman won't get any fancy gadgets caught up in layers of tulle while battling bad guys and keeping Gotham safe.

So there are options. Ones that don't involve "princess-izing" whatever it is that your little girl actually wants to be for Halloween. I beg mothers and fathers out there to consider these options.

In closing, I want to give a shout out to my ex-mother-in-law. When Ted was seven, he wanted to be his favorite superhero for Halloween. His favorite superhero was Wonder Woman. And God bless his mother, she got him an awesome Wonder Woman costume that he wore with pride, along side his tiny four-year-old sister who that year opted to be King Kong. There exists a picture from that night which is truly priceless.

And if this shit is still going on now, I can't imagine it was a no-brainer for a suburban mom in the 70s to let her firstborn son wear a "girl" costume, and to do it without making him feel ashamed or awkward or anything but psyched about Halloween (really, the picture is worth a thousand words). 

So mad props to Ted's mom, and here's hoping there are more and more moms like her out there willing to let their kids be whatever the hell they want for Halloween (unless it's that stripper police officer costume because just no).

In case you are wondering - and I KNOW you are - Andrew and William will once again be going as Clone Troopers. Blasters and all. I tried to get them to be 80s rappers, with track suits, Kangol caps, and a huge stereo I was going to make out of cardboard, and they seriously considered it for a while but the Force is strong in those two and I lost out to Commander Cody and and an ARF Trooper. 

Such is life.

Pin It!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


I was born and raised in Manhattan. As far as I'm concerned, Westchester, NY is the country, and where I live now is a fucking episode of Nature on PBS. My feelings about any interaction with the wilderness that surrounds my home is pretty much summed up with this:

And even here I just have to point out that the chair doesn't look super comfortable in that drawing, and isn't somewhere I can imagine wanting to sit for very long - even with a drink in hand.

However. I am not actually immune to ALL of nature's charms, and when my Significant Other and I happened upon the Nepaug Dam (totally by accident), which has some hiking trail thing where you can park your car, get out, and walk along a road/path, over the dam itself, and then turn around and walk back again. And we actually did it. It was BEAUTIFUL. Like, awe-inspiringly beautiful.

And I walked like AT LEAST two miles without complaining at all (a minor miracle), and it was an all-around great experience. So we thought we'd go back with the boys, which, I'm not going to lie, involved some convincing on our part and a lot of whining on theirs. 

Even once we got there and forced them out of the car, both kids were dragging their feet and asking things like "How long is this going to take?" and "Can someone carry me now?" which was irritating in the extreme but thankfully ended once they saw the water.

William Admiring The View
Andrew Admiring the View, But Casual-Like So As Not To Seem Overly Impressed
Posing For Mama Under Extreme Duress
Andrew also rediscovered his interest in photography, and was allowed to borrow the good camera to use with the understanding that if he damaged it in any way he would be sent to his room for the remainder of the summer - without his iPad.

A Photograph That Has A .0001% Chance Of Being In Focus
The Nepaug Dam
Once the dam itself came into view, all whining ceased and small footsteps rapidly increased with the goal of looking over the edge. Here's where I have to come clean and tell you upfront that there will be no pictures of the view over the far edge of the dam that has a very steep, very long drop. I suffer from extreme vertigo and was almost barfing on myself watching the others look over the side.

However, the views over the other side were just lovely:

Andrew, who obviously did not inherit my extreme vertigo, took lots of shots over the other side:

Who Is This Child And How Are We Related???
Once we crossed the dam, there was some sitting on a rock wall to rest up from all the physical exertion that's involved in a leisurely, not-very-long walk over paved roads:

Which, to be fair, was followed by lots (and lots and lots) of tramping around in the forest (a story for another time) which we found out later was maybe probably totally trespassing but I swear we didn't know at the time:

The six-year-old got a bit worn out on the walk back to the car and had to be carried by yours truly for most of the way. What? Could you resist this face? Well, I could not. 

Mama, Can You Carry Me Please?
In the end, I have to admit this outdoor adventure was GREAT. I had fun, spent real quality time with the kids, and got to experience awe which is apparently spiritually invigorating AND good for physical and mental health. And who can't use more of that shit? 

We shall see if my newfound enthusiasm for the outdoors is a passing fancy or the beginning of a new-and-improved me, but I personally have high hopes. Yes, it was one hike walk, but as I always say:

Pin It!