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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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

PINTEREST PROJECT: PART TWO

I kind of gave away the "surprise" ending in Part One of this saga, but I didn't want to leave you guys hanging, wondering exactly how badly I got fucked by Pinterest this time. To refresh your memories, this is what my disgusting baking sheets looked like before I tried the trick of cleaning them with baking soda and hydrogen peroxide:


As for how they looked AFTER the experiment? Well, here ya go:


I mean, they don't look worse... Right? In fact, you can definitely see some improvement - especially when you take a closer look at the pan on the right. Just take a gander at that almost kind of cleanish area in the center. I know I want to eat cookies baked on that sheet! But just for fun, let's go back and see what glories of shininess Pinterest had promised:

Now I will be the first to admit that my pans were much grosser than the ones whatever far better housekeeper than I am attempted to clean using this method. However. One might be excused for thinking that the results, no matter how dirty the original baking sheet, would be more impressive than THIS:


I know what you're thinking. "She didn't scrub. She's so lazy, she probably didn't even pretend to scrub!" While yes, I am indeed that lazy, I would never compromise a scientific experiment just to spare myself the horror of actually burning calories. I scrubbed, all right. But to no avail.

But don't feel too sorry for me. I went onto Amazon.com (my dearest friend and the bane of Ted's existence) and was able to find new pans that were honestly much nicer that mine ever were, even when they were clean and new themselves. I am now the proud owner of these:


And while it's obvious that they are cleaner and shinier than my old ones, they are also larger and the same size (oh, the joy!). So really, it was a win-win. Ted got to see his wife make a huge (for me) effort to save us a few dollars, and I got to buy new baking pans. Not to mention the secret thrill I get from proving that Pinterest is often full of shit.

But to be fair, the opposite is also true. So in the next post, you will see some Pinterest successes that will knock your socks off! I promise! ;)

XOXOXO
ABC 
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Monday, July 1, 2013

PINTEREST PROJECT: PART ONE

I know it's Monday, not Tuesday. But this particular Pinterest project has a prolonged waiting time right in the middle, so I'm breaking it up into two posts. In this one, you will see the promises that Pinterest makes, the effort that I put into achieving success, and a sneak peek at the (SAD, VERY SAD) results. Tomorrow, which is Tuesday, there will be a follow-up post with a complete break-down of the (VERY VERY VERY SAD) outcome.

I don't know about you, but I am a shit housekeeper. My husband is a cheap bastard on the thrifty side, but even Ted knows that paying the cleaning lady is a necessary expenditure. Mercy the Amazing Nanny does as much cleaning as she can while tending to the brats darling angels, but cleaning is not her job. In a (rare and totally unappreciated) effort to save the Tenthoff Family some money, I have offered not once, but twice, to clean the house myself.

These ill-fated bouts of generosity ended poorly, with me being fired by both Ted and Mercy in what can only be described as intervention-like family meetings where they gently explained that the house had become so dirty that they were afraid for the health of our family.

All this being said, we currently do not have a cleaning lady. I seem to have remarkably bad luck when it comes to hiring a person to clean my house. The cleaning lady we had in the city threw a party in our apartment when we were out of town. Despite this, I did not fire her. Then we went away again, and this time she threw a party that necessitated our neighbors calling the cops. After that I did actually fire her.

Since then, we have had two or three different people come to clean our house, but all of them have been terrible at the job. And believe me, my standards are low. I mean, it's hard for me to imagine anyone with lower standards than me when it comes to cleaning ladies. But while I don't mind spending money when there's something to show for it, I do mind spending more than a hundred dollars a week to continue to have a dirty house.

Anyway, all of this is a very long way of explaining why my baking sheets are as disgusting as they are. And they are disgusting:


See? I wasn't exaggerating. Now, in what can only be described as an incredibly ironic gesture, I have a Pinterest board called Cleaning House. This is where I collect the myriad cleaning tips and tricks that I never, ever use. Not even during my stints as the Tenthoff Family cleaning lady. But there was one pin that kept catching my eye. If you spend any time at all on Pinterest, you've probably seen it yourself:


By some miracle, I happened to have the two necessary ingredients, baking soda and hydrogen peroxide, in the house. (That is actually a total lie - I had to make Ted go to the store and buy baking soda.) Who the fuck has baking soda on hand??? A functioning household-runner, that's who. Not me. Until now:



I followed the directions carefully. I mixed up a paste, and applied it to the entire surface of the pans. In fact, since it was a little unclear how thick the paste was, I mixed up two batches of different consistencies to see which one would be more effective. (This is another enormous lie. The difference in the batches was totally accidental, and I was too lazy to fix it.)

Here is the experiment in progress:


Here's a close-up of the pastier paste:


Here's the less-pastey paste:


Now, you have to leave the stuff on the trays to work for like eight hours. So tune back in tomorrow to see whether I was able to see my face in the newly shiny baking trays. But here's a hint: NO I WASN'T. See the picture below for a sneak preview of the disappointment that lies ahead:



See you tomorrow, dear readers! I look forward to breaking your hearts and destroying any trust that you may have in the wonders of Pinterest ;)

XOXOXO
ABC
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Thursday, April 11, 2013

DON'T SAY "FUCK" IN FRONT OF THE POPE

No, I did not say "fuck" in front of the Pope. Yet. I may not even see the Pope. But I am in Rome, and tomorrow I will be getting on a bus to go to the Vatican.


But I should really start at the beginning.

I have been to Rome before. Ted and I came here on vacation for about ten days a million years ago. We stayed at this very charming small hotel near the Vatican (you could literally SEE the Vatican from the hotel, much like Russia from Sarah Palin's house) and the plan was to do other Rome things, go to Venice for a few days, come back to Rome, see the Vatican, and go home. 

Well, the first part went OK, then we went to Venice, Ted proposed, and things went a bit south. The very second after we got to this romantic secret garden, he got down on one knee, I said yes, rah rah rah, he started to get sick. Like, really, really sick. So sick that I ended up calling a doctor to come to our hotel room that night because Ted was shaking so hard the whole bed was vibrating and he was incoherent and I honestly thought he might kick. 

On my elevator trip down to the front desk to speak very bad Italian to the poor man behind it (I got an F in Italian 110 my freshman year of college. That's right, an F), I will admit that the following thought crossed my mind "He finally fucking asks me to marry him and now he's going to DIE?! WTF???" Not one of my finer moments, perhaps. Anyway, Ted didn't die, but we did have to come home early. So I'm like the one person in the world who has spent a week in Rome and never been to the Vatican. Which is not nearly as important as Ted not being dead, but you know. Almost.

Fast forward, and Ted mentions that he's going to Rome for work, and I should come along. He is always suggesting this. As if going to some strange city where I know no one, and hanging out alone while he does whatever the hell it is that he does for a living sounds like any fun at all. I mean, I don't go the bathroom by myself if I can help it (what up, T-Dawg?). 

But, though it took me a while (and some smacking upside the head by a well-intentioned and much smarter friend) to realize it, this trip is different. The conference is at the Vatican. There is a cocktail party in the Sistine Chapel, a tour of the catacombs, and supposedly an audience with the Pope. And not even the former-Nazi, tolerator-of-child-molesters that used to hold the post. No, now we have a shiny new Pope, who chose the Patron Saint of Animals after which to name himself. Yay!

Once I got all signed up for the trip, I started to get emails from the organizers about the planned itinerary, which included wardrobe protocol. It will come as a huge surprise, I'm sure, that not a single item in my closet met the requirements for what you have to wear to be in the same room as the Pope. So I had to go shopping. Yay!

Here are my Pope-clothes:


Lest you think that I kept it too boring, believe me, I didn't have much room to work with. I also got this:


Yes, it is the same dress, but this one is blue. You are going to have to trust me that they are actually awesome in real life - very flattering, yet also appropriate enough for his holiness. Thank you, Talbots!

Now, I have been all set to "interview the President of the United States" only to have it cancelled literally ten minutes before we were supposed to be chatting because peace broke out in the Middle East or some such (obviously that was short-lived). So I will believe this whole "audience with the Pope" thing when it happens.

But either way, tomorrow I am going to the Vatican to watch Teddy moderate a panel in front of hundreds of people as part of a conference on adult stem-cell research. I am so proud of my husband, and so happy he didn't kick the bucket in that hotel in Venice, and I can't wait. I don't even care if we get to meet the Pope.

XOXOXO
ABC
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