Thursday, November 30, 2006

Good Times on I-78

I may have previously mentioned that I am working again for my former employer. I have done various recruiting projects for them since I left New Jersey a couple of years ago. Now that I am not living in Ohio, I've been doing projects for them at some of their offices throughout Central New Jersey. They pay me well and I am glad to do it. This latest project, however, has been rough. I work at the office Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and work from home on Tuesdays and Thursdays. While I could write an entire post on "It Really Sucks Working at Home When Your Kids Are There Too," I will table that for another day.

The toughest part of my job has been my commute. On a good day, I can cover the 86 miles in about 90 minutes. On a bad day, it is 2+ hours. On the one hand, I really don't feel right about bitching. I agreed to do the project and am being paid mileage to go to and from work right now because I am doing this favor for them. But the drive SUCKS. It just does. Anyone who knows Interstate 78 knows my pain. Interstate 78 is a stretch of highway that goes into New York. Parts of it are always under construction. It is a main artery for many New Jerseyans' commutes. Because so many people from New York and New Jersey are moving to the Easton/Bethlehem/Allentown, PA area, the traffic snarls have extended out there as well. My husband currently leaves the house at 5:15 AM to avoid the traffic I am faced with a mere 90 minutes later. Sometimes the traffic jams up because of accidents, the sun, the rain or the snow. The rest of the time it is anyone's guess as to why it takes so damned long to get where you need to go.

In the few months of this commuting, I have learned a few things. First of all, I no longer bring coffee on my drive. The lack of caffeine that I suffer through until I get to work is a far cry from the suffering I have faced in not having a bathroom readily accessible. Secondly, I learned that satellite radio is one of the best investments one can make. In addition, I have learned to bring reading materials. The Wall Street Journal has kept me from going batshit on more than one occasion I was stuck in non-moving traffic for upwards of 30 minutes.

One of the more amusing things I have discovered is that I am not the only person who leaves at precisely the same time every day. There are a few cars I recognize on my drive, and I think they recognize me. There is the guy who drives a United States Homeland Security SUV. There is the woman who drives a really horrible yellow Honda. I am sure there are many more, but they blend in with all of the other cars. Another plus with this commute is that the people watching is FANTASTIC. I recently spent one morning counting the people I caught picking their noses (six). One morning I spent counting people who were singing (three.) Believe me, when you are stuck in the same place on a road for reasons only known by God, you'll learn to appreciate the little things that may amuse you.

Yesterday's commute started off like any other--a slowdown near the PA/NJ border, construction at mile marker 7, more slowdowns at 11, and 15. After that, my drive was looking good. I actually was driving about 75 MPH, thinking that I might get to work at a decent time. A shorter drive is normally just as boring, but then I quickly realized that I had hit commuter GOLD. The black Nissan Altima ahead of me was being driven by a man whose two hands were on his head. That's because he was SHAVING HIS HEAD WITH CLIPPERS while driving 75+ MPH! I followed this man for close to eight miles, completely riveted by what he was doing. One hand did the clipping while the other hand checked to make sure he hadn't missed anything. So many thoughts were running in my head like, "Doesn't he care that he is getting hair all over himself and his car?" and, "Is he driving with his legs?"

Of course I wasn't the only person who noticed. People were passing him with, "WTF???" expressions on their faces. He just kept on shaving. Of course, I got on my phone and called my girlfriend Amy and was all, "OH MY GOD, you won't believe this guy in front of me!!!" and "Where is a COP when you need one!" Then, out of nowhere, he pulled into the far left lane (still shaving mind you)and passed a car and sped away. He was easily doing 80 MPH.

Suddenly, applying mascara while driving really doesn't seem like a big deal anymore. Nor does eating a Taco Bell Grande without dropping anything on yourself.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Hausfrau Thanksgiving Update

The Hausfrau Family returned from Canada on Saturday tired and uncomfortable. Herr and I were still full from Thanksgiving dinner AND the enormous amounts of food we felt we had to eat on Friday (no leftovers mind you!) I am just now getting my appetite back.

We had an awesome time with the Cleavers. We always do. The kids all got along really well and there were minimal time-out sessions. June and I had a lot of fun planning all things Thanksgiving. My problem is that I tend to take over, which I did once I got here. In retrospect, I feel bad because it was JUNE'S Thanksgiving dinner at HER house. At any rate, dinner turned out superb. The Cleaver's invited some new friends of theirs which was really nice as well.

The return trip was long because we had to wait at the US/Canadian border for nearly 90 minutes, but we still got home at a decent hour on Saturday. I'm already planning my return trip in the summer.

I would be remiss if I didn't share all of the things we learned while in Canada:

1. It takes shopping at two grocery stores to find all of the ingredients necessary for an American Thanksgiving dinner. Our challenges were finding cranberries in any form, pork sausage, cocktail rye and cornbread.

2. Ella learned that Lucky Charms is a "Canadian Cereal" and isn't available in the USA.

3. Everyone should have a mani-pedi on Thanksgiving.

4. The Trailer Park Boys may be my favorite new television show. I had high hopes for Porno Valley but was disappointed. Porno Valley is allegedly a documentary about porn stars and their daily lives. I was looking forward to seeing porno stars studying for the bar (it could happen!), fixing dinner for their spouses or carpooling the kids to soccer whilst waxing poetic about the merits of their jobs. Instead, it was an episode where they were all in Vegas for some Porno Awards Show. While I could care less about who won, "Best Anal Scene," I did laugh at the porn star whose date was her "Gramma."

5. Poutine. Jesus.H.Christ.

6. I learned about this while reading "Chatelaine" magazine. My hunch is that it would be more for the gal who has Primus or heavy metal music downloaded on her iPod.

7. One really CAN eat too many truffles.

Monday, November 20, 2006

American Thanksgiving in Canada

Family Hausfrau is heading to North North Dakota Canada tomorrow to spend the Thanksgiving Holiday with the Cleaver Family. The Hausfrau/Cleaver roadshow will consist of five children under the age of five and four adults waiting for bedtime.

Initially, Corey was concerned with the prospect of celebrating Thanksgiving in Canada. His primary concern was that he wouldn't be able to watch American football and would be stuck watching curling. Once he was assured that there would be some sort of football watching, he was totally up for it.

I, on the other hand, can't WAIT to get there. First of all, I love spending Thanksgiving with friends. Last year was the first and only year that we spent the holiday with family. Don't get me wrong--I love my family. But I love a drama free holiday even more. Here are some other reasons why Thanksgiving is going to ROCK:

1. There will be no stupid Thanksgiving crowds at the grocery store on Wednesday. Because Canada had their Thanksgiving a month ago, I will NOT be using the grocery cart as a battering ram to get through my last minute dinner shopping.

2. We won't have to worry about Black Friday as it will just be a normal Friday for all Canadians.

3. While the turkey is cooking, the children are napping, and the husbands are watching reruns of Degrassi High, June and I will be enjoying mani-pedis at the nearby salon. Imagine that sort of luxury on Thanksgiving. The added benefit of that because we will be at the salon, we won't be stuffing our faces prior to dinner . Pretty toes and less weight gain. God, I love Canada!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Hausfrau Hotel/Motel Review

I remembered reading about Kate's Lazy Meadow Motel a couple of years ago and thought it would be really cool to someday stay there. How could it not? It is owned by Kate Pierson of the B-52s. According to the website, Kate was travelling through the Catskills and found an old motel for sale. She and her friends then redesigned each room to be kitschy and super fun. She also started buying Airstream campers and redoing those as well and parking them on the banks of the Esophus Creek. Each room is different from the next and a couple of rooms are suites with full kitchens. The website indicated that they used luxury linens and fancy toiletries from all the hotels in Kate's travels. As far as I was concerned, it was going to be a slam dunk.

I made my reservation two weeks in advance. Because they have a one month cancellation policy, I decided to only reserve one night in case my plans got ruined. I figured it would be better to be out one night's money instead of two. Ethan took my reservation over the phone and immediately sent me an email confirmation. His email was very informative and had an attachment listing several area restaurants and things to do. I had told him we probably wouldn't get here until 10PM on Wednesday. Ethan said that he wouldn't be in the office then, but that they keys would be haing outside the door. I was surprised by that, but whatever.

Let me first say that you have to really WANT to stay there. The Lazy Meadow Motel is in the middle of NOWHERE in Mt. Tremper, NY. When we pulled into the motel at 6:30 at night, we were surprised to be the only ones there. Sure enough, the keys were in an envelope on the office door. Since it was pitch black and raining, we couldn't see anything. We easily found Room #3.

The door itself was tricky. Corey had to use his body to force the warped door open. Upon inspection, it appeared that the door was made with MDF and didn't really close at the top. No matter--the room looked REALLY COOL!

We slept well in the room that night. We really weren't upset by the fact that no one else was on the property and our door was kind of broken and the heat didn't work because the room WAS SO COOL! We had a kitchen area with a refrigerator and sink, a sitting area in addition to the actual bedroom. We were pretty psyched to move to a different room the next night (because I didn't reserve another night until the day we got there, our room was taken.) Corey mentioned that the shower was the smallest one he had been in EVER so I opted to not shower until we moved to the new room, which was a larger suite. When we returned that afternoon to check into the new room, the only people there were the cleaning people who had just finished our room. We didn't see our key hanging on the office door, so we called Monica the caretaker (she's 5 minutes away) and she told us to go ahead and go back to Room #3 as she switched rooms, thinking she was doing us a favor. We were a little bummed, but we were then pleased that someone had come and fixed the door so that we didn't have to use full force to get in and out of the room. The cleaning people also said they fixed the heat.

That night, people checked into the room next door. I was at that moment we realized that our shared wall was the thickness of construction paper. And their door also appeared to be problematic, which wouldn't have been so bad except the dude kept going outside every 30 minutes to smoke a cigarette until 2AM. After the first 5 times he lumbered in and out, we finally realized that no one was trying to break in and hack us to pieces.

The next morning, I decided to get over my feelings of claustrophobia and take a shower. I grabbed the toiletries that were supposed to be from some exotic hotel. They were actually bottles from the Hampton Inn that had been refilled and affixed with a homemade label. The bar of soap was rewrapped in some sort of paper as well. No matter--I brought my own stuff. Unfortunately, having more than one room occupied at this motel apparently affected the flow of hot water that morning. I decided to wait until we checked into the hotel in Boston to shower.

I have to admit, had this been any other hotel, I would have been quite annoyed. But for the little things that annoyed us, there was something else there that made us extremely happy. For example, check out this selection of movies in our room--apparently a box of several hundred movies were purchased at a garage sale and there was a selection of movies in every room. Who WOULDN'T want to watch Smoky & The Bandit and My Fair Lady in one sitting?!

And while we never did get the heat to work, we really couldn't complain because it wasn't all that cold when we were there. And I have to admit that our room was the cleanest hotel room I have ever stayed in. Ever. There was not a speck of dust nor a cobweb or piece of lint ANYWHERE. The bedding smelled like Downy and the bed was REALLY comfortable.

Despite the fact that my review may sound lukewarm, I have to admit I would absolutely stay there again. I would stay there if I could rent the entire place out for a spring or autumn weekend and have all of my friends there. That way I wouldn't care about the person on the other side of the wall of Room # 3. This was the view from the backyard:

I would also be very tempted to come back and stay in this.

Besides, I figure if I stay there enough times, Kate will eventually be there and I can ask her what the hell they were smoking when they wrote Rock Lobster.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Can't Come Up With a Witty Title For This One

I planned it for months: A weekend away with Herr. We hadn't been away on our own in over two years. We've been stressed, distracted and annoyed with all the little stuff that just shouldn't matter. The trip wasn't much--it was going to be a couple of days in the Catskills and a couple of days in Boston. I cashed in frequent flier miles to fly my Mother-in-law to PA to take care of the girls. The trip itself wasn't such a big deal--it was the fact that I was surprising Herr and I had managed to NOT spill the beans. That's really hard for me as I usually tell him everything.

My plan was to pick up my MIL at 2:00PM at the airport on Wednesday. I would have all day to pack beacuse I was taking the girls to daycare for the day at 7:00AM. I would get a pedicure. I would go sit in a Starbucks somewhere and drink coffee. I would do all the grocery shopping so I wouldn't need to do it when we got back on Sunday.Herr was coming home at 5:00PM. When he walked in the door, I was going to essentially kidnap him and drive to our first location.

Things were off to a good start on Wednesday morning. I started putting clothes aside for the two of us at around 6:00AM, the girls were up and dressed. I was just getting ready to go to the basement to get our suitcases when the phone rang.

"Hey. I've been in an accident. Um, the car is totalled."

Of course I start freaking out, asking him, "AreyouOK? Arethepolicethere? Whathappened? Whereareyou? Areyousureyouaren'thurt?" Corey calmly said he was fine and that the police had just shown up and he needed to talk to them.

After he hung up, I realized that he was an hour away from me in the pouring rain. He needed a ride home, so I called him and told him I would drop the girls off at daycare and get him. It turned out that he had just gotten off the interstate and was on a small road near his work. He saw a deer near the opposite side of the road and slowed down. A minivan coming toward him didn't slow down, saw the deer, and crossed the center line to avoid hitting the deer, thus hitting Herr. The police said it was a no-fault accident, but that clearly isn't the case since the guy crossed the center line.

I spent the drive to New Jersey, trying to figure out how I would NOT tell Herr about the surprise I had in store for him. I quickly realized that the idiot in the minivan RUINED my surprise with his irresponsible action of crossing the center line. Oh well, I figured I would have to tell Herr the surprise, but I wouldn't tell him WHERE we were going.

Two hours later, Herr was on the phone with the car rental agency to get a loaner. He happened to mention that he needed to get it before late afternoon. They in turn asked him WHERE he was going as this particular agency needed special permission to allow customers to take their cars in certain states. Imagine my annoyance when I had to tell him which states we were visiting. Stupid minivan driver. (*NOTE: In reading what I have just written, I realize how absurd this is all sounding. I am currently MUCH more upset about the fact that my husband is bruised and really sore andwe have to buy a new damn car than the fact that Corey learned about the surprise earlier than I wanted him to.)

Our time away turned out to be fantastic. We spent a couple of days in the Catskills and stayed at Kate's Lazy Meadow Motel, which is owned by Kate Pierson of the B-52s. I will write a review of the hotel later this week so that this post won't take 4 hours to read. We spent our time driving around, hiking around, eating and drinking. We got to spend time with our friends, Sarah and Ty and their two adorable children, who live in the area and have a gallery. Traditionally, we see them on Superbowl Weekend and Memorial Weekend, so it was nice seeing them at a different time of year.

On Ty's recommendation, we went hiking at Mohonk Mountain House. Oh.My.God. The views were AMAZING! The resort is positively beautiful, and I am hoping we will perhaps stay there sometime.

After our jaunt in the Catskills, we went to Boston. We stayed at Hotel Marlowe in Cambridge, which was fantastic. We walked from one end of Boston to the other on Saturday. The most fun part of the trip, however, was meeting the famous Cape Buffalo and her wonderful family!

We met up with Cape near our hotel. When Herr and I walked up to her vehicle, she and her adorable daughter were patiently waiting for us. Cape said her husband went to go find a bathroom. After waiting a few minutes, I was convinced he was in the mall connected to our hotel, looking to purchase some mace in case his wife had involved him in a crazy situation with a couple of freaks. After awhile, Cape's husband appeared with bag in hand. Fortunately, it wasn't mace--he had actually stopped by the pet store and bought their daughter a beta fish and a mini aquarium, complete with all that the fish would need for a comfortable home. Cape's daughter promptly named the beta, "Violet" and decided that she was afraid of heights.

After dropping Cape's daughter off at Grandma's house (which happens to have a CRAZY cool view of Boston) we walked around the North End. Cape and her husband were fantastic hosts and guided us through a gastronomical journey of pizza joints and 24-hour bakeries. We watched some old-timers playing bocce and we talked a lot. For once, Herr was a better conversationalist than I. Typically, peoples' eyes glaze over when he is asked about the type of work he does. Cape and her husband actually understood what he was talking about, so he was really comfortable. Cape and her husband were so incredibly nice that I really didn't feel like the dullest knife in the drawer, even though I was.

Our trip back home was uneventful. We had a great time away from the stress of our lives, but we missed the girls. Now life is back to normal: Back to work, back to being parents, and back to dealing with a buying a car.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Catching up with Hausfrau

Life has been nothing short of insanity here at Hausfrau Haus. I have been working on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays in Central NJ and working from home on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The project will last until December, and then I will probably take a break and start painting my bathrooms because, well, my life is exciting that way.

While the work and the money have been great, I have been left with no time to catch up on my favorite blogs. And my blog, forget about it! There are no adorable photos of the girls from Halloween. There are no posts period. It wasn't until I got an email from Andie this morning that I decided to get my ass in gear. What better way to catch up on my end than with a meme? Here goes!

Know Thyself Meme

What is/are YOUR:Easy how-to ways to beat a bad mood?
There is no such thing as an "Easy" way to beat a bad mood. That said, I don't typically stay in a bad mood for prolonged periods of time. I'm usually OK once I have exploded and then removed myself from the situation.

Never-fail lip color?
I tend to go the Kiehl's lip balm route. Their tinted stuff is pretty good. I used to wear MAC and Lancome lipsticks in brownish shades BC (Before Children).

Personality type (via myersbriggs)
According to Human MetricsYour Type is ESFJ

Extroverted Sensing Feeling Judging

Strength of the preferences %
56 25 75 33
ESFJ type description by D.KeirseyESFJ type description by J. Butt
Qualitative analysis of your type formula You are:
moderately expressed extrovert
moderately expressed sensing personality
distinctively expressed feeling personality
moderately expressed judging personality

Greatest strengths and weaknesses
Greatest strength: I bring people together.

Greatest weakness: I have a short fuse.

Names of the trees in your yard?
We have a ton of trees. We have pine trees in the back yard and a couple of maples. Our township planted cherry trees in everyone's front yards about 40 years ago. No one can cut them down or trim them without township approval. It should be beautiful this spring.

Mother-in-law's favorite flower?
I have no idea. However, I know her favorite cake is pineapple upside down cake. Does that count for something?

Three people you will tag:

I will tag Stephanie, June and Kara.

I am going to work a lot harder after this weekend to write more. Hopefully there will be much to write as I will have returned from my surprise trip for Herr. We leave tomorrow. He doesn't know. Shhhhh!