I’m Too Sexy For My Yearbook…

When you held her swaddled in that pink blanket in the hospital and as a toddler full of spit and fire you took photos of her like this:


And then as a Senior in high school, you paid a professional photographer for a photo like this?


As a semi professional photographer myself I’ve made the choice to limit my senior shoots to those that I know. I don’t really promote it but that’s because I don’t want to face the uncomfortable shots that some of these kids want. And my research of many senior photogs is that they are too-but the high school senior isn’t, and sometimes, neither are their parents.

It’s that time of the year-Senior Photos-a lucrative industry these days. Oh no, you don’t just get the draped graduation picture any more. Parents are paying upwards of thousands of dollars for professional shots of their high school senior. Overall, most are very tasteful, but a few (girls) especially walk that fine line between artful and trashy.

Parents pay big money for the congratulation ads in these yearbooks. Most have shots from toddler to teen. And the ads are for the most part very tasteful and charming. But that teen is also plastering the photo you didn’t include on Facebook and Instagram that looks like an audition shot for late night Cinemax.

Just thought I’d let ya know.

I saw one shot on Instagram last year that was unreal-while beautiful, it was obvious she was naked from the waist up, Hair blowing behind her, a studio shot, and she had her arms crossed over her chest and face in a model type pose. And I’m pretty sure she wasn’t putting together a portfolio.

I get it, in this day and age, all of our kids want to be fabulous. Famous. Your social cred is dependent on the amount of likes you get on Instagram. And it practically begins at conception.

Our kids have had cameras and video cams in their faces since they ceremoniously traveled down the birth canal to arrive in our selfie obsessed society. Hell, even ultrasounds have gone 3D.

Then, we document every triumph and tragedy of their small lives from day one to the day they graduate from high school.

Then come the senior pictures.

I really don’t get it when we push push our kids to be moral, be inclusive, be thankful, go on mission trips, go to youth group, excel in school, be strong, be proud, and then allow them to pose for a kitten shot for senior pics, or the shirtless “I have more abs than you do” shots that I’ve seen some of the guys do.


These kids may be 17 or 18, but remember, I have a feeling that when gorgeous Ashley is interviewing at the law firm in 7 years, she’ll be cringing at that sex pot shot she did in high school.

Just because they are seniors in high school still doesn’t mean they make the best decisions. You are paying for it. Have a conversation with the photographer. If you want that kind of shot, fine. But I’d be present for that shoot. Stay in the background. Let them have their 15 minutes of fame.

katiehair7 (1 of 1)

You won’t regret the tasteful shot.

She will regret the tacky one.


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When did Thank You Become a Thing of the Past?

I like your daughter. But you, my dear, are an asshat.

Why, you say?

The past 2 weeks my teen had one of her best friends who moved to another state stay with us for 2 weeks. A lovely young lady with manners and a quiet persona, I truly enjoyed her company and so did my daughter.

I also fed her, traipsed the two of them around town, and cleaned up after them.

Her mother came to pick her up last Sunday morning at 9am. Texted her daughter from the street to say she was waiting on her. Did she come in to my home and thank me? Did she text me or acknowledge that we were even present in our house during her daughter’s visit? Did she even text me to say that they were alive and back in their city?


No. No and No.

When my daughter started spending the nights out I always went to the home of the lucky friend and introduced myself to the parent. When she was in middle and high school, if she was going to someone’s house I didn’t know, I did the same thing-much to her major eye-rolling.

I was constantly shocked at how many of her girlfriends were dropped off at my home where the parent didn’t check to see if we were home, or to meet me if I didn’t know them. In this day and age, how can you just drop off a girl at someone’s home without checking to see if the dad is a pedophile or the parents are outright wacko?

I had one mom act like I was helicopter mom when I dropped my teen off at her home for a sleepover. I didn’t know her. She acted offended. She was taking them for a sleepover at the local Marriott that had an indoor pool. Which, by the way, is an idiotic idea for a birthday party in the 8th grade with 8 fourteen year old girls. I just wanted to know that she had this under control. I didn’t actually ask that but did ask if she had help and wasn’t doing this by herself. She assured me she was fine.


The next day my teen comes home. In tears. First, they stayed up all night and one of the girls texted some boys that they were at the hotel. They showed up after 2 am. Big brother brought them. Hotel Security was involved.

Then, most of them, including my daughter, thought it would be a good idea to take diet pills so they could stay awake all night. She took 5.

Can you say furious? I called this mother and never heard a word from her. She was in charge. Or, really, she wasn’t. I wanted the straight story. Never got it.

I learned a lesson that night.

Now when 18 goes to people’s homes or has dates and our rule still stands. If we don’t know him, he must pick her up, and come in the house or she doesn’t go.

Our house, our rules. Deal with it.

And if my kid EVER spends more than 2 or 3 days at your home and enjoys your hospitality, you can bet she will WRITE you a thank you note, and I will make sure I thank you as well.

Empty Nest? I Wish…

Every year, I have a blue bird couple that takes up residence in the blue bird box on my screened porch. And every year, I watch as Daddy blue bird stands watch over the household and Mom blue bird works tirelessly building her nest, incubating her eggs, feeding her chicks and then coaxing them out of their home for bigger and better adventures beyond our back yard.

And when those babies fledge, which I have had the opportunity to watch twice, Mom and Dad will perch on the opposite side of the box, usually on my trellis and squawk and squawk at each kid until they finally take that leap and fly out of the nest. Sometimes they stumble, fly in to my potted plants, get confused, look scared, but after a few moments, they gain confidence and fly off.

For the next month Mom and Dad teach them the ways of the world and off they go to find fame and fortune and not get eaten by the neighborhood cats.

This is the way it is supposed to happen.

But many of us still have a 18 plus year old at home. Either they are not going the college route, going to a local community or tech college, working full-time, burned out from high school or generally dealing with having a hard time leaving the comforts of their home.

So this Momma blue bird squawked and squawked and this baby is STILL HERE…

I’ve read all of these heart-felt posts about having an empty nest. Dealing with the reality of having their kids go on to new and bigger things. Exceptionally sad yet happy for the new phase in their child’s life. You people are LUCKY. Geesh.

I love my daughter with all of my heart and have enjoyed (mostly) every single minute of her growing up years with her Dad and I. But Girlfriend, it’s time.

Time to for her to find herself. Time for her to find out about the REAL world. Time for her to fend for herself. Time for her to ENJOY herself without her helicopter mother frantically texting her every 30 minutes she’s out on a weekend night. Time to make mistakes. Time to fall really in love. Time to make new friends.

And I know that she is on a different time schedule and going off to school may not be her thing. That’s cool. But it’s time.

And what Mom, in her right mind, would miss THIS???

There are many of us out there that are just waiting for the moment that the kids fly the coop and we are counting down the minutes. You just don’t hear about us. We were the moms who didn’t cry at the bus stop the first day of kindergarten. We were the moms high-fiving each other and pouring Bloody Marys on the first day of school.We were the moms that DREADED summer vacation (mostly in the teen years)We were the moms who thought 5th grade graduation ceremonies were ridiculous (it is after all, something that a kid SHOULD do, you know, go on to 6th grade???)We were the moms that sat, at 4 am, in line at the school to get their teen a parking space so we didn’t have to drive them to school. We DID cry at your high school graduation. Yes, a bittersweet 12 years has gone by.

But the next day we were at Target buying bedding and furniture for your new dorm room or apartment. 2 months ahead of schedule.

For all of you out there saddened by your upcoming empty nest, I feel for ya. I know, I know, end of childhood, end of being a hands on mom, facing aging, yada yada yada. Boo freekin hoo. Take a hint from Momma blue bird, she got those chicks out of the house in 4 weeks. She’s our hero.

So to all my girlfriends facing the empty nest with dread in a few months, it’s time. Come on over, I’ll have the box wine. The chips and dip. It’s time-to celebrate. It’s finally OUR time. The best is yet to come.


It’s Almost Mother’s Day, And The Award Goes To…

mother of the year award

We are overworked, overlooked and overtired 24/7 and yet we still do not get recognized for our efforts. In the acting, singing, hell, even the  business world, awards are given out like candy. Those people need to satisfy their insecurities with these awards. Feel better about themselves. Get bonuses, pay raises, magazine covers.

But what about US? The Mom’s out there???

There’s an award out there for us. One that we secretly win several times a month, even several times a day. It’s one we should be proud of, should wear as a badge of honor. Yet we mutter or YELL it at the top of our voices – to usually no one in the immediate area – then we go on with our day.

Yes, it’s the most sacred of all awards.

The Mother Of The Year Award.

Funny Family Ecard: When you get the 'Mother of the Year' award, then I'll listen.

I personally have won this award for my achievements in mothering from the day my daughter was pulled out of my nether region, and now to our almost empty nest.

There are many categories too.

The first award  I won  was in the delivery room.  It’s  The Psychotic New Mom in the throes of a semi medicated C-section Award:   After one hour of dry heaving in the recovery room, with my peaked husband by my side, the nurse wheels my squishy bundle of joy in and says—Now we gonna do the show – which was the beginner baby training class for new moms. I said, between gags – “Are you freeking kidding me? Bring her back later! I’m RECOVERING, dammit – isn’t what this room is for?”

I had directed them to give her a bottle at night-I was going to breast feed but that first night I felt I needed some peace after 36 hours of labor and giving over a pint of O positive blood to this fiasco –  About 2 am I hear the baby cart wheels clickety clacking in the hallway-I lay there thinking – NO, NO, NO—the nurse brings her in and says – This baby hungry! I rolled over and said, “It’s on the chart-give her a bottle-I’ll nurse in the morning”….Man, the room service in hospitals suck.

She was 24 hours old. I had to write my first acceptance speech…

Awesome  start.

The awards started coming as she grew.

The second one I won was the Most Likely To Freak Out Your Mother In Law in Church Award:

At her christening, her pacifier fell out on the floor during the service-standing there and not wanting a screaming infant, I bent over, picked it up, put it in my mouth to clean it, then promptly stuck it back in her mouth. I heard a gasp from the front pew and looked over to see an expression on my MIL’s face that I’ll never forget – I thought my germophobe MIL was going to pass out.

In that expression I knew that this already not good enough for my son daughter in law just proved her right.

The Real Reason I Gave Up My Perky Boobs Award

I breast-fed mainly because I was lazy and seriously, who wants to get up at 2 and 4am, drag yourself to the kitchen and prepare a bottle??? Shopping? No problem—I knew where every bathroom/ nursing station was in every mall within a 25 mile radius of my home. Dr. Spock also writes that a beer at night wont hurt your baby. I will confirm that by saying that it assists with sleep both hers and yours, but stay away from asparagus….just saying

There were other awards from infant to toddler – some minor – some major but I won them all:

The Car Nap Award

A ten minute ride home will turn in to an hour tour of local neighborhoods just to get that one hour of peace.

The Reason Our Parents Had Cocktails at 5 Award

The witching hour. Enough said.

The I Just Intend to keep Her Alive Thank You Award

Crawling? To go play in the dog water bowl? At least she’s happy.

I let her wear her Dumbo fleece Halloween outfit for an ENTIRE year. From one Halloween to the next. She  was 2. Then 3. I had to use a chip clip to hold the ears back while she ate dinner so they wouldn’t fall in her food.


The Sort of Honest Mom with No Backbone Award

Holiday fibbing worked well – Santa will only bring you three good things, the tooth fairy only gives out a dollar-the one that came by your friend’s house with a $20 robbed the bank and will go to jail, the Easter Bunny gets the chocolate eggs from the chocolate chickens, you get my drift.

She was so totally in love with her pacifier, I had 3 in her bed, extras in the car, in my purse, and in her stroller. When it was time to give them up (according to everyone else with an opinion…) I cut off the end. No problem, she still used it. Finally at four, she gave them up on her own–Don’t worry about the damn pacifier-it kept DFACS from my home and 2 grand and 2 years of braces in high school and she will have movie star teeth.

During the later elementary and middle school years she started seeing through my mom bullshit. It was going to be a bigger stretch to achieve stardom during awards season.  I did, however score a few minor ones:

The Best Supporting Mom at the Soccer Game in 20 degree weather sitting in the Car Award

The You Can’t Play Softball Because You Will Hate The Outfit Award which goes right along with The Award for You HAVE to Join The Catholic Girls Basketball Team Because it COULD Get You in to the Private School Award (she is 5’6 and now in public school so obviously I was wrong)

Best Make Up Artist : For the time I made her scary for Halloween at the age of 9. She slept in my room the next week.

The Best Costume Award when You Let Your 9th Grader Dress like a Trampy German Beer Girl at the Local Neighborhood Halloween Party ( it was cuter on the package than in person…).

Set Decoration: Remember how much time, love and energy we put in those nurseries? Wait until they become teens. Get out the Hazmat suit, you’ll need it. You figure, oh hell, if she wants her room purple then she can paint it herself. She was in 10th grade. She can put on eyeliner in the dark but couldn’t keep the purple paint off the seams of the walls.

The Stunt Woman Award:

I tend to drive with my knees when I am fishing for my cell, eating a quarter pounder, drinking a Caramel Macchiato that is oozing over the edges of the cup, you know, important things. My teenager looks at me and seriously asks, Are they going to teach ME how to drive with my knees in Drivers’ Ed??

Help. Me.

How many of you with teenagers have won the following award????

The If I Can Ever Get Them Out of the House and Become Self Sufficient BY 18 I’m Going to Disney World Award

By the time they are 18 if you are still alive, not on drugs, and not locked up in the psych ward at local hospital, then you’ve done your job.

That’s your award. We all win it at some time or another.

We’ve raised our kids as best as we could and now they have wings. Some of those wings may be a little crooked, but hers are still intact. That’s what is important.

And when we become grandparents we can smile, nod, and say – get ready for the red carpet darling, you are going to need an acceptance speech, and a drink….

This is a blog hop on Midlife Boulevard! Enjoy the other writers too!




The More Things Change, The More They Stay the SAME

Yesterday, I stumbled wearily in to my home laden with luggage, books, swag and a little hung over from learning, laughter, late nights and red wine. Never mind the planes trains and automobiles that I had to negotiate to arrive safely back in my nest.


But when I walked in my home I noticed that something was different. Or really, everything was the SAME.

Exactly as I had left it when I took off this past Thursday.

Had someone broken an arm?  Was my dear teen stricken with Ebola? Did BC run off with the Mail Girl?  Had The Rapture happened and I was Left Behind???

It was obvious that the fairies that take care of my home had gone on strike. The Pick Up Fairy must have handed in her notice because the Tupperware cup on the end table was STILL there from Thursday.

The Laundry Fairy had to have quit as well, she left the evidence for all to see.


And The Kitchen Fairy must be in Cabo with the Pool Boy because the sink is full and the pool is still green.


Bitch stole my Pool Boy
Bitch stole my Pool Boy

Thankfully my family WAS intact, BC on the couch watching the Masters and 18 applying her fake fingernails and getting polish all over her carpet for the umpteenth time. At least they are alive and the first comment I got was, “What did you bring me?”

They really really missed me, I can uh, tell.

This CEO is going to have some crappy performance reviews coming down the pipe soon. If they aren’t careful, I’m going to take the crock pot out of retirement and start using it again.


@Copyright Forever 51




Hot Flash Friday – OutSmarting Your Teen 101 (Again)

Are you stalking your beloved hormone infused adolescent on social media???


You should. Because this is where I find out about the latest stuff that they are in to and some tricks and tips for us parents that we NEED to know.

You can read about the sites your teenage daughter is probably on here.

My friends, the latest prank is messing with the shortcuts on your smart phone. So when you are texting or messaging someone and you type in a word like ‘sure’ it could magically change to ‘f#$ck yeah’ or in the case of one of my daughter’s friends, her boyfriend’s name change magically to ‘gorgeous penis’.


When she texted her mom if ‘gorgeous penis’ could come over for dinner, uh, um, well, you can imagine.

So how do you make shortcuts, where are they in your settings, and what are they good for??? Here you go.

First open your SETTINGS app in your iPhone(I am using this as this is what I have) and go to


Then go to KEYBOARD

Once in Keyboard, making sure the Shortcuts are turned on, you can add some shortcuts. You can also monitor this area for any monkey business from your teen…

Some great shortcuts are for when you want to fill in blanks on forms on your smartphone which are a pain to do. I have created some quickies so that I can do that. For instance:

Go to ADD NEW SHORTCUT and put in your Phrase that you want to create a shortcut for-like your name. I did mine then created the shortcut that I could remember like xx.

Then add your email and call it em,

Then add your address and call it ad. And so forth.

You can do this however you want to remember it. So the next time you need to fill something our from your smart phone and that teensy fakata keypad you will be way happier!

So if you are texting someone and are trying to say Okay, and the word ‘love muffin’ keeps coming up, you have been shortcut hacked by your loving teenager.

Once again, a social media public service for my fellow harried parents of teens!





I Don’t Do Resolutions – More like Revelations

I love when the new year comes. It’s a new beginning for everyone. All the sappy resolutions, commitments, announcements of being a better person, yada yada yada.


Give it two weeks. Or two days. Let’s see how that diet, healthy, faithful, blah blah goes the minute you get hit with the baseball bat of stress at work, home or play…

Okay, so I am being snarky. Yeah, I get it–sorry, but this realist has decided to make some realistic revelations for the new year.

Bear with me:

1.  I have neglected this blog in 2013. I was profoundly wordy in 2012 and not so much in 2013. Life just got in the way (my parents started reading it) and all the promises at these blog conferences and workshops that are a bit pricy extol that you can MONETIZE!! Yes, stand out, be paid, revel in the oodles of money you are going to make. Guess what, the folks making money blogging are the ONES who put on the conferences and classes! DUH. So I resolve to let what ever happens happen. I will pick wisely where I spend what little money I have to enhance this thing called ‘writing’.

2.  I lacked focus in 2013. In life, parenting, writing, work. Too many situations pulling me in too many different directions. Some I could absolutely not write about. Some I did. So in 2014 the focus will be back. It will be The Year Of Writing Dangerously (I bought the book)…


3.  There is no such thing as a DIET. There is such a thing as watching what you eat, being healthy both of mind and body. If those two ain’t together you can fuggedaboutit. I did join Weight Watchers and it is working. Slow and steady wins the race. And the skinny jeans.

4.  I need to read more. In the last week I have downloaded or bought about 6 different books to start the year off. I go in and out of reading binges and I’m feeling one coming on, as long as I can get to level 320 of Candy Crush first.

5.  I know social media is a total time suck. Just look at my house. I love it for the connections I have made, but hate it for being such a large part of my day catching up. Time to hit the delete button for: People who only post quotes, people who only post political stuff-especially the inflammatory (yeah, BC, take it down a notch…), all the animal rescue sites–good GOD, WTF-hand me my Prozac I can’t take it! All the I never post anything about anything UNTIL I go on a fabulous vacation then I post a gazillion pictures a day people, people who only use it for self promotion for their business, multi-level or otherwise, Girlfriends who only post relentless selfies and nothing else-I’m thinking profile pics should be consistent, but whatever. So I guess that will leave me with about 100 out of 1000 people but quality, not quantity, right?


6.  I will take control of my house back from my animals. I will stay away from PetsMart on adoption day. Do not believe these statements from rescue people: He’s housebroken (unless he eats the cat food, then he will have diarrhea for two days all over your hardwood floors), She was living in an apartment and had to get rid of the dog (it lived in a crate 24/7 and now will not get near one and has anxiety issues when you leave), He’s fine with cats! Just not small children (which is code for hates cats), If he doesn’t work out bring him back (changes phone number and disappears from Google maps), He doesn’t bark much that we know of (because he is so traumatized at the rescue facility that he doesn’t bark but after a week in your home he decides ever sound is a threat and will bark non-stop). And I will stop feeling guilty that I feed them grocery store-bought food and not the wheat-free, holistic, herbal, ground up tofu $50 a bag crap from the pet boutique.


7.  I will live on a budget. This will be terrifying for me, as I know how to calculate the price/earnings ratio of a company, but can not balance a checkbook for the life of me. So, BC, just give me an amount and then make a warning sound like a gong or something when I get close to the zero balance.

8.  On Sunday I will make a grocery list for the week. Scratch that. Not happening.

9.  I will no longer be the mom who has all the teens over all the time. They are using up my toilet paper, drinking all my Diet Cherry Cokes (the NERVE) and eating me out of house, Tostitos, and my yummy taquitos from Costco, putting cigarette butts in my planters at night (Yeah, I know who you are) and making my driveway look like a redneck used car lot. Buh Bye. Go to your houses. Have a nice day. Or I start charging a cover fee. Get used to it, it’s college prep for all those fun bars you will be going to on your parent’s nickel.

10.  Me and BC will travel more. And stay more than 48 hours (he’s with the airlines). I know he hates hotel rooms but he has NO idea how much I love the peace, the maid service, and those cute little shampoos and shit.

@Alan Light FLickr Creative Commons
@Alan Light FLickr Creative Commons

11. I will put on a bathing suit this year. I will purge my closet of all those ‘hopeful’ outfits that I will never wear again-you know the ones-but I may be going to a black tie affair this year (yeah, right). I will eat at home more. I will not eat another diet frozen meal again-they do not look like their cover photo and I don’t believe in photo-shopped food. I am giving up on my wish for a farm with chickens. I’m looking, however, to find a nice lake place. Never give up on a dream.

I will enjoy 2014 so much more than 2013. And if any of these get broken in the next week or so I don’t have to tell you anyway. At least not on Facebook…


I love sharing! Don’t miss a thing-sign up over there on the right with your email and you can get me in your inbox. I do not use your information or send it to anyone. Hell, I don’t even know how to find it in my dashboard. Good for you, me not so much.


When your Christmas Letter is Hijacked by your Cat…..

 A Holiday Letter from Bob, the Payne Family Cat (as dictated to his staff):

Hello handsome...
Hello handsome…

First of all, I am very perturbed that neither me, nor my brother made this year’s Christmas card. There is a price to pay for that and it’s called the dining room chairs.

We are great.  We still live in the same house, same neighborhood, with the same stupid Maltese next door.

I want to do my best to update all of you humans on what my humans are doing. I have taken over from the former feline, who split last year, probably because I arrived.

bob6Female human Mary Anne is on the computer quite a bit. Which is a problem because the keyboard is for my pleasure, not hers. She is happy looking at something called Facebook, and writing things for her blog. She has had some success being published in anthologies but still has not created my picture book that I know will be a best-seller. She sold three houses this year, I am still waiting for my private carpeted 3 story condo.  She has been collecting and selling stuff in an antique market and store and seems to really like that. The rest of the family does not seem to share the pleasure of her crafts being all over the kitchen table. But I do. At midnight…

What is with the tacky shirts?
What is with the tacky shirts?

The male human, John, is still flying international for Delta. Mostly to South America. He never brings anything home for me, just oil, coffee and wine. I am thinking the catnip from south of the border would be way better catnip than that crap they give me here. Just sayin…He takes the teenage human to some place where they shoot guns. Says if I keep up the scratching I will become a target. Whatever that is. He still steps on my tail.  He thinks that it is cute.  It is not.  I will scratch him next time he does it, I promise you .

My brother. I'm cuter.
My brother. I’m cuter.

Kathleen Elizabeth (aka Katie) is now 18.  She also brought me home a sibling. They call him Smudge and he is all white. He is a huge wimp. But he is fun to beat up. Katie is finishing high school.  I do not think she will ever move out of my room. I am hoping that this will happen soon so I can have the whole bed to myself. She is this thing they call a teenager and the older humans must not like teenagers very much because there is much discussion about them and their antics.


Roscoe, Willie, and the fish are fine.  I do not like that Willie dog-the scruffy one.  We are having daily standoffs and because of the baby gate I am winning. We hate each other’s guts.  Roscoe is 12 and takes Valium. They would be better off to give it to Willie.I live inside because I am told that this family is tired of my kind bringing dead things in the house. That’s ok. I have managed to find dead lizards and present them to the owners. It makes them gag in disgust.  That’s the kind of thanks I get around here for all my hard work.

I look maahhhvvelous!
I look maahhhvvelous!

The humans like to travel and leave us here all alone. Oh yes, someone comes in to feed us, but I would have really loved scratching my claws on the furniture in their condo in Florida. They also have created a very nice large tree with lights for Smudge and me to sit in. For some reason, they only put it up once a year, and only for a couple of weeks. Indian givers…

The animals and I have had a great year. We are looking forward to the new year. Except for Roscoe. He has to wear a special outfit called a Thundershirt and take extra Valium on those holidays with loud noises. Stupid dog.


And no, I did not eat that elf.


Wishing you and yours all the love, happiness and joy of Christmas and a terrific 2014! 

Our Awesome Adventure-Part 2 – Germany – or Family Food Fantasy in Deutschland…..

After spending 24 hours in Amsterdam, the teenager and I took the ICI speed train to Schwelm, Germany where my sister has resided for 20 plus years. She met her German husband at a party in Manhattan in the late 80’s and after one week informed my parents that she was selling her stuff and moving to Germany.

Downtown Schwelm in the afternoon
Downtown Schwelm in the afternoon

That went over like the Hindenburg…

I admired her bravery and her chutzpah, as well as her ability to dive in to the language with no fear and no translation on German television (that was really there but didn’t know about until later). After a marriage and two children, she has a great life there with tons of his family and friends in her town, and the same everyday dramas that we have here, but with afternoon pastry and Prosecco on a weekend basis to make it all better.

The ICI train was fast, clean and roared through the Dutch countryside at a quick place. Immediately I found out the food car was the next car up so of course I had to check it out. A yummy ham sandwich on french bread and two cokes were served to me by an Italian man who called me le bella donna. Yes, he got a tip.

My sister lives about 30 minutes east of Dusseldorf in a small town much like the town we grew up in in Northern New Jersey. It’s also one of the towns that the Allies missed on their bombing raids during WWII so many of the old homes and town square are still intact, charming and from the 1600s.

I was really thrilled (said with dripping sarcasm) when 17 went off with her cousin and uncle on a motorcycle ride through the countryside when we first arrived. But she’s insured, it was all good.

Katie and Uncle Sven
Katie and Uncle Sven
germany (16 of 29)
Cousin Georgia
germany (22 of 29)
Cousin Tim got his braces – and his laundry!

germany (18 of 29) germany (20 of 29) germany (21 of 29) Every morning we had fresh bread, butter, eggs and smoked salmon and every afternoon after a nap (they do this often-we should start) we took a long walk that normally ended up at a restaurant or cafe that served hot waffles, pastries, tea, coffee and or champagne.

One can always get motivated for a long walk when the destination includes food…

germany (24 of 29)
My sister’s mother in law is in her late 80’s. Her father in law is 91. They were both with us and it was three miles. Does that tell ya something?

germany (25 of 29)We traveled to the nearby town of Shlossberg to visit the castle there. It has been there in some part, since the 11th century and fought over, added to and finally restored in 2002.

Schlossberg castle

We had such a great time visiting my sister and her family-as always, they were great hosts and took such good care of us. Even if she IS the skinny pretty one…

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Old stall door
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germany (27 of 29) germany (29 of 29) girlsWhere and when is our next trip? Not sure but the camera is always ready.

Me & 17’s Totally Awesome Excellent Adventure – Part 1 Amsterdam

Sometimes you just gotta be spontaneous.

So last Tuesday, after a couple of stressful weeks for me and the teenager, it was decided, in the car, at 3pm in the afternoon, to go to Europe.

Like that night. Like NOW, mom.

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That’s how we roll as an airline family.

So in the car, 17 used my smart phone, looked up flights, and said, “Hey mom, there are seats to Amsterdam tonight on the 9pm flight”.

I said, “Book, it, Danno!”

When we arrived home from school, BC came upstairs and asked how the day was. I said, “Great! We are going to Amsterdam and Germany tonight to see my sister for the weekend!”

Now, BC doesn’t like surprises. Or too much spontaneity. He is, after all, a smart and routine driven man. And he has put up with my crazy ideas for 25 years now. So not much that I do surprises him. So he said “Okay????”

I messaged my sister on Facebook and asked what they were doing for the weekend. Just my luck ,the kids were on a fall break, and they were hanging around with not a busy schedule (which is unusual for her). So I told her we would be there Thursday on the train, after staying in Amsterdam for the night and she said, “Bring candy corn, honey roasted peanuts, and a bottle of Jack Daniels and I’ll have the room ready!”


So we went and had the best time ever! I have never gone that far without a hotel reservation but we did it and realized that some of the best trips are unplanned and not stressed-out-over journeys.

My photo travelogue highlights the trip:

Wednesday afternoon, after arriving in the morning, taking the train to the city center from Schipol Airport and finding a hotel to park our crap, we decided to hoof it over to the Anne Frank House and on the way, at some random church, we encountered a guy, with a plastic horse head on, playing the guitar:

Of course, we had to have our photo take with him...
Of course, we had to have our photo taken with him…

Much to my surprise, just about ALL of the touristy items there have the famed ‘leaf’ on them, and my teen couldn’t wait to get a t-shirt to impress all her friends with. I was extremely happy about it too (they did have hemp candy but I was afraid to get to know the TSA too well, and I do NOT look good in orange).

We walked over to the Anne Frank House and the line was psycho, so like good little Americans, I took a photo of the front door, and 17 said, “I’ll look at the inside on the internet. Let’s find chocolate!”


Front door of Anne Frank's house
Front door of Anne Frank’s house

It seems like every store on the street has unbelievable window decorating. I think the European’s are born with the window dressing gene-they are all beautiful! We passed by this cool shoe store and I just had to get a picture of these:

germany (3 of 29)And these are a podiatrist’s wet dream:

shoe2Over in one of the main squares there were pigeons, entertainers, and this cute bagpipe guy:

These guys make some serious bank with the tourists....and I don't think bagpipes are a big part part of Holland's history...
These guys make some serious bank with the tourists….and I don’t think bagpipes are a big part of Holland’s history…


And I have NEVER seen so many bikes! Why Europeans are skinny 101:


Where's Toto???
Where’s Toto???

germany (6 of 29)And random cool statues

germany (7 of 29)That evening, I met a flight attendant friend of mine and we decided to have a drink, eat dinner, and explore the famed red light district. 17 stayed behind in the hotel, not because I didn’t think it was appropriate to see that part of the city, but mainly because she was coming down with a cold, natch (she always does on trips). And doing 35 selfies on the train in to town and posting them on Instagram wore her out.

We found a wonderful little pub right by my hotel and met the owner who suggested where to dine. The wine was wonderful:

germany (13 of 29)We ended up at a local place and tried the fondue- it was Emmenthaler, Gouda and Blue Gorgonzola cheeses with lavender. I wanted to marry it.

fondueIn the red light district, there are young women who stand in the windows in small bikinis enticing customers. It’s sad and fascinating at the same time. And tamer than I thought it would be. But god forbid you take a photo. Which I didn’t. But hey, they get free health care and counseling by their government – social medicine at it’s best.

germany (9 of 29) germany (10 of 29) germany (12 of 29)The above shot was in the window of a gay bar – I loved all the GI Joe’s.

The next morning we got up, walked to the train station, found a Starbuck’s and got on our fast train to Germany. This is 17, actually in a quiet moment, writing in her journal:

germany (14 of 29)Love this shot!

Part 2 next – Ach Du Lieber! We are in Germany!