Category

Travel

Yo, MAP, Where You Been??

I took a sabbatical from writing.

And I have better posture for doing it. Mom will be happy.

The last year I have had many many changes and life events going on. Some were AWESOME and a few were some that will make your hair grey.

That’s life honey, not for sissies.

The ONE THING that I have learned is the old saying:

strong

I know, cliché, but it’s freekin true.

Sooo, in the last year or so I learned some things:

  • I don’t lose weight when I am stressed therefore I will never get divorced because the Divorce Diet will not get me a new man.
  • I will NEVER EVER rescue another dog with the REMOTEST DNA of Chihuahua in it.
  • Do NOT buy the cheap pads. Poise all the way!
  • When your parents become hard of hearing, it’s really not that bad. Except for the TV that I can hear from Florida. And the yelling.
  • When you travel especially overseas, you really only need 2 pairs of black pants, Uggs, ortho inserts, a camera, a jacket and deodorant.
  • Centre Court Wimbledon IS all that and a bag of chips. Or a glass of Pimms. Oh, and don’t make fun of the “Ugly English Old Dude” sitting next to you. He just may be the president of the All England Club…

 

 

wimbledon (7 of 9)
Amazing Serena @rustystirrupphotography

 

  • I totally fan girled over this beautiful young husband I met at an AirBNB we stayed at in England who’s best friends with Andrew Lincoln. THAT was embarrassing….

 

UNIVERSAL CITY, CA - OCTOBER 02: Andrew Lincoln arrives at AMC's "The Walking Dead" Season 5 Premiere held at AMC Universal City Walk on October 2, 2014 in Universal City, California. (Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic)

  • The correct pronunciation of the word HAM in Spanish is ‘hambon’ NOT ‘jambone’.
  • I love Guatemala.

    Me and Shari on an avocado, coffee and children's mission on Lake Atitlan
    Me and Shari on an avocado, coffee and children’s mission on Lake Atitlan
  • I still dig through  and buy dead’s people’s stuff (estate sales)
  • My mom is seriously a trooper – we took her on a pass (not recommended) to Amsterdam and Germany this past spring. Surprise! There are very few escalators in European train stations.
  • I started my own skin care franchise. Yep, you heard me right the first time. E-commerce all the way baby, work from home and can still junk, travel and write. Because the former three can’t pay all the bills. And I get to dress up nice again, go to a couple of meetings, a convention, and meet some pretty awesome, normal, and driven women. And the product works.Docs

 

 

I’ve also learned about patience, love, forgiveness, prayer, charity, dignity and hope.

And I guess those were my most important lessons this year!

 

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.

BUSTED
BUSTED

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.

laundry

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-Oops, Tuesday – What’s a Skong????

HFF is when I round-up the week in my world and bring you fun things me and my wacky friends did last week (sorry I am a little late).  So I hereby dub today Better Late Than Never Because I Was Out of Town and It’s Hard to Post from a Smartphone Tuesday…

mekim

I visited one of my college BFF’s last week in Los Angeles. Many of you know I’m married to and airline pilot solely for the travel benefits. Hey, 25 plus years of free flights is worth the hassle of him wearing polyester uniforms, ugly underwear and t-shirts he has saved since high school.

So Live from Burbank! I scooted out here to review a Jason Bateman movie for Midlife Boulevard, shopped vintage studio clothing in Burbank, drank margaritas overlooking the LA Equestrian Center with a Willie Nelson impersonator while listening to the Swinging Armani Brothers, met an eccentric British owner of a thrift and prop shop that had an S&M Barbie and Ken (really)on display and a spinning globe hanging from the ceiling with aliens decorated in Santa hats. This place is way cool for a cracked southern suburban belle like me. I love finding out that there are way more crazies out there than me.

My girl friend out here has her own company that funds documentaries and raises money for green projects. When I arrived on Wednesday, she had just finished teaching a yoga class at the Hollywood Senior Center that was filled with fun retired gals and guys from the industry. That is just totally too cool in my book. Oh, and her hubs used to be an alien on Star Trek Next Generation and she knows some really fun peeps.

Does YOUR Husband have a bubblegum card???
Does YOUR Husband have a bubblegum card???

My sister from another mister – Menopausal Mom featured my post Love Me, Love My Cheeseburger on her Wacky Wednesday series. Check me out and definitely check her out too-she is amazingly funny and has been featured on some of the biggest humor sites out there.

Menopausal Mother

I am really upset at my favorite mind-numbing reality show, The Bachelor. I was like a teenage girl so giddy about Juan Pablo and come to find out that he is OBVIOUSLY in this for the notoriety, not for zee loooovvvee. Anyway, we still watch it because anything to drag us out of reality for two hours is great and so I offer you the stupid reasons why we watch it.

On Friday, we ventured to the Venice beach area – I was able to whip out my phone and snap some crazy! Will be loading to my Instagram -follow me @hellomap!

venicebeachcollage

The Olympics started this weekend and I will be covered up in blankets excited about watching skiing, skating and curling for 14 days. Because it’s the ONLY time I ever care about skiing, skating and curling. Poor Bob Costas, looks like the sheets in the hotel rooms are not doing his eyes any favors.

bob-costas-pink-eye-meme

And RANT coming:  Look, I am as progressive and wild as the next person but some of these ladies in figure skating are going down the Victoria’s Secret road and those costumes are starting to sport what I call skongs (skating thongs). I am sorry, but this mom would not let her teen go all butt-cheek on an international stage. It’s really hard to skate to Tchaikovsky with half your heinie hanging out.

ashley-wagner-meme-3

Just saying.

Oh, and our snow it back here in Atlanta. The Mayor and Gubner are all over the TV having CYA news conferences preparing for the second round of #Clusterflake2014.

Bless their hearts.

 

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.

castle
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…

germany (26 of 29)
Old stall door
germany (28 of 29)
Sister
schnitzel
SCHNITZEL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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.

germany (4 of 29)

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!”

Deal!

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!

 

I Met BC’s Boyfriend This Weekend

I am the Shoemaker’s wife…..

Many of you know that BC (my betrothed) travels internationally every week. Well, by travel I mean he is the head bus driver. All those years in the Air Force, protecting our country have been reduced to which first class meal he is going to have after take off.

So when we do travel to destinations that our friends go to overseas, we usually are there for a total of 72 hours and stay in cheap hotels near (read: metro ride) the tourist district and enjoy free wifi at the local McDonald’s (at least they have McWine…).

Our family vacation this summer was last week (long weekend) enjoying our non-rented, not on a beach but near a pool 1980’s cedar condo in North Florida. We met BC’s text boyfriend and his family there and enjoyed a stress-free, beerita-filled weekend with our kids enjoying the beach (90 degrees, no wind, sand flies) and touring St. Augustine.

beerita

What is a ‘text boyfriend’ you ask? BC and his college buddy text all day long about guns and growing hot peppers. So now they were in the same place and their phones were decidedly quiet. Thank god.

BC (on right) and boyfriend
BC (on right) and boyfriend

I got some great tattoo ideas at the beach, watched a kid pull in a small hammerhead shark right there like 20 feet from me (I have never moved that fast to get out of the water, ever.), made friends with some old guy from Oklahoma with no fingers looking for sharks teeth (which I found are hard to pick up with no fingers, just saying) sweated off 10 pounds of fluids walking around St George street in St Augustine in 90 plus heat, learned that the hot pepper sauce store there has an X-rated pepper sauce section, watched 17 fish for bass every waking moment around our lagoons in our complex-I don’t think she has EVER been outside that much in all of  her short life.

Oh yeah, no XBox at the condo. And limited wifi.

We actually communicated. What a concept.

I took some photos of our weekend below that I would like to bore you with:

augustine (1 of 11)
Cute guards at the old Fort in St Augustine-the little wisecracker on the left made me say ‘please’
augustine (3 of 11)
Detail of an emblem on an old cannon
augustine (4 of 11)
Da kiddos-17 (mine) in the middle-
augustine (5 of 11)
Lighting a candle in the cathedral for all my whack job friends…
augustine (6 of 11)
The Shrine of LaLeche in St Augustine – she was the patron saint of motherhood-appropriate for National Breastfeeding Week this week
augustine (7 of 11)
St Francis-through a tree trunk-yeah I like to get artsy fartsy
augustine (9 of 11)
Windows at this shrine

augustine (2 of 11) augustine (8 of 11) augustine (11 of 11)

So while all of you are taking those 2 week trips overseas, renting a real honest to god place on the beach, seeing the Grand Canyon FROM THE GROUND, we are holed up in a 2 bedroom condo with 3 kids, 4 adults, Bud Lime, tequila, red wine and lots of beef.

But at least we are actually talking at the dinner table.

Yay me!

Monitoring the Royal ‘Output’ – Wanna be a Royal Nanny?

royal baby

I decided that I would do some crack investigations research today on what the Royal Family expects of their nannies.

I’d be fired in about 3…2…1…

royalnannie

But it IS interesting, and I wonder how William and Kate would be to work for?????

1. A Royal Nanny must have absolute discretion at all times.  I am sure you will sign your life and firstborn child (probably won’t happen see below) for confidentiality. But I am guessing Kate would be pretty cool to work for, after all, her dad is in the party supply business and a girl with a dad who sells whoopie cushions for a living can’t be all bad. So I guess that would mean you would go to the grave knowing that baby future King or Princess gave mom the finger when she wouldn’t let her watch Caillou.

2. A Royal Nanny must follow rigid rules. “An obsession with rigid routines, believed at the time to be essential for every child, would have included rest and sleep, exercise and fresh air, food and drink intake and output,” Rosemary Albone of Care.com says. On top of this, there was also a lot of emphasis put on potty training and healthy bowels. See???!!! They are just as enamored with poop as we were as new parents!

3.  A Royal Nanny has no private life. Or they do NOT want you clubbing. Hitting on the hot guard in the hallway is cause for dismissal. Since you are living in the nursery with the bundle of Royal Joy, it’s going to be hard to sneak that guard in anyway…

4.  A Royal Nanny will travel. How exciting! Maybe William will give you a helicopter ride! You’ll get to sit in the back of the Royal Airplane with the Royal Flight Attendants and have a cocktail. Um, NO. Enjoy your trip with a screaming infant upon descent. A toddler running up and down the aisles. At least you are not in regular coach.

5.  A Royal Nanny must balance the child’s time so that they see their Mummy and Daddy often. Unlike years back when Female Royals were basically vessels for future prince and princesses and then they went on about their duties, today’s Royals are more involved in their daily care. However, I’m thinking that Kate is STILL going to be getting more sleep than you and I EVER did after we had our babies…

6.  A Royal Nanny will teach them how to behave. How to bow to the Queen, all the protocol they must know over the years. So I’m thinking, do time-outs work for future 3-year-old kings and queens? What kind of discipline is there in that house hold? “Alexandra, you’d better put that Limoges china bowl back on the mahogany dining table or you will NOT get to ride your pony today!!!” That will strike the fear of God in her, I tell ya…

Once, just once, I would love to be a fly on the wall when that toddler has a meltdown in front of Elizabeth II.  Or picks their nose and eats it in front of the paparazzi. Or gets caught butt nekkid on Instagram in Las Vegas…

harry

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Marry Me, Fly For Free! Our Life On Stand By….

Why am I always waving in pics? Milano 2008
Why am I always waving in pics? Milano 2008

This is a newer version of a post I wrote last year and I have revamped it for the Generation Fabulous Blog Hop this month-a blog hop on transformative travel. And boy, has my travel changed in the last 25 years..

25 years ago I was set up on a blind date.  With an airline pilot and former Air Force captain.  In my single days, I had a cousin who was a Navy fighter pilot, who had come to visit me on leave and practically got us all arrested, drank every bit of my meager supply of booze, and scared off my girlfriends.  I was NOT looking forward to this.  But I was bored and didn’t have much else to do that Friday nite so I decided to meet whomever this was.

A year later we were married and living in suburban Atlanta.  What was I thinking?

FLIGHT BENEFITS!!!!!!!!!!!   Yippeeeee!!!!

Even if the uniform is all polyester and he wears a clip on tie.  Wow, so hot….

So, over the course of our married life, we have been able to travel to some pretty great places around the world.  Even if we do stay in the airline discount places and not the Ritz. For a mere 72 hours…

BC and 15 on the way to Germany
BC and 15 on the way to Germany

Besides-I consider a hotel with a door to the outside camping and I certainly won’t do that.

And the great part of this benefit is you usually get in the business class cabin space available.  That is, until fares dropped, 9/11 tanked the airline industry, and it was cheaper to fly than take Greyhound.

The other benefit-or it could be a detriment, is that your child gets to fly anywhere too, and is eligible for business after the age of 8.  So every time we have flown to Europe, 17 has flown in business class. Good or bad, it is a great perk.

 

So many people come up to me and say, “Wow, you must get to fly ANY where for free! Do you go with your husband on his trips?”

And to that I politely nod and say that yes, we go, yes it’s free, but not without some serious hiccups along the way.  And I have to make sure I have plenty of my BP meds on hand because the life of an airline family flying what they call Non Rev (free) is not what it’s cracked up to be.

For instance:

* We only get on after ALL the paying passengers, upgrades and re-routed folks get a seat.

* We pray to the weather gods because if there is bad stuff somewhere else it’s either gonna screw us or help us.

* I have become all to familiar with the exit row. And you can bet that this chick will be the first down that slide if I have to use it.

* Domestically, we do not get served food (if they have a meal on a 5 plus hour flight or international) until the paying folks get theirs. And we get what’s left over. So that butternut ravioli with the green sauce no one else wants? Yep, that’s my meal. Thanks.

* I am not an early morning person. But I had to learn to be because I have to count on all the rest of you lazy asses to miss that 6am flight so I can get on. So if you sleep in, don’t feel guilty, an airline employee just got your seat and is thanking you!

* I have learned to pack light. I NEVER check a bag-even to Europe. Because if I don’t get on, there go my clothes and granny pants to unknown destinations.

* Airline kids (at our specific carrier) can not sit in business until they are 8. So, if you are in business and a toddler is driving you crazy or a baby is creaming bloody murder, rest assured that it does not belong to an employee and that they actually PAID for that seat…

* International non-revving is a whole other goat rope. You have to have a Plan B.  Luckily my Plan B is the fact that I have a sister in Germany and can get there if I get bumped.  We left a companion last week in Brussels that did not have a Plan B. Not sure when she got home but we were the last flight out to the States that day. Hello expensive hotel room…

* The employees in other countries are by and large not directly employed by our airline and are either other airline’s employees or contract workers. They really could care less if we get on a flight or not. Especially those bitches at the DeGualle airport that work for Air France. They all are wearing the tightest pony tail imaginable and sniff at the fact that you are on standby. “Oh so sorry Madame, I cannot tell you what zee numbers are for zis flight even though I am looking right at zem on zis computer..”

CDG Escalator
CDG Escalator

* My parents were non-revving in Germany and the gate agent in Frankfurt got so frustrated with every body that he finally yelled, “I hate this fucking job. I quit!” Yes, that is what he actually said and did. Mom and Dad didn’t get on, and had to travel to Amsterdam with no luggage, spend the night, and try from there. That’s almost 48 hours in the SAME pair of underwear…See pack lightly above…

* It has taken me over 13 hours to get to Jacksonville, Florida (6 by car) 16 hours from Orlando to Atlanta via Washington DC (with a toddler-THAT was fun) and the same once from Orlando to Atlanta via New Orleans. I could go on but you get the drift.

* If I could have a dollar for every time the gate agent has placed me next to a fearful flyer I would be rich. But it’s pretty fun to experience when they are a drinker….

Because of this perk my daughter and I have had the opportunity to visit many cities we would never have dreamed of, visit friends around the US and meet great people.

 

17 in Biz-on the way to Brussels
17 in Biz-on the way to Brussels

We have learned one thing. If the trip is less than about an 8 hour drive in the car then we drive.

Yes, we are ingrained in to the Stand By (or stand and say bye bye) way of life. And now that the hubs has over 27 years of service (and a plastic set of gold wings to prove it), we do get on more often than not.  With the great unwashed.  In coach.

 

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