London Calling

Every year we take the kids on vacation the week of my husband Joe’s birthday. We pack our bags in the middle of a warm and muggy July and usually head somewhere even warmer and muggier. We’ve hit every all inclusive you can think of – Mexico, Jamaica, The Dominican. We go, Joe gets his Irish tan on – the kids have the run of the place – and I sit under an umbrella with my burka on – it’s great. 

We decided to do something different this year. The kids will turn 17 and 12 this fall. Gulp. 17 and 12. 17 and 12…sorry. Where was I? 

Anyway we took them on our very own Griswold adventure! It was fantastic. Usually I’m very loosy goosy about planning in my civilian life. At work things are planned out to the minute, so winging it is the order of the day with my family. But not on this trip. We had 2 travel days and 5 short vacation days to fit it all in. It was the Amazing Race of vacations – except no Phil at the markers.

Big Ben, Parliament, Westminster Abbey, The London Eye, The Tate Modern Museum and Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the guards was day one. I think I let them stop to breath a couple of times. We opted not to do a big red tour bus because my husband and I like to ride the local subways in Europe. So we grabbed a few Oyster cards for the Tube and pretended like we knew what we were doing. And for the most part we did – there was the usual  going east when we should have gone west goof up but that was to be expected. I can’t people watch and navigate at the same time now can I? 

The next day was a bit lighter, we ventured out of the city to see the Harry Potter tour at Warner Brother Studios. It was AMAZING. The actual sets, costumes and props used in the films. We geeked out big time (except for my hubby who has only watched about 15 minutes of each movie and then napped through the rest. This is also how he watched the Lord of the Rings series). After that we hit Camden Market, Abbey Road (of course) and the London Bridge. 

In the following days we squeezed in Picadilly Circus, Stonehenge, Bath, Windsor Castle, dinner at the oldest pub on the river Thames (which we now know to pronounce without the H), lunch at the first Hard Rock Cafe ever opened and a couple of good Indian curries. 

I’d give myself a solid B in planning – I would have given myself an A but there were some pretty nice flubs. I didn’t put together that our flight landed at 6am and the flat that we stayed in (we used Air BnB) wouldn’t be ready until 2. So when we showed up we were a bit, actually a lot, unexpected. The owner was gracious and sent over the cleaners to prep early. We waited outside while he cleaned one of the bedrooms and then all four of us, exhausted from the flight, fell asleep on one bed while he cleaned the rest of the place. 

We got up a few hours later, got dressed to hit the town and I immediately locked us out by grabbing the wrong set of keys. I blame jet lag. And Obama.

Then there was the visit to the Tate Modern, which was right next to Shakespeare’s Globe Theater – which I was dying to see. But we turned right instead of left and missed it completely. As the Brits say…bullocks. Or as Homer Simpson says, “doh!”.

But it was all fun. Even the flubs. The kids were troopers – even when we walked for 7 hours straight (and forgot to feed them lunch now and then). My husband earns a prize for the rainy day (the only rain we had all week) in Bath and hearing me talk about how Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth was filmed in the town (omg it’s the Red Lion Inn!). The English country side isn’t exactly what the kids wanted to stare at for a day – but they did it for me. I had to get my Jane Austen on. 

The other big difference between our vacations in the past and this year was the weather. We went from a 90 degree heatwave at home to a crisp 75 degrees or less a day (one of the days only got to 65). One of the guards in front of Parliament told us that London has four seasons a day. It can be warm, cold, wet and sunny at any given time. Except my son – who loves a good heatwave- we all loved LOVED the weather. I was perfectly fine wearing flip flops and a warm sweater every day. 

What wasn’t different about this trip was what my husband calls,”the unit”. The four of us. We know we have a small window left when we can still force our kiddies to spend this much time with us – and we’re milking it for all it’s worth. Cheers everyone.

(I took one billion photos – here’s just a few)

 Knock knock! I know you don’t expect us for another 6 hours but here we are!  
  
    
    
   

The London Eye

  

  

    
 All you Potter fans will understand just how freaking cool this was!   
    
    
 Abbey Road was smaller then expected and really really busy.    

    Kera having a proper tea. 
    Bath – wet and certainly not wild, but beautiful. On a side note we saw the “castle” that Nicolas Cage bought and then sold off because he owed so many taxes in England. Thought you’d like to know.


Me and my baby – and some rocks from 3,000 years B.C.   
  

He/We

Today is my husband’s birthday.

 I met him when he was 21. We got married when he was 26. We had our first baby when he was 28. We bought our first house when he was 31. We had our second baby when he was 33. We bought our second house when he was 36. We celebrated at Ocktoberfest in Munich when he was 40. We happily leaped into his new career as an entrepreneur when he was 44. 

This year he will see his first born graduate high school, his second born start middle school, his business hit the one year mark and our marriage hit the 20 year mark. 

All those numbers add up to my happy life.

Love you Joe. You haven’t changed a bit and yet you’re even better. How’d you do that?

   
  
 

Instagram plea

I was about to post this picture on Instagram and I realized I have like 4 followers. Ok, maybe 5. So here’s my ask, IF you want to and IF you are interested… Follow me on Instagram at nk1928.

I promise to post often. Things like this….

  
This was a bowl I found in the fridge this morning. Not only did someone decide the cantelope  was better than the pineapple – but they decided to burrow through the top vs uncovering it. And I’m guessing by the size of the hole, it’s a certain 11 yr old I know who just shoved his hand in the bowl like a monkey. 

Go about your day. 

Music and Mud

If you know me at all – you would not think,” there’s a gal who would enjoy a 4 day music festival”. Maybe you would think,” have one less carb today”. Or,” I’m not sure those big hoop earrings are appropriate for your age.”
Nevertheless I’m at Firefly Music Fest in Dover, DE. We are here for my daughter (well I am – my husband is here to rock out to bands because he’s cool like that).
She got the tickets as a gift from a favorite aunt – and has been waiting for this all year.
A few initial observations:

– music festivals are muddy. Why doesn’t anyone talk about the large quantities of mud? Articles should be written about the amount of mud on the ground.

– only old people like me had issues with the mud. Everyone else incorporated it into their ensemble.

– although I’m sure she would rather be here alone with her pals, my girl seems happy to have us here. Parents come in handy for Dunkin Donut runs.

– we are now parents of a senior in high school. I am trying to squeeze every living moment I can with our first born. The little, smiling baby is now a funny, kind, smart, lovely girl. You’re welcome world.

So thank you Aunt Dee for the tickets – thank you to my husband for dragging me here and thank you to my sister for telling me not to wear my good flip flops.

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Internet traps

I’m stuck on a plane for 5 hours. Even worse, I have wifi so I can’t miss one work email. To take my mind off work for a nano minute I decided to surf the internet. Which for me means the following in this order:
– People.com
– Huffington Post (entertainment section)
– Us Weekly.com
– D Listed.com
– CNN.com (week in photos, travel)

I can usually do all this in about 5 minutes or less. I retain nothing, but I’m quick.
But sometimes something online pulls me into a black hole. Usually that black hole is called Pinterest – but sometimes it’s not a fun ride. Sometimes it messes with my emotional state.
And I’m already half nuts.
Maybe it’s because I’m leaving the family for a week long trip but the photo below got to me. Actually it killed me.
A mother tried to smuggle her kid in a suitcase to Spain.
She sent him through the X-ray machine.
I don’t know the full story. Maybe she couldn’t buy a ticket. Maybe she didn’t have a visa for him. Maybe things were so bad at home that all of this was worth the effort. Maybe this was the last option they had.
Maybe I’m tired and overly sensitive. Maybe it’s because I’m pretty sure this little boy has been through worse. I dunno. I don’t know why I can’t stop thinking about this picture.
You know what I do know?
I have no problems. Zero.
This is what happens when I try to read things other than crap online. Lesson learned.

.

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A girl named Sue

A few years ago I was invited to join a group of gals on a girls weekend. They all grew up together or met in college and have stayed in touch since. I met one of those gals when she moved a few blocks down from me almost 7 years ago – and now I cannot live without her (or her family).

This past weekend was their annual trip and I joined in the fun.

We stayed in a cute little (actually it was pretty big) apartment right in the heart of St.Mark’s Place in NYC. Very hip. Very cool. Just like us :-)

I can’t go into too many of the stories because we are moms, teachers, responsible employees that love our jobs and, well, we did some non-mom, non-teacher, non-responsible things.

Here’s what I can tell you about… we ate some really good food. Drank some really good wine. Those were the two themes of the weekend in general. Where should we eat? Where should we drink? We went dancing! We hit a cool, hipster flea market in Brooklyn and saw a celebrity (Jesse Tyler Ferguson from Modern Family). We ubered all over the place. And we laughed. Boy did we laugh. Sometimes at other people, but mostly at each other.

One of the best laughs we got this weekend was at my expense (what’s new). I had never met one of the gals that joined us, she grew up with most of the other crew but this was her first time with me. Somehow during introductions on the first day, I missed that her name was Chris. I am almost positive someone said her name was Sue. Or I heard the word Sue and associated it with her, or she looked like a Sue or something. Doesn’t matter. Her name was Chris!

Now, you would think that during the next 12 hours someone would correct me right? Wrong. I must have had multiple conversations where I directed a question at Sue/Chris. “Isn’t this breakfast great Sue?”. “Sue, do you like the flea market?” “Sue, how many kids do you have?”. MORTIFYING.

Finally, after a couple of glasses of wine on Saturday night someone pulled me over and said,”who are you talking about? Chris?”. Shoot me now. Dead. Oh the horror! The horror! Then I started blaming.

“Why didn’t you tell me?!!” I shouted! “You should have told me”, I cried! But I know why no one told me. It was funnier this way. They are all evil. Including Chris/Sue.

Anyway – here’s some pics to take your mind off my stupidity. The first pic includes Chris (she’s the one smiling sheepishly on the right). There’s some prerequisite post-wine selfies. A shot of all of us at Supper. Which was this fantastic Italian restaurant where we had dinner. So we had Supper for dinner. Get it? Hilarious. To us.

There’s also a picture of the flea market  and some info about it if you want to check it out yourself, a shot of our friend Jesse Tyler, and a shot of one of the gals dancing with the Phantom of the Opera – who also happened to be letting off some steam at the gay 80s club we danced at all night (until 11:30pm).

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Chicken Wings vs. Vick’s

Oh what a week! Our whole family has been fighting a cold/allergy/tuberculosis type of cough. This post could have easily been called Phlegm Tales but that’s just gross.
IF I were to write about phlegm I’d tell you that after hacking up a lunge for a couple of days your entire face gets congested. The whole thing.
My baby girl was totally covered in it all weekend. Usually I sequester my kids in their rooms like prisoners when they’re sick, but I felt so bad for her. Nothing can really help you, you have to let it run its course. But I did what my mom would have done for me. I ignored all the warnings on the jar of Vick’s and put some in boiling water and let her steam it in. Does it help? Yes. Is it toxic? Maybe. But you get a good nights sleep – so there’s that.

My baby boy has a bit of a cough thing too, but his cure is much different. See photos below of both for proof. His healing comes from a pile of chicken wings. People are different. What can you say.

And I know that talking about how busy you are is the new black, but I’ve been really busy!!

I did however take time to marvel at this woman who I’ve never seen before on my commute. She got on. Found a seat. Put away her 4 bags/coats etc. and then took out a full-on make-up bag. Not a travel bag, no no, a folding tri-fold bag with all her essentials in it. She then spent the next 65 minutes applying make-up. I had kind of noticed it the other day, but I was dozing in and out of reality trying to stay awake. Today I noticed. Today I was alert. Today I set a timer on my phone. 3 different concealers before the base coat even went on. 3! Then there was a highlighter type thing around her eyes and corners of her mouth. Followed by powder (loose applied with a big brush). The actual color portion of the application was really cool too. I couldn’t see all the little details, but I did see the dark liner, bronzer used as blush and hot pink lipstick. Hot pink lipstick! It totally inspired me to put on more lip gloss. I’m not embarrassed to say that I took a small pic of her. Pretend it’s not creepy that I did that and take a look below.

To round off the strange pictures I thought you’d like to see what I had for dinner on Tuesday night. Deconstructed taco. Which is basically like all the stuff that falls out of your taco at the end and, if you are like me, you think it tastes so much better than the actual taco. If you don’t agree, no worries, go on with your whole, intact taco you communist.

Just kidding. Communists don’t eat tacos. Happy almost Friday to you all.

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