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.   
  

Summer status

We’ve been on a roll. Or in a car. Or on a boat. It’s mid-July, summer vacations (for our kids) are in full swing. We’ve already hit bad traffic, gotten lost, forgotten things at home and gotten into fights in the car. We’ve had buckets of ice cream, been to margaritaville a few times, and had enough watermelon to feed a small melon-less country. In between summer fun my husband has been expanding his business and I have been working some late nights – but somehow it doesn’t matter in the summer! It’s not pitch black at 6. There’s no teacher’s note about something I’ve forgotten to send into school. People tend to be a little more relaxed and happy. It’s enjoyable.

My daughter has been moonlighting with my husband at his cleaning company – helping out and making a little extra money. I told her it’s great that she’s working with her dad because she needs to learn about the empire she’ll probably inherit one day. She didn’t laugh. I laughed. I think I’m hysterical.

In other news, as my son commented that we have been in a “boaty” mood. We spent 4th of July with my husband’s cousin Bobby who just bought the most beautiful boat. For weeks prior to our trip to see him I told people I was going to DC for the 4th. Because I really thought I was. Someone (my husband obvi) had told me DC. I’m sure of it. He’s sure I’m making that up. He said I never actually asked where we were going. I just assumed. That’s crazy. Why would I do that? Anyway we were nowhere near DC – we were in Soloman’s Island, Maryland. We passed DC and then kept driving another hour. It didn’t matter what land mass we were on because we spent the majority of the weekend on the water and it was beautiful. But in the future, I’ll confirm DC before I say DC.

Last weekend we were lucky enough to be invited by one of our good friends, April and Pat, to Pat’s childhood home in CT. This time I knew where I was going. It just so happened that they also just got a new boat. Thus our “boaty” mood. We always have loads of fun with them and this time was no exception – one of my favorite moments was hearing about a racist dog in their family. At first I thought they were kidding – after a few examples we decided I should probably never meet that dog – just in case. I also got to spend some quality time with one of their good friends (let’s call her D in case she wants to deny knowing me later) who reads my blog often. I’m not gonna lie. I loved that D remembered long-ago details of my life that I have already forgotten. I know other people would feel moments of panic and loss of personal privacy – I felt like Madonna. Thank you D for making my day so I can pretend people are actually reading and remembering my crazy blog. April is also a blogger so she totally gets it. Check out her blog (http://planetoftheapeblog.com/) to read more about racist and non-racist dogs.

How’s your summer? Are you having fun? Why don’t you ever talk back? Sigh. It’s ok. I love you anyway.

Here’s hoping you are having a “boaty” “beachy” “barbecue-y” good time. Here’s some random pics from my last few weeks. A sparkler…because why not? A picture of my girl working hard for her money. My hydrangeas because I’ve missed them so. And my boy…because why not?


  
  

Sitting on the dock of the ba….lake

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Day 5 of not working. A blog could get used to this.
Sorry about the posting silence. Lots of birds, trees, water and sky – but no wifi.
Happy Fourth of July eve!

Vacation part deux

Wishing I drove a big, fat, earth destroying SUV right now…

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Don’t worry – the Subaru is so weighted down we’ll only be able to go 20 miles an hour.
#weareclassy
#don’tbejealous

Time Out

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Holiday.
It isn’t just a Madonna song anymore.
It’s what this blog is doing. Or more importantly – not doing.
Just a mini break.
A short rest.
A small respite.
You get the picture. (Incase you didn’t I included photos)
Just trying to make you jealous.
Just a little bit.
Later suckers… With your jobs and responsibilities and what not.
I can’t relate. Not for 2 more days.

Grab Bag

The last few days of school are here. No more lunches I didn’t make. No more papers I forgot to sign. No more reading logs I forgot to send in. Phew. It’s been a long year. 

I can’t wait to go into summer mom mode. Summer mom is so much nicer and calmer than, say, holiday-crunch mom – or worse yet, new-school-shopping-at-the-last-minute mom. 

I asked my boy what we should get for his teacher as a thank you gift – lord knows she deserves it.  He had just finished telling me about “John the bus driver”. He’s a Yankees fan with 3 grandkids. He likes to fish and go to the beach. He loves candy and once he let all the kids eat leftover Halloween candy on the way home. Thanks John. Ok – so I’m set with what to get for John. 

Me: “But what about Mrs. S?” I say. “What does she like?”. 

The boy: “ummm. She wears sweatshirts everyday.”

Me: “ok, like team sweatshirts? Does she love the Eagles or Phillies or something?”

The boy: “No. Not really. They’re like jean sweatshirts. All different colors.”

Me: “uh huh. ok.”

This exchange made me think of another exchange, one even less helpful than this one, about 12 years ago.

I had just joined a very tight-knit group of event planners who seemed to have a million inside jokes, were constantly making fun of each other, worked insanely hard, and had a great time to boot. The leader of this pack was a woman who would go on to become one of my closest friends, but who at that point, wanted very little to do with me. To gain some brownie points, I wanted to buy the perfect gift when her birthday came around.  I asked one of the other gals that had known her the longest what she liked. Here’s the list she emailed me:

  1. Pugs
  2. The Spanish Language
  3. Traveling

This is not a joke. This was the list. WTF. What was I supposed to do with this list? Pugs? The Spanish Language? Come on! 

Once I got over the outrageousness of it – I laughed my ass off. 

To this day, when someone asks me what to get for someone else, I have to hold myself back from saying,”the Spanish language or pugs”.

 

 

 

Monumental

We took a quick trip to DC after Easter – literally.  As in we cleaned up, packed leftovers, said goodbye to our family and hit the road.

My husband and I have both been to DC often, but just for work. From train to conference room to train. This was an all out tourist trip.

We landed in the  capital at the stroke of 11pm. After miles and miles and miles of traffic, here’s what we saw heading into our hotel. Pretty friggin cool.

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For the next two days we traveled by trolley, monument to monument, museum to museum.

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It was cherry blossom festival time but a late snow meant no blooming trees (actually there were a couple but we couldn’t see them with all the Japanese tourists surrounding them. True story).

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This is Julia Child’s kitchen. Recreated spoon by spoon at the Smithsonian. This was my favorite monument in all of DC. Cluttered. Utilitarian. Completely unMartha. It was awesome.

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Thanks Easter bunny.

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