Tuesday, August 30, 2016

All the rest part 2

At this rate it's going to take me 6 months to recap a 1 week vacation, but for the sake of posterity I shall soldier on.
The fourth day of our trip was Busch Gardens day! So we got up SUPER early and headed out. 
On the way we stopped for gas and found the best little store EVER. Bubble gum cigarettes AND butter rum LifeSavers!!! 
Our kids had never seen bubble gum cigarettes before, so naturally we took about a photo albums worth of "smoking" pictures. By the time we all started singing along to Come On Eileen, I was thinking we could call it a day and skip the amusement park. Unfortunately the rest of my thrill seeking party did not agree. 
Way in the back there, you can see the roller coasters from MILES away. I honestly have never seen so many LONG and TALL roller coasters. It was a fun day, but early on I remembered that I am old and my heart cannot take so much "fun".
Nate and Eli, however are not old. They let me take this shot of them, then they left us (in the dust) and went off to see how many heartstopping rides they could fit in before lunch.
I could write a lot more, but the gist of it is, we had a super good time at Busch Gardens. I felt like for the ages of our kids it was more fun than Disneyland, and it was a million times cleaner and more family friendly than Six Flags. We would definitely go back. 

Sunday, August 28, 2016

I can't even...

We interrupt this terribly fascinating travelogue for a short rant about sexism.

Last night Sylvan & I went to the movies. Before the previews they played this...

OMG, Seriously!?!  I was so mad. I started giving Sylvan a lecture about not wanting our daughter...or anyone's daughter to think they need to trim anything down there, especially into the shape of a heart...AND ALSO... where are the commercials giving BOYS suggestions of what shapes to use if and when they groom their bushes????

There are SO many things wrong with this ad.

I was whispering so loudly that I think he was a little embarrassed, but I don't care. Society's expectations of girls...good grief.

Excuse me. I have to go send an email to the idiots at Schick.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Vacation 2016, all the other stuff. Part 1

When booking our flights it seemed like such a great idea to fly at night and maximize our time. I figured we could fly and sleep at the same time. I felt like a trip planning genius for making that decision. Turns out, most of us are so hot at sleeping anytime or anywhere...However, one of us (Sylvan), managed to find an empty row at the back of the plane where he stretched out and got some serious sleep for about 4 hours. Making him the winner of the "who gets to drive from N.C. to Va." contest.

We had a medium sized layover at JFK. Not long enough to leave the airport, but long enough to purchase mementos of our time in New York. 

This was taken right after we got in the car. 20 minutes later they turned into 3 year olds who were touching each other and complaining about my choice in music.
Although we met and were married while serving in the Army at Ft. Bragg, N.C., Sylvan claimed to have never seen a tobacco field before. He was so intriged that he convinced Nate to hop out and grab a leaf. (A feat I warned them both could find us all facing the business end of an angry farmer's shotgun.)
He put it right on the dash, and by the time we arrived at my brother's house it was nearly dried,  cured, and ready to roll into a cigar (just kidding, it was dry, but nowhere near cured).
There were about twenty pictures just like this on my phone. We have trees in Arizona, but when you are away for a while you forget just how many MORE trees there are on the East Coast. 
Trees for days, man. 
On our second night in Virginia we had dinner at my mom's house, where Sylvan was giving this affectionate greeting by his mother-in-law. Look at how happy he is to see her! 
The next morning my brother led us on a hike to the top of Virginia. 

Some of us went higher than others (let's just say, I know my limits).

The view from the top was AMAZING! Look at all of those trees.
After hiking we returned to my brother's house where those who could still use their legs engaged in a serious Nerf battle. 

We also went to an end of the season swim banquet for our niece and nephews, which sadly I took no pictures of. But it was fun, and fancy and a good time was had by most. I think.

To be cont....

Thursday, August 18, 2016

You ready to vote?

You may not have heard, they've been keeping it on the DL, but there's a presidential election coming up. Some have even said this is an important presidential election (although, if you ask me ALL elections are important).

I've heard of people thinking they are registered to vote, only to find out ON ELECTION DAY, that they were not. Oh the weeping and the wailing. Maybe you think you already did it (did you?), maybe you think it's automatic (it's not), or maybe you think your wife, brother, or 2nd cousin signed you up when they registered (wait...why would you think that?), whatever you've got going on, may I suggest that you double check before it's too late?

Each state has different rules and deadlines, so check yours and get registered if you're not. Also, if your state offers early or mail in ballots, DUDE! Get on that list!! I've had lots of people tell me that they prefer to go down to the polling station and vote in person. They enjoy the pageantry, solidarity, and symbolism of waiting in line for who knows how long with a bunch of strangers. If that's your thing, great! I get it (not really, but sort of, I guess). BUT, in Arizona (check the rules in your state, they may be different) requesting an early ballot does not mean you can't go vote in person if that's what you want to do. It just means you have your ballot early, you can study it, reflect on your choices, talk it over with your psychic, then, if it gets close to election day and you feel like getting it out of the way early, BOOM! You drop it in the mail. No stamp required. OR election day comes and the county recorder has made a drastic reduction in the number of available polling places and it looks like you might have to wait for HOURS and then more HOURS to vote, BOOM! You have your ballot and you can just drop it off. All I'm saying, is that the early voting list is all perks, no non-perks.

If you want to register, double check your registration, or sign up for early voting and you live in Arizona go HERE

If you live in another state, HERE are links to some other state's elections website. If your state isn't on the list, try Google. Google knows everything man.

I don't care who you vote for (well, I mean I DO, but...), just make sure you vote. It's your right and your responsibility. Like they say at the Olympics, you can't win if you don't play...wait, maybe I'm thinking of Vegas,,,,either way...vote, and while you're at it, make sure your kids see you do it.

Okay. I'm done lecturing.

For now.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The sound of (almost) silence

We are down to only 2 kids left at home. The new school year started for them a couple of weeks ago, and it starts for me tomorrow (senior year for 2 of us!!).

Back in the day when there were 5 kids at home this time of year was crazy. There were schedules to get used to, new teachers, homework, friends in and out. It was busy, and usually loud.

Now it's quiet. These last two are pretty independent, and even a gaggle of friends at this age is much easier to manage than a gaggle of 12 year olds. (We haven't had an explosion in our backyard in ages).

I always thought I would be sad when we came to this point and the kids didn't need me as much. I figured it would be lonely and boring. So far that's not the case.

Loud and busy can be fun, but quiet is pretty good too.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Then we ate all of the vegetables....

What's a vacation without food? Nothing, that's what. We ate and ate and ate for 7 days, so I thought it would be fitting, before I tell you about my reunions with Abe and Tom, that I tell you about the food. 

When we landed in Raleigh we were tired and hungry, and only one of those problems could be resolved immediately.

The girl at the rental car lot gave us a few restaurant suggestions, and at the end of her list she causally mentioned there was a Bojangles nearby. Our kids had never been so we felt it was our parental duty to introduce them to the delight that is Boberry biscuits

On our second day in Virginia we ate lunch at the locally famous LaCarretta. My enchiladas were super yummy. Sadly I forgot to take a picture of my food, but here is a picture of the boys messing around in front of the restaurant. (This will forever be known as the day Brodie learned the hard life lesson of how dangerous it is to be the smallest person in the dog pile.)

On the fourth day (please note, we ate MANY times between the LaCarretta day and the Busch Gardens day, just not anywhere thrilling)...on the fourth day, we got up at the crack of dawn to drive to Williamsburg so we could spend the day risking our lives riding rides designed to scare the living snot out of people. 
On the way we stopped at this adorable little... I hate to call it a convenient store, although it was convenient... lets call it a market. I wish I had taken a picture. It was the cutest little wooden store, surrounded by trees, and it had a porch. A PORCH!!! Can you imagine?! The second best thing about this store was that it wasn't trying to be cute, it just was. The first best thing about it was, they sold bubble gum cigarettes and BUTTER RUM lifesavers. (Do you know that NO ONE has butter rum lifesavers anymore? I have to buy (not so cheap) bags of them on Amazon.) It was like a vacation miracle.

Our kids had never had bubble gum cigarettes before (I felt like such a failure as a parent when they told me that), so we made up for lost time by "smoking" the whole pack right away.

 Busch gardens, as you may or may not know, is set up into themed regions that represent different countries. Each has it's own death defying rides and, best of all, food specific to that land. 

Sylvan and the boys ate lunch in New France, also known as Canada. Their meals consisted of large piles of meat and an order of fried pickle spears. By all accounts the piles of meat were tasty, but a little pricey, and the pickles, which I tasted myself, were really good. 

Ivy and I ate in regular France, where we had some delicious strawberries and cream crepes. They were SO good, and as a bonus did not cost as much as a giant pile of meat. This confirmed what I have long suspected, old France is better than New France. Sorry Canada. 
This is a picture of what remained, as well as the beginning of a trend of my forgetting to photograph my food until after I had eaten it. I will never be able to be one of those fancy Instagram girls. 
Towards the end of our day I learned that Sylvan had never eaten a funnel cake. You guys, I almost cried. Luckily the funnel cake knows has no regional boundary, and thus you can purchase one in any land at Busch Gardens.

Sylvan enjoyed his tremendously. Possibly even more than the giant pile of meat (but probably not). 
On the fifth day of our trip we finally made it to D.C. I had pinterested the crap out of this vacation and had a whole list of places we wanted to eat while we were in town. We didn't make it to all of them, but we were able to hit a few. 
The first was We The Pizza. 
I was a little worried it would not live up to the hype, but YOU GUYS!! OMG! 
It was so good. At We The Pizza you can either get whole pizzas, or order by the slice. Because we never agree on what makes the perfect pizza, our family went the "by the slice" route. I had the white pizza (all the cheeses) and the veggie. The sauce was good, the crust was great, the service what fast and the place was not packed. I don't think you can ask for anything more from a pizza joint. My brother's family went the "buy a whole pizza" route. Again, everyone loved the pizza, and even though they had to wait for it to bake, the wait was not what I would call long. Between us we tried probably 6 or 7 different kinds of pizzas and everyone was super happy. 

We took the metro to the Crystal City location. The resturant was not far from the metro station and it was not what I would call spendy at all.
We The Pizza gets all the thumbs up. 

The next night we decided we had not risked our lives enough on this trip, so we took the metro to Chinatown to get some authentic Asian food.

Ming's did not let us down.

Of course, whether or not you were let down seriously depends on how much you enjoy a good plate of crispy pig intestines. Loving a good food adventure, like I do, I stuck with my usual, vegetable fried rice, no egg, extra broccoli. Although no one ordered the cold jelly fish or the slicked pig's knuckle (what the heck is that anyway??), everyone did order more exotic plates than mine, and everyone said they really enjoyed their meals. 

Ming's is literally a stone's throw from the Chinatown metro station (which, by the way, was probably the busiest/most crowded station we experienced on our trip) and the prices were very reasonable. 

I had read so much about Ted's Bulletin and their homemade pop-tarts prior to our trip that I really wanted to stop in and try them, but an ongoing theme of this vacation was NOT ENOUGH TIME. In the end we took our chances with doughnuts. 

Any doughnut expert will tell you that not all doughnuts are created equally, and not all doughnut eaters are looking for the same qualities in their breakfast breads, so what makes a good review for one person, might not work at all for another. 
We gave Sugar Shack a try, and for the doughnut eaters in our group they were a win. 

They had ALL the flavors, salted caramel (with REAL caramel), maple bacon, samoa, butterfinger, vanilla cake, which was littered with specks of vanilla bean, and strawberry frosted, whose frosting contained actual pieces of strawberry.... 
They were a little heavier than my favorite Bosa doughnuts at home, but as you can see, we had no problem finishing them off. 

We drove to the Alexandria location, so I'm not sure about proximity to the metro, but thanks to Siri they weren't hard to find. 

On our last day in D.C. the lack of time thing almost did us in. We came to a fork in the road where we had to chose between food and art and the real eaters were separated from the amateurs. Eli and I (amateurs) picked museums over lunch and we dashed off to cram in a couple more Smithsonians while everyone else (real eaters) went to Founding Farmers for lunch. Since real eaters don't take pictures of their food, I don't have any evidence of their meal, but all involved said, the food was good and they would go again. 

Eli and I had shakes and ice cream cones from a truck for lunch, and I can safely say, although it was the most expensive soft serve I've ever purchased, it hit the spot and gave me the strength I needed to power through the rest of the afternoon. 

Okay, that's all of the super healthy stuff we ate on our trip, or most of it anyway. 

Next up, all the rest. 

Monday, August 8, 2016


What does it mean when it takes a 10 days to recover from a 7 day vacation? We had the BEST time, and we haven't really been back to 10 days, so hopefully it will not really take that long to recover, but I have been SO tired since we got home that 4 days have felt like 10.

I'm pretty sure I have Post Vacation Depression, either that or I've been watching too much Olympic coverage, because, ugh, the weeping. It comes out of nowhere. But it could be exhaustion and pre-back to school anxiety.

Good grief Charlie Brown!

Why do I even bother trying to pin down what is causing me to feel the feelings? You'd think by now I would just figure it's part of my process. Or ALL of my process.

Anyway, I'm going to try REALLY hard to write about our trip this week so I don't forget all of the good stuff.

I just need to take a nap first.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Where's the fire?

There's a song from Hamilton about running out of time. in fact, there's a lot of talk in the musical about Alexander's need to be always moving and working. I know how he felt. There's so much to do and so little time to do it, and maybe it's a little like being a fish, I worry that if I stop swimming I'll sink.

Then, this morning I read a quote from Lauren Graham, she was talking about the Gilmore Girls reunion, but it could apply to lots of things, "It's like getting a chance to go to college when you're really ready, you know, when you really get what an incredible opportunity you have and how rare the time is."

I've had a few people tell me that I might be too old to start a new career. Or that women over 50 just don't get hired. Or that maybe I should think about slowing down.

Seriously, at 48 years old I should slow down? And then what would I do for the next 50+ years that I'm alive? No thanks. I think I will go as fast as I can for as long as I can.

Sometimes though, they get in my head and I start to think maybe they're right. Maybe I am too old, maybe it is too late, maybe life is all about making money and I'm never going to get rich doing what makes me happy...

Just for fun I looked up some ladies who made it big later in life and this morning I am proud to present a list of women who did not slow down or listen to the Debbie Downers in their lives who told them they were too old to get hired/make a change/do anything significant.

1. Lousia May Alcott, first book published when she was 37.

2. Julia Child, enrolled in cooking school when she was 36, wrote her first cookbook when she was 39.

3. Vera Wang, became a fashion designer at 40.

4. Martha Stewart, first book when she was 41.

I could go on, Grandma Moses, Laura Ingals Wilder, but the point is, like the Dixie Chicks, I have always taken the long way around, and things have always been okay, I don't see any reason to mess with something that's been working for me.