50 Is the New 30 – A Napa Excursion

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Happy Birthday to us!

Happy Birthday to us!

50 is the new 30. I have decided this to be a fact – partly because this is the year I turn 50…actually that is the only reason. However, after a one night stay in Napa, California (yes even at 50 one can still do a “quickie”) with 5 truly inspiring lifelong friends (all of whom occupy my same 50-years-of-age rickety boat), I am more convinced than ever 50 is clearly the new 30.

These women, my fellow Napa excursionists, are accomplished Doctors, Educators, Designers, Writers, Managers,  Business Owners, Moms and Wives – perfect in their imperfections, beautiful both inside and out. And no matter how many years go by without seeing each other, we seem to pick up right where we left off – as if REO Speedwagon had just been blasting on the car radio.

So what do 6 such women ringing in their 50th year do? Meet up in Napa, CA, of course. There is no better place for such a milestone – except for possibly one of those spas where you magically emerge with a face as shiny and wrinkle free as a bowling ball, lips that look like something on a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade float and perky boobs. But no, I think Napa is definitely the place.

It is beautiful,

Napa, CaliforniaThere is lots of wine.

Napa, California

Now, we just need to get stomping.

Seriously, barrels of the stuff.

Like that little chain is actually going to stop anyone!

Like that little chain is seriously going to stop anyone!

And chocolate is always welcome (hint: it is especially advantageous to have friends of supreme intelligence who know to pack chocolate and lots of it).

Grgich Hills Estate

Grgich Hills Estate

Speaking of packing, we didn’t get to be 50 without learning a thing or two about how to arrive prepared. Since I am the youngest of my group of 6 by at least a full 2 weeks (that’s right, I can retain my youthful status of 49 until almost the end of 2014), I decided to offer to carry everyone’s bags. That is until I saw how much was required for an overnight 6 girl stay in Napa – then I silently reneged (I might possibly have been thinking to myself something like let the old bats carry their own luggage, it’s good for the circulation).

And that is how you arrive prepared!

And that is how you arrive prepared!

And then it was off to the wine tasting, complete with a hired driver to keep us on schedule (and out of jail).

Caymus Vineyards

Caymus Vineyards

All in all, it was the perfect way to spit in the eye of welcome 50.

If I have learned anything in my 50 years it would be this – cherish the people who knew you when you had to wear a head gear to school, thought Leif Garret was cute and attended Jr. High instead of “Middle School”. When it is time to turn 50, they will have your back (and understand why you can’t stay awake past 11:00 pm).

Also (and clearly just as crucial a life lesson) always wear shades when being photographed in bright sunlight.

50 is the new 30 (only, with an earlier bedtime)

50 is the new 30 (only, with an earlier bedtime)

Next time, I follow the rabbit.

 

Big rabbit, hard to miss...

Big rabbit, hard to miss…

Teen Talk: Episode #12

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Comic by K

Comic by K

We now interrupt our regularly scheduled program to bring you another episode of  Teen Talk.  I assure you, everything you are about to hear is real and unedited. Please, do not try this at homeUnless you are comfortable talking to yourself.

One day Teen turned into a brick wall got an iPhone.

Mom: “Looks like it is going to be warmer today!”

Teen:

Mom: “After school tomorrow, I will pick you up and then we will run by the store. If you need anything that would be a good time to get it.”

Teen: 

Mom:  “So, this weekend you have a game on Saturday and then we can go to the movies. Let’s see the new Captain America movie!”

Teen:

Mom:  “That story you told me last night was so funny, I am still laughing about it today!”

Teen: 

Mom:  “Next week, I am going out of town for a few days, so you and your brother will be on your own with Dad. “

Teen:

Mom: “I am really glad we had this chance to talk!”

Teen:

The End

Teen Talk: Episode #11

Teen Talk: Episode #10

Teen Talk: Episode #9

Teen Talk: Episode #8

Teen Talk: Episode #7

Teen Talk: Episode #6

Teen Talk: Episode #5

Teen Talk: Episode #4

*Teen Talk: Episode #3

Teen Talk Episode #2

Teen Talk Episode #1

 

The Buttbook

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buttFacebook sucks! Hey, don’t get me wrong. I am an avid Facebook user. I proudly post photos of my kids, myself, my family. I share achievements, funny stuff and milestones. I keep caught up on friends and families lives as one can only do in the cyber stalking way through Facebook.

However, Facebook also has the uncanny ability of making you feel like dog poop about your own life. Why? Because on Facebook, everybody else’s life seems perfect, everybody else’s kids are outstanding, everybody else’s vacations are amazing, everybody else’s significant other remembers their birthday/anniversary, everybody else’s kids make them breakfast in bed on Mother’s Day, everybody else’s jobs are fulfilling (and pay more money) and nobody but nobody ever uses the bathroom.

Logically, this just can’t be true (especially that bathroom thing). If so, then seriously, my life really does suck (fortunately, my Facebook life rocks!!).

The truth is, nobody’s life is perfect…that is why it is called life. We all know this! But nonetheless, it is hard to not feel like slashing your Facebook Friends’ collective tires when they post yet again about some bit of awesomeness in their life or share that perfect “candid” photo of self or kids – especially when it is at a time when you might be contemplating a jump off the proverbial bridge rather than deal with the current stones life is throwing at you!

So, I propose there should be an antithesis to Facebook. A place one can go to detox from all the FB awesomeness. Call it, say, The Buttbook. On The Buttbook, members can only post about stuff that pisses them off, gets in their way, is boring – about real crap life pukes out. Then, when a reality check is needed to counter all the perfectness flowing on Facebook News Feed, a reminder that everybody has armadillos in the closet, or that everything in life isn’t always exciting and wonderful, members can check in with The Buttbook and feel whole again:

My husband is ok, but man, he farts too much.

My teenager is really pissing me off, if she does not look up from her phone when I talk to her I am going to slap her silly.

My house smells like wet dog hair.

When did the Freshman 20 turn into the Middle-aged 50?

My kid did absolutely nothing cool or interesting this month.

I did absolutely nothing cool or interesting this month.

I am in debt up to my du-dun-du-duns.

My job is boring.

And all photos shared must be unfiltered, and completely candid in that “I can’t believe I look like that” way. In fact, any member posting anything cool or awesome is banned – shunned back to Facebook.

Oh, and there needs to be a “you got that right!” button  – so no one will feel alone in their “un-awesomeness”.

I think Facebook would become a lot more palatable with The Buttbook to fall back on every once in a while.

Seriously, I think I am on to something, who’s with me?

My Son, the Grave Digger

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grave digger2My kids love their electronics. For this, I am immensely grateful! Oh yeah, you heard me right.  I thank my little parental stars for the attachment my kids have to their respective devices for one reason and one reason alone – it is the best tool known to man/woman (the parenting kind, that is)when it comes to getting  kids to do parental bidding. Nothing says get your chores/homework done like the threat of losing a device – or screams curb your teenage posturing after being separated from Clash of Clans or (gasp) texting for a few days.

Little did my kids know when they succumbed to the charms of their electronics, the slippery slope of manipulation they were setting themselves up for. Their misguided devotion has most definitely been my gain!

However, maybe, a complete ban from all electronics for say something like – not doing your homework when you are told to leaving it until the last possible moment having to stay up late into the night with Mom helping you in order to just finish adequately and then being all snarky about it to boot – is sometimes a little precarious as well.

Case in point. Recently, Pre-Teen, lost his electronic privileges for an extended amount time due to…well, I think you got the general idea above. For the first few days, he walked around the house like one of those zombies looking for fresh meat (the kind that says “I’m bored” a lot). Now don’t get me wrong, Pre-Teen loves the outdoors, when the weather is nice (which it’s not) and reasonably warm (which it hasn’t been for what feels like an eternity). However, finally out of sheer desperation – i.e. looking for something to do that did not involve my offer of household chores – outside he went. I have to say, I did not pay much attention. I suspected the basketball hoop was getting some long denied attention and there was likely some random rock throwing going on, but other than that, I did not have much concern…until Pre-Teen came blustering inside one afternoon.

Pre-Teen: “Hey Mom, do you think Dad will care if I dig a hole in the field?”

Mom: (picturing something the size of your average garden hole) “No, I don’t think so.”

And back out he went.

When it started to get dark and still he had not come back in the house, my parenty senses (you know, the Mom version of spidey senses) began to tingle and I felt compelled to go and investigate. This is what I saw:

Don't bother me, I am busy exploring a new career path.

Don’t bother me, I am busy exploring a new career path!

And as the days ensued, he began to gain eager followers, or rather, enthusiastic diggers.

His brother, Teen, got in on the action:

Finally, something they can do together without fighting!

Finally, something they can do together that does not end in somebody bleeding!

Soon, friends began to show up…fully equipped with shovels and picks for the task at hand.

Where was this gang when I needed sticks picked up?

This gang could come in handy come yard clean up time…

And every day, there seemed to be more work than one guy could handle.

Where will this madness end?

Where will the madness end?

Pre-Teen has long since earned electronic privileges back, and still the digging continues on a daily basis, rain or shine, no matter the temperature – except now, he has a pad to play music on while he works and a phone to text friends to come over during his hours of operation.

Where it will all end, I have no idea.

But, I do know these three things…

1.  The hole keeps getting bigger,

2.  I have been parenting long enough to know, sometimes it is best not to ask too many detailed questions, and…

3.  If you have something dead you need buried…I know just the guy for the job.

(But, he probably won’t come cheap)

Other adventures with Pre-Teen

A Decade of Wisdom

Never Sit On a Couch at a Nudist Colony

Puerto Rico Island Travels Part 2: The Clothing Optional Tour

The Day I Killed the Vacuum

 

All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt

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One of my favorite (in a love/hate kind of way) travel oddities is all the souvenir junk one feels compelled to purchase (and pay way too much money for), all in the name of travel memories. The items you absolutely must have whose destiny is to be stuffed in a drawer for a number of years until someday, if you are really lucky, you may get .25 for it at a garage sale.  One of the most annoying,  (although tied in a close race with the snowglobe/paperweight combo and destination logo-ed shot glass), of these travel mementos is the t-shirt with a stupid saying – one that says something like “My parents went to Jamaica and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.” 

So, what does this soliloquy (because, I am sure I am talking to myself these days since my family has ceased to listen) have to do with my ultra lame post today?  Well, just this, I have been so busy with work, kids, life, staying warm, shopping on eBay, doing stuff, I have not had the time nor creativity to write a decent blog (or even an indecent one for that matter).

Ok, here it comes…the great connection…ready?

“I came to Sweet Spot today and all I got was this lousy photo.”

daylight savings

Daylight savings, in February, really?

Here's a quarter, call someone who cares...only, I don't think they take quarters anymore?

Hey, here’s a quarter, call someone who cares…only, I don’t think they take quarters anymore…

And because today’s post could not get any worse (well it could and is about to) a public service announcement:

DON'T TAKE PHOTOS AND DRIVE!DON’T SHOOT (a camera that is) AND DRIVE!

Please, come back again someday, I promise it gets better.

It can only go up from here.

The Day I Killed the Vacuum

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If my vacuum had looked like this, we could have been friends.

If my vacuum had looked like this, we could have been friends.

This month  on MAMALODE, the theme for the month of March is Break.  They thought my story The Day I Killed the Vacuum  was (sadly for me…and my vacuum) perfect for inclusion.  So, if you have a little break (ha, get it?) in your day, head on over to MAMALODE and have a laugh (or cry) about The Day I Killed the Vacuum.

Paris, the Walmart of Love?

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Des Arts Bridge

Des Arts Bridge

After reading recently how we Americans waste too much time playing video games and social networking, I decided to step away from the Candy Crush, with my hands visible at all times, long enough to attempt to hash out an article.  The truth is, I have been procrastinating (i.e. trying to beat the next level) on writing this particular post.  You see, I love Paris (for proof, go here, here and here!).-– even with all the escargot eating (although the Nutella crepe eating ain’t half bad), having to bag my own groceries (it is good to be useful, even when you are the one paying the money), the one waiter haughtily thinking it necessary to inform Teen Steak Tartar was in fact ‘raw meat’ (possibly Teen’s quip “oh, just slap it on the grill, then” was not well timed), Parisians mostly preferring kids be seen and not heard (ok, secretly, I envied that part – see aforementioned quip).  Nonetheless, I love Paris in all its’ facets (especially the Parisian Grandma who “photo-bombed” Teen & Pre-Teen) which is why it pains me to offer this slight criticism of the beautiful city.

Last year on Valentine’s Day, I shared a discovery made during a trip to Italy concerning the Love Locks (We Got to Let Love Rule).  In essence, it is the practice of “locking your love” with a padlock onto a romantic bridge and throwing the key into the river below, thus sealing your everlasting love.  (For more information on rules of engagement and origins of the Love Lock ritual, go here!).

Therefore, it was no surprise to again see Love Locks adorning bridges during a subsequent trip to Paris – all those bridges over the River Seine to choose from! However, coming upon the Love Lock operation on the Des Arts Bridge felt like (I am sorry to say) the Walmart of Love (even though it is completely criminal and not a little bit gross to put those two words together in a sentence).

The whole deal is becoming like a one-stop shopping for the love masses (with a better dress code). Locks can be purchased for a discounted price from dueling street vendors right there on the bridge (after waiting in line, of course). And no longer is the ritual just for the hopeless romantics, but all are welcome – bffs, mom’s and daughters, people who just met for the first time over a latte.  The amount of locks weighing down the bridge is, in a word, outrageous!  Observe. (I swear that really isn’t Pre-Teen kicking the Locks of Love, honest.)

(Video by Teen)

Well, right then and there, Teen, Pre-Teen and I decided if Love Locks were going to be taken to this extreme, clearly, some guidelines needed to be established – a list of DO’s and DON’Ts  as it were. I think you will see what I mean…

Here are  6 of our suggestions!

1.  DON’T use a combination lock to express your devotion.  A key lock says forever, a combo lock says 6 months, tops.

Love Locks

2.  DON’T lock your love onto another’s lock.  Seriously, do you really want the success of your relationship hinged on the backs of several others?  That is like depending on Bieber to stop getting arrested and taking up valuable news time.

Love Locks of Paris

3.  DO make sure your key, when thrown, actually makes it into the water (Teen and Pre-Teen wanted to help out this unfortunate, doomed couple by scooting their key over the edge and into the river, but I told them you can’t mess with providence).

Lost key

4.  DON’T accidentally throw your car, home or hotel keys into the water instead of the keys to your Love Lock – clearly an omen no relationship could survive.

5.  DO, if you are locking your love to a bridge in celebration of a momentous event or anniversary, get the largest lock you can find – because, yes indeed, size matters.

Big Love Locks

6.  DO make sure your lock has a good view.  After all, it is for eternity…or until the next bolt cutter comes around.

Love Locks on Des Arts Bridge

In the wonderful words of Lenny Kravitz – “We Got to Let Love Rule

Only, maybe, with a few guidelines – just to keep the beautiful ritual from becoming any more Walmart-esque, like people showing up in pajamas, or worse yet, locking their love amidst a parade of body parts never meant to see the light of day.

That rumble you hear is Napoleon turning over in his (very large/could fit 20 men) tomb

Happy Valentines Day!

More Paris Posts:

A Paris Perspective:  The Monuments

A Paris Perspective: The City

A Paris Perspective: The River and Bridges

More Travel Posts:

Sweet Spot Travels

A Polar Vortex Photo-Op

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It’s cold outside.  I know this, not from a tremendous amount of personal experience because I am pretty sure no living creature in his/her right mind, and without fur, should test the limits of survival.  However, as I have already established (Live from the Polar Vortex), my cat is the only one who truly knows how to stay warm during these pv conditions. So, I trust her as my gauge and watch her intently for clues. That being said, even with all her fur (and, if you must know, fat) she only attempts outside jaunts long enough to “do her business”.  As I can “do my business” inside the warm house (although my boys don’t seem hampered by the same restrictions), I see no other purpose to leave it. And also, my trusty weather gauge, tells me to not make any sudden movements that would require leaving the house unless absolutely necessary,  like to get food or engage in the annoying activity called work.

Did I mention, it's cold?

Did I mention, it’s cold?

However, against my better judgment and self-preservation, I allowed my husband to talk me into a wilderness hike into our woods nearby.  Something about his words “to see the beauty”, “virgin snow” and “you are going to want to bring your camera” had me putting on as many layers as I could still stand up in, grabbing my camera and hoping to make it back home with fingers and toes still intact.

But, he was right.  It was beautiful and probably worth the risk of a little frost bite.

Winter Woods1

Winter Woods2

Winter Woods 3

Winter Woods 4

Winter Woods 5

Winter Woods 6

Winter Woods 7

Winter Woods 8

Winter Woods 9

Unfortunately, our woodland adventure ended when my husband had a disagreement with a hill as to whether his SUV could make it up its icy, snow covered surface in 4 wheel drive or not.  The answer was “not”,  with the end result being a backward slide into a tree that was kind enough to stop our decent, abruptly…

Unfortunate time of year for creative ventilation.

Unfortunate time of year for creative ventilation.

(Truthfully, his vehicles have looked worse)

The hike back out of the woods to get a ride home until his car could be towed out was somehow not quite as quaint,

Did it all of a sudden get colder?

Did it all of a sudden get colder?

But, we lived to tell about it, and then some.

The cat was the only one who stayed home…

Live From the Polar Vortex

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polar vortex

Yesterday, I went to the bank.  Exciting, I know.  But, I made a crucial discovery in the process.  You see, as I dumped into the teller’s space my unfinished deposit items, I expressed apologies for my inability to perform the simplest of math required to complete the deposit slip.  “That’s ok” she generously replied, “It’s too cold to think”.  In the words of Pre-Teen, who immortalized the phrase in our family after discovering a London street we had inadvertently walked down late one night was the “gay party street”…

”That explains a lot!!!”.

Too cold to think!  Of course! Suddenly all was explainable.  It explained why I can’t seem to write a blog to save my life (which aside from my recent run-in with a barbed wire fence hasn’t really been necessary), why I have been driving in circles on country roads in the quest to deliver my sons to sporting events (because how else to explain that after 12 years, I still have not mastered country-style direction following), and why I can’t seem to put two words together or remember anyone’s name (cause, like, in no way could that be age or anything).

Honestly, the whole Polar Vortex thing is getting on my nerves.  Aside from the “too cold to think” phenomenon (which, seriously, is the last thing I need as my thinking abilities are challenged under the warmest of conditions), and the fact that I can’t leave the house without cursing at the wind like a crazy lady, and those weather-chicken school officials who keep making my kids stay home with me, stuck in the house being bored, instead of in school annoying the teachers, (don’t they know waiting at the bus stop in sub-zero weather builds character?),  there are the questions.

For example, my husband, asking me every single morning – like my uterus is somehow hard wired into the Doppler radar – “What is the weather forecast for today?” (um cold, freezing or excuse-me-while-I-scream-in-agony-cold?).  Or from friends and family smugly living in my native California – like they don’t recall that anything under 60 degrees qualifies as “cold” in Cali (yeah, you know who you are) – “Is it cold there?”  (um, yeah, cold, freezing, and excuse-me-while-I-scream-in-agony cold).  Or from Teen and Pre-Teen who I suspect secretly just want me out of the way so they can watch a cagillioneth episode of Family Guy “Why are you watching Dexter…again!?” – (because the Miami setting makes me feel warm and I have a soft spot for a cute sociopath with heart, if you must know).

I can at least appreciate the question from friends who, like me once basked in the glory of a sunshine state but have now unwittingly found themselves relocated in a polar vortex – “Are you surviving the cold”  (since I wear gloves to grocery shop, I would have to say “No”).

One thing is for certain.  My cat, Lulubelle, doesn’t seem to have trouble thinking in the cold and has in fact figured out a way to survive and keep warm, which makes her the smartest member of our family.

You don't mind a few, or say hundreds of white hairs on your clean laundry, right?

You don’t mind a few, or say hundreds of white hairs on your clean laundry, right?

Yep, things are that bleak.

So for now,

I am coming to you live from the Polar Vortex…

But, only barely.

Resolutions Are For Chumps

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Freeze-your-buns-off-cartoon

On New Years Eve 2014, I was in Las Vegas and by the time midnight rolled around – man, I was flying high!

Ok, well, actually, I was delayed in the Las Vegas Airport on my way home on December 31 and when the midnight hour struck Jan. 1 2014, I was (finally) in the air somewhere over Kansas (which could be perceived as a good or bad omen depending on your POV).

Despite this scintillating passage into 2014, I have managed to hold onto my tradition of not really facing the prospects of a new year until long after interest has died away.

First of all let me say, in the words of my brother – “New Year’s Resolutions are for chumps.”  (in truth what he  said was “fruit is for chumps”, but, like a sea turtle, I adapted).

Bottom line, I don’t do resolutions.

That is not to say, however, there are not some things I wish I did better, such as; exercise more, eat less sugar, drink more water and less coffee, have a cleaner house, write more (maybe even write a New Year’s post actually on New Year’s), be a better wife and a cooler mom (the kind that lets them eat Doritos and use the microwave), put up holiday decorations more than a few days before a holiday and… have perkier boobs.  I would love to be the person that shops at farmers markets, has dinner parties, can keep a plant alive, loves every second of kids’ sporting events, doesn’t need to have gray hairs dyed constantly and… has perkier boobs.

However, since I resolve to never make New Year’s Resolutions, I am stuck with a few survival type choices:  make it through another Midwest winter with my butt intact, laugh with abandon at the stupidest jokes, get on my snowboard at least once, finish watching Dexter (cause what is better when stuck inside for days on end than spending it with a serial killer with a code), and… pretend to have perkier boobs.

I won’t be in better shape, have less dust on my furniture, grow my own vegetables or have a festive looking house but…

At least, I’ll be no chump (with imaginary perky boobs)

Bring it on,  2014, I’m ready now.

Merry Christmas 2013

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What would Christmas be without a boy peeing fountain?  Fortunately, I do not have to find out the depths of such a deprivation,  for on the last day of our recent travels in France, we made one final stop in Brussels, Belgium.  Our main objective for our short time in Brussels?  To vigorously seek out the famous infamous Manneken Pis fountain (pronounced mannequin peace but which Preteen insists on pronouncing mannequin piss, because it seems, well, so much more accurately descriptive…and its fun to say piss).

Sure there was a beautiful decorated tree in the main square – Grote Markt:

Grand Place/Grote Markt - Brussels, Belgium

Grand Place/Grote Markt – Brussels, Belgium

And yes there was a pretty impressive light show set to music on the historic buildings surrounding the Grote Markt Square (well, impressive for the first 10 minutes, the remaining hour seemed repetitive…maybe because  the same three songs kept repeating over and over and over again?).

How many ways can you vary lights on a building?

How many ways can you vary colorful lights on a building, anyway?

And of course there was a living Manger presentation  (although I don’t think the sheep really grasped the importance of their roles in welcoming baby Jesus as they focused primarily on consuming all the manger  hay).

But, at long last, we finally found it -  the one and only Mannekin Pis – the statue of a boy eternally peeing into a fountain pool.  And so festively decorated for Christmas:

What would Christmas be without a decorated fountain of a boy peeing? Brussels, Belgium

What would Christmas be without a decorated fountain of a boy peeing?

And now, my Christmas of 2013 is indeed complete.

A very Merry Christmas from Sweet Spot.

May your holidays be filled with beauty, colored lights, food a-plenty and unexplainable sites.

For more Travel musings: Sweet Spot Travels

A Paris Perspective: The River and Bridges

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It is impossible to complete my perspective until I have paid homage to the River Seine and beautiful bridges of Paris.  Without them, Paris would, well still be spectacular but somehow less so.

In keeping with my usual travel routine of always having a movie location to find in famous cities, Paris was no different.  For example, in Rome, I searched for the Mouth of Truth from Roman Holiday, in Venice - The Italian Job, in Vera Cruz – Romancing the Stone, and in Paris – The Bourne Idendity .  More particularly, Pont Neuf (Jason wasn’t there, I checked) .  Along the way, however, I discovered Pont Neuf was just one of many unique and wonderful bridges in Paris.  Here are a few of my favorite perspectives:

Part Three:  The River Seine and Bridges

A view of Pont Neuf from the Love Lock encrusted Des Arts Bridge.

A view of Pont Neuf from the Love Lock encrusted Des Arts Bridge.

Pont Neuf Bridge

Pont Neuf

The River Seine and the stairs to nowhere.

The River Seine and the stairs to nowhere.

A two level bridge - one for pedestrians and the other for vehicles.

Pont de Bir Hakeim – A two level bridge – one for pedestrians and the other for vehicles.

And here the pigeons of Venice thought they were the only ones that could swarm.

And here the pigeons of Venice thought they were the only ones able to swarm for the camera.

Pont St. Louis from Ile St. Louis to Notre Dame.

Pont St. Louis from Ile St. Louis to Notre Dame.

And now, my photo story is all told out – until I am lucky enough to  be in Paris again.

Long live snails…because I would rather they live than have to eat them.

For more on Paris:

A Paris Perspective:  The Monuments

A Paris Perspective: The City

Paris, the Walmart of Love?

For more Sweet Spot Travel Posts:  Sweet Spot Travels

A Paris Perspective: The City

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When traveling, I randomly (and my family would say – excessively) shoot picture after picture after picture.  My mantra excuse is always  I never know quite what I will want to share about a city or place – what will stand out, make me laugh, make me want to return.

Likewise, I never know what Teen and Pre-teen are going to glean from our experiences.  In my last post A Paris Perspective: The Monuments, I shared Part One of my photo perspective and Teen’s short but to the point assessment of Paris.  Pre-teen, however, in a moment of rarity, was more loquacious on his impressions.

Pre-Teen’s 4 Parisian Summations:

1.  Napoleon, as basically the only French war hero, pretty much has it made in the eternal “hero-worship” department.

2.  The most memorable experience in Paris is climbing to the top of the Eiffel Tower where the telescope glasses allow you to stalk tourists in the plaza below.

3.  Escargot tastes like, well, eating a snail.

Last, and unarguably the most important…

4. When in Paris,  Nutella filled crepes should be consumed at every possible opportunity, morning, noon and night.

As for mine, again, Paris can speak for itself.

Part 2: The City

The carousel at Hotel de Ville

The carousel at Hotel de Ville

Shops

A city street

The Metro at Saint Michel

The Metro at Saint Michel

The Moulin Rouge

The Moulin Rouge

Jardin de Tuileries

Jardin de Tuileries

View from the Pantheon

View from the Pantheon steps

Galerie Vivienne

Galerie Vivienne

Inside the Galerie Vivienne

Inside the Galerie Vivienne

Place de Concorde

Place de Concorde

And yes, there is a Part Trois – Rivers and Bridges – coming next!

Other Paris perspectives:

A Paris Perspective: The Monuments

A Paris Perspective: The River and Bridges

Paris, the Walmart of Love?

For more Sweet Spot Travel Posts:  Sweet Spot Travels

A Paris Perspective: The Monuments

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There are three things to know about visiting Paris in November:

1.  It will be cold – meaning many of the fountains will be dormant for winter and the gardens will be limited to a fall array of colors and falling leaves.

2.  BUT – There will be no lines or crowds for anything, anywhere, no matter what the monument, museum, or historic landmark!

3.  No matter what the time of year, every corner you turn in Paris will take your breath away.

This was our first time in Paris and as I labored over what to write it finally dawned on me (in much the same way as discovering no matter how prepared or what they are called, Escargot is still a snail) – Paris can quite effectively speak for itself.

Part 1:  The Monuments

View from the top of Notre Dam

View from the top of Notre Dam

Arch de Triumph

Arch de Triumph

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower

The Louvre

The Louvre

Les Invalides - Napoleons Tomb

Les Invalides with Napoleon’s Tomb from inside Rodin Museum Gardens

Notre Dame and the River Seine

Notre Dame and the River Seine

And because it is impossible for me to leave without just one joke…

Mom:  “Teen, what did you think of Paris?”

Teen:  “It is a great city – but the cheese is too old and the meat too raw…”

Stay tuned for Part Deux…(that is two years of high school French at work!)

For more of Paris:

Part 2.   A Paris Perspective: The City

Part 3:  A Paris Perspective: The River and Bridges

Paris, the Walmart of Love?

For more Sweet Spot Travel Posts:  Sweet Spot Travels

Teen Talk: Episode #11

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Comic by K

Comic by K

We now interrupt our regularly scheduled program to bring you another episode of  Teen Talk.  I assure you, everything you are about to hear is real and unedited. Please, do not try this at homeUnless you don’t mind freezing (or sweating) your da-dunt-da-dunts  off.

One day, Teen took a Home Energy Conservation Test at school.

Teen:  “Mom, we scored really bad on the Home Energy Conservation Test I took at school.”

Mom:  “Really? How bad?”

Teen:  “Well, lets just put it this way – it is just another one of those things I’ll be working out in therapy someday.”

Mom:  “What do you mean?”

Teen:  “You know, something like this…”

Therapist:

“So, Teen, tell me about your childhood and home life .”

Therapy Teen:

“Well, I remember how all the kids at school used to laugh and make fun of me because we turned off appliances in our house instead of unplugging them from the wall.”

Therapist:

“I see, go on…”

Therapy Teen:

“I was cut from the baseball team.  They never told me me why, but I knew it was because my family used whole ducted house heating and cooling.  I just wanted to fit in, but I knew I never would because of my familie’s high energy usage.  Even to this day, I have nightmares of comfortable heating and cooling while taking a long hot bath. 

Mom:  “That therapy list is really growing.”

Teen:  “Yep.”

The End

Teen Talk: Episode #10

Teen Talk: Episode #9

Teen Talk: Episode #8

Teen Talk: Episode #7

Teen Talk: Episode #6

Teen Talk: Episode #5

Teen Talk: Episode #4

*Teen Talk: Episode #3

Teen Talk Episode #2

Teen Talk Episode #1

Fall and the Drive-By Photo Op

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Being a native of California, I scientifically lack the gene required to flourish in a cold climate – cold being, anything under 60 degrees.  Seriously, it’s true. There is a grant-able study in there somewhere, I am sure of it!

Therefore, having chosen to live in the Midwest (and by choose, I mean going all pioneer woman and falling in love with a country boy – True Love By Way of Kitty Dance and a Bucking Horse), I have had to rely on instincts from my ancient ancestors, ugly shoes and, at times, the cat’s pooper scooper (A California Girl’s Rural Winter Survival Guide) in order to survive.

However, there is a bright spot to living in a place where all vegetation turns into standing firewood for months on end each year.  Just prior to becoming winter skeletons, the trees and bushes turn, if only for a brief time, into the most amazing parade of yellows, oranges and reds.  It is truly beautiful.

This fall season has been particularly stunning where I live.  So of course, I spent the whole of the Fall season running around trying to get “the perfect photo” to share with Sweet Spot visitors.

Some of the most amazing displays are along the main highway I traverse on a daily basis.  Unfortunately, I quickly discovered, on my 60+ stretch of frequented highway, there is virtually no place to safely pull over for Vista Views and Photo Ops.  I suppose this is to keep the foreigners (i.e. people from Kansas) from stopping until well across our state.   Anyway, since I did not desire my epitaph to read “died in pursuit of a pretty picture of trees” and the “drive-by” photo always looked exactly like what it was, a crazy lady trying to drive and take pictures on a highspeed interstate highway at the same time,

Crazy Lady Photo Drive-By

Crazy Lady Highway Photo Drive-By

I ditched the effort.

Thus, I resorted to skulking around back roads, byways and onto peoples’ private property – which can be precarious in a place where the guns outnumber the residents 2 to 1 – to take photos.

In the end, the one Utopian Fall Photo I was so desperately in search of eluded me. But maybe this collection of my favorite photos (and one stolen from a friend), make their own kind of perfection:

Fall in the MidwestFall in the MidwestFall in MidwestFall in MidwestPhoto by: Nollie Moore

Fall in MIdwestFall in Midwest

If you want to see the most beautiful fall display, I guess you will have to someday come and drive our Midwest highway yourself…just don’t plan on stopping.

The Halloween Hamburger Murder

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Happy Halloween, Sweet Spot Style

Video by H

Other Sweet Spot Videos:

Boy Meets Tree

What’s Your Idea of a Good Time?

Every Good Rebellion Deserves Documentation

Sweet Spot Halloween posts:

Nightmare on Doddridge Street

To Spider With Love

Accidental Farmer: The Rest of the Story

Mini-Break in Monterey, CA

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Old Fisherman's Wharf - Monterey, CA

Old Fisherman’s Wharf – Monterey, CA

Actually, the mini-break was my trip out to Northern California – a familial inspired excursion (which is a fancy way of saying, I went to visit my parents).  The Monterey portion of the trip was more like a one day jaunt when a happy circumstance arose to meet up with friends in the coastal city.   So, I guess that makes my trip to Monterey, CA more of a “micro-break” (a totally made up concept, which makes me some sort of trend setter, in my own mind anyway).

So, what does one do with friends and only one day, or rather several hours to spend in Monterey, California?  Duh, go where the food is, of course!  More particularly, Old Fisherman’s Wharf for the clam chowder!

Why is that guy’s floating head in my photo?

And in case you are one of those people who does not do any research on restaurants in advance (like me), not to worry!  For, as we walked down the wharf every restaurant offered us a sample of their version of clam chowder, daring us to consider each the best on the wharf – which made me feel a bit like Gordon Ramsay,  with cuter shoes but not near as coiffed.  Finally we settled on a restaurant mostly because they clearly had the best chowder that day, but also so I could raz my husband, who shares the moniker (ok, he is making me clarify,  “only the Jim part”), about it later.

Hey you people, get your mitts off of my samples!

Hey you people, get your mitts off of my samples!

With the remaining time, I took a walk over to the neighboring pier on San Carlos Beach.

Monterey, California

Once to the end of the pier, I found massive amounts of Sea Lions just “chillin’” in the sun. Stuffed as I was with sample clam chowder, bowl of clam chowder, bread, calamari and the most amazing oyster crackers ever, I was vastly tempted to join them…they, however, did not seem entirely receptive to the idea.

Not the most hospitable group of mammals.

Not the most hospitable group of mammals…unless you are big, brown and have flippers.

In conclusion, I came away with four pertinent pieces of information from my Micro-Break in Monterey, CA.

1. Sea Lions are major posers.

Poser #1

Posers #1

Poser #2

Poser #2

2.  If you are planning on leaving your boat or yacht in the harbor, beware!  Although the Sea Lions are vastly fastidious when it comes to leaving their rock lounge in order to shall we say, answer the call of nature,  when they get onto your boat, they are not overly concerned about it – giving a whole new perspective on “swabbing the deck” (Thank you conservationist guy who had nothing better to do than answer my stupid questions).

3. If you go to Monterey and don’t at least sample the clam chowder you should be drawn and quartered…or at least made to swab those decks.

Old Fisherman's Wharf.  Monterey, California

Old Fisherman’s Wharf. Monterey, California

4.  I will be back.

For more travel posts:  Sweet Spot Travels

Curl Up and Dye

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Fancy a hair cut?

Fancy a hair cut?

Whilst traveling through Chillicothe, Missouri (yep, you read that right) a few weeks ago, I happened upon the above hair establishment.  I’ll admit, I was curious.  I mean, you don’t have to hang around Sweet Spot long to know how much I relish a healthy sense of humor (Teen Talk) and a good play on words (Word-Up).  But, brave enough to give it a go?  Probably not.  When it comes to my hair, humor is not really the emotion I am attempting to inspire.  But, that’s just me.

The Rebellion Rages On

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In response to my article earlier this week, Every Good Rebellion Deserves Documentation, I came home yesterday to an empty house and this:

spaghettiosHow the Spaghetti O’s even made it into my pantry in the first place is a subversive, rebellious act which will have to be routed out.  Until then, at least these mutineers can still make the dictator laugh.

Happy Friday