Category Archives: Daily Life

Ancient Aliens Tour Part 1: Lines of Nazca, Peru

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We had decided long before our trip we could not miss seeing the lines of Nazca in Peru.  Never mind that there is no real convenient way to get there, never mind that from Lima it takes a taxi – more than 3 1/2 hour bus ride – 30 minute plane ride to even get close, never mind that you have to actually fly over them to see, never mind that air sickness is imminent as the plane roles from side to side to view the lines, never mind that in actuality they are hard to pick out the figures – kind of like trying to see one of those pictures through a random pattern (which I could never do!).  No, none of this was a deterrent as we collectively decided it was something we weren’t leaving Peru without seeing…and seeing as how I eventually had to go back to work, and the Teens had to start school some time, we decided to just suck it up and go for it.

We got up and left our hotel at one of those hours of the morning when it would have been way more fun to just be going to bed.  The taxi picked us up at our hotel in Mira Flores, Lima and took us to the bus station.  From there we caught a bus for the almost 4 hour ride to Paracas/Pisco.

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Yes, the view was somewhat bleak (although I like all views a country has to offer!)…

Processed with VSCO with se3 presetBut we weren’t hurting too bad as our bus was equipped with personal movie screens and breakfast service!

We arrived in Pisco where we were to catch the small 12 seater plane that was to fly us over the lines.  However, we had some time to kill, so we went into the nearby seaside town of Paracas.

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Having been warned of the possibility of motion sickness on the small plane as it had to roll form sided to side for viewing the figures, I was way too afraid to eat.  However, this did not stop Teen, who with his uncanny food finding skills, located a vendor with the best wrapped tamales in the entire country of Peru…

photo-jul-28-11-51-36-amFinally, it was time to go to the airport (and I use that term loosely) to get weighed for our flight, strap in, and get ready for our first “Ancient Aliens” adventure…

We were given a map of the Nazca line figures we were going to fly over, and instructed in techniques on how to best avoid getting motion sickness (umm, yeah, forget that, I took motion sickness pills). And finally, we were on our way!

photo-jul-28-1-12-51-pmIt took 30 minutes in order to get to  where the actual figures were, but along the way we began to see signs of the amazing several mile – absolutely straight lines that criss crossed the terrain.

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And finally… The Lines of Nazca! We flew in and around the area for about an hour. Here are just a few of the several we saw that day.  They were harder to pick out than anticipated, but once we got the hang of it, it got easier.  The plane would go around each figure, turn on its side so each side of the plane could get a good view.

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The Hummingbird

 

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The Parrot

I think we all agreed, fittingly, “the spaceman” was our favorite although I was not able to get a photo of him (hmmm?).

And then it was back to the quaint town of Paracas to (finally) eat and get ready for the long trek back to Lima.

photo-jul-28-4-07-06-pmA long day to be sure, but undeniably worth it!

Next time – Cusco

For more travel in Peru: GO HERE

For more Sweet Spot Travel: GO HERE

 

 

 

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SoCal Mini Break: Venice Beach Boardwalk

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Venice Beach Boardwalk Skate Park

I can’t make a stop in LA without a pass through Venice.  When I was a Los Angeles resident, Venice was always a great place to be for the day, with all its color and life!

Luckily, this time, it was only a short walk away from my bungalow in Marina Del Rey to the Venice Boardwalk…

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Close enough to take in the art…

 

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And the people…

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Do a little shopping…

 

 

Take in the local flavor…

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And catch some major skill at the skatepark…

Processed with Snapseed.Processed with Snapseed.Processed with Snapseed. Processed with VSCO with acg presetBut, as I have experienced time and again in My California, I can never get enough…

photo-oct-12-1-34-56-pm…so, I will continue to return.

SoCal Mini Break: Beach Time

For more Sweet Spot Travels: Go Here

Teen’s New Hog

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We now interrupt our regularly scheduled program to bring you another episode of  Teen Talk.  I assure you, everything you are about to see is real and unedited. Please do not try this at home…Unless you can fold yourself up like a frog.

One day, Teen cleaned out his chop shop…

Teen:  “Mom, I traded that Zebra dirt bike I could never get to run for one that does!”

Mom:  “Really?  (I was perfectly content with the non-running model) Does the new one go very fast?”

Teen:  “Oh, not that fast”

Mom: “hmm”

Teen:  “Wanna see?”

For more Teen Talk – go here!

Teen Talk: Episode #16

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Ready for a snack?

Ready for a snack?

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 home. Unless you are Euell Gibbons.

One day, Teen confronted the Food Nazi (aka Mom).

Mom: “Did I tell you I am on the food committee for the post prom party?”

Teen:  “Seriously?”

Mom: “What?  I can make good snacks.”

Teen: “Sure”

Mom: “I can! I like sweets just as much as the next guy…”

Teen: “Whoa, Whoa, Whoa…let me stop you right there before you say something we’ll both be sorry for later.”

The End

For more Teen Views: Teen Talk

Copenhagen in 7 Hours of Daylight: City of Art

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National Museum, Copenhagen DenmarkOne of the intriguing aspects of travel, in my book anyway, is discovering the artistic sensibilities of a city. Separate and apart from the tourist attractions, historic buildings and popular sites, the art of an individual city can be found in many ways.

It is true, of course, that art can always be found in the local museums…

National Art Museum

National Museum of Art

National Art Museum

National Museum of Art

Viking Exhibit, National Art Museum

Viking Exhibit, National Museum of Art

However, my favorite forms of the artistic expression of a city are found just by walking down the street…

Christiania Grafitti Wall

Christiania Grafitti Wall

Copenhagen, Denmark

New in front of old.

Christiania, Copenhagen, Denmark Copenhagen, Denmark

Sometimes interesting art can be found (even if it is puzzling) in store windows…

Copenhagen, Denmark

Some cities can even make an old relic into art…

Copenhagen, Denmark

Nyhavn Anchor

Sometimes the art is in the shadows…

Copenhagen, Denmark

And sometimes, to find the art in a city, you only have to walk into McDonalds…

McDonald's Dining

McDonald’s Dining

McDonald's Flair

McDonald’s Flair

For my part, it doesn’t matter how the art is discovered, as long as it is found.

Next time:  Copenhagen – City of Architecture

More on Copenhagen:

Copenhagen in 7 Hours of Daylight: The City Walk

Copenhagen in 7 Hours of Daylight: The Architecture

For more Sweet Spot Travels: Sweet Spot Travels

 

 

Copenhagen in 7 Hours of Daylight: The City Walk

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Copenhagen…in the winter.  There are definitely disadvantages to traveling during the off season – weather doesn’t always play nice and kids missing school.  However, there are clear advantages – no lines, no crowds, cheaper hotels, and (depending on perspective) missing school.

On our recent trip to Copenhagen, Denmark in December, however, we did encounter one slightly unexpected disadvantage – only 7 hours of daylight.

Copenhagen at 2:45 pm

Copenhagen at 2:45 pm!

I mean, we knew to only expect barely 7 hours of light, but the reality didn’t really hit home until our first day at breakfast.  There we were, at 7:00 am, unable to sleep past 4 am due to jet lag time adjustment up and raring to start our first day in a new city, awaiting sunrise…7:30 am…7:45 am…8:00 am…8:15 am…8:30 am…8:45 am…and finally the light began to peak through the darkness!  We knew we only had until about 3:40 pm until darkness descended again – so the race was on!

We started in beautiful Nyhavn:

Nyhavn, Copenhagen, Denmark

Nyhavn, Copenhagen, Denmark

Nyhavn, Copenhagen, Denmark

Enjoyed all the beautiful canals and waterways!

Copenhagen, Denmark

We were tempted to make use of some of the alternate transportation to speed our tour along!

Bikes

Bikes

Fuel efficient cars

Fuel efficient cars

Jumped on the city trampolines to keep warm!

Trampolines in Copenhagen, Denmark

And finally made it back across the last bridge as night was falling on our first day…at 3:30 pm!

Copenhagen, Denmark

It was a good day. Some might say, magical.

Copenhagen, Denmark

More on Copenhagen:

Copenhagen in 7 Hours of Daylight: City of Art

Copenhagen in 7 Hours of Daylight: The Architecture

For more Sweet Spot Travels: Sweet Spot Travels

 

 

My California

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On a recent trip home to Northern California, I decided make the attempt to capture my California – the California where I spent my childhood living and my adult hood visiting – in pictures.

The California of my childhood – in the shadow of Mount Umunhum,

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On the edge of the Santa Teresa Hills,

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With the currently shrinking Calero dam, just beyond,

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Where my suburban neighborhood,

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Nestled right alongside the farms and ranches of rural Nor Cal,

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A place where the sky is sometimes pink,

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and even during a drought or dry spell is always beautiful,

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My California. The place that will always be home.

 

For more Sweet Spot travels- Sweet Spot Travels

 

Weekend Wedding in Monterey, California

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I was vastly appreciative to my niece for choosing to have her wedding in Monterey, California.

Mr. and Mrs.!

Mr. and Mrs!

While I doubt my wishes were high on her list in decision making, I was nonetheless both thrilled to able to share this day with her and enjoy such a picturesque place. While this was not my first time in Monterey (Mini Break in Monterey), it was my first time in the fall and with my family.  We were blessed with the perfect Monterey weekend.

Cannery Row

Cannery Row The Aquarium, Cannery Row

The Murals

Beaches and murals, Monterey, ca

The Foggy Mornings

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Being Tourists

Dippin dots on Cannery Row, Monterey

Cannery row, Monterey, california

Never pass up a weekend in Seaside Northern Californa!

FOR MORE SWEET SPOT TRAVELS: Sweet Spot travels

 

Teen Talk: Episode #15

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Teen

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 home. Unless you are fond of servitude.

One day, Teen decided to establish his place in the Familial Hierarchy.

Mom:  “Teen, are you working this weekend?”

Teen: “Yes, all day Saturday. Do you know if my work clothes have gone through the laundry yet?”

Mom:  “I’m not sure, we should check when we get home tonight.”

Teen:  “Ok”

Mom:  “Send me a text message as a reminder.  Otherwise, I am afraid, by the time we get home later, we will forget to check.”

…ding…

Text from Teen:  Dear slave,

                               Make sure to wash and iron my good clothes for my upcoming business affairs.

                               Sincerely,

                               The Overlord

The End

For more views by Teen Go Here: Teen Talk

Somewhere in Mexico: Beautiful Bacalar

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Bacalar Lagoon, MexicoWe weren’t supposed to stay there, in fact we considered driving right on by and not even stopping.  However, we hate to feel like we might have missed something (like a talking cross that doesn’t talk, or incidentally – sing!).  So, into the town of Bacalar we went.  The town is small, and still relatively untouched by the tourism hordes.  In fact, it reminded me of the quiet, bohemian feel of Playa Del Carmen long before the overflow from Cancun turned it into a perpetual spring break.

Maybe we were lucky, maybe it was kismet or maybe we simply paid enough travel dues (like flying all the way to Ecuador next to “Forrest Gump” , getting his views on the countries’ high altitude, “lawdy, lawdy it’s high up in there”) – whatever the reason,  we found ourselves outside this gate…

Bacalar, MexicoLike a Mexican gated community.

Our tentative knocks on the gate were greeted by a young women’s head squeezing out of the smallest crack in the gate opening.  We explained to her head that we were looking for a room for the night. We must have looked normal and harmless enough, with one teen’s face stuck to the screen of his phone, and the other scarfing Mexican Doritos and thus we were allowed into the secret chamber.  As soon as we walked in, the reason for the secretive nature became clear…

Bacalar, MexicoWho wouldn’t want to guard this?

The hotel had 5 cabana type rooms, right on the lagoon, nestled in palm trees.  Lucky for us, one of the reservations had decided not to show up and we were more than happy to take their place!

Bacalar, MexicoA room with a view.

We didn’t waste any time jumping into the that beautiful jewel green water…

Bacalar Lagoon, Mexico

Or making use of the hammocks…

Bacalar Lagoon, Mexico

Or digging our toes into that soft (albeit a little creepy in that soft squishy, ‘what exactly is that stuff’  kind of way) spa like mud/sand lagoon bottom.

Bacalar lagoon, Mexico

Or lounging and enjoying meals in the open air lobby…

Bacalar, Mexico Casa Caracol

Or hanging out on the jungle encased swing set…

Bacalar, Mexico

But, eventually we had to say goodbye and move on down the road…

Bacalar Lagoon, Mexico

At least now, we know where the road leads

Bacalar, Mexico

and how to gain access into the inner sanctum…

Bacalar Lagoon, Mexico

Until we meet again…

Bacalar, MexicoFor more travel in Mexico:

Somewhere in Mexico: Roberto Barrios Falls

Somewhere in Mexico: The Talking Cross

Thanks for the Memories, Mexico

For more SWEET SPOT Travel: GO HERE

Somewhere in Mexico: The Talking Cross

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Felipe Carillo Puerto, MexicoI had to keep reminding myself we were in search of a “Talking Cross” and not a “Singing Cross.”  As much as I wanted to be in a Disney movie, the legend only accounted for a cross that had talked (although, seriously, I think the big bucks would have been to go with a cross that could belt one out).  Anyway, as the legend goes…

in 1849, when the War of the Castes turned against them, the Maya of the northern Yucatan Peninsula made their way to Carrillo Puerto seeking refuge.  Regrouping, they were ready to sally forth again in 1850 when a ‘miracle’ occurred.  A wooden cross erected at a cenote on the western edge of the town began to talk – exhorting the Maya to continue the struggle against the Spanish and promising victory (bold cross or ventriloquist?). The oracle guided the Maya in battle for more than eight years, until their great victory, conquering the fortress at Bacalar.  Carrillo Puerto today remains a center of Maya pride – as a symbol of the Maya people’s struggle against inequality and injustice.*

On this particular day of driving from Bacalar to Playa Del Carmen in the state of Quintana Roo in Mexico, we found ourselves in the vicinity of the town of Felipe Carrillo Puerto.  It was decided we could not move forward until we had found and seen this talking cross (secretly, I was still hoping for a Let It Go reprise).

We, duh, went to the main church square in town – seemed like the logical place to find a revered cross.

Felipe Carrillo Puerto, Mexico

I don’t see any inanimate objects here that look loquacious…?

But no luck.  Further inquiries with the very kind overseer at the old church led us next to a location a few blocks away – down a deserted road on the edge of town…

Felipe Carrillo Puerto, Mexico

…where we found the talking cross housed in an old thatch roofed building, with some – while not so illustrious – but very attentive caretakers:

Felipe Carrillo Puerto, Mexico - The Talking Cross

No shoes allowed, no shirts required.

No shoes were allowed worn inside the premises, and apparently one of the caretakers felt this translated to shirts as well.  Anyway, at long last, we were finally able to view the Talking Cross.

The talking cross - Mexico

Teen is enthralled…with the thought of getting an actual coke soon. 

It’s back there behind all the garlands, liter coke bottles filled with water and other various offerings – the reason for which our guide was not really able to explain to us (the cross might get thirsty if it decides to talk again…?)

It did not talk for us (nor did it sing) – but I thought I might have heard a few bars being hummed as we left the premises…or, that might have been Teen doing his best ventriloquist imitation.

For more travels in Mexico:

Somewhere in Mexico: Roberto Barrios Falls

Somewhere in Mexico: Beautiful Bacalar

Thanks for the Memories, Mexico

 

For more SWEET SPOT TRAVELS: Go Here

*Mexico Lonely Planet

Teen Talk: Episode #14

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When Mom says “Go play outside!”…

Teen plays outside

We now interrupt our regularly scheduled program to bring you another episode of Teen Talk. I assure you, everything you are about to hear see is real and unedited. Please, do not try this at home. Unless  you don’t mind turning your living room into outdoor furniture.

The end.

For more Teen Talk: Go Here

How to “Find Yourself” at 50

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The QuizThis year, I reached a milestone of 50 (not in pushups, unfortunately, but in years). When I turned 40, shopping like crazy for the next decade seemed an acceptable course of action, but when I hit 50, at least some self-reflection was pretty much unavoidable.

How hard could it be? After 50 years I thought I had a handle on myself. On the keeping it real side, I have reconciled to the fact that I am not actually a good cook, or very crafty (despite embarrassing efforts on both), and I will never learn to like Cantaloupe. In the glass is half full kind of way, I have a healthy (if somewhat immature) sense of humor, I am good at taking on new challenges, and I am thrilled I never, ever have to learn to like Cantaloupe.

However, I was totally unprepared for the new realm of cyber self-discovery offered by the Facebook Quiz. Do you know it? The rampant quizzes offered online that allow the user to not only discover something they never knew they needed to know about themselves, but also the ability to share the vastly interesting findings with everyone on Facebook – things of great import such as What Broadway Musical are you?, Who is your Hunger Games Soulmate?, and How Many Goats are You Worth?

At first I laughed and made fun of people who took them (I’m 50; I’m allowed to do that). But curiosity got the best of me. Once I began to actually take the quizzes the depth of information I did not know about myself seemed endless. I couldn’t stop taking them and over the course of several months, I took every quiz I could find. I made some astounding discoveries.

Some of them made complete sense like,

1.  My personality color is Blue (even though on another day I took the quiz and could not stop getting the color pink – which makes me wonder if I have a split personality I was previously unaware of).

2.  If I were in a Horror Flick I would die right away (I always suspected as much).

3.  If I were a precious stone I would be an Emerald (Probably because I have watched Wizard of Oz a gazillion times.)

Some discoveries I can’t believe I went 50 years without knowing such as;

4.  If I was a Golden Girl I would be Rose (those “blond” moments have finally caught up with me).

5.  If I were a dessert I would be a Lemon Tart (because I am witty, zesty…and old).

6.  My hippy name is Luna (which my kids decided, made complete sense).

However, some information I found hard to reconcile like:

7.  If I were a movie character I would be Tony Stark (a complete let down from the standpoint that I would need to have man parts and was totally hoping for Holly GoLightly.)

8.  My boyfriend from the past was Cary Grant (I always thought of myself as more of a Montgomery Clift kind of girl – you know, the torchured brooding type).

9.  However, getting to smooch with Cary Grant (or Monty) hardly mattered since I also found out my most likely death in the past was to go down on the Titanic (completely proving my refusal to go on cruises did not actually stem from sea sickness and a fear of buffets).

10.  I am only 55% Bada$$ – meaning I am only a “Bada$$ in training wheels.” (But since the quiz, “What Famous Bada$$ are You?” said I was Mati Hari, I suggest you still watch your back).

And some of the discoveries I was just plain dubious about like:

11.  I am actually NOT a psychopath (a relief to my husband although he is still skeptical).

12.  My secret talent is Staying Calm (I don’t think my family was consulted here).

13. My calling is to be a Creative Master. (Clearly my cut out sugar cookies blobs were NOT considered).

14.  The country that most suits me is Monaco because I was born to live in the lap of luxury ( I am 50 years past that birth, anytime would be a good time for that to start!).

15.  My ideal way to spend a vacation was on a road trip across the United States. (in a car for hours on end with two teenagers? I think not).

And then there were the quizzes that required retakes such as:

16.  Which State Are You? On first try I was Massachusetts, which is just too cold, so I kept taking it until I got California.

17.  What Decade Are You? I got the 50’s. But now when I wear 50’s vintage sweaters I look old instead of hip.  So I retook the test until I got the 80’s (cause the 80’s and shoulder pads are cool again).

18.  Who is Your Celebrity Boyfriend? On the first try I found out my celebrity boyfriend and soul mate was Ryan Gosling, which I was completely thrilled about. However, I was greedy and wanted to see who else I could pick from and on the second attempt got Channing Tatum (hmmm, how will I ever choose?).

19.  What Brand of Car Best Describes You? On first take I got Toyota Prius which meant I cared about the Earth, but also seemed so un-sexy. On the next try I got Ferrari which meant I was Fast and Fabulous (like, was there ever any doubt?)

In the end, I was just happy to know, via the quizzes, my mental age is 22 (which may be reflective of my enjoyment of immature humor), the one word that best describes me is “Adventurous” (probably because I am the Mom of teens and survived a polar vortex), if I were a dog I would be a German Shepard (I was just relieved not to be a Terrier), my ideal career is Actor (being able to cry on command gets a lot accomplished), my song is “Your Beautiful” (which must stem from my penchant for straggly haired folk singers),

And most importantly, in a trade/dowry situation, I am worth 7 goats (which totally miffed Teen, because he was only worth 6).

If you think this article is making fun of the Facebook Quiz craze, well, you would be right. However, despite my ridicule, there was something intoxicating (not to mention a great time killer) about answering a slew of random questions designed to reveal some potentially deep dark (or shallow) secrets about yourself. And I did learn a thing or two – Which happily proves, even at 50, there are still things to learn (and everything on the internet is true).

Therefore, in the spirit of my new discoveries, I am leaving behind the well-loved mantra of my 40’s “Shop ‘til you drop” (-all women everywhere), to adopt the new mantra of my 50’s “Learn as if you were to live forever” (-Gandhi) – Which should keep me plenty busy for the next decade learning new ways to continue to shop.

Oh, and if we should, in the future, happen to cross paths,

Just call me Luna and bring some treats for my goats.

To find out how many Goats you are worth…go here.
(But, if you are worth more than 6, don’t tell Teen).

 

 

iPhone Photography: Sweet Spot Goes to School

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*In light of recent events, I can no longer in good conscience recommend the IPhone Photography School courses by Emil Pakarklis.  The business practices have become such that it is impossible to have confidence in the product and services*

It is so rare one has a legitimate excuse for procrastinating. In such cases, it is absolutely necessary to capitalize to the fullest. The truth is, diligent post writing has not been my strong suit as of late. I blame this on my husband… no particular reason; he is just a gracious fall guy.

However, my recent distraction has been so fun and educational, I wanted to share. For the past 7 weeks, I have been taking an online iPhone Photography class. I just got tired of having not quite in focus, overexposed photos or photos not exactly what I wanted them to be. I had seen amazing photos taken with the iPhone, so I knew it was possible. Plus, when I travel, I never want to lug around my big DSLR camera and rely mostly on my phone camera and little point and shoot.

Somewhat by chance, as I was once again searching for answers as to why my iPhone photos were not living up to my expectations, I came across the iPhone Photo Academy 6 week (plus 1 bonus week) online course given by Emil Pakarklis.

Since I had nothing better to do for the next 7 weeks – except all the things I needed to do – I decided to give it a go.

Suffice to say I learned a ton; basic iPhone camera use, photo composition and techniques, understanding how to use creativity, light, and shadows, good app editing that does not compromise the photo quality, photo moving and backing up and so much more. Plus, (and best of all for me since my brain in dog years functions more along the lines of a sieve as opposed to a sponge) the classes are always available online for me to revisit and review.

In the end, I learned (partly that many people will always take vastly better photos than I ) but mostly, taking better and even sometimes amazing photos with my iPhone is within my grasp.

I will share a few (or say seven) of my favorite photos I took (or in two cases, re-edited) during the course. Please be kind – I am a work in progress…

iPhone Photography

iPhone Photography

iPhone Photography

iPhone Photography

iPhone Photography

iPhone Photography Portrait

iPhone Photography

Disclaimer Alert: I did not receive anything from Emil Pakarklis for writing this review. I just got so much out of the course, more than even expected, I wanted to share with Sweet Spot readers (and capitalize on a good excuse for my lack of writing). If you are interested, the link for the class is below. Emil does a wonderful job presenting and explaining, and answers  all questions through an online chat as the course progresses. I don’t know when he will be offering another course cycle, but in the mean time, he also offers some free video instruction. I highly recommend the complete course!

iPhone Photography School

Sweet Spot Tells All

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chickenbrainsWell, not exactly “all”, but some…

Running today over on fellow Travel Blogger’s site, KarolinaPatryk.com, is Sweet Spot Travel’s first ever interview!

It was an honor and also very fun to answer questions about one of the things I love to do best!  Travel

To check it out – GO HERE! . It is short and, well,  sweet!

 

Also, while you are there,  you might check out Karolina and Patryk’s  wedding plans! Love this unique idea!

More SWEET SPOT TRAVELS

*Cartoon courtesy Doug Savage /www.savagechickens.com

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

 

For more views by Teen Go Here: Teen Talk

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.