Category Archives: Holiday

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

 

 

A Sweet Spot Merry Christmas 2015

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 Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2015 from the Sweet Spot pet crew.

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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

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

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

Spring Break at The Devil’s Bridge

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Along the hike to The Devil's Bridge

Along the hike to The Devil’s Bridge

Around this time last year, I shared some of my favorite pictures and moments from our Spring Break trip to Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon and Sedona, Arizona – more particularly, the highlight of The Devil’s Bridge!

However, I never really got around to telling the story of how we actually got to the Devil’s Bridge – or rather almost didn’t get there – until now!

Thanks to my fabulous writer friend Sherri Kuhn (whom I have known since the dark ages – i.e. when I still had braces) I am sharing the story over at SheKnows.com as part of a multi-writer contribution article about most memorable Spring Break vacation trips!

Find out what turning 50 (please, NOT ME – my husband) and a quest for The Devil’s Bridge have in common.

Go here to jump right to my story of how we strayed off the beaten path!

Go here to start at the beginning and read all contributing articles!

Really, it’s all good!

For more Sweet Spot Travels: Go Here!

“We Got to Let Love Rule”

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Accademia Bridge

The Love Locks – Venice, Italy

I think I may have mentioned we were in Italy last November (I promise to shut up about it after this post, maybe).  But one day, walking across the Accademia Bridge in Venice, my sons and I noticed rows of padlocks lining the hand rail up and down the bridge. We were intrigued (‘cause what is cooler than a bunch of unexplained hardware on a historic landmark?) On closer inspection, we discovered the locks were inscribed with names and sentiments of love – which I found adorable, and my boys found just plain embarrassing for the poor schmucks involved.  As we began to notice these locks secured on other historic bridges around Venice, including the famous Rialto Bridge, our curiosity grew.

And thus, through deep investigation (aka google search) we were able to solve the mystery of what we found out was called The Love Locks.

So, this Valentine’s day, if you want to say I Love You Italian-style, here is how it is done.

Accademia Bridge - Venice, Italy

Accademia Bridge – Venice, Italy

1.  Choose a romantic and/or historic bridge as depicted in the 2006 novel responsible for the current craze, “I Want You” by Italian author Federico Moccia. The preferred romantic locations seem to be in Italy – Rome, Venice, and Florence – although bridges in other countries such as Ireland, Germany, France, Canada and Russia seem to qualify as well due to the locks massively appearing.  Heck, a bridge anywhere will probably do the trick.

The Love Locks

2.  Get a padlock. Go fancy by engraving it with the name/initials of you and your lover and maybe some gooey sentiments.  Or do a poor man’s version by hand writing names and message of everlasting amour on your padlock (sharpie , nail polish, whatever is handy).  Then lock the padlock onto a historic/romantic bridge and throw the padlock key into the canal or body of water while thus swearing eternal love and devotion to one another.

But pay heed to #3…

The Love Locks2

3.  Seriously, here is the most important part, so don’t zone out yet.

Once you have put your lock into place and thrown the key into the water, run like Willie Nelson from the IRS!  You see, the truth is, putting the locks on the historic bridges is, in many places illegal due to the fact that they are considered by some to be an eyesore and also damage the old stone on the famous bridges as the locks begin to rust.  Getting caught locking your love to a bridge could be accompanied by a heavy fine, and in some cases, jail time (um, you have seen Midnight Express, right?).  All in the name of love.

However, don’t despair because…

The Love Locks3

While it is true that your padlock of eternal love could end up victim to massive bolt cutters in the night by authorities cleaning up and protecting the historic bridge (making the whole eternal thing a little less everlasting), there is still hope.  In true love Italian-style, authorities have in some places near or on the preferred historic bridges begun to install fences or special bars on which to hang the locks of love legally, without damaging the bridges.

You know what they say (or, well,  Lenny Kravitz says it – which is good enough for me),

“We Got to Let Love Rule!”

Happy Valentines Day from Sweet Spot!

Other Valentines Day Posts: True Love By Way of a Kitty Dance and a Bucking Horse.

For more Sweet Spot Travels: Go Here!

Down with Fish Tyranny!

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fish4

My son got a 5.5 gallon fish tank for Christmas – something he had long wished for.  The day came to go purchase the lucky inhabitants.  My son dutifully put in colored rocks, hooked up the light, put together the filter, let it run for a few hours, and “Voila!” ready for fish!

Our trek to the pet store was actually twofold.  One, to acquire the perfect fish for his tank and two, to pick up potty training pads for puppy-size-of-a guinea-pig  my mom & dad in-law had UN-preparedly acquired (which is a story in an of itself and will likely be filed under the heading – Sounded Like a Good Idea at the Time).

Anyway, back to my fish story.

Once at the Pet Store, we confidently headed for the fish section and engaged the attendant.  However, before we could even start our fish inquiry, we were barraged with questions.

“Has your tank been running for a minimum of two days?”

“Umm, no, more like two hours.”

“Have you treated the water in the tank so the fish don’t get stressed?”

“Fish stress-out?”

“Do you have thermometer in the tank?”

“Well, no.”

“Is the water the right temperature for tropical fish?”

“Yeah, probably.  The guppies we had in the fish bowl seemed to do fine…well, two out of three anyway.” (In retrospect, I probably should have kept this last tidbit to myself).

“Do you even know how warm it needs to be for Tropical Fish?”

“Warmish?”

“Do you have a heater in the tank?”

“No.”

“Have you considered tank décor?”

(ok, she didn’t ask this but I know it was coming!)

I sensed where the inquisition was going and so did my son whose eyes were beginning to well up in disappointment.  I offered to him that we could go ahead,  get the fish and take our chances. It was at this very moment we discovered we had fallen into the net (ha, fish humor, get it?) of The Fish Nazi – for before my son could even consider my proposal, the Fish Nazi interrupted with…

“OH NO, NO FISH FOR YOU!”

“But…”

“NO, NO FISH FOR YOU!”

And that was that. We were loaded up with all the necessary items needed to acquire fish in some distant future and hustled out the door with an unceremonious don’t let the door hit you in the butt.

However, two days later, we dared show our faces again in the Pet Store Fish Republic.  But this time, we were prepared.  When we arrived, The Fish Nazi was busy terrorizing another customer so we were offered help from The Fish Nazi’s Assistant.

We were informed by The Fish Nazi’s Assistant,  for the fish tank size, my son could have 3 “beginner” fish and two shrimp cleaners – any more than that and the fish get “stressed” (Oh yeah?  Bring it on Fishies, I’ll show you stress – can you say Christmas shopping in Wal-mart???).  However, with The Fish Nazi within earshot,  we decided to acquiesce quietly.

Once chosen, we left The Fish Nazi’s Assistant on his own to collect our 3 fish & 2 shrimp into a bag – a mistake as it turned out.  For, when we returned for our bag-o-fish & shrimp, The Fish Nazi’s Assistant was having trouble looking us in the eye.

“Ummm, well, you see,  I was just told (duh, by The Fish Nazi!) that you can’t have the shrimp until you have had fish in your tank for a minimum of 2 to 4 weeks.” 

In other words,

NO SHRIMP FOR YOU!

So for now, my son’s tank has 3 fish and no shrimp as we await the day our tank will be worthy.

The fish, however, seem happy and completely without stress (boy that Valium works wonders).

I, on the other hand… well let’s just say I fear the fish tank experience may also end up under the heading – Sounded Like a Good Idea at the Time.

Aaaand….

That is where my story was supposed to end.  But, before I could stop being a slacker and finish it, I found myself a few days later back in the Pet Store returning items (a little over zealous on the tank décor).

I couldn’t help it.  I had to take a chance.  I stealthily crept through the aisles and peeked around the corner at the wall of fish tanks. There, happily scooping up fish for any and all, was your average (but knowledgeable) Pet Store employee without The Fish Nazi or The Fish Nazi’s Assistant anywhere in sight.

So, I explained to the average (but knowledgeable) employee, I wanted for my son’s new  5.5 gallon tank, a cleaner fish or shrimp.  She unceremoniously offered me the very fish my son had previously been denied – something about it being an “intermediate” fish and he  but a lowly “beginner”.  She, however, did not seem concerned.

“I’ll take it”, I said as I quickly looked around for any blindsided sneak attack. (i.e The Fish Nazi jumping out from behind the fish food). Home I went, cleaner fish happily in hand (or, well you know, in the bag).

And with this heavy blow to the  reign of The Fish Nazi and let’s just face it, to all Fish Tyranny in general,

My fish story is finally all told out.

Resolutions for 2013 – Sweet Spot Style

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Yes, it is that time again – Resolution time.  Truthfully, I hold with the Non-Resolution style of ringing in the New Year.  That being said, there is always something of value to be learned from history – ones own adventures and, well, misadventures.

Thus this year, I decided to scour the Sweet Spot Archives of 2012 in search of some well earned Resolutions for 2013.
I think I found some pretty powerful nuggets of advice for the New Year…

1.  I will be sure to check my pants zipper (Life, the Ego-Sucking Siege) before entering any and all public establishments.

2. I will struggle on in my war against electronics (I Am Woman – Ode to Chris the Caveman) in the never ending battle for influence over my kids’ brain.

3.  I will try to have a kindler, gentler approach to my vacuum (The Day I Killed the Vacuum) and well, for that matter all machines in general (Woman vs. Machine).

4.  I will try to take Teens advice to drink water and recycle – preferably at the same time – (Teen Talk: Episode #3) and, of course, Pre-Teens advice to Never Sit on a Couch at a Nudest Colony.

5.  I swear never to utter the chant “Party at home plate” at my kids’ baseball games (Take Us To Warp Speed, Scotty), or do any of those other things that would qualify me for “bulldog” status as a  Sports Mom (Bulldogs Don’t Wear Lipstick).

6.  I promise, for Teen and Pre-Teen’s sake, to work in the words “Balls”  (Word-Up: We’ve Got Big Balls) and “Weenus” (Word-Up: Show Me Your Weenus) into every conversation where possible but not necessarily appropriate.

7.  In true Mid-West fashion, I promise to generously give the “no problem” wave, the “thanks for not honking at me even though I deserve it” wave, and possibly throw in the “I’m cool” head wave.  (You Deserve the Wave Today).

8.  I will seek out adventure every chance I get (Sweet Spot Travels), even the scary kind (Today’s Best Moment Thursday April 5.)

9.  I will try to make someones day as often as possible  simply by donning a pen and piece of rainbow stationary. (Go Ahead, Make My Day).

10.  I will be sure to have plenty of stockings/pantyhose and pet hair removal devices on hand for whatever occasion may arise. (Bag Lady Goes a Job Hunting).

11.  I will try to never, ever forget how good it feels to laugh (Destroy This Note After Reading).

And lastly, two lessons –  clearly resolution worthy – from some recent experiences:

I will try to not take as a personal commentary the worker-monogrammed cups received at Starbucks:

Starbucks cup

And, I will remember to pee prior to attending a D-Box movie.

Happy New Year from Looking for the Sweet Spot.

Go get ’em!

Merry Christmas 2012

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Merry Christmas from Sweet Spot

May your holiday be filled with Santa Claus (preferably sober)…

Santacon 2012 - New York City

Santacon 2012 – New York City

Big Balls…(not necessarily together)

Rockefeller Center 2012 - New York City

Rockefeller Center 2012 – New York City

Mysterious gifts…

Chicken leg???

I’m thinking, chicken leg??

and a really big Christmas tree…

The tree at Rockefeller Center - New York City 2012

The tree at Rockefeller Center – New York City 2012

Merry Christmas to all and to all a goodnight.

For more Sweet Spot Travels: Go Here!

Travel Magic

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No matter how much I travel, it always seems like pure magic  you can get on a plane, sit there for some hours, and arrive at a place like this:

VeniceVenice, Italy

Or this:

RomeSt. Angelo Bridge, Rome, Italy

And even though I may get cheated by a taxi driver (hey, I can now say I have been cheated on two continents!), have to sit by a guy who snores (I sleep next to one on a daily basis, so no biggie), get practically run over by a scooter (it is Italy after all, maybe he was hoping for more than a brush of the elbow?), or have to beg a waiter on bended knee for a few pieces of precious ice… I will continue to test the magic – time and time again.

For more Sweet Spot Travels: Go Here!

Nightmare on Doddridge Street

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Ok, I confess, this is a post I wrote for Halloween last year during the first month of my SweetSpot days.  But I am thinking all ten of the followers I had at the time won’t mind the re-blog…hopefully!

Happy Halloween

Monday seemed like a normal day. Little did I know something was lurking, lying in wait for me. It started out like any other day; kids off to school, coffee hot, dog fed (thus, her own personal nightmare assuaged).  I turned on my computer, ready to work, blog, socialize, check Facebook.  And that is when the horror began as I was greeted by the words – NO INTERNET ACCESS. I took a deep breath, no need to panic, it’s probably nothing, I thought.  After all, my dog appeared unconcerned and you know how animals can “sense” things.

Very calmly, I began to work my magic…or rather, I began to work tech-guy-on-speed-dial’s magic.  But still, ACCESS DENIED.  Then tech-guy-on-speed-dial offhandedly suggested, “what about your home phone line?” (You see, us here folks out on Doddridge, a.k.a. the boonies, rely on phone lines for our DSL mojo).  I ran for my cordless phone like a chick trying to outrun a chainsaw and as in any good bad horror flick, the line was dead.

However, unlike next-to-die-screaming-teen, I still had cell phone service.

So, to the phone company I went for rescue. Harassed-phone-company-lady informed me that “they” (guys-with-huge-hacking-scissors?) had cut the lines and “no”, the DSL line would not be reconnected anytime soon because first the phone line must be repaired in order to restore 911.  But I stammered that this was a 911 – No internet, no access to the World Wide Web, NO FACEBOOK!!

Harassed-phone-company-lady, unmoved by my hysteria, hung up, leaving me once again to face the horror alone. So there I was, waiting, staring, pacing, looking out for strange-guy-in-hockey-mask; when suddenly, out of nowhere, a thought struck me.  Something my Dad used to always tell me;

“Don’t forget to stop and smell the flowers.”

I grabbed my car keys, I grabbed my dog, (because clearly, judging by her worried look, the canine sixth sense had kicked in), and we started driving – away from the dreadfulness and in search of flowers.

We didn’t find any flowers, because, well, it’s October, but we did find a pretty spectacular fall tree to hang out under.

We didn’t worry about work, we didn’t long to socialize, we didn’t angst over missed Facebook posts,

And nobody denied us access.

It’s My Birthday and I’ll Blog If I Want To.

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Today is my birthday.  Well, not my personal birthday because then we would be singing something like   “Swing Low, Sweet Chariiooott…”.  No, today is the One Year Old Birthday of my little project – Looking For The Sweet Spot.com.  Honestly, just like having a baby, I can’t believe it has actually been one year.  I guess time flies when you are having fun, or early onset senility makes time seem like it is flying… either way – it has been an experience.

For the most part, everything that has happened around Sweet Spot has surprised the heck out of me.  Surprised that I actually posted my first blog (Just Another Day In The Life). Surprised when my first Sweet Spot story was published  (I am Woman: Ode to Chris the Caveman). Completely  shocked when I woke up one morning to being Freshly Pressed on WordPress (You Deserve The Wave Today).  Surprised when I logged on to find a post gone crazy on Stumbleupon (10 Things I Just Don’t Understand).  Surprised when I was asked to join the ParentSociety.com team of writers (For Those About to Rock or Turn 40 Someday) Amazed that this post keeps getting pinned at Pinterest on a regular basis (Today’s Best Moment: Thursday, April 5).  And pretty much just blown away to have a place where  I can actually confess to killing a vacuum!

One of the most astonishing turn of events this year has been the support and heart felt shout-outs received from fellow bloggers.  Honestly, it was not expected as, lets face it, blogging often feels like everyone else is “doing it better.”  I was honored with my first award – the Sunshine Blogger Award – from one of my favorite bloggers Fadderly.com.  And then, I received several more.  The close proximity of  receipt kept me from being able to do all of these honors(except the first one)  justice at the time.

So, I decided what better way to celebrate the one year threshold than to recognize those fellow bloggers who, through their recognition, contributed to making the first year of Sweet Spot so memorable! Check them out, they are all fun, funny, informative and interesting in their own right!

Fadderly:  Hysterical Dad of 4, great artist and continues to be one of my favorite reads because I always know I am going to laugh!

(Sunshine Blogger Award)

Elixir of Memories:  At Elixer of Memories you will read about slices of life that make life fun.  You will get some laughs and special musings.

(Beautiful Blogger Award)

Beautiful Blogger Award

Mom Knows Better:  One Moms journey with her son – learning from each other, laughing, and just living life.

(Versatile Blogger Award)

versatile blogger award

Expatially Mexico:  Living in Mexico, this blogger takes wonderful photos and shares unique experiences of life and travel in a foreign country.

(Versatile Blogger Award)

Cheryl Huffer:  Cheryl writes everyday about life and living in a fun, funny, and truthful way.

(Very Inspiring Blogger Award)

The Usual Bliss:  She travels, she camps, she enjoys life, she takes the most beautiful photographs and has the cutest dog!

(Sunshine Blogger Award)

i mayfly:  A fun blogger with a killer sense of humor – she blogs about all things,  adds wonderful photos and tells it like it is.

(Versatile Blogger Award)

All Access Pass: A teacher and Mom who brings  inspiration and creativity to both jobs – and shares her great insights through her blog.

(Versatile Blogger Award)

Passport to Bliss:  She blogs about travel, photography, design – all things that bring joy to life.

(Versatile Blogger Award)

The Coffee Club:  Just what a coffee club should be – she entertainingly blogs about books she reads, projects she takes on, kids, being a Mom and all assortments of life.

(One Lovely  Blogger Award)

Sweet Jelly Bean: Here you will find all things “fun & sweetly inspired” – the little things in life worth sharing such as Mom moments, to-die-for beauty products and everything inbetween!

(Very Inspiring Blogger Award)

The Inner WildKat:  She has a passion for books, music and writing.  She can knock out a beautiful poem and also give you the best sexy girl music selections!

Happy Birthday Sweet Spot

‘Til Death Do Us Part, Which May Be Sooner Than You Think

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Yesterday was my 16th wedding anniversary.  Yesterday, I wanted to strangle my husband. Ok, hold on, don’t send for “the Po Po” just yet (and for those of you who don’t speak 10 year old – “the Police”). Contrary to what you might be thinking, it is not because he had not gotten me a gift (which he hadn’t) or card (again, nope) but because he promised a favor.

You see, my husband is one of those good guys.  Therefore when our elderly neighbor asked my husband to drive her 2 hours to the airport to meet and pick up her adult son and then drive them the 2 hours back, he, of course, agreed.  However, at the moment of acquiescing, he did not realize two things.  One, the day in question was our anniversary and two, he would be called to one of those can’t-miss-on-penalty-of-death type meetings.

So, I guess you are thinking I was ready to commit husband strangulation because he forgot our anniversary.  But, the truth is, I forgot too.  No, what got my undies all in a bundle was the fact that now, in light of the meeting, his saintly gesture to our neighbor now fell to me to execute and well, I am just not that saintly.  Nonetheless, execute I did!

Really, I am not as big a twirp as I sound.  At the time agreed, I met my neighbor with a smile, assured her it was no big deal when she thanked me on the outset of our trip and declared me over-the-top neighborly (ha, if she only knew).

At first, we played telephone on the long drive to the airport,

“Did you have dinner?”

“Who did you say was thinner?”

“No, I asked, DID YOU HAVE DINNER?”

“Oh, I am not much of a singer.”

Then, we opted for silence.

We arrived right on schedule… 40 min before the flight arrived.

We parked and waited at the gate for arrival.

With my neighbors son in tow, we slowly walked to baggage claim, waited,  and then slowly back to the parked car.  I paused for them at the crosswalk while a pair of turtles hurried past (ok, she has an excuse – at 90 you are allowed to walk any speed you want and I guess he was just tired).

On the 2 hour eternity ride home, we played more telephone. But after my best sorority-girl conversation starters fell like a drunk man off a roof, we rode in awkward silence.  That is until out of nowhere, like we were about to be in a 10 car pile up, my elderly neighbor’s son shouted “THERE IT IS” pointing out our approaching exit (like I didn’t know that since I had been counting the mile markers for about the last 35 miles).

Finally, we arrived back.  I wished them a good visit and went home.

When I arrived at my house, I was ready to tell my husband all about my eventful “good deed” – the pain, the suffering, the agonizing silence, the rousing games of telephone. But, no one was home.  My husband still at his meeting, kids still at their assigned places.  Then, on the table, I saw this:

What is it they say, no good deed goes unpunished?  That may be true, but  it wasn’t all bad. Flowers, presents, and a happy elderly neighbor… yeah, I suppose I came out alright, possibly even ahead.

4 Things to Know About Raising Country Kids

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Yes, I seem to be running a theme of Country Living lately (Top 10 Clues You Are Not Cut Out For Country Life).  No rhyme or reason, just where my brain is roaming around on these hot summer days leading up to Fourth of July!

Today, my most recent article about raising country kids is running over at ParentSociety.com.

I grew up in the suburbs, lived in the city, and then moved to the country when my kids came along. I did not expect there to be any difference when it came to raising my kids in the country as opposed to the city/suburbs. Kids are kids, how different could it be? But I am here to tell you I was naive as a turkey on Thanksgiving…

Yes, I was naive – but my kids have educated me well.  I mean really, who needs shoes or a license to drive anyway?  Have I said to much?  Alright, already, just go read this quick little piece and find out the rest!  Whether you are planning on ever being a Country Parent or not, you just might be glad you did! Go Here!

4 Things to Know About Raising Country Kids

Come Home Proud

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Tomorrow’s Veterans.

Recently, I was given the privilege of showing my appreciation to the Men and Women serving our country overseas.  This honor was made possible by my young cousin Megan as she compiled letters of thanks to send to her fiance marine, Jared, and his Brothers in Arms – spending the holidays far from home on a final tour in Afghanistan.

To recognize all on this day, Veterans of the past, present and future, I wanted to share my letter.

Dear Jared and Brothers,

My day today was typical, uneventful – routine even.

I woke up, took a shower, made breakfast, forgot to make lunches, sent my boys off to school, went to work, drove to the store, left my grocery bags in the car, watched my son ride his bike around the block, went to the post office and bank, helped with homework, took out trash, wished husband was taking out trash, drove kids to soccer practice, waited, talked on the phone, cooked dinner, watched the Cardinals get beat by the Rangers…again, read my book, prepared for the next day…

But, here’s the thing.  Today was also the most extraordinary and amazing day ever. Today, I got to do all those things feeling safe, protected and free.  Today, I got to enjoy all those mundane, wonderful things because;

There is nothing typical about your dedication to my protection.

There is nothing uneventful about the personal risk you take to secure my safety.

There is nothing routine about the distance you have to spend away from your loved ones so that I can watch my son freely ride his bike around the block.

Not even by a long shot.

So in these closing moments of my typical, uneventful – routine even day, let me say thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for every moment of your phenomenal day that enables me to rejoice in my typical day.  It means more to me than you can ever know.

Come home soon.

Come home safe.

Come home proud.

Love,

Paula

This is a post from last Veterans Day.  I wanted to re-post it in honor of Memorial Day 2012 with the update:

 He came home…

True Love By Way of a Kitty Dance and a Bucking Horse

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Over the years I have been encouraged to tell the serendipitous story of how my husband, Jim, and I found each other. Valentine’s Day seemed like a good time.  Honestly, I tried to keep it short, but it just isn’t that kind of tale.

I was 23, touring as a performer in the National IV tour of CATS.  He was 25, working at his family owned hotel in New Orleans, LA –  which is where the story begins.  The tour stopped in New Orleans for  2 weeks of performances and some of us ‘Kitty’s’ were thrilled to find and stay at his quaint, historic hotel.  Our first meeting occurred over a broken stove. I called the front desk to have someone come repair the stove in my room (this was when cooking actually seemed fun) and he showed up at my door. Over that hot and steamy repair job (kidding!) the attraction was immediate. We spent those 2 weeks together, getting to know each other.

After those two weeks, though, on I went with the tour to the next city.

Over the next several months we stayed in contact by letters (you know the handwritten thing that goes on paper).  We kept in touch while I finished the tour and went back to Los Angeles to continue my performance career and he cruised around South America starting an export business (the legal type – Alpaca sweaters) and around the US on the PRCA (Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association) circuit as a Bull and Bronc rider (all true, I swear).

Finally, an agreement was made; he would come to LA to visit me.  However, not long after his arrival in LA, I informed him “I do not see this relationship going anywhere”.  In truth, I do not recall saying it in just this way (as he relayed to me some time later), but my Mom ratted me out by saying it sounded “exactly like something I used to say in those days”. (There went her Christmas present that year!).

Anyway, off he went, back to New Orleans. That was the last time we spoke.

7 years went by (yep, 7 years!).

In that time he continued with his export business, riding the Pro-rodeo PRCA circuit, and attending to the hotel.  I kicked around LA doing commercials & videos, singing in bands, marketing music artists, and doing what all aspiring performers do in LA –bartend, waitress and do odd jobs.

But, the pertinent part is, during that time, I had the pleasure occasion to kiss a lot of frogs. Cute some may have been, but none of which turned into a handsome prince (although, a few morphed into evil wizards with bad complexions).

Then, it happened.  One day, on the heels of the crown jewels of bad relationships, I was teaching Line Dancing at the trendy Denim & Diamonds Country Music Nightclub in Santa Monica (one of those odd jobs).  I happened to look up at the TV screen with the ever running assortment of ‘all things western’ and there he was; on the screen, in all his Pro-rodeo glory, riding a bucking horse (well, getting bucked off a bucking horse if you must know), in a PRCA rodeo in Texas. Thus began the obsessive thought process that would plague me for days on end:  “He was a really good guy”…”What was I thinking back then (as in, what an idiot I was)”…”man, I really blew that”…”I wonder what he is doing now…married???”

I spent days thinking and thinking about it; until I could not take the cosmic hammering anymore and decided to take action.

At the time, I was performing in a trio that was preparing to open up for Carlene Carter.  As the group was addressing promotional postcards with our picture on it (this is what one did before “social networking”), I addressed one to him at his hotel in New Orleans, which consequently his family still owned, with a small note (and, duh, my phone number) included. (oh, home-wrecker I’m not – one call to chatty desk clerk at hotel confirmed bachelorhood).

Since our final parting 7 years prior had been, ummm, not the best in his memory, he was prepared to possibly discard the greeting.  That is until his English friend (I knew I liked that bloke), in his never beat around the bush way, pointed out that due to the “positive physical attributes” displayed in the picture, perhaps at least a return phone call was in order (praise be the wisdom of guy-logic).

He did call.  Then he called again, many times.  And then we arranged to get together. Gullible Forgiving guy that he is, he, again, came out to see me in LA.  This time, I did not send him home with some stupid edict, but rather with the promise of a reciprocal visit to New Orleans and more.

And despite the fact that I bristled ever so slightly at the statement made by him some months later that if “anyone had ever told me I had already met the girl I was going to marry, I would never have thought of you” and he, annoyed by the fact that I had to slobber all over a bunch of frogs before finally getting it right…

We married a 1 ½ years later.

Well, 7 years and 1 ½ years later.

This year we will celebrate our 16th anniversary. I am thinking all those frogs and bucking livestock were well worth the trouble – which only goes to show that it is a good thing, life is what happens while you are busy making plans!

As author Saul Bellow so eloquently put it:  

“Unexpected intrusions of Beauty.  That’s what life is.”

Happy Valentines Day