Monday, April 30, 2012

All Sorts of Big News

Did I tell you guys that CNN called?  Yup.  Because my blogs about thrift store shopping, minivans, and fish tacos are apparently the stuff of ratings gold.  A producer from Anderson Cooper's daytime television program phoned after the big Wall Street Journal story (the one where you could see my fat rolls) and asked if my sister and I would be willing to fly to New York the very next week.  I naturally consented (thinking I could also pop in and see my old NY buddies).  I was sworn to absolute secrecy by the producer and I readily agreed.

So when we got bumped for "real" stories about civil unrest and economic turmoil, I received the garden variety brush-off I used to give people when I worked:

"We'll definitely keep your file should anything else come up."

I knew what that meant.  So in lieu of waiting for hell to freeze over for another chance to exchange emails and witty repartee with CNN, I'm spilling the beans.  You read it right: sis and I nearly landed a spot in a fancy NY studio drinking coffee with the Silver Fox.  Although I can't help but think that Anderson may be more of an herbal tea drinker.  The man doesn't have pores. 

To recap, my list of almost-famous opportunities:
  • The Darvin Furniture Commercial
  • The Wall Street Journal
  • Near-CNN appearance
  • Chicago Parent Magazine (sexy page 105)
With these kinds of credentials, you'd think I'd be able to crack that last great beacon of editorial prestige and journalistic integrity:

The Beverly Review.

My future brother-in-law, John, has been hounding the Beverly Review to do a nice write-up about a certain Red Bull guzzling, hockey-bag toting mom blogger that is yours truly.  They graciously declined.  About a hundred times.

Until last month:

For all those wonderful people who voted for me during the Circle of Moms competition, I truly appreciate it.  It was only because of your efforts that I finally landed in "The Review."  I can die happy now.

If you read the article, you'll note that a future, yet-unnamed book is currently under development.  I am doing this with my cyberbuddy, MOV over at

The book is going to take up a lot of time over the next month, so outside of my weekly Chicago Parent blogs, I fear I may be out of pocket for a little while.  I hope you will forgive me.  And if I ever do land on CNN, I will be sure to thank each and every one of my fans by name.  That's right. 

All 12 of you.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Finding Nemo

After two semi-disappointing attempts to locate a restaurant that serves great fish tacos, Joe decided to man up and make something at home.

Do you like how I used "man up" to describe a guy cooking?  When Jack was receiving speech therapy at 2, the lady who worked with him gave him a magnetic board where a mom was in the kitchen cooking. Jack shook his head vehemently and spoke a rare sentence:

"NOOOOO.  No mommy der.  DADDY goes der."

He then plucked the mommy magnet from the kitchen and threw her across the room, replacing her with the male version.

Anyway, Joe scoured the internet for the best fish taco recipes and by God, he did it:

Yes - those would be the same Target plates I bought when I moved out at 22.  I haven't broken a single one.

The combination of the spicy fish, creamy avocado, and crunchy cabbage was perfection.  The lime helped add some zestiness, and a weird orange sauce put the whole thing right over the top.

Joe has promised to make these on a weekly basis until we eventually get sick of them. 

Or die of scombroid poisoning.


The Recipe (a Joe-modified version of the one on


1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 chopped green onion
1 package taco seasoning (divide into 2 parts)
1 lb tilapia, cod or 1 lb white fish (I think Joe cubed these all first into small square pieces, and we used tilapia)
1-2 limes for squeezing juice onto cabbage
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon garlic
1 teaspoon chili powder
Warmed taco shells

Shredded cabbage
Chopped tomatoes
Lime Juice
Taco sauce

  • Mix sour cream, mayo, cilantro and 2 tablespoons seasoning mix in small bowl
  • Combine fish, vegetable oil, garlic powder, chili powder, lemon juice and remaining seasoning mix in medium bowl; pour into large skillet
  • Cook, stirring constantly, over medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes or until fish flakes easily with fork
Put fish mixture into warmed shell, add toppings & sauce.  Squeeze lime juice over cabbage for extra zing.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Big & Littles

After a somewhat disappointing visit to Carbon in search of the preeminent fish taco, my husband convinced me to sally forth yet again.  I was puzzled by my reaction to Carbon's breaded fish taco.  I remembered how people throughout Chicago love their stuff.  That's when I realized that I was pretty much opposed to breaded fish in general.

It occurred to me.

22 years of Lent in an Irish Catholic household = 22 years of frozen breaded fish sticks.

I view breaded fish as a punishment.  A sacrifice.  Something to lay before the nuns as testament to my holy devotion to God. 

Now fish soaked in butter, garlic, or wine?  Entirely different story.

So next up was Big & Little's:

Sadly, the place has discontinued their famed Mahi Mahi tacos due to price constraints, but still offers a pretty decent tilapia version.  Because I volunteered to share my order, Joe went out on a limb and ordered the foie gras just to see what that was all about.  Chicago had banned foie gras years back, so we felt a little rebellious eating the forbidden fruit (or duck liver?) of Eden that is the near north side of Chicago.

For those with less sophisticated palates, foie gras just tastes like flavorless egg foo young.  Joe took one bite before he grabbed Jack's burger to get the taste out of his mouth.

Jack's hamburger, as it turned out, was one of the best hamburgers ever.  And we're hamburger people.  It was juicy and flavorful and worth going back to try again.  Jack started crying at one point about how everybody always eats his food.  We offered him some foie gras.

Despite the adventure, we still had not found that elusive perfect fish taco. 

Where to turn next? be continued..... 

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Journey of a Thousand Fish Tacos

Since the family returned from Florida earlier this month, I have been obsessed with fish tacos.  The ones we consumed nightly while on vacation left an indelible mark.  Our usual eating habits typically border on the sophomoric, so it was quite unusual for both Joe and I to be salivating over the somewhat healthy combination of grilled fish, cabbage, avocado, and onions.

Baffling, I know.

Joe, being the ever-vigilant foodie that he is, decided we should make it our life's mission to find a place in Chicago that could duplicate our Florida experience. 

I calculated that it took Odysseus 10 years to meet his goal.  Surely Joe and I were way more on the ball than that guy.  Plus, we had the internet.

First up was Carbon:

Parking was a bitch, the place was jam packed, and the fish was fried.  I would have wept in my Diet Coke had it not been for the fantastic pineapple salsa which made everything a little bit better. 

I was ready to throw in the towel after only our first disappointment (so much for a great epic struggle of will and determination). Thankfully, Joe has a much stronger disposition, and he encouraged us to trudge on. 

So we did. And I'll be sure to highlight that experience for you tomorrow because lately, I'm totally into the cliffhanger. It's Who Shot JR? all over again.  I wonder if that makes me Sue Ellen?

Next up: You guessed it.  More fish tacos. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012


I was at the store Tuesday Morning last week and saw these:

My heart broke along with my Tiffany's lamp 5 years ago courtesy of a boy-on-boy wrestling match.

Is it really better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all?

Me thinks not.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Rethinking the Re-Make

Despite always preferring the first Darren from Bewitched and the first Becky from Roseanne,  I finally caved and saw Hairpray - a musical re-make of my favorite John Waters' movie.  I couldn't help it.  They gave me free tickets.

Full details in today's Chicago Parent.

Photo Credit: Brett Beiner

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

My Number 3

Being an international blog sensation throughout Saudi Arabia and Singapore, it should come as no surprise that I am a much sought-after reviewer of musicals.  I suppose it has a great deal to do with my well-documented knowledge of Broadway and show tunes in particular.

Or it could just be that the people from Hairspray pretty much invited every blogger throughout the Chicagoland area to review their show.

Regardless, I love free things.  So I first tried to get my husband to come with me.  He's not exactly a theatre geek, so selling him on a musical about a chubby Baltimore high schooler as she helps desegregate a 1960s dance show with her drag queen mother by her side was harder than you'd think. At the end of the day, Joe got out of it with a work call.

I had to move on to the next warm body.

Atheist Friend was teed up. I figured it was a good way to thank her for cleaning out my microwave on a weekly basis (have I mentioned she's a tad Type A?). She initially agreed, but wasn't feeling too well by late afternoon. I was now in a pickle, so I turned to my oldest friend and basically begged her to head for my house that exact moment. Jeanette also has GPS in her car. So between that and a working pulse, she was a perfect choice.   

Jeanette figured it all out when she questioned me on her last-minute slot:

I'm your Number 3, aren't I?

Ruh roh.

But Jeanette's always been a good sport. It takes an exceptionally good sport to stay friends with me for almost 30 years.

Jeanette walked into my house an hour later chanting, "I'm number 3!  I'm number 3!" 

The musical was a ton of fun (no pun), and we even got to attend the "press party" afterwards where we loaded up on free shrimp and cocktails.  I kicked myself for not bringing a few Ziploc baggies to smuggle out some chocolate chip cookies for the kids' lunches that week.

Anyway, be sure to read my review in Chicago Parent tomorrow. And thank you, Jeanette, for being the best Number 3 a girl could ever have.

Jeanette and I at her wedding shower 15 years ago when we still had hair, youth, and muscle tone.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Perfect Game

My husband wouldn't even tell me why I needed to come downstairs to watch the Sox game.  It's an baseball old superstition.  You don't ever say the words "no hitter" or "perfect game" while it's in progress.  It draws the attention of the gods.  It creates an immediate end to the dream scenario.  It's the quickest way to get kicked out of a Chicago sports bar or shushed by your husband.

Being ridiculously superstitious myself, I stayed upstairs and listened to the remainder of the game.  I couldn't watch.  I heard my husband groan when Philip Humber got behind on the count in the 9th inning, 3-0.  I heard my kids scream as AJ  Pierzynski scrambled for the ball during the final out.  When I knew the game was finally over, I came downstairs as the commentators noted that for only the 21st time in all of professional baseball, a perfect game had been thrown.

Beyond the talented young pitcher, I found several other perfect moments during the aftermath.  The Seattle Mariners fans stayed.  They applauded the kid as though he was one of their own.  They moved past the usual rivalry and pettiness of opposing sports teams, and cheered wildly for the young Texas native.   It was no longer a fierce competition between cities, but instead a happy celebration of a kid who just done good.

Humber is expecting a baby boy with his wife very soon.  He worried about the excitement being too much for the mom-to-be who was watching the game from home.  He thanked God because that's what a lot of kids from Texas are taught to do when good things happen.         

So on a sunny Spring day in Seattle, a reminder was handed out.  Grace and kindness are not extinct.  The ability to appreciate others' success still lives.  And as Humber talked about his baby boy with joy and excitement, I was reminded of the promise within us all. 

A perfect game.  A perfect day.

Sunday, April 22, 2012


My kids have 18 first cousins.  They are an impressive lot of scholars, athletes, and all-around great kids.  We are very lucky to have them in our lives.

When one such cousin stopped by to watch the Hawks game the other day and the match went into overtime, Joey curled up in his cousin's lap and promptly fell asleep.  Rita followed shortly behind.  I love this picture:

I suppose today's entry is a little short on thematics.  But I think family is always a good topic, especially when it looks like this.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Florida: The Finale

Okay, even I am starting to feel like I've held you hostage with vacation slides for far too long.  I'll wrap this up quickly:
  • Florida Mahi Mahi Fish Tacos: best thing ever
  • Shark bite count: Zero
  • Joe's hot factor: Three different women hit on the hubby.  I was amused.  Joe looked scared.
  • My hot factor: Oddly enough, not one person found me fetching in the trusty swim dress.  I KNOW.
As promised, Joe did get his cosmic reward for saving a life when we hit Matthew's Cafeteria on the way home.  It was finally open, and the meatloaf was out of this world.  The only scary moment was when we parked in the last spot in the lot and peered over a 300 foot drop straight down.  A little extra gas on the reverse?  We'd all be dead.  Joe's thoughts?

How about some f*ckin' railing?

You can't tell from the picture, but in real life, it appeared as though you were falling off the face of the earth.  
That's right.  No barriers.  No guard rail.  No sign.  You back up too fast, and you're gonna be screaming for about 15 seconds before you meet your maker. 

Thank you for indulging the Florida Chronicles.  We're out of money, so I promise no more vacation stories for a bit.

But I can't help including one more Disney pic for good measure.  Joe is actually smiling:
Y'all come back now, y'hear!

Friday, April 20, 2012

A World Full of Laughter, A World Full of Tears

Having done Disney World several times “on the cheap”(driving to Florida, staying off site, bringing our own water bottles, etc.), I feel my family has achieved some level of competence in handling the House of Mouse. While we are certainly not experts on fast passes or character autographs, we have learned the most important lesson of all for an enjoyable visit:
Manage expectations.

During our first visit some years ago, I was heavily pregnant with Joey. It was a sweltering summer day and the lines did very little to alleviate the agitation of parents and kids alike.   The Happiest Place on Earth thumbed its nose at its own billing.  My husband ran off for some water and a beer, but returned instead with his trademark scowl.

Did you know they don’t sell beer anywhere in Magic Kingdom?  This is ridiculous.  We’re going to Sea World tomorrow.  The guy in line said they have beer over there. You like seals, right?

I’m sure the marketing gurus at Magic Kingdom have a very good rationale for their anti-beer stance, but all I know is that beer goggles might do people some good. Total sobriety in the land of  hot, sticky, and tired was not a good thing. Moms and dads believed that their kids would enjoy a happy day and express overwhelming gratitude for the world of magic served up to them on a silver platter.  

Instead, a more accurate depiction of a day at Disney: 
I’m hot.
I have to pee.
How long is this line?

I have to pee again.

I’m hungry.

Where’s Mickey Mouse?

I gotta go number two.

Can you carry me?

I want ice cream.

I feel like I'm going to throw up.

I just threw up.

Is there a bathroom in this line?

Pick me up, Mommy.

Daddy looks really red.  Like a tomato.  But redder.
As experience taught us, we decided to pace ourselves throughout the day. Our kids did a lot of the indoor (and air conditioned) attractions during the hottest hours. We rented the giant double stroller to ensure energy levels remained high. We plied the boys with caffeinated beverages while Joe and I downed 5 Hour Energy shots. 

We miraculously closed the place down at 1:30 in the morning.  With many lines lasting hours, thousands of parents stayed late to take advantage of shorter lines and cooler temps.  

As we looked around at other parents dealing with hysterical children up well past their bedtimes, my husband turned to me smugly and commented under his breath:

I immediately shushed him.  There was no sense in tempting the fates with such boastful words.
"Relax," Joe countered, "I already saved a life this trip.  I can be smug for 15 seconds."
Or could he?
To Be Continued.... 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Pants on Fire

Anybody else utilize the occasional fib in child-rearing?

It's kind of my gold standard.

Read more here at Chicago Parent.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

To the Sea

There really is nothing like a day at the beach.  

During our 5 days in Florida, the temperature hovered right around a near-perfect 90 degrees. We spent the bulk of our time taking advantage of the sandy shores, exciting waves, and interesting people-watching. 

Best of all, it was 100% free.

Of course, you know how I like a bargain. We didn't even have to pay to park. Florida ought to thank its lucky stars that Chicago politicians never got a hold of the untapped revenue created by erecting parking garages and meters along every possible seaside street.  There were no tolls, luxury taxes, or sun enjoyment fees. There was not a single surcharge on my tan. 

On a completely separate topic, I don't believe I ever provided my full rant on how the city of Chicago ticketed mourners at a military funeral in my neighborhood a couple months back. The employee from the Department of Revenue marched up and down side streets ticketing the cars of those paying their respects to a fallen hero. The Revenue guy ignored the pleas of police and fire personnel to stop ticketing and kept right on without a hint of compassion or common sense. 

In Chicago, they get you coming, going, and everywhere in between. 

To his credit, the mayor would later rescind the tickets, but every Chicagoan is all too aware of the nickel and diming culture around here.  I suppose somebody's gotta pay for "The Bean's" upkeep. Think of all that chrome polish. 

Anyway, during one particularly glorious Florida afternoon spent inhaling free air, my husband noticed a panicked woman flailing desperately in the water. She had gotten herself past the waves and was unable to paddle her way back to shore. Joe, who denies doing anything special, quickly pulled her to safety.  A lifeguard followed up shortly behind and made sure the woman was okay.

I suppose giving a lady a hand in troubled waters was no big deal for Joe. Yet I felt for sure that this incident would represent a shift in momentum.  Perhaps our luck would finally change?

My answer came pretty quickly.

Coming up next: Marianne actually spends money at the Evil Empire (aka Disney World)

Monday, April 16, 2012

Then There Was a Plane Crash

As the family relaxed in our country chicken style rental townhouse (or as I called it, "The Coop") last Monday night, Joe got the look of Steve Martin in the movie Roxanne.

"Smell that?" he asked.

Usually I am the one with superhuman odor detection abilities.  Yet for once, I was stumped.

"No.  What?"


Okay, Joe.  Whatever.  Mr. Chicago Fireman arrives in Florida and almost immediately senses a nearby blaze.  Get a grip, fella.

Yet when we turned on the news the next morning, there it was.  A small plane had crashed into a Publix about 15 miles away.  Thankfully, nobody was killed.

I started wondering about omens and kismet.  Surely we needed to work on some good deeds STAT or Dorothy would certainly drop a house on us next. 

And oddly enough, just such an opportunity splashed our way courtesy of some particularly strong waves the following afternoon.  Because when planes start falling from the sky and chicken decor dominates your world, you'd better make sure you're in the black in terms of kindness and generosity.

Once again, I am so happy to be married to Joe.  In the big scheme of karma and kismet, all goodwill is filed jointly by married couples.  Joe has been carrying my snarky arse for years.  If we were judged solely on my horrible ways, that plane would have crashed directly atop our minivan. 

Find out how Joe saved the day and so much more in tomorrow's blog... be continued.... 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

5.5 Seconds

The Blackhawks are trying to kill me.

For the 2nd consecutive playoff game, our local Chicago hockey heroes tied things up in the final seconds of regulation.  Last night, it was 5.5 seconds.  I can't even fold a shirt in 5.5 seconds let alone completely change the mood of an entire urban population. The eleventh hour theatrics, thrilling as they may be, have taken about 10 years off my life.

Now before avid readers remind me of my history of disparaging hockey on this blog, I'd like to point out that I disparage getting my kids ready for hockey.   I hate the skates, the equipment, the cost, and the cold rinks.  I also hate how all the hockey moms judge me as I yell at my kids and then turn around and try to convince me what a great sport it is (while their husbands go to battle with the skates and gear). I am usually there alone with three boys and a strong desire to drink.

But watching a bunch of hottie 19 year olds at the United Center is an entirely different story. And probably a bit creepier.

As a reminder, have a look at the cover guy in the Chicago Parent Magazine that published my first byline (click here).  Seriously.  Patrick Sharp could stop traffic on lower Wacker. 

So the Hawks will be heading home to Chicago for a Game 3. If the trend continues, I'm sensing the guys will tie things up next time with 2 seconds left.

Seriously.  I can't even sneeze in 2 seconds.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

For the Birds

After a two-day journey across several states en route to New Smyrna Beach, Florida, we finally arrived at our townhouse ready to unwind.  Unfortunately, I was never able to completely relax or shake the feeling that Alfred Hitchcock was lurking right around the corner:

I suppose this was my punishment for the grief I'd given Joe over his Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives' meltdown.  Still.

I hate birds.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Welcome to the Waffle House

With one cranky husband despondent over his much-anticipated Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives' pick, being closed, we dejectedly pulled into the next restaurant we could find in Tucker, Georgia:

Waffle House.

One would not normally plan an entire road trip around a visit to Waffle House, especially when you consider we counted 213 of them along the way to Florida.     

But perhaps this one would be special?

We walked in at the crack of dawn to the vibrations of some ridiculously loud base blaring from a rap song set to full volume.

Joe, being less than appreciative of this particular musical art form, merely shot a Medusa-like look in the direction of the employee nearest the sound system. The music was positively deafening, and even I was surprised that nobody else had complained about it.  It was so early and the seizure-inducing base was torture. Joe's killer look, heightened by his Matthew's Cafeteria disappointment and general morning grumpiness, was all it took. Both the radio and the clerk turned immediately to stone.

Appeased, Joe glanced up from his menu to speak with our waitress. He did a double-take at the woman who, as luck would have it, sported her own giant yellow Waffle House forearm tattoo.

I started to hear the theme song from The Twilight Zone in my head right around this time.

Despite early misgivings, the food and service were fantastic. I now understand why there are 1600 Waffle Houses throughout the United States. There are also about 1600 billboards for pecans throughout the state of Georgia. I have never wanted a slice of pecan pie so badly in my life, and I hate pecans.

As we left Waffle House and Georgia behind, I thought it fitting that a familiar song played on the only non-country music station we could find:

No peace, no peace I find
Just this old, sweet song
Keeps Georgia on my mind


Thursday, April 12, 2012

Disaster Strikes

When we last checked in with our merry band of road trippers, all was well.  Joe was looking forward to a fantastic breakfast at Matthew's Cafeteria, and not a single child had vomited, peed, or thrown an errant  shoe out the minivan.  Everything had gone perfectly.

Which is why I knew catastrophe was imminent.

We arranged a 6 am wake-up call with the Holiday Inn and all five of us were up and out by 7:00 am.  Joe practically skipped out the door in anticipation of his carefully-crafted detour through Tucker, Georgia.  And for anyone who knows my husband, he is not exactly known as a "skipper."

We slowly pulled into the parking lot of the restaurant and Joe immediately sensed something was wrong.  Not one single car could be found.  We were completely alone.

And Matthew's Cafeteria was closed on the weekend.

Joe's rant could be heard across several states, and the boys learned that there were in fact a few curse words my husband saves for the most special of occasions.

Not being one to let a vacation disaster go undocumented, I quickly captured my husband's priceless look of complete aggravation and homicidal rage with my trusty camera:

So I'll leave you with this image and the knowledge that things only got worse from this point on.

Because a good vacation is hardly worth a single paragraph. 

A disastrous vacation, on the other hand, is an entirely different story.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Have Minivan, Will Travel

Given my thrift shop habit and affinity for the clearance rack, it should probably come as no surprise that we opted to drive to Florida for our vacation.  My frequent flyer miles expired years ago, and I have always believed that a nice long road trip is good for children. It teaches kids an important lesson in patience.  And bladder control.

I happily packed a host of items to occupy the boys during the long drive. My stash included:
  • Jack's violin
  • Dan's multiplication cards
  • Joey's Dick & Jane books
  • Educational reading material on U.S. geography and presidential history
Unfortunately, my husband took one look at my box of travel diversions and lumped everything. He reminded me that Jack was not that good at the violin yet, and I if I expected him to drive then I would have to leave the violin behind. He also charged the kids' Nintendo DS games (bought on sale at Target for $99 over Christmas only because they came with a $10 Target gift card). My plans for a cerebral vacation went down the drain along with the gallon of milk we dumped before departing.

I still feel the violin would have been nice.

Once we were on the road, my husband began talking excitedly about the route he had planned that would take us through Tucker, Georgia for a restaurant he had seen on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Matthew's Cafeteria was on Joe's brain and the thought of a southern breakfast the next morning kept him in grand spirits with only limited episodes of road rage. Everything was going along swimmingly.

We pulled up to the Holiday Inn in Tucker, Georgia where Joe and I tag-teamed the night manager to get our room rate reduced by 40% before we even checked in. As I tucked in all my boys with visions of biscuits and gravy dancing in their heads, I couldn't help but think life was great.

Perhaps I should have packed pajamas?

And that's when I knew disaster was right around the corner.  Because nothing ever goes smoothly when yours truly is involved.  I am Bobby Brady's Hawaiian tiki and King Tut's curse wrapped up in one.  Where I go, affliction and blight follow. 

I warned no one.  One last good night's sleep was the least I could do.

They would all need their rest for the great storm ahead. be continued.......

Monday, April 9, 2012

Packing My Own Shark Bait (aka "The Kids")

Most people plan their vacations well in advance.  They research airfares.  They look into nearby attractions.  They put months of investigation and effort into the rare getaway from carpool, work, and the daily grind of life.

Not me.

Being a fatalist, I resist putting a lot of man hours into something I am convinced will be cancelled due to sickness or minivan breakdown.  So when Joe suggested we go somewhere over Spring break, I hesitated doing any online research and instead waited for him to tell me he couldn't get the appropriate day trades from the guys at the firehouse.

Imagine my surprise when two weeks before break Joe announced he had negotiated the required trades. I frantically scrambled to find a place to stay.  All of our affordable choices in St. Augustine and Orlando were booked.  Condos and townhouses within our price range had been secured by savvy travelers months in advance.  My choices were nil.

Until I discovered New Smyrna Beach. 

For some odd reason, I had my pick of townhouses and condos for rental.  They were minutes from the beach!  I gladly sent in my deposit and announced to the family that I had performed my usual miracle for the week and locked in a place mere seconds from the tides.

That was when I got a call from Joe.  He was out with the boys and had heard on the radio that there had been a shark attack at New Smyrna Beach that week.  Two actually.  A man and a woman had both been bitten by sharks within 15 minutes of each other in waist-deep water.

The news story reported that New Smyrna Beach was the Shark Bite Capital of the World.


As I processed this information and the implications for family safety, my husband had only one thing to add:

Whatever you do, just don't tell your mother.

As if.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Camelot Revisited

I don't know if I've ever gone into what a big Kennedy fanatic my mother is.  Next time I am over at her house, I will be sure to take pictures of her personal Kennedy Library filled with hundreds of books and magazines on the subject.  She even purchased an item from the Sotheby's Jackie Onassis auction years ago.  Growing up Irish and Catholic, she felt a certain kinship to the young, good looking Mick from Boston. 

When I told her that her 2nd grandson was going to be named Jack, she beamed.

So even though I'm skipping around the order of things, I wanted to share this very Kennedy-esque moment of Jack tossing around the football on the beach:

Should anyone out there remember this after my demise, please be sure it makes it into the Jack P. Walsh presidential library, won't you? 

Happy Easter everyone!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

I Haven't Done a Headcount Yet

Due to the number of home break-ins and burglaries in my 'hood over the last month, I was a little hesitant to announce publicly that we were leaving town for Florida.  I don't own a cool iPhone or laptop, so blogging while on the road was impossible. But holy crapola, do I have some great material for you now.

It all stems mostly from the fact that we drove.

18 hours.

In the smelly minivan.

With 3 boys.

And my grumpy husband.

He's still sleeping right now, snoring away after a 5 am return this morning.  I'm trying to type very quietly because the guy needs some rest.  A rough patch through Georgia where traffic was at a standstill for 2 hours yesterday nearly killed him.  Joe's comment?

I love going ZERO on the f*ckin' highway.  This is better than "Cats."

So thank you for your patience, loyal reader.  Once I get some more sleep and a couple of Red Bulls in me, I'll be sure to share our grand adventures of flipped-over over cars, a plane crashing into a local Florida grocery store, and the fact that we accidentally chose the "Shark Bite Capital of the World" to go swimming.

You really couldn't expect a seamless vacation, right?  That would never do. 

Not when there's a blog to write.