7 Uses Of Technology That Made Traveling In England A Breeze

In case you're new here, my dad and I just got back from a 10-day trip to Manchester, England, to visit family and to do research for my upcoming book and it was as amazing as I'd imagined, except for a few annoyances, the first being my cousin's daughter was due to give birth while we were there and I was very explicit in saying that I expected to hold my new tiny cousin before I left to come back home, but alas, there is still no baby as of this writing.

The second annoyance was my inability to exhibit one ounce of control when it came to meals. I ate like a velociraptor and can now only fit in sundresses or waistbands with some "give."

Dad and I talked about how different travel is nowadays because of technology - more efficient and seamless.

I started to include the different apps we used in my last post, Texans In England By The Numbers, but once I started listing out the ones we used, I ended up with seven and decided it needed a post of its own. 

I didn't even include the social media apps, FaceTime, and email, but those were certainly big players in our daily travel, as well.

Here's the technology that made for a dramatically different travel experience than back in the day: 

Texans In England By The Numbers

4 - Butt-puckering close calls of death by stepping off the curb while looking the wrong way. Everyone knows they drive on the opposite side of the road in England, but our muscle memory makes us look the wrong direction, apparently. Combine that with complicated intersections in a busy city like Manchester, along with two clumsy-footed Americans, and you’ve got yourself a dangerous touristy cocktail.

0 - Air conditioned spaces. England is experiencing record-breaking heat at the moment, and - despite the weather being gloriously cool compared to the 100+ temps we’d left behind in Texas - when the buildings and homes are all closed up tight without any air movement inside, we Americans who are used to cold, recycled air blasting in our faces start to get panicky. And very sweaty.

5 Fun Things To Do With Kids - In Air Conditioning - In Austin This Summer

In between breakfast, video games, letting dogs in and out and in and out, lunch, and watching YouTube videos, we barely have time to fit in a bunch of fun summer activities.

And I'm not interested in enjoying a bunch of "fun in the sun."

The sun makes me freckly.

Besides, I’d rather eat soup right out of the toilet bowl of a port-a-john than be hot.

12 Things I Would Tell My 18-Year-Old Self

In honor of my 30-year high school reunion, I have some thoughts to share with my 18-year-old self:

1. You will not always be thin, so stop saying you’re fat. Around the age of 30 or so, you’ll be shooting your younger self a pudgy bird as you wipe queso from the corners of your mouth. Enjoy your perky, tight figure and take it easy on the carbs. 

2. Stop slathering yourself with baby oil and laying out in the sun. In fact, you have got to start wearing sunscreen. In 30 years, your dermatologist will use you as a poster model for What Never To Do, meanwhile your twice-yearly laser therapy appointments will fund summer trips to Bali for his wife and kids, AND new boobs for his girlfriend.

Stuck in the Middle

We drove 45 minutes to the ice rink this morning so the 10-year-old could get some much-needed ice time to help slow the loss of muscle tone while he’s in between hockey seasons.

Reaallly annoying to have put in 45 minutes to get there and 30 minutes to get back home, considering his total on-ice time was MAYBE 15 minutes

It doesn’t normally take quite so long to get to the rink from our house - it’s usually just about 25 minutes, but today’s one of those days when we hit everything juuuust the wrong way, starting with catching the tail end of rush hour traffic.

It's Already "Next Summer"

A few years ago, my dad and I talked about going to England so he could help me do research for the book I’m writing about him, his brother, and my grandmother.

It was one of those pipe dream things that you talk about doing, but you kinda know deep down that it won’t happen, just because life gets in the way.

We put a pin in it and said, “maybe next summer….”

And here we are in “next summer.”

Gimme My Rainbows & Butterflies

Can we all just agree to disagree? I mean - the stuff on social media and in the news, OMG.

Let’s just say this: negativity is alive and twerking its way around the world and I just cannot do it.

I’m a very delicate peach of a person and my brain and emotions can’t handle all the destructive stories and images.

Let me get specific here:

"Making Memories" In Galveston

We just got back from a long weekend down at the Texas coast with my brother's family, and overall it was a great trip, but just like on all family vacations, I have to sometimes hide away in a bathroom and tell myself, "we're making memories... we're making memories."

Here's the thing about family vacations: they are not only memory makers, they're also memory triggers. As in, "Oh yes, I remember now why I swore I'd never go anywhere with a teenager," or, "Oh that's right, now I remember why you should remove sand pronto from the seat of your swimsuit."

One Of The Lucky Ones

When I was growing up - especially in my late teens and early 20’s - my hormonal ups and downs were enough to cause whiplash for anyone close to me.

I’d be hyper and loud and laughing and “on” one minute, loving being the center of attention and the life of the party and making everyone laugh, and then worrying about all the things that were out of my control after I was alone: “Was everyone thinking I was obnoxious? Did I embarrass ______ when I said _____? Was I being too loud? Did I make a fool out of myself? Did I hurt ______’s feelings by saying _____? Did I pay enough attention to ____?”

The worries would consume me well into the night, to the point that I couldn’t fall asleep and I’d toss and turn for hours.

How To Avoid Losing $2,000 To iTunes

If you're signed up to get my emails, you probably saw my note about how much I love Apple right now because they refunded a hefty sum of iTunes charges back onto my credit card last week.

Here's the story (you know there's always a story):

When we were in the tippy top of a clock tower last week in Lucerne, Switzerland, I got a call from my credit card company saying there was a great deal of unusual activity on my card.

Turns out there was a flurry of iTunes charges onto that card happening since April 2nd.

To the tune of $1,923.47. 😱

Historic Geek-Out at The Bürgenstock Resort on Lake Lucerne

In case you missed it, we just returned from Switzerland, where Mark went for a business trip and I got to jump in his suitcase and ride along. Here's a fun recap of our ridiculous trip over there. 

Thursday was a day of meetings for Mark, so I signed up for the historical tour of the resort, which was flippin' amazing.

First things first. Here's how you pronounce the name of the resort: byorg-in-shtock.

They say it as if there's a bunch of thick, sticky taffy in their mouth that they're trying to work around when they say it.

What Moms REALLY Want For Mother's Day

Ok, guys - you have exactly six days to get the mommas taken care of and show them how appreciative you are of all the b.s. you’ve put them through.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking Mom wants a new coffee mug. Unless it’s funny, like this one.

And I promise she’s not been losing sleep wondering if this is the year she gets an engraved snow globe or any jewelry etched with “World’s Best Mom.”

A Shot At Being Supermom

You know that I try to be Supermom, right?  

I want to bake cookies with my kids, but not just once - I want it to be a thing. I want to be at all the sports games. I want to be the Room Mom (and I am), but I want to actually be good at it.  I want to make chores something that my kids feel fulfilled by doing.  I want to make homework time fun and full of learning and reflection.

I want to be that mom.

I mean, really, nothing fills me up more than creating educational games to support what my son is learning in school. Spending an afternoon funneling all my creative energy into making fun flashcards and word puzzles or crafting writing prompts like my dad used to do when I was a kid fills this momma’s heart.

Hahahahahahaha, ohmygosh, that’s such bullshit.

Was that the most boring thing you’ve ever read?  Because I actually fell asleep typing that last paragraph.

The truth is, I would rather eat a bag of human hair than use my “craft time” to make up educational games or crafts.

Barn Door DIY

You probably remember that we moved into a new house last summer, and if you’re going to ask how we’re doing now that we’re “all settled in,” let me stop you to say that I have a stack of wall hangings shoved in the back of a closet that I’m still trying to gather enough emotional energy to deal with.

I’ll get to it, geez.  I just have other projects that keep grabbing my attention.  

Like this Barn Door DIY.

It Wasn't Supposed To Be Like This

Welcome back for another installment in the series we’ll call, “Shit I Never Saw Coming As A Mom.”

When my oldest son was in kindergarten, there was this kid who would constantly lick my kid.

That’s right, you heard me: he licked him.  Not once, not twice.  He licked him daily for months.

My son would be sitting at his desk, minding his own business, and this yay-hoo would toodle on past, then swing around really fast, bend down, and lick my son’s hand.

He’d lick his face if he got close enough.

He’d lick my son’s desk if he couldn’t reach him for whatever reason.

You know how some things happen in our lives and they’ll sort-of define that era for you, in your memories?  

Like you might say, “Oh that was in my saving-money-by-cutting-my-own-hair phase,” or, “That was during my vegetarian* period.”

In our family we refer to my son’s early elementary school years as, “when that kid would lick you.”

It was a period of time that went on way longer than it should have.  

When It's Time To Quit

Quit with the hiding, quit with the playing devil's advocate, quit with the holding back, quit with the ever-present safety net thrown out, quit with the mamby-effing-pambying.

Let me back up a bit.

Last time we talked, I was in the depths of sleepless nights and feverish worry about our son, who’s away at college and has been going through some “stuff.”

After my drive down there to see him in person and grab him by the shoulders and shake him until he returned to himself, I spent the next few weeks texting him every morning to check in and make sure he knew we’re here for him.

To make sure he knows he’s not alone and to make sure he knows how very much he’s loved.

And to give him the nudges he needed to get out of his “comfort zone” and live life.

What Do Normal People Do When Forced Into A Fight At Target?

A couple of days ago I went on a rare non-rushed Target run - one of my very favorite pastimes.

To be clear, the “non-rushed” part is what was rare about it. The Target run itself isn’t rare for me at all.

In fact, the last time Mark joined me there he looked over and said, “Do you see the problem?” when we passed an employee who said to me, “Your haircut is so cute! I love your highlights this time,” which was just a few minutes after another employee asked as she straightened products on the shelf, “How did your IKEA built-ins* turn out?”

I had enjoyed a leisurely stroll through the store, having some delicious alone time before family came in for spring break.

Saving A Teenager. Parenting Or Coddling?

If you’re set up to get my emails you got yourself a gander into the peculiar world of my fear-dreams earlier this week, you lucky devil, you.

(By the way, I’m currently accepting dream interpretations, AND if you aren’t subscribed, but you’re looking for something juicy to sit back with a bag of popcorn and watch play out like a kid at a carnie sideshow, click here and you’ll get the stuff I only share to people I trust with such oddities.)

You might have read this worried-mom post that I shared earlier this week about my son.

It’s a different post than what I usually share - the less-funny and more worrisome side of parenting than most of my posts - and I questioned whether I should share it for a few reasons:

Is the story too personal?

By sharing it, am I exploiting my son?

Anxiety Or Irresponsibility? How Do I Know What's Happening With My Son?

It’s been about a month since my oldest was home from college for the holidays, so I checked in on him last week with a phone call that went like this:

Me: Hey, baby, whatcha doing?

18: Walking over to get some food.

Me: Oh ok, so you can talk for a sec - how were your classes today?

18: I haven’t had them, yet.  They’re later today - one’s at 1:50 and the other isn’t until 6.

Me: UMM, IT’S 1:54!!

18: Oh.

I swear to Jesus, Joseph, and Mary, he’s learned nothing since Mark and I lost every ounce of our shit with him over the Christmas break.

Let me update you.