Category Archives: Travel

Go and Do and Be and See

I met Mr. P when he was 1/2 way across the world in the Middle East.  Here’s a link to that story because we’re going to talk other stuff  The letter that started it all Filipino born and raised he entered America at 18yrs, lived in Chicago for a short time (frost bite on Filipino bodies is particularly traumatizing) before quickly signing onto the 82nd Airborne where he got his cute, little, recently American, frozen toosh shipped over seas into a rough area.  This boy can truly live and function anywhere.  He can bloom wherever he’s planted and has an adaptability comparable to a dandelion (total compliment, honestly)

I was a home-grown girl who lived with an adventurous and daring mother.  She was/is a free spirit who longed to see the world and was always pushing us to go further than we planned (both with travel and life goals).  Thanks to her, we traveled more than your average family back in the 70-80’s.  My dad was a nervous wreck and if up to him we would’ve stayed in our back yard all year long.  But he loved big.  He gave big. So needless to say, he traveled…often.  I gained an education in new vocabulary words and hand gestures as he frantically navigated our HUGE 1970 BUICK SKYLARK through Chicago traffic while we traveled cross country to Montana.  Here’s a peak at one of our trips….Montana, like I KNOW you’ve never experienced.

Thanks to these life events, Mr. P and I knew the importance of experiencing our world.   A long time ago we decided to invest in life experiences rather than “stuff.” And we have held onto this motto since our early newlywed days living in Washington D.C.  For a young, newly married couple, we had a lot of money and could’ve spent it on anything. We made choices.

A few of the choices we made…..While other people had luxury apartments, we opted to be bargain cellar dwellers right in the heart of NW D.C. We were living, breathing vampires each time we exited our apartment and the sunlight touched our bodies.  We actually cringed and threw our hands over our faces.  I do believe our bodies singed and smoked slightly. We had to access our basement apartment off of a dark alley way. Talk about shadows in the night?  We often worked opposite shifts which left me coming home alone.  At night. But I was a vampire, remember?  I got this. I perfected my “I’ll-jack-you-up-if-you-lay-a hand-on-me”  confident walk (I actually believe I’m good enough to teach some techniques).   We had an old tube TV with rabbit ear antenna and drove a banger Toyota death trap (because who really NEEDS a car in the city?) And when our banger Toyota got scraped, hit, keyed or egged we didn’t bleed out and die.  Vamps suck blood, we don’t lose it.

BUT what did we GAIN from these choices?  EATING out EVERY dang time we WANTED, WHENEVER we wanted!  Do you know there is Ethiopian food and it’s really GOOD?!? We ate our way through all of DC those 3 years without even losing a fang and it was divine.  Of course we toured and traveled and spent our money on experiences rather than being strapped to a luxury apartment, expensive furnishings or a fancy car.

We invested in life experiences.

Fast forward to three kids and our current suburban lives.  Ahh suburbia.  Keeping up with the Joneses was coined for a reason.  Yes, we live in an affluent area where the average house price is close $500K and beyond. However, keeping true to our motto, we purchased an older split entry level 3 bedroom home (4 if you count the bedroom we added on – yes ADD ON construction!) We drive average cars.  We try our best to live on one income even though we both work.  Sticking to one income living and saving most of the second income has allowed us the freedom to travel when and where we want, resign from work when an arrogant, narcissist obtains employment and take time to find another job without the stress, pressure and panic.  I much prefer this option over being financially trapped in an abusive situation.

But we now have kids.  And kids like “stuff.”

Each and every one of our kids has experienced the jaw dropping moment when they go over to a friend’s 5 bedroom house and their bedroom with attached bath (I’m told all kids need their own bathroom) is larger than our entire home, with a theater room (according to many families this is a need not a want), an exercise room, a pantry larger than my kitchen (and my kitchen is pretty large – again, add on!)  and an outside oasis.

It’s inevitable.  They come home looking as if they’ve been cheated. Lied to. Deprived. They wine.  They compare. They ask why we can’t have this or that.  I listen. I nod in apparent understanding while I recall multiple encounters I’ve had over the years with my Aesthetic Medicine clients.  One of my jobs involves injecting Botox and Facial fillers to maintain youth (until we find the fountain). I cannot tell you how many of these individuals live in these homes, drive super high end vehicles, wear ward robes that cost a years salary but claim they can’t afford my $140 lash growth serum or ask to do less Botox because they can’t afford the total treatment.  Whaaaa?   Seriously?  Ok, either they are strapped in debt from living above their means in order to keep up appearances or are super cheap.

I snap out of my mental wanderings and remind my ungrateful lovelies that we can afford all of those things and more but that would be our lives.  We would stay in our expensive homes, poop in our own personal bathrooms, eat choking hazard popcorn while watching a movie in our theater room, drive our cushy cars, dress like runway models, claim that we can’t afford a $140 product and destroy our skin in our outdoor oasis. But that would be it.  And I add

remember kids…(please remember) we choose to invest in life experiences rather than stuff.

If that’s the life experience they want then…ok.   But as they think, REALLY think about it (you can see all of the travel memories flash in front of them) they ultimately decide it isn’t worth it. Then they laugh and begin the “remember the time we went….”

For some people going into debt, living large while complaining they can’t afford things or solely living large is what they want and that’s ok. But this Mama wants to travel the world with her kids and give them more than a fancy home and all the “stuff” in it ever could.

I’m going to leave you with a just a few of the experiences we’ve invested in. I’m feeling a bit nostalgic so these are of my “babies” and their earlier adventures.

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Reading about is different than actually climbing on a gigantic termite hill

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And you think our house is small?

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Don’t mind not having your own bathroom now huh? Because your toilet actually has a flushing system.

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Gigantic white woman in tiny diesel bus.  I was a total giant in the Philippines. 

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testing the senses at the fish market, Philippines

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When in Japan, Pop a squat

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Dangling food is her thing, Sea of Galilee 

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Making bread in the Middle East

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Better than a fancy vehicle

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In the Middle Eastern sands

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Taking it all in

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A “man” among men

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Rock Mushroom, Negev

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Testing the boundaries

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“You are a man so you must walk in front of the woman” Josh got an education while in Jordan and escaped to walk with me many times. Each time he was returned to the front. Again, it’s one thing to hear about it but to actually EXPERIENCE it? Priceless.

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Not letting Josh walk with the women, Jordan.

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Your room doesn’t seem so bad now Josh?

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Our quarters in the sand

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Ahhh, comfort at it’s finest

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Lock and Load baby! IDF 

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Testing more boundaries. It’s his thing.

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Donnie getting his teeth bleached in the Philippines…experiences!!

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A medical clinic? Yes.

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Dangling some food again

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Stateside with the grumpy Little

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Seeing the famous bakery NJ

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Typical NYC fun

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After a week of subway, I like my average car just fine.

 

 

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Who’s your boss?

The "Path" to Hoboken NJ

The next portion of our NYC journey takes us to Hoboken NJ to Mr. Cake Boss himself.

TLC’s Cake Boss is one of the kid’s favorite shows.  I believe Buddy fills the extreme baking void that I, the non-baker mom, have left in their lives.  I am rather thankful for his presence in our home and do not harbor any feelings of resentment or jealously even when the kids respond “Mom, how’come your cakes never turn out like that?”  I can easily reply “Ah, because you see, he creates works of art that could be displayed in a museum!”  How can Mrs. No Bake Pavlov compete with that?  I can’t.  That’s the beauty.

It was a no brainer that Mr. Cake Man would be elevated to a high priority level of must see attractions.  But common sense (I seem extremely gifted in this area) told me that we would not be the only cake crazed fans of Mr. Fabulous so I did my research…..research that informed me of the crazy crowds, long lines and baked goods that didn’t quite measure up as expected.  GREAT.

We do for our kids and do we did.  My research informed me:

  1.  Tuesdays are the slowest day of the week
  2. Get there early
  3. Be prepared to wait
  4. Expect rudeness
  5. The baked goods are so-so
  6. People are crazy

After a little travel confusion we arrived at 11:30AM…later that desired.  The line was already a half of a block long and growing.  We secured a spot and within a mere 10 minutes the line grew two blocks and spilled across the street!

A conveniently located clock across the street to make one painfully aware of the agonizing wait.

 As you can see from the clock above we were in line (Outside) for 1 hour and 30 minutes before we ever reached indoor heat.  THEN we had a 30 minute wait inside.  We only had to move a 1/2 block.  The people across the street?  Their wait was 3 1/2 to 4hours before their skin felt indoor warmth.  Ouch. 

For those of you who know Mr. Pavlov and me you know that we don’t do lines.  This was the mother of all lines and a total labor of love for our precious darlings.  I’m quite confident that we will cash in on this sacrifice for many years to come whenever our offspring dare utter “We don’t get to do anything!!” I will simply grin, tympanic membrane to tympanic membrane, and respond “Ahem….remember the 2 hour wait in line in the freezing cold?”   

While I did not get a photo of the actual length of the line (My brain was somewhat hypothermic and sluggish) here are a few of our line frolicking.

I cant feel my fingers!

The crazy "adults"

"Look whats above my head!" Mr. Pavlov is in touch with his inner child.

This gives a whole new meaning to window shopping Weve reached the window!!! Almost there now....

 Once inside you were given a number and got to experience more waiting.  Dos is oh so excitedly (not) showing that we are #13.  After the counter reaches 100 it cycles back to #1.  We have a number journey to go.

Im kinda done with this.

The view from inside looked like this:

How many humans can you heard in a small shop?

Other voyeurs

In possession of the goods

 While Buddy was hiding for his life we did get to see a special baker…

I got my eye on yous psycho fans!

 Psycho fans we almost became when after enduring the elements, mankind and Kronos, we were callously informed that they only had a single – one – uno – solo- Lobster Tail left!!!!  We wanted 5.  What famous bakery runs out of popular items??? I wanted to take the roll of baking string which, was directly above me and bungee jump from the employee’s neck but instead I forced a smile and took the last Lobster tail along with these:

A lobster tail in a world of Neapolitans

C is for Cannolis

We left the lair of Cake Boss and discovered Mexico. Starvation was in full effect and Mexico looked like a great place to stuff our faces.  This line-free place rocked my taco world!  My taste buds were in culinary heaven. 

Mexico and lunch

 Now what everyone was waiting for….dessert.  Our youngest decided to get funky with his oral abilities and sent a little saliva flying right in the direction of the (open boxed) cherished pastries.

They are thinking "Eww, did any of his gross spit get on my precious?!?"

 Who cares.  All normal tendency for grossedoutness was forgotten and the possibly tainted baked goods…devoured!

Content sugar rushing smiles were worn by all as we made our way back to NYC.  Mr. Pavlov and I felt crazily satisfied.  Research point #6 is a fact – people are crazy.  Everything else is open for debate.

Crazy is what makes life fun.

Stripper poles, Chinatown and Hickeys…NYC has it all!

We spent a big portion of our NYC trip on the subway.  While Mr. Pavlov and I consider ourselves experienced subway surfers (thanks to the years we spent living in Washington D.C.) our kids are relatively subway newbies.  Especially the youngest.  To him the subway was pure entertainment.  Whether testing his balancing skills or his speed at maneuvering through slamming doors or perfecting his climbing techniques, the subway was his new urban playground. He was uninhibited and loving life.  These are just a few quick glimpses of our daily rides:

See what I can do on a near empty train?!

 

This is GRRRREAT!!

 Then he did this and said…..

Look mom I'm like.....

…..one of those lady actresses on TV with a pole.  Chirp, chirp…awkward silence.  Did I hear correctly? Lady actresses on TV with a Pole? 

Ok, my mind was racing.  What could he possibly be referring to???  What had he seen? Maybe he watched a documentary on female firefighters.  That’s possible right?

Just as I was convincing myself that he was most certainly referring to female firefighters, he busted out some killer stripper pole moves that even gained the attention (along with a few raised eyebrows) of the normally indifferent NY subway commuters.  I glared in the direction of Mr. Pavlov who shrugged [too quickly] in innocence.  He looked guilty to me.  I inquisitioned him and the lil’ pole stripper later only to discover that the guilty party was America’s Funniest Home Videos! 

Our Chinatown stop arrived and the subway striptease came to an abrupt end.  Chinatown is a unique world with sights, sounds and people that you just have to experience.  Whether a white rapist van filled with smoke and Jamaicans yelling “Ehh, blonde, blonde c’mere me want’ta tell you someting!” or the various animal parts hanging in shop windows, Chinatown is an auditory and visual trip! 

Thankfully, I had my camera hanging heavily on my neck and here are a few sights:

What in the Hoy is Wong??

Where's Loud Orange Hat Waldo in the crowd??

His NYC Indian Name: "Loud Orange Hat" (we bought that color for a reason) trying to strike up a conversation with a random man.

Quack

Oink

What critter can we eat???

Mr. Crab?

Take a guess

Older son "Whoa, wait a minute...what's this I see...GAMES?!?"

Feed us!!!!!

To a boy everything is a cool experiment

Yum, Hot soup - clears the nasal cavity!

If your aura is somewhat altered after all of these unusual sight and sounds then, believe it or not, Chinatown has just the fix.  Had it not been for Marianne, a blogging buddy of mine over at comedyoferrers.com I would not have had any idea about fixing your aura or what this next photo was for.  Thankfully, Marianne made this comment recently on my Only a Boy post:

There is a massage acupuncture thing called cupping where they put suction cups on your back to clear your aura of stuff. I tried to hide it from my husband and was unsuccessful. His question: How much did you pay for someone to do that?

When I saw this little gizmo staring back at me from a shop window, I immediately remembered Marianne’s comment and chuckled.

Hickey marks anyone?

 I considered purchasing Mr. Hickey maker but a few things stopped me:

  1. the visual image of my boys elatedly covered in self-inflicted hickeys
  2. my youngest proudly proclaiming that he gave these hickeys to himself with a suction “machine” that mommy bought in an [alley located] Asian shop
  3. the visit from Child and Youth Services

 The aura machine remained in the dirty window while we headed to the subway.  Tres played stripper again during the ride back to Manhattan but somehow, in light of everything we saw, it didn’t seem so bad.

Not in Kansas anymore

I officially HATE uploading the massive amounts of photos I seem to accumulate on trips.  It takes HOURS and I dread the process.  I am beyond ready to throw my computer across the floor right now but here is part one of our out of Kansas experience.

Packed and leaving "Kansas"

On our way out of our city we heard a loud roar and thought the sky was falling.  However we quickly realized it was just the medevac team transporting a critical patient. 

Pausing to watch the scene unfold

The kids immediately gained a position on higher ground and breathlessly watched the scene.

If you followed the Twitter trail then you are aware of the bus trip bathroom experience.  Little Tres had developed an intimate relationship with the bus bathroom.  Needless to say he eventually “pooped” out.

All Pooped out

 The ride into the city proved very educational and we found the NY bus advertisements to encourage those conversations a parent would rather have at a later date.

Tres "Why is he kissing a girl and holding a guy's hand and why does it say Get Tested?"

Once in the city the boys (big and small) had this initial reaction:

A little boy and his dog in a big city

The boys perfecting the tourist maneuver

If our neck craning reaction did not instantly prove the fact that we were tourists then fer’sure the subway ride did.  Why?  Well take look and tell me what you think gave us away:

Nice arm rest we have here....

 

Whew, line them up

Heave Ho, let me just DRAG this....

Luggage!  You guessed it.  A taxi would’ve been the more appropriate avenue of travel but when have we ever done the more appropriate thing?  Besides the kids loved the subway and the little guy was always pushing the ‘yellow line’ restriction.

Intrigued with the yellow line and pushing the boundaries

 We were all exhausted yet we could still marvel at the level of filth going on in NYC.  Interesting also was the intense (burn your eyes out) smell of urine in the subway.  These sights and smells proved amusing and kept us from doing fatigued face plants. 

 

 

I'm about to fall asleep...wait, look how dirty those windows are!

 

 

Fatigue blurry-eyeitis setting in

We ate, showered and hit the pillow top mattresses for some much-needed rest. The next day things seemed brighter.  We awoke to these views:

A sliver of country

That's a fact Dorthy, we're not in Kansas anymore!

A very small part of our navigation task at hand

We had rested and could now contemplate the journey.  Tres was even feeling better see:

In the middle making cross-eyed faces

Ready to take on the urban scene

 ….and I’m two seconds from hurling this computer to its death.  So with that uplifting outburst I’m going to complete my photo transferring torture at hand.

More NYC photos, stories and adventures to come your way soon IF my computer survives another day.

Got antibodies?

The 6 train that kept us on our NYC schedule

I am a tad off schedule lately.  Wow, that really sounds funny coming from let’s take each day as it rolls me, but it is true.  Actually I have been playing catch up since we missed our 6:55am departing bus out of NYC. I set my alarm for the correct time however it was that little AM/PM thing that messed me up.  The night owl that I am subconsciously related more with the PM side of things and subsequently that is where my alarm clock remained (4:30PM) while my body remained comfortably in bed stockpiling on some REM.  By the time I, the sole alarm setter, awoke it was too late.  We were bus toast. Thankfully we were able to get on the next bus, a 4:20pm bus, out of the city.  The late arrival home and 3AM bedtime was rough even for this veteran night dweller. We have been schedule constipated ever since. 

I do have cool photos a comin’ but I wanted to post something Mr. Pavlov said that was an eye opener. We set off for NYC with our easy-going, fresh faces smiling.  When we were bumped, shoved, or pushed we flowed with it.  When we were tackled for the last seat on the subway we didn’t fight back.  When our hands were forcefully booted from the subway pole (the pole that keeps your human parts from sprawling all over someone else) we scurried to find another. When our kids were roughly jostled by rushed NY’ers we caught them.  When our taxi was stolen taken we hailed another.  We exhibited Saint-like patience and kindness.

But then something happened the longer we stewed in this environment.  Our easy-going faces became distressfully determined. When bumped, shoved, or pushed we returned physical fire and threw in a warning hip check.  When we were tackled for the last seat on the subway we fought back.  When our hands were forcefully booted from the subway pole (the pole that keeps your human parts from sprawling all over someone else) we clenched them tighter and made the other rider scurry to find another. When our kids were roughly jostled by rushed NY’ers we glared and made cutting comments. When our taxi was stolen taken we angrily told the young taxi hijackers to find another.

 Patience and kindness who?

We could feel our attitude changing and our ugly coming on and before we knew it we almost mirrored the very behavior we disliked.  It was then that Mr. Pavlov shook his head and simply said “Man, this behavior is contagious!

Those powerful words woke us up from the contagious bad behavior spell and we stopped hip checking the elderly and gave them our subway seats once again.  While not fully immunized against behavioral diseases, our experience gave us the antibodies we require to recognize future invasion one contagious exposure at a time!

How have you dealt with ugly?  Got antibodies to share?

Close your eyes and swallow.

I’m usually bold enough to try anything in the food world at least once.   I guess the “you never know until you try it” adage was permanently seared into my soul.

This outlook on food almost killed my psychological well-being and digestive track when I was dating my husband, who is Filipino.  I initially approached the exotic food with great caution, similar to what I imagine walking through a mine field would be like.  I strategically placed meager amounts of the unknown substance(s) on my plate with the utmost uncertainty…Closed my eyes, opened my mouth (maybe chewed a little) and swallowed.  However, after my taste buds danced and exploded with delight, I began to inhale multiple servings of delish rice, chicken, noodles and other veggies.  I eventually quite asking what things were and simply heaped mounds of steaming hot [presumed] goodness on my plate. 

It was during this time of hog slopping that I discovered an important fact.  Not everything in the food repertoire was, by my standards, edible.   Here is a brief example.

Eggs, right?

Take this little gem.  Upon my first encounter with these guys I assumed that they were hard-boiled eggs.  Given the fact that I LOVE hard-boiled eggs, I skipped with delight at the sight of these babies. HOWEVER because I am talking about my frightening exposure to the dark side of Filipino food, I think you can deduce that something evil lurked beneath the shell.

Meet the contents of the egg.

SCREAM!!!!

They call this lovely Balut (Ba-loot).  Balut are duck eggs that have been incubated until the fetus is all feathery and beaky, and then boiled alive. The bones give the eggs a uniquely crunchy texture. They are enjoyed in the Philippines and the fifth and seventh levels of hell.

I hit you with the worst first because I’m cruel like that and you guys are tough.  Now that you have regained control of your stomach and digestion organs, here are some other fun times at the table that I enjoyed – totally unaware until something deep inside my innards began to question things.

looks innocent enough…I thought.

My friend, Diniguan which is also called “Blood Pudding or Chocolate Meat.”  This dish is simmered in blood until it creates a thick gravy-like substance.  But, baby  it ain’t no gravy!!  If you like the taste of liver…I do not and this taste is what produced the rapid expulsion of the material from my mouth and caused the Filipinos to giggle at the white chick spewing chunks of blood meat all over her plate, you may enjoy Diniguan but here is what you should know.  The ‘meat’ is often stomach, intestines, ears, heart and snout. YUMMY! 

fit for a queen

But what the queen should know is that she is eating Mr. Ox tongue.  I know we have this dish in America too but this girl never met Ox Tongue before.  The texture of this little fellow let me know immediately that I had been tongued!!

The place of eating Ox Tongue

Blissfully unaware and food tripping in the Philippines, we loaded up our plates and gorged on the hot, steamy stuff.  However, if you look closely at my son’s face (he was much younger at the time) you will notice that he, or his intact tongue, discovered something was not quite legit about his food.

Umm, MOM I really don't want to eat this and my hand is being forced to touch it!

Last in the line up of disgusting is the baboy, or pig.  I know many enjoy this particular delight world-wide and often involves bon-fires with kegs of beer and drunk, hooting humans.  This cuisine was an easy one to maneuver around and did not produce the cardiac standstill that the Balut did.  However, I did manage to try a piece.  It was, ah, different tasting than the store-bought pig that we consume.  It has a wild taste, like deer. 

Alas we arrive at the reason for this post.  Forget about the fully formed baby duck and other tormenting entrees.  We will now discuss Pizza.  Nice, safe Pizza.

My daughter ordered a Big Mac Pizza and asked me to try a piece.  I had never heard of such a thing.  A pizza made like a Big Mac?  But after exposure to the above mentioned how could I really argue with her safe request????? Big Mac Pizza prepare to meet my Gastric contents………

It was GREAT!!!  It tastes just like a Big Mac minus McDonalds nasty, processed, life sucking beef patties.

I even packed some in my lunch today –

Messy goodness!

– and enjoyed every.single.messy.bite!  Now that’s the stuff I’d try any day!!

Jock sand:a common beach side effect

I do have other children this, I know.   But the oldest insists on editing my every photography moment or covers her face or turns her back (hence all the back shots of the child!)  The second is a willing specimen when he is around but again it is like pulling teeth to get some shots.  But the baby, ah the baby….he is still attached via his umbilical cord.  I promise I wear that child 90% of the day.  I trip over him, I bump into him and I don’t even think about doing a quick turn or I will send him flying across the room.  He closely follows me everywhere.  I have to insist on privacy in the bathroom which works about 1/4 of the time.  So when it comes to pictures or stories I have a ton to share of him because he is fused to my very being.

As many of you know, he is a character.  While on the beach in Canada he enjoyed rolling in the waves.  The waves were strong and knocked him on his backside more times than I could count.  Often I just saw a tuff of black hair mixed in with the bubbles and knew he was goning to be delivered on the beach soon.  The event from start to finish looked something like this….

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

Now repeat this over and over a gazillion times and that was his beach experience.  Common sense and personal experience will tell you that sand is bound to enter sensitive areas from all of that rolling around.  I began to wonder to myself how his jock area was holding up but quickly dismissed the idea….until he approached me wearing this expression….

                                                                                                                          
….and loudly proclaiming “I have sand in my weinis!”  Yes, I’m capitalizing on these moments while they last.  Faces and memories like this one almost make up for the lack of privacy.  And the next time he barges in on my bathroom time I will simply smile as I think about adding this photo to the childhood section of his wedding video 🙂