It’s Time for a Give-Away!

This September is overflowing with happy things and I’m about to pass it on to you!

It was not enough that I spent my big bad birthday lounging in a spa oasis, sipping lemon water and covered in red mud. Nor was it adequate that kid number five finally got his driving permit and can use his mended ankle enough to get himself to school – as a senior. Woot! Pumpkin Spice Everything is finally here. My nails are painted a fabulous combination of orchid and metallic glitter that we dubbed “Unicorn Farts”.

Life is good.

But wait. There’s more.

Yep, we are about to depart for our 30th Anniversary Trip to Italy. Meaning, of course, that I’ve got my five items packed and Hubby is still wondering whether four suitcases will be adequate for himself. It’s fun to watch.

But here’s the best news: you, my Blog Tribe, are coming along for the ride. You know who you are. Those of you who invite me into your email-box and sit for a chat and a cuppa. You won’t fit into my little suitcase, so we are going to switch up our blog game for the next couple of months.

Everyone listening?

Here’s how it works: If you follow me on Instagram and/or Facebook, you will see some photos coming through while we are tramping around the thigh-high stiletto boot of the Mediterranean, complete with witty hashtags (unless the jet lag wins, in which case you get what you get and don’t throw a fit). #italyplayshackysackwithsicily

Meanwhile, if you are one of the Tribe members who actually Subscribe to my blog (I love you so much), you are going to get the good stuff. After I return from galavanting, I shall sit myself down and blog all the adventures for you…and I am NOT going to post them onto Facebook, per usual. The photos are only a tease. #boohoo

Nope, only those of you with the secret insider club VIP super special Tribe status are going to Italy!

Yes, lovely friends, I am requesting that you stop everything right now and click in the little box up here with your email and Subscribe to the blog. You will love it. We have a secret handshake and everything. Only Subscribers will be getting the travel blogs and the posts will continue through October and November. Facebook will be hearing crickets. Nada. Zilch. #zippo

You important Tribe Members will also receive additional photos, recipes, and insider tips that no travel book will ever tell you! Where to go, what to see, which app on your phone most let you down….what Hubby might do if there’s no backseat driving available on the trains….

I will be tossing euros into the air and making it rain on the ruins of ancient civilization and you are coming with me.

They say Italian food in America is nothing compared to actual Italian food. Only one way to find out…

Your new Subscription goes into a drawing for a Prize From Actual Italy!

I will be scouring the duomos, canals, vineyards and metros for just the right thing. Don’t get crazy. I can’t fit a gondola in my carry-on. Or can I? There’s only one way to find out: Subscribe with an email address and start singing “O Sole` Mio” in the shower.

Don’t miss this limited time opportunity! Subscribe now! Even if you already Subscribe! Many of you have updated your email addresses without updating them in our blog Subscription list. Put another email into the box. Surprise your mom and sign her up. She always wanted to be in a Tribe. One she didn’t have to wash dishes in.

Now that’s a good Tribe.

If you are already in our Tribe, post a Comment below about the one thing you would love to see in Italy and I will add your name to the Drawing as well. Prize awarded in next blog (around October 6th)

Loonies and Tunies

The dust is starting to settle from our road trip to Victoria, British Colombia and in one fell swoop, I would like to tell everyone all about it and how much fun we had and how I almost died.

If you followed my new Instagram during those two weeks, you already know what I’m talking about, but running that little social media experiment taught me a few things:

  1. If you’re on Instagram, you are under the age of 20 or (ahem) you are just trying to monitor your child under 20’s selfies. So you don’t care if I almost died, because your selfies are of you, yourself, trying to do it deliberately.
  2. If you’re on Facebook, you are over 20, heavily caffeinated and keeping up with the Kardashians. They seem like a nice family. According to what they choose to post. So you also don’t care if I almost died unless there’s a video of it happening, and maybe an interactive game that tells you your personality afterwards.
  3. If you’re still reading email, you’re getting older. But at least you can still read something longer than five words strung together, covered in hashtags and destroyed by third-grade spelling skills. You are fairly interested in my death if it involves plot twists and a fascinating setting, such as India.
  4. If you just started in on the new Pokemon craze, it was nice knowing you. I’m sorry you stepped in front of the bus while searching for a Pokemon gym, *sad face emoji* but face it, your death will be pretty boring because it did not involve the following real life stuff:

The first week was spent toodling through Oregon and Washington. We visited redwoods and Paul Bunyon and beaches and lighthouses and dunes and ended up along the Columbia River Gorge. We went jet-boating down the Rogue River and saw bald eagles everywhere. We drove past Mt. St. Helens and several other volcanoes in disguise.

Crater Lake lived up to it’s reputation: fascinating and gorgeous.

We loved the Tillamook cheese factory (because we are nerds) and spent half a day at the Bonneville dam waiting for something to go through the locks (because we are engineering nerds) and I found out this abomination exists:

Lamprays: long as your arm, living in rivers, and trying to give you the kiss of death.

However, the beauty of the pacific northwest will knock your socks off. I highly recommend the trip. Just stay out of the water.

Waterfalls everywhere.

Bridges everywhere. This one is six miles long, connecting Oregon and Washington. We drove it just for the shrieking fun of it.

Chuhily Glass Museum. A Seattle “must see”. I have so many photos from this!

Seattle from the Space Needle. That “cloud” on the right is Mt. Ranier. Honest.

Once we were in Canada, we packed even more into our days. We went tubing down the Cowichan and built driftwood forts on beaches and enjoyed bellinis on the bay and wandered farmers markets and rode ferries and camped on a deserted sand spit like Robinson Caruso.

Because a tent is inadequate…

We stared at First Nations totem poles and inhaled Butchart Gardens and hiked past radioactive green slugs. We listened to marimba bands.

But the place I almost died was called WildPlay. My boys got wind of this adventure and demanded we all do it. When it was over, they said it was the best part of our trip. Hmm.

 

My fam was pretty much in paradise. Each obstacle got higher and harder as you worked your way up between treetops. Zip-lines delivered you to the next terror. Er, challenge.

I understood that, as long as I was clipping my carabiner correctly, the mechanism would catch me if I slipped, a thousand feet up.

I was afraid of the first ten inches of free-falling until it caught. Maybe.

I was afraid of being “that guy”. The guy who slipped and had to hang in space like a pinata until the ten-year-old gymnast employee rescued me in front of everybody.

WildPlay Victoria: where the crazy people play.

The steps wobbled, the trees swayed, I focussed on breathing. I did not once look down.

I was most of the way through and proud of myself for neither throwing up nor freezing with my arms around a tree crying, “Hold me!”

But the bicycle handles were my Alamo.

I had to grip them and swing across the abyss to another tree but I couldn’t. My palms were too sweaty and my arms were so tired and I. Looked. Down.

It was the longest ten minutes of my life as my mind fought my body over certain death. Aloud, I insisted I would rather have a root canal. I would rather give birth unmedicated. I would rather do anything than trust my grip on those handlebars. Where’s the elevator? I’m DONE!

I did it.

There was kicking and screaming and denial and possibly tears, and when I finally got back to terra firma I was ready to kiss the sweet ground.

I’d like to see THAT featured in a Pokemon game.

I’m leaving you with one last photo. I like to photograph heights, not be in them.

 

Mt. Shasta on the drive home left us breathless in the best possible way.

I know this was long, thank you for sharing our trip. Ask me anything else in the comment box, and I will try to fill in the gaps. *happy face emoji*

Earthquakes and Instagram

It was after a party on a late night in June. I had finally slipped deep into the REM cycle of one-in-the-am sleep, dreaming something about a parked car when it hit.

I went from sound asleep to standing beside my bed on high alert.

Both an earthquake and the sound of someone vomiting can do that to me.

The earthquake lasted long enough to force me into making a choice: do I assume this is just a drill and get back into bed or do I run to save the children because I hate the idea of them getting all squished when the roof falls in?

Hubby insists that I ran through the house shrieking while he stayed in bed wishing he had a camera to video the pool during those rolling thirty seconds.

I only wanted the kids to know that, had this NOT been a drill, the nearest exits are here and here and they should proceed calmly outside to our rendezvous area for a headcount.

You know, the basic emergency procedures necessary to not get squished in future disaster situations. Or blown up. Or drowned. Or trampled in an ant stampede.

Realizing we’d never made any, I compensated on the spot.

My youngest son slept through most of my riveting five minute lecture.

It would have saved me loads of time had I simply done first what I did next.

Facebook.

I have two sisters whose first thoughts during a disaster do not involve kids or cameras: they find their immediate stability in social media.

And that’s where they were when I looked for them.

Still in bed…but shrieking among their hundreds of online peeps.

I have to say, I was reassured immediately.

I knew they would not rest until the details were accounted for and future prognostication was thoroughly discussed and adrenaline levels compared and analyzed with the world-wide web.

The earthquake was safely in their tapping fingertips and I went back to sleep.

Alas, this is the world of my children.

They will sleep through the earthquake, wake up pinned to the floor, and start SnapChatting about it.

They will meet the rest of the family in virtual reality and be greatly comforted.

I will be standing outside, alone and in my jammies, wondering where to dig first.

As an added precaution, I have opened an Instagram account.

My kid sleeping in the bottom bedroom has one, and I’d like to be available in case he wants to give me coordinates.

In the meantime, I feel pretty hipster about having it.

Apparently, all the cool kids do it, but until someone walks me through it a few times, I feel like my dad when he first learned about computers (maybe a couple years ago):

“Jolie you’ve gotta help me here,” he hands me his tablet, two days after I’ve set him up with an email account, “I keep typing in my name and address like it says and it won’t get me anywhere!”

Well, that’s because it wants your email address. Not your house address.

It wants your user name, not your real one.

Instagram wants my life in single-frame references. Not in context.

My life reduced to hashtags.

#Idie #butihavestufftosay #momsarehiptoo

At least it stays put for a while, like a phone text, so you can figure it all out, whereas I hear that SnapChat vanishes into thin air.

Like an earthquake, you can’t even prove it happened.

#savethechildren #theskyisfalling #guacamolejo #theforgetfulfiles.com