A Side of Rice

Hopefully Humorous (and sometimes R-rated) Musings About Life

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10 Keys to a Great Vacation

You know it’s gonna be a great vacation when the morning you are scheduled to leave starts like this:

  • Husband: “who moved my keys?”
  • Me: “Last I saw them was on the table, as I was packing the car.”
  • Oldest Son, as he yanks earbuds out: “Huh?”
  • Youngest Son, as he watches a YouTube video: “Not me.”

Which led to this from my husband: Annoyed dad

So — a half an hour of frantic searching, much cussing and still no keys later — we were on our way to Myrtle Beach, SC. I believe the infamous shoving off pronouncement was “you people better hope you remember which one of you moved my keys and where you put them by the time we get home”, which generated the following response from me:


And the following responses from our boys:

  • Oldest Son, as he yanks earbuds out: “What?”
  • Youngest Son, as he watches a YouTube video: “OK.”

The first full day of our vacation, as all the electronic device chargers/cords were unpacked, my husband sheepishly said “Oh, I found my keys. Someone must have grabbed them with all the cords and thrown them in this bag.”

Which generated the following response from me:


And the following responses from our boys:

  • Oldest Son, as he yanks earbuds out: “No thanks.”
  • Youngest Son, as he watches a YouTube video: “Sure.”

Later in the week, after a day at the beach, the second key to the rental condo went missing. My husband’s questions were “Oh for fuck’s sake, who took the key to the beach?”, “Why did we buy a beach bag without zipper compartments?”, and the always helpful “Can any of you remember where you put the damn key?”

Which generated this from me:


And the following responses from our boys:

  • Oldest Son, as he yanks earbuds out: “I’m not.”
  • Youngest Son, as he watches a YouTube video: “In a minute.”

Finally, on our last night, after thoroughly checking each beach bag, tearing the cushions off the sofa, and pulling everything out of the car to search for the key, I queried my husband with “did you check the pockets of all your shorts?”

Which generated this from him:


And the following responses from our boys:

  • Oldest Son, as he yanks earbuds out: “I’ll take a Hot Pocket.”
  • Youngest Son, as he watches a YouTube video: “I don’t like Hot Pockets, can we have something else?”

And this response from me, when — lo and behold — the missing key was found in a pair of his shorts.


And our kids were quick to pile on:

  • Oldest Son, as he yanks earbuds out: “Nick did it.”
  • Youngest Son, as he watches a YouTube video: “Wait…what?”

So, aside from not losing your actual keys or your rented condo keys, the proverbial keys to a great vacation are as follows:

  1. Don’t be surprised by everyone sleeping through the early morning trek to your destination, especially when traffic is at a complete standstill

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2. Let your kid ham it up whenever possible for the best photo ops IMG_1669

3. Feed teenagers on a regular basis, as they appear their happiest when they are eating.IMG_1673

4. Embrace the fact that you’re raising goof ballsIMG_1713

5. Your mantra for the week should be “Shut up liver. You’re fine.”IMG_1678.JPG

6. Be ready for rounds of golf taking longer than normal with non-pros in your foursome

7. In addition to feeding teenagers, a sure way to get a thumbs-up is with a day at the water park IMG_1686

8. Don’t over-stress picture taking…you won’t have to work very hard to get photos where your kids appear as if they actually like one another (light up ferris wheel and water park not always included)IMG_1759

9. Eat dessert


Limoncello cake with mascarpone frosting at Sole Restaurant in Myrtle Beach, SC

10. Be silly IMG_1762

Because that’s always better than taking silly things too seriously. Like “lost” keys, for instance.



From Now On, We’ll Use the Proper Slang

This Summer, my parents paid for a vacation for my siblings and our families. While it wasn’t exactly the beachy vacation of our dreams, it was great for all 16 of us to be together.

And 6 days was just enough time to enjoy each other’s company before we began to question parenting skills, spousal choices, and various personality quirks. There are only so many ‘party of 16’ dinners in a row that sane people kin can stand before the whole damn experience is ruined by way too much togetherness.

The kids had a great time on multiple afternoons at the pool. They enjoyed the slide and I was in the pool to capture video with my new iPhone6.

I was trying out the new slo-mo feature for the first time and caught the kids as they came down the tunnel on the slide and into the pool. I was able to do a screen grab for a photo of the fun…


My nephew Jonas comes down the slide and shows us that it’s always ok for fake gun play.


My niece Callie does the ‘hold the nose’ pose as she splashes down


My nephew Will shows nothing buy joy when he hits the water


My son Alex gets no style points for his splashdown

However, it was my son Nick who provided the best slo-mo and screen capture of a slide. Of course, I didn’t see it at full speed. But when I reviewed it in the slo-mo, this is what I saw…(wait for it…wait for it…)

And because my Parent of the Year Award is long overdue, I never miss an opportunity to make fun of myself and my parenting skills, I posted this to Facebook:

Nick on Slide

Facebook likes my many parenting triumphs fails.

One week later, our family gathered for the annual Cousins and Crabs feast. Over a pile of steaming, delicious hard crabs, my cousin Joe from Florida told me that his family had coined a new phrase. “We now call it ‘Nicking someone off’ whenever we see someone giving the finger”.

Which made me want to do this:

Hot damn...Best. Parent. EVER.

Hot damn…Best. Parent. EVER.

So, anyone who disagrees with my parenting style in the future…well I’m just going to Nick them off.


Not the Caribbean

My parents are celebrating 50 years of marriage this year. About 2 years ago, my mom said to my three sisters and I:

“I’m thinking we should do something special as a family for our 50th wedding anniversary in 2015. Your dad I would like take all of you kids and the grandkids on a nice vacation. Someplace like the Caribbean or a cruise the week between Christmas and New Years.”

Which made us feel like:



Our kids (there are seven kids among the three of us who have them) were also very excited, because they had visions of Atlantis and Disney cruises dancing in their heads:

Swim with dolphins - hell to the yeah.

Swim with dolphins in Atlantis? Hell to the yeah.

Awesome waterslide on a Disney cruise? More hell to the yeah!

Awesome waterslide on a Disney cruise? Even more hell to the yeah!

Last year, a couple of us asked mom if plans for the trip were starting to gel since we would need to request time off from work for dipping our toes in the sand and soaking our livers in alcohol. And that’s when we got a huge shock:

“Girls…I’ve picked the location. Your dad and I are very excited — next July, we are going to the Boar’s Head Inn in Charlottesville, VA!”

Wait...what...I think I misheard you. Did you say Beach or Boar's? And you meant Virgin Islands, not Virginia, right?

Wait…what…I think I misheard you. Did you say Beach or Boar’s? And you meant Virgin Islands, not Virginia, right?

Each of my sisters and I had a similar reaction:

Me: I think I need a longer Q-tip because my ears think they heard we are not going anywhere beachy.

Me: “My ears must be fucking clogged, because I swear I just heard we are not going anywhere near a beach or copious amounts of rum drinks served by cabana boys husbands.”

Diane: I live in Canada...you are fucking with me about this July in the humid backwoods of Virginia, right?

Diane: “I live in Canada. You are fucking with me about this whole July in the humid backwoods of Virginia, and not a sunny beach in the dead of Winter, right?”

Nancy: "I don't have kids or a husband, but I do know a vacation buzz kill when I hear one."

Nancy: “I don’t have kids or a husband, but I do know a vacation buzz kill when I fucking hear one.”

Susan: "Are you kidding me with this? I already had my bikinis picked out."

Susan: “Are you fucking kidding me with this? I already had my bikinis picked out.”

So, we started a new mantra:


We explained to our kids that the destination their grandparents picked (and were paying for) didn’t have dolphin swims, water slides, and beaches. But we reassured them that a high-end, adult resort would be just as fun with none of those things golf, tennis, and a swimming pool.

Since my sisters and I have done such a good job of raising our kids, my teenage and pre-teen nieces reacted fine:

If I was on a beach I wouldn't care if I couldn't snapchat with my friends.

If I was on a beach I wouldn’t care if I couldn’t Snapchat with my friends. 

And my sons and nephews were calm about the change of plans:

No water slides and no dolphins? UGH!

No water slides and no dolphins? And probably no ESPN either. UGH!

I just don’t understand where our kids get this attitude from…

Sign up on my office at work.

Sign I put up on my office at work. A co-worker tried to make me feel better by pointing out how overrated sun, sand, and rum drinks really are.

OK…so maybe my sisters and I need to adjust our attitudes a bit. This place does have 3 pools. There is sand in the traps on the golf course. And I’m sure they will overcharge us for yummy rum drinks, just like they would on an island or a cruise ship.

So, even though it’s not the Caribbean…

This. This right here.

This. This right here.

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Thanksgiving Redux: Travelog Stardate 11-24-10

This year, we won’t be making the 5 1/2 hour trek to Charleston, WV to my father-in-law and his wife’s house. Six hours, if you add in the fine dining stop just outside of Morgantown, WV at any one of a variety of eating establishments that offer drive-thru as an ordering option.

Because those losers they are spending this Thanksgiving in Myrtle Beach. And we are going to be suffering through Snowgiving here in the mid-Atlantic.

So, I dusted off an old blog post about our first trip there five years, 1 dog, and 1 Honda Odyssey ago.  May your Thanksgiving travel adventures go as smoothly.

Well, technically for my family it was Christmas when the cops got called...(true story)

Well, technically for my family it was Christmas when the cops got called…(true story)

Originally posted November 25, 2010

Away we go to the grandparent’s house!

10:00am Scheduled departure time.

10:15am Search ends for the extra DS stylus so that both boys can play their units at the same time. Mommy successfully convinces at least one kid that an Egyptian Mossy Nile eyeliner pencil can make Mario jump higher than ever (cap ON please!).

10:27am Actual departure time.

10:28am Mommy passes tissue back to Alex to remove the Egyptian Mossy Nile eyeliner that is now covering his DS screen. Eff’ing CAP ON is the revised instruction.

10:30am Nick asks how many more minutes until we get there. Mommy laughs and tells Nick “It’s a 5 hour trip honey. We have a ways to go”.

11:02am Nick asks how many more minutes until we get there. Mommy smirks and says “It’s only been a half hour Nick. 270 more to go!”

11:05am Mommy suggests we play the “I spy” alphabet game.

11:16am Mommy is disappointed at how quickly the alphabet game ended, having just refereed whether a “Z” in Quiznos sign found by Nick or on a license plate found by Alex was the first spied and shouted out. Mommy calls it a tie.

11:21am Daddy finds the real “Z” when his snoring commences. Mommy is left to multi-task, driving and try to decipher the directions daddy wrote down.

11:46am Mommy wakes daddy to ask about the directions he wrote down, as the 12 mile distance has come and gone and Route 79 South has not yet materialized. Daddy points out that what he wrote clearly says 112 miles so we have quite a distance to go before we hit Route 79 South. He then returns to snoring. 12 with some scribble in front of it — or 112? You decide:


12 or 112? You decide

11:58am Nick asks when we are going to have lunch. Mommy promises in 45 minutes she will wake daddy up so we can stop and have lunch.

12:09pm We pass Pigs Ear Road. Really? Out here in the country all the Main Streets and Elm Blvds had been used up and you were only left with Pigs Ear Road? Extra disappointed this is spotted while we are still in Maryland and not after we have crossed into West Virginia.

12:17pm Dog farts. Dog pants in the direction of mommy which smells like farts.

12:17:01pm Mommy makes mental note to buy SuperSaver bag of breath buster treats for dog.

12:45pm Nick asks how many more minutes until we stop for lunch. Mommy replies “the minute I see the next fast food sign”.

12:50pm Family lunches at Burger King. Everyone takes potty break. Mommy determines that even with a 3-layer paper seat protector, it is the coldest (but cleanest!) public toilet she has ever had to sit on.

1:25pm Nick asks how many more minutes; Mommy clenches teeth and says “at least 2 1/2 hours – convert it to minutes yourself”.

1:25:01pm – 4:00pm Nick does not ask how many more minutes are left.

2:04pm Mommy spots bumper sticker “Paddle faster. I hear banjo music”. Mommy laughs out loud.

2:04:03pm Mommy realizes bumper sticker is probably a friendly warning to visitors in the area. Bumper sticker suddenly not as funny as mommy first thought.

2:37pm Queen’s We Will Rock You/We are the Champions comes on the radio. Alex and Nick sing along.

2:37:15pm Freddie Mercury turns in his grave. Surviving members of Queen contact copyright attorney to file lawsuit.

2:49pm Alex asks to stop for a potty break. We pick the next Rest Area and I say to Alex “I want you to go in the ladies room with me since dad is going to walk the dog. Sometimes there are strange people at rest stops”. To which Nick says “You mean like people who smoke?”.

3:07pm Alex points out the second set of heavenward pointing hooves he has spotted in the back of a pickup truck in the last five minutes. Mommy explains that some people like venison as much as turkey on Thanksgiving. Nick asks if any of the dead deer are related to Bambi’s mom.

3:16pm Mommy observes many pickup trucks on the side of the highway and thinks that Senator Byrd should have worked harder to push for better automechanic legislative guidelines in his state, given all the broken down pick up trucks.

3:17pm While passing another group of pickup trucks on the side of the road, mommy realizes the mechanics in West Virginia are not substandard as originally thought. Rather, this is where the hunters are parking as they go off into the woods on the side of the highway. Her first clue? All the guys in camo and bright orange with their guns slung over their shoulder, pointing in the direction of the highway.

3:17:01pm Mommy says a silent prayer that none of these yahoos gets turned around in the woods and fires in the direction of the highway, mistaking a Buick in need of a new muffler for 10-point buck that would feed a family of 8.

3:30pm Charleston is spotted on the horizon. Alex asks if they get the NFL and RedZone channels “way out here”.

3:45pm Unplanned stop at gas station when Google directions indicate a left turn onto Angel Terrace. Angel Terrace is actually spotted on the right. Call placed to grandad who informs us that Angel Terrace does not factor into the directions at all. Mommy makes mental note to fire off nasty letter to Google map coders, a la the infamous “Always Letter”.

4:00pm Arrive at Grandad and Granny Lori’s house.

4:00:01pm Realize that on Friday, we get to do it all again. In reverse.

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Beck’s in the City

Editor’s Note: With apologies to my very good pal Rebecca Henigin, who is truly the real Bex in the City. Well, in our case, Bex in the ‘ville.

A couple of Fridays ago, I travelled to NYC for a conference being held at Columbia University. When I was first approached about speaking at the event and asked if February 21 would be ok, I replied rather quickly, “Sure, I’m free that day.”

That decision will go down as another one of the (unfortunately not so rare) loser mom moments of my life. It never even occurred to me that February 21 was my son’s birthday.  

I decided that since I was totally going solo on this trip, I was going to embrace the City. I was going to soak up all the NYC I could, and live like the gals from Sex and the City – for at least 24 hours, anyway. I was going to embark on an adventure of swanky meals, fabulous frocks, and amazing street scenes…

Swanky meals: Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda never seemed to cook at home. They were always trying out the most amazing spots.

For me, dressing up to eat means putting on a bra

For me, dressing up to go out to eat means putting on a bra

Since I’m a little more skanky than swanky, I was determined to eat at one of the places featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. Until I heard the closest one to my hotel was at least 25 minutes away. The bellman also informed me I’d be lucky to grab a cab on a drizzly night like this. So rather than going to The Redhead, with it’s supposedly amazing homemade pretzels and beer cheese dipping sauce, I ended up at Brother Jimmy’s BBQ, just around the corner from my hotel.  Their motto is “Put Some South in Yo’ Mouth”.

Tequila is from Mexico and that’s south, so this margarita counts. Right?

Definitely put all this in my mouth.

I definitely put all this in my mouth.

Fabulous frocks: The gals from Sex in the City were always so put together. Even when they weren’t put together.

This must be their casual wear

This must be their casual wear

Since my shopping radius was limited due the drizzle, this was the only place I found nearby that sort of would pass for fashion. For a hooker.

Do you have these in crotchless?

Do you have these in crotchless?

Amazing street scenes: Carrie and her friends took many strolls along the city streets, but this is my favorite street scene from the show:

Yep, this is more like me

Yep, this is more like me

The most amazing street scene for me was not in the street but actually in the subway. I’d never ridden the subway in NY. Even though I’m quite the expert at the DC Metro, the NY system is different. And that starts with the turnstiles you have to negotiate to get into the system once you’ve swiped your card.

“I’ve got this,” I thought to myself, as I swiped my card and pushed my luggage through the turnstile. And then as I tried to push myself through the turnstile, it wouldn’t budge. Because I had used my pass for my stupid-ass luggage, and not for my stupid ass.

I stood there, looking very “Carrie gets splashed by a bus” —  incredulous that this was happening to me. The evening rush hour New Yorkers barely acknowledged my plight other than to snark “you’re holding up the line.”  Since I was not about to give the city an additional $2.25 of my money to get the turnstile to move, I did what any level-headed individual would.  I crouched down on all fours and crawled on the floor, slithering to freedom.

As I whacked my head on the turnstile in my haste to get up off the floor, I was wondering if my company would pony up the bail money if I was locked up for turnstile jumping. Fortunately, no one chased me to the train platform screaming “Stop, criminal! You’re heading to jail, you scuzzy lawbreaker!”

Yes, Beck’s was in the City. But it was totally clear she belongs in the ‘burbs.

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On the Road Again

“to travel is worth any cost or sacrifice.” 
― Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love

“Sit next to a McMuffin-noshing, sparkly, snoring Miss Ross as you travel cross-country, and let me know if you still feel the same way miss fancy pants best-selling author who probably flies first class.”
― Becky Rice, Not Eating, Seldom Praying, Hard to Love 

I really thought my string of bad luck while traveling was over. I mean, I’d certainly paid my dues during our family’s Thanksgiving trek to West Virginia to visit my in-laws in 2010, and with my bus trip to Pittsburgh earlier this year. Evidently, the universe isn’t done with me just yet.

This October, I was once again traveling for work — flying east to west coast — to attend a large convention near Sacramento. The conference took place over the Columbus Day holiday. This should have been my first clue the travel gods would not be kind. You see, this is what was in store for me:

Diss’ed by the Bus: I arrived in the airport parking lot and waited for the courtesy shuttle bus to take me to the terminal. The not-so-courteous bus barreled toward the stop, but did not slow down. In fact, is passed right by myself and the three other people waiting. It was 5:30am and even in the blurry haze of the bus passing us by, I was able to see it only had 3 people on it. So, my fellow early-rising travelers and I walked to the other side of the parking lot, where stop #1 was located. We waited 10 minutes for the next bus. Which was courteous. And did stop. 

“SANG IT”: Upon arrival at the terminal, I went to the airline counter and handed the not-so-perky airline employee my boarding pass and checked bag. She was having trouble scanning my pass as she slapped the “Stupid-Ass-No-Good-Idiot-Thing” (SANG IT – her acronym, not mine) that was supposed to electronically check me in. Once she finally got the desired beep from the machine after whacking it on the side a few times, she informed me that I needed to “hustle on down” to the security line.

Security screening line: So, I hustled. I got to the start of the security line, only to find that it wound down a very long hall, around the corner to a slightly shorter hallway, then around another corner, back into the main area of the terminal and down the hall. It seems there are a lot of people who take the early flight out of town. On a Friday. Of a holiday weekend.

I made a mental note to kick myself in the ass for not realizing this when I booked my flight.  Nothing says good morning like a bunch of under-coffeed travelers who have at least a 20 minute wait from this point to get to the start of the security line:

See the exit sign waaaaay down the hallway. Yeah, from that point it's only 10 minutes until the start of the security line.

See the red exit sign waaaaay down the hallway? Yeah, from that point it’s only 10 minutes until the start of the security line.

Security body scan device: When we finally did get through security pre-check and to the body scan devices, the device for my line totally shut down and decided to reset itself (“Why yes, please send me through the machine that has a mind of its own!”). For about 10 minutes, the PhD BS HS GED recipients who were staffing this area walked around the machine trying to figure out why it had reset itself and why it was taking so long to reboot. Meanwhile, the passengers waiting to be scanned were getting antsy, as the line for security was backing up even further (if that’s possible). The under-coffeed mob was in no mood to be delayed. Finally, one of the travelers in line said “why can’t we use the old style scanner until the full body scanner comes back online”.  I believe I actually saw the lightbulbs go off over the heads of each of the security people after this suggestion was made. Order restored, we used “old school” security scanners, and the great traveling masses were once again on their way.

Don't worry, Mrs. Rice already knows how to 'assume the position'.

Don’t worry, Mrs. Rice already knows how to ‘assume the position’.
Image © 2013 The Real Agenda

Poor Larry Putterman:  As we were getting ready to board the plane leaving Baltimore, I was standing in the line at the gate behind Larry Putterman and his wife. How did I know it was Larry Putterman, you ask? Well, because the ID tag on the backpack he had slung over his shoulder told me so. And here’s what else I learned about Larry as I stood in line behind him and his shrew wife, down the long jetway and onto the plane.

  • Larry had booked a sub-par hotel in Mrs. Putterman’s evaluation, and under no circumstances was she going to go to Miami next month if she wasn’t staying at a 5-star hotel because of his incompetence (I had to wonder whether or not Larry booked a non-5-star hotel on purpose)
  • Larry had no business wandering off in the terminal and leaving Mrs. Crotchety-Pants Putterman by herself at the gate. Larry attempted to defend himself saying that he needed to go to the bathroom, but Mrs. P wasn’t interested in his “problems”.
  • Even though Larry had wandered off without permission, he had come back with a Starbucks and a muffin for his wife. He had the nerve to only bring her 1 Splenda, so how was she going to manage with only 1 Splenda?
  • And finally, Mrs. Putterman exclaimed loudly (and repeatedly) that under no circumstances was she going to share the inheritance her father had left her because it was her money, and Larry wasn’t going to get his paws on it under any circumstances.

Welcome to the friendly skies, Larry.

Sausage, sparkles, and snores:   We were told the flight was full. However, once I got on the plane, there continued to be an empty seat in the middle (score!) between me and the person in the window seat as the last few passengers found their seats. Until the really last (and very late) person and her son boarded the plane. Evidently, the sparkly traveler had stopped in the name of love the love of a sausage egg McMuffin, which was the reason for her late arrival to board the plane. Miss Ross took her seat in the middle with her entourage (marvelous hair extensions, bag of McBreakfast, large fancy purse, and zebra-striped carry on) and proceeded to chow down on her breakfast. Eventually, she fell asleep. And snored loudly until we passed over Albuquerque. Baltimore to Albuquerque is a long damn time to be listening to snoring. Trust me.

Miss Ross dresses so sparkly for any occasion.

Miss window seat had no problem dozing off to the sounds of Miss Ross’ melodic snoring.

I did eventually arrive in Sacramento.  If you get the chance, check out their sculptures in baggage claim — there are two of these floor-to-ceiling creations:

A fabulous use of unclaimed baggage

A fabulous use of unclaimed baggage

We had a fabulous conference over the weekend and began our trek home on Columbus Day, with our flight departing Sacramento at 6:00am.

When we arrived in Phoenix to pick up additional passengers for the continuation of our flight home,  we were asked to disembark due to mechanical difficulties. The problem could not be fixed, so we were diverted to another aircraft to get us home.

I used the delay to  purchase an over-priced sandwich (but still cheaper than what they would charge me on the plane), snacks, and some juice. Before we left the airport, I decided I would use the bathroom.

I bolted out of the bathroom and headed right back to the gift shop, because … well, let’s just say that in addition to the travel gods not smiling on me for this trip, the Playtex Products, LCC gods were smiling (a week early, damn it) because of me.

$10 for cotton and cardboard. Airport robbery.

$10 for 8 pieces of cotton and cardboard? What a bargain!

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Am I Ready for Some Football?

My husband has been a Pittsburgh Steelers fan forever, and our boys have followed in his footsteps with much love for the black and gold. I go along for the ride because … I bought a Michael Kors purse in a bold yellow-gold, so that’s all it takes to make me a fan. Right?

I was not so mellow when I saw this (amaze-balls!) leather yellow gem

I was not so mellow when I saw this (amaze-balls!) leather gem in yellow

Recently, I had to take a trip to Pittsburgh for a work conference.  It turned out the conference was the same weekend that the Pittsburgh Steelers played their home opener for the 2013 season. Since my presentation would be done on Sunday morning at 9:00am, my husband and I decided to surprise the kids by purchasing tickets to the game.  We had never been to a professional football game as a family — won’t this be fun, I thought.

My husband and the boys drove up to Pittsburgh after their own football games on Saturday and we spent the night in the hotel paid for by my company. Once my presentation was over the next morning, I took both the boys out to a buffet breakfast at the Westin. They thought the best thing about it was the bottomless glass of chocolate milk. Nick downed four large glasses in less than 20 minutes and told our waitress “My mom never lets me have this much chocolate milk. I love your restaurant!”

My husband didn’t go with us because as he saw it: “why the #$%* would I wake early up to go eat an unlimited amount of scrambled eggs and bacon? I’ll just get something at the stadium.”  The stadium does not offer all you can eat and is three times the price of the buffet. But screw it, this was a mini-vacation, right?

We decided to walk to the stadium from our hotel. It was great — there were plenty of other Steelers fans making the same trek across the bridge to where PNC Park (Pirates) and Heinz Field (Steelers) are located. Black and gold excitement was in the air!

We arrived at the stadium early. We had a bit over an hour before game time, so we found our way to our $222 (each!) seats.  The seats cost slightly less than my fabulous yellow Michael Kors purse. And only a bit more than my husband would end up spending on his stadium lunch.

The tickets gave us a great vantage point of the entire field and stadium, and especially the ginormous scoreboard.

Our view of the amazing score board.

Our view of the amazing score board. Only $888 plus tax. The seats. Not the score board.

Husband and sons enjoying all the elbow row before all the other fans showed up

Husband and sons enjoying all the elbow room before  the other 61,472 fans showed up.

Fans could tweet messages with #SteelersBoard in them and possibly get their tweet and pictures on the jumbo tron (do they still call the screens that?).  So I tweeted this:

I'm so social media savvy.

I’m so social media savvy.

And then I saw my tweet on the board — how exciting! So I quickly grabbed my cell phone and snapped a picture of it:

Behind my stupid finger is the jumbo tron with my tweet. If you look real hard...yeah...you still can't see it.

Behind my stupid finger is the jumbo tron with my tweet. If you look real hard…yeah…you still can’t see it.

The seats around us quickly filled up.  Local Steelers fans are rabid. And big drinkers. And big cussers. Especially the four gals who were sitting behind us. Two of them spilled beer on me and my son, one kicked my seat every time the Steelers did something wrong (I stopped counting after her perfectly pedicured toes jammed the back of my seat 37 times), and all four of them spewed forth language that made my potty mouth look like a freshly Lysoled, never-before-used bathroom.

When it came time for food, Nick refused to eat the burger my husband bought him for lunch because it had onions on it. I informed him that the cheeseburgers at McDonald’s have onions, and he had no problem woofing those down.  He rolled his eyes as he responded, “Are you sure they use onions at McDonald’s? I think you are making that up to try and make me feel bad. Is that how you roll?”  

Overall, the Steelers played pathetically and lost due to an anemic offensive effort.  My husband summed up our first-ever experience at Heinz Field with the 3 little words every woman loves to hear: “Wasted ‘effin money.”  Our oldest son Alex was able to use the words suck/sucky/supersucky/stupidsucky/suckiest nearly once a minute during the 30 minute trek back to our car, in an effort to describe the experience of watching his beloved Steelers suck in-person.

As the 61,000+ dejected fans — including three particularly despondent men I had to ride 3+ hours home in a car with — made their way back across the bridge, Nick blurted out “Why do lesbians need a festival?”  So I stopped and looked where Nick was staring. And this is what I saw:

You say lesbian, I say Lebanese.

You say lesbian, I say Lebanese.

Finally, something about the experience that made me smile. And didn’t suck.


The Bus to the ‘Burgh Is the Pitts

This past weekend, I made the trip to Pittsburgh to attend a conference for my organization.  I was exhibiting and presenting a session.  Since Pittsburgh is only about 3 hours from our house, I figured to save a little money and do right by my Association, I would leave the driving to Greyhound.

Bonus? It was opening weekend of the 2013 NFL season. We purchased tickets to the Steelers game, and my husband and sons drove up Saturday evening after a full day of their own football. After my 8:00am Sunday morning presentation, we headed to Heinz Field for the game at 1:00pm.

But back to me, damn it. And the sacrifices I made for this trip.  Sacrifices like…say…taking a Greyhound bus to Pittsburgh because it was only $25.

Why was that a sacrifice, you ask?  Because taking the bus to Pittsburgh turned out to be the pits.  Let me explain.

To start, the bus was 25 minutes late. In that 25 minutes,  I had this amazing view of downtown Frederick, MD to enjoy on a lovely day:

It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood

It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood

Unfortunately, the view wasn’t able to take away the pain of the late bus, because I also had the visual — and in some cases audio — of all this:

  • What appeared to be the Frederick County Chapter of the Friends of RJ Reynolds gathered right outside the station door creating their own little smog factory. Did I mention the station has only one entrance? And those of us with a bladder the size of a thimble needing to use the restroom had to cough our way through the smog cloud.

    The one and only door to the train station. Before the smog cloud-producing  chain smokers arrived.

    The one and only door to the train station. Before the smog cloud-producing chain smokers arrived.

  • The girl inside the station on her bedazzled cell phone breaking up with her boyfriend. She dropped the f-bomb loudly and no fewer than 14 times in less than 2 minutes.  Yeah, like I was going to try and take a picture of her.
  • A local man showing me how he eats cowtails candies by smashing them, then rolling them up to chew them.  You don’t want to see a picture of that. Trust me.
Check out my chariot, bitches!

Check out my chariot, bitches!

The bus driver was anxious to make up time. So she was less than pleased when one of the baggage doors wouldn’t shut properly. After trying to jam it closed repeatedly — and so hard it put a noticeable dent in the door — she turned to the station manager and asked “You got a hammer?”.  Fortunately, her brawn was just the ticket, because on her next effort she broke the hinge and the door shut. I was grateful my bag went in the other baggage compartment.

Once I stepped up onto the bus, it was clear I would be sharing a seat, since some most pretty much everybody was taking up two seats by stretching out to sleep.

Can I see proof you paid for both those seats?

Can I see proof you paid for both those seats?

Feet on seat. Rude.

Feet on seat. Rude.

I took a seat next to a guy I swear was Lamar Odom (hard to believe he would leave rehab just to take a bus from Richmond to Pittsburgh, but maybe getting out of the Kardashians’ klutches was totally worth the ride).  Lamar was asleep and his long legs were encroaching on my territory, so I snapped a picture for proof.  But the picture didn’t do me any favors:

All this picture shows is that I have more hair on my legs than Lamar.

All this picture shows is that I have more hair on my legs than Lamar.  Who shaves above the knee after Labor Day, anyway?

The lady sitting across from me was also taking up more than her fair share of space.  At one point, she kicked the Gatorade bottle out of the holder and I watched her as she watched the bottle fall to the floor. And then she ignored it. But I didn’t ignore it, as it rolled across the aisle toward me. I picked up the bottle, and said “excuse me, I think you dropped this.”  Her response was to sneer and say “oh, right.”

Taking up two seats.  Wrong.  Dropping Gatorade bottle and ignoring it? Wronger.

Taking up two seats. Wrong. Dropping Gatorade bottle and ignoring it? Wronger.

Of course, then I had to go to the bathroom.  A rolling bathroom. How bad can it be, right?  Well, it was no better than a port-o-potty.  The wretched smell and sloshing of what was in the pot was enough to help me set the land speed record for use of mobile facilities.  To top it off, there was no sink — just a bottle of hand sanitizer attached to the wall.  Once I was done, I whimpered my way back to my seat.

Figuring it was best to tune out at this point, I decided use my iPhone iHeart radio app with my earphones. Unfortunately, the mountainous terrain we were passing through pretty much resulted in me checking my iPhone every 30 seconds, only to see this:

Why, yes, I am going crazy because of the @#$%ing buffering.

Why, yes, I am going crazy because of the @#$%ing buffering.

Why it didn’t buffer during the @#$%ing commercials, I just didn’t understand.  The buffering also sucked the life out of my iPhone (and so did all the Instagram pictures and Facebook updates while I was at the train station, truth be told).  I ended up pulling out my laptop, hanging it in the Gatorade holder, and charging my phone that way. I only prayed Lamar didn’t have to get up to use the bathroom which would ruin my elaborate electronics set up.

My very complicated iPhone charging system.

My very complicated iPhone charging system.

About an hour and a half outside of Pittsburgh, we made a stop at a rest area. With indoor plumbing. Which made my use of the rolling rest stop all that more soul-sucking, since I didn’t know we were making a stop.

The driver gave us these instructions:

  • Do not smoke near the door of the coach.
  • Do not wait until the last minute to get in line for food.
  • You are responsible for watching the time during the 15 minute stop.
  • And she ended with: I will not come searching for you. We are all grown.

Lamar and I looked at each other and nodded in agreement.

During the stop, there was one lady who must have thought she was on an airplane. Because girlfriend brought her own pair of flotation devices.  I only know that because they were pretty much hanging out of the cut-down-to-her-navel neckline of her shirt. Didn’t get a picture of that either. Sorry, pervs.

After the rest stop, it was a pretty uneventful hour and a half ride until we arrived in Pittsburgh.  Once I retrieved my bag from the undamaged compartment, I made a bee-line for my hotel. It was only two blocks away. Once I checked in and dropped my crap off in the room, I then made a bee-line for the pub across the street, where they have a $6 martini special until midnight every Friday.

This is gonna ease the pain

This is gonna ease the pain. Well, three of them ended up helping to ease the pain.

Yep, the martinis were just what I needed.  Until the next day, when I saw that my exhibit was not in the hotel, but at the University of Pittsburgh.  However, the conference organizers were kind enough to provide a bus to get us to campus.

The driver of this bus was smoking a cigar.  Bus driver chicks are so bad ass.

The driver of this bus was smoking a cigar. Chick bus drivers are so bad ass.

Yep. Taking the bus to the ‘Burgh is the Pitts.

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The Road More Traveled

Mom and dad have been busy spending my inheritance.  Or more accurately, the inheritance I will have to share with my three sisters.  In the past 5 years, they’ve been gallivanting all over the place. In addition to visiting various U.S. states, they’ve also been wearing out their passports with trips to Mexico, England, the Carribbean, France and most recently Scotland.  This is amazing on two fronts.

First, my dad has never traveled well.  Wait — let me clarify. Dad never traveled well when he had his wife and young daughters in tow.  Don’t believe me?  Just ask the motel manager he cussed out on the phone during a family vacation in the Virginia country-side.   Dad had called the front desk and told the manager his four daughters had locked themselves out of the adjoining room.  The manager politely informed my dad that there was no possible way that anyone could get locked out of an adjoining room.

Now don’t quote me, but I believe dad’s response to that was: “Well, get your fucking ass up here and I’ll show you how my 4 little Einsteins will blow your fucking theory right out of the fucking water. “  I was only 9 at the time, so I may not be correctly recalling exactly what he said.  It’s possible there may have been a few more “fucks” thrown in there that I  have blocked out  don’t remember.

And don’t even ask me about the “Save the squirrel but kill your whole fucking family” episode.  To this day, I am not able to drive a VW bus because of that experience.

The second reason all this globe-trotting is amazing is because my mom is the barfiest traveler you will ever meet.  She gets motion sickness as a passenger in a car — sometimes when she’s driving.  Boats/ships/trains aren’t any better. She’s nervous and unsettled while flying.  Mom has tried eating ginger, drinking ginger ale, taking Dramamine, and wearing energy/magnetic/copper bracelets. Unfortunately, nothing works.

I’ve suggested she travel separately from dad. I secretly believe he may have something to do with the onset of mom’s queasy stomach once the journey commences. She doesn’t buy that theory and prays the rosary instead.

After their recent trip to Scotland, Dad was kind enough to let us know when they had arrived safely back home.  He sent an e-mail with this picture attached and a message: “Back home. See what Mom dragged home from Loch Ness”:

Just great. Now I will have to split what’s left of my inheritance five ways.

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I should have known that when I left for Puerto Vallarta last week in the middle of a snow event, there would be a down side when I got home. Turns out that when you leave three men (one husband, two sons) in a house by themselves, it’s gonna turn into a bit of a man cave. Even in spite of our female dog’s best efforts to represent the estrogen nation.

I can’t complain too much, as my trip was work related and included plenty of time to enjoy the sun by the pool. However, I thought I would share the difference between being in paradise vs. not being in paradise. In case you were unsure, not paradise would be my home morphing into a man cave back in the States.

Paradise Food
Coco Loco Drink Food in paradise consists of fruit. Fruit and liquor. More importantly, fruit decorating your liquor. This fantastic concoction is called a CocoLoco. It is comprised of rum, tequila (and some other liquor I can’t remember, go figure), coconut milk and lime juice. It’s served in a coconut husk. When you are finished, they will cut up the husk so you can eat the liquor-infused coconut “meat”. This drink spawned the best quote of the trip – “it’s too big for me to pass around, so you’re just gonna have to come over here to suck it“.

Non-paradise Food
While CheezIts are certainly an interesting decorative touch, nothing says “yum-o” like a stack of dirty dishes. Piled on top of the printer. Upon closer inspection, I believe it was the remnants of a bowl of chocolate ice cream, a bowl with three-day-old Spaghetti-O slime and a plate that held something with grape jelly on it.

Paradise Clothing
In spite of the fact that my sister is (mercifully) not very Jerseylicious, she does rock a zebra-striped bikini. However, given our perpensity to burn as immediately and as often as Bic lighter at a Grateful Dead concert, we spend most of the time under the umbrella, wrapped in saris, blankets and other cover ups. Which is probably why we remain so paste-y white. But who the hell cares if you are paste-y white…as long as you are poolside in paradise. In your zebra-striped bikini. Slurping down a CocoLoco.

Non-paradise Clothing

I guess I should just be grateful that the whites were separated from the colors. However, I was none-too-grateful that 3 baskets of clean laundry were just sitting there mocking me in the laundry room upon my return home. Including a load in the dryer and yet another load in the washer that would need a second (third?) trip through the full wash cycle. Is anyone else (besides me) of the mindset that “doing the laundry” includes all the steps and not just the ones up to fold and put away?

Paradise’s Sweeping Views
This was the panoramic view of sunset from my hotel room balcony. With the surf crashing onto the beach, the warmth of the afternoon glowing on my skin, and the buzz of the CocoLoco still dancing through my bloodstream, all I have to say about this view is……ahhh….


Sweeping Non-paradise Snow
This is the damn broken broom I nearly snapped my neck on when I finally returned home from the airport at 2:00 am. Thanks for not leaving the porch lights on, fellas — otherwise I may have missed the opportunity to step on both pieces of it and drop everything I was trying to carry in the door. Evidently, the broom was used to remove heavy snow from our giant cedar trees in the front yard. The snow proved too heavy, the weight of it bending — and eventually breaking — the handle of the broom. I’m guessing the boys left it right on the walkway so that we wouldn’t forget to put it in the trash for the next garbage pickup.

I need that recipe for CocoLoco – STAT!