An Uber Treat

My Friend Erin's Tie Dye (Roll Up N Dye and Colorful Abandon)

My Friend Erin’s Tie Dye (Roll Up N Dye and Colorful Abandon)

I was born in the 60’s. As I grew up in the 70’s and early 80’s, I think there was a lot of residual hitchhiking going on. It must have been leftover from it’s heyday in the 60’s. I, however, was told to not hitchhike. I was raised with the notion that hitchhiking is very dangerous. You don’t know whose car your getting into. It could be a murderer! Well, truth be told, I don’t believe I was ever told that folks picking up hitchhikers were murderers. I’m sure I just assumed that was the worse case scenario of dangerous. And, I probably saw a scary news item or two to that effect. The bottom line message was that hitchhiking was dangerous.

Over the years, I was never tempted to hitchhike, nor did I run with a hitchhiking crowd. We had the “mini buses” or ColumBus buses. So, if I needed a ride to The Mall, for example. I could jump on a ColumBus. I didn’t use it often, but it did save me from hitchhiking a number of times, I’m sure. If we needed a ride to the airport, we would call a taxi. Taxi’s were driven by strangers, but had the benefit of being vehicles labeled as such and being backed by a probably big, well known company. They were just smaller versions of the mini bus. Right?

So, imagine my consternation upon hearing about Uber. My kids were the ones to clue me in on this new ride sharing experience. The first exchange with my daughter went something like this:

Wait. What?

You get in an unmarked car with a stranger?

That’s not safe.

That’s crazy.

No. No, I’ll pick you up. Night or day. Anytime. Just call me or your father. Nope. It’s fine. I’d much rather you get home safely…

The popularity of Uber soared and so did the opening of my mind. I became a hip mom who confirmed that my children would be taking Uber, or Ubering, after a night out on the town. But, even though my children were experiencing Uber firsthand, I was not really accepting it into my world. That is, until my friend and fellow blogger Jessie became an Uber driver. “Whoa,” I thought. “What? Is she nuts?” It’s like picking up hitchhikers, I thought. That’s not safe, I said to myself. So, the same argument for why I wasn’t supposed to hitchhike growing up was, not surprisingly, the same as it was for why I shouldn’t pick up hitchhikers. But, Jessie has always been an early adopter. She not only embraced being an Uber driver, but she blogged about it. I was hooked on her posts. I enjoyed hearing about the people she picked up and her interactions with them. I loved the realness of her trying to find her way through tricky city streets. It was so entertaining. I would read one post and could not wait for the next one. I was thrilled to hear she was planning to publish an e-book based on her experience. It is available now and I highly recommend it.

Are you interested in checking it out? Please click here or visit Amazon.com and look for: Uber Chronicles: Field Notes from the Front Seat  Kindle Edition by Jessie Newburn. You will not be disappointed!

UberChron

@HoCoBlogs

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This Time It’s Not Me

Hearth and Home

Hearth and Home

I started out having an exceedingly difficult time accepting that my son is going to be leaving for Spain for his semester abroad program soon. But, I was not having a difficult time for reasons one may expect from an Empty Nest mom. No, I’m not worried about missing him too much. Of course, I will miss him a lot. I’m not afraid for any struggles he may have getting accustomed to living in a foreign country, as that is part of studying abroad. I’m not concerned about being able to keep in touch with him, as there are dozens of ways we can communicate these days. No, my problem is me, actually. I have been struggling to accept that I am not the one going. I had tried to figure how I could go and stay for the semester, too. Although, like the mouse who gets a cookie, I was definitely going to want more. Like staying for the whole school year. I know this because I’ve done it before. I spent my Junior year abroad in Pamplona, Spain. Am I excited about my son’s upcoming experience? Yes! But, it’s an excitement that is tinged with what I must admit is jealousy. 

Lladro From Spain

Lladro From Spain

Fast forward a month or so and I think I’m finally making the transition from being jealous and bummed it’s not me going to being very excited and happy for my son. The excitement is stemming from the waves of memories I’m having about my Junior year in Spain. I’m remembering details about the people, and lifestyle, and how different I found it from my own; realizations I made while abroad that haven’t occurred to me in years (decades, actually).

The memories began flooding back to me at a rate in which I honestly did not think my brain could produce, from the minute Alex came home from school for the summer. Dozens of them. Some with accompanying advice. And, I am so excited to share them I can barely contain myself. As we sit at the dinner table a memory will pop into my head, and I will say, “You may want to start listening to a Spanish language radio or television station to get your ear accustomed to hearing the language. It’s really hard to get the feel for how fast Spaniards speak in real time from the classroom.” And, “Don’t be alarmed by the crazy dreams you may have in the beginning. It’s just your brain trying to process your second language.” And, then there are the stories of what I experienced and how funny or charming or nerve wracking it was.  

Now, although it has taken several weeks for me to reign in my zeal about Alex’s trip, I think I’ve just about come to terms with it. It is his trip after all. And while I can’t wait to find out what aspects of Spain and Spanish life my son notices, likes, appreciates, and Etc. I must stand back and let it unfold as it did for me all those years ago.

Bull Fight Madrid, Spain 1982

Bull Fight Madrid, Spain 1982

#MyGlobalLife

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Painting (in) the Town

 

I love it when I discover something really fun to do close to home. If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you may have seen some of my paintings. And, I know I have a long way to go to be an artist, but I'm trying to not let that deter me. I have never been good at art. In fact, I intensely disliked elementary and middle school art classes growing up. I couldn't draw or create to save my life. Well, with age comes a certain willingness to try new things. I was invited to a painting party at my friend and fellow blogger, Terri's house last year and it awakened my inner artist. Since then I've hosted a painting party and then set out on my own…with mixed results. I'm pretty critical of my own artwork. And, I still fall into the trap of wanting everything to look like a photograph. But, today, for Mother's Day, my daughter and I tried a new paint party studio in Turf Valley called Pinot's Palette. It was awesome. We both loved the atmosphere and the music they played. We were able to relax and be guided through painting a pretty spring scene. There was a wide selection of beverages and some snacks available for purchase. The room was filled with mothers, daughters, sons, fathers, grandmothers, and grandchildren. The two hour time slot flew by, as we were intently focused on our canvases from the moment we started. We were pretty brave to pick the painting we came to do (painting butterflies is trickier than it sounds). And, despite our butterflies over painting the butterflies, we did just fine. It was such a delightful way to spend the afternoon – surprisingly relaxing and yet exciting at the same time. I think we will both be planning to paint at Pinot's Palette again soon.

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Family Traditions: Glue? Glitter? A Little of Both

The Delicious Fresh Turkey from Maple Lawn Farms

I am feeling so grateful and blessed for this past Thanksgiving holiday weekend, I am still silently giving thanks. Our son surprised us by coming home a day early, and we were all beyond thrilled. Alyssa was thrilled (though she didn't say so) because she finally had someone else to absorb our constant attention, and because she missed her brother. John and I were thrilled because the weather was supposed to be horrible the day Alex told us he was coming home, and because we also missed him. However, I was a little bothered by the fact that I had not had the chance to give the house its final cleaning before Alex came home. We also had planned to have our from scratch, family recipe beef and vegetable soup ready for him when he walked through the door. My mom was taking care of soup duty, so I could prepare for cooking the Thanksgiving dinner. So, the soup wasn't even at our house yet. Those two things, a clean, “company ready” house, and a special soup dinner don't sound like big deals. But, since Alyssa left for college, I tried to do at least those two things every time she came home, and especially when she came home for holidays. I wanted her to know how special it was to us that she was coming home. I am continuing this tradition with Alex's visits. However by the sound of it, neither kid has picked up on any of my attempts at tradition. Alyssa said, “Mom, Alex doesn't care if you vacuumed. He is just happy to be home.” He also knew the soup would not be ready a day early. And, while I still have a bit of a knot in my stomach at not having the picture perfect, June Cleaver welcome for him, he was happy. The soup on his second night home was delicious and loved by all, and I did finally vacuum the next day, too.

Our Traditional Thanksgiving Feast
 

This new information does not deter nor disappoint me. I think having a few, well-placed, nicely-timed family traditions are part of the glue that keeps families happy and together. They are also that little something special, like glitter, that says, “You are loved!” “And, we are happy you're here!” I have wonderful memories of clean houses and special dinners for holidays from my parents and grandparents.
So, I know that, eventually, our kids will delight in these little acts of love. And, that these traditions will be meaningful to them when they come and visit us with their families.

 

Setting Sail For Nautical Newport Family Fun

 

If you're looking for a fun, family activity that is a very Newport, RI/New England thing to do, I've got just the ticket. We did it and really enjoyed it. We took a sightseeing sailboat ride through Newport Harbor and Narragansett Bay. John bought the tickets early in the day because it was an absolutely beautiful day, and the Bay was very calm. Such perfect weather, made it more likely the hour and forty five minute SightSailing trip we wanted might sell out. We opted for the 4:00 PM sail, so we could go straight to dinner afterwards. It was a delightful day with temperatures in the mid- to high 60s. It was a mix of sun and clouds. SightSailing of Newport is located on Bowen's Wharf, in downtown Newport, and the boat, Schooner Aquidneck, leaves from there.

 

Schooner Aquidneck is 80 feet long and is a beautiful and very impressive Tall-Ship. Our Captain, Jeff, and crew, Kevin (who was in charge of sailing the boat), Ben and Eric, (deckhands) were great. They told us lots of great stories about the area and answered all our questions. Kevin even allowed John, Alex, and a had to be over 75 year old former Navy man to steer the boat. They loved it. There were blankets out for us passengers to grab, as it got quite chilly when we ventured out into the open water.

Captain Jeff Giving Safety Briefing

All of our crew had their Captain licenses, and several of them lived on the water. Full time. As in, they have no house on land. Jeff told us about how he sails south for the winter to the Bahamas and finds work every year. Eric was planning to do that this coming Winter and was getting his certification as a scuba instructor. It was so interesting to hear these sailors talk about their lives. We could not imagine living on a boat full time. There would be no place to go to be alone. And I would be very concerned to be on the water during some of the terrible storms we've had this past year. But, we could tell these sailors loved the water and this way of life. We definitely recommend taking a SightSailing tour when you visit Newport. It was a very reasonable $29.50 per person. Passengers can bring their own snacks and drinks or can purchase a bottle of water for $1.00. It was a relaxing and interesting day on the water.

Back at the Dock

 

Graduation Gratitude And Night Squid Fishing

It's Official!

The weather forecast for today up until this morning was for 100% chance of heavy rain and wind. The torrential downpour ended by 8:00 AM and the skies turned blue and sunny. It was delightful. We enjoyed our daughter's wonderful graduation ceremony. It was a great day. Moving her out of her townhouse and a delightful dinner with senior soccer families rounded out an exhausting and fantastic end to her college experience. We were so grateful for the outstanding day.

We were all completely wiped out, but decided to take a walk around the docks when we got back to our suite. There was quite a bit of activity around one of the dock areas. There were a bunch of fishermen set up working their multiple fishing poles. I asked one group what was biting and was told, “squid.” Euwww! Really? That is so cool, right? Fishing at night for squid. All the fishermen I talked to were so friendly. It was a slow night, according to several different groups. I was able to see two buckets with squid in them. One bucket was filled with ink, so it wasn't easy to see the two squid in that one.

 

But, another gentleman had a bunch. It was so interesting. I learned the squid are attracted to the lights around the dock, which was why the fishermen were clustered near them. I also saw pike fish, some super strange water snake or eel or aquatic millipede, and a couple of jelly fish. We were about to fall over with exhaustion, so it was time to go inside. Hopefully, the weather will cooperate with us tomorrow, too.

 

Jelly Fish and Unknown Aquatic Millepede

 

Top Ten Meet Suit Tips For Parents New to Summer Swimming

Some Team “Meet Suits”

 

As we gear up for the big, fun Summer swim team season, I wanted to pass along my Top Ten Things Parents New to Swimming and their Swimmers Need to Know about getting that first Swim Team Suit also known as “Meet suit” or “Competition Suit.”

Here they are:

1) A new suit out of the box is going to feel a little uncomfortable or “tight” when you are first trying it on.

2) If you have not worn a swim suit since last summer (or ever), your new suit is going to feel a little snug and it should.

3) Please do not pull the suit on like pants. Think tights or pantyhose when pulling on a swim suit. You want all the fabric up at your bottom before you pull it up and over said gluteus Maximus.

4) A team suit for competition is supposed to fit your body snugly not tightly, and there is a difference.

5) If I can get my entire fist under the shoulder straps of the suit, it's not too tight. It is in fact too loose.

6) Every swim suit is not the same. Each manufacturer is different. So, just because your son or daughter wore a particular size suit last year (and they've grown), doesn't mean they automatically go up one size. That's why we have swim suit try ons every year. Kids grow, manufacturers change styles and teams pick different suits.

7) If your suit is wrinkly and saggy when you put it on and you are smiling because it feels so good, it is too big. You need a smaller size; and

8) If your suit is saggy and baggy and is fitting like bermuda shorts (and your child is smiling or not), it is the wrong size. You need a smaller size. (NOTE: There are specially made suits that have a lot of extra fabric and are made for the purpose of making a swimmer work harder in practice and feel heavy. They are called “Drag suits,” and they are not worn in competition – for obvious reasons.)

9) I know every parent wants to get at least two years of wear out of every suit they purchase. Sometimes it's possible and sometimes it's not. Wear and tear, care, fabric, AND your child's physical growth are all factors in how long a suit will last. Just buying a suit one or two sizes bigger is not…

And, 10) Swim suits are not ever, ever, ever to be washed in the washing machine or dried in the dryer. Rinse the suit in cold water and use no soap, detergent or specialized cleaning solution. Hang the suit to dry in a well ventilated area. Let the suit dry completely between wears, and you should get as long of a life out of the suit as it can give – depending on wear and tear factors and the fabric it is made from.

The biggest tip of all is to Have Fun! Summer swim team is about fun, friends, family, cheers, challenges, and courage and doing your personal best for the team. Enjoy!

Rack of Practice Suits