Remind me to clean their room on the first day...

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

When my boys are away at camp, one of my rituals is to clean out their room. I do it every summer. Every year,  I procrastinate and wait until camp is almost over to do it and bitch the entire  time.  Every summer I am amazed at the amount of crap that they have accumulated in just one calendar year.

My boys share a room. I have a housekeeper who "cleans" it every week and they are in charge of keeping it "neat".  I try not to go in there during the school year too much as I get overwhelmed. Instead of working with the crack cleaning team that I have assembled and keeping it tidy, I just turn around and go into another room.

This year, before they left for camp, the team spent a day in the room. I made each child try on every single clothing item which led to me realizing that they had no clothing that actually fit them. They said that they cleaned up the rest of the room. ( I did not verify this).   I thought that this would lead to my summer chore of the one-a-year major clean out being a breeze.  It was not.

Yesterday I started out under their beds. They each have a loft bed and going in underneath was like a treasure hunt. Here are some of the pearls that I found :

1. Unopened letters that I sent to camp last year
 (This is not one of them. I don't have a child named Merdith)

2. A Christmas tin of life-savers (like an 8 pack), also unopened.

3. 3 unopened packages of legos and other little toys that they accumulated but never opened
4. A Target gift card (unused and obviously misplaced)

5. A visa gift card

6. 12 pairs of headphones which was especially annoying given that they are always telling me that they have no headphones and I am always buying them more.
7. Four string backpacks which was also annoying because I had to buy string backpacks for camp because they sad that they could not find any in their closets
8. Eight usb flashdrives. (see number 6)

9. A cache of discarded electronic devices (cameras, iphones, ipods, nintendo ds')

10. Many socks

It was like an episode of mini- hoarders in my own home. Or we could host a new show called, "Why the Japolina  spends all of her money on headphones and usb flash drives instead of designer shoes". We could be the new Honey Boo Boo Family where every one makes fun of how stupid we are.

So once again, I spent one of my precious summer camp days entrenched in their room, trying not to cry when packing up their babyish books  to take to goodwill. Once again I am cursing myself for not doing this the first day that they were gone. Remind me to do this task right when they leave next year, and get it out of the way. 

I am a smart girl...

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

I am a smart girl for marrying my sweet husband.  Here is an example.

This morning I woke up and turned on the local news. The weatherman said "For a nice change, it is raining everywhere but here today! Get your fat ass out of bed and exercise!"   That might not be exactly what he said but it was clear that it was clear out and it was not going to rain.

I threw on my exercise clothes and drove to the three mile walking loop near my house. I was so happy to be outside. It was not that hot. In fact, the first sign that something was about to happen  was unusually cool for a July morning.  The second sign that something was amiss was the giant bull frog that jumped out at me and almost tripped me.

After I recovered from my almost accident with the frog, it started to drizzle. I was about 1/3 of  the way around the circle. To turn back seemed silly. I decided to keep walking. At first it was nice. Then it began to rain harder. There was no shelter. I was getting soaked.  I started to huddle under a tree (not a great idea in the state which is the lightening capitol of the world.

My iPhone then rang.  I tried to answer it without it getting wet.  "Honey, I just left to go to work and noticed the rain, I'm coming to rescue you" Like Superman, I did not even have to call him. He just came and rescued me!   Lucky me! 

You shouldn't make fun of people...

Monday, July 29, 2013

Remember a few weeks ago when making fun of a lady in the million mile line at Costco with just one lone watermelon in her cart? 

 Guess who went to Costco on a crowded Sunday afternoon and waited in a long line to buy one thing?  We did not even need a cart.  He is convinced that he needed this.   It not only holds a laptop,  but also an iPad and a million other things. It even has a little strap to attach to the handles of a roll-aboard bag. When loaded, it weighs more than a toddler. He convinced me that this was worth dealing with Costco on a Sunday.   He bribed me with dinner (not at Costco)  #Ilovesummer

Sunday Information...

Sunday, July 28, 2013

First of all, news from camp is all good right now. Everyone is having fun and looking healthy. Not a lot of letters recently which in camp-speak means "I'm having too much fun to slow down to write a letter".

Some un-named camper found a wi-fi signal in the camp's drama room and was able to text me from his iTouch. This was exciting for a few minutes but then led to texts like "send more socks", "can you order me these sunglasses from Here is the link. Everyone has them but me" and "Can I use your itunes account to download some songs to my iTouch? "

That is when I texted that I had to go because the complaint department/bank is closed for the next few weeks. (And yes, I ordered socks and glasses from Amazon to be delivered to him this week).  I am certain that if the camp does not change the wifi password soon, that some other mother is going to narc on her kid for texting and they will confiscate all wifi enabled devices as they did with the cell phones the first day.

The other un-named camper's itouch is probably out of batteries or misplaced.  I sent him a gift from amazon too out of guilt.

I've been doing my usual summer de-cluttering while the kids are gone. My house is now in the stage where it looks worse than when I started. There are piles everywhere and you absolutely cannot tell that I have done any work.  I did list some knick-knacks that I like but really have no place for and one instantly sold. It is a trinket box and sold for a great price 
Click here for the details

I have other clutter  lovely items up for auction including nine anthropologie knobs that I have no furniture to go on :(  

Here are the links to my two ebay pages if you know anyone who is interested


Why you should send your school age children to sleep away camp...

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Despite a little hiccup last week involving a kid at the camp infirmary, the first week of having no children in my house has been amazing.

Did we go to Europe? No. Did we re-decorate the house? No. Did we host elaborate dinner or cocktail parties for our glamorous friends? No.

What did we do for an entire week without minors living under our roof ?  Pretty much nothing and it was glorious.

No carpooling. No yelling. No breaking up stupid arguments. No mountains of laundry. I ran the dishwasher once instead of 7 times.  No $300 visits to publix. Sure I miss their little teenaged faces, but I know from past experience, that once they are home for five minutes, it feels like they never left.

The summers when my boys go to camp is a flashback to the early days when my husband and I were newlyweds. Luckily we still like each other as much as we did 20 years ago so it is joyful. I suppose if we were not getting along, or worse, it might be lonely. Fortunately, we are still kicking it as a couple so the month that the kids are not here is fun, fun, fun.

For example, my husband was home early tonight so we walked down the street to a Mexican restaurant and had chips, guac and beer (at 6 p.m. on a Tuesday night! ). If you don't have children living under your roof, this may not seem amazing, but trust me it is. During the school year,  6 p.m. on a Tuesday night is the bewitching hour and bedtime seems days away. 

I am enjoying the silence and respecting the lull (while simultaneously cruising the camp photo website to try to find a glimpse of either kid and then analyze the photo to death). Besides that little mental problem of mine and thousands of sleepaway camp moms, summer is delightful right now. 

A great weekend...

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Despite my camp melodrama on Friday, the rest of  weekend was quite lovely.

On Friday night, I made my husband happy by agreeing to forgo a fancy date night spot for his favorite place in the whole world, Steve's Pizza in North Miami. It is a famous place. It has not changed in 30 years or so but it is my husband's favorite. If you looked up "dive" in the dictionary a photo of this place would pop up.

I don't eat pizza that often because I don't ever get satisfied with a normal portion and always overeat and feel disgusting. However, there is nothing healthy to eat at Steve's other than an iceberg salad so I do order a slice there and it if I'm going to eat Pizza, this is the place.

I always get the veggie slice. It is bigger than the plate and has a pound of veggies on top. It is amazing.

It might not have been a fancy date night but there is a reason that a cold beer and a slice is still a great meal.

It has been raining and raining here.  This is a shot taken from the overpass looking down on 1-95. South Florida traffic is usually not that bad in the summer due to the lack of tourists and lack of school commuting.  I guess everyone did not get the message on this day.

This morning I rode my bike down the Hollywood broadwalk. It was early but also cloudy. The good thing about the weather lately is that the summer has not been unbearably hot yet.  My ride was peaceful and not as sweaty as it should be in July.

Have a great Sunday!

News from camp...

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Sleep away camp is the best! The best for the kids as they have so much fun. The best for the parents because they get a little break. HOWEVER it is not so fun when someone goes down for the count.

During my son's first week ever at camp four years ago, he broke his arm roller skating. My husband and I were adjusting to being kid free for the first time in ten years by hanging out in Vegas. We got the call from the camp and were horrified to find out they my little smooshie had a broken arm.  They were taking him to the doctor.  Luckily, it was a very minor break and they were able to put a waterproof cast on. After that,  I called the camp director every single day  for the rest of the session and was assured that he was fine.   The smiling photos of him horseback riding and being pulled on a tube by a speedboat were proof.  I figured that he would certainly be sitting on the couch with a broken arm at my house so camp was a great thing. He came back with a smelly orange cast with a million tales of camp life. He could not wait to go back.

Flash forward to  yesterday when my cell phone flashed the dreaded camp phone number. Uh Oh.

"He's fine", the camp nurse blurted out. It seems that my sweetie pie had some type of sinus thing going on. His eyes were red, his nose runny and a bad sinus headache. "We are going to take him down the street to the doctor to see if he needs anti-biotics." The one great thing about getting sick at camp is they take everything seriously. No need to start an epidemic like a few years ago when swine flu hit the camps hard.   "We'll call you when we get back. Let me put him on the phone for a second". 

 This is the other good thing about getting sick at camp, you get a free phone call (like jail). My camp only allows letter and one-way emails. No phone calls. Thank goodness because I don't think I could take a weekly call like this one.

My weepy teenager than told me that he wants to come home. He hates camp and is not having fun.  I wanted to curl up in a ball.  I tried jokes, I tried sweetness. All I heard on the other end was light crying.   He did not feel well and wants his mom. 

Did I mention that this one's nickname is "Johnny Drama"? Did I mention that he fools even me to believing that his is more sick than he really is? Did I mention that he faked a broken leg at age 2 1/2 so well that even the emergency room doctor could not believe that his x-ray showed nothing and it was not until my doctor-in-law told his to kick his hand that we realized that he was perfectly fine. 

The bottom line is that  right now, I have no idea as to whether camp really sucks, if he just feels lousy or something else. Up until the phone call, I saw a bunch of great photos of him with a true smile on his face. He looked fine. I have received no letters, so who knows?

It turns out, they think he is allergic to something. They loaded him up with OTC drugs and eye drops and sent him back to the cabin.  I'm hoping that he feels better soon but it was a hard day for me. 

And they are off....

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

As a mother, do you ever get over the nervousness of sending your kids off on a plane without you?  

My boys left for camp today. Most of the kids that go to the camp are from South Florida, so the camp offers (for a hefty fee) a group flight. One of the owners of the camp flies with the kids as well as several counselors.  You drop them off at the departure counter and they walk the kids through security and onto the plane. 

I've done this several times before, but it is weird feeling hugging your kids in front of the ticket counter and leaving the airport. I don't know, but it would probably be worse if I had to actually walk them to the door of the plane.  Adding to the weirdness is that the camp forbids cell phones, so they don't take them. Therefore, there is no texting or calling once they are on the plane or when the plane lands. My son texts me when he is on the school bus every day so it is crazy that he is flying three states away without any way to communicate.

There is no use waiting around the airport lobby for the plane to take off, so we just dropped them off, hugged them goodbye, and walked back to the car.  Instead of feeling excited that our summer honeymoon was about to begin yet again, I was happy/sad.  I know that the kids have a blast at the camp.    There is just no other word to describe this limbo time other than "weird".

My husband and decided that we should go to a funny movie while the whole flight thing was going on.  I downloaded a flight tracker app as he bought tickets for "Grown Ups 2" starring Adam Sandler.  I was not a fan of the first installment of this film but we went anyway.   I guess it was a good choice because it was silly and stupid and required zero concentration. This allowed me to update the flight tracker every 30 seconds or so much to the chagrin of my sweet summer boyfriend.  

"They took off", I said as he chuckled at Kevin James' signature combination of burp, sneeze and fart.

"They are over Orlando", I said as he was hysterical over Chris Rock's right-on performance as the cable guy who shows up in the last five seconds of the 8 hour window that the cable company gives you. 

"The plane landed!", I screamed as we both  enjoyed the scene in the movie where everyone was dressed in 80's costumes. 

They safely made it there and then I was just happy.  Excited for a month mom-vacation.

Happy Summer!!!!

Sling bling...

Monday, July 15, 2013

Mariah Carey dislocated her shoulder and has to wear a sling.  Look at the awesome sling bling that she is sporting...

I love the middle one.  

I guess if you have to wear a sling (heaven forbid!) you might as well bling it up!

Another Trip to Costco...

Sunday, July 14, 2013

My kids are leaving for camp so I thought that the  trek to Costco that my husband and I made today would be light. Unfortunately, when I go with him, we can never get out of there for under $300. No matter what.   Good thing I talked him out of the exercise mat, area rug, dining room table and oh, yeah, the fancy coffee maker that we don't need or it would have been much worse.

I know that I have written about his before but I love people watching at Costco. All of those jumbo shopping carts without bags or tissue to hide everyone's purchases. It is truly amazing.

Today I witnesses one lady with one $3.99 watermelon in her cart in the mile long check-out line. Yes, it was a bargain but how much more would it have been at Publix, $5.99? That is a lot of work for one watermelon.

In other exciting news, I mailed two letters each to camp over the past two days. Yes, they don't get there until Tuesday but one of my crazy camp rituals is to make sure that I write every day and that letters are waiting there when they get there. They told me that I don't need to do this anymore, but I must. I write and mail a letter, package, post card or email to them every day until there are five days left of camp.  They can't call, email or text and they write back much less often but it just one of my things.

Would you have dealt with Costco and stood in a mile long line to save $2.00 on a watermelon? What crazy mom things do you do (or did) when your kids were at camp or otherwise not under your roof? I'm dying to know....

100 Montaditos...

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

As I've written before, one of the best things about living down here in Hurricane Alley are the never-ending cool places to eat.  Last week,  we checked out a place called 100 Montaditos. They are apparently a chain but we've never seen one  before.  We were walking around the Brickell area of Miami (it is a part of downtown) and we wandered in.

100 Montaditos is a Spanish Chain with over 200 locations in Europe and Latin America but have plans to open up all over the East Coast.

When we walked in, we were given a sheet with a listing of 100 tapas-style sandwiches. Prices ranged from $1.00 to $2.50 per sandwich. They gave us pencils and we circled the sandwiches that we wanted. We were with the teen boys so we ordered a lot. (it seemed like a budget-concious choice but our bill was over $50!)

The sandwiches were made on fresh little rolls and contained fresh ingredients. I had a brie & cranberry one which was delicious. The boys raved about the ones with pulled pork on them

 I also had a salad which was great but my favorite part was some type of spanish white wine mixed with sprite. It sounds horrible but was refreshing and tasty!

Here is what was left of my wine/sprite concoction!

Here is my yummy salad.
If you come across 100 Montaditos , I'd try it!

Date Night Disaster...

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Our favorite date night idea of late is to go really casual and find a place on the water where we can sit outside.   This is why we live in Florida, to enjoy the weather. The lack of tourists in the summer makes these types of places bearable at this time of year and we have had a mild summer so it is not too hot. Last night, we picked a new place called Joe's Tiki Bar.

Joe is located along a quiet stretch of the Intracoastal. Despite their very odd interesting menu choices (they serve sports bar food like wings, mexican and cuban food and sushi), the view was great. We sat outside while the sun set and watched the boats slowly head home (it's a no wake zone, so it is very mellow).  We ordered some appetizers and beer and just hung out.  There was a horrible karaoke type of singer but she wasn't that loud.  Waitresses were yelling at each other but we thought it was kind of charming in a dive-y type of way. 

As we headed out, things took a turn.  We valet parked the car (parking at places on the beach is limited and even dive bars have valet only!).  The valet decided to pull the car up right on the major street instead of in the valet lane.  This annoyed my husband as it seemed very dangerous and lazy of the valet. We were sort of commenting on this as we pulled away and did not notice what was to come.

We drove the 15 minutes or so home and when we got close, I insisted that we stop for self serve frozen yogurt at Tootie Fruitie.   My husband asked if I had to get yogurt. "YES!". 

My husband asked if he had to go in with me. "YES. I don't want to eat it in the car. I don't want date night to end!".

 So he pushed the button that turns off my car and we realized that the stupid valet never gave us the key. I have one of those dumb cars that has keyless ignition. I don't know who came up with this bright idea but it is just dumb.  Furthermore, my car makes the faintest bell noise three times if you pull away without the key being present. (if you don't wear your seatbelt, it yells at you!). Why you can even drive without it reminding you that you don't have the key is beyond imagination. 

 We were at Tootie Fruitie and had no way to restart the car.  Tootie Fruitie is a little over a mile from my house. I was wearing flats (it was casual date night) but they were not really walking shoes.  Regardless, we started to hoof it home.

Along the way, we asked our local pizza delivery boy if he could give us a lift but due to some insurance regulations, he couldn't . Just kidding but if I had spotted him, I would have asked.  We cut through the Publix parking lot on the way home and I looked for someone we knew.  Luck had it that we had to walk the whole way. We called Joe's Tiki Bar and after getting hung up on three times, we finally got ahold of one of the yelling waitresses who said that our key was at the bar.

We made it home, got the other car and set of keys. My sweet husband dropped me and my little one off at the car (and the yogurt store) and he left to go back to the Tiki Bar. I got my yogurt (it was great and refreshing after my walk!) and he retrieved the keys which were handed over without apology from the management. Big Surprise.

As we were walking and bitching, my husband said "you've got a topic for your blog tomorrow!"

Note to self: The next car needs an old fashioned key. I can't believe that this does not happen to ditzy old me more often!

Our visit to Fairchild Tropical Gardens...

Friday, July 5, 2013

Fairchild Tropical Botantic Garden has been open to the public here in Miami since 1938. However, I don't ever recall going there even though I love plants and flowers.  The park is home to 83 acres of tropical plants and flowers and recently opened a  pavillion with thousands of tropical butterflies flying free among flowering nectar plants.

I don't know why I've never made it into the garden. They host special events like a mango festival and a chocolate festival, but it is on the other end of the county.  I saw in the paper that on the first wednesday of the month, the hefty $25 per person admission fee is waived. Being the entertainment committee for two teens, as well as the filling of the  camp trunks , are bleeding my dry, so a free activity sounded right up my alley.

We arrived early which was a great move as the parking lot fills up fast on "free day". It was also July in Miami so our 9:30 arrival made the long walk around the park as pleasant as walking around outside can be in the tropics right now.  I forgot bug spray, so I got a few bites which was not that smart. 

I was looking forward to practicing photography, but one teen grabbed my camera and took lots of shots. This kept him from complaining. Other than venus flytraps, my kids are not very interested in gardening, trees or plants.

Our favorite spot was the butterfly garden. The butterflies were all over and some even landed on us. Other than that, it was not the best field trip for teens. I liked the fact that they were unplugged and getting fresh air, but it was like going to the zoo without the animals. A much better option for teens (and kids) would be  Miami Metro Zoo or Jungle Island. Those Miami spots have plenty of gorgeous tropical plants but also lots of animals.   

I would return to Fairchild sans children or when they are hosting an event but I won't be taking my kids back to the garden otherwise.  Regardless, here are a few shots that my son took during our visit.

 We could find any frogs on these lily pads

 The butterfly pavillon was our favorite spot
We wished we could jump in (it is July in Miami !)

Dale Chihuly glass sculpture inside the rare plants greenhouse 

We thought that this tree looked like a Dr. Seuss character! 

The Camp Trunks are packed...

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Unless you have actually packed a camp trunk in the past 10 years, you may think that I am insane but packing camp trunks is a major pain in the butt and once you are done, you feel like you have hiked Mt Everest. Let me explain why I am so happy that they are zipped up and ready to go...

  • First of all, they are not hard sided trunks but giant duffle bags. Like body bags. They are huge. Each kid has two of them.

  • I needed to make my sons try on every item of clothing due to recent growth spurts. My "little one" is now taller than me, having grown four inches in the past year. Having teenage boys try on every article of clothing in their closet sounds easier than it is. It was a huge battle and took forever.

  • This is my sixth summer of packing camp trunks. You would presume that I would have plenty of stuff in my house that I could send like fans, towels and bedding etc. You would wrong.

  •   Thinking that anything that you send to camp will come back home when they are done OR will not be stained or too smelly to even take into your home is plain foolish. Last year, a wet towel was placed in the duffle on the way home. Five days later, when the trunks arrived home, the smell of everything was unlike anything I've ever experienced. Just imagine putting a wet towel in a nylon bag, placing it in an un-airconditioned cargo truck and sitting it somewhere in the August, Florida heat for five days. Don't you want to vomit now?
  • I  needed to go to Target, Sports Authority, Bed Bath & Beyond, Old Navy, Marshall's, T.J. Maxx, Two malls and my least favorite place on earth, Wal-Mart. I probably went to Target at least ten times. Armed with my list, I tried to find stuff that not only fit, but that is acceptable to the teens while not breaking the bank. My kids are man-sized and unlike the good-old days when I could shop in the kid's section, the man-sized stuff is more expensive. 

  • I almost had a mind-melting experience in the camping section of Wal-mart. People there saw me debating with myself over the fact that the giant 6 volt batteries are more expensive when you buy them without the flashlights than they are with. I did not need a new giant flashlight but it was cheaper this way. This defies logic and confused me. Here is proof direct from the Wal-mart website...

 See why I was confused? Unfortunately, I seem to have this same moral dilemma every summer. That is why I have 12 of these  flashlights in my hurricane box (without batteries).   I guess if the big one is coming, we can either pay triple for the 6 volt batteries during the price gouging OR tie the floating lanterns together and make a raft.

  • My entire living room was covered in camp crap. If you happened to stop by during the past month, at first glance you would have thought that I was moving or burglars ransacked the place or that my housekeeper was, once again, on vacation. Here is proof..

                                   Aren't I the most organized looking mom ever? 
  • After I procured enough clothes, towels, flashlights and axe body spray for two teen-aged boys, I had to wash, fold, separate and label everything.  

  • Then I placed them all in giant ziploc bags (The HUGE ones!) and tried to shove them in the body bags  trunks.   Even though the trunks are huge, the stuff is more huge! 

  • I can't forget to mention that during this process which started on June 1st and ended today, July 4th, I would wake up in the middle of the night screaming "swimming goggles! " and whatever else I forgot.
The bags are not being picked up for two more days so finishing early is like winning the gold medal. It was a huge battle. I'm so happy to be done. The fireworks you see tonight are celebrating my victory. Just kidding Happy Birthday America!!! 
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