Top Tips for Cruising with kids...

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

        I'm a mini-expert on many things. Cruising (on cruise ships) is one of them.  Living here in SoFla means that jumping on a cruise ship is super easy (no flying and great Florida resident discounts). While not exactly as romantic as an episode of "The Love Boat", cruising with kids can make for an amazing family vacation.

 I have some tips for planning a great cruise for the whole crew…

1. Research, Research, Research: All cruise ships and cruise lines are not the same.  Some lines, ships and itineraries are more kid friendly than others. A ship headed from Florida for a week in the Caribbean this summer will be likely filled with kids and teens. One headed on a transatlantic voyage in September, not so much.   Royal Caribbean, Disney, Carnival and NCL all have great activities and programs for the kids. Just be sure to really check out what you are booking before you plunk down your credit card. Most of the larger and newer ships have amazing things like ice skating, water slides, surfing machines, etc to keep even the crankiest teenager happy but some of the smaller ships in the fleets of the same cruise lines do not.

The newest Royal Caribbean Ship coming out "Quantum of the Seas" will offer bumper cars as an activity!

2. Don't just trust a travel agent, ask a friend or a "Boardie": My best friend got off of a voyage on a Disney ship and described it as being trapped inside a floating Chuck E. Cheese's for 7 days and 7 nights. This was really good advice as she is my best friend and I'm certain I would feel the same way.  If none of your friends are good sources, go search the forums/message boards on Those people know more than any travel agent. They are normal people obsessed with cruises and can answer any questions from general ones such as "What ships offer babysitting? " to "Does the Carnival Breeze have chocolate milk available in the main dining room during lunch?" (I'm  not kidding, these people know EVERYTHING). There are message boards dedicated to each cruise line and special interest cruises like "family travel")

3.  Sometimes getting two cabins or even a suite may be less expensive than squeezing everyone into one cabin: Cruise ship cabins are generally small. Like really small. My family of four squeezed into one cabin for a weeklong cruise when my kids were little. It was super fun but very tight.   Unlike hotels who let you shove everyone into a room for one price, cruise ships charge by the person so it may be the same or a little more expensive to getting adjoining cabins or even a suite.  If your kids are teens, you may be able to book yourself a nice balcony cabin and shove the kids across the hall in a cheaper inside cabin.
Haven Family Suites on some NCL ships have two bedroom and two bathrooms!

4. Don't assume that your kids will go to the kids "camp" on board: One of my sons loved going to the onboard camp when he was younger. In fact, he pretty much ditched us every night at dinner so that he could attend the fun night activities. My other one took one look at the amazing kids facilities and decided that he'd rather hang with the grown ups. This was fine with us but you might want to just keep in mind that not every kid wants the organized activities

Kids Camp Room on Carnival Cruise Lines

5. Check out the Kids camp rules before booking: Ships separate their "campers" into age groups and I've been told that they are sticklers for not allowing kids to cross over into other groups so that they can hang with siblings or friends. This means that if your kid and his cousin are a year apart, they may not be able to go to "camp" together. There are also rules at how old or young kids have to be to attend organized activities without a parent.  It would be a great idea to know what to expect way before you board

6. Consider the "more the merrier " rule: The last time that we cruised with friends, they brought their Au Pair with them to keep an eye on their three year old. It was probably the best $500 that they ever spent. They were able to hang with their older kids while still having great family time with the little one. You may also want to barter with grandmas, aunts, nieces etc.  Invite them to sail along with you if they agree to babysit a little bit.  I've also found that traveling with friends means that my kids are more entertained and I get more "Japolina Time" to relax .  Furthermore, once you book, your teens may just find out through social media that their friends are booked on the same trip! On one of our recent cruises, there were five other kids (from three different families) that my kids knew. We barely saw our kids all week which might have been a good thing.

7. Spring for travel insurance: Your health insurance may not cover you onboard or in foreign countries. You can buy a policy for a few bucks that not only allows you to cancel your cruise if someone in your immediate family gets sick before you go but also if someone gets sick while onboard. Cruise ships have medical clinics onboard but they can't handle everything so if you have to get (g-d forbid) airlifted off, you will want to be covered.  On one of my cruises, my friend's daughter broke her leg while ice-skating on the first day at sea. My friend did not purchase travel insurance and was in for lots of money to the cruise ship medical center for the x-rays, cast & treatment. It made a bad situation worse.  You can purchase insurance through your cruise line. I always buy it through as it is much cheaper. By the way, the cruise line could not have been nicer to my friend and her daughter for the rest of the trip. 

8. Pack like you're going to a five star hotel on the moon: What I mean is that if you forget something, you may either have to go without it or pay through the nose for it.   Unlike traveling on land, there is no Target or Walmart at sea. If someone forgets their flip flops or sunglasses , you will be paying five start hotel gift store prices to buy them onboard.  Make a good list and be sure to pack an emergency/first aid kit with thermometer, baby tylenol, etc. Hopefully you won't have to use it but if you do, you'll be happy that you have it.

9. Decide ahead of time whether you are going to let your kids wander without you: During those tween years, I usually let my kids traverse a ship without me but had either walkie talkies or post it notes. I made sure that everyone had a working, waterproof watch and had to let me know where they were going and what time they were going to be back. Walkie talkies don't always work onboard so we had post-it notes. They had to put a post-it note on the mirror in the room which said what time they left and where they were headed. If they wanted to go somewhere else, they had to come back and change the note.  It worked great for me.

10. Have a set of rules written before you go: Besides my post-it note rules, when I cruised with tweens and teens, I had a written set of rules that were handed out to everyone before we set sail. No, I'm not a neurotic drill sergeant and I never hand out lists of anything on land but I saw this on the internet and thought it was a great idea. Rules included "no going into anyone else's cabin, no going into any crew area, no sitting on railings, etc" 

Did I forget anything? What are your top tips for cruising with kids? 

A fun film for the whole family...

Sunday, December 6, 2015

    Even though my children are closer in age to men than boys these days, they are still in love with all things "Space". Paramount invited me and my crew to a sneak peek screening of a new film called Capture the Flag. 

The movie is inspired by the 1960's space race and sees a ruthless billionaire bent on exploiting the source of Helium 3, the clean energy of the future. His plan involves rewriting history to excise the feats of the Apollo XI astronauts and the Moon landing. Enter headstrong 12-year-old surfer, Mike Goldwing, who along with his friends, a small lizard with delusions of Godzilla-like grandeur, and his grandfather, travels to the Moon to thwart evil. Jordi Gasull, a co-writer on The Last Explorer, is creator and co-scripter.

    My boys, their friends and even some grown ups around here loved the film. With all of the horrible images on the news right now,  a few hours at the theatre with some good, clean fun is a great idea. I would highly recommend taking your kids to see it.  It is currently in theatres (It was released on December 4th and is rated PG)

   Thanks Parmount for the awesome hookup! 

Six things that I was really happy that I packed for my long vacation.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

I recently went away on a trip. It was a voyage, not a relaxing vacation.  14 days, three flights, six different hotels.  The itinerary included visiting my kids at sleep away camp in North Carolina, horning in on my husband's business trip in Northern California & Southern Oregon, and vacationing in three other spots 

I needed to pack clothing for the heat wave, for hiking and biking, for the cool San Francisco weather and for looking presentable as the wife of a business executive while meeting tons of his colleagues in a convention-like setting.   How did I pack lightly for such a range of different types of climates and events? I DID NOT.  My suitcase weighed a ton. I have no advice as to how to cut down other than pack lots of black clothing.

However there are six things that I am really glad that I had packed as they really came in handy:

1. A travel hair dryer. I have long hair. Those little dryers that they provide in hotels just don't do it for me. I don't want frizzy hair in vacation photos so I purchased this little baby since my last one died on a cruise ship.  It is tiny but powerful. I got it at Bed Bath and Beyond for $29.99 (less one of those 20% off coupons), so it was a bargain. I was really happy that I had it.
Yes, I wear this silly eyemask, even on airplanes!

2. Earplugs and an eye mask.   Even if you are lucky to be sharing a hotel room with someone who does not snore, hotels can be noisy. Even if you are used to the noise in your own home, the new noises might prevent you from getting some shut eye. I always pack these cute pink earplugs that are made for women with dainty little ear holes like me. At least one part of me is dainty.

3. Lysol Wipes.  I'm not a germaphobe but there is nothing worse than getting sick while away from home. I always carry wipes when I travel. I wipe down the airplane seat, arm rests and tray tables before I settle in. I also wipe down any handle, knob, remote control and telephone in any hotel room before I do anything else.  It can't hurt.

4. A magnifying mirror with suction cups.  If you are of a certain age like me, your eyes are not as great at they were. While some hotels have magnifying mirrors, it is not a universal thing so  I throw a small one in my make up bag so that I don't end up walking around with eyeliner all over my face

5. Chargers, chargers, chargers. Every time we were in the room, my husband and I both needed to charge our phones, tablets and laptops.   I was happy that every device had an individual charger so we could charge everything at once. Remember, even if you are not talking or texting, these days you are probably using your phone as a GPS, Travel guide and camera when you travel. It all just eats those batteries up. 

6. Bonine/Dramamine & a small pharmacy. We were on some very scary mountain roads and a ferry.  I sometimes get motion sickness so popping a Bonine (which does not make me drowsy) was a brilliant idea for everyone, especially the rental car company.  I also traveled with small packets of benadryl, advil, bandaids, etc. My little emergency kit was small but mighty.  It is true that almost every place you go has a store where you can buy anything you might need, but in the middle of the night (or in the middle of a forrest), it was nice to be prepared.

My next post will contain six things that I did not really need during my trip...

Do you have any suggestions to add to my list of things to bring on a long trip?

Don't say that I did not warn you...

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Unless you've been on a media blackout, you've probably heard about the Ashley Madison scandal. Ashley Madison is a disgusting website where married people can find other married people to have affairs with. Ashley Madison promised their millions of customers (yes millions of them!) that this was a private thing. They even charged customers a fee to delete their accounts from their servers forever.  We have now learned that this was not true. Hackers hacked in and released the names, addresses and other very personal information about their past and present customers including what kind of sexual adventures they were looking for. I warned my readers to tell their kids that nothing on the internet is private in March 2014 in my blog.  Everything on here is stored somewhere forever!  Even my silly ranting blog posts. Forever! Here is a repost of my March 2014 blog where I warned you..

A Social Media Cautionary Tale...(originally posted in March 2014)

   Last week I wrote about my decision to keep my blog anonymous. However, just because you're "anonymous" or your settings on your social media sites are "private", does not mean that what you write might not get you in trouble one day.

   Without getting into a legal discussion, please know that whatever you post on the internet can be discovered if you're ever a party to a lawsuit. A judge is very likely to make you produce anything that you have posted to the internet, even if anonymous or "private".  This applies to what your family posts too.

  Recently, 69 year old Patrick Snay learned this the hard way.  Snay was the headmaster of a fancy prep school here in Miami but a few years ago, the school did not renew his contract and he sued for age discrimination. The school settled with him and agreed to pay $10,000 in back wages plus $80,000 for other damages and pay his attorneys fees. It was a win for him. The agreement contained a confidentiality clause prohibiting him from talking about the case.  These clauses are often standard in settlement agreements.

   Snay's daughter Dana was so excited about the results of her father's case, that she could not resist posting this to her 1200 Facebook friends immediately after it was agreed to.

“Mama and Papa Snay won the case against Gulliver.
Gulliver is now officially paying for my vacation to Europe this summer. SUCK IT.”

Supposedly this is a photo of Ms. Snay (source Yahoo! Shine)

   Besides making her parents so proud with her classy Facebook photo and post, she cost them $80,000. The school's  lawyers found out about the post within four days of the settlement and successfully asked the Court to invalidate the  agreement. The Florida appeals Court ruled that the settlement agreement was violated and that the school did not have to pay  the Principal.( The case can still be appealed to the Florida Supreme Court)

    You've probably seen the news stories about people posting their illegal acts online and it leading to problems for them ( example:  Miami Fraternity was suspended from campus after posting about drug dealing and hazing) and how posting about what you're doing can lead to people robbing you (example: woman's home was robbed after she posted that she was going out to see a concert. The burglars were her Facebook "friends" ) but did you know that it is possible that comments that you make on your blog or others can 
also get you in trouble?

   Courts have found that bloggers may have a free-speech right to write what they want to online but are not protected from being sued for their comments, even if posted anonymously!  If a Court finds that your online comments are defamatory, you could be liable for them. The legal line drawn is between "opinion" and "fact". If you call your ex-boyfriend a "liar or a loser", that is likely to be found to be an opinion and free speech. But if you write something like ,"Dr. Jones is the worst dentist. He overcharges people and performs work that does not really need to be done", it could be found to be defamatory. 

    So tread likely and think before you hit "enter". 

That time I went glamping and stayed in a yurt...

Monday, July 20, 2015

    If you have read any of my other posts, you have probably figured out that I'm not exactly the camping type of person. My idea of "roughing it" is staying at the Hampton Inn, so when my husband told me that during part of our hybrid business trip/vacation I'd be staying in a round tent called a yurt, I was not exactly excited.

    My husband is an executive for an international company and one of their clients is located in Northern California. It is a small resort and cafe called Strawhouse Resorts and it is literally in the middle of nowhere.   We drove up on a highway from the San Francisco area and once we made a turn to the west, we were deep into the mountains on a two lane road, twisting and turning. Good thing I had the smarts to pop an anti-motion sickness pill or it would have gotten very ugly.   We drove and drove (actually it was only about 1.5 hours of mountain driving but I am dramatic at times). We finally pulled up to a riverfront paradise.

     Strawhouse is on the Trinity River in Big Flat California. The population of this town is 35 people, two of whom I now call friends. Their names are Julia and Don and they built and own this lovely little place.  They have an amazing coffee house and restaurant with organic and delicious food. Inside their cafe, they sell wonderful items from local artists. The outside deck of the cafe is alongside the stunning river where eagles fly by and hummingbirds come right up to your nose.  I tried to capture some of the magic by taking photos but they did not do it justice.  It was really one of the most beautiful places, I've ever seen.

The owners Don & Julia (aren't they cute?)
      They have some lovely little cabins that you can stay in but we got lucky enough to stay in the yurt.   It was much larger than I thought it would be. Other than the canvas walls,  it was not like a tent at all. It had wood floors,  the most comfortable bed , a full kitchen, air-conditioning and a gorgeous claw foot bathtub.  It was not "roughing it" at all.  It was fantastic.  

The yurt!!!!
500 count thread sheets is not roughing it, even for me!
      We spent two days without tv, wifi (except inside the cafe) and cell phone coverage.  This was the best business trip ever (no husband blabbing on the cell phone). This also meant that I only stalked checked the sleep away camp website once a day  for proof of life (a/k/a a photo of my youngest child who apparently is intentionally hiding from the camera person, his brother*

     Don and Julia were the warmest, sweetest people that I have ever met and if they had a cell phone tower, I might consider buying the lot next door just to be their neighbors.  If you find yourself in Northern California, you should really stop by this place either for a night or one of their famous wood oven pizzas.   It is well worth the trip.

*yes, you read that right.

The comfort zone...

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Public high schools in Florida have a fine arts credit requirement. When my son was finishing up his freshman year, he was not happy about having to take anything with the word "art" in it.  He begged to take something online so that he could take an extra science class.  Science was what his friends were into. He was so persistent that I actually went into speak to the Principal about allowing him to do this.  Despite that fact that this woman was in charge of 2100 young minds, she really thought about it, looked at his transcript and strongly suggested that he take his fine arts at school and not to take an extra science class. "It will be good for him" and she pretty much took about a huge rubber stamp and marked "Denied" on his request.

   At the time, I did not understand her refusal for more science. STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) is being heavily pushed these days. It seems that every boy is rushing towards this type of major in college.  The thought is that STEM is where the jobs are going to be. Even kids who are not "science kids" like mine, were feeling the pressure to head into this direction.

   My son wearily reported for photography the first day of tenth grade.  During the year, he not only learned about the history of photography and studied the masters, he learned about cameras, taking photos and how to develop black and white film in the school's darkroom. Near the end of the year, he decided to take Advanced Placement (AP) Photography during 11th grade. 

   During his junior year ,while taking this college-level photography class, he started running around with his friends on urban photo safaris. They are starting a photography club at their school.  Some of his photos were chosen by his teacher to be shown at art shows around town and entered into contests. 

   In June, as he was heading off to his old summer camp to be a counselor, he asked if he could bring his camera and help the camp photographer out. The camp said to bring it and maybe he could help once in a while during the summer.

  He's been at camp for a little over two weeks and taking photos every day.  Hundreds of his photos have been posted on the camp's website so far. Right now he is a "war" correspondent  (Color War!)  

Color War Breaks out with Plane dropping Team Assignments!

   I guess getting out of one's comfort zone is usually a good thing. This is motivating me to get out of mine but I'm not sure what I'm up for this summer. Any suggestions? I'm thinking about learning about wine or paddle boarding. I'll probably go with the wine.

     Happy Summer!

My boys are teenagers and embarrassed by the mere existence of parents. They HATE when I blog about them but they are gone for the summer and are not supposed to be anywhere near the internet. They will be mad at me when they get back.

Stuff, Stuff Everywhere….

Saturday, June 27, 2015

My sister convinced me to read 

This book is pretty simple and if you have too much stuff in your closets, house or life, I suggest you download or pick up a copy.  The basic premise of the "KONMARI" Method of tidying up is to go through every single piece of "stuff" in your house and only keep what you really love (or need).  

I started with my closet and I have to say, Marie Kondo gave me permission not to feel bad about discarding just about 1/2 of my clothing.  She doesn't tell you to throw or giveaway things that you haven't worn in a year or don't fit. She just says to decide if each thing, whether it be a pair of socks or a super expensive dress, brings you joy. If not, you are free to toss it.   As I was going through each and every single item in my closet, the permission that Kondo gave to let go of things that I was hanging onto because they cost a lot or "in case of" was fantastic. The guilt of my stuff was gone. It was quite liberating.  

If a sweater was itchy, out it went. If a top never looked good on me, out it went. If shoes were designer but hurting my feet, they disappeared too. That outfit that was on sale but was sitting there waiting in case I ever got invited to the Hamptons was also pitched. (If you invite me to your house in the Hamptons, I'll go buy something new!) 

It all felt great.  But what to do with the stuff.  Bags and Bags were donated but some of the stuff was really good. Kondo does not endorse pawning the stuff onto your friends and family unless they really want it

I had three other avenues that I used to make a little bit of dough from the things that were not bringing me happiness.

1. Ebay.  You knew that was coming right????

Here is an example of something that was just clogging up my closet and now is residing in my bank account. Not a big sale at all.  However, it was like found money.

This was a little Burberry Pouch that came with Perfume. It was just sitting there unused with about a million other little toiletry bags. It sold for $34.99!

If you have been holding on to your Crap stuff, you might want to search completed items on Ebay. You might find that some cash might make you happier than a Trapper Keeper Notebook from the 80's
Yes, this authentic, Original Notebook from 8th grade sold for $35 bucks (including free shipping). Sometimes it does pay to be a packrat. Not really.

By the way, with the ebay app for smart phones, you can just take a photo, fill out the form and list away. So much simpler than in the olden days.   Just remember to promptly ship out once your stuff sells!

2. Like Twice  If you're too busy to Ebay your clothes and handbags, you might want to check them out.  They only buy certain brands but they either send you a bag to fill up or you print out a label and just ship out to them. They will either buy your items outright or give you a Target Gift Card or a store credit for everything that they want.   You probably won't make as much as you do on ebay but it is way easier.  I am about to ship them a box of designer jeans that certainly are not bringing me joy sitting in my closet mocking me because they don't fit or look good.  I expect to take in about $10 per pair.  Certainly not anything close to what they cost new but still easy money and better than nothing!

3. After I moved out of the closet, I started in on my china cabinet and I found this company…  This company will buy certain pieces of china and crystal.   They don't buy everything but I had a partial set of China that was not "bringing me joy" and I sent them a few photos and they shot me back a quote that was quite nice and did bring me joy.  Now I'm bubble wrapping and packing it up.  This site also sells replacement pieces so if there is a set of dishes or glasses that you love but have lost or broken along they way, they will help you make a full set! 
Here is the china I am shipping to them. 

I'm still Konmari-ing. It make take quite a long time to get rid of everything in my house that is not bringing me joy.  The next stop is the kid's room  That should be lots of fun.  During last summer's annual "clean up their room while they are away" festival  uncovered an uneaten sandwich in a backpack . Seriously. 

If you've tried Konmari, I'd love to hear about it!

I'm famous...

Monday, June 1, 2015

As many of my readers know, I am, among other things, an eBay seller.  I was chosen by eBay to take part in a branding experiment.  They teamed me up with Vistaprint (a longtime favorite of mine) and helped me makeover my eBay "store".  

The gave me a new logo and banner and gave me new business cards and postcards to include with my packages. They gave me suggestions how to freshen up my online store.  Click Here for the story about the results which is featured on!

Super exciting. Maybe they can makeover the blog next!!!!

American Sniper Giveaway Winners!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Thanks to everyone who entered (and promoted) this giveaway and thanks to Warner Brothers for offering the AMERICAN SNIPER Dvd/Blu Ray to my readers

Warner Brothers sent me a free copy to keep as well as the two to giveaway but I'm giving that one away too because I saw the film in the theater.

If you did not win, it is out today so you can pick up a copy (Trust me, it is GOOD!)

The winners are:
Traveling Bells 
and Kim Ratunen.

I've sent them all emails and once they send me their addresses (via email) I will ship right out. 

By the way, if you did not win, keep stopping by my blog or subscribe to it. I have fallen onto some mysterious "list" and companies often give me stuff to giveaway. When I'm not giving away stuff, I giveaway free advice and opinions! Sometimes I will even make you laugh!

Thanks to everyone who served or who loves someone who serves our country!

WWJD (What would Japolina Do?)

Friday, May 15, 2015

    I cycle on boardwalk on the beach near my house very early every single morning that I can get my butt out of bed.  The weather man has lied twice this week and said that it was not going to rain when it did. Today, I got caught in a sun shower during the last part of my ride. It actually made me very happy even though I was kind of ticked at that darn weatherman.

   After my ride, I pulled my car into a gas station to fill up. (By the way, I've had my Prius for about a year and half and have probably filled up only around 40 times. It really gets an average of 50 mpg and is my favorite car that I have ever owned even though it looks like a computer mouse on wheels). Filling up the Prius takes about two minutes because of it's small gas tank but I'm very paranoid when I fill up with gas here in the big city.  Years ago, one of my girlfriends had her purse stolen out of the passenger seat while she was filling up and her baby was in the back in a car seat. This story scarred me for life. Thank g-d the creepy crook only stole her purse and not her baby! Since that time, whenever I fill up, I am on high alert.

    As I was finishing up, a Russian lady approached me. I think she was in her early 60's and had a car at another pump.  She asked me in perfect English, "What do I do to get the gas?" My spidey senses started to tingle. My first instinct would be to help someone in need but I had a weird feeling. I said "You should go ask inside". She would not budge."What did you do to get gas?" and "Can you help me?" were her next two questions. 

     Maybe she really needed help, but she likely had a driver's license as she was driving a car. She spoke perfect English, so why couldn't she just read the instructions on the pump? It just seemed weird. 

   As a women, we are told to go with our gut. Was she going to distract me while her accomplice was going to grab my precious (iPhone) out of my car and make a run for it? Was she going to rob me? Was she going to kidnap me? Or was she just in need of help?

    I know that my sweet husband would have walked over to the pump, explained it to her and probably would have pumped the gas for her but he is a bad-ass. 

   What would you do? I was in a nice part of town but I do live in a big metropolitan area and there is crime on the news all day, every day.  

     I said that I was in a rush and jumped in my car and hightailed it out of there as fast as my Prius could go. I felt guilty for a second but better safe than sorry right? Kind of sad comment on today's society. What would you do?  

Is this the new normal….

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

     We all know that motherhood today is quite different from motherhood in the good old days. Moms today are way more involved.   On paper, it seems like this is a good thing. We take interest. We pay attention. We know what are kids are doing in school and afterwards. Over the years, we co-ordinate teams of experts pretty much from "mommy and me" to "college counselors"   to make sure that the kids have a talent in something, can swim and play sports, never fail a class and get into college. 

   The term is helicopter mom. I don't think that I am one of them but I certainly have to stay on top of everything that the minors in my home are doing, tell them what to do most of the time and yell about stuff a lot.  Maybe I am hovering a bit but it is too late to stop now. We are almost at the finish line.  Over the next three years, G-D willing, both of my kids will get accepted to college (in another city)  and I can be pretty much done.  Sure I'll have to fund their lives, but not continue to manage their lives, right? 

   When I went to college, my parents drove me up, dropped off my stuff in my dorm room and then headed to their hotel bar for some celebratory cocktails. I'm sure that they were toasting each other to something like  "one down, one to go".  I did not want them to unpack or decorate my dorm room and they did not offer.  I wanted them to leave town and let me start my life.   Obviously I depended on them for the rest of college for financial support (and once in a while advice) but they were not involved in my day-to-day operations during my University years or anytime after that.

Mug from nordstrom

    These days, it appears that the helicopter moms don't land when their kids go off to college. In fact, they seem way too involved.  According to my research, which mostly consists of the reading of Facebook posts of my friends, mothers today not only drop their kids off at college on the first day, they must help them decorate their dorm rooms so that they look Pinterest worthy. This does not appear to be a one shot deal either. Some of my friends move their kids into their new digs every single year of college and help them decorate.  Huh? I don't think that my parents even saw where I lived after my sophomore year at college. They just kept sending checks. It was the perfect arrangement. 

    Then there are the weekends visiting. Not just once a year. These parents are heading into college towns for multiple visits per school year. I love my folks but I specifically recall that when they did visit, it seriously put a crimp in my style.  Sure the annual visits which included some fancy meals and some shoe shopping were great but I was happy when they hightailed it back home so I could continue with my college life.  And it was not just me. I don't ever remember any of my roommates or sorority sisters getting more than one visit a year from anyone in their families, if that. 

     Another friend whose son is a college freshman bragged that her son and she text all day long.    I think that it is great that they communicate but isn't he supposed to be making friends and learning how to play beer pong. If he wanted to talk to his mom all day, maybe he should have saved her the $60,000 a year (this is a true figure) and gone to community college. 

     Even worse, a Facebook friend of mine posted photos of herself  at her daughter's law school orientation.  I went to law school and I don't remember ever meeting (or even hearing about) anyone's parents unless they were hiring law clerks. Is my friend going to sneak into court for her first trial? Will she yell at the Judge if he rules against her baby?  Let's hope not.

    Another friend's son recently got accepted to college. This was exciting news because he did not always seem to be the college-bound type. I called her up to tell her how jealous I was that she was done with the college planning and  to say "Mazel Tov! Congrats! You did it! The bird is leaving the nest!" Instead of being excited she is already fretting about what she is going to line up for him after college. "What is he going to do for the rest of his life?", she cried.   

    Seriously, isn't that what kids are supposed to figure out in college.   

* I reserve the right to delete this post in the very near future when my sons become college bound!


Is there a term for this?

Saturday, April 4, 2015

         I was once a working mother. A super busy trial lawyer one. I sometimes left the house before my baby woke up and got home after he went to sleep, so I was also a very-guilty-feeling-working mother.

   After I found out that my live-in-nanny was pretty much a crazy person, I instantly quit my career and I was then a stay-at- home mother. I was all in. In one fell swoop, I went from carrying a briefcase to pushing a double stroller around every single mall in South Florida during the especially hot and rainy summer of 2000 to keep the three of us from going crazy.
t-shirt available at

   I then became a hybrid of the two. I work out of my house.

    I deal with all of the stay-at-home mother stuff like doing a million loads of laundry (per week!), cooking, carpooling, homework,  being on the PTA, class projects, extra-curricular activities, attending teacher conferences and school events,  finding SAT tutors, and on and on and on and on.

    I also have two paying jobs and write this blog (for free) and do all three from my home office which happens to be located in my bedroom.   I've had a successful eBay consignment business for over ten years and a couple of years ago I started do some freelance trial consulting for a few attorneys that I know.  

    It would probably be easier to just hire a live in housekeeper and go back to work full time. I'm sure that getting a job outside the home would be more lucrative than to do all three of these other jobs at home.  

    I really do like being a stay-at-home mother though. I like the flexibility of being able to be present for the fun stuff that happens during the work day like events at school but more importantly, I need to be around when things are not going well like when someone needs to go to the doctor or needs mommy to make grilled cheese for lunch when a bad cold hits. With my kids now teenagers, I  think being around to make sure everyone is keeping in check is also not a bad idea. 

   However, when you work out of your house, no one else thinks that you are really that busy.  Everyone from my friends, to the other PTA  moms, to my very own large extended family, seems to forget  that I am working during the day. While you would never call a business executive during the day to ask him to drop what he was doing to help you out at the book fair because three mom's canceled, it seems to happen to me on a regular basis. 

    Can we coin a new term for me that will tell everyone that I actually work during the day, especially during school hours? I will print it up on business cards under my name.  "Work-at-home mother" sounds too much like "stay-at-home mother". "Domestic Engineer" is a fancy name for a housewife.  Please help as I am stumped.

Make a little extra cash...

Thursday, April 2, 2015

I used to try to write these types of posts on a regular basis, but I've been so busy selling on eBay that I have not had time to blog very much. I started to compose posts on how to start selling on eBay but they are not complete yet. Check back soon.

In the meantime, these are items that I recently sold in my two ebay "stores".   These are things that you may have piled up around the house and are considering donating.  STOP! You may have cash in those closets.  Many of my consignment clients think that I can only sell high end designer goods for them, but this is not necessarily true. Sure, a Chanel handbag will bring in the big bucks, but common items, when in demand, can bring in some mad money.

For example, I sold two pairs of my own old 
FitFlop Sandals this month for over $50 each. They were in good condition, but they were not new.

That's 100 bucks to buy new shoes! 

This cool vintage Ralph Lauren belt was in the "donate" pile of one of my clients. It sold for $80


Another client is moving and digging in to the depths of their clutter and pulled this gem out. This looked like a high school graduation present from the 70's. It was never used. It quickly sold for $67! 

A friend's kid loves Lego sets. He builds them once and then leaves them around the house for adults to step on. I now sell them for him. Even incomplete sets like this one bring in decent money… It sold for $100 and his feet are much happier.

My point here is that sometimes even unglamorous items sell for decent money. 

I've been an eBay Top-Rated Seller since 2000. I sell on consignment. If you live in South Florida and are interested in consigning items with me, e-mail me at
My eBay "stores" are SouthBeachChic and CasaChic


Sunday, March 29, 2015

The following readers are winners of the Monster High DVDS.  Please leave a comment below so that I can email you back and I can get your address to mail it right out.

Thanks everyone for reading my blog and entering the contest.

The winners are

Gandalf Giacobbe
Dapand Pounds&
Birdie Bee


P.S. All entrants names were placed in a hat and a random drawing was held!

Another giveaway... MONSTER HIGH BLU-RAY DVD!!!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

I may be too busy to blog a lot lately but I'm not too busy for FREE STUFF!

Monster High has given me copies of their newest Blu-Ray + DVD called "Monster High Haunted". This is being released on March 24th in stores.

Just leave a comment below and I will randomly pick winners from all entries.  Easy-Peasy. Just enter before 5 p.m. on March 24th!

(this can be played on a DVD or Blu-ray player)

Thanks for entering!!!

SYNOPSIS: Lurk what’s waiting for the Monster High ghouls when they bring their killer fashion to the howlways of the spooktacular Haunted High! When the ghouls of Monster High follow Spectra Vondergeist one day, they discover her traveling to a creeperific Ghost World with an all-spirit school. But their scary-cute student bodies are hardly welcome with the very strict Principal Revenant, and she punishes Spectra with frightful detention chains that prevent her from re-joining Monster High. Now, it’s up to the ghouls to become ghosts themselves in order to save one of their own from disappearing forever!

We have a winner!!!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Viv on a whim, Nana Diana and Lavendar Dreams are the winners. Once I get your addresses, I will ship right out.

WOO HOO…giveaway ...

Monday, February 23, 2015

  If you love Barbie, you're going to love this post…

A new DVD-Blu Ray is coming out next month called BARBIE IN PRINCESS POWER and I have three (3) copies of it to give away to my readers.

All you have to do to win one of these copies is leave a comment below. I will choose winners out of a hat from all commenters on Friday February 27th at 5 p.m. so get busy commenting!  I'm sure that even if you're not a Princess and/or Barbie fanatic (everyone should be), that you know someone who will love this. It will play on a dvd or dvd player or computer with dvd drive!

 Barbie stars as Kara, a modern-day princess with an everyday life. One day, after being kissed by a magical butterfly, Kara soon discovers she has super powers allowing her to transform into Super Sparkle, her secret, crime-fighting alter ego who flies around the kingdom ready to save the day! But it’s not long before her jealous cousin catches the butterfly and also transforms – this time into Dark Sparkle, her nemesis. Their rivalry takes to the skies, but when they discover the kingdom’s true enemy, can they put aside their differences to form one super team? Soar to new heights and discover that there’s no greater power than the power of friendship!

DISCLOSURE: I have been give three copies of this dvd to giveaway to my readers by a PR firm. I got no compensation for this post.  I can only mail to US addresses!

Easy Peasy...

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

All moms know that feeding our children healthy foods is a good idea. Unfortunately, convenience and healthy don't always go hand in hand.  I love it when I find something that is both easy and healthy to serve to my children.

Therefore, I was excited when Revolution Foods asked me to review their lunchbox kits.  They send me vouchers for 5 kits and I had to go to Walmart to get them. I'm not a big fan of Walmart but I am a big fan of both free and healthy so I ventured there and got my kits.

The kits are like those Lunchable ones but these are healthy and, according to my son, they were quite delicious. His favorite was the turkey & cheddar.

* Disclosure: Revolution Foods gave me 5 free lunchbox kits to test for free. All opinions are my own
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