Mom, Let’s Get Ready For the Beach

Mom, let’s get ready for the beach.

Come on, Moms. We know we do everything to prepare for a beach trip. Sure, the hubby fills up the car and loads it, but we do all the preparation. Everybody counts on us, as moms, to be prepared to help everyone have fun and stay safe. Memorial Day is just around the corner (May 29!), so let’s be prepared!

Our little family just returned home from a few days in the Bahamas, so I’m going to share with you some items that made our trip more fun and some things that kept us safe.

  • Snorkel gear. In our family, snorkel gear is a must for any beach vacation. My husband checks a whole separate bag on airlines with our snorkel gear! If your family doesn’t snorkel, maybe they should try it. It’s a fun activity that can be enjoyed by almost anyone who can swim. Obviously, for little kids, you be the judge of their ability…maybe even use life preservers. To see my favorite snorkel gear, click here. Or to shop other snorkel gear on Amazon, click here.
  • Shark Banz. Afraid of sharks when you’re in the water? Try wearing Shark Banz, a magnetic shark repellant band that you wear on an ankle, a wrist, or both, if you want extra protection (like me)! I have watched videos in which it appears they work at repelling sharks. Our family uses them for peace of mind, because I am terrified of sharks. They’re not cheap, but we consider it money well spent. Purchase them here.
  • OFF! or other insect repellent. Warm climates breed biting insects. I never go to the beach area or an island without insect repellent. I don’t usually have to use it during the day, but if I want to sit outdoors for dinner or just for stargazing at night, I definitely need insect repellent. When traveling by plane, I like to take OFF! Deep Woods Wipes, because they won’t leak all over my suitcase. They contain DEET, the main ingredient for repelling serious insects. Purchase them here. For car trips, I don’t mind taking aerosol cans of OFF! Deep Woods, which you can purchase here.
  • SkyGuide app. If you’re visiting a big resort, the night sky might not be so visible, but at quieter beach areas, the night sky can be amazing! If you have the SkyGuide app on your phone, you can spot constellations, planets, and even passing satellites.
  • First aid kit. You never know when you’ll need items from a First Aid kit, but on vacation, we all tend to spend more time outsdoors, and it seems things always happen. You can purchase a first aid kit from Amazon here. Personally, I always add stomach meds, pain meds, and anything else I can think of!
  • Reef Water Vista Sandal. These are super cute beach sandals, and they come in lots of colors. They’re $60, but they get great reviews. Purchase here.
  • Water shoes or Crocs. There are lots of options for water shoes! Check out some on Amazon here. They can totally save your balance and your feet on rocks and in the water. Lots of people love Crocs for water shoes too. Crocs aren’t just the old-style Crocs anymore…they have slides, all-terrain sandals, platform sandals and slides, and more! Order from Amazon Prime and get free shipping. See Crocs on Amazon here.
  • Sunscreen. Every beach vacation needs sunscreen. We like to have different types with us. When I want more coverage, I go with Coppertone, because it smells like childhood, but I never use the sprays…the alcohol in them dries out my skin. Check their lotions here. I also love Sun Bum lotions. See them here. But an old-school favorite is Hawaiian Tropic oils, because they make my skin feel good, and I love the aroma too. See their oils here.
  • Aloe/after sun. Gotta have these for those days we get too much sun. It has happened to the best of us. There are lots of different brands. I prefer Sun Bum or Hawaiian Tropic, but see lots of offerings at Amazon here.
  • Jellyfish Sting Relief. If you’re in any danger of encountering jellyfish, having a sting relief kit can be a big help! Get one from Amazon here.

Those are just a few of my tips for having a fun and safe beach vacation. Enjoy the summer safely!

Basic Travel Outfits for Women

Basic travel outfits for women.

I have always loved travel. I love hopping on a plane with my husband, my family, or with friends and heading off to somewhere fun. But first I have to get there. Right out of college, I was a flight attendant for a hot minute. When you work for an airline and travel on an employee pass, there is a dress code. Traveling on an employee pass, I was required to dress professionally, and that set a tone for me. Therefore, I like travel clothes that look good but give me some comfort. You won’t see me on an airplane in athletic shorts…or shorts of any kind. You might see me in joggers, because they’re comfortable, and I can dress them up. As summer gets closer, more people travel, so I have some recommendations. Here are some travel outfits I love:

Wide Leg Jumpsuit. As I scrolled through Instagram a few weeks ago, I came across a wide-leg, short-sleeve jumpsuit perfect for travel. It has a v-neck, and it also has some spandex, meaning stretch, so it’s more comfortable on long flights. It comes in a variety of colors, but I prefer the darker colors. I have ordered this in several colors, but the black is my fave. It’s great, because the v-neck is flattering, and the wide legs make it easy-fitting. At just $35.99 (yes, you read that right), it’s a great buy. Pair it with a cute jacket for some dimension. I love to add a scarf for a pop of color; it can also act as a lightweight blanket on a chilly flight. To purchase this fabulous piece (picture below) from Amazon, click here.

Amazon Essentials Joggers. Somehow, I got lucky and stumbled upon the inexpensive Amazon Essentials Joggers a year or two ago, and since then, I have accumulated a collection. While they offer a variety of colors, my entire collection consists of black joggers. They’re lightweight. They’re cute. They’re flattering, and most importantly, they are wash-and-wear…so easy! I know what you’re thinking: sweatpants. Sure, joggers can be considered sweatpants, but these can be dressed up, without a doubt. In winter, I wear them with cute ankle boots and sweaters, while in warmer months, I wear them with wedges. Priced under $20, these joggers are so inexpensive, you have to get them. Purchase here.

V-neck tshirt. I am pretty particular about my “t-shirt” type shirts. I like long sleeves, but they also offer this shirt in short sleeve version. I like a flattering v-neck. And I like for it to fit my arms but not hug my body tightly. I found one on Amazon that has worked for me time and time again. It works great with the joggers above or with the Miramar joggers below. Purchase it here


Large scarf. I love a colorful scarf for “dressing up” an outfit. Years ago, I learned the “third piece,” whether it is a jacket or scarf, completes an ensemble…making the wearer appear more “put together.” It’s something I believe in, for sure. So when I’m wearing an all-black outfit, as a jumpsuit or joggers and shirt, I like to add a colorful scarf to break up the black a little and make me look complete. A large scarf can also help ensure I stay warm on a chilly flight. I found a couple of faves on Amazon that are pretty darn inexpensive. The first is a silk scarf that’s priced at under $20, and it measures 70″ x 35″…making it a good size. It comes in lots of colors and patterns, and you can purchase it here. For one that has a “cashmere feel,” and measures 78″ x 27″, click here.


Rag and Bone Miramar joggers. OK, y’all, I’m giving away a big secret here. No joke, I have only shared this info with my closest friends, but here it is: I wear sweatpant jeans. Yep. Rag and Bone makes Miramar joggers that are printed to look like cute jeans, but they are really French terry sweatpants, and they look great! I’m not going to lie…at $225, they are pricey, but I love them. In fact, I love them so much that, over time, I have purchased two pairs in each color. They are 100% cotton, so you need to remember not to put them in the dryer when you wash them, but other than that, they are pretty easy. As joggers, they have elastic around the ankles, so they are great for lots of heights. I’m only 5’2″, and I love these, because I wear them pushed all the way down to the ankle, or I can wear the elastic underneath a little higher on my leg to make them look more cropped. These are truly some of my favorite travel pants. I can pair them with a cute top or blouse and jacket, and I look finished. No one knows they are sweats, unless they are familiar with the brand. To see the Miramar joggers on Amazon, click here. Another company, BLANKNYC offers something similar at a much lower price. I haven’t tried them (yet), but if you’d like something similar without the sticker shock, try them. The BLANKNYC version is priced under $52 in the lighter color (click here) or the darker color ($81) here.

Utility Shirt Jacket. I love a good utility shirt jacket, because it can add to so many different outfits. For travel, I have a few I use, but a favorite is definitely a Lucky Brand version. It’s olive green, so basically a neutral. I will wear it with all of the items above, and it’s offered in more than one color. It’s lightweight and well-made, and because it’s a neutral, it can be used in various ways with different styles of outfits, even dresses. Get yours here.

Blazer. If you prefer a more tailored look, a blazer might be the way to go. I have a few of these lightweight blazers from Amazon. Priced under $50, they won’t break the bank, and they’re comfortable and travel well. Offered in 15 colors, they make a great addition to any travel wardrobe. Get a few colors, and switch things up! Purchase here.

And this is when I tell you that, in order to keep these pieces from looking too casual, I never wear sneakers on planes. Personally, I prefer comfortable wedge sandals in spring and summer and comfortable boots or loafers in fall and winter. It’s just my way of dressing it all up and pulling it together. But by all means, you do you. And always remember that, if you are checking luggage on commercial airlines, you need to pack at least one change of clothes in your carry-on bag. I always pack a swimsuit in my carry-on too, if I’m going to a warm location.

Happy travels!

Whoa Dough Edible Cookie Dough

Whoa Dough Edible Cookie Dough.

Our daughter is finishing up her freshman year in college. Throughout the year, I have been on the lookout for grab-n-go snacks for her that have some nutritional value and taste good. It’s not easy to find things I think she will like, because she has always been a picky-ish eater. I’m not really sure where she got that gene, because I will eat almost anything…except organ meat. That’s where I draw the line. Fortunately, our daughter seems to be coming out of her “picky” ways, but I still like to get grab-n-go snacks for her that are “sure things.”

While our daughter has been in college, my husband and I have taken several trips. His favorite destination is the Bahamas, because it’s easy to get there, and we have some favorite resorts and know some absolutely beautiful beaches there. We always fly American Airlines, because they have a hub in Charlotte, making them the easiest airline for us to fly.

On our most recent trip home from the Bahamas, American Airlines offered us a snack we had not seen before. Called Whoa Dough Edible Cookie Dough, it had colorful packaging, and the concept of packaged “edible” cookie dough looked interesting to me. For those who don’t know, kids love to eat cookie dough, but because it normally has uncooked egg, it’s an invitation to salmonella. Therefore, kids are always looking for ways to make cookie dough without egg. This product appeared to be an answer to that! I took one, thinking it might be something our daughter would like. The flavor I got was Sugar Cookie, and at my suggestion, my husband picked the Chocolate Chip Cookie flavor.

The packaging looks like the packaging for breakfast bars or cereal bars. I opened the blue package. I broke off one corner and tried it, and like Mikey from the Life Cereal commercials of the 70s, I liked it! I asked my husband to try his, and he liked it too! After reading the label, I realized there was actually some nutritional value in Whoa Dough, and it’s vegan, plant-based, soy free, egg free, gluten free, non-gmo, Kosher, and dairy free! At under 200 calories, each bar contains 3 grams of fiber, 5 grams of fat, and 4 grams of protein. With 30 grams of carbs, it’s not perfect nutrition, but I knew it was likely better than what my daughter was (or wasn’t) having for breakfast.

When we got home from that trip, I ordered a variety pack to have delivered to our home, and when our daughter came home for the last few days of Spring Break, she tried them and loved them! She and a friend ate some from the variety pack and took the rest back to school. Soon thereafter, I received a text, asking, “Can you please have some Whoa Dough shipped to me at school? Chocolate Chip and Sugar Cookie, please!” And so I promptly went to Amazon and ordered some to be delivered to her. If you would like to try Whoa Dough or think your children might like it (they likely will), you can order the variety pack or one flavor from Amazon here.

If you order, let me know what you think!

As for our daughter, I knew she really liked Whoa Dough when she sent me a snapchat photo of herself on her way to an early morning workout, and I saw a Sugar Cookie Whoa Dough in her hand. Sometimes, I find things she loves, and I was happy to be successful with this one!

Some Things Never Change

Some things never change.

Growing up, I lived in a few different small towns in Alabama. I was born in a different state but moved to Alabama as a baby, and the first small town we lived in made quite an impression.

When I say it was a small town, I mean it was a small town, but at the time, I didn’t realize just how small it was. Downtown always looks big to little kids, and this one was no exception. Every year as a little girl, I looked forward to Christmastime. This tiny town would have a Christmas parade with Santa joyfully waving at the tail end of the parade. Downtown was decorated every year with what I thought were beautiful decorations on each pole in the downtown area. I moved away from there when I was seven years old, but in my mind’s eye, I can still see the Christmas decor.

Yesterday, as I scrolled through Facebook, I came across some pictures of a small town Christmas parade. It was, in fact, the same small town. I flipped through the pictures, looking for Santa, and there he was…atop a fire truck at the end of the parade. It made me feel nostalgic, and it made me smile. Some things never change…a small town is still hosting a Christmas parade, complete with Santa. I did notice one difference, though. I remember the parade being a daytime parade when I was a little girl, but this parade was a night parade with illuminated floats. Still, it was a sweet reminder of my childhood. It also appeared the parade might have been interrupted by a train passing through town, as the tracks go right through the middle of the town.

I guess every small town has its own traditions. We moved from there to another small town that was more of a community without a proper downtown area. I don’t remember any kind of community-wide Christmas celebrations there, but that might have been because we were close to a bigger city where we could drive into town and enjoy holiday festivities.

After that, we moved to yet another small town that had its own holiday decor in the downtown area and an annual Christmas parade. The parade was a big deal every year, and it seemed everyone in the town participated in one way or another. I remember wondering who was going to watch the parade, because it seemed almost everyone was involved in the festivities in some way! But every year, the spectators came out to see every local group that participated: high school marching bands, little league and high school cheerleaders, dance troupes, dance schools, convertibles with beauty queens perched atop them, restaurants and other local businesses sponsoring trucks or cars decorated for Christmas, and yes, Santa…always at the end of the parade, waving joyfully to all the girls and boys.

We have raised our daughter in a bigger city, Charlotte, North Carolina, and I absolutely love living here. However, occasionally, I think she has missed out on some of the joy of living in a small town…like the small town Christmas parade. Don’t get me wrong. She has experienced Christmas in different ways in the Charlotte area. When she was a little girl, we would go to Daniel Stowe Botanical Gardens to see the lights (and Santa) there. We went to Winterfest at Carowinds Amusement Park to see the lights (and Santa) there. We visited Santa regularly at our club and at the local mall. We did lots of fun Christmas-themed things. But she never went to a small town Christmas parade, and she never had the opportunity to participate in a small town Christmas parade with her cheer team or dance class.

The good news? She has no idea that she missed that experience. Maybe I will drive her through some small towns this holiday season so she can see how it’s done. We still have a couple more weeks. I’ll get excited about it too, because some things never change.

Cleaning Out My Closet Before the Holidays

Cleaning out my closet before the holidays.

A distant cousin posted a meme on Facebook today that said, “Every marriage has one person who throws things out, and a garbage-loving, chaos goblin who says, ‘But I was saving that!'” I replied, “Me…I’m the goblin.”

A few times a year, though, I get the urge to get rid of the chaos, and today was one of those days. I made the decision this morning to tackle my closet again when I realized I needed a place to hide some Christmas gifts. I have a pretty nice-sized closet. It’s not particularly large, but it’s not small by most people’s standards, either. Could I host a party in there? No. Do I have it decorated to the nines with a chandelier and the prettiest wallpaper I could find? No, but my closet, as it is, should be sufficient for the stuff I have, especially since I converted all my hangers to velvet flocked hangers earlier this year. (If you haven’t done that yourself, you will likely find you have more closet space if you do. I purchase mine from Amazon here. The ones in my feature photo are black, but I prefer the ivory ones.) And there should be plenty of space to hide gifts…now that I cleaned it out.

When I first moved into this house 22 years ago, I would swap out my wardrobe seasonally…taking the spring/summer clothing up to our climate-controlled attic space in fall, and swapping it with the fall/winter clothing in spring. I feel pretty sure I did that for several years…until I found better things to do with my time and stopped that insanity. Now, all my clothes and shoes are in the closet year-round, and I’m the first to admit I have a lot of clothes and a lot of shoes. They are color-coded and separated by season (go ahead…gasp! I know you’re surprised!), but they are all in there. So every now and then, especially after I have purchased new things, I realize I need to get rid of some things. Today was one of those days.

Today, I started by going through the dresses then moved on to the jackets, tops, pants, shoes, and finally…the miscellaneous items that get stashed in there when I’m in a hurry…like packets of seeds for my garden…not sure why or how those ended up in there.

Lots of people use the “if I haven’t worn it in a year, I’m not going to wear it” method of cleaning their closet, but not me. In fact, for one of my daughter’s graduation events last May, I wore a lovely pair of designer shoes I purchased in Palm Beach 21 years ago. I had not worn them in 18 or 19 years, but every time I cleaned my closet over those 18 or 19 years, I resisted the urge to toss them out, donate them, or sell them, because like the meme my cousin posted, “I was saving that!” Seriously, I knew I would have another opportunity to wear them. Plus, they are lovely, classic shoes that I purchased on sale for 90% off! How often does a deal like that come around?!?! I can’t get rid of those! I’m too proud of the purchase! I also recently wore a dress I hadn’t worn in 2 1/2 years! It’s a quality dress I purchased in LA three years ago. I had worn it just once before, but I was so glad I had it when I needed it!

It’s rare that I get rid of a quality purchase. I’m smart enough to know that any good shoes or handbags I purchased over the years are likely to be called “vintage” one day. I hang on to those. But the impulse purchases I make in a Zara or H&M store? (Don’t go all crazy on me. I love Zara and H&M.) Or the “filler” clothes I purchase on a whim? By “filler,” I mean they are just clothes I’m likely to wear to events that aren’t fancy, but they’re also not super-casual. I wear good clothes to parties, lunch or dinner with friends, or events. I wear super-casual (we’re talking t-shirts, hoodies, sweatpants, etc) to run errands. But those filler clothes? They are perfect for air travel, school sporting events, and stuff like that. Those “filler” clothes are the ones that are likely to go into the “toss” pile if I haven’t worn them in a year. And that’s exactly what happened today.

I normally don’t throw out handbags. I have tons of “vintage” handbags, even though, as I have gotten older, they have gotten very little use. At 55, I mostly carry a small, black, Tumi Ruma crossbody. (You can purchase one like it from Tumi here. It would make a great Christmas gift for anyone on your list who travels, because it’s small but large enough for important documents, cash, lipsticks, mints, and credit cards.) In fact, I don’t know that I have carried any of my other handbags in a year or two…except for the clear handbags I’m required to carry to college and professional sporting events. And shoes…mostly the ones I toss are well-worn flip flops and sneakers. Today, in fact, I’m wearing some sparkly, purple Uggs I’ve had for at least 10 years. I’m not wearing them to make a fashion statement. I’m wearing them simply for comfort, because they are, indeed, comfortable. These Uggs will never be thrown out. But those cheap flip flops I purchased last summer when I was on vacation and realized I forgot to take flip flops? They were the first things to go today.

So my closet cleaning method, while different than most, works for me. And maybe it will work for you? My method? Toss the cheap stuff, but keep the good stuff and the frequently-worn stuff. I have sweatpants and jeans in my closet that I have had in the regular wardrobe rotation for years!

And now I have a clean closet with plenty of room for stashing Christmas gifts until I can get them wrapped and under the tree (when I get that up!).

Reminds Me of My Mother

Reminds me of my mother.

I’m on vacation. When our daughter told us she was going to Nantucket for a few days in July, my husband and I looked at each other and said, “Let’s go somewhere!” We promptly booked a getaway to the Bahamas.

And here we are. We woke up at 3:45 this morning to make our way to Charlotte-Douglas International Airport to start a rare trip without our daughter. The last time we vacationed without her, she was hiking her way across Iceland with a teenage tour group. That time, we traveled to Miami for a few days.

We arrived on the island at about noon today. Because we are staying in a villa, we went straight to the grocery store to get the necessities and some snacks. And then…because it seemed like we had been awake forever, we took a quick nap before going for a three-mile walk along the beach and stopping for dinner at a beachside restaurant along the way. It was a great afternoon.

But that’s not what reminded me of my mother.

After we returned to the villa, my husband took a shower in one bathroom while I took one in the other bathroom. I think I might do this in the wrong order, but I always remove my makeup before getting in the shower. And when I get out, I repeat the makeup remover process again.

I don’t use some fancy makeup remover. All my adult life, I have used Pond’s Cold Cream to remove my makeup. I have tried lots of the fancier, more expensive products over the years, but I have never found anything that removes makeup more easily for me than Pond’s.

When I’m home, I don’t notice the scent of Pond’s Cold Cream, but tonight, for some reason, in a villa in the Bahamas, I noticed the scent. And it smelled like my mother. Where do you think I got the idea to use Cold Cream to remove makeup? Yep…from my mother. I remember, as a little girl, watching her slather cold cream on her face and thinking it was so funny to see her with her face caked in it. She would slowly wipe the cold cream from her face to reveal a makeup free look. And the scent of cold cream often lingered on her face.

Often, I will reapply a little cold cream and wipe down my face one more time before bed, just because it moisturizes my skin and smells clean to me. Tonight was one of those nights. I am sitting in bed listening to the talk show my husband has on his computer. I’m wearing my green and white striped pajamas from my favorite hotel. They feel crisp and clean, and my face feels smooth and clean…and smells like my mother. It’s a good memory for me.

If mother were still alive, she would laugh at the fact that the scent of Pond’s Cold Cream makes me think of her. But I like to think she would be flattered too. She would think it is sweet that I have childhood memories of watching her slathering her face with cold cream.

I’m not sure why being in a different place brought out the scent, but I’m glad it did. I like thinking of my mother. And now I will pay more attention to the scent every time I use Pond’s Cold Cream.

It reminds me of my mother…

The Food Tour…er, Vacation

The food your…er, vacation.

I don’t know what it is about me, but the older I get, the more food-centric my vacations become.

We just returned home from a week-long trip to Southern California. Starting a month before we went, I was making phone calls to make sure we secured reservations at our favorite restaurants. It’s a familiar refrain. We travel to SoCal a few times a year, and there are several “must do” restaurants, so I have it all down to a science…starting 30 days in advance.

This trip we managed to hit all our favorites and even added a new favorite or two. We know which restaurant we like for Asian fusion. We know which restaurant we prefer for steak. We know which one we prefer for seafood. We know which one we like for comfort food. We know where our favorite desserts are. And now we have a new “boujie” favorite.

Interestingly, we are pretty low-maintenance most of the time. In “real life,” I’m happy to have a simple salad or sandwich most days. I meet friends for lunch a couple of times a week, but we don’t always do the “boujie” lunch…occasionally, but certainly not always. In fact, tomorrow, I’m meeting a friend at Arthur’s, a restaurant on the bottom floor of our local Belk store. It is a locally-owned restaurant that has been open for 40 years, and everyone I know who grew up in Charlotte has a story about Arthur’s to tell from their high school days. It’s not fancy. It’s certainly not boujie, but it’s good comfort food. Personally, I love their French fries. My friend, Jennifer, who grew up here, loves their Turkey Grinder. I have to admit it’s pretty good. Their burgers are fantastic, and I have another friend, a native Charlottean, who swears by their cheesesteak sandwich.

I even go on vacations to more laid-back places (small islands in the Bahamas or beach towns along the Gulf of Mexico) where I know the local dives serve the best food.

But in SoCal? It’s all about the food…and the people-watching…because really, who doesn’t love to see a celebrity or two? I will admit, I am a stargazer. I’m not a rabid fan. In fact, I have seen lots of celebrities and even met lots of them, but I rarely “fangirl.” I have gone a little “fangirl” a couple of times, but seriously…only a couple. My daughter loves that I can spot a celeb; it takes a special eye. I just happen to be a face person. Lots of people in the world are “surroundings” people, but I’m not one of them. You might remember what color the walls are in a room, but I’m going to remember the faces of the people I see there. And that’s why I’m a good star-spotter…because I look at faces. In fact, on this most recent trip, I spotted a celeb from a favorite teen movie from the 1980s (Ben Stein), a very famous rapper (Nelly), an Academy Award winner (Nicholas Cage), and a recently reunited celebrity couple (Bennifer!). And every time, I had to point them out to my daughter and her friend. They wouldn’t have even seen them if I hadn’t made them aware.

But back to the food. We had reservations every night of our stay. A couple of nights I skipped out so the girls (they’re 18) didn’t have to be accompanied by a parent while they dined. I remember 18, and I know how important it is to feel independent. One night I had a migraine anyway. But there were certain restaurants I was not going to miss. One favorite is on the beach in Malibu…incredible food and exciting atmosphere. Another favorite is in the hotel where we stay…nice people in a beautiful setting, and the best dessert in town. We added a new “boujie” lunch option this time after seeing it on a friend’s Instagram. My daughter and her friend had “order envy” when my lunch arrived. They ordered burgers but I ordered “Risotto disguised as a pizza.” And it was fantastic. We have reasons beyond food for dining at certain restaurants, but even with good atmosphere, the food has to be acceptable. Also, because I have gallbladder issues (having surgery for that on July 14…it has been delayed several times), I rarely eat red meat. I try to eat fish and chicken for protein, so I love places that have great fish and chicken dishes. And Southern California has lots of great options.

We flew home late Tuesday night…fat and happy. I probably shouldn’t eat anything for two weeks. I likely need to go running every day for two weeks…or more. And I have taken it easy on the eating. I will say this: it was worth it. We simply can’t get the same kind of food in North Carolina. We live in a lovely city in a great state, but “nothing comes close to the Golden Coast” where food is concerned.

So yes, we enjoyed our vacation…also known as “the food tour.”

I Wish I Hadn’t Said That

I wish I hadn’t said that.

Seriously. I have said this to myself a million times. Maybe I accidentally offended someone with something I said. Or maybe I struck back hard (verbally) at someone who, I felt, had struck at me first. Maybe I overreacted. Maybe I used inappropriate language. Maybe I was sick or tired…and I was snippy. Maybe I wasn’t sick or tired, but I was snippy for some other reason. Maybe I said something ugly I shouldn’t have said. Or maybe I repeated something I shouldn’t have repeated. It happens…not just to me. It happens to lots of people, unless they’re living in a cave…alone…with no one else around to talk to.

No matter what the different situations were, there have been lots of times I have wished I had kept my big mouth shut.

I’m guessing everyone on the planet has said something they wish they hadn’t said. Unfortunately, once we put words out there, we can’t reel them back in. It’s a lesson we should all learn as children, but sometimes we make mistakes.

I was talking with a teenager the other day who told me she regretted some things she did and said when she was younger. She told me some of the things she regretted…most were silly, elementary-school type things. And that’s when I took a moment to tell her that, even at 54, I still say and do things I regret. Many times, I look back on things I have said or done, and I know I could have handled things differently. It’s just part of life. We like to think we learn all the lessons we can ever learn, but I know really nice, good-hearted, genuine people who tell me they often wish they had handled different situations differently.

A friend was telling me just yesterday how her Mama Bear instinct had kicked in on a situation with her daughter, and she had interceded where she shouldn’t have. I get it. I have been there. I have done that. That Mama Bear instinct is fierce. People who have never been a Mama don’t understand just how strong that instinct is. And even some Mamas don’t have the same strength of instinct as others. My friend said she can recall lots of times she lashed out over situations involving her kids…and she cringes. Again…been there, done that…I wonder how many hours of my life have been spent cringing over something I have said.

I’m certainly not perfect. I’m not a perfect person. I’m not a perfect parent. I’m not a perfect friend. I try, but sometimes my emotions get the best of me. But if anyone tries to tell me I’m the only crazy mom out there, I will laugh. I know I’m not the only one. I know every mom out there is capable of doing whatever it takes to keep her baby from getting hurt. But in most of the cases in which I have interceded, I have regretted it. In almost every instance, I later wished I had just stepped back and let things play out. Protecting our kids is not always helpful. Why? Because as painful as it may be, they need to learn to protect themselves. And honestly, in hindsight, I wasn’t always interceding on my daughter’s behalf…it simply felt like it at the time. But often, I found I was interceding because of my own beliefs…not hers. She usually didn’t even care about what was happening, but I did. I’m cringing again right now.

So yes, those regrets continue throughout life. Even today…this very day…I regret something I said to my husband. I was in a hurry to get somewhere, and he was slowing me down with a conversation…I got snippy. Instead of asking him nicely if we could discuss it later, I said, “I’m trying to get out the door! Can’t this wait?!?” I ended up apologizing later. Fortunately, he accepted my apology…probably because he has to live with me for “as long as we both shall live.” Forgiveness is key.

It’s important to remember that forgiveness is key in all these situations. We all live in “glass houses.” We all hurt people sometimes. We should all be forgiving. And we also have to learn to forgive ourselves.

So when I offend you…I can almost guarantee it will happen at some time if we are ever around each other…I will likely ask for forgiveness if I’m aware that I have hurt you. If you’re not the forgiving type, we don’t need to be friends anyway, because I am definitely the forgiving type. I only hope my friends will offer me the same courtesy I would offer them in a situation. I tell people all the time, “You have to try to offend me…and you have to try many times before it becomes an issue.”

And if you’re my friend for very long, you’ll hear me say at least once, “I wish I hadn’t said that.” Maybe I should just carry cards in my handbag that say, “Please forgive me for _____________. I wish I hadn’t said/done that.” I can hand them out after I realize I’ve likely offended someone.

I wish I hadn’t said that.

Underneath Is Just A Lot Of Poop

***I wrote this when my daughter was 14 and never published it. Found it today and remembered this conversation that made me laugh.***

Recently, my daughter was telling me how much she would rather be participating in something one of her friends is participating in than what she was doing at the time. It was the same old song and dance, “Bertha (not a real person) says it’s great.”

I responded with, “I hear what you’re saying. I know you think Bertha’s activity is more fun, but you need to remember, the grass is always greener over the septic tank.”

She looked at me, puzzled. “What does that even mean?”

Of course, she has no idea what it means, because she has no idea what a septic tank is. So first, I had to explain what a septic tank is. She made that ugly face teens make when they think something is disgusting. I then tried to explain the septic field to her, but she didn’t want to get that in-depth, and she again asked what my statement meant.

I explained that sometimes, concrete septic tanks form cracks in them, and a little bit of what’s inside seeps into the surrounding area…causing the grass above to grow a little greener. It was easier to explain it that way than to get into the mechanics of a septic field. Of course, that elicited an “ewww.” I explained the meaning of the saying this way, “Sometimes you see green grass (or hear about green grass) and that lush, green grass is beautiful, but what’s really underneath is just a lot of poop. That means someone might be telling you how great their life/job/school/relationship is, but you can’t see what’s underneath, and it might really be bad, but it looks good from the outside. You can’t see the poop, but it’s there.”

She understood poop talk, of course. I’m sure my explanation left a mark on her memory. She likely wishes she hadn’t asked. I was just glad we could stop talking about septic tanks, even though I was the one who mentioned them in the first place.

Y’all know I totally stole that saying from Erma Bombeck, about whom I’ve written before. Thank God for Erma. I’m reading her books now, and hopefully, I’ll find some more words of wisdom I can use on my daughter from time to time…especially ones that contain bathroom humor. Teenagers totally understand that.

For now, though, I”ll just keep using, “The grass is always greener over the septic tank,” and if she keeps doubting what I’m telling her, I might have to make her get into the car. We might have to drive a long way to find a septic tank for me to prove it to her. I don’t know exactly how far outside Charlotte that will be, but I’m willing to do it to make a point.

Or I guess I could make her watch The Wizard of Oz with me again. We would have to watch the whole movie to get to the point in the story where they pull back the curtain on the “wizard,” revealing that things aren’t always what they seem. I’m still a little afraid of those flying monkeys though, so that will have a to be a last resort.

And maybe one day I’ll have an opportunity to explain to her what a grease trap is and tell her about the time our neighbor’s dog fell into ours while it was being cleaned! Ewwww!

Let’s Get Patted Down

Let’s get patted down.

Yesterday, when I was preparing to return to Charlotte from Montego Bay on a flight today, I was having a lot of difficulty with the Verifly app. I couldn’t get it to work for me, while all the other people in our group (high school senior spring break) were zooming right through the flight check-in process on their apps. I was frustrated and wasted a lot of time before finally giving up. I knew I could check in at the airport, so I wasn’t terribly concerned.

I should have known better.

When I arrived at the airport three hours before my international flight, I went straight to the American Airlines Priority line and got checked in. And that’s when I saw it: the dreaded SSSS on my boarding pass. For those who don’t know, if your airline boarding pass shows SSSS on it, it means you have been selected, for some reason unknown to you, to be subjected to a full bag check and pat down. I groaned audibly, and my daughter asked what was wrong. I told her, “I’m going to be pulled for extra security check.” She rolled her eyes. Was she surprised? No. She had encountered this with me many times. I have been flagged more times than I can count.

I have done everything I can to make the travel gods know I’m not a criminal. Sure, I drive slightly over the speed limit sometimes, but that’s about it. I even come to a full stop at all stop signs…unlike most people I know. I have TSA Precheck, for goodness sakes, but sometimes, they just don’t care. I guess they like looking at my underwear.

It has actually been a while since I have seen that dreaded SSSS…so long, in fact, that I was shocked to see it this time. Before I had TSA Precheck, I had SSSS on my boarding pass every time I flew. The first few times, it was frustrating. After about the 20th, it just made me flat-out angry. And today…I was angry. Really? I’m a short, middle-aged mom from Charlotte. I don’t look threatening. Nothing in my past makes me look threatening. Big Brother clearly hasn’t watched closely enough to realize just how boring I am. I just don’t understand it. And that’s why it makes me angry. It’s pretty frustrating to be in Group 1 for boarding but have to stand aside to be searched while groups 2, 3, and 4 fill up the overhead bin space. And it’s frustrating to have someone pull your dirty laundry out for everyone to see…literally, your dirty laundry. Add the fact that something inevitably gets lost…today it was a pen and a book…both disappeared after they searched my bags. Oh, and did I mention they were soooo slow? One girl was searching the first bag while the other one watched till I said, “Really? Can’t you be searching the second bag while she searches this one, so I don’t miss out on the overhead bin space altogether?” She actually said, “Everyone gets the space above their seat.” I literally laughed out loud. It’s a dog-eat-dog world, honey, and those dogs are eating your overhead bin space.

If you don’t understand the frustration, you clearly have not had to endure it. Shoes off…standing on a nasty floor where you’re likely to pick up a fungus. Someone feeling you up without buying you dinner…someone you don’t even know, in fact! People boarding the plane ahead of you and looking at you like you’re a criminal. People going through your personal belongings and then getting some of your dirty laundry caught in the zipper of your suitcase when they try to close it back. Because yes, I expect them to close it back. You open it…you close it…and good luck with that. Ugh. And then you board the plane and pray there will be overhead space. It’s frustrating and maddening. And now that it has happened again, it is likely to keep happening to me. I probably need to take an anti-anxiety med before going to the airport from now on.

So if you have trouble checking in for a flight online, it might be because you’ve been flagged. If you check in and see SSSS on your boarding pass, prepare yourself for what’s ahead…a thorough bag check and a pat down. You can ask for all of it to be done privately, but then you just lose more time. Just suffer through it and be on your merry way. If you’d like to read more about the dreaded SSSS, click here. And if you would like to apply for a government redress number to possibly avoid this in the future, read more about it here. It is one reason you need to get to the airport well ahead of your flight time.

Today, I finally boarded the plane and found I had superhuman strength from the angry adrenaline when I lifted my luggage into the one space left in the overhead bin near my seat. Honestly, I think I might have just sat down and cried if it hadn’t been available. It was a long trip. Not long in time, but I was feeling really under the weather most of the time, and it was a group. The people in the group were absolutely lovely, but generally speaking, I just don’t do group travel. I like my travel to be more my own thing. I like to make my own plans and do my own thing. I’m kind of selfish about my travel, because well, it’s what I like to do, and I’m particular about how I do it. I guess I “don’t play well with others,” so whatever viral thing I have made it a struggle…not COVID…I tested negative for that. This trip wasn’t about me, anyway. It was about the high school seniors, and they had a blast.

Let’s get patted down.