Tag Archive | travel

X – well…. X is for?

Yeah, X, not the normal starting letter of many American words.  I’m spending a ton of time teaching my preschooler to start reading (she is interested, I’m not pushing) and helping my 1st grader get better at reading (I am pushing, she is less interested) and you run into all the silly things about English that are just a bother.  Too many things are just not sound-out-able.  I know because we are a mish mash of latin, french, german and a ton of other languages/dialects/creole/slang that all come together to make American English and with that bag of nuts it is no wonder learning to read is not an easy thing.  I don’t even want to talk about learning to spell….  I’m getting better but I’m over 30 but I vividly remember asking my Mom who invented spelling and she assured me they were long dead and that made me feel slightly better.

Back to X.  There are plenty of words that sound like they start with X but they don’t.  Then there are words that do like xylophone that sound like a Z.  There is XL as an abbreviation for eXtra Lage but I’m working on becoming a small…  People talk about X boyfriends and I really don’t have many of those and I’m on good terms with the majority so I usually call them former boyfriends because I don’t want to put a big X on their faces and X them out of my life – they were just part of a different phase and we all grew and moved on with little or no drama.  Same with workplaces, I might have more issues with former jobs then I do with former boyfriends but I gained so much from those professional associations and situations that I would never X that out either.

I’m going to have to resort to chinese – Xi’an – a massive huge city in central China that I had a wonderful time visiting. Auditing Die Casting and Machining facilities in China has its ups and downs but it is NOT the slum or slave child labor that you see on the news for clothing manufacturing (this is on my mind because of Monday night with John Oliver from this week).  The facilities I visited were large and well maintained and basically staffed by adult men.  I think the reason they have to keep them up is because the machines to do the work are so expensive that you don’t neglect that type of investment.  There are no children there half because (hopefully) better companies realize that child labor is wrong, and half because kids probably can’t lift or reach the big machines.  Some places were equal to what I’ve seen in the US and others were about as good but with fewer safety measures.  The most striking example was when I was watching a machine cycle where a part went in and the multi axis machine made all the fine cuts – I remember being able to see so clearly what the machine was doing and it was very cool.  Then the engineer I was traveling with noted that usually you can’t see that because there is a safety door closed between the operator (and public) and the part.  Oops… well…

In Xi’an apparently my glowing white skin and very femaleness in a mans world was cause for open mouthed stares and work stoppage.  I was always treated nicely and while I know the term ’round eye’ (Gweilo) is not the nicest term, I accept it because yes, I have very very round eyes.  Much like I don’t mind being called a Yankee – fine with me, yup, northern all over.  So other then that, my only other issue with Xi’an china was that the food was very very spicy, their speciality is even called a ‘hot pot’.  Thank goodness I could duck the majority because they mostly ignored me in favor of my male boss who had to take one for the team.  Engineer and I just lived on granola bars…

China 075

Machine center and adult male working it~

I was there for business so I did not get too many pictures but Xi’an is massive so no one picture could describe it anyway.  It is like the state of MN with a city and a country and a waaaaay out there back country but it is all the same ‘city’.  Here are a few Chongqing

I’m Back~

Sorry about the ‘out of office’ but the internet at the resort we were staying at was like the tides… it ebbed and flowed and was not even there sometimes so I took it as a sign to take a full break.  I took such a break that I even turned off all the alarms on my phone – no wake up alarm, no vitamin alarm (forgot mine anyway), no alarm for bed or anything else at all.  That does not mean that I slept in because Fiona is a very natural and un-ignorable clock but it was nice to only loosely live by the clock.

Disregarding care for the actual time was also nice because of time zone swap and for blasted no good daylight savings so we didn’t really know what the time was anyway.  For example, the first morning at the resort Fiona woke up at either 6am (CST+daylight saving) or 5am (CST- daylight saving aka) or 7am (EST-daylight saving) or even 8am (EST+daylight saving) and all those ‘times’ would be ‘right’ enough so I threw in the towel and just got up when she did, put them all to bed after we fed and washed them at night and insisted on naps for those who needed them some time after lunch.  We fed them at semi regular times and had a bag of snacks on hand.  It was not a lazy vacation just one with no regard for the clock.

I’m not sure if anyone is actually interested in the ‘what we did’ minuta of our vacation and for once I did the cool pinterest thing of writing a post card daily of what we did so I have a record other than the blog.  But, for those interested and for myself if I lose the cards here is the brief agenda and later today I’ll be uploading my pictures so feel free to flip through.

Thursday – left at 12:30 and picked up Niamh from school giving her semi celebrity status with her class.  We got to our goal stop in IL and spent the night.  That night was god-awful with all the kids being whiney messes and nobody wanting to sleep and I nearly turned back but we did much better for the remainder of the trip.

Friday – woke up and hit the road early, stopped at Superman in Metropolis (per plan) and tromped in the snow to hug is legs of bronze (not steal, what were they thinking?).  Pressed on through sucky-kentucky that had a bit of snow and a million people who could not deal with it.  There was actually flipped cars on fire and the national guard pulling cars out of the ditch.  We skidded one time but the biggest hazard was the other people freaking out!  Made it to Huntsville Alabama in good time to enjoy the hotel pool and dinner and go to sleep much more peacefully.

Saturday – back on the road again and after a stop to see the cool rockets (the reason I wanted to stay in Huntsville) and a boondoggle of a treck to find a tea place that is apparently seasonal and this is not the season – we wended our way through the backcountry of Alabama and into Georgia yielding dozens of barns for my Art friend Sal, and finally Florida to find that our original resort was oversold and they moved us (VERY glad I called ahead on that one) and by midnight we were ‘on vacation’.

Sunday we were lazy around the resort for the morning and then headed over to Old Town that was right across the street from where we were supposed to be staying.  I think I’m glad for the location change since Old Town was loud and ‘up all night’ style but a fun enough place to visit.  We ended up catching an awesome close up magic show and Fiona thoroughly enjoyed dancing in the streets.

Monday off to Main Street Disney!  Now we did say we were not doing Disney but there are sections of the park that are open to the public and smaller.  My “no disney” policy was based on the fact that I didn’t want Lars to miss it, the kids are too small for the good rides, and it is too big to do as a single mom and too expensive to do with a nap needing kid.  The little park sections got around the majority of my concerns and other then Lars missing it, it was win-win.  A bit of disney magic was welcome :)

Tuesday we had pre booked a Monster Truck citrus tour and it was super fun too.  I learned a lot about oranges and palm trees and the monster bus was impressive.  The kids enjoyed it until they got too hot and the wagon broke and in the end I was carrying Zoe and Fiona and chanting CAP marching songs to keep me moving.  Niamh was a trooper and my Co-Mom was awesome and we got home and collapsed into the AC and pools but we did eat some very yummy oranges.

IMG_4688  fl2015blog-001

Wednesday we had plans that fell through so we subbed in another day at Disney – Boardwalk this time.  It was fun in a way because it was pretty but it was also devoid of anything fun other then taking pictures.  The highlight was Zoe talking to the gardening crew and the boardwalk cleaning crew and both times getting little Disney figures from them.  She talks to people all the time but Disney does go the extra mile :)

Thursday we got going out to the Atlantic coast and split up a bit.  The girls and I went to visit a HS friend of mine who had a teeny tiny baby to meet and our girls got along fantastically.  It was painful to pull them away but we had to join Becki on the beach for some time on the sand.  An hour at the ocean is plenty for me and we had 2 kids asleep in the car that stayed asleep all the way til morning

Friday – nearing the end!  Hang out and just soak in the sun and pool and playgrounds and a short trip to buy a few souvenirs from one of the million shops on the main strip.  Packed up and ready to go…  Tucking in the girls Zoe got sand in her eye and screamed the house down resulting in her crying and me holding her most of the night.  She was very worried she would never see again but fortunately she believed me that she would.  She also thought it was not fair that it happened to her but eventually she slept and so did I.  Fortunately Becki got a full 8hours so she could drive.

Saturday – started strong with a 6:30 departure and while no kids stayed asleep they were all mellow.  Then Niamh puked.  Then Fiona puked.  (see Zoe? things even out, you didn’t puke).  Niamh is actually a pro at car sick and got it all in a bag but Fiona did not……  Rest stop for the ultimate multitask – change, clean car, get breakfast, get gas, all go potty.  From there it was a nice drive and we got 16h down the road without any other troubles.  The hotel we stayed at reeked of sadness and desperation and the night was not restful (again) but there are slim pickings in southern IL.


Sunday – I zombie the early morning with Fiona and a depressing and fruit fly ridden breakfast hoping to let Becki tank up on an extra hour of sleep.  Thank goodness she likes to drive!  The last 8 hours driving felt like 200 but we made it by 6pm and I collapsed into a heap that made Lars worry but it was really just lack of sleep and messed up eating and my body rebelled with a minor fever that thankfully I slept off and now it is….

Monday again!  Lars took the day to hang with the kids and I did ‘all the things’ I neglected to do in vacation prep and being gone.  Nothing major but just a lot of stuff and the next thing to do is tackle all the e-mail.  Just like a break from a mundane job, I have to sift through the 1000 emails that I didn’t/couldn’t deal with while I was gone.

3 happy things 3/5

My weekly pleasure to pick just 3 happy things.


Thing 1 is from my dad – his yacht club has combined their favorite sport of sailing with his other favorite sport of skiing and ta da!  Ice sailing!  Someone also got pretty creative with flying cameras so it is a cool video (my dad is the one with the all red suit and the epic mustache) and I love the music.  Dad, who did this video, they need credit!

Fullscreen capture 352015 101630 AM.bmp

Sayville yacht club ice sailing



Thing 2

all this stuff


got into this car and there is still room for people (yes… that is a potty….)


Thing 3 – Keep up the good work Orlando!

IMG_3949 IMG_3950

I feel like I’m not wearing undies

(but I am…)  But I DON’T have a functional cell phone!!!  Saturday I got a new iPhone (the 6 human not giant size) so my old phone was deactivated from the network.  I should have been able to easily back up my old phone to the PC then put that backup onto the new phone but somehow the new phone won’t acknowledge my ipassword.  Annoying.


I ordered a case online so I am kinda ok that it isn’t fully functional yet.  Case is supposed to arrive today *go Prime!* and for most of my day, my old phone is just fine.  I can read e-mail and look things up and text my family and I don’t really make all that many phone calls usually.  The down side is that I don’t have a phone in my pocket and in the world of not wifi I have nada.


Today I had a playdate at a friends house I had never been to.  No phone.  No GPS.  I have functioned without a smart phone for most of my life so I should be able to handle this….  I looked up the address and mapped it and wrote down on a piece of paper the address, directions and even the street right before her street plus mileage for the big section.  Then I went out the door with a grocery list and my directions just like it was 2002. Oh wait, in 2002 I had a phone at least… I could call if I got lost.  I went out the door like it was 1999!

I went into walmart and it was a gray day.  I left walmart and it was snowing dinnerplates!  Not too bad (yet) so I decided to just go for it.  I put all visions of accidents out of my head and drove.  On the long stretch instead of glancing at my phone, I was glancing at my odometer counting miles – good to know distracted driving isn’t new.  I got there no problem but the whole time I felt like I was missing something critical.

Reverse trip was much easier since the mini blizzard passed and it was still slushy on the road I was much more calm.  Home again and I’m waiting waiting waiting on that case so I can call and trouble shoot my phone and get it into the game.

So odd that for 19 years I didn’t have a phone.  For the next 10 I had a dumb phone.  I’ve only been a smart phone user for 5 years but now I feel naked without it.  I could definitely get used to being out of touch, I am just fine navigating with a regular map or remembering things but life is easier and better when that is a choice not the only reality.

I may blame the snow for not going out again, but, its really my lack of safety net that will keep me safe inside my wifi zone~


So glad we went to the playdate anyway – frost your own cookie!


3 things thursday 2/5

Three things Thursday!

1. We have planned the trip to Fl.  We are going to have lunch with Superman in Metropolis and dinner with rockets in Huntsville and Sleeping in Montgomery…  The trip there will be a mini vacation.



#2 The first Cream Egg of the season.  yum.




Fiona is practicing counting and she calls these things ‘spiky bugs’.  Who here has actually seen a TV that looks like this?  Not me…  well, I think there was one in the attic when I was little.  Attention; makers of flash cards, nobody that needs flashcards have any idea what these are (nor rotary dial phones) update your graphics please.  It does make me smile what her brain comes up with in absence of experience or information.



The inspiration to list three fun things on Thursday by Nerd the Brain #threethingstursday

I’m planin a road trip!

My sister generously gave me her timeshare.  Kinda like giving someone an oil painting; now you need to frame it ;)  She had already pre chosen the place in FL and put it on dates we could go (Niamh’s school break) but all other details were up to me.

I have not been on a vacation that was not going to my parents, going to a wedding, or going to an SCA event in 10 years.  Usually we combo them all and go to visit my parents at an SCA event, or, a wedding.  Anyway this was exciting and scary got downright daunting when the work-monster required 110% of Lars’s time.  He is neck deep in a massive project that like all massive corporate projects is spinning one way and then the other but the bottom line is there was basically no chance he could come.  So this problem just dark clouded in my brain for a few weeks.

My #1 plan was ‘bring my mom!’ but that was foiled because she is going to Hawaii to see the sister who gave us the timeshare.  #2 plan was my other sister who has a son the same age as Fiona, but, she works in my parents family business so she is in charge of everything while they are gone #3 plan was Miss Math but her vacation weeks don’t line up.  Should I go solo?  Vacations are supposed to be fun…  So I ask Facebook and Facebook delivered.  What was a problem yesterday is now a fun thing I’m looking forward to.  A friend here and her son, the same age as Niamh, are delighted to go!  Bonus, with another adult from here we can drive, so the depressing $400 per person airplane tickets are now in my rearview mirror.  Driving will take 3x but we will have a car there, we can bring more than I can cram into a carry on, and, we have the opportunity to see some fun things on the way.

Now we need suggestions of things to see ‘on the way’ from MN to FL.  We need to work out details of when we leave but the kids have Friday off, check in is 4pm on Saturday so just driving those 2 days we would make it fine.  If we leave Thursday we have time for more fun on the way.

I love when things work out!