Oh the Places You’ve Been

ohtheplacesframed_shadow

courtesy Oh, The Places YOu’ll Go by Dr Suess

Somehow you’ll escape
all that waiting and staying
You’ll find the bright places
where Boom Bands are playing

When my dear darling husband, The Original Obnoxious One, suggested we travel to Japan, I agreed  with one caveat – we had to spend several days afterwards at a totally chill beach resort. And since we were already halfway around the world in Asia, the place I chose was this:

DSCN0894

We had stayed at a Six Senses Resort a couple years before in Vietnam and it was magical. What’s not to love – architecture in harmony with natural surroundings, private villas complete with private plunge pools and butlers, incredible fresh local food, sustainable water and waste practices, and prices not as steep as you’d think, especially in the off-season.  The Six Senses Samui in Thailand did not dosappoint not one little bit, not when the main pool looked like this:

DSCN0819

And the view from our bed looked like thisDSCN0860

Even though the weather was hot and it was humid, which we usually find unbearable, somehow, we managed to survive. We had lattes in the morning  – not Green Eggs and Ham – and Sex on the Beach – the drink – in the afternoon.We dined on the hill, DSCN0925

we dined on the rocks,DSCN0872

we dined wherever and whenever we could.

And it was heavenly.

We wandered along the resort’s private beach,
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we swam and we kayaked in the clear turquoise waters,DSCN0863

and we talked to the wonderful locals who worked there – our butler, our servers, our housekeepers. Those hardworking folk were always smiling and happy and laughed at my hubby’s silly jokes and catered to our every whim as we started the long and challenging process of unwinding. My iPhone even died so our daughter couldn’t reach us to complain and shriek about the cold weather or her lack of friends at school or her courses or any other earth-shattering issues.

It’s opener there
in the wide open air. 

But it wasn’t all fun and games you know.

Nope, not for us.

I put The Original Obnoxious One to work and enrolled him in a Thai cooking class at the resort. All that chopping, all that tasting, all that sauteing – quite a demanding proposition, especially combined with the gorgeous outdoor setting.DSCN0885

Surprisingly enough he got more right than wrong, so the slave-driving chef gave her love, thumbs-up, grudging acknowledgement.DSCN0883

In the end The Original Obnoxious One somehow created such amazing culinary delights and was so proud of himself  that he became almost insufferable, and rather…obnoxious! DSCN0887

To this day I have not heard the end of what a great “cooker” he is.

Next I decided The Original Obnoxious One required a serious tune-up, an arduous physical transformation, so I forced my reluctant hubby to undergo the dreaded Thai Signature Treatment, which just happened to be for two people. At the place of our doom

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courtesy Six Senses Samui

we were presented with white cotton pajama-like tops and bottoms for our own protection. No oils. No aromatherapy. Just damn hard work.  For an entire hour each of us submitted to the battle-hardened warriors who thrashed and pummeled us. Those tough veterans poked our muscles, stretched our limbs and contorted our bodies into poses never seen or even imagined before . And yes, it was extremely scary – at least for The Original Obnoxious One who moaned and whimpered and screamed yelled screeched over the course of the daunting procedure. When the horror ended my hubby thanked the sweet little Thai ladies professional masseuses and proclaimed the treatment the best massage of his life.

With banner flip-flapping,
once more you’ll ride high!
Ready for anything under the sky.
Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!

Now it was time for him to torture me – a happy marriage is all about equal pain and suffering compromise after all. So he dragged me on several treks around the island, along unfortunate garbage-strewn beaches (yes, really)DSCN0895

roads choked with mopeds and trucks and fascinating colourful temples.

And after those terrifying forced marches we enjoyed our home away from home that much more – well at least my dear darling husband certainly did.10580943_10152713416644400_2647866384709508617_o

And sure enough,  The Original Obnoxious One finally found his long-lost mojo .DSCN0890

Until the next time we return. We met some Brits who spend a couple months suffering at this same spot year after year. Ahh…to be so lucky! In the meantime we’re planning a trip to Portugal in the fall, and I’ve found the perfect Six Senses there. Really!

Oh, the places you’ll go! There is fun to be done!
There are points to be scored. There are games to be won.
And the magical things you can do with that ball
will make you the winning-est winner of all.

 

 

 

 

I Can Ruin Your Life Too…

After all, as the Terrible Awful Mother that’s what I like to do. in fact, I thrive on ruining other people’s lives, especially the lives of my family members.

courtesy iclipart.com

courtesy iclipart.com

Take my husband, the Original Obnoxious One. His life was almost too easy to ruin – it simply requires leaving my car parked in the driveway so that when he comes home from work he can’t park his Precious in the garage, or neglecting to put my cell phone on silent at bedtime so it chimes away all night long. As I said, too easy.

My son, the Obnoxious One required a slightly more advanced approach: I had to poison him. DSC02374We haven’t been able to sort out his recent medical disasters, but we are working on it. After several doctor visits, numerous tests, and various medications, we still don’t know what’s wrong with him, but we do know that gluten is a trigger. After consuming gluten he immediately develops flu-like symptoms, severe stomach cramps, and passes blood in his stool. So we’ve spent absolute fortune on gluten-free products at Whole Foods – not just bread and cereal, but soy sauce and salad dressing and granola bars and crackers/crisps and humus and more…much more. Imagine my shock the other evening after preparing what I thought was a gluten-free meal, of chicken breasts  poached in broth and wine with roasted rosemary potatoes and salad. Well, turns out that I used dijon mustard to marinate the chicken and the mustard contained vinegar. I also used a seasoning salt on the chicken, which after reading the teeny tiny print, we discovered contained gluten. The Obnoxious One felt sick an hour after dinner, went to work the next morning but had to come home at lunch since he felt so so so badly.

I didn’t want to ruin my baby,Franklinstein’s life, but he’s such a good sensitive boy that a stern look will make him quiver, and a harsh word will cause him to cower. West Vancouver-20120615-00375Despite frequent hosings, the weeks of splashing through mud puddles,and swimming in the ocean took their toll; he reaked! Yesterday I made Obnoxious One bathe him, a cruel and mean procedure for labs, but totally necessary from time to time. I think Franklinstein has forgiven me by now, but he stills throws baleful glance at me every now and then when he thinks I’m not looking at him.

Now I really wouldn’t want to leave out my daughter, the Weird One – no need for her to feel unloved. IMG_1956She recently informed me that I had ruined her life by purchasing Netflix. In fact, I purchased Netflix so I could watch the amazing Kevin Spacey in House of Cards. The Weird One, though, is hooked on the recent 90210, Summer Heights High and rather concerned that she hasn’t even gotten to the new Arrested Development! She was most upset that she missed a couple of parties because she was too enthralled with the machinations of Naomi and Liam and Adrianna and Annie.Oh, the drama. With an almost straight face, she told me:

Mom, it’s all your fault! You’ve ruined my life! If you hadn’t purchased Netflix I would be going to my friend’s party right now, but I can’t cuz I have to watch my show.

When I rolled my eyes and stared at her, her mouth twitched and her eyes twinkled. Nevertheless the Weird One tried ever so hard to look seriously angry.

So there you go…I’ve succeeding in ruining the lives of each and every member of my immediate family. Who’s next? Really?!

Help – I’ve Fallen Way, Way Down the Rabbit Hole

courtesy Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland

courtesy Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland

The world as I know it has changed…forever. I knew this was coming, but I really didn’t think the transformation would be quite so dramatic. After all the exams and essays and applications, my baby girl has officially graduated from high school. My shock, however,  comes from the 180 degree shift in her attitude.

Lately my daughter has been nice to me… and nice even to the rest of the family.

The Demon Child seems to have taken flight and moved on. So I’ve seen the shadow of the Demon Child on a couple of occasions when my daughter has been exhausted after a late night out with friends, but for the most part she’s been pretty easy-going and even happy. For example, during the past 2 weeks:

  • she hasn’t yelled at me (much)
  • she hasn’t called me horrible names (not at all)
  • she’s listened to me and kicked her friends out at midnight when I asked her to
  • she’s accepted the loss of her allowance after getting that tattoo (okay the allowance has since been restored)
  • she let her tongue piercing grow in, as she claimed she missed chewing gum – whatever her reason, I’m ecstatic!
  • she’s gone on a couple of hikes with Franklinstein and me and enjoyed them
  • and the piece de resistance – she went from blocking me on Facebook to friending me!!!

So whether it’s a sign of maturity, a consequence of school ending or the aftermath of dumping her boyfriend, I couldn’t be more thrilled. Hey, my daughter will never be the perfect Barbie doll that so many girls in Vancouver aspire to these days – you know the ones with the perfect pouts, the perfect designer wardrobes, and the perfect long blond hair.

more housewives

courtesy – Real Housewives of Vancouver Facebook

She will never be like everybody else and that’s okay. Heck, that’s more than okay, that’s amazing! After all, this is the girl who:

But she is hoping to take much of the summer off before she ventures forth to university in the Fall, so she wants to learn how to drive – finally – and do lots and lots of hiking. In fact, yesterday she climbed The Chief with a friend,1048195_10152958698655290_974192805_oand wants to do it again...with me!

After the drama of the past several months, I must admit that I am currently exhausted, but nevertheless I am loving this new phase. I’m also realistic enough to know that the Demon Child may rear her terrible head once again from time to time, but we’ll deal with that when and if the time comes.

In the meantime, I am officially looking  forward to summer, if it ever arrives to stay on the wet West coast.

Really!

No family vacation for you!

That’s right – no more family vacation for my children, the Demon Child and the Obnoxious One. And yes, I have a new moniker: the Vacation Nazi! After all, I put a fair bit of time and effort sorting through the myriad of choices out there to come up with the best for our family.

For those of you too young to remember or those who have forgotten the Soup Nazi (although how anyone could forget I don’t know) here’s a quick trip down the Seinfeld memory lane:

So why have I become the Vacation Nazi? Am I shooting myself in the foot once again? Yes, I am, but with good reason. Although I still intend to go on vacations, and my hubby can come too if he’s nice, which he usually is. Mostly. 😉

As I wrote in my last post, ( see So we had a super busy holiday planned but we could still do more right?) we encountered a few hiccups just before our trip to Cabo over New Years – lost ski passes, lost keys and lost laptops. Those delights were topped off with:

  1. ridiculously very early morning flight that was delayed
  2. cold rain upon landing in Cabo,
  3.  screwed-up room reservations which became evident upon our arrival at Dreams.

You know you’re in for a treat when they assign your 19 year old son and 17 year old daughter a Honeymoon Suite…together…

courtesy icilpart.com

courtesy iclipart.com

especially when they barely tolerate each other on the best of days. But sleep in the same bed, even if it is King sized? When they were 4 and 6 that was one thing.IMGBut now? Heck, it was a major undertaking just to get them to stand beside each other and smile for this one photo!

One of the sunny days at the end of our trip.

One of the sunny days at the end of our trip.

So yeah, we had a rough start to our vacation. The weather didn’t cooperate for the first few days either – it was cool, cloudy and super windy.  Regardless, we made up for it with long walks on the beach,DSC_0541 long periods of reading on our rooms as well as numerous tests and samples of the various lounges and restaurants on the property. It was an all inclusive after all, and somebody had to do the research. That generally meant my son and me. Rough life, eh? Although, often it just meant my son, especially late at night…which led to a few interesting moments, I understand. Such as one evening when he was asked to perform a lap dance on the bride-to-be. Yeah! Apparently he didn’t, but regardless, exactly what this crazy mother with perfectionist tendencies trying to raise a sensitive son wanted to hear. Right!

However, the definitive moment, the pièce de résistance came one afternoon when I received a phone call from our daughter. She was crying,hyperventilating and screaming about her brother. I immediately went into problem-solving, mom-to-the-rescue mode. I had visions of :

  • her brother having a heart attack or appendicitis or a seizure
  • an attacker in their room assaulting her brother
  • a drug kingpin murdering her brother

    courtesy iclipart.com

    courtesy iclipart.com

So what was the problem? The Demon Child decided that her brother had been on their shared WiFi long enough and it was now her turn. Apparently they had an agreement and he broke it. Yeah, OMG that was the BIG emergency!

I must admit I wasn’t very sympathetic towards either one. I mean, really! My son, the Obnoxious One was totally disgusted and complained about his sister and every other little thing he could think of. When I called him on his behaviour he admitted with a wicked grin that he liked to complain. When I called my daughter on her behaviour she admitted she got upset, but after all, a deal’s a deal.

So….no more family vacation for you! 

Not for one year.

Or maybe longer.

Really!

P.S. On the third day of our trip we phoned home and located our daughter’s laptop computer. Apparently the bus driver found it and kept it for us. There are good people in this world, heck there are great people in this world. Hallelujah!

Eight countries in Eight days versus a Vacation Rental

Okay, so we actually did 8 countries in 16 days, but you get my drift. Usually I’m not a proponent of the “how many countries can we see on this trip” way of thinking. And usually when we go to Europe we try to become more than tourists – we soak up the locale, the culture…and of course the food and wine.

For example when we took the kids to Tuscany, we rented a unit in an agritourismo near San Gimignano for a week

Tuscany – near San Gimignano

Another year we rented a gite in Cotignac in Provence for a week

And then the wing of an 18th century chateau on the outskirts of Carcasonne

One of our favourite weeks was spent in a gulet off the coast of Turkey

And we can’t forget about the south of England where we rented a cottage 

When the kids were younger, renting a car and a cottage/gite/villa was a relatively easy way to go.The kids had their space and we had ours, bedtimes were flexible as were morning start times. We shopped locally for our breakfast and dinners, and then explored our surroundings and the local restaurants during the day. Our one rule of thumb was that we always, always rented a place with a pool – we found lots of vacation rental properties didn’t have air conditioning, but many had swimming pools. On more than one occasion those pools saved our bacon, whether it was cooling us all off during the heatwave in Tuscany or providing the kids with a necessary physical outlet. Oh yea, and my husband too – he used to enjoy tossing the kids around in the pool.

This time, however, my hubby and I didn’t want to drive. We didn’t want to shop for food and we didn’t want to cook. Nope, Captain Dumb Dumb wanted to be pampered. Well, maybe I did too, just a little bit. What we dreaded was the crowds – tons and tons of folks on cruise ships that you just can’t get away from! See, we really are getting old – old and crusty and antisocial 🙂 So I did my research and booked us on a mid size ship with lots of space; in fact, we hardly realized the cruise ship was full until the last day when we saw everyone in the terrace restaurant. Before then we’d had the deck to ourselves most days for a late lunch. When the Captain realized we could have breakfast served to our room,  we ordered in most days; okay,actually every single day. Rather than booking excursions organized by the ship, we organized our our excursions – with the help of a travel guide book. Yes, we did lots and lots and lots of walking, and we did see some pretty amazing sights. For example I’d love to return to Copenhagen and Stockholm and Riga and St Petersburg

Catherine’s summer palace

inside the Hermitage

Peterhof Palace

and spend more time there; as for the some other places, I can say I’ve seen them, but I won’t be running back any time soon.

So what’s the best way to travel? – any way you can!

And if you can’t get away this summer, then be a traveller in your own town. Discover something new. Check out look that museum or cathedral or city hall with a different perspective. Heck, take a bus or subway when you usually drive. Really!

My hubby has a new name

Yep, my dear darling hubby whom I usually refer to as the Original Obnoxious One now has a new name: Captain Dumb Dumb. And he even likes it. Really!

For the past several months my hubby has been working like a madman – lots of long days, late nights and travelling. The good news is that he really enjoys his new firm and the complexity and challenge of his position, but the bad news is that the work has been taking its toll; after all he’s not young man of twenty anymore.

my dear darling hubby, courtesy iclipart.com

The Original Obnoxious One disappeared and was replaced by the Exhausted One. So, we decided to take off for two weeks – from the office, the reno, the teenagers and the dogs – just the two of us. I booked us on a ten day Baltic cruise and added on three nights in Copenhagen at the start and two nights in Stockholm at the end. We figured correctly the kids wouldn’t be too upset missing this holiday.

” Mom, that’s an old guy’s trip – enjoy it but count me out,” commented our son the Obnoxious One.

I started packing my stuff and my hubby’s stuff – we needed more stuff than usual since not only were we cruising,but the weather in the Baltic region is changeable and unpredictable at best. So, we needed raincoats, rain shoes, and lots of layers in case it was cold or warm or even hot.  At least my hubby was happy that this cruise called for “country club attire” so no tuxes, suits or ties were necessary. He even came home early from the office each of the two days prior to our departure so that he could finish packing. Since he showed an interest and took the time, I assumed he knew what he was doing.

But you know what they say about assume – when you assume you make an ass out of you and me. Yea, really!

When we reached Copenhagen on a glorious sunny afternoon and started unpacking in our hotel room, guess what we found – or rather what we didn’t find? My dear darling husband had forgotten to pack:

  1.  shorts, even though I just bought him 2 new pair and placed them right beside his suitcase
  2. sports/casual jacket, even though I bought him one a couple of weeks prior, one that he even liked and wore to New York

Oh yea, and the little package of paperwork and documentation that the cruise line sent us. That’s all!

Before I started to panic and hyperventilate too severely, my darling husband sent an email to Lily, our travel agent extraordinaire, telling her that I had forgotten to pack the information. Horrified at such a gross misstatement of the facts, I sent Lily an email myself explaining that it was all Captain Dumb Dumb’s fault. Even Lily was shocked that Captain Dumb Dumb could do – or rather not do – all that. Poor Lily phoned us, phone the cruise line and phoned us again – all well before 8am on a Saturday morning. It’s really a wonder she doesn’t fire silly clients like us – must be Captain Dumb Dumb’s charm and good looks. 🙂

In the end all was ok – we bought the Captain a new pair of shorts in Copenhagen which he wore every single day of the trip (believe me, I’m tempted to burn them now)  and wonderful Lily made sure the cruise was a success despite the missing paperwork.

And beyond these first few hiccups, the trip WAS an amazing treat, but that’s for another post.

the Captain and I, courtesy iclipart.com

Really!

P.S. Why, you might ask, didn’t I just pack the cruise documents with my stuff? Because Captain Dumb Dumb always always always insists on packing and carrying all travel related documents – passports, Nexus cards, plane tickets, boarding cards, etc. – for the entire family.

Happy F–ing New Year in F–ing Paradise

Our family of four arrived in paradise, aka Barcelo Los Cabos just after Christmas. The doggies went to a resort of their own – a great spot called The Bowen Island Dog Ranch run by an amazing group of folks. Anyways, we enjoyed a few days of terrific weather – warm and sunny days with temperatures of mid 70’s. Delicious dinners, lovely rooms (one for the kids and one for us), beautiful beach and wonderful Margaritas were all part of this paradise…until the fourth night.  Then, we  found out the LOUD way that there was a disco right behind our building that blasted music until 2am. Maybe once upon a time I wouldn’t have minded the “noise” and would’ve joined the party, but at this stage of my life, I REALLY need my beauty sleep.

So anger barely held in check, I approached the manager and discussed our situation – okay, actually I demanded another room. I was shown a few options, but was warned that the first couple could be just as noisy since there was yet another disco on the other side of the resort. Really?! I finally settled on a family suite – better view of the beach although closer to the main pool and lower down. Now to get the family to sign on.

Well, a heck of a lot easier said than done…the Obnoxious One didn’t really care one way or the other as he was up to the wee hours socializing every night anyways. (turns out there was a family staying at the resort he knew) The Original Obnoxious One can sleep through anything – and usually does (see The Conspiracy of Rolling in the Deep) – so he was ambivalent. The Demon Child decided there was no way in hell she was moving – she liked her room, and I was “like, totally, like, over exaggerating”.

My slow burn started raging and roaring and threatened everything and everyone in sight. Remember, I am a women going through the Change in Life.

Luckily my husband, the Original Obnoxious One knows me well …so he and I moved into the family suite and the kids stayed where they were. Of course we had to pay an extra charge. Of course the room we moved to had no hot water – what kind of five star hotel has no hot water for showers?! Of course the new room had no towels, no hair dryers, no bottled water and no hypoallergenic pillows either. Of course it took many, many phone calls to get these things sorted out. Of course on New Year’s Eve the resort blasted noise straight into our new room.

Of course the Original Obnoxious One and I had a huge argument on New Years Eve about all of the above, as well as his weird and wacky behaviour during the previous days. Whoops –  turns out that unbeknownst to the kids and I, he was on heavy-duty medication for the prevention of deep vein thrombosis.(he’s been hospitalized twice before for dangerous blood clots)

Of course the Demon Child had a major meltdown at the EXACT same time. Turns out that she hated our family, because we are the worst parents in the entire world. She wanted to be with her friends and not us, because THEY love her, THEY appreciate her. She wanted to go home immediately. And of course I was “such a bitch”. And oh yeah, once she left home she was NEVER going to speak with us again.

Oh the drama…

The Demon Child slammed a few doors and marched off to her room to skype with her precious friends. The Original Obnoxious One slammed a few doors and marched off to the small quiet bedroom; how he slept through all the racket I’ll never know! The Obnoxious One and I looked at each other, tiptoed out of the suite and slunk off dejectedly in search of music and champagne – after all, it WAS New Year’s Eve.

Well we found both the music and champagne. Wow, what a New Years. Yeah…just f–ing lovely.

The good news is that the next day I apologized profusely to my husband and he forgave me. My daughter apologized to both my husband and me for real, unlike in the past when she said she was sorry that I was a bitch. (apparently she had her period and her friends were bragging about how great their New Years was without her) Of course we forgave her too. My son…well he was hung over for much of the day, but that’s another story. 😉

Really.

P.S. as you can tell, I LOVE iCLIPART and Maxine.