Monday, October 10, 2016

Burning Down the House

This summer we took a detour on the way to dropping Mr. Boy off at camp and visited my childhood home.  I showed the kids the neighborhood where I spent my elementary school years.  My kids who shun sightseeing,  were surprisingly enthralled with seeing the neighborhood.  They have always loved hearing stories of my colorful childhood and beg for them at bedtime.  "Tell me the story of your mom being a mama bear."  "Tell me about your arch nemisis Howie Hayward."   For them being able to see the setting with their own eyes, was the missing piece to the story.

It's a lovely neighborhood with neat manicured lawns and homes that back up to a golf course.  The country club was the social hub of the neighborhood and most of the neighbors lived a pretty posh life.  Many of my neighbors had found wealth in the form of "black gold." (oil)   It wasn't the most glamorous town, mostly agricultural, with blazing hot summers, and a whole lot of oil,  but our neighborhood was definitely one of the nicer ones in town.

As we drove around, I showed them my elementary school, the childhood homes of my friends, and all the homes that had been burned down. After showing them the fifth house that burned down, I realized, "Wait a minute, this is not normal." This is pretty much a running theme of my childhood.

When several neighbors got financially in over their heads, they burned down their homes or their businesses to collect on the insurance money.  I'm pretty sure they all got caught, because I can't remember a house that burned down where it wasn't arson.  Instead of insurance money, the owners got jail time and I'll bet that didn't help with their financial problems.

I showed my kids the toy store that burned to ground taking other neighboring businesses with it.  I vividly remember mourning all the Barbies that were senselessly burned.  Arson.

I showed them the gorgeous golf course home that burned to the ground in the middle of the night.  We watched the firefighters battle the fire in our pajamas from across the golf course. A few days later the police found boxes of fine china, silver, photo albums, and other prized possessions stored in the back room of his office.  Arson.

I showed them the house next door to one of my favorite friends that burned to the ground because of a "cooking fire."  Later we learned she had sat in the backyard waiting for the fire to spread before running to the neighbors to call for help.  A week later her second car was found stuffed with possessions she stowed before the fire. Arson.

As an adult, it's fascinating to me that people would get so desperate they would burn down their own homes.  It seems like an outrageous solution and one where you are sure to get caught. 

So fast forward to last week, when there was a house fire in my neighborhood, my kids instantly jumped to the conclusion that it was Arson.   AK thinks we should tell the police to look for a second car, or check the back room at their business.  Mr. Boy is super proud to finally be able to have something exciting to show his future children... when he comes back to tour the neighborhood.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Five for Friday - September 30th

1.  Can we talk about Placemats?   We have never use them for everyday meals and a few weeks ago at a friends house, we got to talking about placemats.  She uses them religiously, and after polling a few friends, now I have a complex.  Am I the only one who doesn't use Placemats?  Do you use them?  And why?

2.  My family is loving this recipe this week.  Chicken and Potatoes in a Garlic Parmesan Sauce.  Super easy and great leftovers.

3.   We watched the debate while we made dinner.  It was hilarious to watch my kids flip flop back and forth between the candidates.  "Oh that is a good point, I'm voting for her."  "Well, wait, that is a good point, so I'm voting for him."  They went back and forth the entire debate and it was my favorite part of the whole election was watching them. 

4. Mr. Man and I are still in the middle of the big house purge.  Things that have been uncovered during this purge... apparently I have an addiction to To Do List Notepads.

5.  The kids and I watched the movie Secondhand Lions a few weeks ago.  I had forgotten how much I loved that movie.  The kids loved it and I think it's in my top ten favorite movies of all time. 

Friday, September 16, 2016

Five for Friday 9-15-16

1.  I want my kids to grow up thinking that dreams come true and that they can be catalyst in making other peoples dreams come true.  So when Mr. Boy decided years ago he wanted a Paintball Party, Mr. Man and I worked to make it happen.  Seeing the pure joy on his face was the best and it was so much fun.

2. Also, our boy has the best group of friends. Seriously, what an amazing group of boys. 

3. I'm a little obsessed with this cheese which I found at Costco two years ago.  When I went back to buy more, of course they had stopped carrying it..until now.

4.  AK is almost finished learning all the states and capitals.  I'm pretty much out of lies stories  to tell AK.  Today I told her that "Daddy wanted to name you Dover and I wanted to name you Delaware... so we compromised on DE, then realized that AK was a better name for you." 

 5.  I'm pretty sure Mr. Man is pregnant, he is in a serious nesting mood.  We've been purging closets and cabinets and every week there is a giant pile of stuff for the charity pick up.   I know my closet is on the horizon and might need to find a safe shelter for my shoe collection until the purge passes...  any volunteers? 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Wednesday Wisdom - Washi Tape for your Cords

It seems like my charging cords that I use in my car only last for about a year.  Which while nothing more than a nuisance, I can never remember to switch them out.  It's out of sight and out of mind for me, once I exit my car.  So then I'll be out somewhere, frantically trying to get the cord at juuuuuusst the right angle for it charge my dying phone.

When I mentioned this to the Genius helping me at the Apple Store, he gave me this hot tip.  Wrap the cords as soon as you get them with tape where the cord connects into the plug. That is the weakest spot and where they tend to break.  It has made all the difference and as a bonus, now in my jumble of cords, I can easily tell which cord is for each device, because they are color coded with different colors of Washi Tape.   (Washi Tape is decorative paper tape, but really any tape can be used.)

Genius Tip from the Genius Bar at Apple.

Anyone else have any hot tips when it comes to devices? 

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Wednesday Wisdom: Get Cash Back with Ebates!

Since constructing my beloved home that I refer to as "The Chalet",  I have become a total recluse.  I shop online as often as possible.  One of my favorite ways to save a little dough while shopping online is using

It's a click through shopping site for many of our favorite retailers.  Like Nordstroms, Living Social/Groupon, Kohls,, etc.  There is even some cash back on certain categories.

Start by going to the Ebates homepage and then click on the shopping site you want to make your purchase at, it will automatically take you to their website while creating a "tracking ticket" that logs your purchase.   Boom! Then you get cash back every quarter. Essentially you make money by clicking on one extra site while you shop online. 
Then you can be like me and laugh all the way to the bank! (or you can have it sent to you via Paypal) Here is a photo of me and my most recent rebate on Ultimate Super Mega Summer supplies. ($45)   So far I have earned $921 in cash back from Ebates!

Right now if you sign up for Ebates, you will get a $10 bonus after you make your first purchase by signing up, simply by clicking on the logo below or any of the links in this post. 
Ebates Coupons and Cash Back

So, join me in living like a hermit and join Ebates!  Now go forth and shop online!!

**Affiliate Links embedded in this post**

Thursday, September 01, 2016

Five for Friday, September 2nd, 2016

"My friend named Wyoming loved to greet her best friend by saying, "C Hey Enne" 
1. AK is learning all 50 states and their capitals.  I just don't know if I can do it anymore, I'm all out of lies and stories to tell about each state.  She needs a story to help her remember each state, so I've had to make up stories help her relate each state to it's capital.  Such as Toto, the dog from the Wizard of Oz, is really named Topeka, but Dorothy had trouble saying it when she was little, so she called him Toto. I'm running out of lies stories... and have no idea how I'm going to help her with states like Delaware. 

2.  Every year I go into a bit of a Fall Funk.  I am grateful to at least have a bit of a warning that it is coming.  So I've been making lots of plans for fun things so I have something to look forward to and keep me social.  Both of those things are helpful to battle my fall blues, because I just want to sit on the hillside and talk to the deer all day. 

3.  Mr. Man and I have been cleaning out cabinets, it stresses me out, but I love the results. He discovered my paper straw collection, it's a secret addiction.  The good news is that it's a pretty cheap addiction, way cheaper than drugs.  At least that's what I tell him. Do you have a secret addiction?

4.  Stranger Things... I know!  Watched it, loved it, you should watch it too.  Freaked me out, as did 10 Cloverfield Lane.  EEK!

5.  Spent last weekend at the beach and surfed!  I'm terrible but I forgot how much I loved it.  It was funny how my body just remembered exactly what it needed to do.  My new favorite thing is Swim Pants!  Pants.. in the water?  Weird, I know, but they are amazing and I'm hoping I don't turn into a Duggar because I fell in love with Swim Pants. Anyway,  I'm basically a vampire and when my skin gets touched by the sun it burns.  Swim pants mean I don't have to lather on ten layers of sunblock.  I won't wear them all the time, but at the beach it's a perfect.

**Affiliate Links are embedded in this post ** 

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Wisdom Wednesday: Instant Pot Terriyaki Bowls (Crockpot too)

I have a few ideas rolling around in my head for this blog, so testing out a new feature today.   Wendy's Wisdom Wednesday - Sharing things that make my life easier or better.

Two years ago for Christmas Mr. Man bought me an Instant Pot, it's an electric pressure cooker.  It sat in the living room for two weeks and I sent it back, I just couldn't fathom using it.  Over the course of two years I kept wondering about that Instant Pot and then I started noticing food blogs raving about them.  So I picked one up again, because Mr. Man apparently knows me better than I know myself and I'm pretty much hooked on it. You can cook frozen chicken breast in 15 minutes!

Today, I have a recipe that I made up on the fly one day. I'm not a chef or a food blogger, but trust me your family will eat this.

 Check out this elaborate list of ingredients:
Terriyaki Sauce
Frozen Chicken Breast
1/4  cup of Water
Cooked Rice
Optional:  Green Onions, Cabbage, Any leftover Veggies, Fried Egg

Pop the Chicken Breast in the in the Instant Pot (I did four frozen) and a bottle of Terriyaki Sauce and about a 1/4 cup of water.  On the Instant Pot hit the Poultry setting for 15 minutes if you are going to let it sit and do natural release,  18 minutes if you are going to release and eat right away.

If you are using a Crockpot, cook on low for three and a half to four hours using thawed chicken breasts. 
Terrible Food Photography, just trust me it's delicious.
Once it's done, throw rice and Teriyaki chicken into a bowl, the chicken will be falling apart tender.  Add some of the juice from the Instant Pot if you would like.  My family likes to add some cabbage and last time we threw on some leftover veggies.

Everyone in my family raves about this and fights for the leftovers.  So one day while fighting over the leftovers, we made smaller bowls and threw a fried egg on top, and again everyone cheered. 

I make this on nights when I have people eating at different times.  I just cook the rice in the rice cooker and let the rice cooker and Instant Pot stay on the warm setting.

Bon Appetit!

*Affiliate Links embedded in this post.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Five For Friday - Back to Stupid School

1.  Summer is over and it makes me sad.  Mr. Boy declared it was the best summer ever because we "just laid around at home a lot" which makes me happy to hear.  In my eyes, it was a sleepy and subdued summer with 41,000 doctors appointments.  It appears that maybe all those afternoons of lounging in the pool somehow washed away the fact we spent all morning at various appointments. We had the ceremonial folding of the summer banner and I'm grateful my family indulges me in my ideas, it's pretty much my favorite thing. 


2. Currently, I can't stop thinking about this episode of Liar City.   It's a podcast about lies and liars.   This particular episode deals with Michael Jackson and completely changed my point of view on him.  It's worth a listen, the other episodes are great too, but this one has consumed my thoughts for a month!

3.  Are you aware that Braces/Orthodontic work cost a small fortune?  Both my kids need braces and I have grossly underestimated how much they cost.  Now when I see a kid with braces, I give the parents a nod and say, "Niccccceeee"  like you just caught a glimpse of a sweet Rolex on someone's arm.

4.  Olympic Fever swept our house and I am always surprised by my enthusiasm.  I am not a sporty person, but suddenly I become an expert in Synchronized Diving, Rowing, and the Long Jump when the Olympics come around.  I love the stories of athletes winning, tales of sportsmanship or lack thereof, and I love the crazy stories of the host city getting prepped (like finding a human hand while prepping beach volleyball, a kayaker hitting submerged couch, etc.)  I'm really, really, hoping Los Angeles wins the bid for 2024! 

5.  It's National Dog Day and today I'm celebrating my dogs. I'm even celebrating Zoey who is allergic to absolutely everything and recently developed an allergy to the pool.  So, now I'm the crazy person who after swimming with the dogs, is shampooing and BLOW DRYING my dog.  As if I really have time for that, but I do it, because you usually end up doing anything for something or someone you love.

Tell me the crazy things you never thought you'd do, but have done out of love....

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Families are Complicated.

A few weeks ago, I had to pass through the town where I lived during my elementary school years.  This is not a place where I call home, but it is a place where my family lived for a number of years.

My kids asked if we could see my old house and I decided it might be enjoyable to see my old stomping grounds.   As I drove through the gates of the old neighborhood, I felt my chest tighten up and memories came flooding back.  My kids who normally hate sight seeing, were fascinated by seeing the places where so many stories took place. They have grown up hearing stories of my childhood, and storytelling is something that I loved to do.  I showed them the former homes of my friends and the spot where we used to slip onto the golf course to have water gun fights.

They loved seeing my old elementary school, where Thelma, the world's scariest secretary worked,  and enjoyed seeing my old house.
As for me, I stood in front of my house and felt a myriad of emotions, most of them weren't good.  This house was the epicenter of Crazytown, my family wasn't very happy here.  I'm not sure I could pinpoint a place where my family was happy, we just weren't one of those happy families.  My mom did the best she could, but the more years that go by, the more questions I have for my mom.  Memories keep popping up with holes in them, but she isn't here to answer them.  I'm not sure she would have answered my questions truthfully anyway.  Some things will have to remain a mystery. 

Here is the big lesson I have learned in my lifetime.  Families are complicated. 

And that is okay. They don't have to be perfect. 

I've made my peace with my family history, for the most part.  Things were crazy within my family, but it's in the past.  I can't change the past, but the things I can take with me are the crazy stories that my children love to hear.  So, I'm hoping to introduce a new feature on my blog.  Greetings from Crazytown, the stories of my childhood.  They will be mostly entertaining stories about growing up with eccentric parents, such as the time I was convinced I was being abducted by aliens.  Or the time where the can of Peanut Butter flew through the window.  Or if you want a sample of one that was already written, you can learn the reason why I was the "butt" of all the diarrhea jokes in Jr. High. 

So next time your family makes you want to throw your hands up in the air or commit a crime, just remember, Families are complicated and that is okay.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Ultimate Super Mega Summer V Bucket List

Ultimate Super Mega Summer IV
Find the Best Tacos in LA
Bubba Gump Shrimp (watch Forrest Gump right before)
Robin’s Basket (Baskin Robbins)

Finding Dory
Secret Life of Pets
A few Twilight Zone Episodes
Alvin & the Chipmunks “Road Chip” with Dad (Mom boycotts)

Learn to Type
Dodger Games
Paddleboard Lessons at Castaic Lake (Splash in the Water)
Bake Cupcakes
Make Pizzas on the Grill
American Girl Doll Store Lunch
OC Beach Day
Bake a Pie
Hike to the Wisdom Tree
Nordstroms Back to School Shopping                 
Listen to all episodes of the Memory Palace Podcast
Barnes and Noble

My childhood home
The Broad Museum
The Getty
The Chandelier Tree
Little Tokyo
Universal Studios
Santa Barbara
St. George Party House  (Meet up with our friends in St. George, Utah where there are no bedtimes and no rules)
Family Reunion

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Five for Friday - June 24th

1.  Current TV Show I can't get enough of: UnReal on Lifetime and Hulu.  It's a fictional show about filming a show like The Bachelor.

2.  Also, can't get enough of Watermelon flavored licorice.  Not nearly as healthy as Watermelon, the actual fruit, but more delicious.

3. Finished the book, The Light Between Oceans, loved it.  I've been struggling through All the Light We Cannot See for six months. Everyone seems to love it and  I have a very tough time giving up on a book. Does it get better? 

4.  My kids are superstar sleepers and sleeping until 10AM, it's one of the best parts of summer.  They are also superstar fighters and don't get along with each other, which is one of the worst parts of summer.

5.  While my kids are sleeping like champs, I'm not.  The stupid smoke alarms keep having errors at four in the morning.  I've changed all the batteries, but still one of them malfunctions and sets the whole string off. Why doesn't this happen during the daytime? 

Friday, June 10, 2016

Five for Friday

Five things on my mind today:

1.  Have you ever wondered about the orgin of "The Super Ultimate Mega Summer"?   You can read about it here.  While  you are at it, I suggest you also read about the time I was mistaken for being homeless, because it still makes me laugh. 

2.  I've been reading a lot and just finished Orphan Train and Girl on the Train.  Loved them both and while both involve trains, they were very different.

3.  Mr. Boy isn't feeling so great and as a result we don't really have any big trips planned.  It's got me feeling a little blue.  Our big trip to Alaska last summer made me realize that I really enjoy having something to look forward to.

4.  Last week I reconnected with an old friend that I haven't seen for 22 years!  We picked up right where we left off and it was so enjoyable.   I kind of pushed everyone away after high school  because those were hard years at home that I just wanted to forget.  However, I realize now my friends were what got me through those tough times.  So if you are reading this and are an old friend, just know I am grateful for you and your friendship.

5. Things we can't get enough of:  The Goldbergs (TV Show),  Taco Bell's Happy Hour Slushie's ($1 from 2-5pm),  reading by the pool, and Sprout's Cowboy Burgers. 

Tell me what you are looking forward to or what you can't get enough of!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

The Sombrero

In honor of Cinco de Mayo here is the story of Mr. Man's priceless Sombrero.

Mr. Man came into our marriage over twenty years ago with a giant TV and a Sombrero.  This was his dowry of sorts.  The TV is long gone, but The Sombrero has been a constant.

The Sombrero was hung on the wall of our first home, much to my dismay, but Mr. Man loved having a place to display it.   When we moved, I scoured boxes behind liquor stores because we needed a box so The Sombrero wouldn't get crushed.   We moved The Sombrero to four different homes and always finding a box for The Sombrero was high on the priority list for each move.  The Sombrero required a big box and great care so as not to crush it.

The orgin story for The Sombrero has changed over the years.  Mr. Man isn't quite sure where it was acquired, but it must hold some secret forbidden memory because The Sombrero has been so lovingly preserved through many attic purges.    He thinks he got it in Mexico on a super fun trip.

Last year,  I stumbled across the Sombrero and decided to bring it out for Cinco de Mayo.  It was the first time in a long while that I had got a good look at The Sombrero.  

Wait a minute, does that say Chevys on it?   Are you kidding me?  This is a Sombrero from Chevys!  As in Chevys, the cheesy Mexican Chain restaurant that gives you a free Sombrero on your birthday.  
So for twenty years I have been hauling around a freaking free Sombrero from a chain restaurant!  I had never heard of Chevys until we moved back to LA.  The Sombrero is definitely not from Mexico.  

Fair Warning:  Next time we move (which is hopefully never) I'm tossing The Sombrero in the trash, no more special boxes!  We can get another one next time we go to dinner.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Five for Friday - May 20, 2016

1.  Current Mood: Limping Crawling to the finish line for school.  The next Ultimate Mega Super Summer adventure is on the horizon.  Follow us on our daily adventures on Instagram:  Qwendykay

2.  On Monday I joined people all across the nation to watch The Abolitionist Movie.  The people at Operation Underground Railroad (OUR) are doing amazing work to end Human Trafficking.   If it is being shown in a theater in your area, go and see it.   It's tasteful, well done, and will leave you inspired to join the cause.  It is worth your time, I promise.
 3.  You have to check out the Podcast The Memory Palace.   They are short podcasts about real life people and events.  Nate DiMeo is a storytelling genius and I love listening to them with my kids.  In particular we love Episode 46: After Party,  Episode 85: AKA Leo and Episode 16: Secret Kitty.   After Party in particular has inspired many thought provoking discussions.

4.  I'm still convinced that when everyone was at the hospital having their babies there was a seminar that told everyone how to be a parent.  I missed that meeting and constantly feel like I'm floundering and just guessing at what the right parental move is in situations.  One thing that I am doing right is intentionally raising my children with some stellar families.  For the past two years we have met every morning on a corner two blocks before school and we send our kids off to school together.  We are co-parenting and it has made a huge difference in my life.
5.  The other thing I'm doing right as a parent is taking my kids to this great little theater in Santa Monica.  The Morgan-Wixson Theater puts on fabulous plays for kids and we have attended most of them in the last few years. Currently playing:  Frog and Toad

Monday, May 16, 2016

The Beyonce Rule - Beyonce doesn't wear pants

Beyonce doesn't wear pants.  
She doesn't have to, because she is freaking Beyonce.

My daughter, who loves to dress herself, will often wear something that does not resemble an outfit.  For example: bikini bottoms on top of a leotard.  I often remind her that she is not Beyonce and unless you are Beyonce you have to wear pants.   

It's been a household rule that has come in quite handy and one that is used surprisingly often.   Boom!  Parenting win!    Until your daughter ask strangers, wearing very short shorts, if they are Beyonce, because they aren't wearing proper pants.  

Sunday, May 01, 2016

A Hypothetical Story About 50 Shades of Grey

A disclaimer:  I will deny this in public and am sharing this hypothetical story that allegedly happened to a "friend" of mine.  

I love my Kindle and so does my family. My favorite is the access we have to several free books and since I have a house full of avid readers it saves my family boatloads of money.  One day Mr. Boy was nearing the last few chapters of a book on the Kindle and begged me to take the Kindle to school to finish reading it.   I relented, because I know what it's like to be in those last few chapters anxious to know how everything plays out.

A few hours into the school day, I.. uh, I mean my "friend"  had the most terrifying thought.  Mr. Boy would probably finish his book at school and then what?  What if he started browsing through the other books on my Kindle to find something else to read?  Oh NOOOOO... NO!  NO!! NO!   Which prompted the following call to call Amazon Customer Support.

My "Friend":   Uh, hello.  Let's just say, hypothetically, of course,  you needed to remove some books from a Kindle. Perhaps, as an example, the Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy

Amazon:  Sure, I can help you do that.  Can you power up your Kindle?  Then I can help you delete  books from your Kindle Library.

My "Friend":  Well... see... uh... here is the thing, the Kindle isn't here.  It's in my ten year old's classroom.

AmazonOh, that is tough.  We will need the Kindle to delete the book. 

My "Friend":  Can't I sync it wireless-ly from my laptop?  Like if I stand on the sidewalk outside the school with my laptop, maybe it will sync?  Maybe I can stand upwind of my son's classroom, so the "sync" will blow downwind. 

Amazon:  Well, sure that it is a great idea, but unfortunately the Kindle doesn't work that way. 

My "Friend":  Do you understand that I just sent my 10 year old to school with 50 Shades of Grey?  I normally read Jane Austen, I swear I do.  But I just had to see what all the fuss was about.  Oh my goodness, what am I going to do? 

Amazon:  If I lived closer, I would happily go to the school to retrieve the Kindle on your behalf.  I would tell the office that the Kindle was being recalled for a fire danger.

My "Friend":  Ah yes.. that is an excellent idea.  I might have to use that excuse.   Thank you Amazon, for not judging me.

And that is the story of why we now have multiple Kindles in our house, one for the kids and one for the grown ups. 

Friday, April 29, 2016

Five for Friday - Welcome Back Edition

Hello?  Is this thing on? Anyone out there reading this?   Whew, I took a little hiatus from writing and I hated it. I figured the best way to jump back in was to do my favorite "Five for Friday" format.  Here are five thoughts rolling around in my head.

1.  I'm passionate about this organization, Operation Underground Railroad (OUR Rescue).  Not the most pleasant topic, but sex trafficking is an issue that we can not turn our back on.  The people at OUR Rescue are making a difference and saving lives.  I am thrilled to have been able to screen the documentary "The Abolitionist".   It's a must see movie for every adult to understand how we can help put an end to sex trafficking.  Join me on May 16, 2016 to watch the movie "The Abolitionist" at a theater near you.

2.  Just a heads up, in California it's illegal to hold your cell phone in your hand while you are driving.  So hypothetically, if you are holding your phone in your hand, face down on your lap while stopped in traffic, and a cop happens to roll by on a motorcycle and look in your window,  they can give you a ticket. Someone learned that lesson the hard way, but I'm not naming names.

3.  Also, if you are driving in California, it is legal to eat a big, fat burger and drive.  Your other hand might even be holding a giant drink and you are using your knees to steer.  As long as you aren't veering into other lanes of traffic, no ticket.  Also, if you are driving and using tweezers to pluck your eyebrows, no worries! No ticket for you.  These are all things I witnessed people doing while I sat on the side of the road waiting for the police officer to finish writing a ticket for holding my cell phone in my lap.

4.  The summer countdown is on, less than 30 days until our Ultimate Super Mega Summer.  This summer is kind of a mess, other than a tiny trip there are no concrete plans.  I've got to hunker down and figure it out. I'm open to suggestions!

5.   I'm still a little bit bitter about #3 and #4.   Can you tell?