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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Traveling Cheaply

As many know, I have two teenagers now,

the pharmacist with my Xanax prescription
the wine store owner with my favorite white
the grocery store as I am buying for a small army weekly

This past week we went on a Spring Break trip for 7 days and only spent 1400 dollars!

Yes, that's right 1400!

How did we do it, I thought I'd share:

Spring skiing is your best value when it comes to travel. We drove to Killington saving airfare traveling out west this year.

We started with a rental car from Enterprise in Boone, it was much cheaper than trying to rent a car at an airport or city! The car (a Dodge Ram truck) was $263.00 for the week.

How do you survive a 14 hour drive with 3 teenagers?


I filled a cooler with snacks and drinks. A case of water costing 2.99 vs a bottle of water at a gas station stop at $1. Of course since we were on vacation, I really saved money buying the 12 packs of soda at Walgreens, etc than purchasing the same thing individually at a gas station.

I was also able to hit the grocery store for snacks, combining the junk they love along with a few healthy alternatives. Once they went through the junk (15 minutes in to the drive) they had nothing left but healthy snacks!

We did splurge once a day with some fast food but ordering simple ChickFilA sandwiches and letting them grab drinks, etc out of the cooler we were still able to satisfy those urges.

Oh and of course, $1 Sweet Tea at McDonalds!

Another great money saver with teenage boys was finding lodging that included Breakfast! If they have an afternoon cookie or two even better!

We found the Killington Mountain Lodge, 1.5 miles from the resort on a website for $59/night!

And that included a buffet breakfast every morning of Vermont favorites, syrup, granola, milk, etc.

This is a very casual, comfortable hotel complete with a 20 person outdoor hot tub, a pool, pool table, games in the common area complete with a fire each night, oh, and a bar for Mom and Dad. We relaxed each evening in the common area, the boys even checking out the nightly movie in the theater. (Rogue One one night!)

The cooler came into the room with snacks and drinks, giving the kids what they needed after the snow.

We went out one night, splurging spending $100 on dinner for 4 at an Italian restaurant.  The rest of the week using grocery stores deli department and pizza delivery.  Here's the breakdown:

Italian Restaurant - $100/ four pasta dinners, water and one glass of wine (hey, I'm stuck with boys)
Pizza Delivery - $30 - 1 large pepperoni pizza and two orders of garlic knots plus delivery tip.
    The boys took the pizza to the hot tub and enjoyed hanging out.
Grocery Store - $18 - two large vats of Beef Stew one large vat of mashed potatoes.
Grocery Store - $15.99 one large rotisserie chicken leftover mashed potatoes and veggie side.

So we ate well, spent time at the lodge and didn't miss out on the Killington experience.

Lift tickets to Killington for spring skiing were only $25/day purchasing them 2 days early online in block of 3 days.

Good thing to remember for spring skiing, if you are only going one day make sure you bring a lift ticket from another resort and Killington gives a 50% discount off of your lift ticket!

Saving money in Killington opened up the coffers for adventure in Baltimore. I still was able to get out of the city for around $400 for all of us. We enjoyed an Oriole baseball game, crab feast, skating at Charm City Skatepark and a hotel downtown!

Oh and talking to a local, we found a way back South avoiding all the tolls on the way back including avoiding the traffic on 95!!

There's nothing like traveling and experiencing with children, all you have to do is a little early planning and you can save big while having the best experience.

The best part of the trip was listening to one kid whisper to another, "Dang! $9 for a cheeseburger, that's pretty expensive!

This way I'm preparing them for those traveling trips their senior year in high school or college or Spring Break!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

WTF Why Do You Do It?

I know what ya'll are thinking,

I know why she does it,

She can't stop skiing.

Then they ask, "How did you survive it?

With a cooler full of snacks and drinks, one paper map and of course

A good sense of humor.

You see, I've been doing this for years, and it's always been fun even as the different stresses change.

Now I go from sweating through a screaming baby for the last 2 hours of the drive to,
the "Are we there yet" 2 million times in the last two hours.

I go from muttering curses as a toddler sends his drink all over the floor mat of the back seat to,
muttering curses as a teenager does THE SAME THING! (Really?)

I go from a baby or toddler destroying the car seat with poop during the drive to,
three teenagers making our room look like someone pooped all over it.

I go from listening to the same movie over and over again to,
Listening to their teenage talk which is much more interesting. I didn't know Crusty was a word until this road trip.

I go from cleaning wrappers, boxes, drinks and other scary shit out of my car to,
well, cleaning shit that I at least recognize out of my car. (Who ate the last slim Jim?)

I do it and survive it each time because these trips with the kids are short lived.
I get to listen to them talk about the adventure of the day before.
Listen to their laughter as they talk about me almost falling into the Gondola because "Mom was freaked she'd miss it! How do you miss a Gondola?"
You bet, I'm getting out the maps and planning something for summer, because I'm on a mission.

I only have two more Spring Breaks before Son #1 is gone.

And, as we all cheered seeing the sign saying, "Boone 23 miles" they all said, "Thanks Mom!"

That made it worth it.

Until one of them farted and the other said, "What's that smell?"

Oh yeah, and I did for the skiing, who am I kidding?

Yeah, and the crabs.

The crabs were definitely worth it.

Monday, April 24, 2017

WTF - Is that puke?

Last day of skiing at Killington and we all made it until 2pm. What a great way to end the season!

So how did I feed three teenagers on a budget? Grocery store!  I found a market that included a deli and bought them them two big vats of beef stew along with another vat of mashed potatoes! Done! I left all the kids with their food in the room to go have a glass of wine in the lodge in front of the fire and work!  Ahh, now I get my relaxation right?

After an hour of writing and relaxing, I figured I should move the boys out of the room into the hot tub or just get them to do something.

My first thought when I walk in the room was, "What's that smell?" As I step into something cold and wet on the carpet.

"Oh, that's the stew," my child says, "Max was holding it and I swung around knocking it out of his hand." They are all casually watching TV.

I look, there's stew on the wall, stew on the carpet, and of course, a nice white towel covering the last of the stew on the carpet!

"Oh my God, it look like someone puked in here!" I say picking up the towel looking at the stew on it, "Or had diarrhea!"

"What?" They say, "We ate most of it, just a little bit spilled"

A little bit?  A little bit? It looks like a stew bucket exploded in the room!

"I smell more than stew," I ask.

"We sprayed air freshener because the room smelled like stew," they say. I go and do what they should have done, open the window.

Crusty is now totally crusty!

So we go about cleaning up the stew because we have to check out in the morning!  I make a towel pile in the bathroom, covering the stew towels (which looked like someone pooped on them) with cleaner looking towels hoping the maid won't see them. In the bathroom, I'm shocked, "Who got stew on the toilet seat?" I ask while cleaning that up.

"That's not stew, that was Max," I hear them say as I gag.

I find the rest of the stew in a trash can without a liner, looking like someone puked in it. I dump the stew into the toilet, try cleaning out the trashcan but it's already dried to the trash can,

Oh well.

Not only did I step on a cold wet carrot in the middle of the night using the bathroom, but I decided the only thing I could do was leave this note for the maid.

Back to the car and the first of our major road trips working our way back,

Next stop Baltimore!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

WTF - Skiing and What Exploded?

Our second day of skiing was fantastic. It went below freezing so the groomers went out clearing this huge mogul field and creating a fantastic run for the day!

Mogul Field definition please, a place where you accidentally ski in, bounce around like a ping pong ball then crawl out sweating.

I met a new friend in the morning. Paul watching my first run, probably realizing the little sphincter palpitation I had standing for the first time at the top of SuperStar, decided I needed ski lessons. Of course I'd been by myself all of day one, dumped by the kids after embarrassing them at the Gondola so I welcomed the company. I did the one ski thingy, the hold my poles in front of my thingy, move your hands in front of you thingy, to the lean in your boots thingy. I mean, I know how to ski but it was nice having the company, plus skiing with Paul kept me off the Gondola and over at a nice chair lift I'm used to!!

The Killington Mountain Lodge, 1.5 miles from the resort is a great value for the money, $59/night including a breakfast buffet! The lodge included a pool table, games, a bar (hallelujah) and a 20 person outdoor hot tub. It wasn't the newest place but it was clean, the rooms were big enough and did I mention it had a breakfast buffet (insert feeding teenagers on a budget right here.)

Of course the boys called the room "crusty" and for the rest of the trip they kept saying, "Is it time to go back to Crusty yet?" or "Who has the key to Crusty?" "We can save $5 a day is we don't have the maid clean Crusty making Crusty more crusty!" (Insert teenagers laughing here)

Crusty, definition please,
anything old, or dirty or questionable
Example please: a clean hotel room except for a dark fingerprint on the remote to the TV ("It's blood isn't it Mom, did someone get murdered in this room?")

The only real problem on this trip is the exploding suitcases. I swear I open the hotel room door and before my foot steps in, all three boys are pulling the rip cord on their suitcases!

The first day, I left the boys in the room, go down for an extra key and by the time I walk back up to our room, the suitcases regurgitated all over the room, two boys sitting on the bed watching cartoons, one boy in the bathroom.

For a good half hour, maybe longer. What is he doing in there?

"Pooping," someone says.

"That long?"

The other two look at me, "Yeah, it always takes that long."

"It can't take that long, it takes me 5 minutes. Is he writing a novel in there?"

"No, just pooping," they reply going back to the cartoon.

This could be a long trip, I think as I step over shoes, skateboards, snowboards,

wait, is that a pair of my underwear?

I'm wondering "What is that smell?" until I step on a wet sock and realize everyone's snow socks are soaked and sweaty from two days on the snow. When the child finally comes out of the bathroom, I hold my nose, throw some shampoo in the tub, putting all the socks in and run in them before hanging to dry, at least the bathroom now smells like Panteen.

I think I'm better off using the public restroom in the lodge than attempting our room bathroom. I'll go down there, and maybe forget about Crusty with a glass of wine!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

WTF - Me vs. Gondola

As you know we are chasing snow, driving to Killington VT for one more go at it before we call it quits on the season. We finally made it, 20 chicken nuggets, 4 large fries, 3 milkshakes, 4 double cheeseburgers, one 12 pack of soda, two bags of chips, large Goldfish tub, 2 packages of beef jerky, half a box of MoonPies and three packs of gum.

I found us a great hotel, 1 mile from Killington for only $59/night! And it included breakfast so I am patting myself on the back for that one as I left the boys in the room and ventured down in front of the fire for a cold beer. 

The next day we started our three days on the snow, everyone excited. So excited that the boys ditched me after the very first Gondola ride, I think because I embarrassed them.

You see I am Gondola challenged.

They have it easy, they have snowboards and the slots work perfect. I have twin tip skis and they don't want to fit into the ski slots. So the first ride up, I was running around with the Gondola trying to get my skis in before the "DO NOT LOAD PAST THIS POINT" sign. Of course the boys wouldn't help me, they were too embarrassed. Luckily the attendant had pity on me and with a sigh, put my skis in.

"Our little mountain doesn't have a Gondola!" I yell back with a smile, all three boys cringing with a "MOM!!!"

I think that's why I was on my own with the Gondola, the next time I come down, I've got it all planned out. I pull my skis apart and put them separately into the slots!  Plan B!  Of course the attendant has that "Oh, it's you again" look and comes back putting them together and fitting them in the damn slot!

Next, I'm watching all the skiers put their skis in the slots, planning my mode of attack. Most do not have curved edges so I'm thinking I'll start just as the Gondola comes in, shove those babies into the slot like trying to fit in my bathing suit and I'm good to go. Of course it doesn't help that I drop one ski while trying to do this, the same attendant coming over, not saying a work picking them up and putting them in the slot!

It was a slushy day of skiing, snow melting by the Gondola to dirt prompting me to ask the liftie as he put my skis in the slot,  "What's that smell? 

"Spring." He says walking away.

I'm not sure if it was Snomax on top of dirt or if something busted by the K-1 Lodge but by 2pm I was perfecting my pond skimming technique deciding to call it a day. I came down to the Gondola, the attendant walking up putting out his hands with a "just give them to me" look! So,= I smiled sweetly saying, "See you tomorrow!"

Did he roll his eyes?

Friday, April 21, 2017

WTF - Easter Egg Hunts Are Stupid!

So we got the first drive out of the way, making it to my sister's house in Ijamsville, MD.  It's so nice when you have people that let you crash and you're not long haul trucking!

Sunday was Easter morning.

We came down in the morning one boy saying, "What is that smell?"

"Ham, eggs, hash browns, sugar doughnuts, fruit, bacon, sausage!
You can always tell when another mother has boys - they know how to lay out of the food.

Plus, I told my kids were on a edge of starvation diet through this trip because

A, I don't want to keep stopping and,
B. Food is expensive.

So they understood to fill up at brunch because they could be gnawing each other's fingers by the time we get to Vermont.

My sweet sis also put together an Easter Egg Hunt for the kids!

My child, "Easter Egg Hunts are dumb."
The cousin, "These eggs have candy and MONEY in them."
My other child, "I love Easter Egg hunts!

The "one, two, three, GO!" Looked pretty much like a WWE Smackdown. I was regretting not putting Max's brace on as his brother shoved him into the side of our truck.

As the kids ran around looking for eggs, I looked to my sister, "This is perfect easter egg hunt because I think I already forgot where I hid the eggs!" Made me remember when my Mom hid real hard boiled eggs for Easter and I found a lost one two weeks later, I touched it, it exploded, I threw up!

We hid 65 eggs, and the boys came up with 61 eggs, all of us trying to use our Math skills early on a Sunday and it just not working out. One of the cousins thought he was smart enough to hit the front yard while everyone went to the back yard. Here's how his plan worked.

Cousin- 16 eggs, one big pile of candy.
My Child - 6 eggs, candy and $14
My Child - 7 eggs, candy and $10
My Child - 9 eggs, candy and $12
Cousin - 10 eggs, candy and $8
Cousin - 13 eggs, candy and $6

How'd that would out for ya!  Anyway, big props to my sister for making our first night excellent and helping us celebrate Easter!  I'm figuring those extra eggs left in the yard with money in them are her "for a rainy day" savings account.

Oh, and she refilled the snack bag that exploded again about 15 minutes into the trip.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

WTF - Traveling with Kids or What's That Smell

When you live next to a ski resort and your season comes to an end, you do what any normal minded person does.

You drive 14 hours chasing snow.

The boys and I sat down figuring out how to get some Spring Skiing in with a late spring break this year and found Killington, VT.

Wolf took this picture and
thought it was hilarious!
"They still have a park and it's a doable drive," I said, "We'll see family in DC then continue on our way. Sounds perfect!"

So we plan, getting all of our gear together, walking out to my MiniCooper and Plan A goes out the window.

"How are we going to do this?"

"Put Max on the roof and all of Will's and my stuff will fit in the back." One child says.

I look at him, he pauses for a very long time (I think he was seriously wondering if we could do this) then says, "I'm kidding."

So I rent a SUV, everyone is excited.  Plan B

We get to the rental and all they have is HUGE Ram Truck, everyone looks at me. "Our stuff could get wet!"

Plan C - "We'll pick up trash bags."

Everyone settles in the truck, the car rental guys asking me if I want to rent a stool to get into the drivers seat. Very funny, "That's what that handle in the window is for," I say pulling myself up into the truck. I feel like a badass!

It's me in the front, and all three in the back, perfect! I can relax!

Five minutes of letting one child use the AUX cord and rapper Dizzy EX singing about Mollies and I'm taking over the tunes with a little Frank Sinatra.  It worked! They all put in headphones and I drive along in peace.

Until the snack bag explodes in the back seat, it's a carnage of Moon Pies, granola bars, Twizzlers and Flavor Blasted Goldfish.  Max has dumped jelly beans all over the seats, and I lost my piece of beef jerky between the seats.  At least the rental now looks like my car normally looks, I feel right at home.

Of course when chasing snow, nothing goes as planned, Fifteen minutes into the drive I utter my now famous saying of the trip:

"What is that smell?"

"Oh we took our shoes off, can we put them up front with you? We need the room."

Of course you can.

Stay tuned for part 2 of What is that Smell?

Saturday, April 8, 2017

WTF - Spring Cleaning Quality Time

You can always tell it is spring in the house when the hubby stands up shouting to everyone:

"Kids! It's time to clean out the garage."

Collective groan here.

Now I have two teenagers, and they both look at me saying, "Why?"

I plaster a smile on my face saying, "This will be fun, we'll do it as a family and all be proud after all the work we did." I can see both boys rolling their eyes as Fun and Family project never go well together in this household.

"Sure honey, this is gonna be fun, right?"


They both start complaining before the project even starts, trying their best to change Dad's mind.

"Hey, let's watch Tropic Thunder on Netflix, you love that movie Dad!"
"I'll make breakfast, let's have quality family time at the table!"

They even resort to:

"Dad, have you seen the news? Let's watch the news together."

Nope, he is determined. After watching Tropic Thunder together we all go to the garage.

Collective sigh here.

"How many bikes do we have in here?"  He asks, I can't answer it, it's close to how many books I have.

"Kids, let's get started!"  He says as he and I start pulling everything out of the garage until we realize the boys are touching the stuff as we pull it out constituting that as work. "Kids! Get in there and pull out all those drawers!"  They pull a drawer out with three mouse skeletons in it.

"Eww Dad, I'm not gonna touch that!" One says as the other looks thoughtful poking at the mouse skeleton with a pencil.

We're creating a toss pile, a keep pile, a "Mandy" pile when I notice I'm pulling all the shit out while the kids stand by the pile telling me where to put things:

"That's a Mandy pile, we can sell that. Oh, that's a toss pile, who needs a box of old electrical wires!"

My husband follows us pulling the box out of the son's hands, "We need those wires!

Of course I know we don't need those wires, that box has sat in the garage for 10 years. He proudly walks his box of wires putting it in the keep pile.

"Stop standing there and pull things out!" He yells at them, everyone going in I'm grabbing several things while one child walks out with an empty gas can. "Don't kill yourself, the future needs you," say as he walks out with a kite.

We're almost to our first load to the dump when the hubby walks over to the truck, "Who put my box of wires in the truck? We need those!" I listen to both teenagers argue with him about the wires as he proudly walks his box over to the keep pile.

One load of stuff goes to the dump and if you ever read my book on Beech Mountain, it is a known fact people in this community scrutinize the dump for "good shit" as we are readying our second load I get a text!

"Hey! Some idiot left an old snowboard and skis at the dump right now!  Go get them! Wow and who would throw away a perfectly good box of wires!"

My son says, "The reason we have too much stuff is all the stuff you bring back from the dump!"

My husband sees his box of wires sitting next to the "Used Paint" sign saying, "Who put my box of wires there! There's good stuff in there!"

"From the dinosaur ages," my son says as we watch my husband put the box of wires out and put them in the backseat of the truck signaling they are special and no one to touch them.

Moving into load two we come down to the argument stage, the kids saying:

"Who needs this bag of rocks from gem mining?" "Memories" I say.
"What about this 1972 snowboard?" "That was my first board," I say.

Moving load two out, my hubby spies the 2010 blue ethernet cord sticking out from under a load of used paper towels, "Kids, this isn't funny!  We need this box of wires!"

After load two to the dump, I get another text, "Don't throw away that white cabinet, I can use it! If you take it to the dump now it will disappear before I can get to it! Where did that box of wires go?"

Finally finishing the clean out, the hubby and I are sweating, the boys still standing next to us until one looks to the other, "Whew! I'm exhausted, I think we deserve relaxation the rest of the day, right?" The other agrees and they go in to watch Malcolm IN The Middle, hubby and I look at each other, "But who's going to put all this stuff back in?"

"Kids! Get back here! We have to put everything back in!" He says walking back in with his box of wires.

"Then why did we take it all out in the first place?" One of them questions.

An hour later, we can finally walk through the garage, I can get to my freezer full of food without killing myself and that damn box of wires stares at me proudly from its perch in the corner.

Ah finally, I can relax and write this blog about spring, I think as I watch both boys fall onto the couch.

"Kids! Who's ready to clean out the ski closet?" I hear the hubby scream.

Ahhh Spring!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

WTF - How do I have two teenagers?

Today is the birthday of my youngest, he turns 13! Now all of a sudden my house consists of two teenagers.

How did I get here? Just yesterday I was cleaning shit out of a diaper and now I have to deal with hormones?

Luckily the day my son turns 13, I was carded at the grocery store for my box of wine.


I'm buying a box with a teenager standing next to me, and you card me?

Don't you see what the wine if for----he's right there!

Honestly, I did thank the cashier, my son dashing my good mood saying, "It says they have to card anyone looking younger than 35."

35, hmmmm, well OK, I'll take that one.  35 sounds about right.

So I thought I would read up on advice - you know how to deal with a teenager, wait, two teenagers!

So I Google searched articles on teenagers and one site listed over 100 on one page! Are teenagers really that difficult? I mean, I'm used to the eye rolling, the heavy sighs, the arguing.

Am I missing something?

I read on and found a great article on teenagers here and thought I would share their advice:

Educate Yourself
Buy all the Judy Blume books including "Are you there God, it's me Margaret?" and of course the wonderful education book "Forever."  
If you have boys, have someone buy you a bunch of books then use them as door stops to your bedroom.

Talk to your kids early about changes in their body, sure, this always goes over well.
"Honey are you noticing any changes in your body?"
"Yeah Mom, my farts are really stinky."

Put yourself in your child's place - 
I'm going to go trash my room, put all the dirty dishes under the bed AND, AND raid their drawers for clothes!  I'm actually liking this idea. I survived all the awkwardness of my teenage years and have no desire, I repeat, no desire to go back!

Pick your battles - 
Shorts to school when it is 16 degrees outside OR using my razor! Which would you choose?
Sugary cereal or talking about the birds and bees?

Set your expectations - 
"Honey, I expect good behavior around your brother."
"But he sits on me and farts."
"Well, just don't kill each other, I'm pouring a glass of wine"

Respect privacy
With his room, there's no way I'm going in there, so yes, I'll respect his privacy. Look, I'm already winning!

Monitor what kids see and read
I'm lucky both boys hate to read, so there's nothing to monitor.
And on the movie front, I'm right there with them when Nacho Libre comes on!

The article ended with "Will this ever be over?"
I'm sure this time will be exciting along with adding quite a few more grey hairs but the over means him empty nesting so maybe I'll just let it hang for a little while.

I mean those boxes of wine, I buy them because of my kids but,

They make me look young, right?

At least under 35?