Traveling to London: Non-Traditional Families

My sister, Dominique, her husband George, Dave and I

Last week I found myself sitting in the Salt Lake City airport waiting for our departing flight. I was excited to learn that Dave and I had been upgraded to first class. My period had started hours before and I was excited to have a more comfortable flight.

We were traveling through Houston and then on to London. We arrived at the airport early.  I pulled out my phone to see that my sister, Brenda❤️, had texted me, wishing me safe travels. (She and I texted the entire way ❤️.) I responded and then began scrolling and decided to respond to my friend who asked,

“You have a sister?”

“Actually, I have three.”

My sisters

I thought about her question as I tried to respond to my brother-in-law, who was texting me at the same time. A few days earlier I sent Dave’s family the following text: 

“Dave was speaking with his doctor recently about having trouble sleeping. She mentioned that long term Benadryl use may contribute to dementia. She also mentioned that Benadryl can trigger restless leg syndrome. (You don’t need to use Benadryl long term to impact RLS). Anyway, your mom has mentioned to me that for quite some time she took Benadryl twice a night (something like that). She also mentioned struggling with really bad restless leg syndrome. I hope it is ok that I share this information with you. At the risk of offending you, I have pushed it off — for months. [Yet] the thought to share [it with you] keeps coming back. So I am doing it now. Please know I do care about your mom. I also feel a lot of compassion for the Adams’ Family delayed sleep phase issues ❤️. 

Anyway, I hope life is good. ❤️

much love, Beth”

NOTE: Experience has taught me that when I reach out to my in-laws, typically all the non-genetically related spouses respond, (which we usually acknowledge and then share some wonderful laughter). Occasionally I get a terse response. Eventually, the group text goes off the rails and my brother-in-law, who is married to Dave’s sister, begins texting me privately. True to our pattern, I received a “yup” from Dave’s sister and an accusation of being a gaslighter, “possibly” a non-intentional gaslighter, from Dave’s brother-in-law. In his defense, I was the first to ask a question. Of course, because I was raised to believe everything is my fault, I whipped out a frustrated, over-explain-y response. Because we were about to board a plane, I stopped texting so I could use the airport bathroom one last time. As I walked through the bathroom, I noticed that someone left their cellphone in a stall. When I returned to our gate, I observed that another woman abandoned her luggage near our boarding gate. September flying always makes me a little jittery. (I imagine I am not the only one.) I mulled my concerns over with Dave and then reported the abandoned luggage to the gate agent, who promptly thanked me and added,

“this is a weird time of year.”

“Yes it is!”

Within seconds, the gate agents made the announcement for us to line up and the plane began to board. Dave and I were in group one. We stood in line. Then everything came to a screeching and underwhelming stop. Announcement after announcement stated that our plane had mechanical problems. At that, Dave and I found a place to sit, which was also far away from the luggage abandoner. (Obviously, I had to make sure I would not get blown up from her suitcase bomb). Now forty-five minutes later everyone who had already boarded the plane was asked to deplane. Another hour went by and our beautiful, perfect-seats flight to Houston was canceled. Dave immediately hopped on the phone with United Airlines. I used the bathroom (again) and then decided to get in the long re-ticketing line. I stood near Ronny (a trucker and a farmer from Baton Rouge) and ZadRienne (like Adrien) from a small town in Georgia. (We are now Facebook friends and this was her second time on a plane.) After Ronny asked ZadRienne to put her mask over her nose (great ice breaker), we spent the next hour (and probably way more) discussing canceled flights, the pandemic, things like people who refuse to get vaccinated, and all the trucking accidents on along Interstate 80’s  Parley’s Canyon section. In truth, we spent the bulk of the time deconstructing the recent news story about missing (at the time) Gabby Petito and her boyfriend (still missing) Brian Laundrie. Ronny and I were convinced Gabby was dead. (Sadly, as the world now knows, they found Gabby’s body a few days after I arrived in London.) Ronny is a father of girls. I have sons and Z had just left her boyfriend (they had traveled from Georgia to SLC together). We all felt like we had skin in this dysfunctional relationship game. We talked about appearances. We talked about consent. We talked about the need to say no. We talked about emotional abuse and how dudes are really clever at appearing like the good guys. We wished the Utah police had arrested Gabby for scratching her way back into her van. Personally, I understand the frustration of “scratching” when you have had your worth beaten out of you. We also spent a lot of time talking about all the missing people, the ones who are not getting the same attention as blond-haired Gabby was. It is heartbreaking, and honestly, this conversation regarding domestic violence rattled me. Eventually, I motioned Dave to come over. Soon the gate agent was directing us to another gate.

“Run. Run. They can help you. I told them you are coming,” She said.

We ran. At the instruction of the gate agent, Z followed me. Now at the new gate, the gate agents were boarding another plane at the other gate. Everyone was confused as to why we were there. I helped Z get her new ticket. “This is only her second flight.” I told the gate agent. As I said goodbye to Z, we realized my and Dave’s flight (now to Chicago) was boarding at the gate we just left. Dave panicked:

“What about our luggage?” Will it make it to London?”

A male gate agent heard Dave, pulled out his radio, said something into his radio and ran away to do something — hopefully find our luggage. The gate agents confirmed we were on the flight to Chicago. In all the chaos, we realized that the door was about to close for our flight. At once I hear Dave:

“Beth, we aren’t checked in.”

The agents checked. We were not checked in and we lost our seats (again). Ally, (now I remember her name), the gate agent asked us to take a deep breath. We talked about the importance of being nice as she, Dave and I ran to our gate. Dave was clearly upset and struggled to contain his emotion. Ally kept assuring all would be ok. Now back at our original gate, the gate agents said,

“we only have one first class seat. Who do you want to have it?”

Dave was halfway on the plane and I said, “Give it to him.”

Right then Ronny walked over. “Are you ok?”

I think I said something like, “We are about to miss our flight. They forgot to check us in. I don’t know if we have our luggage. I am sorry, We have to go. It was nice meeting you.”

The gate agents asked me to, “hurry, hurry,” and I ran to my seat.

For approximately thirty seconds I was relieved to discover that no one was sitting next to me. I felt even better when the flight attendants announced, “Everyone has boarded the plane, We are going to shut the door and take off.” Usually this announcement signals that everyone is in their correct seats. Unfortunately, before they finished the sentence a large, partially-masked man plopped himself next to me and then let his body drift into my seat. Ew! I knew this wasn’t his seat. I wanted to tell him that I knew this was not his seat. Instead, I sat silent and began thinking:

“Dude, I had to take a Covid test to enter the United Kingdom. I have to take another Covid test two days after entering the country. AND, I may have to take another Covid test due to my flight delay! Put your damn mask on! Stop letting your big man-body touch mine!”

At that, I intently side-eyed him. He looked back at me and put his mask on, at least briefly. Gah! Perturbed, I decided to calm myself by scrolling through my messages. (Bad decision!) My brother-in-law texted again [insert big eye’d emoji here]. I have since deleted our entire text chain. I also took pictures of said chain — just in case. (Ask me about why I throw desserts away in the outside trash can. Deleting this text thread uses the same principle.)
Now confined and crammed up against the airplane window waiting for the plane to actually take off, I decided to deconstruct my interaction with my brother-in-law (in my head, of course):

Maybe it was because I had spent an hour talking about emotional and physical abuse. Maybe it was because the large man next to me felt entitled to sit where he did not belong. Maybe it was because I felt my brother-in-law’s tone was patronizing. In that claustrophobic moment, I did not like the (contemptuous) way I feel Dave’s family tends to see me. It was also clear that nothing I did would change that. Then I realized that I did not need to explain. Whatever was enabling my current emotion, I decided I needed a boundary. I needed to say no. I sent him a text and the plane took off.

(*Another time we were waylaid in Chicago)

Now in Chicago, it was late and our luggage was nowhere to be found. Dave and I knew the next day we would have to buy some clothes and supplies like tampons. I texted my sister, Dominique. She and her family live in Chicago. Then my mom asked if I was going to text her. Dave and I found a United airport lounge and spoke with Linda, who reminded me of my friend Carrie’s mom who is also named Linda and is just as sweet. Linda found us a hotel, gave us some meal vouchers, which were problematic to use (not her fault), told us to get some food upstairs and when we finished, she walked us out so we would know where to go. We talked about traveling. I told her I loved her hair color. She said it was Nice and Easy and was actually easy to do. She told us about solo travel and that she wants to visit the UK soon. We talked about Cornwall, the tiny UK country roads and our love of seeing the world. Then we were off to our hotel. On the shuttle we met newlyweds traveling home from their honeymoon. They were also supposed to be on the canceled Houston flight. In our room we heard the methodical bang of a headboard hitting the wall. I wondered if it was the honeymooners.

In the morning my sister, Dominique, texted me. She is actually my step sister. I have one biological sister and two step sisters. When my mom married their dad, they had this genius idea to separate the biological sisters from each other. (It was a terrible idea.) See, we were newly baptized Mormons and according to the LDS church we were now one big happy family. So from age one until age eighteen I shared a room with Dominique. We are very different from each other. She is tall and I am not. I cannot sit still. She is very talented and can sit still for days. She knits, sews, crochets, owns a tattoo/art studio, just had a fundraiser for Afghan refugees. She is married to a super rich hedge fund dude. She recently bought a house in Sedona to go with her 9,000 square foot home in Chicago. (I know it is 9,000 square feet because she volunteered to tell me a few times how big it was.) She complimented me for living in such a small house and seemed disappointed when I told her it was larger than she thought it was. A couple of years ago she commented on Instagram that I lived a “really charmed life.” Maybe it was the irony of her words that hit me wrong, or maybe it was because she and I were misaligned from the start. I never knew where to set the pain of our orchestrated relationship. I have not seen her since 2014 (at our family reunion). 

I love her ❤️ and I feel for her too. For starters, she had to share a room with afraid-of-the-dark, needs-her-blankie, short-tempered, rambunctious loves to run, plays-in-the-woods-with-boys me. Our relationship is strained, complicated and one neither asked for, but were given. I also care about her and I love her. I could write a book on us. One day I probably will, or at least, that is what I hope.

Somewhere in her text thread she said,

“George and I would really love to see you both. So if it means coming to you, we can do that.” A few texts later she said, “I’m trying to make up for so many lost times.”

At that, Dominique and I (George and Dave too) were spending the day together. We spent much of our day at some weird outlet mall near the airport. Dominique kindly waited as I looked for clothes. She assured me several times that she was there to help me. She wanted me to know they wanted to spend the day with us. She told me her very favorite trips ever is one she and George took with Dave and me. We took them touring throughout Southern Utah. It really was a fun trip. I was overwhelmed and not sure how to take in all of her generous energy. Like I said, our relationship is complicated. When Dave left his jacket in the mall, she sweetly suggested that they could wait in the super hot parking garage as we looked for it. I listened to her stories about her kids, her life and her business. I asked her about the tattoo on her arm. She talked about it being a work in progress. Dave suggested kebabs because he always suggests kebabs. George found a crazy Lebanese place about twenty-five minutes from the airport. They treated us to what was listed as a “dinner for 5.” I kept saying it was a dinner for fifty! We all laughed. At Target, she and I looked at pajama bottoms. She was like, “wait, that is not the fabric you like.” When Target didn’t have the fabric I like, she talked about fabrics she liked and that maybe they would work for me. I tried on a man’s tan zipper sweatshirt. I could not find any zip-up hoodies in the women’s section. I am pretty sure Dominique didn’t like her short sister in a man’s sweatshirt. She gently asked,

“Do you like sweatshirts so long?” Regardless, she was very nice and said, “I like the color.”

I was certain once we arrived at the airport that Dave and I would be out the door of their Tesla, the one with the crazy doors. Nope. Dominique found a parking spot. As we sat in their car, we visited and reminisced. Soon it was time to go. We gathered our things, took a few photos and they walked us to our terminal. I can’t say that things are exactly healed. I can’t say when we will see each other again. What I can say is that it was a good day. On this September day, she completely leaned in and was the best sister I could ask for. It felt good to be loved and for someone to consider me.

Dave and I arrived at our gate. I want this flight-to-London story to be over as much as you. I promise we once again had excellent seats. As we were standing in line to use our United meal vouchers, Dave’s phone alerted him that we were upgraded. Sadly, we lost our good seats and were in the middle seats of an “upgraded” section. I lost my mind, or at least I believe I had. We walked to the gate. The gate agent looked at us like we were crazy and made sure we knew he had no time for us crazy folks. I began to cry. He stared blankly.

“You can’t have your seats back. What do you want to do? I need you to get out of this line. I have other people to help. What do you want to do?”

I walked away, still crying. Dave followed. I flipped out and demanded Dave sit down and then I yelled at him. (*No autopilot in marriage: we still have worked to do ❤️.) Everything was wrong: one of us was sitting in one section and the other in another section. I asked Dave to see if he could get the gate agent to put us in the same section. We walked and gave the agents our tickets. One ticket had our new seat scribbled on it. We ended up in the upgraded middle seats. As we each climbed into our respective middle seats, a man seated next to Dave, who was sitting in the aisle said,

“Woah! I saw you two go at it out there. Are you ok?”

We assured him we are the kind of couple that puts it all out there. (Meaning, Dave does not put on a veneer of calm and wait to beat me at home.) Then the people in the section rallied for Dave and me. They said they were sorry we had such a crappy flight. Everyone was kind. Everyone seemed to get that we had already had a long journey. Our little section of our United flight Chicago – London restored my faith in humanity. So did my sister, Dominique. Before the flight took off, Dave asked the woman to his left if I could sit next to him. She was like,

“No problem,”

and offered to take my middle seat. I moved to the seat next to Dave. We held hands and were glad to (finally) be on our way.

We arrived in London the next morning. We were tired and happy to be here. 

Tagged : / / /

Coronavirus Crisis: Carefully Flying Across The Ocean As The World Shuts Down

We are social distancing. Just not the way I thought we would be.

Me, Big Daddy & Easy E, Salt Lake City, Utah

I think it was twenty-four hours ago, but it has probably been more. We lost a day. On Friday afternoon, Eli and I drove to our local Wal-Mart. He was mad at me because of something I said the day before. We stood in the frozen food section talking it through until a person strolled up and Eli impatiently said,

“Mom, let’s keep this moving.”

Easy E & Me

Until that moment I had not noticed the empty shelves and carts filled with items such as twelve bottles of Lysol disinfecting spray, shrink wrapped thick pieces of beef, and Velveeta Macaroni and Cheese. I will assume that Eli also saw the cart filled with Velveeta Macaroni and Cheese, because he said something like, 

“Mom, I really want some Velveeta.” 

I was like, “you might as well; it is the end of the world.”

Once convinced I would actually buy him “synthetic cheese,” Eli proclaimed, “Mom, the Velveeta is not in the refrigerator section.” I laughed and said something like, “Oh, so you are going like 1980s Apocalypse?”

I felt some relief and resolve when he laughed in response. 

We asked the kind, short-haired Wal-Mart lady, who was taking inventory, if she could help us find the Velveeta. Is it really cheese? She stood up, put both of her hands in the air and said, 

“See where I am standing.”

We looked at where she was standing and acknowledged her. She responded, now pointing with both arms,

“It is on the other side of where we are.”

We thanked her and commented about the empty-shelf-Armageddon-situation. Somberly, she replied, 

“This all makes me want to cry.”

Compassionately, we thanked her and said, “hey, hang in there. We are in this together.”


I am not sure the world is going to end tomorrow. Nevertheless, she was correct. The Velveeta was on the other side and on a shelf. It is one of the things still left (or at least left on Friday). Eli laughed again and said, 

“This stuff is expensive, or I would have bought it myself the other day.”

I laughed too and said, “Good thing your mom loves you and wants to keep you safe during the end of the world.”

At that, Eli’s mood improved and he laughed too. I was hopeful that his positive mood shift signaled that he had forgiven my blunder, or at least, was on his way. And before we could pick up the next items, we noticed what turned out to be a brother and sister cleaning out every last box of pasta. I eavesdropped into their conversation as I watched them pack their arms full of boxes of Barilla pasta,

“I can’t believe her. She is nuts. Mom asked us to buy all the pasta. This is insane.”

I looked at  them. They looked back at me.

“Our mom is crazy. I am so sorry.”

“I get it.” I said. 

I couldn’t help myself and I wanted to help them (even if they didn’t want my help).

As they walked away I asked, “Hey, can I have one of those boxes?”

The girl sweetly turned around and said, “Here. You want two? My mom won’t miss it.”

“Sure. Thank you.”

She handed me the boxes. I told her I really didn’t need the pasta, and we talked about the end of the world.

Then, Eli and I both acknowledged feeling overwhelmed and marginally freaked out. I took one more run through the store in hopes of finding hand soap and Clorox Wipes (I know. Foolish). 

Big Daddy, Empty-ish Plane: SFO – AKL

We stood in the check-out line shocked at it all. Neither one of us realized it was so insane until we stepped into Wal-Mart. It was almost our turn to check out when a woman approached me. She said something about how she needed one dollar and that if I gave her one dollar now so she could pay that we could go to customer service and she would give me my dollar back. I handed her a dollar and said, “It’s ok. You keep it.”

As we drove home, Eli said, “Mom, that was traumatic.” Honestly, it kind of was. 

And it was only going to get crazier.


See, Dave and I were booked to fly to New Zealand on Friday. Kyle is studying at NYU’s Sydney center. He has been having a hard time, and has been counting on us to meet him during his spring break. Nevertheless, with borders shutting down and schools closing, we were not certain if we should really go. Kyle was panicked. He continued to be pulled in all sorts of directions. I just kept having a feeling that I needed to be there with him long enough for him to catch his breath. I wanted to show him that he did not have to quit or settle just because other people want him to settle. I wanted him to see that we believe in him so much that we would travel halfway around the world. Dave and I want Kyle to know he is worth it.

I know. It sounds a little crazy. What we moms do for our kids. Anyway, I think we are a little nuts. I also worry about Kyle. I am also a person who totally follows her gut. My gut kept telling me to press forward, which was all fine and good until my mom called.

SFO United Lounge

It was 5:24pm, Friday, March 13. Dave and I were leaving for the airport at 6:15pm. Eli is planning to meet us in Sydney next week. (I know. I know. That probably will not happen.)

“Beth. Did you hear?”

“Hi Mom. Did I hear what?”

“Governor Herbert closed all schools across the state starting Monday.”

“What? Wait. Mom. I can’t talk. I need to go. I have to call you back.”

Eli was already packed. We only had minutes to decide. I wrangled Dave into our room for a pow wow.


We decided to tell Eli he needed to get ready to go. Ok. In truth, I asked Dave to tell him. Remember, it was only minutes ago that Eli and I made peace.

Within minutes, Dave was back in the room looking forlorn.

“What’s up?” I asked.

“Eli is beside himself.”

Meme Eli sent Dave while we were at the San Francisco Airport

Dave and I panic-talked for then next three minutes. We were about to cancel the trip. In fact, earlier in the day, Kyle told us he wanted to come home. We almost canceled the trip then. I cannot explain my weird mom feelings, because instead of canceling, we pressed forward. And I felt totally calm.

I was on the fence regarding Eli. It was 6:00pm.

I went into the kitchen where Eli and I talked. I was like, 

“Eli, I don’t have time to say everything perfectly. I don’t want to piss you off. I probably will. I think you can stay home, but I need you to keep it together. And by keep it together, I mean, not how you think you should, but how I want you to keep it together. No excuses. No, “I don’t feel like it.” We don’t have time to throw down. We just need to decide. Can you keep it together with a good attitude?”

“Yes.” Eli calmly said.

 Then I looked him in the eye and said, “Oh, and no girls in your bedroom—for real. And no girlfriends spending the night.”


I could feel Eli’s relief. We have a great network in place. I also think this is a good adulting opportunity for Eli. Again, I was weirdly calm.

I asked Eli if he was ok.

“He said, I need to go downstairs for a minute and decompress. That was a lot.”

I totally agreed.

By 6:24pm our Lyft arrived. Eli gave me the best, lift-your-mom-off-the-ground hug. We reminded him we may be back home in an hour, or we may be quarantined in another country. I told Eli I loved him. We all agreed to take it in stride. I told him I loved him again. Then he obliged to take some pictures, gave me another big hug, and has been checking in regularly ever since. 

Friday’s Lyft driver is a mother of five. Her oldest is nine. She assured us her car was Lysoled and that she wipes her car down with Clorox Wipes after every ride. We talked about schools being closed, about homeschooling and the end of the world. 

The airport was way more crowded than I expected. Every service worker was wearing latex gloves. Our ticket agent was extremely careful about our hands not touching her hands. Our first flight was delayed, which was potentially going to make us miss our flight to New Zealand. Luckily, the 6pm flight to San Francisco hadn’t left yet, having been delayed by 90 minutes, and was boarding as we walked by the gate, so we asked if we could get on that flight. It was only half full.

Somehow we found ourselves in half empty airport lounges, staring at people wearing masks on their faces and pulling them down to eat, and making jokes with people in bathrooms concerning all the bloodied hands from all the extra handwashing. A woman even asked me if I had seen the “Terminator Wash your hands Coronavirus” meme. I have not and will have to find it. About half the people were wiping down their airplane seats. I Clorox-wiped my phone like fifty-seven times. I don’t understand all the people who wear their face masks around their necks. And I have mad respect  for the folks who used their elbows to open the airplane bathroom doors. United Airlines somehow managed to get my gluten free meal. (I only get it about 30% of the time so that was like a total coronavirus-bonus). The flight was uneventful. A nice New Zealand woman explained the New Zealand food import restrictions. (Don’t leave fruit in your bag, or they’ll hit you with a $400 fine). And I didn’t even mind know-it-all budget-Kylo-Ren and his know-it-all girlfriend who were seated behind us, correcting me, Dave, the nice New Zealand lady, and each other while the plane was loading.

Us, Auckland, New Zealand

By the time we landed in Auckland, we were inundated with news. First, we heard misinformation about New Zealand’s borders being closed. Then we heard that all people arriving in New Zealand will have to self quarantine for the next fourteen days. I asked a staff member at the immigration line and she set me straight. We both laughed a sigh of relief when I realized that Kyle would arrive before the quarantine deadline. 

“You all are fine.” She said.

“But what about my son? He doesn’t arrive until 2:30PM.” I respond.

“He is good. He arrives 9 hours before the self quarantine requirement begins.”

Auckland, New Zealand

I thanked her. We laughed again. I thanked her again. We did not touch because no one is touching. In the past I probably would have given her a high five. I texted Kyle, who was about to get on his flight to Queenstown from Sydney. As I texted him, Dave and I walked about to the New Zealand immigration agent, who asked me to put my phone away. Then she gave us the third, fourth and fifth degree about where we had been in the past 15 days, and where we’d been in the United States. When we asked if we were visiting New Zealand “on holiday,” she gave us a disapproving look. We explained our mission to help our son, and she softened somewhat, but still eyed us as suspicious disease vectors. Finally she stamped our passports and let us in. 

Landing in Queenstown, New Zealand

After washing my hands like six more times, and using hand sanitizer at least four more times, we exited customs and searched for the domestic terminal. Luckily, Mia, a nice New Zealander who had been sitting near us on our flight, walked us literally like one half a mile from International flights to Domestic flights, and we made it to our next flight. What a gift. In all this world-is-ending chaos, the flight from Auckland to Queenstown is heavenly. It took my breath away. We flew so close to the mountain tops. I felt calm. I felt loved.

Landing in Queenstown, New Zealand

Alas, Dave and I are so jetlagged. When we landed in Queenstown we were bitchy tired. My phone lit up.

“Where are you? I hope Sydney and not NZ. What was travel like? What are your plans? I bet Kyle will be or was so relieved to see you. How can we help Eli?”

That is when I thought I should look up the news and see what was going on. I did and I also got some clarification. Then I responded to my texts. 

Landing in Queenstown, New Zealand

“We are in New Zealand. All is well. We have talked to officials. It’s actually quite bustling here. The restrictions go into effect until midnight tonight. Kyle will be here in 2 hours. So starting midnight is when the self quarantine for arriving people begins. News is a little crazy. I am guessing this is what you are referring to? We made it under the deadline and do not have to self-quarantine.” I texted back. 

“Yes the quarantine was what I was referring to.”

I paused and thought of my sweet mom. I’d better let her know we are ok. I tried to call her. She did not answer so I called Eli. I filled Eli in and counseled him regarding how to share this information with Wawa (my mom). Eli is super cool and grown up. (Eli, we are very proud of you!) He also took my mom to buy toilet paper today. Unfortunately, they were not able to find any. (Anyway, I am also sure he would love dinner while we are away. Thank you kind souls.)

Us, Queenstown, New Zealand

Then Dave and I retrieved our luggage, rented our car, then we both melted down in the rental car lot when we saw the unsanitary condition of the car we were assigned. We exchanged our dirty car that had a booger on the touch screen (true story). Yes. Of course we washed our hands like seven more times. 

We made our way to the Countdown grocery store. Dave hummed to himself, “It’s the final countdown!” (*note Dave’s awesome edit here.) They still had toilet paper in stock. There were people shopping and they were calm. 

Me & Kyle, Queenstown, New Zealand

We made it back in time to find Kyle waiting outside for us. We hugged hard and then Kyle showed us the “Wuhan foot shake.” In the past few hours we have learned that anyone arriving in Australia after midnight tonight will have to self quarantine for fourteen days. All of Kyle’s belongings are currently in Sydney. He could go home. It is possible that school will have the students self quarantine for fourteen days and then go back to regular classes. I am proud of him for sticking it out this far. I know he has a lot of voices in his head pulling him all the directions. I don’t want to make this choice for him. I want to create a space where he can finish his assignments, get some rest and clear his head. I am amazed by both of my sons. They are rad. And yes, you can tell us we are crazy. You would not be the first. Alas, before you get all judge-y, I would gently caution you to first ask us why? Or talk to us. Or walk try walking in our shoes and we sincerely promise to do the same for you. I know there is always more to it. Like my grandma used to say,

“Bethy, you just don’t know what is going on in their hearts.”

Great advice! (Man, I miss my grandma. She would totally have the toilet paper situation under control.)

Kyle, Countdown Supermarket, Queenstown, New Zealand

We will keep you updated. If we get trapped in New Zealand, will you guys keep in eye on Eli? He is amazing and very self-sufficient. I just want him to know how much his mama loves him too. 

PS We went to the grocery store later on. The toilet paper section was substantially more depleted since it had been this morning: nearly sold out. I compulsively grabbed a package. Dave protested. He even went as far as to pull me aside and demand that “we have a serious talk.” Then insisting that there is no way the toilet paper will fit into our luggage. Well, after our “serious talk,” and after resisting the urge to bluff and say that I was getting it for Kyle, I bought a four pack.  

Kyle, Rammy and our new toilet paper, Queenstown, New Zealand
Tagged : / / / /

Europe Summer 2015: Our Day in Bruges


Bruges, Belgium
Bruges, Belgium

Ok. Hello there. Here is the deal. Blogging on this particular trip has not been the easiest. We are offline more than we are on (which is not such a bad thing, by the way). Anyway, today, I decided I would start sharing the notes I take along the way. Let me know how you like them. Do they make sense? Or, are they too crazy to follow?

Right now Dave is telling us that it is time for bed. It is 12:51 PM. I think he is correct. We are spending our last night in Belgium. Tomorrow we head to Amsterdam. Our trip began in London. Then we headed to Paris, Brussels, and today we spent our time in Bruges. Train travel is new this time around. (We usually rent a car.) Eli and I also agree that we miss visiting random grocery stores and seeing little towns along the way. For the most part, however, I would say we have all really enjoyed the trains.

Notes from Bruges PAGE ONE
Notes from Bruges PAGE ONE

The Lovely Lady who tripped into Eli on the Train (See Page One)
The Lovely Lady who tripped into Eli on the Train (See Page One)

Bruges, Belgium
Bruges, Belgium

Our Day in Bruges, Belgium PAGE TWO
Our Day in Bruges, Belgium PAGE TWO

The Dark Chocolate Skull Candy I am obsessed with
The Dark Chocolate Skull Candy I am obsessed with

The Chocolate Line, Bruges, Belgium
The Chocolate Line, Bruges, Belgium

Us in Bruges, Belgium
Us in Bruges, Belgium


    • As I was Googling The Chocolate Line (you know the chocolate skull candy store) I learned they have an Antwerp location. My heart be still. Before we leave Antwerp in the morning, I will track down those skull candies. Cross your fingers!
    • Here is my Ellis Gourmet Burger review I wrote on my phone while sitting in their restaurant: “Be aware. As adorable as the city is, Bruges is a tourist town and they are in the business of fleecing tourists. This restaurant is no different. So technically because everyone in Bruges is fleecing tourists, in context, this restaurant is good. This being said, we are annoyed that they can only leave ketchup or mayo OFF the burger when they deem it not to be “too busy.” Oh and the 10€ pitcher of lemonade is the size of a large glass. Seriously, the pitcher is the size of a 20 oz glass.
      Don’t order the chicken sandwich. The grilled vegetables consisted on green pepper and onions. Gross!. And the piece of chicken I was given was tiny and overlooked. The burgers were actually quite good, and if the lemonade would have been larger, or refilled for free, we would be much happier and more satisfied. Our waitress was very nice. Best part of the restaurant is the FREE bathrooms! Everyone else charges 50 cents. Oh, and to use the FREE wi-fi you MUST check in to their Facebook page. When I checked in to the FB page. the review for me to fill in popped up. Well, burger people, you asked for it…” (In Bruges, everyone charges 50 cents to use the bathroom).
    • Ok. I know the reviews for the Pita House are good. My issue was the non-English menu. I imagine it is time I learn Dutch. Aside from the fight Dave and I had in the Pita House, it was really our inability to translate the menu, the 2 euro small bottles of water, and the unhelpful wait staff that made this place a place to leave. Sorry pita house. As soon as I learn me some Dutch, and learn your cultural direct, yet non-emotive-ness, I will be back.
    • In Bruges, we highly recommend the canal tour. I wish I could remember our guy’s name. Any tour will do. They are friendly, and we were so delighted that they spoke French, English and Dutch. What a treat.
    • Dave mentioned Little Sebastian from “Parks and Recreation” earlier and the day, and then Little Sebastian became the theme of the day. Yay, Little Sebastian!
    • If you are in Belgium and you know you will be in both Bruges and Belgium, buy the waffles in Brussels. They are cooked and made fresh while you wait. The are less expensive and they taste better. Don’t bother with the waffles in Bruges. Instead spend your time walking around and enjoying this beautiful city.
    • Final thoughts on Bruges: 1. Bring a picnic lunch. The food os overpriced and the restaurants are not accommodating. 2. Take a canal tour. 3. Walk off the beaten path. Bruges is such a beautiful town. Get away from the tourists. Find the secret parks, and walk as far as you can along the waterways. 5. Whatever you do, DO NOT FORGET TO BUY YOURSELF SOME CHOCOLATE! The town is famous for it, and the do it right! PS. Ask for Britt (yes, two t’s). She is lovely, speaks fluent English, and will help you find your favorite treat!
    • Oh oh I forgot to mention Elizabeth Bishop again. “In the Waiting Room,” is the poem I mentioned.
Tagged : /

Our Day in Dublin, Ireland

Us, Dublin and the River

We are winding down our Europe portion of this trip. My brain seems to have been left somewhere along the way. Jetlag and sleep schedules are all aflutter and I have discovered the best Gluten Free cookies. Tesco Brand “digestive” Ginger cookies. I have no idea what the “digestive” is for, yet I truly love to ingest then digest them. I can’t stay focused on one subject, moving from jetlag to digestive cookies. I am feeling happy and blessed. I like my family and feel blessed to be a part of their crew.  Craziest best part of the day is when we were at the Irish Archeology and History Museum. Kyle came and found Eli and me.

“You guys. You have to see this exhibit. Go down the hall, then off to your right. Once you are in the room, go into the white circle things.”

My son knows me and knows I like a surprise. Lo and behold the Bog People, or as they call them, “The Bog Bodies,” are the coolest thing ever. I hesitate to post a picture here, however.  I’ll ask Dave and see what he thinks.

Bog Body. Irish National History Museum, Dublin, Ireland
Bog Body. Irish National History Museum, Dublin, Ireland

We are trying to go to be early and it is already 10:45 PM. Tomorrow we leave Dublin. I wish we could stay a little longer.

Here is the daily breakdown.

    • Hello Wawa (my mom). Thanks for checking in!
    • Best breakfast. After all the breakfasts, Irish Black and White Puddings, Sausages, and beans, I would have to say this morning’s super awesome breakfast buffet was the best. Sure, I ate bacon. The boys enjoyed yummy waffles. We had delicious fruit that was not soft apple slices (ew, btw).  There was Soy Milk, Soy Yogurt (kind of gross, but at least they had it), and chocolate croissants. We all left pleased and promised to come earlier tomorrow. Kyle suggested we go to breakfast when the buffet opens and stay for four hours until it closes. “We could have both breakfast and lunch that way.” If only they would let us and if only we had the time.
    • Dave, the boys and I spent today walking around Dublin.

      Dublin, Ireland
      Dublin, Ireland
    • Our first stop was the lovely Starbucks just off of Grafton Street. The boys quickly went upstairs, found some comfy chairs and logged onto the free wi-fi. They did not want to leave, which I supported as soon as Lionel Richie’s, “Once, Twice, Three Times A Lady,” hit the airwaves. It was fun to finally just be. And I was done just being as soon as Elton John’s, “That’s Why They Call It The Blues,” cycled through.
    • We were on our way and soon standing in the middle of Trinity College. We wanted to see Book of Kells, but as we stood there the already long line precipitously grew.
    • At least where we were standing, Trinity College is not as handsome as I imagined. I was picturing a sort of Tom-Hanks-starring-in-the-Da-Vinci-Code atmosphere. Sadly, no.
    • So many tourists standing there is what I observed. There were several touring groups of teenagers. I kept trying to figure out where the teens carrying the yellow plastic satchels were from. Finally after earnestly and repeatedly listening to their leader, Dave and I decided they were from Italy.

Irish National History Museum, Dublin, Ireland
Irish National History Museum, Dublin, Ireland – a taxidermist’s dream

  • The awesome Irish Natural History museum is a taxidermist’s paradise. We weren’t going to stop. I am so glad we did. It is an oddly cool mall of specimens. The human skeleton next to the horse Skelton was crazy weird. I spent a long time on the first floor with Kyle looking at bugs under glass covered by leather sheets you lift up. It was great seeing all these specimens through his eyes. I learned a lot from that kid.

    National History Museum of Ireland
    National History Museum of Ireland
  • Next off to the Irish Archeology and History Museum.
  • On our way there we ran into Grandma on the street. She pulled out her old school paper map, and Dave showed her how to get to the art museum. She is having a grandma day, which means we will not make her walk all over the place for hours and hours and hours, or rush her through the pre-Raphaelite art exhibits.
  • Loved the gold 1st century BC boat. Kyle came and found Eli and I and suggested we go see the white circle areas in the room down the hall, on the right. Each little circle room was filled with a very old and preserved person, that had been found in peat bogs. Crazy and cool.
  • Eli and I are now waiting in the cafe for dad and Kyle.
  • Kids keep talking about the next leg of our journey, the leg where we take it down a notch. I think they have officially hit burn-out. I get it. This has been an high paced action packed adventure.
  • Kyle offered to find the name of the gold boat. I took him up on his offer.
  • He’s back.
  • The gold boat is part of the Broighter Hoard.
  • The Temple Bar area is cool, and I am glad we walked through it.
  • River that goes through Dublin. What is it called? Shoot. Now I need to go and look it up.
  • Yes, I looked it up, and it is called the River Liffey.
  • We walked to the river, took our family picture, and made our way around the city.
  • Somehow we found our way into the Dublin Castle. I would call that a happy accident.
  • Back at the hotel we dropped the boys off, Dave and I took three suitcases down a 500 meter journey to do laundry.
  • The Laundrette was open, but it was too late to do a load.
  • Re-adjust.
  • Dave and I took the laundry back to the hotel, and went shopping for underwear. We decided it was cheaper to buy.

    Dublin, Ireland
    Dublin, Ireland
  • Yay, we bought underwear at TK Maxx, and yes, TK Maxx is most definitely and for real, TJ Maxx’s European counterpart.
  • Burritos for the boys from the Lucha Libre Burrito place.
  • Eli was not happy with his burrito at first and quickly changed his mind. He would have preferred I left the wrapper on instead of ripping it off to see whose burrito was whose. Good point, Eli.
  • Dave’s mountain biking friend, who lives part-time in Dublin, met us at the hotel, walked us through Dublin to a cool, organic restaurant. Dave and I cannot remember the name. Dave says, “It was like three letters. Something like J. LO, or something like that.” It was lovely.
  • Good Karma goes to the supermarket employee who let us buy our Cornetto and pack of gum even though we were seven cents short. Until tomorrow.


Tagged : / /

England and Ireland: Day 13 Written on July 17



Time flies and so does this trip. We only have a few days left of our Europe portion. On Monday we fly to Los Angeles, where Dave leaves us and flies to San Francisco.  He will fly back on Friday so we can have a good family decompress until he flies back to San Francisco and we fly home.

Today we dialed it down a few notches, but still managed to hike all over Killarney National Park.  People were swimming, which was something I did not expect, and of course there was an abbey on site. Yes, it was spectacular. The abbeys always are so cool. Tomorrow we hit the road for Dublin, and I am trying to think of something cool to see between here and there. Thoughts?

 Killarney National Park
Killarney National Park

Oh and about yesterday, I am feeling better. Davy and I had a talk-it-out session while the boys found really awesome caves and through stones into the lake. We connected, and that is all it took. I am simple like that. Wait, the last thing Dave would call me is simple.

Aside from Kyle’s whiny-teenage-meltdown, today was good. He and I pulled through. Sure, I swore and then walked out of a Thai restaurant. Nevertheless, we maid it through, bought candy, and he ate. Once  you feed a teenage boy, even ones who persistently insist that they are NOT hungry (got to love defiance), once fed, all is right in the world.


Dave, Killarney National Park, Ireland
Dave, Killarney National Park, Ireland

Onto today’s highlights (in the form of bullet points, of course.

  • Loud not particularly good hair dryer. I am writing this while drying my hair, by the way. As I type, Davy is lying on the bed with a pillow wrapped around his head.
  • Brown towels in our B&B seem out of place.
  • Good breakfast accompanied by some good breakfast indigestion.
  • Pink soccer ball/(football). The Innkeeper’s daughter was mortified to share her pink soccer ball. She thought boys would be traumatized and embarrassed. After a lengthy discussing on how American boys have embraced the color pink, especially hot pink, she started to believe. I even told her about Kyle and his pink hair, to which the innkeeper responded, “If her went to my girls’ school with pink hair, they would hold him down and cut off this eyebrows.” When I relayed the story to Kyle I could see his eyes light up and feel him take the eyebrow cutting as a dare. That’s my boy!
  • I keep trying upload photos and my laptop is not liking this. (hours later I figured it out and have successfully uploaded my iphone trip photos). I was motivated to upload my photos because (1.) Dave thinks it would be fun to see some trip photos online, and (2.) I had maxed the space on my iPhone.
  • Today I sat in the front seat of the car. In total I believe I have logged in about thirty minutes in the front (that is a generous estimate). I grabbed my USB cable, plugged my phone into the car, and turned the music on.  As we drove into Killarney National Park the boys and I were singing the cheesy, “Sail,” by AWOLNATION. It was a great moment.
  • Once in the park we went all European-picnic-y and had PBJ out the back of the car.
  • My grocery list: Soap, Pepcid, Stevia
  • Finding understanding with Dave (goal). And I found it along the lake, or at least I think I did 😉
  • As Kyle, Eli and I walked the streets of Killarney, we hear the following,

    [insert little Irish boy screaming voice here], “The balloon is on my road. The balloon is on my road.”

  • Kyle had a meltdown and I stomped out of a Thai restaurant.
  • Eli has been great and I love walking around with him.
  • After Kyle’s whiny teenage meltdown I took my boys to the candy store and bought us all some candy, because that is good parenting. And in the interest of full disclosure the candy store was promised to Eli, the non-melting down child.  Follow through, you know what I mean?
  • Today is Killarney Race Day. We discovered a new species: The Trampy Young Irish Girl. Note. Must be wearing extensive make-up, very short dress, and extremely high heeled shoes. An old Irish dude and I had a collective laugh when he yelled to one of these ladies, “You are not going to be able to walk tomorrow.” Indeed.
  • Dave dropped Kyle, Eli and I off in Killarney so we could kill time and get something to eat. As the boys and I were walking back to the Bed and Breakfast these words left Eli’s mouth, “Mom if I’m ever homeless…”
  • Dave found us on the road. He turned around and order Chinese. It was the weirdest Chinese Food I have ever seen. And of course, he had Chips on the side.
  • After listening to John Legend’s, “All of Me,” while waiting for Dave’ Chinese food,

    Eli says, “I don’t know why people like these songs (pause) I mean girls. Girls. Why do they like these kinds of songs?”

    Love that kid and wanted to share with him my teenage love for Journey’s, “Open Arms.” Nothing is better than that song. Really! 😉

  • Eli wanted everyone to play a game and everyone bailed. I feel bad for him. When I asked him what I could do he responded, “I just need to say it. I just need a minute to talk about why I am upset.” I love this kid, (and yes, I love Dave and Kyle too, but this was Eli’s cool moment and it was very cool indeed)!

    Horses at our Killarney, Ireland Bed and Breakfast. I won't name the B &B because the owner went a little crazy!
    Horses at our Killarney, Ireland Bed and Breakfast. I won’t name the B &B because the owner went a little crazy!


Tagged : / /

Spring in Southern California

Southern California - Copyright
Southern California – Copyright

Southern California - Copyright
Southern California – Copyright

I am feeling a little sea-sick today. I think I picked up some stomach funk on the plane.

Somehow and after spending four hours at Kyle’s school this morning, I found the time to take inventory of my gazillion trip photos. I am completely frustrated because I think my camera’s Exposure Compensation is still messed up, but that is a whole other issue.

Southern California - Copyright
Southern California – Copyright

Alas and please don’t worry, fore I present to you my trip photos. Please enjoy all one-hundred and three photos. (Yes, this is the trimmed down version.) So turn off the lights, pop some popcorn and no, I won’t be offended at all if you need to take a few breaks. And for all you flickr People, please now that I will upload them to my account soon. For right now, this was a lot easier and faster.

Southern California - Copyright
Southern California – Copyright

Southern California - Copyright
Southern California – Copyright

Southern California - Copyright
Southern California – Copyright

Oh and Y, I am really bummed. I would have loved to taste some of your awesome Mexican recipes. Next time.

Oh, Oh and Wilmer updates coming tomorrow or after my stomach settles.

Southern California - Copyright
Southern California – Copyright

Southern California - Copyright
Southern California – Copyright

Southern California - Copyright
Southern California – Copyright

Tagged :