Category Archives: Travel

Our Guilt Trip To DC

Last year we accidentally started a tradition of “last day of spring break Guilt Trips.”  This is how it began (THIS year’s guilt trip will be in a future post.)…

Over spring break, we did nothing all week.  And I mean noth. ing.  Unless you count sleeping and playing video games.  Well, just sleeping for me.  I saw all the fun trip photos everyone else in the world seemed to be posting on Facebook and came to a terrifying realization.  When the kids returned to school and were asked what they did during spring break, they’d have nothing fun to tell.  Noth. ing.  And I’d look like the slacker Mom.

With one day of break left, I declared it National-go-somewhere-fun-so-I-look-like-a-good-Mom day.  We live very close to DC so could go anytime we want.  But I chose one of the biggest tourist days of the year to go.  Brilliant.

We spent 2 hours getting there (including pit stops on the way for the bank, gas station and breakfast, of course) since the rest of the country was also on the way there.

We planned to go to the Spy Museum, since we’d never been.  We usually go to the free museums, but I knew I’d get extra “good Mom points” for spending money.  Unfortunately, lots of other Moms must have been going for those points because the line was out the door, down the block, around the corner, and down another block.  I had already spent the morning on the road, I wasn’t going to spend the afternoon waiting in line just to ease my conscious. Not when we could literally come any other day of the year.

Plan B, free museums.

One problem.  Zero parking spaces.  Parking garages full.  We drove and drove.  And drove.  At one point Eric asked “Didn’t we pass that same building 20 minutes ago?”  He was right.  We did.  We finally found a space near our house (kidding, but it seemed that far away).

We started walking down the busy sidewalks and after watching many people dodge us, I realized we were taking up the entire sidewalk.  Not only weren’t we walking single-file, we were walking hexadic-file.  (Yeah, I made up a new use for that word.)

There they go, just a walkin' down the street.   Getting in the way of everyone they meet.
There they go, just a walkin’ down the street.
Getting in the way of everyone they meet.

As we strolled toward the National Mall, Eric very excitedly yelled “A PIGEON!!  A PIGEON!!  I’VE NEVER SEEN A PIGEON BEFORE!”

We really don’t get out much.

They were equally thrilled over the DC castle.  What?  You didn’t know DC has a castle?  Some may call it the old Post Office but it is Chez Parcel Palace.  Like I said, we don’t get out much.

Post Office Castle

Plan B included a request to go to the Pencil Building (National Monument).  Unfortunately it was roped off for earthquake repair and this was as close as we could get.

Washington Monument Construction

Moving on to Plan C, we headed to the Lincoln Memorial.  We had to take a break on the steps.  After all, we had had a busy day of…nothing.  Oh wait, we had the pigeon sighting.


We discovered my cell phone camera had magical cloning powers.  Must have been the pigeons.

Jimmy clone

The Vietnam Memorial was the serious part of our day.  Seeing the names of every fallen soldier etched into the wall was an indescribable experience.  There was complete and utter silence, even though there were hundreds of people walking through with us.

Vietnam Memorial

As we exited the memorial, the somber moment ended abruptly.  I will attempt to recreate the scene.

Close your eyes.

Imagine hearing music that is getting louder and louder.  It is blaring.  You realize the blaring music is coming from a boom box.  A boom box in a flowered basket.  A flowered basket attached to a (very) small bike.  A (very) small bike driven by a (very) large middle aged man.  A (very) large middle aged man riding with no handle bars because he’s waving his arms in the air to the beat of the blaring music.

And the song that is blaring?  “Don’t cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me?” 

Bike rider Don't Ya Wish Your GirlfriendWas Hot Like Me

After that excitement, I was ready to call it a day but the boys wanted the FULL Nation’s Capital experience, which meant souvenir shopping.  They went from street vendor to street vendor like kids in a candy shop. “A GIANT dime for only a dollar???” “Moooom!  They have an AMERICAN FLAG tie!!” (Remember, we don’t get out much.)  The result: tacky tourists extraordinaire.

Tacky Tourists

The most expensive item (the tie) was $5.  We made out like bandits compared to what the spy museum would have cost and had four ecstatic guys.

Jimmy even got to put his FBI beanie to use.  Greg, you aren’t bribing an officer with that giant dime are you???


We ended the day with the holy grail for boys: Phillips all-you-can-eat buffet.

Remember the tidbit of information about the restaurant.  It is crucial to the chain of events for THIS year’s Guilt Trip to Bawlmer (Baltimore).

Quote of the day (after observing many joggers): “It must be a pain to run in DC with all the crowds and roads.  It’s run, stop, wait, run, run, stop, run, stop.  Hey Mom, YOU should jog in DC because you stop all the time too.” ~Jimmy


***The information below is sponsored. I was compensated for sharing these tips on purchasing a bike (hey, now maybe we can go on a fancier Guilt Trip next spring break!) but all opinions, stories and shenanigans are my own.***   

Cycle of Life: Buying Kids’ Bikes Online

Buying kids bikes online has many benefits, but it can sometimes be overwhelming, especially if you are looking for your child’s first bike. Size is an important factor when bike shopping (something boom box man obviously didn’t consider).  A good rule of thumb is your child should be able to touch the ground with the tips of their toes while sitting. One of the best bargains in buying a bike online is to simply buy it used. Because kids outgrow their bikes, parents often post these bikes for sale on the Internet. Another option is to go to a local store and test out bikes there. Once you’ve figured out which bike works best, go online and order it. Not only can you be more confident in your purchase, you’ll save money through ordering it online. The final thing to do before you purchase is to make sure you’re in shape!  Once your child learns how to ride the bike, they may not want to stop and you might have to dash after them!

Guest Post: I Need a Vacation from Vacations (My Life As Lucille)

On the heels of my Vacation Fails post and during the last “official” days of summer, this is the perfect guest post for this week!  It is by my wonderful friend Lucy Ball, who is just as funny as her namesake.  I’m sure you will agree and by the end of this post will also be saying “I Love Lucy!”  And now I present Lucy…she’s got some ‘splainin’ to do! 

_____My Life as Lucille

Hello, friends and fans of Momopolize! My name is Lucy and I blog randomly over at My Life As Lucille.  I can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.  I write about whatever pops into my head plus all of the ridiculously crazy family drama that keeps me seeing my therapist on a weekly basis. Nice to meet you!

It is my great pleasure to be a guest writer here today. I LOVE Momopolize! I hope you enjoy the following description of our family vacations. It’s sort of appropriate, especially now that I’ve done it up right once again by rolling our van and camper this summer and completely totaling them both. Yah. It’s how I “roll.” Ahahaha! Hope you enjoy!

This post was originally published here.

I Need A Vacation From Vacations

I get around. Metaphorically speaking, of course. And I’m convinced that my family is cursed when it comes to vacations. My family was plagued by bad luck and misfortune.

For example, my sister and I were heading to South America when we accidentally locked our keys and passports in the car at the airport. Someone in the parking lot managed to fish the keys out of the door, which was slightly ajar. When we arrived in South America, we had a mix up with our bus reservations. We ended up on a completely random bus driving through the Andes in the middle of the night. With zero cell phone coverage. With no way for our family back in the U.S. to locate us. And only a slight handle on Espanol. We managed to survive in spite of ourselves.

There was the rental car in Panama City when I was in high school. Our car would randomly stall in the middle of the street for no reason. In order to restart it, my dad would have to pop the trunk and push a button inside next to the spare tire. This happened SEVERAL times on that trip.

And then there was the Royal Crown Family Restaurant in AZ. After hours of negotiating our rental car reservations and driving through the foothills at midnight, we finally found a restaurant to grab a bite. We hadn’t eaten since lunch and were all starving and cranky. Unfortunately, our waitress was more interested in sitting in a booth with a trucker and slurping on beer from the 12 pack of Schlitz he had on his table. We watched with ferocious anticipation as our plates sat under the warming lamp for no less than 45 minutes.

We ended up eating Red Hot Burritos from a Stop ‘N’ Go gas station down the road at 1:30 AM.

The next day, we visited Montezuma’s castle while in Flagstaff. After paying $75 to get in, the first sign inside said:



We have locked our keys in rental cars. More than once. We’ve boarded an airplane looking for our seats in Row E. There wasn’t a Row E since we were on the entirely wrong plane.

There was the DEEP SEA fishing trip when we all ended up sea sick, hanging over the side of the boat as it rocked and tipped spraying sea salt on our sun-parched faces. For 8 freaking hours.

While in Italy, I managed to get myself locked in a stairway in the hotel with no way out but the emergency/alarm exit.

Still, I wouldn’t trade any of them for the amazing experiences I’ve had. Probably.

After all, the BEST part of any vacation (mishaps and all) is when I pull up in the driveway, breathe a sigh of relief that we’re all in one piece, truly glad to be home.

Hope your summer vacation was far less exciting than mine was!


P.S. Lucy and I should NEVER, ever, ever go on vacation together.  Although it would make for one heck of a blog post.  😉

Our Top 12 Vacation Fails

Disclaimer:  Our vacation for the most part was incredibly relaxing and rejuvenating.  In fact it was deemed the “best vacation ever” by all 4 kids within a few hours of arriving. That is great for me, but boring for you.  So you just get to hear about the non-Rockwell moments.

Since I was sick before our vacation, I did very little nothing to prepare for our trip.  I told everyone they were responsible for packing for themselves.  Jim made sure all the bags were ready to go and loaded all the luggage in the car.

Except his.  He had 2 shirts and 2 pairs of shorts for the entire week.

But we wanna' be with you guys.

We folded down the back row of seats in our suburban for the dogs to ride.  Except for a cooler, they had the entire back area of the car.

They instantly jumped the cooler to cram themselves on top of the suitcases.  And Greg.

“We just wanna’ be wif you guys.”

#3 – SWEET OR SOUR I’ve always been a mosquito magnet and couldn’t step out of the wooded lake house without the little buggers instantly finding me.

Me: “I must be really sweet. The mosquitos just won’t leave me alone!”

Greg: “That’s why I love you Mom…”

Me: <<Smiling – thinking he’s agreeing that I’m SOOO sweet>>

Greg: “…Because you keep them away from ME.”

This is what the nuclear power plant looks like.
This is what the nuclear power plant looks like.

We made the mistake of telling the boys that the water temperature was 91 degrees because the lake was built to cool a nuclear power plant.

They were convinced we were swimming in toxic waste.

Boating toward the nuclear power plant
All Greg heard was nuclear.

#5 – DEEP DISH FISHING Despite many fishing attempts during the week, nothing was caught.  On the last day, Jim stuck a leftover pepperoni on his hook on a whim.  He instantly caught a fish.

The fish must have heard that someone ordered a pizza with anchovies.

Jake is a hat guy but forgot to bring any on the trip.  He searched for a “souvenir hat,” but we couldn’t find any tourist-y shops.  He finally found a baseball hat with a pirate skull at a little country store.  Since it was the ONLY hat around, I said yes without really looking at it.

Later I noticed there were words under the pirate skull.

“Surrender the booty.”

Aaaaargh, not the best choice for a 14 year old.

#7 – GAME OVER During a game of Battleship, Greg called an incorrect guess by Jim a “close miss.”  Of course, Jim’s next guess was a hit.  He tried to explain to Greg that by calling it a close miss, that was a clue that the ship was probably next to that spot.

Greg replied,

Loose lips sink ships must be about this game.”

We rented a boat for the week.  The agreement stated “no water sports” which we interpreted as “we have to say that because we don’t want you to sue us if you get hurt.”  So we attached a tube to the boat anyway.  The marina called Jim’s cell while we were in the midst of tubing to tell us they could see us.  Oopsie.

We tied the tube to the kayak.
Motor boat, kayak. To-may-to, to-mah-to.

Note to self:  When breaking boating rules, don’t ride back and forth RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE MARINA that RENTED YOU THE BOAT!

Since the marina threatened to take the boat away for violating the rental terms, we followed the rules…until the last day.  You are going  to confiscate the boat now?  Thanks!  Now we don’t have to return it in an hour.

In the mean time we improvised and invented “kayak tubing.”

I’m terrified of water.  Not as much the water necessarily as what I can’t see IN the water.

Why do they have to call them “bodies” of water anyway??  And I know sharks are only in salt water, but I’m sure there is SOMETHING in that lake just as scary.  Like a mutant toxic waste fish-snake-lizard.

The boys kept asking me to go tubing (before we got busted) and, not wanting to look like a pathetic chicken in front of them, I hesitantly agreed.  The tube had already taken quite a few trips behind the boat.

Tubing fun

I jumped in and instantly thought it felt too squishy.  Everyone poo-poo’d my concerns as paranoia.

Again, not wanting to be a chicken, I decided to go with the flow.  The boat started moving and the front of the tube instantly went under and the entire thing filled with water.

My worst fear!  I was sinking!!  By the time they pulled me back to the boat, the tube was completely submerged and almost completely out of air.  And everyone was laughing hysterically.  At my hysterics.

I wasn’t amused.  Jim will damn well make sure the thingies where the tube is inflated (what are they called anyway??) are tightly plugged next time.

After my titanic experience, I was definitely scarier than any mutant sea creature.

Speaking of titanic...
Speaking of titanic…

One night we boated to a restaurant for dinner.  On the way back, the engine overheated.  We spent the next two hours waiting for the engine to cool, and then moving full speed for about 30 seconds before it would overheat again.  Did I mention that the lake is 17 miles long?  And that of the 4 cell phones we had on the boat, 3 had dead batteries?

The lower the sun went, the higher the stress level went.  I tend to inappropriately joke when I’m stressed.  So even though I was envisioning spending the night on a pitch dark lake surrounded by the Loch Ness monster, I made up songs.  The skipper and Gilligan would have been proud.

“The Dad was a mighty boating man.  The mother brave and sure.  Six passengers went to dinner that day.  For a three course meal.  A three course meal.

The engine started turning off.  The tiny ship was stuck…”

The favorite was to the tune of 70s song “We need the funk. Gotta have that funk. Ow.”  Click on the link to listen so you can visualize us on the boat singing…

“We broke the boat.  Gotta fix that boat. Ow.”

We didn’t really venture further than that for those lyrics.  Everyone just joined in right away and sang that same line over and over.  And over.  I never need to hear that song again.

When the engine would get too hot and cut off, the boat couldn’t be steered and would just drift.  As we approached a bridge, Jim was trying to time it to make sure the engine didn’t overheat too close to the bridge so we wouldn’t drift into the bridge supports.  It was at that moment that I realized just how much Eric is like me.  He broke into song to the tune of “I love it” by Icona Pop (again, feel free to click on the link so you can sing along)…

“I got this feeling on a summer day when we’re afloat.  I crashed my boat into a bridge.  I watched, I let it sink.  I threw the engine into a bag and pushed it in the lake.  I crashed my boat into the bridge.  I don’t care, I love it.  I don’t care.”

That’s my boy.Paddling the broken boat

We finally got someone to answer the phone at the marina as the sun was setting behind the trees and the response was “You really need to get the boat off the lake.  It’s almost dark.”  Gee thanks.  I wish we’d thought of that two hours ago. Then we were given the option of calling a $350 tow boat.

Jimmy pulled out the paddles instead.

Lupus and the sun don’t mix.  We rented a boat with a canopy so I could stay in the shade.  Unfortunately, when we were stuck on the lake on the broken down boat, the sun was too low and there was no shade.

Lupus and stress also don’t mix. Apparently when you put the three together, it’s no bueno.  As the sun crept below the canopy, whatever area of my skin the beams would reach almost instantly broke out in a burning rash.

It was very bizarre.  I could actually watch my skin turn red and splotchy within 10 seconds of the sun hitting it.

But I tried to keep singing anyway.  (It ended up lasting for weeks.  The burn/rash, not the singing.)

The lake is in a town called Bumpass.  Four boys in a town by that name…the jokes are endless. End. Less.

Vacation win though?  When your kids are misbehaving, it is perfectly acceptable to say

“You are being a pain in the Bumpass.”

P.S. Don’t leave yet.  At the bottom of the photos is a vacation video you don’t want to miss.  It’s pee your pants funny.  Trust me, I found that out the hard way. 😉


Cute photo, huh?

Group boat shot

I had 247 rejects such as this before I got them all to smile at once.

Group boat shot goofy

Restaurant texting

Restaurant Greg

Little piece of paradise
I ended up with 12 fails but, yeah, you get the picture (pun intended).

Sorry, I don’t think I can post videos here so you have to go view it on my FB page.  It’s really worth the extra click though!  Click here —> VIDEO OF THE SPINNING CONTEST.

NYC Part 4: The Neon Lights Are Fading

(To read the other parts of my NYC trip, click here.)

Well, I’m out-of-order again.  This should be posted after the Voli guest blog post with the details about lunch with Melissa Gorga.  But since I’m not sure how long it will take them to review what I wrote and since it has been two weeks since the trip, I’m going to go ahead and wrap this story up!  (Don’t worry, I will still post the link to the Voli post when it is published!).

After lunch with the Jersey girl, we spent the evening with the Jersey Boys (after a nap to re-charge, of course!  Sorry “city that never sleeps” – you may need to change your name after my visit!)!

The Broadway show was all I hoped it would be.  Loved it!

NYC Part 4 voli blog 9

After the show, we had a late dinner at John’s Pizzeria (yeah, we made sure we got our fill of NY pizza) which was recommended by George (Melissa’s make-up artist).  I actually preferred it over Lombardi’s.  Both were fantastic, but I liked this crust a bit better.  And yes, Jim is sticking his tongue out.

NYC Part 4 Johns Pizzeria

It was freezing cold that evening, so the 5 block walk back to the hotel seemed very long!  I was happy to get under some warm covers.


The next morning we woke with a lot still left on the “want-to-see” list.  Unfortunately my pillow won for the “must-see” list.  I thought we’d leave the hotel long before the noon check-out time but I think we left the building at about 11:57.

NYC Part 4 Sleeping In The City That Never Sleeps

Luckily our flight was late in the day, so we still had several hours.  By this point of the trip, my joints were rebelling from all the walking and the frigid temps made matters worse.  We ate lunch at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., mainly because we had eaten at one in Florida years ago.  I was hoping mind over body would transport me to Florida so I wouldn’t feel chilled to the bone for a moment!

FYI, I could live on nothing but the “Seafood Hush Pups” for at least a month!  Of course I had to get a photo on the bench with the “Life Is Like A Box Of Brown Stuff Chocolates” box.

NYC Part 4 Bubba Gump Shrimp Co

I must have been missing the kids a lot by this point, because most of the stops we made the rest of the afternoon were kid related.  Souvenir shopping, naturally, and a pit-stop to see the amazing Toys R Us store.  A ferris wheel IN the store.  Wow!

NYC Part 4 Toys R Us 1

Willie Wonka’s Chocolate Factory in Toys R Us was just as Wonky as the movie.  I got stuck in the endless tunnel.

NYC Part 4 Toys R Us Willie Wonka Tunnel

After seeing the New York Toys R Us photos, my kids will never want to step foot in our local store again.  Just one story and no carnival rides??  Just look at how boring it looks…

NYC Part 4 Boring Toys R Us

The busiest store we visited was the 3 story M&M store.

NYC Part 4 M&M 2

NYC Part 4 Personalized M&Ms

We witnessed a turf war.  Elmo vs. Elmo.  Luckily Batman was there to resolve the territorial dispute.

NYC Part 4 Elmo Turf War

No trip to NYC is complete without a Naked Cowboy sighting.

NYC Part 4 Naked Cowboy 2 NYC Part 4 Naked Cowboy 1

We didn’t want THAT to be our last memory of the city, so our grand finale was a trip to the Top of the Rock for a bird’s-eye view.

NYC Part 4 voli blog 10

Time for Hugh to take us back to the airport.  Good-bye NYC.

NYC Part 4 Time To Go Home

When we arrived back at Dulles airport, I took all necessary precautions to make sure no paparazzi recognized me.  (Yes, those are Voli sunglasses that were in my care package.)  My disguise must have worked because not a single photog recognized me.  Glad I dodged THAT bullet!

NYC Part 4 Disguise at airport

We didn’t know what to do after we left baggage claim.  I mean NO ONE had a sign with our name on it.  NO ONE offered to carry our luggage.  Gawsh.

NYC Part 4 Carrying bags at airport

We had to walk ALL the way to the parking garage and then the worst thing of all happened.  We had to DRIVE OURSELVES HOME.

NYC Part 4 Not impressed

Not impressed.

Fairy Tale is over.  Back to life. Back to reality.

But I think we just may live happily ever after anyway!


Click here too!
Click here too!
Click to help me KEEP the top spot!
Click to help me KEEP the top spot!

Thanks for following along with my Housewife Hero journey with a Real Housewife.

Don’t forget to follow Momopolize by email (upper right corner of this page).  Any heroes you read about from here on will most likely be of the submarine sandwich variety.  My glamorous real housewife life may be over, but my HUMOROUS real housewife life will continue on and on and on!

But – JUST IN CASE – don’t be surprised if you see me around town incognito…

NYC Part 4 Voli Sunglasses