Am I Really Moving To A Yurt In The Swiss Alps?

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The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) recently published their annual list of the happiest countries in the world.

Below are the top five:

  1. Switzerland
  2. Norway
  3. Canada
  4. Denmark
  5. Austria

See a theme here? I do.

All of these countries are friggin’ cold. No one I know says, “Well, we are taking the kids to Toronto. The beaches are fantastic!” Also, the diet is funky. Aside from the Swiss chocolate, these people eat a lot of cold fish. Maybe all those Omega-3s are making the natives think they are happy. When in reality, they all just have excellent joint health.

I feel duped. And no, not because the U.S. did not even make the top ten (we complain way too much here). The OECD seems to have missed a grand opportunity by limiting the “happy” list only to countries.

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Being a helpful lady, I thought I would go ahead and expand upon OECD’s report. My happy place list is as follows:

  1. Disneyland. It is literally the happiest place on earth. Well, that’s what the sign says when you walk into the theme park.
  2. The two-foot radius around my coffee pot at 6:32 a.m. I think it is important to include the time of day here. There is no place I would rather be at that hour.
  3. A green field full of puppies. Everyone loves cute little puppies. Unless you have allergies. Then you can have a room full of pies. Unless you have a gluten allergy then – oh forget it.
  4. The parking spot next to the shopping cart return kiosk. You are done shopping. You have loaded your sundries into the car. Who the hell wants to walk 20 minutes to return their shopping cart? Not me. When you park next to this kiosk, you can just shove that cart a few inches to the left and voilà! Done.
  5. A beach in Maine in the summer. Or just New England for that matter. I love the smell of sea salt air. Period.

There were also some low scoring countries on the OECD’s list. Mainly based on unemployment rates. Much like Greece, Poland, and Hungary, I too have culled a top five of un-happy places to be:

1)      That movie theater seat in the very front row. I have never understood why this row is so damn close to the screen. Just move it back. You can’t see anything. I might as well just stay at home and stick my eyeball on the television screen. The effect is the same.

2)      A windowless room where Kim Kardashian is serving as a filibuster. ‘Nuff said.

3)      The last row on an airplane, which does not recline. The row is also by the lavatory, which is a whole thing. Also, just general seating by any bathroom is a bummer.

4)      Standing in line for the open bar at a wedding/work reception/party, when you have to pee, so you turn to the person behind you and say, “Can you hold my spot?” Only to hear, “Hey ______, it’s me ______. It’s been a while since we dated. If you could call it that [insert wink]. I’m married now. Wow, your hair is different.” Kill me.

5)      In a car, in traffic, when my daughter says, “I think I need to throw up.” Nothing incites more panic than those seven words. No one can stop the freight train of crazy that is about to go down. The emotional roller coaster goes from unease, to fear, to anguish, to exhaustion. For the parent that is. Put it in an enclosed space and my head might pop off.

Complete B.S.

Complete B.S.

I am sure you can come up with your own top and bottom five happiest places. I would love to hear about them, so please feel free to share.

Then we’ll all go drink some hot chocolate. That little Swiss Miss seems super happy.

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Am I Really A So-So Parent?

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We live in a world of super moms and overachievers. Those individuals who work full time, volunteer out the waazoo, have multiple children, and good hair. People who really excel at this parenting game.

I am not one of those people.

Mother’s Day was this past Sunday, and a certain gift got me thinking about what it means to be a mom.

My seven year old gave me a homemade Mother’s Day card. I cannot tell you how much I adore this card.

Here’s what I learned: My daughter thinks I am the best cook ever.

Because I make hot dogs.

No, not cookies, not even spaghetti, but hot dogs. I’m pretty sure franks are one step away from Fritos.

If that’s not mailing it in then I don’t know what is.

Last week, NBA MVP recipient, Kevin Durant tearfully thanked his mom. She was a young, single parent, raising two boys. She kept her kids off the street and made sure they always ate, even if she went to bed hungry.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is a MOM.

I have one child. I often worry about all the screwing up I do because there are no take backs. That’s it. There is no number two, or three child for me to perfect my parenting skills. It’s like trying to qualify for the Olympics: I have one chance, if I don’t get it right the first time – Game Over people.

I often think if my daughter ever writes a tell-all book, the title will most likely be: “The Scurvy Diaries. Never Tried A Tangelo – Mom Said It Wasn’t Worth the Argument to Eat My Fruit.”

Proof. Never mind the age up top.

Proof. Never mind the age up top.

Allow me to illustrate my parental mediocrity:

Diet/Cooking: I will never be known for my homemade meatballs or tasty knish. (Please see frankfurter reference above.)

Discipline: I’m all over the place with this one. Sometimes, I’m fair and she receives a consequence for the wrong behavior. No yelling. Other times I take it personally if she doesn’t make her bed/talks back to me/acts like she is seven. I usually end up re-enacting a scene from Days of Our Lives, “How could you do this?! Why, oh God, Why?” Followed by some melodramatic hands over the face. No consequence. Usually because I over-exerted myself from my dramatic performance.

Appearance: I cannot tell you how thankful I am she has to wear a uniform. When she does have the opportunity to wear layman’s clothes, people stare at me as if they are about to call CPS. Plaids, combined with stripes, with some polka dots mixed in. At one point I almost brought her to the Ophthalmologist to get her eyesight looked at. I have actually uttered the words, “I can’t let you leave the house like this.” More often, I just go with it. If she’s happy wearing something off the Bozo the Clown line, so be it.

Hair: So many moms are good at hair. I see French Braids and up-dos and cute pony tails. I gave up a long time ago. My daughter looks like Janice Joplin at a hair brush burning event…after she ran through a forest. For special events, the best I can do is use hot rollers on her mop. Also, the rollers are mine from the 80s.

TV/Computer Time: Most families have set television and computer times. Our television is on Sam and Cat 24/7. Oh we have rules, we just forget them a couple days later.

Homework/Academics: Right now her homework is like my homework too. I usually need to explain and go over things with her. This is not a complaint, I like working with her, but I have never uttered the words, “Let’s find some extra math work online. Maybe logarithms!” That Tiger Mom lady would have a stroke if she ever came over to our house.

Even though I won’t be nominated for any parenting awards, I love motherhood. If it weren’t for that one small, feisty child, I wouldn’t be fortunate enough to write about how average I am. Luckily, my little person seems pretty content with me too.

So maybe I will try a little harder, go that extra parenting mile with crafts, chore charts, and books on “gentle” rule setting.

Right after I get these hot dogs in the microwave. Since I forgot to defrost the chicken. Again.

Am I Really Greg Brady with that Funky Hawaiian Tiki Necklace?

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Being in a rut is no fun. When the routine of day to day life feels, well, blah, it’s time to shake things up.

This was how I felt about a month ago.

Lucky for me, my family had a trip planned, thanks to my husband’s company. Not just any trip. We were headed to…..

Hawaii! An island paradise.

We were pumped! My husband and daughter had never been to the Hawaiian Islands, but I  had (Oahu and Kauai) and I knew it was going to be beautiful. What could go wrong?

I know you remember this episode.

I know you remember this episode.

So, four suitcases later (one was empty to bring back island goods to friends and family), we were off to the big island of Hawaii.

Getting to the big island from the main land was no easy feat. There were planes, and then there were smaller planes.

The big plane I could handle. The six-person metal tube called the Mokulele with no drink service, was a bit of a stretch for me.

It was a rough ride in 50 mph winds. When we landed, the women sitting in front of me (who had not said a word to me the entire flight), turned around and grimly warned, “Don’t take the lava off this island. It is bad luck.”

To which I responded, “Uh, thank you?” and quickly de-planed so that I could “Christen” the island a la motion sickness style.

 

Here’s what I learned:

1)      I look like a klepto.

2)      Do not drink a Bloody Mary on an empty stomach prior to boarding a puddle jumper.

It's like ukulele, but with a lo of Muk.

It’s like ukulele, but with a lot of Muk.

I thought, maybe a nice walk on beach might relax me, to which the driver cautioned us to stay away from the hard lava (which covered the beach) because its sharpness would cut us.

Here’s what I learned:

1)      The islanders have a thing for their lava.

The rest of the trip did not go as planned either. My husband had a multitude of mandatory work events. Some of his colleagues had hotel rooms with busted TVs, or bug issues. At the company costume party (don’t get me started on trying to pack a friggin’ costume) we were shamed into a corner because of our lame outfits. The hurricane-like winds caused all of the events to be moved inside. Even the little birds were angry, dive-bombing our food plates. Probably protecting their lava.

The upside – we were always the first ones at the breakfast bar … since we were all up by 4:00 a.m. due to the five-hour time difference.

On our one exploring day, we went up the mountain, into the misty clouds, to a town called, Waimea. It rained and was cold. While shivering in my tank top, I looked over at my husband and said, “Seriously. Why-me-ah?”

That about summed up the trip.

I couldn’t believe it. I felt cursed like Greg Brady on the Brady Hawaiian vacation. At one point I started crying because I had journeyed so far and my tan was only one shade above “not dead.” Probably because the winds kept kicking sand up in my face.

Hadn’t we traveled all this way to paradise? How could I be complaining about it?

While not our most shining vacation, there were some great moments of course. We met some wonderful people. We saw a fantastic concert,  and the trip did do one thing for me.

It broke me out of my rut.

Sometimes, you have to go around the world to get smacked in the face to appreciate what you have.

So thank you Hawaii. Thank you for shaking things up for me. Thank you for the chocolate covered macadamia nuts. Thank you for the Kona coffee. Thank you for the beautiful sunsets.

And no. I did not take the damn lava.