Zhujiajiao and Suzhou – My third day in China…

My third day in Shanghai with Mandarin Journeys started a bit differently than the others. Instead of waking up early and bussling off for an adventure, we had time to explore on our own. Some worked, some slept, and I decided to brave the city by myself and attempt to go shopping.

Now let me explain why I say “brave.”  When you are an American in China and go to the marketplaces, you basically are wearing a sign that says, “Come up to me and try to sell me a bunch of crap.” Don’t get me wrong, I get it. It’s their job and they want to sell this stuff. But, it’s a bit intimidating if you aren’t prepared for it. There will be a crowd of people gathered around you at a freakishly close range trying to get you to come to their store front. I went from being polite to showing them invisible force fields around me that they weren’t to cross. But hell, if you are looking for a purse, holy cow all mighty, these markets are the place to go. Wow.

After successfully completing my mission of purchasing souvenirs and returned to the hotel, it was off to the town of Zhujiajiao for us. However, what should have been a 1.5 hours trip turned into 3 hours because of the endless traffic in China. I seriously have never seen anything like it. I’m going to do an entire post on the automobile tendencies and traffic insanities of China.

However, when we finally go to Zhujiajio, it was well worth it. It’s one of the original water towns built on the Grand Canal in China. The Grand Canal was a waterway hand made over 1,700 years ago as a means to connect Beijing and Shanghai. And the town was so cool to tour. It reminds you of Venice with homes built around tiny canals and restaurants and businesses weaving in and around the water.

water town

The town of Zhujiajiao

 

And unlike the hike that almost made me puke on Chinese tea leaves yesterday, today was a day to stroll, drink beer on the waterfront and say no to the street vendor attempting to sell you baby turtles.

baby turtles2

Would one of these get through customs??

 

Though, I did really want to say yes to this 3D ice cream. How fun looking are these ice cream bars??

3d ice cream

They are serious about their ice cream here, folks.

 

And then, we ended the day with a bang. A private dinner for us at the Suzhou Marriott Hotel. Great food, great people and a night of relaxing and taking in the amazing world around me right now. And I especially love this hotel right now because the room is absolutely gorgeous (it has a claw foot tub, people!!!) and get this – IT HAS FAST INTERNET!!! Woo hoo!!

dinner at marriot

Almond ice cream. I have no words.

 

But I can’t get too comfortable. We might have had a bit of relaxing and traveling today but tomorrow we hit the ground running. Rumor has it that we are doing some things that will definitely lead to some hilarious stories… Stay tuned.

#bucketlistChina

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Mind over body – My second day in China…

When your body tells you that it can’t go anymore, I’ve always listened. I’ve never dared to challenge its authority or attempt to overthrow its decree.

Until today.

Until I was staring up to hike a mountain in Hangzhou surrounded by the most beautiful tea fields your mind could possibly imagine.

Thousands of stone steps, jagged, rough and bulging up to the top. With each step, I said that I couldn’t take another. The incline was too much. I didn’t say the words, “I can’t” aloud, I simply panted and tried not to concentrate on how each stone caused a pain to shoot up my stomach and back.

But I climbed.

Until I felt that rush from my stomach, the gurgling and discomfort, make its way closer to my  mouth. It wanted me to vomit. It wanted me to give up. It warned me that China would soon experience parts of me I’d rather not share with this new, exciting country.

I told the group that I needed to stop for a minute. The group of fit travelers – ones who have hiked in Thailand, ran marathons and traveled to mountains far higher than this “hill”.

But I didn’t vomit. Dry heaved – yes. But vomit – no.

I told myself that I was in freakin’ China. I told my body that I needed it to be the best version of itself possible.

And it listened.

Until four steep sections later and the feeling of nausea returned.

One of the travelers, Dana, with a backpack full of cures for any ailment, offered every item she could possible think of. Ginger candy drops. Bananas. More water. Back to ginger candy drops. Granola bars. More ginger candy drops.

Over and over again I said no, but every few feet she would turn around and offer again.

Finally, I had to make my answer a bit stronger.

“I fuckin’ love you Dana but if you offer me another damn ginger drop I’m going to puss you over this freakin’ cliff.”

Lucky for me, a bit of rage was just what I needed. (And a friend who knew I was mostly joking and wasn’t offended by my harshness.)

And at the top of the mountain covered with fields of tea, I told my body, “ya did good.”

Standing there, I realized what a gift it was to be on the other side of the world. In this body, in this place, and in this country.

Tomorrow might not be another mountain to climb, but it will surely take me to a view I have never seen before. A view of a place, and I’m guessing of myself. And isn’t that what the journey is truly all about?

Hangzou fields

See the houses down below? That’s the start of the hike…

 

bamboo trees

Breathing in the bamboo

 
 Mandarin Journeys – you are kickin’ my ass and I love it.

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My first day in China with Mandarin Journeys and it was AMAZING!

It’s 10:30 pm here in Shanghai and my eyes are starting to droop from the exhaustion setting in. We left the hotel at 8:30 this morning and just arrived back. However, I have to write it all down. I want to make sure I remember and savor every part of this day with Mandarin Journeys.

From beginning it at the Shanghai World Finance Center, which is the second tallest building in Shanghai. We took the insanely “rave-like” elevator that took us to the 100th floor. However, nothing could prepare you for what happened when you stepped out. A glass bottom observatory that can instantly cause a human being to pee their pants. Luckily, I held my bladder together and didn’t have an accident, but holy mackeroli, I was terrified. In that exhilarating kind of way you get when you try something absolutely scary yet exciting.

view for deck window

The view from the observation deck

view from deck

Now imagine looking down and seeing this!

danielle on deck

Smiling but terrified

So of course, after that I needed to go to the bathroom. Well, imagine my surprise when I saw this attached to my toilet bowl. Look at all the options I had! Had my group not been waiting for me, I might have needed an extra day in Shanghai just to try them all out!

toilet options

So many options, so little time!

Next stop was the Yu Gardens. The beautiful thing about this garden is not just that it is a collection of Chinese gardens, rocks and temples placed smack dab in the middle of insanely busy downtown Shanghai, but that it is from the 1500’s and was a gift from a son to his dying father. “Yu” means happiness in Chinese and the son built it for his father to make him happy. Pretty cool, right? It’s also where Shanghai’s oldest tea room is located. To say this place is stunning is an understatement. I longed to stay for hours. To sit on a bench, watch the Asian women do the peace sign in selfies, and just take in everyone and everything around me.

oldest teahouse

Shanghai’s oldest tea house – amazing, right?

Speaking of selfies. Here’s a crazy ass thing. Everyone wants to take our picture. I’m not sure if they think we are famous, I mean my resemblance to Julia Roberts is uncanny, but  I kid you not, every single place we go, people are taking pictures of us like we are celebrities. We are thinking of monetizing on this tomorrow. Perhaps charge $2 per picture and an extra buck if we do a pouty face. Also note, blondes could charge an extra $5. And if you look like Paris Hilton, even better.

After Yu Gardens, our serene state of mind took a turn and we got our biker inner-selves out. It was time for our motorcycle side-car tour. This was absolutely awesome. To see the city from the sidecar of a motorcycle is truly amazing. Now given, you kind of have to kiss the ground when you are done because driving in Shanghai is insane. And coming from a New Yorker, you know that’s saying a lot. Motor bikes, motorcycles and bicycles basically have their own set of rules they create for themselves and what ends up happening is a visual reality of the game Frogger from the 80’s.

sidecar tour Danielle

Not as bad-ass looking as I thought I would be…

And lastly, we ended the night with the Shanghai Acrobats. I don’t have a picture of this because cameras weren’t allowed but let me give you a visual. Imagine someone taking your legs, spreading them eagle while another person climbs on you like a fireman’s ladder. And oh yeah, do it while spinning a plate and smiling ear to ear. There you go – that’s the Shanghai Acrobats. It should be illegal to do anything more than touch your toes. Insane.

Just wanted to also note – I have two cameras with me on the trip – a fancy schmancy one and then the one on my phone. Because of the slow internet speed, I’m only including a few pics from my phone. I plan on doing a photo collection on the blog with the really nice pics when I return.

As for tomorrow – another adventure begins! This time – the land of tea fields and cycling. Stay tuned!

#bucketlistChina

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I’ve arrived! I’m here in Shanghai!

Hellllooooooo! Can you hear me?

It’s Wednesday morning here in Shanghai right now and I arrived late yesterday. I survived the 14 hour flight and felt spoiled that I had an entire row to myself to sleep. One thing that amazed me was how many children were on the flight. These amazing Chinese women who traveled with their sisters, mothers and friends – all working together to calm crying babies and rowdy children. I spoke a bit to one mother who was traveling back to see her family after two years of not seeing them. “Too expensive,” she said.

It made me realize how lucky I am to be able to do things like this. To travel and see the world.

I’m not taking it for granted for one second.

She asked me if it was hard for me to leave my children. I flashed back to the night before leaving and how I held my daughter in my arms for 45 minutes as she sobbed about me going. “Yes,” I said. “Yes, it was very hard.”

But I’m here now and it’s time to embrace this experience.

Last night, after I arrived, we ate a Cantonese dinner filled with dumplings, noodles and so much amazing food that I might have called my muffin top, “my little dumpling” afterwards. Downtown Shanghai is filled with lighted up skyscrapers and observation towers look like Times Square on crack! It made me smile to think about my New York roots and I loved that I was somewhere where I had to crane my neck to see things. It also cracked me up how the driving truly rivals taxis in Manhattan. Here’s one of the pics from my window of the hotel. It’s of the Pearl TV observation tower.  Amazing, right?

pearl tv tower

Today it all begins. We go to Yu Gardens, go on a sidecar tour of Shanghai and then see the famous Shanghai Acrobats. Our internet is quite spotty so I hope to post pics and a rundown of the day as soon as possible.

Stay tuned… The journey with Mandarin Journeys has just begun!

#bucketlistChina

 

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I’m leaving on a jet plane… for my trip to CHINA!


China last post

Well here it is. My last post before I leave for my trip to China next week with Mandarin Journeys. 5 writers, 1 country, 1,000 emotions!

As parents we are told to put our child first. But this time, I’m not doing that.

I’m putting me first.

And you know what? It feels damn awesome.

It’s just for nine days but those nine days are all mine and I’ll admit it, I feel exhilarated at the thought. And although I’ve wrestled with some guilt about leaving, at this moment, right now, I don’t feel that. I feel like I’m doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing.

I sometimes wonder if a man would feel these same range of emotions. I’m by no means male-bashing, it’s actually quite the opposite. I’m in awe of how some men can compartmentalize successfully. Like they understand the needs of work and balance them with the needs of family. And most times they can keep the emotions out of it.

But me, I’m not very good at that.

I know that my posts from China will show all of what I’m experiencing. The adventures, the camaraderie, but also the emotions of doing this completely on my own.

So my plan, if the internet world agrees with us over there as we’ve been told it will, is to post at the end of every day. There is a big old time difference between the US and China so you might actually be reading my stuff in the middle of the day. I’ll share pictures, experiences and of course, my emotions. But no worries, I’m sure most of them will be filled with sarcasm and cynicism, as usual. And remember, Flat Martini is joining the fun!

And hey, if you don’t hear back from me by next month, go look for me bathing in a pool of dumplings and wontons. I plan on eating my way through that country and bringing a huge ass muffin top home as my souvenir…

You can follow along on the trip here on the blog, and with even more fun pics and stuff on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. And remember to check out the hashtag #bucketlistChina to follow all five of us writers going. It’ll be really cool to read each of our perspectives on the trip.

Okay friends – here we go!!

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I feel like a senior citizen at a rave on Instagram…


instagram

So I leave for China with Mandarin Journeys in one week. That feels insane to actually type, by the way. I mean, who types the phrase, “I’m leaving for China in a week”???  Nuts. Craziness.

Anyway, I’m leaving for China in a week and am planing to photograph the life out of that country. I want to remember every color, every tint, every hue of what I see.

And I’m kicking myself for flirting with Nate Bunting in tenth grade instead of paying attention in photography class. Mostly because once I kissed him I realized his breath stank like skunk, but also because I really could have used a few tips in taking pictures. But I’m going to try my best and also count my blessings that I never have to kiss Nate again.

So because of my dedication to photography for this trip, I’ve joined Instagram.

And I feel really old.

I have to wear my glasses to read all the hashtags, I’m confused who some of the people I followed really are and I’m baffled at why folks think I care about what they look like at the gym.

But, I’m on it and I’m going to commit to putting pictures of China up on it, as well as other insane photographic experiences. Ya know, if I can actually figure out how to do it.

So come on over to that Instagram-thingy-majiger and say hello. As long as I don’t have to see pictures of you lifting weights, I’m happy to join in the fun.

You can find me on The Instagram HERE. Or here’s the link: https://instagram.com/martinisandminivans/

And remember, you can follow along on my trip by following the hashtag #bucketlistchina

Wish me luck. I’m hoping that I don’t accidentally post a picture of my boobs. Though, I wonder if my followers would increase or decrease…

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Flat Martini goes to Virginia Beach!


The Oscars, a photo shoot & a wedding! Hot damn, Flat Martini got spoiled rotten on his trip to Virginia Beach with Katy Blevins from the awesome blog Chaos & Kiddos.

Katy’s blog is crazy helpful. If you are looking for a way to get organized, keep your life somewhat in order or just get tips to inspire you each day – she’s your girl. Seriously, check it out. I wish I could be even one-quarter as organized as she is. However, the only thing I don’t lose in a day is my Little Debbie Snack Cakes. That’s because I hide them and just eat them all in one sitting.

Anywooo. Without further ado – here’s Katy’s adventures with Flat Martini!

katy blevins

Somer and I welcomed him to Virginia Beach, VA and he hopped right in with the crazy that is the life of two small business owners with 5 kids under 5 and one massive LLC company with 4 different brands. Our social calendars were packed full of fun and Flat Martini went everywhere we did! Work hard, play hard – Flat Martini got to visit just about every corner of Virginia Beach, meeting up with local folks, community causes, and truly memorable moments.

#OscarNight13 – Flat Martini attended a live Twitter event at ABC Channel 13 News Now on Oscar Night! Representing Chaos & Kiddos and Modern Femme Photography, Flat Martini joined us as we watched the Oscars along with Hampton Roads’ most avid bloggers, live tweeting throughout the night about our favorite speeches, fashion choices and memorable moments. Flat even got the chance to meet local personality and social media expert, Naoma Doriguzzi, of Ask Naoma!

FLATMARTINIOSCARNITE

Taste of Hampton Roads – A massive community-wide effort to battle hunger in Southeastern Virginia and the Eastern Shore, Flat Martini was thrilled to join us at the Taste of Hampton Roads. Planned and coordinated by our amazingly awesome gal pal, Apryl Roberts, of Memorable Events by Apryl, we were on hand representing The Hampton Roads Creative, to celebrate her accomplishment and join in on the fundraising efforts. Tasting truly unique top notch fare from over 40 local restaurants and culinary businesses, this event was a show stopper of drinks, dancing and mind-blowing food. Flat Martini fit right in!

FlatMartiniTasteofHR

Modern Femme Photography – Flat Martini got an extra special sneakity peekity behind the scenes for a recent photo shoot at The Studio Hampton Roads! On hand as we styled our client with hair and makeup, Flat Martini got to see the inspiration behind the creative madness that is Modern Femme. An outside-the-box, Henna inspired shoot, it was a day of laughter, art and true beauty. Flat was all smiles and quite the ladies’ man.

FlatMartiniModernFemme

Nicole & Simon are Married! – My beautiful bestie Nicole got married and Flat Martini was an honored guest! He even got some special love from the bride herself, as we partied the night away, stuffed ourselves with cupcakes and celebrated the forevermore of two, perfectly matched soul mates. Never one to disappoint, Flat joined us on the dance floor and was the life of the party.

FLATMARTININICOLE

Thanks for letting Flat Martini spend some time with us in Virginia Beach! Happy travels, Flat!

And be sure to stop by Katy’s blog at Chaos & Kiddos, and visit her on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook & Pinterest. Tell her Martinis and Minivans sent ya!

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Where have all the GIRL superheroes gone???


wonder womanI’m RAGING. Seriously raging today.

I spent all morning going from store to store in search of something for my six-year-old daughter for Easter. Well, not just something, but rather something that revolves around female superheroes.

My girl loves princesses. She loves dolls. She loves playing school and doing hair. But the thing she loves more than anything in the world right now is girl superheroes. I’m talking about Wonder Woman, Supergirl and Batgirl.

We’ve been watching old cartoons from the 80’s (Super Friends, Spider Man & Friends) and back then Wonder Woman kicked some serious ass. She had a gold lame’ crown. She made everyone tell the truth when she caught them in her lasso of truth. And damn, you can’t beat riding around in an invisible jet, right?

But what’s happened? Where have all the female superheroes gone? Why do I have to search through 80’s television series to find a Firestar or a Supergirl? Why don’t we have any shows on today that my daughter can see a strong and powerful FEMALE superhero?

I know that female superheroes exist in graphic novels, but I’m talking about mainstream television. Why has Batman, Superman and Spider Man endured and not one single female superhero lived on?

A I walked around department store after department store today, I found my rage building. Walls lined tshirts, pajamas and even bathing suits filled with male superheroes showing strength and endurance. But when you rounded the corner to the girl clothing, a collection of ruffles and frills with the images of Hello Kitty and Minnie Mouse. And yes, Frozen was there too. I do love Anna’s strength and Elsa’s independence, but where are the superheroes??

So I took matters into my own hands. I made her a cape out of shiny blue fabric and a golden lasso out of a jump rope. And I know she’ll love it. But my hope is that someday that wall in the department show can offer more than just a world beyond pretty and cute. And she can see that it’s okay for a girl to choose superheroes over ruffles.

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3 Weeks until my trip to China and THIS is what happened when I told the kids…


suitcase ChinaToday marks three weeks until I leave for China with Mandarin Journeys for my bucket list trip of a lifetime. I’ve bought tons of crap, researched the heck out of Shanghai and even scheduled a cut and color for my currently way-too-gray and shabby hair – woo hoo!

But there’s one thing that I’ve been putting of doing.

Telling my kids that I’m going.

My daughter, who is six, has typically freaked out when I’ve left for trips. Of course, the second I’m actually gone, she’s totally fine and probably does a dance of joy and starts plotting out how she can watch a movie every night while eating Cheetos. But the day or two leading up to the trip is a lot of, “I don’t want you to go’s” and that sort of heart-breaking talk that ends in me feeling like a horrible mother for being independent.

So this time I decided to take a different approach. I was going to talk about what a great opportunity this is for Mommy and all the amazing pictures I’ll get to take of the places I go.

I was honest with how long I’d be gone. Talked up the time with Daddy and all the ice-cream they’d probably binge eat.

I told her how much I’d miss her and her brother and Daddy. How I’ll think about them all the time and try to Skype with them.

Then I waited. Waited for the tears to start, waiting for the whining to begin, waited to feel guilty over my decision to go.

She looked up at me and said, “Ohhhh, are you going to bring me back a present?”

“Uhmmm… yep. Definitely,” I said, as I watched anxiously for what came next.

“Cool. Can I have a piece of gum now?”

And that was that. She smacked her gum, looked out the car window and I was left sitting there like I was a character in a Wes Anderson film that doesn’t know what the hell is happening.

But I’m bracing myself. It’s still three weeks away. It can’t go this smoothly, can it?? And is it bad that I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t even get one little tear from her???

#bucketlistchina

 

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Flat Martini is in The Berkshires!


If you haven’t figured it out yet, I really love Twitter. I’ve met some amazing folks on it and am always guaranteed a laugh – especially from Jennifer Weedon Palazzo, one of the MomCave moms. She’s one of three moms and a dad, all veterans of the entertainment industry, who have created an award-winning web series for moms called MomCave TV.

And I’m actually going to be a guest on it this week, so definitely check it out!

So let’s see what adventure our little laminated cocktail of love went on this week. Welcome Jennifer Weedon Palazzo! (And be sure to check stop by and say hello to them on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. And of course – the most important place – their awesome show!)

jennifer weedon palazzo flat martini

 

Flat Martini came into my world just in the nick of time. After living in Manhattan for the last 20 years, my family made a big move this past week. No, not over the river to New Jersey. No, instead we moved to The Berkshires, which is as different from New York City as you can get.

This city girl went (albeit a bit unwillingly) from living in a one-bedroom apartment on the 13th floor, to a four-bedroom house on 40 acres. in an area so rural there’s no mail delivery, no garbage pick up, and no cell phone reception!  Needless to say, I needed a martini STAT! But I’m five months pregnant, so a real martini was not an option. Enter… Flat Martini!

On our first day together, Flat Martini joined my son and I for our first time playing in the yard. And by yard, I mean silent wilderness with snow up to my hips.

Flat Martini Snow (1)

My mom flew in for a quick trip to check out the new house and we took Flat Martini out to dinner to introduce him to what I like to call rural Chinese food. Out to dinner used to mean walking five minutes to the corner. Now it meant digging out the car and driving behind a snow plow for thirty minutes to the nearest town.

flat martini chinese restaurant

On our second day together, Flat Martini tagged along on a round-trip to Manhattan. My husband’s band had a gig and I had a meeting with my fellow MomCave creators. We arrived in the city a little early for my meeting, so while the hubs went off to play jazz, I wandered around one of my favorite places, Chelsea Market. I introduced Flat Martini to this kitchen supply store where you can buy inexpensive restaurant quality glassware. He found the wine glasses there too cheap for his tastes. He told me he was made of much higher quality glass.

Of course,  being preggo, I had to stop to pee every thirty minutes. Flat Martini got used to checking out the various ladies rooms of lower Manhattan. He’s a dude, so he looked away while I emptied my bladder for the zillionth time.

flat martini bathroom (1)

We met up at a restaurant in the meatpacking district  with Stephanie, Valisa, and Sib, the co-creators of MomCave. We had business to discuss. Each of them ordered something healthy like a salad but Flat Martini and I split an order of meatball sliders. We were excited to discuss our up-coming trip to Las Vegas for the IAWTV Awards. (International Academy of Web TV.) We’re pretty psyched that our show MomCave LIVE was nominated for Best Live Series!

Flat Martini momcave (2) (1)

The next day, Flat Martini tagged along on a trip to the OB-Gyn. I think he was a little embarrassed during the pelvic exam, so I put him face-down. The doctor decided to send me to the far-away “city” hospital for my 20 week ultrasound because (and this was written in capital letters in my chart) I was of advanced maternal age elderly primagravida’ which means OLD in doctor jargon. Awesome.

So a few days later, we drove over an hour to Springfield, MA, for the ultrasound. The doctor asked Flat Martini if he was excited to be a dad. He blushed and I had to clear up the fact that we were not, in fact, a couple. Of course, with all the craziness going on with the move and the new baby, and the fact that I’d been abstaining from alcohol lately, I WAS starting to get the hots for Flat Martini. What I wouldn’t give to savor him down slowly while lounging in a bubble bath.

hospital flat martini (1)

But alas, a romance was not meant to be. Bloated looking pregnant ladies wearing snow-gear and muck boots aren’t that hot, so Flat Martini moved on to his next adventure but not before joining my son for a pants-optional tap dance. Flat Martini, please come back in approximately four months when I can actually drink you.

flat martini tapping (2)

 

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A shooter of a different kind…


Today is my husband’s birthday. I’m five years older than him so I really don’t have a great deal of sympathy when he starts whining about body aches and aging. I also can’t stand the fact that when I talk about David Rice grabbing my ass at senior prom while we slow danced to “End of the Road” by Boyz II Men, he points out that he was just about to enter middle school then.

Good times.

But, I try to get over my annoyance at his youth by having our kids make him super cute homemade cards and gifts. He’s gotten everything from a coupon book of kisses to a collection of drawings of them together holding hands. You know, the stuff that makes you forget how they puke and pee on you in the middle of the night.

However, this year’s gift from my son really takes the cake. Not for it’s cute factor. No, not at all. But rather, well… uhm… how about I just show you?

nerf gun cut out

Any guesses? Any ideas of what my darling little three-year-old son made for his daddy?

Ya ready for this?

It’s a Nerf gun.

Or like my son said, “It’s a Nerf Shooter – it shoots squishy things out of it.”

Yeah, I’m not kidding.

The most hilarious part was my husband’s face. He tried, really tried, not to laugh hysterically as he held a penis-like piece of construction paper in his hand. But when my son started asking him to “Shoot it, Daddy”, he couldn’t take it anymore and let all the laughter out, much to the confusion of our son.

So happy birthday dear husband. I might be older than you but at least I don’t have to hold a paper penis and pretend to shoot squishy stuff out of it.

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I’m leaving for China in ONE MONTH!


one month china

It’s one month until my plane takes off carrying me to China with Mandarin Journeys. One month until I try to squish a fedora I bought on a whim at Target into my suitcase. One month until I carry the four novels I’ve been dying to read onto my 14 hour flight. One month until I attempt to use the fancy camera my father gave me, still in its case, two years ago. One month until Flat Martini and I get to finally drink together and celebrate our laminated love. And one month until I leave my husband and children for nine days.

That sounds weird, doesn’t it? Leaving your husband and children for nine days.

This isn’t my first time leaving them. Far from it. I have traveled for speaking engagements, conferences, and many girls weekends away. But this one is different. This one is to mother freakin’ CHINA!

I remember the first time I went away by myself a few months after my daughter was born. I went to visit my best friend in Virginia. The plane ride felt surreal. Like at any moment someone would hand me a baby and tell me to snap out of it and stop reading People magazine.

But they didn’t. And I read. And it was awesome.

But I felt terrible telling my husband how awesome it was. I knew he was taking care of our infant as I was reading about the speculations that George Clooney might marry Stacy Keibler. (Spoiler: he didn’t.)

That’s how I feel about this trip. I want to shout it from the rooftops but I find myself feeling a desire to mute it when I’m around my family and friends. Like I’ll just be able to slip off into the night and show up nine days later without anyone noticing. I don’t want to be that bragging person who says, “Look at this cool thing I get to do!” Yet, that’s what I’m really saying on the inside.

And the crazy thing is that I know they are all happy for me. I know that they would listen with a huge smile on their face and a supportive hug. That’s how amazing they are.

So I’m going to try to let the words out more. To talk about the ridiculous fedora I bought that makes me look like I’m trying to be Britney Spears, or how I spent two full hours pretending to read a book in bed when I was secretly looking at my phone trying to learn how to order various cocktails in Chinese.

So I’ll start here. I’m letting the thoughts in my head out.

YES I WILL MISS MY HUSBAND & CHILDREN BUT I’M GOING TO CHINA AND I’M SO DAMN EXCITED!!!

Ah yes, that does actually feel better. Thank you for that.

And hey, remember how I said that I’m one of five writers going? Come read their stories and who these awesome ladies are… Click HERE to read their bios… And check out my bio pic – thought you guys might appreciate it.

 

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Flat Martini goes to Michigan!


The really exciting thing for me about Flat Martini traveling the world is how it gives me an opportunity to connect with my readers. Lynne Beaudoin is the perfect example of that! The poor woman is stuck in Michigan during one of the worst winters ever. Yet, she still found a way to show Flat Martini a good time – kudos to you, girl!

So without further ado, here’s Lynne’s adventure with Flat Martini!

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It was a Wednesday when Flat Martini arrived at the Beaudoin household.  I was somewhere in the middle of “ I’m ready for summer. NOW!”  & “Yeah. I better get on the treadmill.” He was tucked away safe and sound but by his pale appearance I knew more than one postal worker had definitely felt him up on his long trip.

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And how do you think I greet friends?  By stuffing them with fried food and alcohol, of course! We struck an agreement that I would stay away from martinis and stick with the bourbon.  There’s a bit of devil inside those drinks. They make your mouth say all sorts of interesting things. Most of which you will not remember in the morning.

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Within a few days after arriving, he got to have the maiden voyage home in my new hot rod. And by hot rod, I do mean my shiny new red minivan. Heated steering wheel? I’ll take it. Heated seats? Yes. Please! Can I get a bathroom and live in it?

I threatened the kids with putting them in the floor compartments should they become whiny and unruly during long road trips. I mean, that’s what they are there for, right?  They do not find me humorous. I’m not sure why. I think I am hilarious.

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Since Flat Martini has become my “Shotgun Rider”, he has joined me several times at my favorite store in town.  Some call it a liquor store but I call it my survival store. They sell me the goods that allow me to get through dinner time, weekends and the 5th consecutive snow day off. Everyone has their own survival store near them. It’s a place where “everyone knows your name.”

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Cabin Fever is tough for all of us in Michigan but, when you have a sister like I do, she’ll show up for dinner and bring a good adult game along with her. Flat Martini took part in a very feisty game of Cards Against Humanity. Lucky for me, whatever happens between these walls, stays here. He may or may not have heard us say some pretty raunchy phrases.

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That’s what it’s all about here. Whiskey, swearing & random sexual innuendos. We call it the “Red Light Special.” This is all after the kids go to bed, of course. I don’t think I can answer one more question on the things they may have heard coming from the kitchen.

All in all, I’m certain Flat Martini has enjoyed his stay at our 3 Ring Circus and somehow, managed to keep a smile on his face the entire time. Me & him are currently working on a deal to open a new age concession stand during those long weekend baseball tournaments.  We would provide “supplies” (ie cocktails) to the over-stressed & overheated parents who so desperately need a smiling face and a cup full of something other than gatorade. Whenever they see the sign hanging, they’ll know their very own survival store.

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Can children have memories of former lives??


children former livesWhen my grandmother passed a few years ago, I felt her presence so strongly. I felt as if her arms still wrapped around me when I sat at my office chair and I could even close my eyes and feel her soft, brown age-spotted hands clasp mine while I watched Dancing with the Stars. When she was alive, I would sit as close as I possible could to her. She had wonderful rolls of chunkiness to her body and they always felt so soft when I cuddled up close to her.

I choose to believe she’s still somewhere out there. Whether it is heaven or the universe or something else isn’t for me to know. But I feel as if she’s not completely gone.

So since then, I’ve often wondered about life after death.

But I can honestly say, I never wondered about life BEFORE death. Or if we come back after dying, do we come back as something different? Another person entirely?

Then I saw this clip on the Today show. It’s about a study that looks at children who claim they were someone else in a previous life. Yeah, I kid you not. There’s an actual study about this stuff.

And I felt really uncomfortable watching it. I wondered if there was any truth to the claims or should I feel anger at the parents of these children for letting them be part of the study? Was it just a child’s imagination? Were the parents pushing this stuff on the kid? Or could there be an actual link to the past like this?

Here’s the clip:

Return To Life: How some children have memories of reincarnation

So I’m dying to know (no pun intended) – what do YOU think? Think it’s real or just the wild imagination of children?

Let’s discuss!

 

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Flat Martini Takes Manhattan!


From the West Coast to the East – Flat Martini is going cross country this week to the lovely and talented Dawn Yanek, creator of the blog Momsanity. (How great is that blog name??) I swear, these adventures just keep getting more and more hilarious. I can’t stop laughing every time he returns. This little cocktail of love is seeing more things in one week than I have enough energy to see all year. I never thought a laminated paper beverage could make me feel so lazy. But then again, that laziness could be from how much I enjoy sitting and drinking actual real cocktails….

So Dawn is a pretty cool lady. She’s logged countless hours in the entertainment industry, appeared in more than 2,500 TV and radio segments, discussing lifestyle, relationships, celebrity news, fashion and pop culture. She was the public face of Life & Style Weekly and Match.com, as well as a columnist and senior editor for Stuff Magazine. And if that’s not enough, she’s a mom of a toddler. Just that alone makes me exhausted.

You can find her on the blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. Just be sure you tell her Flat Martini sent ya!

So without further ado – here’s Flat Martini’s adventure with Dawn Yanek!

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When I heard that Flat Martini would be visiting me in New York City, I started thinking about all of the cool places I could take him—amazing restaurants, secret bars, VIP-studded clubs. Then I remembered that I’m a mom and that he should’ve visited me 10 years ago if he wanted all that fancy crap.

Still, as kid-centric as my life is, it can be interesting and grown-up from time to time…and I’m pretty sure that confused that the hell out of my boozy little visitor.

Flat Martini unfortunately missed our fabulous trip to Colorado by a few days. Instead, he joined us when we got back to the city—just in time for a sick dog and a 3-year-old with the stomach flu. It was delightful over here, let me tell you!

At least he was spared from the sickness (further proof that alcohol kills germs). When we recovered, we took him to Madison Square Garden to see Sesame Street Live. He got really excited when he thought this cute little cocktail might be joining us, but alas, it wasn’t meant to be.

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Still, he was quite the sport and even got into the Sesame Street spirit—and the $6 popcorn—with Elmo and friends.

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Next up: Getting a birthday gift at the Disney Store in Times Square. Now, Times Square will drive anyone to drink, but the Disney Store was so adorable, I thought that we’d get our very own fairy godmother appointed to us at the front door.

Maybe better than a fairy godmother, we got a photo opp with Sven from Frozen, who put in a good word for us with Elsa. Because who doesn’t like their martinis perfectly chilled?

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Then I caught sight of some baby clothes. They were so tiny and cute, I promptly forgot about my sidekick. Oops! But seriously, look at this stuff….

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Just when Flat Martini had resigned himself to the boring life of this Manhattan mom, I went ahead and did something exciting. In my non-kid, non-mom-blogger time, I’m an actor, and I was invited back to Law & Order: SVU. One little, frenetic scene as a reporter in an upcoming episode, so tune in later this month—and don’t blink!

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I got the full treatment in wardrobe, hair and makeup, and Flat Martini didn’t recognize me for a minute, much like my son when he was a baby and I’d head out for an audition. It’s that look of: “Hmmm…you seem familiar, but you don’t have purple bags under your eyes and you’re not wearing yoga pants.”

Flat Martini felt all Hollywood as he hung out in my trailer and spied Ice-T in the distance…and was excited to see what would come next in this more adult week. Well, this was it!

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Bless this mess? Hell, no. Take a blowtorch to it. Then I wouldn’t have to fold the rest of that godforsaken laundry.

The remainder of the week consisted of a few kiddie classes, three snowstorms, 900 toys and one very cooped-up 3-year-old. By the time Saturday rolled around, Flat Martini wanted to hightail it out of here. But I had a little going-away surprise for him first.

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My good friend Cara Lynn Shultz, author of the awesome Spellbound and Dark World series, and I took him to an afternoon showing of Fifty Shades of Grey. Seeing ridiculous, guilty-pleasure movies that we can openly mock (and smuggle alcohol into) is kind of our thing.

So what did I think of it? Pass the martinis. Jamie Dornan (aka Christian Grey) is beyond lovely to look at in all of his shirtless, butt-baring glory, but his character has the mentality—and dialogue—of a serial killer. Seriously, what is attractive about a guy who wants to control every aspect of your life, stalk you and then beat you in a Red Room of Pain? I. Don’t. Get. It.

Still, Flat Martini apparently felt a little frisky afterward….

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And he was ready to party by the time we got back uptown…where cheese, wine, beer, sippy cups and our boys were waiting for us.

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I think he may have imbibed a little too much, though, because at one point, this happened.

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That Flat Martini is quite the party animal. Come back anytime! But maybe offer to help with the laundry on your next visit….

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