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If you were to think about large-scale efforts – mapping the human genome, searching for monster prime numbers, developing the TESLA, you would be wise to add planning a family Caribbean vacation to your list.

There’s the organizing, packing, passport-checking, last-minute snack shopping, the rounding up of coloring books, crayons, headphones, medication, sunscreen and whatever sand-caked plastic shovels that can be found from the last vacation.

Rodney imposed house rules against me asking him to exfoliate my back and apply sunless tanner the night before a trip, so now I leave that job to the professionals. Which of course never gets done. Time, who? what?

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This year I got my act together and scheduled an appointment that I promised I wouldn’t break. I stuck to my guns, shed my clothes in front of a woman whose name sounded like Mary but wasn’t, and stepped into the booth. After a few passes of her spray gun, she declared that I looked “owa-some” and I skipped back home, a burnished shade of bronze.

My kids weren’t impressed. Over the sobs of one child, another demanded to know what happened to my “other skin”. The third was found later, hiding in a closet. This pre-tan effort, I imagine, won’t happen again.

It was the least I could do to get ready for what promised to be the trip of a lifetime.

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When traveling with kids, Rodney and I have always leaned towards big hotels with big pools, big restaurants, and a bigger set of amenities. The kind of place where a kid can race around and find plenty of entertainment.

This year though, we booked our trip through Inspirato. After looking through their list of properties, we found a house that seemed like it would be a great fit for our family: our own pool, an empty beach, ocean-facing bedrooms, and the icing on our Tortuga rum cake….a well-stocked kitchen.

I’m not sure how many times the word “idyllic” was dropped into the conversation during our stay, but I’m pretty certain that were in three-digit territory.

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Like a sitting duck, I knew that I’d have to cash in my chips after hosting Thanksgiving for 10+ years straight.

Is it really fair to expect that your relatives will drop everything to fly during the busiest travel weekend of the year?

Though, in all honesty, it was decadent to spend almost no time in the kitchen over Thanksgiving weekend. Yes, I made sure that our bird was glossy and brown; I prepped an appetizer; but other than a few menial activities, I didn’t set foot near a chopping block except to mix myself a cocktail. Perhaps we should indulge in this “hosted not hosting” thing more often…

Traveling to LA with three kids isn’t easy, but the Shake Shack at JFK airport was a welcome sight. On principle, Rodney and I got ourselves burgers, fries and beers at 9:30AM. Because that’s what you do when you see a Shake Shack. When you win the lottery, you turn your ticket in, no exceptions.

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The flight was relatively easy, and my kids, despite all of my nervousness, had nary a fatigue-induced meltdown, leaving me with 6 hours to watch 3 full-length movies. Did it matter that I kept having to pour apple juice over ice to my Disney-watching companions? Nope.

At last, we arrived! We had family rendez-vous at the Venice Pier, and so began our Thanksgiving weekend.

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I have the same affliction as my Mum – whenever a camera emerges, and I’m on the wrong (e.g. lens-facing) side, I freeze like a TV dinner. That’s a 2015 resolution – smile like I mean it. Like someone just told a dirty joke, those always make me laugh.

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We’ve had several sets of plans to go apple picking this Fall, all of which have fallen through. Rodney had to travel on Sunday and left us with no plans and a full day to explore.

We decided to leave for a last-minute trip to Warwick, NY for some apple picking, worried that the season would slip by without a visit. And after spending 30 minutes in bumper-to-bumper traffic on the main thoroughfare that links our lake house in northern New Jersey to the Southernmost part of the Hudson Valley, we pulled the ripcord and made other plans.

We’d passed by a small farm called L&L and rather than sitting in more traffic, we pulled over to see what they had to offer.

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Although the apple orchard wasn’t open for picking, bushels of apples were available for purchase, and off in the distance I spotted a pumpkin patch. After our visit to Heaven Hill, we’d bought our fair share of pumpkins, but the kids were eager to find another, having drawn all over our existing pumpkins with a set of highly-guarded Sharpies. How they get a hold of these markers is a mystery; one of their magical talents seems to be finding Sharpies from hiding places that I’d previously thought undiscoverable.

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We loaded up on fruit…

Fruit Collage

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And bought a few decorated pumpkins…

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I once dated a guy from Australia. I won’t go into the details, but if you’d like to read more about that ill-fated situation, you can always check out this post where I discuss things like his fire-fighting skills and clinical amnesia.

This guy, let’s just call him D– once claimed that everything Americans do is done on a big scale.  Every movie theater is a Megaplex, every stadium screen is a Jumbotron, every soft drink is a 64-oz Big Gulp.

I acknowledged his point, responding that while yes, this is sometimes the case, America can also be quaint and lovely and not at all grandiose.

Take for instance the Fall Festival that we attended last weekend. The event organizers could have made it over-the-top and glittered with gold. But really, who needs to be the best Fall Festival in town? Not these guys. Modesty was the name of the game.

We were welcomed by some ghostly goblins. 

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And became acquainted with seasonal farm equipment. 

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Next we found a carousel…

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A Ferris Wheel…

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Carnival-moving vans with all kinds of amusements and curiosities …

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I don’t remember my first wedding, but I’m pretty sure that I wasn’t invited to one until I was old enough to drive.

Weddings are fun, they’re boisterous events with family and friends and they always – always – have drama. This wedding was no exception, and I’ll spare you all of the gory details save for this little hint: the bride was ill. She’s now recovered and although she could have been in better health for her wedding weekend, she’s relieved that she made it down the aisle that day. We’re all relieved.

My sister got married over Labor Day weekend and I’ve been excited to share some of the pictures from the event since it took place in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

My girls were excited to pack up and travel to Canada, eager to be the center of attention in their brand new flower girl dresses.

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The wedding was held at the Prince George hotel in downtown Halifax, which is where we stayed for the entirety of our trip. There we spent time unpacking…

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Playing…

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Sleeping…

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Eating…

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