web analytics

I Hope The Russians Love Their Children, Too

“There is no monopoly of common sense on either side of the political fence.” – Sting


The song “Russians” by Sting, with its haunting music and bone chilling lyrics echoes in my head as I consider the decision today by President Obama to ask Congress for permission to proceed with military strikes against Syria.  I’m not a political person.  I don’t declare affiliation with any particular political party, because I believe if you support an opinion instead of a person, at some point, it might encourage us all to work together for the greater good as opposed to pushing a personal agenda.  So to be honest, I had to ask why we would even want to get involved in Syria.  I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be exceedingly angry at the leaders of the Syrian government for annihilating the innocent people of Syria.  Part of me thinks the people of Syria need to rise up against their sadistic government.  But mostly I think I was wondering what impact this would have on the people of the United States.

I feel like since 9/11, we have walked around with a target on our backs, daring another country to try to do what Osama bin Laden did to our people.  We swore we would continue to live our lives, defiant in the face of attack.  We were determined not to allow a terrorist attack to influence our daily lives, as it would give the appearance of caving to terrorist threats.

But this scares me.  What if someone has a weapon that hits that target we so truculently parade around wearing?  Have we reached a point where we are walking around in a Teflon bubble, and that makes us a challenge to people like the leaders of Syria, who will retaliate and do to our children what they did to their own?

12 syria

There are weapons too horrible to even discuss in the hands of all the wrong people.  I don’t know if it’s a good time to piss those people off.  And my thoughts are, seriously, since it’s been made very obvious that the Syrians don’t, I hope and pray that the Russians love their children enough to not want them hurt.  Like I don’t want mine hurt.

“What might save us, me and you, is if the Russians love their children, too.”

One World

The Man, The Myth, The Legend – Ya Gotta Be Wacky

I knew it was REALLY summer when I was a kid when my dad would arrange our annual trip to Wildwood.  Cozy Morley’s Club Avalon was a dingy looking building on it’s best day, but our faces would light up when we pulled into the parking lot of the Wildwood icon for a night of laughter.


To start with, we always felt grown up.  There were never very many kids there, as the club played like the lounge in a cheap motel.  There were drinks – small glasses, filled with ice cubes; and the only food to be had was your choice of potato chips or pretzels, sold in cellophane bags.  My dad would order our sodas, snag a couple of bags of chips and pretzels, and, because we had gotten there as soon as the doors opened, we would watch the throngs of people cram into the club.  Rows of tables filled with South Philly – neighbors or people my dad knew from work would inevitably be among the crowd, along with parents and grandparents of people we went to school with.  The room was divided almost by neighborhood – tables of Italians; rows of Irish; groups of Polish – it was just like a block party at home.

The show was the same.  Every year, Cozy would tell the same jokes, people would laugh, we’d eat our chips and drink our drinks, waiting for the songs we all knew and sang along with him.  Even as a kid, I felt like I knew the nuns he joked about – the ones who were 6’8″ tall, until you grew up and realized they barely broke the 5′ mark.  We would laugh when he’d point us out in the crowd and tell us that we dressed the way kids of his generation had to.  And even though we weren’t dirt poor, I couldn’t help but connect when he talked about how his family was from such humble, South Philly beginnings.  His tag line would become our tag line for the rest of the summer.  “Ya gotta be wacky!”

I can probably tell most of the jokes.  How his family was too poor for an Easter outfit, so they’d buy him a hat and let him wave out the window.  Or the one about how tough Catholic school was because every classroom had a guy hanging on a cross in it.  I can sing the songs.  On the Way to Cape May – my dad would start singing it on our way down the shore, and sing it all the way home again.  I can see ladies’ cheeks getting pink when they would get up during his no intermission show to use the ladies room and have Cozy call out to her not to go, promising better jokes or drinks.


He was a South Philly legend, an icon of the Jersey Shore, a generous humanitarian, and a part of my childhood I’ll never forget.  At 87 years old, he took his final bow in this life to share his jokes with those in the next.  I know there’s laughing and singing in heaven today, but I can’t help but think this world will be a little bit sadder.

Rest in peace, Cozy Morley.  Thanks for the laughter, the memories, and for giving me another piece of the best childhood a kid could have.


How Not to Starve on Two Meals a Day – The Disney Dining Plan


Friends and family alike are always asking me questions about the Disney Dining Plan.  Is it a good value?  Can I eat anywhere I want?  Can I eat anything I want?  But the question that keeps coming up again and again is the question about how much people need to budget for the third meal that is not included in the quick service or regular Disney Dining Plan.

And my answer to that really should be – you aren’t going to starve.

In addition to credits to cover you for two meals, you also get a snack credit for each night of your package on either of those plans.  When I tell them “snack”, most people think an ice cream bar or a box of popcorn, but when I tell you what your other snack options are, you’ll understand the not starving thing.

If you’d like to save your meal credits for lunch or dinner, check out some of the amazing breakfast options that count as a snack.  You’ll find muffins, pastries, scones and coffee cake on the list of snacks you can use to enjoy breakfast.  You might also opt for a mixed fruit cup, a whole piece of fruit, a hefty cinnamon roll (you could share this between two people!), or a yogurt.

Maybe breakfast has to be your biggest meal of the day, so you’d like to use one of your meal credits to get yourself a nice platter of breakfast foods somewhere.  Save those snack credits for lunch instead – or even a light dinner.  If you’ve eaten a big breakfast, you might be satisfied with an egg roll or some sushi, both options you can use snack credits for.  If you’d like something a bit more filling, you’ll find one snack credit buys you a good sized serving of chili cheese fries.  Be Our Guest has delicious and filling crocks of potato leek or French onion soup as snack offerings.

You might split your snack credits with friends, and make a meal out of the lobster bisque and a whole baguette – each one snack credit – available at the recently opened Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie at EPCOT’s France pavilion.  A nice breakfast is half an oatmeal and half of a yogurt and fruit parfait – a whole one of each is available at Animal Kingdom for one snack credit each, and can be shared with a friend.

You’ll find carrots and celery with dip, trail mix, and nachos and cheese – all of which are offered in pretty generous serving sizes that will tide you over until your next meal.  I haven’t met many people who regret sacrificing snack credits for food that is more like a meal.


And don’t forget – you can grab a dessert with your meal that can be boxed up and eaten later – as a snack!

Jack the Salmon Slinger – or Children Whose Moms Should Be Smacked

As I was sitting enjoying a lovely dinner out recently, I was introduced to the most stealth of toddlers.  It wasn’t a formal introduction, where I got to look him in the eye and shake his hand, tell him how much I admire his work.  Our introduction was a sneaky one.  What is that slimy feeling on my foot?  What is that fishy smell in my daughter’s handbag?  What is that wet stuff in my hair?

baby flinger

And there he was.  His back was turned to us, but we recognized him immediately.  Jack the Salmon Slinger.  We have encountered his kind before.  Cereal Chucker.  Spaghetti Shooter.  Lima Bean Launcher.  They are the babies who express their dislike of certain foods by flinging them – or even more stealthily, dropping them – on the floor around them.

What irked me most about Jack the Salmon Slinger was not Jack himself.  I’ve had my own babies try this sneaky route out of eating foods they didn’t like.  The person that pissed me off most in this situation was the Slingers Mom.  Let’s call her Wino-na.

As Wino-na downed copious amounts of African white wine, she blindly took the food from her own plate I don’t think she enjoyed and broke it into tiny, toddler sized pieces, and without looking, she dumped them on the plate in front of Jack the Salmon Slinger.  Faster than Wino-na could pile up mounds of salmon, Jack was snagging them off of his plate with his left arm, and as if it was spring loaded, the arm would snap back, releasing the offending salmon, propelling it in various directions behind him.  Where I sat.

My daughter, who alternately rolled her eyes and sighed in disgust, while picking pieces of salmon out of her handbag and off of her sandals, said, “What are you supposed to do to stop that?”

That, my sweet daughter, is called parenting.

You don’t sit there, completely oblivious to the tiny human being sitting in the high chair next to you, while you drink more wine than the college of cardinals during Papal election.  You glance over at the little guy once in a while, see how he’s making out, be sure he hasn’t flipped himself backwards out of the high chair – which Jack tried to do a couple of times as the mountain of salmon grew before him.

baby food flinger

Where was Jack’s dad, you might ask.  Well, poor dad was at the other end of the table, alternately running up to the beautiful Boma buffet and putting in his own best effort at keeping Jack the Salmon Slinger’s sister, Suzy the Chicken Finger Flinger, from making her own food throwing tornado.

Would it kill you to take a glance in the direction of your child?  Make some eye contact?  Put the wine down for a minute and chat with the little guy, maybe slipping in a bite sized piece of salmon into his mouth while he’s laughing at you entertaining him?

I hear people ask often what’s wrong with kids today.  There’s nothing wrong with kids.  Ask what’s wrong with their parents.  We’re so busy connecting with the global community anymore that we sometimes forget to slow down and connect with our own dining room table.

Where Jack probably does Sling Salmon.  But maybe if Wino-na glanced in his way once in a while, she’d know what those of us sitting near him knew in the first five minutes.

The boy just doesn’t like salmon.

McDonald’s – Not My Kinda Place


Fast food restaurants are notorious for their cheap eats.  You’ll find $1 hamburgers, cheap chicken nuggets, frugally priced french fries – things that would be a value deal for most families.  The one thing that never made any sense to me in this “fair deal” environment was the price of sodas at these fast food places.  For what they charge for a large soda, you could easily buy a 2 litre soda at the grocery store, take your fast food home, and drink the flavor soda you like.

I do not drink soda, and as a result, I almost never buy soda for my house.  My kids act like it’s Christmas when, after a party or a houseful of company, we have soda left over that I let them finish off.  You will almost never be able to go to my refrigerator and grab a cold soda, because even when I have company, I buy bags of ice and keep the valuable fridge space for important things, like my mother’s potato salad.  As a result, my lazy children, who will go get themselves a can of soda, are used to drinking it at room temperature because they are never motivated enough to fill a glass with ice and pour the soda over it.  Where did these kids come from?

Whenever I take my kids out, they order their drinks without ice.  They’ve grown to prefer it that way – Granuaile especially.  She hates ice in her soda, probably more so because she often leaves her drink and comes back to it later, when an ice filled drink would now be watered down and nasty.  When you go into places like McDonald’s, you can get your own drink, so it never occurred to me that my kids were in some way taking advantage of good old Uncle Ronald by grabbing soda without ice.  I mean, you can go back and refill your drink to your heart’s content.

But did you know that if you go through the drive through of a local McDonald’s and ask for your kids meal soda without ice, they will charge you EXTRA?  It’s .10 more for a soda without the ice in the drive through, even though a kid can refill a cup inside a dozen times without paying any more.

Who instituted this policy?

This is certainly never going to break me.  It’s a dime. (although, I have learned that it goes as much as .89 upcharge to order a drink with no ice).  But honestly, it’s a principal thing at this point.  Why are you going to charge me a few extra pennies to get a full cup of soda in the drive through, but let me get as many full cups of soda as I want inside without penalizing me?

We are always talking about making our last fast food visit really our LAST fast food visit.  This may be just annoying enough to motivate me to stick with it this time.

It’s Too Hot to go to Walt Disney World!

Bite your tongue!  Some people – including those of us with school aged children – are bound by school schedules, sports schedules, and even work schedules (says the teacher-to-be), and a vacation to Walt Disney World has to be done during the hot summer.  When it’s hot.  And humid. And did I mention hot?

Summer, though, is the best time to have your cake and eat it too!  You will want to arrange your day to beat the heat, but that will give you a chance to maybe do some of the Disney things you never have time to do!


My best theme park tip for the dog days of summer is to hit it early and hit it hard.  Be at the park at rope drop, and if you can take advantage of morning extra magic hours, DO IT!  As soon as you arrive, snag a FastPass for your absolutely must do attraction, then get in line for your second must do.  Chances are, you’ll have both of those attractions done pretty quickly, and can move on to your next FastPass and your next attraction.

If you are doing FastPass+, schedule your attraction choices for early in the day or later in the evening.  This will not only help you avoid the hottest part of the day, but it also might help you miss the typical afternoon thunderstorm Central Florida is known for.

By lunch time, you’ve probably melted to a puddle bodily fluids.  You’re ready for something cool, comfortable, and away from the theme parks – something you might not think about if you were there when it was cooler.

Now is the time to take advantage of the OTHER side of Walt Disney World!  Check out Downtown Disney for some shopping and a nice lunch.  Head to the AMC 24 at Pleasure Island, where you can do a Fork and Screen movie/lunch show, enjoying the hottest first run movies in cool comfort.  How about the so hot it’s cool Splitsville for a game of bowling and one of the best burgers at Walt Disney World?


Have you ever done DisneyQuest?  A hot afternoon is the perfect time to visit this gaming mecca, with virtual reality, arcade, and video games galore.  You can grab a quick bite to eat here – and save room for some of the great desserts!

Take the afternoon off to take a dip in the pool.  Pop on the monorail for some resort hopping afternoon shopping.  Or enjoy the heat of the afternoon in a spa getting your nails done!

disney spa

A hot afternoon is a great time to enjoy some of the Walt Disney World attractions you may typically overlook, so when the heat index is rising, split your theme park day in half.  With an attraction packed morning and an afternoon cool down, you’ll be ready and refreshed to shut the parks down at the end of the day!


An Open Letter to Husbands – You Won’t Read This in Cosmo

God knows, I love my husband.  He can be thoughtful and considerate, and rarely goes into a store without bringing something out for me.  He’ll go into WaWa or 7-11 for example, and come out with a bag of cheese curls or a chocolate bar.  Then he’ll run into Walgreens and bring out a fitness magazine.

Yeah, I know.  How he hasn’t been murderized yet is a pure miracle.


I am taking it upon myself to write this letter to all husbands, though, my own included, to avoid the brutal execution of ignorant men across the planet – the ones who order you a mushroom and extra garlic pizza when you asked for plain cheese, then whine that you’re ungrateful because they brought you a “surprise” instead of what you wanted.

Dear Husbands:

You’re lovely, really, and quite thoughtful, in your own way.  However, there are some things you just haven’t quite grasped about living with the adult female, and in your own best interests, possibly preventing excruciating bodily harm, you really need to know these things.

1 – Do not congratulate us on how great we are doing on our diet by bringing home Krispy Kreme Donuts.  Or Dunkin’ Donuts.  Or Tim Horton’s Donuts.  To simplify, if you are celebrating weight loss with anything that contains the word donut (or the more proper doughnut), you are doing the wrong thing.

2 – Please do not come to bed after browsing an internet “documentary” on a site that requires you to verify that you are 18 or older and expect that the average female specimen has the ability to to contort her body into such a way that she can give you a back rub, trim your nose hairs, cut your toenails, compliment your manliness, and suck her own toes.  The women in your “documentaries” are aliens.  No real women do those things.  Not even for diamonds.  Or Jaguars.

3 – “Helping” around the house when company is on the way does  not mean go clean out the glove box in the car.  It means scrub away the spot on the kitchen floor from the root beer you spilled not five minutes after your wife last mopped the floor, then vowed not to clean up your mess, resulting in a battle of wills your wife has been winning, until this minute when she now has to scrub that spot clean for company unless you finally do it.

4 – You are not “babysitting” when your wife has to run out to the store and you are left with your children.  You are “parenting” – babysitting implies I have to pay you, feed you junk food, and book you in advance for all major holidays.

5 – You are not “parenting” if the time you spend with your children involves you propping a bottle up on the edge of your desk to feed the baby so it doesn’t interfere with the gaming controls on your video game.

babysitting 2

6 – Lastly, if you see it in Cosmo, read it in Hustler, or gaze at it on Fit Magazine, it’s not real.  Those women and the deeds they claim they do are made up.  Like unicorns.

I hope I’ve saved a few lives today.