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Dear Parents of Older, Non-teenage Boys (i.e., Survivors):

I need your advice. As you may know, I have a 14 year old who tests my patience.

But I just spent a week on a cruise with him. It was … interesting.

It started out in typical fashion. He was cranky:Once on the boat, it seemed like he would fall into last year’s freak-flag-flying habit of making a face in every photo:

But then he got sick:

And kept everyone up three nights in a row by coughing. So I got back at him in my own special way: by harassing him mercilessly:

You can tell he isn’t feeling well:

And here he is being nice to his “cousin” Mia:

But we Lysoled the place every day to reduce germs:

And soon he was back to normal, making sure the stingray was a girl before he would kiss it:

And harassing his father:

And Ryder:

And telling me he planned to troll the hot tubs to score numbers (in this getup and baby glasses he found, no less):

So my question for you is this:

How do I keep the funny, silly Dominic and get rid of the one who is such a pain on the reg?

Not fix his phone so he’s forced to communicate with us? (He’s shattered two.)

Or just accept that he is 14, hormonal, and PERHAPS too much like me?

Thanks in advance for words of wisdom.

Gratefully,
Beth, Mother of a Dragon

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Dear Carnival:

It was so great to see you again. I’m sorry our three-family tribe cheated on you with Royal Caribbean.

It won’t happen again.

You have everything we want:

Comfy chairs where Edgar can nap, and Pat can play his games

Photographers willing to take unusual pics

Plans

Limited tolerance (for what, I’m not sure)

Maybe for Swedish girls throwing gang signs (?)

Places for Uno battles to break out

PLENTY of places

Places to play with children too

Even enough room to pay a push-up penalty if you are too loud while playing Uno

An unflappable wait staff

Exotic food liked smoked oysters with some kind of weird froth

Games designed to titillate while taking Edgar’s money

Elevators big enough for parties of 11

The ability to get intimate with sea life

And, most importantly, the chance for friends to get together and have fun year after year

There is only one thing we needed but couldn’t have: unlimited bacon.

Fix that, and we’ll love you forever.

Still, we’ll see you next year.

Wet, sloppy stingray kisses,
Beth

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How to have a great time in New Orleans around Mardi Gras without losing your money, mind or morals
By Beth, Bon Vivant

So you’re headed to The Big Easy, and you want to make sure your trip doesn’t end up going viral on social media for all the wrong reasons? I hear you. I’m here to help with a short list of DOs and DON’Ts:

DO:
• Go with a long-time friend who is very familiar with the area and has a hat you can borrow when you get cold.

Wendy, Beth and Wendy’s hat. And new bead necklaces. (More on those in a moment.)

• Fortify yourself with Char-Grilled oysters from Felix’s. (Don’t wait in the line for the inferior Acme across the street. And don’t wait in the Felix’s line on Iberville: Go around to the one on Bourbon.)

• Appreciate the wit of The Crescent City denizens.

• Take advantage of smaller parades when they pop up as you are walking down the street. People in the parade will force beads on you whether you want them or not.


• Blend in with the rest of the tourists at a packed dance place.

• Say “Oh HELL yes” when your long-time friend wants to go to the Chewbacchus parade, which features a multitude of Chewbaccas (Chewbacci?).

• Marvel at the coordination it took to get so many different groups on board — groups like the Leijorettes.

• Admire festive outfits.

• Make friends with law enforcement officials. You’ll want them feeling friendly toward you should you make any mistakes. (Not that I did. I was very well behaved. But Officer Cummings and I became chums anyway.)

• Sample season-specific cocktails.

 

DON’T:
• Sample too many season-specific cocktails. Or too many of any, really.

• Pay attention to certain calls for action. Everyone has a smartphone and social media account!

• Argue if anyone says the Saints got robbed (“Blow whistles, not games“).

Laissez les bons temps rouler, y’all!

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Review of Isle of Hope carriage house:

As this is a new listing, I didn’t know what to expect. I shouldn’t have worried: My five-night stay with Lisa and Rob was fantastic. Even their children, Cole and Cali, made me feel welcome by inviting me to play Unicorn Magic Ring Toss and Old Maid.

Lisa and Rob are exceptional hosts. They always had red wine on tap, offered me a homemade burrito, and Lisa went with me to various Savannah hotspots including The Jinx, Barrelhouse South, Congress Street Social Club, the Georgia Tasting Room and 17Hundred90. She even paid for parking. Now that’s a great host!

The carriage house had everything I needed to make my stay perfect — including something dead.

I would recommend the Isle of Hope carriage house any time. Two thumbs up!
Beth

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Hello all!

I know that this time of year is supposed to be merry and bright. And usually I am too.

I love to travel, but sometimes it brings out the Grinch in me.

Allow me to elucidate.

Why I’m annoyed today:

1. There is no direct train from the city to any of the New York airports. In a city that is so good about public transportation, this is ridiculous. One of the best things about Atlanta is that you can take Marta directly to the airport. Well, the domestic terminal, anyway. If you are traveling international, the planning ninnies make you take a shuttle bus AROUND the airport. Stupid.

2. If a person has TSA Precheck, it’s a fair assumption that he knows the drill with the bins. Not the guy in front of me. He was a hot mess: Wrong boarding pass, waiting for the bin slot directly in front instead of going to the other two that were open, not realizing he couldn’t take his phone through the scanner. Dude, stay home.

3. If I’m sitting by myself in the waiting area, and there are five dozen open seats, DO NOT sit down next to me. I will cut you with my eyes.

4. Once you get on the plane, sling your suitcase in the overhead bin and immediately sit your ass down. People who take their time talking, taking off jackets, finding their glasses, etc., while BLOCKING THE AISLE (usually old white guys) drive me crazy.

5. The armrest is Switzerland.

Anyway, aside from minor annoyances like these, my annual birthday trip was great. I’ll write about it later.

Love and kisses,
Beth

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Dear Trish,

The family and I are in Arizona because of you, my long-time blog cast member. This is not my kind of place, and I can’t believe you willingly came to live here.

The pilot told us the temperature as we were landing: 102 degrees. That’s not hospitable for human life.

When we walked out of the Phoenix airport, a furnace blast nearly killed me on the spot. Remember that guy whose face melted in “Raiders of the Lost Ark?” Like that.

Stop with that “at least it is a dry heat” crap. It’s a hot heat. So hot. Hotter than Kid Rock’s “So Hott.” Satan’s sunroom hot. Like I crawled into a pizza oven hot.

We drove to Sedona in air-conditioned comfort — thank God — but the poor Chevy Cruze did struggle.

You know what we saw on the way? Dirt.

Dust.

Cacti.

Cacti giving us the finger.

Who lives here voluntarily? What the HECK, Trish!?

You are paler than I am. How can you stand it?

I’ve put my lily-white skin in peril for you. You know I wouldn’t miss your big day, even though you and Irv did decide to get married on the same date Eddie and I did. You date hog, you.

Well, at least we spent our anniversary doing something fun. Sedona turns out to be one lovely spot in this godforsaken land. Thanks for choosing it as the final destination.

And you clean up nice, so there’s that.

As much as I’m complaining here, you know we would not have missed your big day.

Love you, and congratulations!
Beth

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Dear British Signmakers:

I’ve enjoyed reading your work, but I have questions. Please clear up my confusion.

Zebra? That looks like a man to me. (BTW, it is supposed to be pronounced “zeeebrah,” people.)

Does that mean it is easy to get in? You’re inside like a smooth criminal? Is the opposite a lumpy or awkward entrance?

Why would you send me to use yet another toilet that is out of order? That’s what you mean by a “disabled toilet,” right? (Also, I know your establishment is called “Yo! Sushi,” but I think you needn’t be cute with the sign.)

Is it still a deal if you have to take a taxi back to your lodging? Or if you have to pay someone to hold your hair back? Oh wait … now I see the ampersand.

Who is eating fish in the bathroom? And what’s that other stuff? A can of spray paint? What happens in toilets in Oxford?

Do women in pubs really need all these face and hair potions? Wouldn’t it be good to have put some condoms in there too, as is offered in traditional vending machines? I would assume ‘girls on the go’ might want those. Equal rights and all.

You know I’m just kidding: I know what all these signs mean to convey. Just some light teasing from your odd American friend.

Love you!
Beth

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