Row, Row, Row…your KAYAK??

The Fearless Five-Some...BEFORE WE HIT THE KAYAKS

Row, Row, Row your boat…gently down the stream

The kids and I are heading off to kayak with my Dad and his wife, Jannie.

Not to worry, my Dad and Jannie are experienced with kayaking.

Once, they were with a guided group in Hilton Head several years ago. The rest of the group headed to shore when the storm clouds gathered. Dad and Jannie were out there paddling in circles–going nowhere. Thunder crackled and winds whipped up, making the waters choppy. The guide got fed up and headed for the beach, just left them out there. Thank goodness they managed to drag themselves to safety.

Then there was the time in St. John’s where they accidentally wandered into the shipping lane. The next thing they knew,  a ship was bearing down on them–and they paddled for their lives to get out of its path.

So, my Dad and Jannie have experience with kayaking. (I didn’t say it was good experience) and kayaks are available to those staying in our condo complex at no charge. The kids (or at least my son) wants to go and so I must go with them. Though I would feel much more comfortable if there was a guide.

Though my Dad did go out with the ‘pro’s once and did a fine job paddling. When they were done, he exited the kayak…and fell in.


At the condo…

Me: They don’t tip over, right?

Jannie: Oh no. It’ll be fine. Just don’t lean over the water.

Dad: Well, there was the time I tipped that one in Florida…

At the beach (without Dad & Jannie) 

Me: (Speculating about the waters we’ll be in) What’s in there?

Carissa: BIG FISH…

Me: Like, sharks?

Joey: I’m sure its fine. (gave Carissa ‘the look’)

Carissa: What? Wouldn’t you want to know what’s in there before you went?

Carissa: biiiiiiiggggg FISH.

Me: Sharks…I’m not going out there with sharks. They said there would be ‘critters.’ There were dolphins in the pictures…

Now I’ve done it–the family is all over this. (And laughing at me). My brain is coming up with all of the ways this could go wrong… 

Joey: It’ll be fine. Or else they wouldn’t let you go out there. It isn’t good when tourists get chewed on…or disappear. That stuff makes the news.

Me: I really don’t want to be ONE with the sharks. Nor do I want to be up close and personal with them.

Joey: Probably just gators.

Me: Like that’s better? The kayaks are close to the water.

Joey: Yes. But these critters are generally water breathing…they don’t tend to jump out of the water. This isn’t Jaws!!

Aunt Kate: (to Uncle Joe) Remember in the Bahama’s when we were snorkeling and we got to stick our heads in the water and watch the sharks feed?

Me: (Sweating…)

Aunt Kate: That was probably one of the coolest things we’ve ever done.

Joey: If you see fins, just think ‘dolphin.’

Don’t get me wrong, I would love to kayak in a nice, safe pond.

But this is kayaking adventure is one I could live without.

My son fears almost nothing. Dad and Jannie are quite fearless, more because they’ll do anything. They just don’t think about what could go wrong. Then there’s my daughter who is afraid of spiders, bugs, critters—if a bug crawls up on her kayak, there is no doubt she is going in!! Then there’s me…

Merrily, merrily, merrily…life is but a dream…

A Day at the Beach…

My Dad whipped open the blinds to let the sunshine in first thing this morning, as we all tried to ready ourselves for the beach.

Dad: He’s eyeballing us…

The four of us:Huh?

Our New Friend...

Dad: The alligator out there.

We all crowded around the sliding door.

Jannie: Want me to take a picture.

Me: I’m not going out there. How fast can those things move?

Our new friend...a little closer thanks to Jannie.

Dad: He’s eyeballing us.

Jannie: He’s 20 feet from our door. I’ll get a picture.

Dad: She does things like that.

Me: I’m not going out there.

Jannie heads outside…

Dad: Good Luck Hon…I’ll be in here if you need me.

After getting ready, we hopped into the Trusty Honda and headed for the beach. I’m just grateful our old hunk of junk made it down to Hilton Head Island, with 200,000+ thousand miles on it.

Matter of fact, my son has been harassing me over it. Because the car has manual locks, I am a broken record of  ‘lock the doors.’

Son: Yeah. We’re parked between all these nice cars, and somebody’s going to want to take the Accord?

Me (thinking in my head): Okay. Good point.


We are surrounded by very nice vehicles–this is Hilton Head, after all. And I’m fairly sure my car is the only one with peanut shells littering the floor.

Remember the graduation party peanuts? And my recent blog about them? I was given a whole bag last week after that posting. I brought them on our road trip—and my Dad drove my car for hours…eating peanuts the whole time. (The kids along with him.) Already a heap, it now looks like The Ground Round on Wheels…

At least the Trusty Honda is dry now. The night before we left, somebody left the windows open. And there were torrential downpours all night.

We traveled yesterday with towels on our seats. It was like sitting in a damp bathing suit…for twelve hours!

Anyways, they have a guard stationed at gated checkpoints in all of the private condo complexes—called ‘Plantations.’ We passed through one such place on the way to the ocean.

The Guard Shack at Palmetto Dunes…

Son: Doesn’t he look like a he could be a stripper?

Me: He looks like he could be in The Village People.

Mirrored aviator sunglasses. A navy ‘police’ look-a-like uniform. Dark skin. Muscular. My son has a point…he looks like he could rip off his pants from the front exposing a g-string, while gyrating about. He could be that guy in a heartbeat.

Past the checkpoint, we arrive at the ocean and the crew starts to assemble down on the beach. I have just gotten situated in my beach chair, book in hand.

Along comes my cousin, already making fun of his lovely wife. At it is only 10am.

Cousin: Carissa thought somebody from the store opened her jelly.

Charming Carissa: All I said when I went to make my toast was, “Somebody probably had some, right?”

Uncle Joe (who had in fact had some): I left it out. With the butter knife. And spoon. So she would know…

Cousin: That wasn’t what she was thinking…she was wondering if there was a Jelly Robber around somewhere.

And it went on from there…for a while. They had a field day with their Jelly Robber theory. Not that I minded. The focus was on somebody else. I read my book, while they had at her.

You can imagine what a beating I take in this family. I give them continuous material ALL DAY LONG.

In fact, I took a pounding the evening before for commenting that I should put the bologna in the fridge. It was in the cooler during the trip from Ohio to South Carolina.

Bologna fiasco…

Aunt K: But it was in the cooler.

Me: Yes.

Aunt K: I don’t want any. Don’t bring it over to my place for lunch.

Cousin: Do you know what’s in bologna?

Son: There’s…

Daughter: DON’T. I already TOLD you that today!!!!

I’m just there…listening to things go down.

Aunt K: I’m not eating it anyway. It’s been in that cooler for what…12 hours? Is there even any ice in there?

Daughter: It was just about melted.

Aunt K: It’s GOT to be floating in water by now.

Daughter: Yep. It was last time I looked.

Cousin: And anyways, we’re not eating that over here. Bologna is like, mystery meat.

Son: Yeah, they put…

Daughter (who was in fact planning to eat it): STOP!!!

Aunt K: I’m going to have to have a look at that stuff. It can’t even be cold anymore…

Me: ENOUGH about the bologna. I’ll throw it away. I wish I never even bought the bologna.

There is good reason my brother has only been on the family vacation to Hilton Head once. Back many years ago when he was married and his wife (now ex-wife) put him in charge of sunscreen—which he purchased, special for the trip.

Sunscreen is important for my brother because he is one of those pasty white people who burn easily. He didn’t like the sun…even when we were kids.

On Day 1, they were like boiled lobsters. And they just couldn’t understand it. You have never seen anything like the way they slathered on that sunscreen—and with such frequency. None of us were burnt.  Puzzled, we asked to see their sunscreen several days later, when they finally made their second trip to the beach. Let’s just say my brother bought tanning lotion, with zero—yes zero sun block in it. This did not make his very, very red wife happy. He has never lived it down.

Then there was the time he went a#@ over teakettle after dropping down into a beach chair. It was a mess—he was all tangled up in the chair, legs in the air, head in the sand…and we did help him…eventually—when we caught our breath and could contain the laughter.

The best thing about my family?

We laugh at ourselves. And we do it a lot. We find humor in most anything.

As I sit typing this my daughter is flinging pillows about looking for bedbugs. Tossing the blankets back. Her face inches from the sheets…This is quite the investigation.

The sunset from our condo...

I can tell you one thing. It isn’t going to be pretty for her come morning, when the crew gets a hold of that one.

Again, I need to do all I can to keep the focus on others…

It’s all I’ve got.

Perfume…for Public Pooping??

Having arrived on Hilton Head Island a day early, we check into our condo tomorrow–which means there are five of us stuck in a large hotel room tonight. With ONE bathroom.

Me (As my Dad went into the bathroom): I was just going to shower. He is probably going to take a dump!!

Jannie (Whips a cute little bottle out of her purse): I’ve got this POO POURRI…

Dad (Coming out of the bathroom. Still a few steps behind the conversation): Huh?

Me: Where did you find it?

Jannie: At this boutique near my hair salon. They have really unique things, but this was the only thing I could afford…

A product meant to be sprayed into the toilet bowl to block odor, it is made of a variety of oils that coat the surface of the water. As the log breaks the surface and slides under the oil barrier, the stench is stifled.

Tag Line: Spritz the bowl before you go and no one else will ever know!

Yes. For real.

Me: How much was it?

Jannie: $10 for this tiny bottle…

Dad: For $10, I’d rather have it stink!

By now we are all snickering…

Katie: That would be awesome. I could go in public then…

Dad: I guess it depends on what kind of dump it is…some of them are worse than others.

Jannie: My cousin wants some for her birthday.

Dad: Is that in the budget? Like, I’ve been eating peanut butter on stale bread for lunch for months!!

Jannie: I bought it before the budget…

Now we are full out laughing…to the point where we cannot breathe.

Of course, we had to get on the Internet and find the POO POURRI website:

They sell a multitude of Before-You-Go Bathroom Sprays, including: No. 2, Heavy Doody, Crap Shooter, Call of Doody and much more. Tagline for Heavy Doody, The Right Tool For a Big Load…

This could be the Perfect gift. A little quirky. And yet, so practical.

And it has probably made a few people very, very wealthy! Obviously, their website is chocolate brown…

-20 lbs? And without a diet…

For some reason, I hopped on the scale two evenings ago. Something I hadn’t done in at least six months, maybe more.

That’s right. At the end of the day. Fully clothed.

I seem to have shed 20 lbs since last fall. My first thought? If this keeps up, I could lose another 20 by next summer…

Because I lost it gradually—with zero dieting.

I was slowed down last summer, after tearing my meniscus while gardening. Yes, gardening! Trust me, I still take a beating from my kids over this one. They have a lot of fun with it.

The knee injury gave me a different outlook. I am one of those people who are always moving. And suddenly, I could hardly walk.

After my knee surgery, I was able to walk normally again. I had really missed being able to walk. Such a simple thing that I now appreciate more than I ever have.

I began walking my puppy in the woods again. Not to punish my body, or to whip it into compliance with my ideallook. More to get fresh air, to enjoy the fact that I could again. (And it is always good to tire out a puppy.)

Gracie Puppy after her walk...

Is there anything more magical than being outdoors?

It is ironic that I spent my 20’s and 30’s trying to beat my body into submission via exercise and diet. I was a member of Weight Watchers many (into the double digits) times over the years. I cut out all carbs, and then slowly added some back in using an Atkins like program. Then cut them out again, if the scale told me to.

For a long time, I got up at 5am, left the house at 5:30am to get to 6am High Impact Step Aerobics classes in the 90s. I returned home in time for my then husband to head off to work and with two babies waking up ready to begin the day.

I’ve had many gym memberships over the years—mainly for the winter. When I tired of the step aerobics, I began running outside. I’ve always liked to run. (Still do, but I don’t want to risk hurting my knee…) I ran a few miles each evening, weather permitting—who am I kidding, I ran when it was not permitting! Then did longer 5-mile runs sometimes. In the winter, I would hit the gym. Because I am easily bored I would start with the treadmill, then move to the elliptical…and so on until I had been a gerbil for about an hour. Followed by the weight circuit for toning. Sit-ups. Push ups.

Because I lived in a neighborhood and had young children, we went on bike rides on and off all day long. And I realized that if I put on my rollerblades, it was the Perfect pace to keep up with my maniac son as he rode—and he rode a bike without training wheels at 2 and could ride all day. He was (and still is) full of energy. Those living in the neighborhood made fun of me as I rolled by throughout the day…sometimes for the fourth, or fifth time.

Anybody who has raised a busy boy, will understand…

Either keep them moving and tired, or lose your mind when they bang around the house. And I do mean bang…hockey pucks slapped into doors, he back-flipped off of beds and frequently, accidentally sent breakables crashing to the ceramic tiles.

As for my eating habits. Tiny oatmeal packet and fat free yogurt for breakfast. For lunch? Turkey on low fat bread (no mayo) and fruit. Leftover grilled chicken over a salad. Good Seasons dressing with no oil in the mix…just extra water and vinegar. Grilled lean meat such as chicken or London broil for dinner. Steamed veggies. Baked potato with some pepper on it. Snacks? Fruit, Smart Pop Popcorn, another yogurt with a tiny handful of pretzels. Get the idea…

And when I was cutting out carbs…an egg white omelet with veggies for breakfast. Lean lunchmeat rolled in a lettuce leaf for lunch. Veggies and lean meats for dinner. Without the carbs, the body is never hungry. But eventually, it becomes impossible to keep such specialty meals going. And when the scale creeps up and one goes back to the strict two weeks, it stops working in the way it first did. I rolled this way for about two years.

As I’ve slid into 40, I am just too old to live like that anymore.

I want to enjoy my life. Eat popcorn at the movies or a football game. I want to have cake at a birthday party. I want to have a grilled hot dog and potato salad at a summer picnic and turkey and regular mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving. And I think we can all agree that the mashed potato’s made from cauliflower aren’t bad—just not the same. (At least the recipes I tried many years ago…)

So how did I shave off 20 pounds???

I relaxed my standards and stopped worrying about it. It isn’t about ‘looking’ a certain way, more about being comfortable in my own skin.

A wise woman (actually a therapist I saw a handful of times while getting divorced) once told me that my weight would settle into where it wanted to be. That the extra pounds would come off when it was ready to. Or when I was ready, I suppose.

After my surgery, I walked in the woods a few times a week through the fall. And I ate normally, adding in healthy things that I like. I noticed my clothes felt a bit looser through the holidays. I kept walking sporadically when I could in the winter, which was not nearly that much due to our snowy winter in Northeast Ohio…

As spring approached, last years shorts were loose. Hallelujah! When does that happen?

With the nicer weather came more walks. And these are not ‘death march’ style walks. Many days, I take the dog and shuffle along the beach for however long I feel like it. An hour, an hour and a half…I don’t time it. I simply walk until I am done and ready to go home.

The sand and terrain is uneven, so it seems to have strengthened my knee. I constantly bend down to pick up beach glass or a cool rock—and come home with pocketfuls. Kinda like a lunge, or a squat right??

And I am incessantly throwing sticks or a ball for the dog to swim out and fetch. Would that be considered arms? There is a huge hill that I have to walk up and down to get to the  beach…it no longer makes me breathless.

This is ‘my time.’ Pleasant time passed in reflection, or sometimes not thinking at all. Just relaxing my body and mind. I cannot miss my ‘outside time.’ I need it. Even in the winter, I will go out and shovel the walk to get fresh air. Though I have a teenage son, I sometimes mow the lawn just to be moving outdoors.

As for my eating habits, it’s hard not to enjoy all the fresh fruit and veggies in the summer. And I have. If I want something, I have it. I just don’t have a mass amount of it. I have a slice of cake—not 3 slices. I love dessert. I try to love it a couple of times a week, not everyday. And the odd thing is that having lifted my restrictions and giving myself permission to have what I want, I often want what is healthy for me anyway!

I think what tipped the scale a few extra pounds to minus twenty was giving up Diet Coke.  What’s amusing is that I gave it up because it was too expensive to keep it in the house with the teenagers drinking it. It simply wasn’t in my budget. Plus, I hated to pass on my addiction to the teenage set. And I wasn’t about to drink something in front of them, while and telling them not to—or that it wasn’t good for them. I have never been on board with the “do as I say, not as I do” style parenting.

Day three with no caffeine left me with a screaming migraine…it wasn’t’ pretty. But it has almost been two weeks and I don’t even want it anymore.

Which is insane when I think of the times I rolled out of bed to find we were out of Diet Coke, immediately got dressed and headed to the store for my ‘fix.’ That annoyed me, as well.

Water is free and making fresh brewed tea is cheap.

What’s next for me? I’ve wanted to add Pilates back into my life for a while. I enjoyed it when I took Pilates classes years ago.

And I’ve been thinking of getting a bike for several months. Because I loved biking when I took several bike rides a day when the children were little. And I used to ride my bike to work when I had a part time job at the local Recreation Office near my house. And to the local library. Very relaxing to feel the rhythm of your feet turning the pedals. There is a reason children love to ride bikes!!

Plus, I recetnly leaned that biking is a good way to strengthen the knees. And I am all about anything that helps me avoid hurting one of my knees again.

I’ve admitted that my first thought when I saw the number on the scale was losing more.

My second thought? Screw that. I am going to enjoy how I feel today.

And that is just what I did yesterday when I packed for vacation. I am taking some of my favorite clothing to Hilton Head tomorrow. Most of it two sizes down from where I was at last year.

It always baffled me that people lived without scales. That they claimed to ‘listen’ to their bodies and how they felt in their clothes. I always felt that was a load of crap.

Now I’m not so sure.

I guess time will tell…

The Parents Secret Weapon…

Hilton Head a couple of years ago

The other day was a flurry of activity and errands to prepare for the vacation that I can’t afford to take. When I tried to explain this to my father, he used the Parents Secret Weapon in dealing with their grownup children, “Well…I might NOT be here next year!!!”

No rebuttal from me. We are going.

My Dad and his lovely wife have a time-share in Hilton Head, South Carolina and they invited us to go along. There are other family members who are staying in a nearby condo—My Aunt, Uncle, Cousin and his wonderful wife. To prepare, the kids and I headed out to the store.

At Chick-fil-A, our big dinner out…

Darling Daughter: I just don’t see how thongs are comfortable. Everybody always says they are.

Me:Just wait…at my age, you want to cover up with britches—not use astring to section things off, or accentuate whats back there.

Darling Daughter: They wear them with dresses, so there is no underwear line.

Me: (Speechless as that seems a horribly bad idea)

Son (Ears perking up): Really? Why not just use a shoestring?

Me: (Still stunned speechless at the thought of stairs, a breeze…)

As it happened, there was a Car Show out in the parking lot. As we left dinner, I asked the kids if they wanted to walk over and look at them:

Darling Daughter: We could just drive by.

Son (Under his breath so that only his sister could hear): Better make sure she uses focus and doesn’t crash into one of the cars…

Both Kids: Snickering as they get in the car.

Me: Better not drive down the row. I might clip one of the Perfectly Pretty cars, while looking at another.

The kids had a Sister Brother bonding moment. And a good laugh.

Walking into Target with a stream of shoppers…

Me (Asking for it): Does anybody need anything?

Darling Daughter (Loud): Yeah…a THONG, Vagisil, Preparation H…

Me: (Again, speechless…people got whiplash, turning their heads to stare at me with The Eye. The one that accuses the mom of being a lousy parent…)

Both Kids: Snickering, then flat out laughing.

At the shoe section…

Me: What size are these flip-flops?

Darling Daughter (Deadpan): Ugly!!

Nearby shoppers…again giving me the lousy parent look.

Honestly, my week began on a low note. So going out with the kids was a needed diversion. And my kids just love to go shopping with me, so that they can come up with new ways to make an a%# out of me in public. As if I haven’t already got a handle on that one.

My Dad on a past Hilton Head vacation...he was having deep thoughts, or maybe resting his eyes?

I go along with it and take what they dish out—who am I to complain that my kids get along and like each other? Even if they bond over toying with me.  These little adventures are what connect us as a family. At least that’s what my parents taught me…

So many adults don’t share their lives with their parents for one reason or another. I am lucky that I can.

My Dad’s take on my current woes…

Dearest Dad: Looking at my stormy past I have no right to judge anybody, so I will pass on any judgments. In my old age, I am trying to practice two things and keep repeating them to myself—slow to anger and keep your (my) mouth shut!!

Me (thinking in my head): That might have been good to know before today…


The Gang...lounging in our chairs as the sun begins to set on the ocean.

Dearest Dad: And when there is no recourse to change the situation, we have two choices #1 Dwell in the past and be miserable or #2 Move to the future and the challenges that lay ahead. #2 is much more attractive, eh?  (That’s my Dad’s humor in the lesson) We need to go to Hilton Head and have fun—and forget the past.

And so we are going to Hilton Head. And we may be eating three square meals of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Because that is what I can afford.

Who cares? I will be eating my peanut butter and jelly sandwich tossed in a beach chair, book in hand, with a toe dipped in the ocean. But more important, the people I love most in this world will be flanking me in their beach chairs…

And that is all that matters today.