Saturday, May 25, 2013

That's All, Folks!!

After 3 years, 3 months, and an odd number of days, I'm all done with blogging.

It was great fun while it lasted. I learned a lot. But now I know I'm done, and I'm ready to unplug.

Thank you so much for sharing pieces of your lives with me. I won't forget about you.

Peace and best wishes!!


Thursday, May 23, 2013

"Trek" Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

I'm a die-hard Trekker, and I grew up watching the original Star Trek series in syndication. I've seen all of the movies, and every episode of every Star Trek TV series, with the exception of Deep Space Nine and Voyager (which are on my to-watch-someday lists, and they are on Netflix, thankfully). My favorite TV versions so far have been the original series and Enterprise, probably because of Spock and T'Pol. I love Vulcans as first officers/sub-commanders. So, of course, I'm loving the new movies, and I'm dying for another TV series in a few years.

I finally saw the most recent movie: Star Trek: Into Darkness. Not bad, not bad at all, but also probably not my favorite Star Trek movie ever -- for me it's still a tie between Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home and Star Trek: The Movie (2009) -- the one that finally brought my DH over to my side as a fan.

Anyway, Into Darkness was a tad too action-packed, with too much stuff blowing up all the time, and not nearly enough focus on the relationships between the characters. But it was still not bad, and a fun time at the cineplex was had by all with me that night.

I love all of the new old characters, except for one little quibble: I wish Chris Pine as Captain Kirk were slightly better looking - that's not to say he's unattractive, but honestly, he's no young William Shatner, and he's certainly no Chris Hemsworth playing his father, Captain George Kirk. Yum and yum.

Without going the spoiler route here, may I just say how thrilled I was that a key element of the plot was not leaked beforehand! I loved that it came as a total surprise, and circled back to the original series and earlier movies so elegantly. Well done, J.J. Abrams. I see why you're box office gold these days.

Are you a Trekker? Would you see either of the most recent movies anyway?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Our Italy Trip (A Long Time Coming)

One of my dreams came true this month. It was arguably the best thing ever for the long-term health of my marriage, too.

We took a 9-day road trip through central and northern Italy -- just me and my husband, without the kids. We felt like empty-nester retiree types, only we're in our late 30s and we have two preschoolers.

Seriously, DH and I had not had that much alone time to have even a full conversation and/or as much sex as we could handle since around 2005. It was fantastic. And it's been hard to return to the stresses (even the happy stresses) of real life.

The kids stayed at my parents' house, and all of them reported that it was the best time they ever had together. My dad thinks the kids have never been more fun, especially our 5.5 y.o. son, who has apparently inherited his grandfather's great sense of humor. When we called to check in one night, my dad had trained him to say to us: "We've been locked in the closest the whole time and Papa only lets us out to eat." He delivered his lines perfectly and we all had a good laugh.

My parents are, quite honestly, the perfect grandparents. They took the kids to the zoo or the park everyday, took them to see two plays, a nature center, a kids' craft event, and a baseball game. The kids can't stop talking about how much fun they had. (Can you say: lovingly spoiled?)

About how the trip came together - one day DH came home and told me he had just spoken with my parents and they had agreed to watch the kids so we could take a long trip to Italy together, which by the way he already booked because he found a great deal on Travel Zoo (and it was apparently also on Groupon). And he had already checked my work calendar and cleared out my schedule for me. Wow.

We've always wanted to go to Italy, and even though we've each traveled all over the world, remarkably, neither of us had ever been to Italy. Plus my husband speaks fluent Italian thanks to his family heritage, so this fact is all the more shocking. We fully intended to go as a belated honeymoon the spring after we were married, but then the Pope died, and travel to Italy suddenly became prohibitively expensive for us. Dream deferred.

Now, dream realized. It was awesome: Roma, Toscana, Venezia - yes, Venezia is a tourist trap, but I say, "Please, go ahead and trap me!!" We focused our visit on Roman ruins and wineries - and threw in a few museums for good measure. We had the best service ever in restaurants, thanks to DH's Italian. Lost count of how many times he told his family's American immigration story. I've never gotten so many things on the house before.

Our friends loaned us their GPS that already had Italy programmed into it. They said it would save our marriage. It did. Having the actual GPS coordinates ahead of time for one of the more remote hotels we needed to find was probably the smartest move we made. It was so remote, in fact, that the hotel put up a video on YouTube of someone driving to it to help guests find the place. Which cracks me up. We also got a kick out of the British-sounding voice of the GPS (a Garmin) garbling the names of Italian streets.

Prior to this travel, I had not done trip research in ages. The Lonely Planet guides used to be my go-to book references, and they've served me well for years. In March, I finally heard of PBS travel guru Rick Steves, and I gave his travel guides a look, too. For Italy, I think I like the Rick Steves' Guides a bit better, although clearly he enjoys museums a lot more than we do, so we by no means took all of his advice.

We flew Iberia on the way home. Not my favorite airline ever. (Nobody will ever beat the awesomeness of Cathay Pacific out of Hong Kong, the airline love of my life.) Though after we were seated, they were kind enough to give us a free upgrade to business class, I suspect because I speak Spanish - I definitely didn't request it. The Americans seated around us were like, why them but not us? Lo siento, cholos! The only real logistical surprise was when had to test the size of our carry-on roller bags twice at the Venezia airport, and I was concerned we were never going to get my bag out of that metal contraption again. But it worked.

We want to go back soon. Like every year and then retire there (unless we have grandkids we're lucky enough to see....). Our next trip will include Milan. Someday.....

So that's where I've been, and why I haven't been commenting on your blogs until recently. Do you share my affection for Italy? Where is your dream destination?