Dear CBS, Renew Intelligence

TO: The Powers That Be at CBS
From: A 40 something woman with some disposable income
RE: Intelligence (Monday Night’s 10pm EDT)

'Meghan Ory, Josh Holloway & Marg Helgenberger' photo (c) 2013, Gage Skidmore - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Dear CBS:

It’s March, and already talk is swarming about what TV shows will be renewed for next season. It’s a little early, but ok, I’ll to add my two cents.

I have to be honest, I’m not a reality TV person. In my opinion Reality TV brings out the shallow and petty side of humanity. I’m not much for horror or cat fights either. I like intelligent sitcoms (Good call on locking in the Big Bang Theory for 3 more years). Mostly, I tend to stick with dramas. I know they are fiction, products of someone’s imagination and usually, they wrestle with topics larger than what designer someone is wearing. I like action. I live what is more or less a quiet life, but like the mother in the comic strip Rose is Rose, deep inside is an inner warrior just dying to get out and save the world.

I love characters like NCIS’s Ziva David, Criminal Minds’ Jennifer Jareau and NCIS: LA’s Kensi Bly. Intelligence’s Riley Neal and Lillian Strand, are also women who can hold their own in a man’s world without sacrificing the emotional intelligence that women bring to a situation. Although occasionally I am left to wonder about Lillian’s “softer” side.

As soon as I started seeing the promos for Intelligence, I set a note in my calendar to set the DVR. Marg Helgenburger’s voice, powerful and commanding, bade me tune in. I love my Tivo® and typically I record a show and watch it at my leisure. With Intelligence, I’m impatient and find myself watching it live. I can assure you this is a rare occurrence.

The casting on Intelligence is awesome. Josh Holloway is certainly easy on the eyes, as is Michael Rady. Megan Orly and Marg Helgenberger are a treat to watch as they come at keeping Gabriel safe from two similar by different perspectives. P.J.Byrne’s character Nelson makes me giggle (I’m a fellow Eagle) and I love John Billingsly.

'P. J. Byrne' photo (c) 2012, Gage Skidmore - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Nelson: “You built a stun bomb?”

Cassidy: Long technical explanation

Nelson: “You built a stun bomb.”

Cassidy: “Hee, you bet your ass I did.”

The ideas are interesting, but I’ll be honest, I’d like a little more intellect and a little less boom (only a little).  I loved the Athens episode. It was wild to watch Josh Holloway play a completely different character. The idea of Man vs. Machine is one for the ages. Our recent society has made such huge technological gains. We accept this as status quo and only a small minority stops to question “Hey, is this really where we want to go?” and usually long after we’ve “gone” there.

The writing is off to a strong start, but the team clearly needs time to gel. It’s like when you make a soup, you pull together the best ingredients, fresh vegetables, quality meat, homemade stock and fresh spices. You chop and dice, mix everything together in the pot, and heat it up. But, by far the most important step is giving the flavor’s time to blend.

The cast is great, the story ideas are great, but the execution has the occasional bump. The’ve got the technology nailed, but they need time to smoothly work the characterizations into the drama. Right now, it sometimes feels forced and at times unwatchable. For example, Nelson’s plea “Please don’t let them die too” in Patient Zero made me cringe. But, earlier in the same episode I loved his hissed line “She’s a Disney villain!”. The exchange between Riley and Gabriel when she tackles him at LuAnne’s house was brilliant.

I really enjoy the live Tweet sessions with the cast, writers and EP, Michael Seitzman. It’s fun to really feel connected to the show and the behind the scenes info is interesting. They are great about fielding questions and that adds to the feeling of connectedness. I imagine as the show gets bigger (and it will), some of that will drop off, but that’s a trade I’m willing to make.

Intelligence is off to a great start and it is clear that the cast and crew are all invested in the show’s success. We as an audience need time to gain some depth on these characters and the writer’s need time to smooth over the bumps.

PLEASE, there is so much to explore here, give it a chance to mature and come into it’s own. Bring Intelligence back for the 2014-2-15 Season.

Haven’t seen Intelligence? Check it out online at www.cbs.com/shows/intelligence. Part 1 of the two-part season finale will air Monday March 24th. Come on CBS, don’t make it the series finale.

Anna Nalick – At the Tupelo Music Hall

The music business is such a strange beast. If an artist doesn’t fit into a specific niche, it can be a struggle for them to succeed. It seems so often when talented artists aren’t willing to stay between the lines, they are passed over in favor of someone willing to adhere to the prescribed path.

Anna Nalick, New Voice, Old Soul

Anna Nalick and I after her March 9th performance at the Tupelo Music HallAnna Nalick was a huge commercial hit with her debut album Wreck of the Day. The song Breathe (2am) had a lengthy run on the charts in 2004-2005. I was definitely a late comer to the album, but I have listened to it front to back, back to front and shuffled seven ways to Sunday. I just love her voice it’s very rich and her lyrics, unlike much of today’s music, are open to interpretation. She’s publicly stated she prefers her listeners draw their own conclusions about the meaning of her songs.

Anna Nalick was in her early 20’s when Wreck of The Day hit big, but her music appealed to a more mature audience. Breathe(2am) hit #45 on the pop charts and #4 on the Adult Contemporary charts. After Wreck, Nalick put out an EP entitled Shine with Sony records, but then it was announced she’d split with the label over “creative differences”. Independently she put out one more collection of songs called Broken Doll & Odds & Ends. A group of unpublished songs she’d written while with Sony. Good songs, but not necessarily commercially viable in the genre ruled world of commercial radio . We’ll never know what happened, but my guess is the record label tried to shoe horn Nalick into their preconceived ideas of what a successful pop singer should be and she refused to be categorized.

I thought she was gone. Poof! Everybody has to make their own choices about the work that they do and how much they are willing to compromise themselves to meet someone else’s expectations. It was my guess the price of fame and commercial success was just too high. I checked her web site occasionally, but nothing new seemed to be forthcoming.

Anna Nalick’s Facebook Page To the Rescue

Thank goodness for social media! Last week, a concert announcement appeared in my Facebook feed. Anna Nalick was touring again! Yay! Not only was she touring, but she was kicking off the tour in my backyard, well almost. WOOT! WOOT! I had dinner plans but I bailed on my friends (they’re good friends who understand my obsession with music) and immediately started searching for someone to go with me. Alone or with a friend, I was going to see Anna Nalick! Thankfully, my friend Jill rescued me from going solo.

I didn’t know what to expect, it has been quite a while since she’d put out any new material and her voice is so rich on the recordings I wondered if she’d be able to match that live. I was not disappointed. This was the first stop on the tour and as a self-proclaimed talker, she was clearly a little nervous, but the audience was encouraging and she settled into a wonderful performance. It was just her and a keyboard player. Together they performed songs from both of her full albums and mixed in a few new songs that were well received.

During the show, she talked of taking some time off after leaving Sony to clear her system and get back to being a more “honest songwriter”. She’d also started taking classes in creative writing and acting. She’s performed in one play and excitedly talked about a second play she would be performing in upon completion of this tour. I kept hoping she’d say “I’ll have a new CD for sale at the end of the show”, but instead she said “I just have to write lyrics for two or three more songs and then there will be a new record.” Sigh, I guess knowing there is something coming is better than thinking I’d never hear her voice again. After the show, she chatted, signed autographs and posed with fans for pictures.

I really enjoyed seeing Anna Nalick perform and I am looking forward to hearing new music from her. She’s a gifted songwriter and a talented songwriter. I really hope that she can rise above the monolithic recording industry and well shine.

Do you like Anna Nalick? What’s a new artist you just found? I’m always looking for new music.

http://www.annanalick.com/

I’d never been to the Tupelo Music Hall before, but I’m really looking forward to going back! The parking is a little wonky, but the venue itself is intimate and enjoyable. 

“It’s a Business Decision” – A Primer On Managing Change for Small Businesses

'Open Sign' photo (c) 2010, Brian Hawkins - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/ “It’s a business decision”.

I’ve heard that blasted statement twice lately. Once in a personal situation and once in situation that was less personal, but impacted me none-the-less. One business handled things well. The other? Well, let’s just say there was room for improvement.

We say “it’s a business decision” as though that statement wipes away all the pain of the change. It doesn’t. It’s an attempt to depersonalize the situation. It’s not about you, it’s about growing “The Business”, making it successful, making more money, serving a different audience. None of these things are wrong per se.

The problem, especially in consumer focused businesses is that it IS personal. Businesses spend a lot of time building relationships, engaging their audience and growing a community. It’s that kind of warm fuzzy feeling that encourages customer loyalty and the best, least expensive form of advertising, word of mouth endorsements. Then the business makes a decision to change their offerings, change course or change personnel. POOF! The warm fuzzy feeling is gone.

So what am I saying, that businesses should never change? Never grow? Psssh of course not. It’s all in how you as a business owner handle the change.

Communicate Communicate Communicate

It’s important to communicate honestly and sincerely about the change. In some circumstances it’s best to provide advanced warning. Give people a chance to warm up to the idea of a new service offering or a new teacher. If possible ask for input from those who will be affected.

Some circumstance require you to share the news quickly, like ripping off a Band Aid®. Sometimes it’s just not possible to consult those who will be impacted. The key is knowing your audience, viewing the change from their perspective and communicating. Remember you might be over the moon about the change, but  your patrons might not share your excitement.

Respect Customers’ Feelings

Change is hard for most people, especially if they are heavily invested in the community you’ve built. Those impacted by the change may have strong feelings. Respect them. Remind people that the change isn’t personal and encourage them to try the new program, or service.

Honor the past

Ceremony (even a small one) allows us to mark the time and provides a sense of closure. The temptation is to ignore the sadness, and anger that comes with change, but acknowledging it and facing it head on leaves everyone with a better feeling in the end.

Is a well loved staffer moving on to bigger and better things? Invite customers to sign a card or have a small going away party. No longer offering a specific service? Send customers a quick list of highlights, thank them for their patronage and invite them to transition to the new offering.

Move on

It’s important to be respectful, but don’t dwell. Assuming you’ve made the decision with the best interests of the business in mind. It’s important not to waiver. Don’t give the impression that if people complain enough things will go back to the old way. Hear people out, but gently remind them that this is your business. You’ve enjoyed their patronage but if the new scenario isn’t going to work for them, it’s ok if they find another provider.

Rebuild

It is inevitable with change that some customers will leave. You can’t please everyone and for your business to succeed and thrive, you have focus on meeting the needs of your target audience. It’s hard to see them go, but wish them well and focus on those who’s needs you can serve best.

Change is hard, but with a little effort, it possible to execute it with minimal hard feelings and maximum growth.

 

Choffy – Delicious Brewing Chocolate

Choffy 100% Ground Cacao Beans When you open a bag of Choffy the delicious aroma of chocolate tickles your nose. It’s not a super sweet smell, but rich and decadent like the best chocolate you’ve ever tasted. Choffy is 100% premium cacao beans that are roasted and ground. It brews like coffee, but it tastes like a grown up hot chocolate. It’s not sweet (unless you add sweetener), but it sure scratches that chocolate itch.

I first read about Choffy on blog, that was doing a giveaway of Choffy. I was so intrigued, I didn’t even enter the contest, I went straight to the distributor’s site and ordered a bag. Yummmm. I’ve been drinking it both hot and cold for a few years and I decided it was a product I could really get behind, so late last year, I signed up to become an Independent Choffy Distributor (you may have seen references to Choffy on my DreamBoard and my 2014 Goals).

Choffy doesn’t have any of the negative side effects (that hard crash or the jitters), of caffeine and there are only 40 calories in a 12oz cup! You can fulfill that craving for chocolate without going over board on calories. Choffy is naturally high in anti-oxidants and can even improve your mood. Don’t take my word for it, visit the Choffy website for more information on the science behind the health benefits of cacao and Choffy.

There are several blends of choffy including Ivory Coast, IC Dark, and VoltaThere are several different brews of Choffy. My favorite is the IC Dark made from cacao beans grown on Africa’s Ivory Coast and the new Volta made from beans grown in Ghana. Choffy can be brewed in a drip coffee maker with a gold filter, but for the best experience I recommend using a French Press (you can pick one up from Amazon for around $10 or why not pick up a thermal french press?). Choffy retails for $15.00 per bag (Volta is $16.50, but oh is it worth it). If you are local to me, I keep stock on hand so shipping fees are less because I order in bulk, if not, shipping is just $5.75 for up to 3 bags. Just visit http://www.drinkchoffy.com/leelaughlin to place an order and with a few clicks of the mouse, your Choffy will show up at your door in just a few days.

Here’s my recipe for the perfect cup of Choffy.

Ingredients:

4 Heaping tablespoons of Choffy in a Choffy Tumbler Press

16 oz. boiling water

A healthy splash of vanilla (about a teaspoon)

A pinch of salt

A 1 teaspoon of raw sugar

A splash of milk

Directions

Add the Choffy to the Tumbler Press and set the water to boil.

Add the boiling water to the Choffy and let it brew for 5 minutes.

Add the vanilla, sugar and salt to your favorite mug.

When the Choffy is ready, add it to the mug and stir.

Add the milk to taste.

Enjoy!

Have questions? Please contact me at lee.laughlin@gmail.com or visit my distributor page http://www.drinkchoffy.com/leelaughlin to place an order.

My Goals for 2014 – Let it go! Let it GO!!

Let it Go, let it go, that perfect girl is gone. Here I stand, in the light of day, let the storm rage on. The cold never bothered me anyway. (Lyrics from the song Let it Go from the Movie FrozenIt is now the beginning of 2014 and I took my kids to see Frozen last week. “Let it go, Let it go!” is my mantra. It’s time to stop hanging on to the things, beliefs and behaviors that are not supporting me, not serving me. I’ve come to the conclusion that no one is holding me back but me.

I started by going from 5 drawers full of paper to 3 drawers. I signed up for e-statements from any merchant that offered them. I emptied my office of clutter and finished off a pile of tasks that have been hanging over my head for some time.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that have a tendency to bend over backwards to make things easier for other people (especially my kids). Then, I get frustrated when I’m at my wits end because I’m overwhelmed and doing things for other people but not finishing my own tasks. I’m terrible about asking for help until I’m at my breaking point. I’ve been making a effort to look at my weekly to do list and identify things that can be handed off to others. This also requires me to let go of my flawed perception that my way is the BEST way. I keep reminding myself that DONE is the best.

After the Christmas vacation that wouldn’t end (thank you Mother Nature for that little temper tantrum) I spent some time evaluating where I am and where I want to be. Now I’m working on how to get there. It’s a commonly held belief that sharing your goals publicly makes you more accountable. Gahhh that’s scary. I mean what if I fail? On the other hand, if I make my goals public, perhaps people will better understand why I have to regretfully say no when they ask me to do something. I tend to reflexively say “yes” or “I’ll do it.” I’m a firm believer that you don’t get to complain about the problem if you aren’t actively trying to be part of the solution. This year, I’m trying to narrow the focus of problems I’m trying to solve and as for the rest of them? “Let it go! Let it go!”

They are definitely still works in progress, but here are my goals for 2014:

  • I will devote 5 hours a week to non-contracted writing. Non-contracted writing is fiction, essays, blog posts for which I’m not paid. Yet.
  • I will find one more regular writing gig. No someone looking for a writer? Please visit my freelance writing web site.
  • I will place one essay in a new publication.
  • I will drop 10 pounds by 12/31/14 I have tried this in the past and had some success, but I suspect there are some physiological reasons why I’m not as successful as I’d like to be. I have an appointment to address this issue this week. I also have co-conspirator in exercise this time around and we share similar goals.
  • I will make a profit of $500 from Choffy sales (more on this in future blog posts).

What about you? What are your goals 2014? Don’t have any? Check out my post on Live to Write, Write to LiveI talk about several goal setting worksheets (Hint: Some of them are even free!).

It's time to see what I can do. To Test the limits and break through. No Right, no wrong, no rules for me, I'm free! Lyrics from Let it Go from the Movie Frozen

 

 

 

 

Candles In the Window

'Candles' photo (c) 2010, Lori L. Stalteri - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/ Last month, we awaited the arrival of a late day snow storm, and my mind wandered back to the early 80’s in Pennsylvania. I was in 8th grade. I had science last period so we were in Mr Bauer’s room. I had my coat on, but not zipped. It was important to be ready to bolt as soon as my bus was called, but one had to balance that with comfort while waiting for what seemed to always be an interminable amount of time. The room hummed with adolescent energy. We were ready to be done with school long before they were ready to release us.

Unlike recent years, at that time, the mid-Atlantic states weren’t know for heavy snow fall. Precipitation in December was typically freezing rain or sleet. A white Christmas was a rarity. This day was no different. I can’t tell you whether what was falling was sleet or freezing rain, but it wasn’t accumulating, so we didn’t pay it much attention. Just. Let. Us. Go. Already! Five minutes past dismissal, no buses. Ten minutes, fifteen minutes and finally at twenty minutes past dismissal there was an announcement. The roads were awful and the buses were delayed.

Mr. Bauer told us to take our coats off and encouraged us to start on our homework. Yeah, right. We chatted, we read. Eventually some of us caved and begrudgingly pulled out our homework. An hour and a half past our normal dismissal time, the busses started to trickle in. Half an hour after that, my bus showed up. As I skated down the walkway to the bus, I looked out to the road in front of my school and saw nothing but taillights. Uh Oh.

It was 12 minutes from school to my house without traffic. With traffic, it typically took us closer to 20 minutes to make the trip. That day it would take almost two hours. By the time I stepped off the bus it was almost 7pm. I was toast, exhausted, fried, frustrated and hungry.

As I walked to the house, I almost burst into tears. In my absence, my mom had pulled out the Christmas candles and put them in windows. I had always lobbied, for brighter, more colorful decorations, but that day, I came to appreciate the simplicity of an electric candle with a white bulb on the windowsill.

I was home.

She met me at the door with a hug and helped me out of my stuff. She sent me to the living room where she’d lit a fire in the fireplace, a rare weekend treat that was unheard of on a week night. She brought me a mug of hot chocolate and left me alone by the fire to enjoy Andy Williams album Merry Christmas while she finished dinner. I was in heaven.

I haven’t spent Christmas with my mom in more than twenty years (not for lack of trying), but this year, as I made my way through the season, I am noticed her absence more than other years. I’ve carried on the tradition of candles in the windows and I smiled every time my house came into view. I still listen to Andy Williams Merry Christmas, albeit in digital form. I couldn’t change her and I can’t change the past, but I tried to focus on the good memories and let the bad ones melt away like the sleet and freezing rain. Some days I’m even succeeded.

Plan to Eat – Making my life easier every day

I am a planner. Some might say to the extreme, and now that I have a son who appears to have inherited the same tendency, I can see where this is sometimes frustrating for those close to me. *ahem* However, there are times when this trait comes in handy. The kids are heavily involved in karate (including weapons training), Cub Scouts, Student Council, Chorus and numerous volunteer activities. I take a kick boxing class 2-3 times a week and my husband is rarely in the door before 6:30pm. Fish’s food sensitivities make it hard to eat out, so if we are going to eat anything other than breakfast for dinner, I have to plan ahead.

Meal planning is not new to me, I’ve done it in various forms for years. Through Tsh at The Art of Simple (formerly SimpleMom.com) I found PlanToEat.com and that has radically changed my meal planning and grocery shopping for the better.

With PlanToEat, I can keep all of my recipes in one location. I can input recipes manually to capture those handed down on recipe cards and, there is even a handy clipping tool for my web browser so I can snag all the mouthwatering recipes on the Internet. I can also easily share them when people ask for recipes.

Yes, there are lots of recipe sharing platforms out there, but Plan To Eat is so much more! It makes my shopping list for me! Once I select the meals I’m going to make, I can click to the shopping tab and see everything I need to create those meals. I check off the items I already have in my pantry (olive oil, salt pepper etc.) and add the items not tied to a recipe (e.g. Gluten Free Chocolate Chex or toilet paper) and voila! I have shopping list. It’s web based, so I can access it from my iPhone. I bring it up in the parking lot just in case the store has bad cell service. If PTE can’t access the Internet, it will check off items as you put them in your cart and delete them from the list when signal is regained.

The cost is $4.95 a month or $39 for a year. (see below for a special offer), but my sanity says it’s money well spent. I also like the fact that I’m supporting a small business. Really small. Plan to Eat is run by husband and wife team Clint and Lisa, they live with their four children in the Rocky Mountains. You can learn more about them and their business philosophy at the web site http://www.plantoeat.com

I wish the shopping list would include bargin shopping features (i.e. pricing tracking by store), but I’ve been impressed with their response to questions and requests for new features, so I’m happy to stick with it.

There is a 30 day free trial (they don’t even ask for a credit card *gasp*), so you an try an out to see if it is fit for you.

Do it! Do it now! Take a look at PTE now, because starting November 29th, they’ll be offering 50% off annual subscriptions. That means 12 months of Plan To Eat is just $19.50! The special rate will be available until December 2nd.

I believe in this program enough to sign up as an affiliate so if you click that link above and sign up for PTE I’ll get a little thank you from them too :).  Check it out and happy meal planning!

Simple Meal Planning - Plan to Eat

Nana’s Earrings

Small gold hoop earrings with a heart in th emiddle and a snap claspA-Man’s Nana was his mom’s mom. She lived independently into her 80’s until she was killed in 2003, the day before Thanksgiving in a car accident. *

After Nana’s death, the family set about sorting through Nana’s things. One night the ladies gathered around Grammy’s kitchen table and sorted through Nana’s jewelry. Among other things, Grammy gave me a pair of gold earrings. They are small hoops with a heart in the middle.

I love them. They are simple, but a little out of the ordinary. I’ve worn them more or less non-stop since she gave them to me. I have several pairs of earrings, but I rarely change my earrings. I’ll change them for special occasions but even then that’s 1 or 2 times a year. Honestly, it just doesn’t occur to me. I realize that admission will get my membership to the National Fashionista Society revoked, but it’s the truth.

I’ve lost one of Nana’s earrings a handful of times. The way the clasp is made, sometimes they get caught on a sweater or something. One time, the earring flew into a glass of water I was drinking and I accidentally poured it down the drain in our bathroom. I. FREAKED. OUT. A-Man came to my rescue and took apart the drain to fish it out. Once, one flew out of my ear as I took off a bulky sweater. I knew it was somewhere in my bedroom, but damned if I could find it. “Help me out here Nana” I said out loud. The next day, the sun glinted off of something shiny under my husband’s dresser. Yup, the earring. It’s not that I’ve gotten callous, about them, they are still important, but over time, I’ve become less of a stress puppy if one disappears. I’ve been reassured, she would have wanted me to wear them.

Recently, we drove to Ohio. While there, I bought a cool scarf at Old Navy. If my neck is warm the rest of me much more likely to be warm. The earrings kept catching on it. Oh the things we do in the name of staying warm. On the way back, we stopped at a Radission in Utica, New York. The next morning, not long after our first gas/bathroom break, I realized my left ear was earringless. I did the body pat down, checked the scarf thoroughly and looked all around me. All for naught.

Nana & A-Man Before our weddingWe weren’t going back. I couldn’t have told you where I lost the damn thing so there was no point. I was sure that this time the earring was long gone. “Sorry Nana.” I said looking skywards. A confused A-Man, needed me to explain what to him, was an out of context utterance. He agreed the earring was gone, but pointed out they’d had a good run of almost 10 years (hard to believe she’s been gone that long).

When we got home (after a few more stops), we gratefully, rapidly, exited the car and unloaded all our gear. I made one last trip to the passenger seat to clear out my travel detritus. Wouldn’t you know it, there was the earring on the floor of my car.

Thank you Nana!

 

*The other driver admitted that she a) didn’t have a license and b) was looking down at the time of the crash. Still she was never charged with a crime. Sometimes life’s not fair.

 

Things I Discovered on a Road Trip to Ohio

Last weekend, we drove from New Hampshire to Ohio to celebrate the 80th birthdays of two of my Aunts on my Dad’s side. We don’t see this side of my family often, so it was really important to me that my whole family attend. Even early on in the planning airfare for four would have been North of $1,200. Ouch. The decision was made to drive. We lived to tell the tale, but I learned a few things along the way.

  1. My cousins, their spouses and their kids are quite a talented bunch. For publicly available examples see Carmen & Ginna Maugeri, Michael S. McGinn,  Christine Guillott Ryan and David Ryan. You’ll have to trust me on the other stuff.
  2. When given the choice between Route 90 and Route 84, Route 90 wins. Hands down. EVERY. TIME.
  3. The little sliver of Utica, New York that we saw reminded me of Concord, New Hampshire.
  4. Once you get out of New England, the terrain is flat. REALLY flat. A corollary, it IS possible to be on the same highway for more than 450 miles. For those outside, New England, our roads frequently change names or designations after just a few miles. There’s nothing quite like getting onto the Mass Turnpike at 7pm at night and hearing the GPS say “Stay on Route 90 for 460 miles.”
  5. Tim Horton’s is what Dunkin’ Donuts used to be. Best damn glazed donut I’ve had in 2o years!
  6. The New York Thruway (a.k.a. Route 90) is worth the tolls for the rest areas alone.
  7. My kids are good travelers (and for that I am grateful!).
  8. When Google says it’s a 12 hour drive, add an additional two hours for gas/bathroom/food breaks.
  9. Even with good music and kids who travel well, a 14 hour drive is too damn long. Turns out we really are air travel people.
  10. Sometimes, no matter the price, the trip is worth it just be with family.

Me with five of my cousins (we're two short of a complete set)