Dear Snarky – My Sister’s “Poor Me” Act Ruined Our Family Vacay

Dear  Snarky,

 I have some advice for you – never travel with family. For over a year now we have been planning a Disney World trip for my parents 40th wedding anniversary. My parents said they would cover all the airfare and the hotel room charge but any expense beyond that you had to pay for.

 Well, of course, my deadbeat brother-in-law and cheap sister show up and say they have “no money.” We are standing outside the Magic Kingdom and can’t go in because they “need help” getting their tickets. They also “needed help” stuffing their faces at the park and at the end of the trip my mom tells me that my sister and her husband had a room service charge that was almost $500!

 They ruined the trip with their non-stop begging and “poor me” attitude. My parents, my husband and I, along with my two brothers had to take turns paying their way. Then, they have the gall to extend their trip and go off on a beach vacation of their own. So, they can’t pay any money for a Disney trip, but they can afford their own beach vacation. I was so furious I sent them a bill for what they owed everyone and now my mom is mad at me for “stirring things up.”

 I don’t feel like I did anything wrong. Did I?

 Signed, Not happy

Dear Not Happy,

 You did nothing wrong and I applaud the fact that you sent them an invoice and I hope you stamped payment due upon receipt in big red letters. The fact that no one has ever called them out on their B.S. is why they have zero problems taken advantage of family members. Not only did they mooch off you, but they did it in such a way that you couldn’t say no. Seriously, standing outside the park with no money – it’s calculated and downright diabolical. They knew, at the very least, that your mom would pay for their tickets. And then for them to go off on their own vacation after fleecing your parents and siblings – I have no words.

Here’s a hard truth – sometimes family members suck and don’t deserve your generosity. Trust me, it’s time for some tough love for this duo and the way I see it they’re lucky all they got was an invoice.

*If you have a question for Dear Snarky – 21st Century Advice With an Attitude 😉 – email me at or PM on my Snarky FB page.

Dear Snarky – All Inclusive Fancy Family Vacation Gets Downgraded to a Courtyard Marriott

screen-shot-2016-12-18-at-6-48-54-pmDear Snarky,

 My parents for their 30th wedding anniversary invited all of their 4 kids plus spouses, plus my two aunts, to celebrate with them by paying for us to go on a trip with them to an all-inclusive resort. 

 Now two weeks before the trip I found out that only my parents are staying at the resort and the rest of us are at a nearby Marriott Courtyard – four to a room!!!  I’m married and my husband and I will be sharing a room with my sister and her husband. WTH!!!! 

 When I asked my mom about this she said that the resort turned out to be more expensive than they thought so the Marriott was a cost cutting option and the “lot of us could just Uber back and forth to the resort.” 

 My husband who never wanted to go says this is a sign from God that we should bail out now. Do you think he’s right?   

Signed, Not a Brat

Dear Not a Brat,

 The way I see it you have bigger problems than bunking four to a room. Fancy resorts have safeguards in place to stop non paying guests from using their facilities. The fact that your parents are staying there doesn’t mean the rest of you will have free reign of all the resort has to offer. The only amenity you maybe enjoying is the complimentary Courtyard waffle bar.

 I would sit your parents down with a sibling or two in tow and have a discussion about the realities of this vacation. As in, “Hey mom I don’t think we can crash the resort everyday.” Next, work through a solution that may involve family members either resetting their “gifted” vacation exceptions, offering to contribute some financially or not going (and not going may offer mom and dad some financial relief).

Your parents may have gotten in way over their heads by offering to pay for a trip for so many people or your mom might be doing a bait and switch. But I think it’s more likely that it could be one of those instances where they were caught up in the excitement of  “Yay family vacay on us!” and then when they did the math panic set in.  The bottom line is you’re family, be honest with one another and work this out with love and brutal frankness.

 *If you have a question for Dear Snarky, “21st Century Advice With An Attitude” email me at or send me a PM on the Snarky FB page. 😉


Dear Snarky – I Posted A Mug Shot of My Sister-in-Law on Facebook

Dear Snarkydear_snarky_logo-1

I might have caused a forever-family rift and I need your help. We did a huge family spring break trip to the beach and because we were just with family some of the moms, including myself, wore swimsuits that we would never wear back home.  We looked horrible and super fat, but didn’t care because we were with people who shouldn’t judge us about how we look.

Well, a week after the vacation my super skinny sister-in-law, posted our fat ass bikini pics on her Facebook page! We were all furious. So, a couple of days later I posted a mug shot, from probably 5 years ago, on my page of my sister-in-law when she was arrested for a drunk and disorderly with the tag “throwbackthursday.”

Now, everyone, except the other moms in the bikini pic, hates me and my father told me that because of me all of our “family vacations” are in jeopardy. I already apologized and took the picture down. Is there really anything else I can do? Oh and my sister-in-law still has that bikini picture up on Facebook.

Signed, Sort of Sorry 

Dear Sorry,

I’m not going to say your sister-in-law didn’t deserve a little payback but the mug shot was probably going to far. I think a social media sharing of an arrest trumps a stomach flab status update any way you look at. So, my suggestion is why don’t you and maybe your entire family take a break from kinfolk vacations for a long while. Let feelings simmer down and allow sometime for everyone to get over it or until a messy divorce takes center stage.

I would also suggest no more family beach vacations and next spring break opt for a ski trip where everyone is wearing puffy clothes. Plus, always and I mean always, beware of your sister-in-law. Trust me eventually she’s going to exact revenge.

*If you have a question for Dear Snarky 21st Century Advice with an Attitude please email me at or private message me on my Snarky Facebook page.

Vacationing With Teens – What No One Tells You

Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 6.55.00 AMIt might seem like vacationing with your teenage children would be a lark, a breeze, perhaps even one of those golden moments in time when your joyous week of togetherness manifest into familial bonding heretofore only dreamt of or seen on your fakest friend’s Facebook or Instragram feed.

I mean how hard could it be? You’re passed the diaper years, the toddler tantrums, the preschool meltdowns, and the elementary school “Are we there yet?” mentality. You finally made it to the milestone of traveling with almost adults. Yippee! Right?

Yeah, I’d hold off on that yippee because it’s more like a yip. I have found that nothing causes a teenager (or their parents) to regress in behavior or temperament like being trapped, held hostage, (pick the kidnapping verb of your choice) with their family for days on end.

This is why I feel duty bound to share with other parents this helpful Teen Vacay Truth Guide for what to expect when you travel with your teenagers.

The fundamental truth of teens is that they stink.

Male or female there is some reek going on. You may not notice the extent of this stench in your roomy, well ventilated home. You will notice it after hour six in the sealed metal capsule that is your car. Every parent should enforce a strict “no shoes off ever” rule as it pertains to vehicular travel.

On my family’s last trip to Colorado the inside of our car was engulfed with a noxious fume so potent I felt woozy and nauseous. Even my travel size Gain Febreze spray couldn’t make a dent in eradicating the odor. As I was losing consciousness I wondered if this was the end. Was Interstate 70 in Western Kansas the epicenter for a terrorist chemical warfare attack? I believe my last words before almost passing out were, “May God have mercy on us all.”

It turns out it was chemical warfare all right. My son had placed his tennis shoes right under an a/c vent thus constantly re-circulating the reek of teen boy feet throughout the car. To this day he is not allowed to remove his shoes unless he’s outside and at least 500 yards away from any mammal with active olfactory glands.

 You will cry at least one time during your family vacation.

My preferred place to sob with abandon is while taking a shower and using a Hilton Garden Inn washcloth to muffle my weeping. It’s not that I have grown to hate my family or that my family is bad. It’s just that when you’re on day five of sharing a 325 square foot room with hormonally challenged life forms whose emotions are more mercurial than the 450 mile per hour winds blowing on Neptune and who eat Cheetos in the hotel bed, then wipe their day glow, Finding Nemo orange, Cheeto encrusted hands on the sheets and the last clean wash cloth you were saving for your upcoming bathroom boo hoo, well, it’s almost more than most mortals can endure.

Beware of the social or eco “conscious” that will magically appear during your vacation.

There’s nothing that ruins your vacay buzz like a teen deciding this is the time they are going to choose to change their life. I had a friend whose daughter last year, day two into the vacation, declare she was a lacto ovo vegetarian. She shared that she would not be eating meat, fish, and poultry including eggs and anything made with eggs.

Did I mention they were spending 12 hours a day at Disney World? The kid lived on frozen bananas dipped in chocolate from the Storybook treats cart in Fantasy Land. Oh, and of course, as soon as they got to the airport the daughter ditched her new “food life plan” and wanted Burger King.

In the but wait there’s more department, my 15 year-old-niece, while on a beach vacation in Florida, had an epiphany that humans were bad for the ocean and refused to partake in any sand or salt water activities. Sigh.

Do not attempt a tech free vacation.

Listen and listen well my friends. The tech free family vacation is a trap. If anyone shares with you that they had a life changing tech free trip with their teens please note that the only reason they are telling you this is because they hate you. I, because I’m not crazy, have never willingly attempted a tech free sojourn with my teens.

Two years ago, though, my family was trapped in the Sierra Nevada’s with nary a Wi-Fi or 4G signal for miles. And by trapped I don’t mean we were stranded on a mountain summit wrestling bears with our bare hands and contemplating which family member we would eat first if it came to someone making the ultimate sustenance sacrifice. No, we were at a very nice lodge that just happened to be at an elevation that rendered cell phones and other electronics useless. (Sadly, they did not share this little nugget of information in any of their marketing information.)

By hour five without contact from the outside world I feared for my family’s safety. I was going to kill them all, most especially my husband. He was reading aloud to us from a 1998 American Cowboy magazine that he found in the bathroom. I was this close to covering his clothes in bacon grease and suggesting he take a nice, long, solo hike right up to Grizzly Point.

You will think every member of your family age 13 or over suffers from some sort mental illness.

There are so many wonderful things about family togetherness. One of them is discovering new dimensions to each of your loved ones personality. Sadly, some of these discoveries will scare you. Two weeks spent driving around the East coast with my husband highlighted a latent tendency for hoarding. He couldn’t throw any food item away. Two lonely, ragged, cheese nips left in a box must not be tossed in the trash because “someone might get hungry on the road.”

My son frightened all of us with his Rain Man-esque quality for reciting great moments in early American history. He would not or could not shut up about battles, forts or the many moods of George Washington. I was this close to breaking out the Benadryl to take the edge off (I meant for me just in case you were confused).

My daughter completed the trifecta of crazy by insisting that we stop at every cupcake shop on the Eastern seaboard. Her obsession with buttercream still haunts me to this day.

So brave parents of teens stay stalwart in your everlasting dedication to the family summer vacation. You’ve got this. You’re now well-informed and remember it’s all worth it because you’re making memories that will last a lifetime. Okay, cancel that. That is way too much pressure. Let’s just say you’re going to survive it and the whole family will learn that there is no place like home where everyone can go to their rooms and ignore each another.

*Attencover_1.3-2tion Snarky Friends, I have a brand new book out. It’s the second in the Snarky in the Suburbs series – Snarky in the Suburbs Trouble In Texas. You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.  It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read.  I hope you like it! 🙂



The Road to Hell

d3f64f5b77695f1e5d199db2ace120c6If you ever feel like your family is in need of some special bonding time to reconnect and rejoice in togetherness than look no further than a 12-hour car ride to your spring break destination to eradicate those emotions. It starts out all good and then by hour ten you’re fantasizing about escaping to sweet, sweet, freedom by hitching a ride with the driver of the Frito Lay truck you “I spied” at your last bathroom break. There’s at least a 30% chance he could be a serial killer but at this point those odds don’t scare you.

 To be sure the long car ride of today is a massive upgrade from the road trip of yesteryear where as a child all I had to keep me busy was license plate Bingo and riveting games of I Spy with My Little Eyes. An added bonus in the excitement department was my father threatening, about every 125 miles or so, to pull the car over and “give us what for.” Which he never did but it certainly was a vacation cliffhanger. Would this be the time he finally stopped the car? What kid would be the first to get the “what for”? Would all of us be “what for”ed and what really was the “what for”? It was so riveting one year my oldest brother started a betting pool. The winner was the kid who correctly guessed the first and last city my dad would threaten us with the “what for”.

 Today, you would think there would be no need for a “what for” because when most families hit the road they’re basically driving a mobile Best Buy. iPhone, iPads, laptops and heck our car even has one of those thingamabobs so everyone can get the Internet 24/7 thus lulling me into believing that all this technology will ensure a peaceful 12-hour ride down the interstate punctuated by a few brief gas, bathroom, and food breaks.  Sadly, this is not how it goes down. The first couple of hours are a breeze but by hour four I see signs of a breakdown in communication and by hour six, the half way mark, I’m beginning to question the intelligence of my family.

 It begins when not one but both kids violate the prime directive and take off their shoes. The smell is overpowering and not even a two pack of Gain Febreze can power through the stench. I roll down all the windows for a fresh influx of clean air. My mom math tells me that a car driving down the interstate at 80 miles per hour for five minutes with the windows down should equal a vehicle that no longer smells like a high school locker room that time forget. Something must have been wrong with my addition because when I rolled the windows back up it still smelled to such an extent I felt woozy leaving me no choice but to pull over and seal both pairs of kids shoes in gallon size Ziploc bags.

 Just as my nasal passages are healing I’m greeted by a request to stop yet again for a bathroom break. This has me worried and ticked off. What in the hell is wrong with my kids’ bladders? Are they deformed and reduced to the size of cashews or is there some kind of blockage? I swear I can’t drive for more than an hour without one of them pleading for me to stop. Reluctantly, I exit off the interstate for another potty break and while both kids are taking care of business I discover what the problem is.  While reaching into the cooler in the back of my car for an icy cold beverage I come up empty-handed.  Nothing but ice chunks. My kids have consumed what amounts to a 12- pack of Vitamin Water.  No wonder I’ve had to stop so much. I guess the good news is they’re fully hydrated.

 One of the by products of hydration must be the need to freely and zealously express one thoughts because both of my children start fiercely complaining about the other one. It’s like the floodgates of “everything you ever did to annoy me” have been opened. When my daughter starts bringing up perceived injustices her brother committed during the Christmas of 2004 (which I’m dubious she can even remember) I’m forced to go full “what for” on the both of them. I sound so much like my dad I’m freaking myself out a little but I don’t stop. Oh no, I’m on a roll and then I get it. This is what the “what for” is all about. It’s a parental stress reliever. A vacation mantra. A chance to let it all out without ever taking your eyes off the road.

***For all things wonderfully Snarky go to where you can find the new winter Snarky line of clothing and accessories. (Flannel Snarky P.J.’s anyone?) Plus, there’s my book – Snarky in the Suburbs Back to School. (Click here for purchase information.)
 Here’s a little ditty about it: The Spring Creek Elementary School PTA board (a coven of Mean Moms dressed in Uggs, yoga pants, and dermal filler) is up to no good.  Wynn Butler (middle-aged, uncool, and not bringing sexy back) is determined to find out what’s going on. With help from her two kids, a Roomba vacuum turned mobile surveillance drone, and a few good friends, Wynn launches a covert investigation that leads to the “mother of all revenge capers” at the school’s annual Fall Festival.  If you’ve ever fantasized about smoke bombing the idiot parent who has yet to master the fine art of the school drop-off lane, or standing up and shouting, “Liar, liar, Botox on fire” during a PTA meeting, then this delicious tale of payback is for you. To stay up-to-date on new posts and take part in my not so deep thoughts click on this Facebook link – (That’s the abbreviated link to my FB page) or I twitter @snarkynsuburbs.


I Hate People – Part 2

Captain’s log, Stardate: 7232011 – This is the last voyage of the family ship – WTF.  Under my command we have secured a rental transport unit and are proceeding to our final vacation destination.  As per our other previous expeditions we seem to be having technical issues with our guidance support system.  It’s confused and keeps repeating inaccurate directions in a tone that I now perceive as excessively surly.  For the record, a GPS rapping “re-calculating” for 20 miles is neither helpful or instructive. Also, the integrity of our vessel has been breached with an unidentified noxious fume that even a cocktail of Gain Febreze and Lysol Citrus Neutra Air Sanitizing spray can’t eradicate.  Due to this concern we will be docking at the nearest support station. 

Too bad for us the nearest support station was the “The Big Rig Gas & Go” Serving Truckers for 60 years and from what I could see out the car window most of the truckers had been patronizing the The Big Rig for as long as it has been in business.  I was seriously confused.  All the truckers look not just old, but grizzled like they were in the advanced stages of their AARP membership for tattooed, arthritic, osteoporosis bad asses. Then to what do my wondering eyes do appear but, a real live cowboy the size of a troll give or take a couple of inches.

This mini wrangler hops out of his 18 wheeler and he’s styling in a straw Stetson, a big old curly stache, a denim western shirt with fringe and one of those bolo things at the neck. The very best part of his outfit was and I’m not exaggerating, the manly version (I’m using the term manly here very loosely) Daisy Duke denim shorts with you guessed it cowboy boots, but wait there’s more, – spurs.  Spurs that “jingle, jangle, jingle” as he walks into the truck stop with what looks like a towel.

My husband says to me, just a bit freaked out, “Did you just see that guy?”

“By that guy do you mean the mini dude that was cowboy on top and Dukes of Hazard on the bottom, then yes, I saw him. Quite the visual treat” I added.  There was no time for further discussion on the most disturbing sighting, so far, of the day, as the car stench was making us all nausea.

I had my family commence an evacuation of our shuttle pod so I could make a through search for the odor that had permeated the interior. It took 30 seconds. My son, inhabiting the 3rd row of seats had removed his shoes. It’s important to note that in my earlier quest to track down the odor I had asked him if he had taken his shoes off.  He had replied in the negative. Apparently, ladies and gentlemen of the jury at that juncture his shoes were “only half way off his feet, not technically all the way off.”  If that wasn’t bad enough he placed his shoes right under an a/c vent thus constantly re-circulating the reek of teen boy feet through out the vehicle.  Before I could take off one of my flip-flops and beat him with it he had hurried inside The Big Rig to use the restroom.

My son, the alleged honor student, goes into the Big Rig and instead of heading into the restroom he somehow finds himself in the truckers shower area. There he’s an eyewitness to not just naked old man body parts, but the genitalia of the midget cowboy, which according to my son would rightfully earn Mr. Daisy Duke the moniker of “hobbit balls”.

He comes running out the truck stop into the parking lot. I’m so concerned about the high rate of speed my son is clocking that I’m afraid he’s been molested or something. But at 15 and 6 feet tall, I’m thinking that probably isn’t it. When he gets to me standing at the back of car still vigorously Lysoling he begins to tell me, not his father, (oh his father never gets any of the delicate life questions, it’s always me that gets asked the guy stuff) about the horrors he saw in the trucker’s shower.

My first response is, “Why in God’s green earth did you go into the showers!?”

“I dunno, I just followed where the other men were going,” he said in one of those so very special teen “whatever” voices.

I then get regaled with his tale of seeing “old guys without their clothes” and how “disgusting” it was. He then asks me, “Why does that happen to your junk when you get old. It’s just wrong.”

I break it to him that I’ve never seen, thank you very much, a naked old guy and couldn’t answer his questions, but his father could probably help him on the subject.  I enlist the aid of my husband who gives him the sage advice of “Not to worry about it.”

I look at my husband and say, “That’s all you got, a not to worry about it?”

He says, “Yep, that will do for now.”

On those pearls of wisdom we all climb back in the car which is not odor free, but the toxicity has been knocked down a couple of levels and continue on our journey.

We finally reach our destination 9,000 feet above sea level a couple of hours later. My husband craves being in the mountains. At least once a year he has to experience the beauty of some mountain range. The only problem with it is he turns into what I call an A.H.D. – Aging Hipster Doofus. First, it’s the clothes. He puts on Keen mountain sandals and Patagonia cargo shorts with 10,000 zipper compartments for essential hiking gear.  Then he stops shaving.

The worst, the very worst is his music. He breaks out his “mixed tapes” from the 80’s, rolls the windows down and starts “jamming.”  It’s not that I don’t like me some Talking Heads, but sweet baby Jesus seeing my husband turn back the hands of time to 1984 is a disconcerting sight. In fact, the whole mountain resort is chock full of A.H.D.’s. Some of these middle-aged goobers wear their bike shorts or their mountain climbing gear 24/7. I’m afraid the only mountain most of these guys are climbing is the big step up into their SUV’s. Also, gentlemen, if you own a pair of “reading” sunglasses perhaps you’re not quite as cool as you think.

What’s worse is that my very own Aging Hipster Doofus guilts me into doing mountain activities like hike for hours in the wilderness. (Say hello to being attacked by black bears.) Ugh.  My whole family, except me, of course suffers from freaking vacation A.D.H.D.  They can’t sit still.  My idea of vacation perfection would be a beach, a paperback book, and a drink with an umbrella.  But nooo, my brood has to keep on moving, like they’re sharks or something. If I sit still and try to read I get told, “C’mon you can read at home.” Relaxation isn’t a part of any of our family vacations. So, as not to be a party pooper, I soldier on, encased in Deep Woods Off.

Nestled far away from any hiking path and shrouded by pine trees we take a break in our hiking marathon to savor a spectacular lake. I was looking forward to catching my breath and enjoying the wonders of Mother Nature except after we had been lakeside for 10 minutes we become surrounded by a posse of Aging Hipster Doofuses. My husband, at first, becomes noticeably excited that his tribe is near. Then this species of A.H.D. shows that perhaps they are from a much different branch of the Gen X family.

They start blasting 80’s hair band music from their solar-powered jam box. Music and bands in particular are like your children, you love them, but for sure not everybody else does. I was getting ticked off. Their music was ruining my nature vibe and really it was just rude. It was time to take action. I had the perfect opportunity when my husband took both kids deeper into the pine forest to hunt for good fishing sticks. (Yes, I had to wait for him to get beyond the sound of the my voice. He doesn’t approve of me confronting groups of people. He’s sure I’m going to get killed someday, but that’s a chance I’m usually willing to take.)

Just to make sure I wasn’t over reacting I let the guys play their tunes for a while thinking they might leave soon.  Although, here we are in a National Park and I can’t understand why everybody doesn’t spread the hell out. The 40 something dudes seem very comfortable and then they get so comfy they start smoking weed. That was my cue to take them on for Smokey the Bear’s sake, if nothing else.

I walked over and went for their taste in music first.  “Look,” I said, “Could you please lower the volume on your music?”

They chuckled and said they were “chilling.” But, I could tell their whole attitude was that I was busting their chops and needed to take off. Please, please world at large quit thinking you can dismiss me because I have on my capri track pants and Famous Footwear buy one get one free tennis shoes. My less than cool kid attire doesn’t mean I can’t kick your ass.

“Okay,” I said. “Here’s what I’m thinking you either turn off your music or I’m going to hook up my portable iPhone speakers and blast Justin Beiber and some vintage Jonas Brothers your way and just so you know I have Justin Beiber My World and My World 2.0 on my phone. Plus, I have a 10 year girl who will stand on this rock and belt out each song word for word.”

The aging hipsters looked disgruntled, but before they could get a word out I added, “And your, I’m taking a wild guess here, non medicinal marijuana is inappropriate.”

Here’s the thing, I have no patience for inhalants. The only think I inhale is chocolate cake. If someone wants to partake of the weed they sure need to do it out of the visual and olfactory range of my children. Plus, I had noticed that some of the ski bums that worked retail in this mountain town might have been overdoing it on the summer grass.  The first brain acuity that must go with smoking pot is the ability to make change.  Seriously, the act of adding and subtracting stumped them.

So, these frat rats turned corporate suck ups on their “reliving the 80’s mancation” needed to get gone. They all just set there on various rocks and logs and stared at me.  I had no other choice but to pull out the big guns and threaten to take pictures of them smoking and put it on my Facebook page. Oh, that scared them alright because two of the jerk wads had backpacks with their companies logo on them.

I said I would also be sure to “like” their company’s FB page and then post my photos on it as well. That meant for infinity and beyond they would be “tagged” in cyberspace smoking a dubie.  Well, that, of course, did the trick. After being called bitch or worse I’m guessing, “you’re as bad as my wife,” a couple of times they took off and I removed my discount tennies and soaked my cankles in the fresh, pure mountain water. Celebrating the fact that a middle-aged woman whose thighs rub together can still bring it every time over a bunch of Aging Hipster Doofuses.

Next Up the Final Installment of I Hate People – A Travelogue of  a Snarky Vacation.  Also stay up-to-date on new posts and take part in my not so deep thoughts click on this Facebook link – (That’s the abbreviated link to my FB page) or I twitter @snarkynsuburbs.