Family trip leaves mom feeling itchy


For a week, 10 children and six adults ventured to Norris Lake, Tenn.

There, minus WiFi, we swam in the clear lake, floated on the pontoon Little Big Town-style and otherwise, enjoyed (nearly) every minute of our vacation.

And it seems as if the vacation isn’t ready to be over just yet.

One family came back covered in bug bites, but no one remembers being bitten or swatting away at mosquitoes. The only bugs we saw were tick-look-a-likes that would fly and land on the pontoon seating areas. At first, we freaked out by the mere sight of them but eventually we learned they were just a Tennessee bug.

Another dad got bite by a horse-fly the size of a horse and it actually left two bite marks on his arm and caused him to bleed. According to his wife, he has not turned into a horse fly and has otherwise recovered from his bug injury.

And then there’s me.

I have no idea what is going on with me, but even the medical world doesn’t seem to have an honest clue to the mystery rash spreading over my body.

Naturally, according to WebMD, I am dying … but I also think I may either have swimmers’ itch, hay fever rash or heat rash. Those are the three diagnoses I have come up with based on my symptoms and the appearance of the rash on my skin.

However, the nurse practitioner simply told me I have “contact dermatitis.” In other words, she isn’t sure what I have, but knowing it isn’t contagious and seeing how I am the only one who came back with it, she’s certain I just came into contact with something funky on my trip.

My overactive brain is telling me otherwise.

Since being prescribed Prednisone, some of the spots have vanished, but new ones have appeared. The only thing the medication has done is provide me with endless energy and insomnia at night. Those two do not mix well.

I am giving this rash about five more days to clear up before I contact the producers of “Monsters Inside Me” because I am fairly certain there is a parasite shacking up under my skin.



Parenting photo goes viral


So, I made a list.

Not like a list of chores or items from the grocery store.

More like my kids arguing in the backseat during a family trip to Michigan several years ago made the list after I photographed the event and posted it, you guessed it, on social media.

But what made the photo more relatable to parents everywhere was the fact that I was smack-dab right in the middle of their fight over what appears to be a water bottle. Then again, they could have been fighting over airspace and it still wouldn’t have mattered because they’d be fighting.

And, I was still wedged in the middle.

I was trying to keep the peace between the twins for the three-hour drive into Michigan, but honestly, they fight nearly anytime they sit next to each other in any setting.

Legs touch, knees hit or elbows cross the invisible “space-line.” We’ve tried staggering the kids inside our vehicles, but they always end up within “touching space” so it doesn’t matter anyways.

Naturally, we’d have to bust the divider button so they couldn’t use it because if they knew how to use the button it would become a game of up/down; up/down; up/down, etc. for hours on end.

Alas, we are not rich and a limo would not fit inside our garage anyways. Besides, no one has time to shop-vac the back of a limo – I can hardly keep up with the house they destroy!

If you want to check out how I made the list … Here ya go click here or below:

You can also read what other parents suffer through on a daily basis, and all are understandable too.



In-house ‘chef’ makes mom look bad

Two weeks ago, we vacationed in the Outer Banks with three other families.

There were eight adults and 10 children. (Yes, parents were outnumbered by their children – but the number of bottles of alcohol outnumbered all of us, so we were good to go.)

In an effort to avoid eating out every day, each set of parents selected a night to cook a meal.

It was almost like eating at a five-star restaurant every night.

We had the typical “American fare” of hamburgers, hotdogs and brats the first official night there – on the grill, of course.

The second night was my family’s night to cook – we opted for Mexican cuisine since that is one type of food that despite not being of Mexican heritage, I can cook (because really, who can screw up browning meat – which my husband did – and tossing in a packet of Ortega taco seasoning …). Shredded lettuce, cheese, tomatoes and salsa/nacho chips. Hell, I even made cheesy rice on the stove top and refried beans in the microwave. Boom. Dinner served.

We also had an Italian pasta, chicken paprikash and pizza burgers on the other nights. The final night, each family opted to leave the rental in search of seafood, or anything else they were craving that we had yet to make in the house.

Dinners were served buffet-style in the nearly gourmet-kitchen. Some nights we used paper plates while other times, dinner plates were used and then tossed into the dishwasher that ran almost three times per day. (Remember, this was vacation … so even the Red Solo cups were dishwashed – we managed to use them even if the rims were a bit deformed after being heated.)

There was never a shortage of food.

All food was homemade – including the side dishes.

Even breakfasts – and that is where I am still fighting the battle on the home front.

One of the dad’s made it his mission to create outstanding, yummy, finger-licking-good breakfasts every single day. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

French toast. Pancakes. Waffles. Eggs. Bacon. BLTS were even considered breakfast on vacation.

And ever since we made our return back to Ohio, all my kids want to eat are homemade breakfasts.

No one has time for that here.

That was VACATION I keep telling them.

Here, in Ohio, we have this awesome device called a microwave that cooks their frozen pancakes to perfection. Instead of a waffle maker, we toss in the frozen waffles and stand by until they pop out of the toaster.

Eggs, bacon and the like are considered “weekend breakfasts” in our house. During the week, cereal and PopTarts are my go-to items for my kids. Maybe toast if I feel like lugging out the toaster from storage.

However, just this past Sunday morning, I was feeling a bit adventurous and made French toast for the first time in my life for my oldest who was craving a bit of vacation.

I didn’t burn it and he ate every bite! I felt like a five-star mom cooking in a one-star kitchen.

Two days later, I bought a cast iron skillet. So, maybe a two-star kitchen now?

Melissa Linebrink is a reporter/bi-monthly columnist for “The Mommy Wars” printed in The Chronicle-Telegram. She has been featured as a blogger on the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Conference site, She also writes, edits and manages her blog, She can be reached at



A ‘trip’ on ‘vacation’ — assho!es a-plenty


Sometimes, as adults, there is a need to escape the everyday norm. It could be a long-weekend spent together while the kiddos visit the grandparents. Or, it can be a vacation – away from it all.

A friend of ours phrased it well, even though you may disagree. He said, “A vacation is MINUS the kids, a TRIP is with the kids.”

Either way, we left Ohio and our beloved children for six days and flew to Cancun, Mexico.

Even the drive on the way to the airport was pure bliss. Thirty-minutes of adult conversation. We never heard “I’m bored” or “She’s touching me!” being screamed from the backseat every 10 seconds.

So, there we were … in Cancun, staying at an all-inclusive resort. Adult beverages, nightlife and the most scrumptious meals on the planet Earth were at our fingertips.

Until we realized we weren’t there alone … and I’m not talking about the other ADULTS staying at the resort.

No, I am referring to the spring-breakers. College-aged students living the dream for a week in Cancun, without parents, roommates, professors or classes.

Minus manners too if you asked us.

By the final day, I wanted to wear a hand-made sign declaring, “PICK UP YOUR OWN SHIT” … My friend added: “YOUR MOMMA AIN’T HERE!”

It was classic.

Empty beer and margarita cups littered the tables situated within the pool. We removed them. It wasn’t our job, but it was gross and bothered us. Our husbands told us time and time again, “You can take ladies out of the USA, but you can’t take the moms out of them.” Or something like that.

Inside the sports bar, assholes left half-eaten cheeseburgers, nachos and hotdogs on paper plates when a trashcan was less than 20 feet away.

Where in the world did they leave their manners? Are they like this at home? Are they like this in their college dormitories or apartments?

Those were our thoughts as we walked from table to table removing the assholes’ shit they left behind.

Our vacation continued by watching the near-three fights break out amongst various nationalities, except no one from the United States was acting like an asshole. It was everyone else, shouting out phrases no one understood. My guess, they were calling everyone else assholes for different reasons.

I loved watching people call the hotel manager after someone took their poolside chairs. Now would be an ideal time to note this asshole was like 60 years old complaining. The manager told him, “You can’t save chairs.” He didn’t like that answer. The group he was arguing with kept blowing him kisses – that just pissed him off even more. It was hilarious. It was like the time my brother got in trouble for something I did and I reacted the same way, telling him to “kiss it.”

Add, “Watching Groups of People Argue Over Which Country is THE BEST” is a must on everyone’s “Bucket List.” Clearly the country that did NOT get BANNED from the alcohol at the all-inclusive resort were “better.” But not by much by our standards.

And, let’s not forget the group of 15 guys fighting with five other guys and three girls over the style of music being played over a loudspeaker. Our friends nailed the reason for the fight – the five guys were close to “Closing the deal with the three girls and taking them up to bed after talking to them for five hours when the other guys came over with their bad music.” BUZZ KILL … or … well, some kind of kill.

Upon leaving the resort, I assumed our journey back to the USA would go smooth. What else could go wrong? Oh, you know, our bus driver could run 15 minutes late and then make up time by driving in the middle of the road, cutting every other vehicle off – including bicyclists and motorcyclists. By this time, hands were being laid upon a Bible brought from Ohio. Our lives flashed before our eyes.

After coming to what felt like a screeching halt in the airport parking lot, we staggered out of the bus as if we had just topped of a bottle of tequila. I kinda wish I had because it would have made the next scene “that much more hilarious.”

Again, a group of four ladies were standing in the customs line, while the rest of us were waiting to be X-rayed, poked and prodded when they picked THAT time to … you guessed it, take A SELFIE.

The man behind the ladies spoke up, told them they were basically assholes and to move along because they were holding the line up.

Long story short, Mexican security showed up, but they weren’t as intimidating as I imagined them to be at the border. They just laughed and shook their heads while moving the ladies through security. They wanted those selfie-bitches OUT of Cancun.

Good news … after we made it past customs, we all headed toward the duty-free shop and bought tequila and/or Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum. That made THE VACATION all worth … THE TRIP (WITH COLLEGE-AGED KIDS).



About the author:

Melissa Linebrink is a reporter/bi-monthly columnist for “The Mommy Wars” printed in The Chronicle-Telegram. She has been featured as a blogger on the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Conference site, and Great Moments in Parenting. She also writes, edits and manages her blog, She can be reached at or follow her on Twitter @train_crazy.