Last time I published a real blahggy post here was in the middle of Rob's brain surgery saga - at the climax of this situation. He was in the University of Miami Hospital in uptown Miami (der), a 50-minute drive from home. On a good day. At 0400, with no traffic. At least I was getting good mpg when I went back and forth every day, sometimes twice. He hasn't had surgery yet - that'll be this Wednesday afternoon - so I'll be back with more updates on that soon.
Over the last weekend in June, whilst Rob was in the UM hospital and the kiddos were away at their new bff's house for a few days, I got busy at home. I hadn't been much more than a lump for the entire month prior, but when the going gets tough, the tough ... I don't know. I'm not really one of those people. But I got going. I did umpteen million loads of laundry, unpacked boxes (we're making progress finally, after a long and early stall), and decided to put the girls' IKEA dressers together after we visited that blockbuster Swedish store back in, oh, May. Or was it April? I can scarcely remember. Lucky, the kitten Rob rescued from under the dumpster, decided to help me.
It took a lot of blood, sweat and tears - and two hours - but I finally screwed the last screw and got those mothers assembled. This was pre-labeling; I wrote all the girls' clothing categories on the bins they'll go in and yes, I miscounted the number of green bins I needed. One more each. Whoops.
On Sunday, while I was up at the hospital with Rob, the kids came back from their extended playdate. Our friends Erica and Kevin, and their daughter Kira, took excellent care of our babies, and they are still talking about what fun they had.
At home that night -and pretty much every night since - nobody could sleep, so we did a craft from Kiwi Crate. I had gotten a few months' subscription for Jack and Sophia TWO Christmases ago, but we never had the chance to do them. They did one once, when we first got them, and could not wait to dive back into the crates to see what further explorations waited within them.
We spread out all the materials for the crate. This one was all about plants and gardening. Sophia's being my Vanna White here, modeling the goods.
Jack and I teamed up to make window planters for squash and bean seeds. He really enjoyed this activity and asked a thousand and one questions as we went.
Meanwhile, the girls' half of the Crate was to decorate with clay a couple of cardboard pots, and then "plant" flowers and veggies in them. They decided this would be Daddy's homecoming gift the following day, when he was finally released from the hospital. So sweet.
Meanwhile, Jack's cat, Muffin, cozied up to some craft felt in a rare display of affection for anything - or anyone - other than her boy.
And I very messily decorated my nails in a patriotic display for the upcoming Independence Day. My hands have been so shaky lately, so it turned out like crap, but I still got compliments somehow.
On Wednesday the 3rd, Rob went in for an angiogram of his brain, to make sure where stuff was and see if everything was good to go for surgery this week. While we waited, I picked up a local parenting magazine and discovered a full calendar of free events - for every single day - in this area. Whoop, whoop! Just what I'd been looking for. We found out that just that very day, the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden nearby was having a free day. It normally would have cost us about $85 to get in as a family, so this was exciting. As soon as Rob got out of the hospital, we headed straight over. You guys - it was beautiful.
On our way over to a recommended exhibit, we passed this small waterfall. The garden was so lush and ... lush. That's the word. Exquisite. Breathtaking.
This was German bamboo and captured the girls' attention for several minutes. They loved that it was smooth and waxy on one surface - the side you can see - and soft and fuzzy on the other, not to mention the vivid colors.
You can't really tell from the picture, but this lizard that ran by us was SO huge, at first I thought it was a small iguana. It quickly ran to this dark spot on a nearby wall for camouflage, so I didn't get the greatest picture of it, but fo'realz, it was large.
Walking along, we passed laboratories where scientists were busily working. In these glass bottles, they were growing all manner of orchid varieties. Reminds me of the lab at Mote, only Red Tide grew there instead. Not exactly the same!
I caught Sophia as she was ducking behind this huge elephant ear leaf to scare me. Haha, kiddo, joke's on you!
Finally, we reached our destination: the exotic butterfly exhibit. This is what it looked like as soon as we stepped inside, like an overgrown jungle with winged creatures flitting this way and that. Only you can't see them, because most were too tiny, and the rest were too fast.
Once in a while, a few would stop and deign to let me take their picture.
Sophia tried like the dickens to get one to land on her finger, but she remained unsuccessful. Meanwhile, a girl nearby managed to get one to land, and she was center stage for a long moment. How beautiful.
The big, vibrant, indigo flutterbyes were too fast for me to photograph with my iPhone, so you'll have to settle for these guys.
There were chrysalis upon chrysalis behind the glass where, I'm sure, it was even more sweltering than it was in the main part of the exhibit. I was starting to get faint.
The next window had several butterflies already emerged - and more emerging as we watched. It was tres cool. After that, I was growing more faint, and I had my hand up to take another picture when Chloë whacked my arm and knocked the iPhone into a pond. It sank right to the bottom, and my heart with it! Oh noes! Rob jumped down to reach in, but he couldn't manage, so another fella did the job for him. I got my phone back, but it was so dead. (Thankfully, it came back to life later that evening - thank you, Otterbox!!)
And then I very nearly did pass out from overheating, so I had to get OUT of there, sit down, and put my head between my legs. Whew! That felt awful. Rob had to help ME back to the car, which was a little bit like the blind leading the blind. I was sad to leave so quickly, but it was much too freakin' hot for my thinker to stay.
That night, having recovered, I decided to put my homemaking skills back to use. Truth be told, I've been a bit manic since Rob went in the hospital, so I've been keeping busy in between the inevitable crash-and-burn marathon sleeping sessions. So anyway, I have been cooking. Everything. Literally. Everything.
That night, it was chicken burritos. I have stashed mix after mix, packet after packet, and they have just been multiplying like rabbits. So I decided to whittle down the herd and mixed up some fajita mix with the chicken tits I'd taken out the night before. So good, especially on the tomato tortillas - yum!
And then it was breakfast in the Crockpot. I diced potatoes,
and I threw them in the pot with some ham steak. No, no, Paula Deen.
So that was the mish-mash at night. I stayed up ALL night to make sure it turned out and didn't get ruined. I wanted Rob to have a good breakfast since he'd eaten so well in the hospital, y'know?
Eight hours later, this is what I found. It looked... okay in the pot. Actually kind of yummy, but since I don't eat piggies, I didn't try any.
It looked icky to me on the plate. But I woke Rob up to check his vitals eat breakfast, and he not only ate the whole plate, he asked for more! And ate another huge plateful. And then he went back to sleep. Apparently the girls liked the breakfast bake, too. Hm. Not bad. At the same time, I cooked chicken legs and potatoes in the Dutch oven. Manic, I'm telling you. (That was good, but the smell of the two things together made me wanna hurl. Seriously.)
The next morning, I took a selfie for my new profile pic. Look, my hair is growing! Slowly, but surely. Maybe I should rub the rest of the eyelash serum all over my head to make it grow??
Meanwhile, Rob's hair is growing like weeds. I hate him. Not really.
And little miss blondie let me braid her hair. She never lets me play with her hair.
Jack's been so excited to watch his window garden grow. He drowned the squash (bottom garden) but his beans are quite hardy. My squash is just starting to show!
After watching fireworks on the Fourth of July, Sophia caught a toad. She can catch anything, even when we tell her, "you'll never catch it! It's too fast!" It's like they jump right into her hands.
Chloë (whose face is boobooed because she and Sophie had an outdoor collision), try as she might, has trouble catching anything, so essentially Sophia catches them for her and then hands them over!
And then, while Chloë was holding the big toad, Sophia went and caught another, smaller one! Anything, she can catch!
Last night (Monday the 8th), we had a pineapple, so I tried hacking off the top to use our new coring tool on the rest. I could NOT hack it (sorry), so Rob had to step in. Here's me, playing the part of Carmen Miranda.
The tool worked eh, halfway decently, but we lost a lot of piña meat that way. I don't know about that thing, but at least I didn't pay anything for it!
We also had strawberries, so I just mixed them together and fed that to the kids after our Old El Paso-sponsored dinner. Sophia's favorite thing on the planet is a strawberry; she asks for them every single day of her life. No lie!
The kids devoured the fruit. They ate half that bowl!
I lightly sugared the remainder and decided to make fruit tartlets with them. I had made chocolate chip mini pies the other day, and my crust turned out awesome then, so I confidently made - I thought - the same crust. It was much too thick and doughy. Eh. I'll use my MIL's recipe next time. I hear it's the best!
(Proof of the chocolate chip mini pies. The parchment paper slips worked perfectly to lift them out without having to dump them over, but I forgot to do it with the fruit tarts. I'll not forget again!)
I whipped the cream myself for the mini pies, but it was gone by the time I made the fruit tarts. I'd made a bunch of jello for the kids to snack on, and they ate it down with the remainder of the whipped cream. Too bad for me, but good for my figure, because I love that stuff!
I also turned out two loaves of bread last night - one I made by hand, and one from the bread machine. The handmade bread is way better. Goes to show!
The tarts, doughy crust and all, turned out beautifully. Sophia has probably eaten three-quarters of them herself. Well, the inside. She's been leaving the crust for others. Humph. I won't botch that operation again!
(Yeah, I probably will.)
And finally, after all that, we did another Kiwi Crate craft at night. The kids are feigning their excitement, but it's true they really were about that delighted when I suggested it!
The first half of the crate had them making an ocean in which to go fishing! I love that the crates come with everything - except scissors and water - needed to do the activities. Brilliance. Chloë's playing Vanna this time.
The girls love to color and decorate and do all things crafty, while Jack doesn't, so they took about nine times longer to design their fish and other sea creatures than he did. He went back to his Kindle and waited.
They did a really good job on their "ocean." I was especially impressed with a sea turtle that Sophia made.
Finally, it was time to go fishing. They used Velcro tabs to catch the fish with the rods, and it worked well. Such fun!
Jack struggled a bit more than the girls with this, but eventually he got it. The Kiwi Crates are a bit young for the kids now, but it still helped with their manual dexterity. And the second half is always more educational than the crafty one.
This time, the kids had to make observations about various objects in salt vs. fresh water. Even Rob joined in with the discussion about that!
Jack would say, "This is boring," every time he guessed wrong, but then, "This is fun!" every time he guessed right. Typical!
And finally, some obligatory kitteny cuteness. Lucky and Hunter are so adorable, I can hardly stand it!
Whew! That was a long post. You deserve a medal if you read the whole thing!