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Entries from March 2014

Sunday Stealing: 20Q Meme


There are three hours left in my Sunday, so I'm not toooo late this time, right? Link is here if you're playing along today!

The 20Q Meme

1. When you buy a greetings card are the words or the picture more important to you?


Both are important to me, if they're both present, but sometimes the words are insufficient. I make my own cards, though, so I rarely purchase ready-made ones.

2. What's your favorite kind of cake?

I don't like cake at all. Unless we're talking about ice cream cake, which I can no longer physically tolerate, thanks to gastric bypass surgery. Don't be sad for me, though: I had plenty of fun to get myself to that point! ;)

3. Do you ever make gifts for people, if so what, or do you buy them?  


I make handmade gifts whenever possible, and I love to buy on Etsy, too... but when I know that will not be appreciated, I'll buy what will be. For instance, my son is all about LEGO, and nothing I can make by hand will win him over nearly as much.

4. You are chosen to have lunch with the President. The condition is you only get to ask one question. What do you ask?


I would ask why he let us down on the issues that are important to me, and should be important to everyone else, too: WHY have you let us down, re: the environment?!

5. Which do you dislike most: pop-up ads or spam email?

I can delete SPAM, but I can't stand the never-ending pop-ups. I'm thankful they're mostly disabled!

6. What was the best party you've ever been to?

That's not her, but probably my best friend, Dr. Lisa, and her groom, Faris' wedding in 2002. If you've never been invited to an Arabic wedding, it's awesome. I was a bridesmaid; she taught me to bellydance, and I did okay (though I was a new, nursing mom to Chloë and of course did NOT bare my belly). It was a total blast. I'll never forget it.

7. Which is worse, being in a place that is too loud, or too quiet?

My father was always shushing us children. I like it loud. I like it quiet, when necessary. But I can't handle too quiet when noise is needed. I'm the type that giggles inappropriately, speaking of cats. No, I would much prefer too loud over too quiet.

8. You are offered an envelope that you know contains $50. You are then told that you may either keep it or exchange it for another envelope that may contain $500 or may be empty. Do you keep the first envelope, or do you take your chances with the second?


At first, I thought, well, 50/50 are not great odds. But then I remembered that I am a risk-taker, for one, and for another, I had nothing before I had that first envelope. If I take the chance and end up with an empty envelope, in the end I'm exactly where I started and had some fun in the process. I'll take my chances.

9. Do you wish cellphone etiquette was a required class upon purchasing one?


Nah, but I reserve the right to shoot annoyed looks at people who talk too loud on their cellies in restaurants, m'kay?

10. What's the most messed up food combination that you've had that was actually good?

For our son Jack's 1st birthday, a decade ago, I wanted to have interesting and unusual ice cream flavors. We had cheese ice cream, which SUCKED. Don't eat it. But the mung bean ice cream was really pretty good. I'm not rushing out to find it anytime soon, though.

11. What's one of your most random pet peeves (something that annoys you)?


When I'm behind someone who literally STOPS to make their right-hand turn, or practically does so, I could go crazy in that seeming five minutes. OMG, just TURN ALREADY!!

12. When is the last time you had home cooking?


The title of this book amuses me, when paired with the author's name... not exactly Latina-sounding, eh? Anyway, I'm the cookerator in this family, now that Rob really can't, and I cook on a regular basis. On Thursday or Friday night, we had Cuban food: red beans and rice, and fish marinated in Mojo Criollo. Was delish, and every bite got eaten!

13. If you could be a fictional character from a book who would you choose?


I loooove Anne!

14. If you could be in a television sit-com, which would you choose?


I would choose to be a kid The Cosby Show, because the parents were intelligent, funny, and loving... what more do you need?

15. If you could be any animal or creature for one day, what would it be?


I would be a fast and powerful mako shark, a rare one with a homocercal tail instead of heterocercal, though that has little to do with my choice. This shark knows what it wants, goes after it, and gets it almost every time; plus, it's strikingly beautiful.

16. What's your favorite girl's name?

All three of my living children's names are on this list. Suckage! Anyway, my girls' names are my favorites: Sophia Lorelei and Chloë Raine. I love them!

17. What's your favorite boy's name?

We didn't name our son after this eponymous location: Jack River, but I love his name the best. When I was in high school, my boyfriend Ben and I planned to name our son Steven Tyler. Had nothing to do with Aerosmith; we just liked the name. I still do.

18. What's your supermarket of choice?


I love shopping at Whole Foods. If I had my druthers, I would always buy organic, local, earth-friendly foods for myself and my family. However, it's sad and disappointing that our budget doesn't align with my ideals, and I can rarely do that. So there's always Publix, which is good enough. Sometimes, good enough is good enough, right?

19. If you were to attend a costume party tonight, what or whom would you go as?


This is fun. I've actually never been to a costume party, but I would love to go to one. I don't know, but I would hope to be wearing one of at least two coordinating outfits!

20. What is your concession stand must-have at the movies?



A hot pretzel, with non-spicy cheese, for me, sil vous plait!



Saturday 9: Too Close

Link up here if you're playing along today!

Saturday 9: Too Close (2011)

Unfamiliar with this week's song? Hear it here.

1) This song is about a friendship that turned romantic... and it doesn't end happily. Have you ever crossed that line with a friend? If so, how did it work out? 

Yes... and the same way. With my best, best, best friend, whom I loved and who loved me... and we no longer speak. We probably never will again. Dammit.

2) When he was a kid, this week's singer, Alex Clare, listened to his dad's Stevie Wonder records. When you were in 7th/8th grades, what music were you into?

Let's see. That would have been 1988/1989, and I'm completely an 80s (pop) music girl. I'm not good with exact years, but if it was that genre, I was lovin' it - and still do!

3) "Too Close" has been featured on the TV show The Vampire Diaries. Do you enjoy shows/books/movies about the supernatural?

Books, sometimes, like a Stephen King or a ... gosh, I'm totally blanking on his name and don't feel like looking it up (but what else is new?)! But to watch? No, not really. (Dean Koontz, right? I just remembered before publishing.)

4) Some of Alex Clare's tour dates were sponsored by Bud Light. Do you like beer?

I hate the stuff. I'm such a girlie-girl when it comes to alcohol: Fruity mixed drinks for me!

5) Mr. Clare trained to be a chef, just in case the music thing didn't work out. Are you a good cook? 

I mean, I'm all right. My brother-in-law is a chef at his own restaurant, Sycamore in Columbia, Missouri, and he and his kiddos were here this past week. Call me intimidated! (I wimped out and pretty much just boiled pasta. Ha.)

6) Crazy Sam is forever running out of mayo, because she slathers it on her sandwiches. What is currently on your grocery list?

Milk, and I desperately need aluminum foil because I love to cook meals en papillote (which, technically, ought to be done in parchment paper, but I prefer the foil). But we're always running out of milk. Sophia alone (my youngest, but also my biggest) could chug a gallon a day!

7) Where are you most likely to find spare change -- between the sofa cushions, in your jeans as you toss them into the washer, or under the floor mat of your car?

Definitely in the sofa, underneath where Hubs sits/lies down. Or wherever he has been. If I need a few coins to go run and get a soda or something, I just have to search his favorite places to chill. Never fails. I spent hours and hours cleaning our disaster of a bedroom these past two days, and I struck it rich - in both US¢ and Euros, for some-odd reason - on his side of the bed!

8) How did you spend your Friday night -- working late, hanging out with friends, or just enjoying a quiet night at home?

I spent it cleaning the bedroom, doing literally about 16 loads of laundry (stupid ^&*@ cats, thank you), and teaching an impromptu science lesson to our three kids.

9) Do you use Pinterest?

I'm not a regular user, but I have a bunch of albums (many incentivized) in my account. I rarely go on just to go on, though, unless I seriously need some kind of inspiration!


Our #DisneySide Celebration + Jack's 11th Birthday Party


On Sunday, we finally had our DisneySide Celebration @ Home. The party was sponsored by Disney Parks and MommyParties, and I was given LOTS of great products to use to help us celebrate Jack turning 11.  From the American Tourister spinner luggage I carried all the party supplies around in, to the Mickey-themed cutters I shaped the meats and cheeses above with, and lots more, we had a great, great party package and a really fun time. Here's more:


Our nephew, Harry, arrived with his dad and sister from Missouri on Saturday, just in time to celebrate with us. (All pictures shown here were taken by Harry's dad, Rob's brother Mike.)


We had Mickey Mouse Clubhouse-themed plates, napkins, cups and stuff, given to me as part of the package, and I snagged a few more matching items from - like the Guest of Honor ribbon Jack's sporting on his Mickey shirt (which I got on clearance from Disney's shopping website).


Sophia and Elizabeth checked out the Grand Room at our neighborhood's clubhouse, decorated by Yours Truly for the party. I didn't realize until nearly the last minute that the furniture wasn't included in the room rental, but I had a (very ugly) card table and chairs that stepped in to help. I was given another, much nicer table from someone on Freecycle, and I managed to talk the clubhouse manager into letting me borrow one set of table and chairs, too. It sufficed.


We were given Crayola fabric markers and Hanes t-shirts for the party guests to decorate, so that was the first thing we did. Here are Chloë and Elizabeth (Harry's big sister) doing theirs. It wasn't a huge hit of an activity, like I kinda expected it to be, but they seemed to have a little fun with it. My girls, always the artists, enjoyed it the most.


I got the labels for the water bottles, Hershey bars, and the door sign and banner, from a lovely lady on Listia who designed them to match the party's theme for me. She sent me the invitations and thank-you notes, too. I just had to print everything myself without doing any of the 'real' work, which was nice for once!


Jack, who seriously needs a haircut, was eager for the party to start. Did he care about the t-shirts, the games, the prizes, or the food? NO! He just wanted to get into his presents. Oy vey. Even at eleven, he's still like a little kid.


I kept the cupcakes super simple, even though I love to bake and make cakes, because my anxiety level was high. Disney and MommyParties gave me the cupcake wrappers, and I grabbed the stand and Mickey picks off of Amazon. We always leave one blue for Robby, Jack's twin...


The balloons, also provided by Disney and brought to Party City for heliumating, were a huge hit. You just never know what's going to be the big thing. Next time, I'm just getting a bunch of balloons and letting the kids go berserk, I swear!


Harry and Elizabeth were smart to decorate their balloons, so they would know which one belonged to them. Is this child not totes adorbs?!


Jake, my friend Marc and Jenna's four-year-old son, was also on hand to help us party. 


Addison, Jake's twin sister, was there as well. She's my cutie little cuddly-pie! Love her!


I adore this shot Mike took of Harry jumping after his balloon!! 


Jack scored BIG-time when it came to presents. He received LEGO after LEGO set, a couple of nanoblock sets, and one more big pressie from Mom & Dad.


Addi sat on my lap and kept me company during the gift unwrapping. She's such a love.


The big gift, you ask? Jack's RC Plane, for which he's been asking since he was at least eight, maybe younger. Was he happy with it?


What do you think?!


Sophia and Elizabeth have become fast friends in the short time they've been together this visit.


After Jack opened all of his gifts, I brought out the Mickey piñata. Everyone laughed when they realized it wasn't the whack-with-a-stick kind but rather a pull-string one. What, do harm to Mickey?! As IF!


All the kids gathered 'round to pull Mickey's strings. Jake and Addi had to take a second turn...but still no candy came. What the?!


Finally, the kids beat the crap out of Mickey (hey, it was a good idea in theory), and the candy fell. Elizabeth was right there to swoop it all up, too. Haha!


Jack, feeling aggressive from all his latent gift-wanting energy, decided to do more damage to Mickey while the candy waited.


After the piñata excitement, it was time for the kids to pose on the Mickey background for photo ops. Mike did a fabulous job, I have to say, with capturing the spirit of each child.


Harry and that balloon, man... like BFFs!


Chloë, for once, was the least poseable child for Photo Ops. Usually she is the first one to strike a pose!


Sophia, of course, doing her Sophie best.


A little of that goes a long way, so we paused to sing Happy Birthday to Jack, who impatiently did not wait to make a wish and finish the song before he blew out the candles!


Jake was all about getting that blue cupcake! You'll be able to tell later - he did! Hee.


Elizabeth, back at the wall for her shot with Mickey Mouse, is the spitting image of her mother.


Jack and Harry stepped back up to join Eliz, and the three of these cousins had themselves a few giggles together. Fun times!


Exit Elizabeth, enter Chloë. You can see these kids are related, can'tcha?


The series with Jake and Addison was super funny. I wish I could show you all the pictures, but loading time would be immense!


Our friends Erica and Kevin came with their daughter Kira, who is just about Jack's age - maybe a hair older. Yeah, she turned 11 in November.


And... apparently, Kira and Jack our our latest couple. Jackira?


I don't know what Marc and I were talking about so seriously with Jake, but I was glad to spend time with each of them!


Erica, Chloë and Sophia, along with Elizabeth who stepped out of the picture, had some fun playing games with the prizes I gave out.


At the end of the day, it was a pretty great party, and I think everyone had a fun time. Right, Harry?

Thanks, Disney and MommyParties!!



Sunday Stealing: The 17 Meme


Link up here if you're playing along today!

From For The Adventure 

The 17 Meme

1. Do you know triplets? 


No but I know a billion sets of twins. In fact, yesterday (the 22nd) was my own twin sons' 11th birthday. :)

2. Do you prefer Titanic or The Notebook


I like them both, but I'm a diehard Titanic fan.

3. Have you ever eaten Indian food

Of course! The first time I had it was about 18 years ago with my friend Marc. Since then I've had it maybe three times. But I love it! ;)

4. What’s the name of your favorite restaurant? 


I like to try new restaurants all the time, so it's hard to say, but Rob and I really enjoyed the exclusive Town Point Club in Norfolk, VA. We went a few times. If you ever get in, you simply must try the she-crab soup!

5. Who’s your favorite person in the world? 

This is an old picture I found of Rob, long before we moved to Miami and the brain tumor drama got into full swing. But this is him! This is the guy!

6. Would you rather live in a rural area or in the suburbs? 


Suburbs, if I must pick one of the two (which is where we do live, appropriately...) but I adore living in the big city!

7. Can you whistle? 


I can, but it's such an annoying pasttime, generally, that I try to avoid it. I hate listening to it!

8. Do you sleep with a nightlight? 


I try to. I'm totes skeered of the dark. Thirty-seven years old and the boogie man still scares me!

9. Do you eat breakfast every morning? 


No. I rarely eat more than two "meals" a day. My caloric intake is about 750 per day. I just don't. Maybe an egg, or an avocado on toast with cheese. But that's it, and it's rare.

10. Do you take any pills or medication daily?   

I'm extremely bipolar, suffer from severe anxiety, am OCD, and have a host of other neuroses. In a word, yes.

11. How many times have you been to the hospital as a patient? 


I've had five abdominal surgeries (three c-sections, a hysterectomy, and gastric bypass surgery), a psych inpatient stay, and ER visits too numerous to count. 

12. Have you ever seen Finding Nemo

Have I?!! It's only my favorite Disney movie ever!!

13. Where do you buy your jeans? 


Jeans? What jeans? I live in Miami. Unless they're cut-offs, I'm probably not gonna be wearing 'em.

(Pssst: Old Navy.)

14. What’s the last compliment you got? 


I sent this picture to my dad, and he said I looked very pretty.

15. Do you usually remember your dreams in the morning? 

I do. And I have very vivid dreams. They're so realistic, sometimes I wake up and am confused because I thought something happened that was only a dream. My dreams are often predictive, too. I'll have entire conversations happen in real life that I already knew were going to happen. Deja vu strikes frequently. Noo-noo-noo-noo....!

16. What flavor tea do you enjoy?   

Like tea, I don't.

17. What social media sites do you use? 


I like Facebook, Twitter's okay, I barely use Linked In, I often check in on Foursquare...but I'm a slave to Instagram! Lurve it. Follow me @Smellyann and let me follow you, too! ;) But first, let me take a #selfie! (Love that song!)




Saturday 9: Copacabana

Link up here if you've played along today!

Unfamiliar with this week's song? Hear it here

1) This song refers to the merengue and the cha-cha. Are you a good dancer?

You know, I don't really know anymore. I rarely do it in public anymore. I can dance the basics of the merengue, and I took lessons and danced under some well-known choreographers in New York City years ago... but I've lost my confidence.

2) Dances like the merengue and cha-cha are featured on Dancing with the Stars. Are you a loyal DWTS viewer? 

I used to love to watch it, when we had tv service, but we don't have it anymore. So, no.

3) The Copa girl in the song, Lola, wears yellow feathers in her hair and a dress cut down to there. If we were going to the clubs tonight, what would you wear? 

I'd probably wear something comfortable yet sexy. Something like a mini dress with a low cut top. I don't know, really. I haven't been to the clubs in ages!

4) The real Copacabana nightclub was on East 60th Street in New York. It was used as a setting for the movie Goodfellas. Do you have a favorite mobster movie?  

Nah, it's not really my genre.

5) Our featured artist, Barry Manilow, has unfortunately spent a great deal of this young century in the hospital -- broken nose, face lift, chest pains and two hip surgeries. Tell us about your most recent trip to the doctor, ER, or dentist.

For myself, instead of Hubs who's at the hospital have the time nowadays, it was about a month and a half ago when I sprained my ankle. The nurse poorly wrapped my ankle after doing x-rays and stuff, and I had to buy my own crutches because they didn't have any short enough for me. (!!) I took them back a day later because they were killing my arms. Hated that nonsense. The foot is fine now.

6) Manilow told US Magazine that he enjoys nude sunbathing. Have you ever skinny dipped or sunbathed au naturel?

Sunbathed, no, I don't think so, even in Europe where it was commonplace. But sure, I've done my fair share of skinny dipping! Mostly as a teenage girl in my own backyard pool. With my sisters. Not terribly exciting...

7) Before he became famous as a performer, Manilow was a very successful jingle writer. "Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there …" and "You deserve a break today at McDonald's …" were his. Tell us about a TV commercial you saw recently.

I don't watch TV so I don't know, but maybe the ads on Viggle are similar. There's this one for Crest white strips where two girls compare the name brand with an off-brand. I don't care much for the commercial, but I like the voice of the off-brand girl. 

8) The Manilow faithful are known as Fanilows and proudly wear Barry hoodies, wristwatches and even dog tags. Do you have any clothes that feature a recording artist?

No. I'm not twelve.

9) In 2005, Manilow refused to respond when Larry King inquired about his sexuality. Do you think it's rude for interviewers to ask personal questions? Or is it something a performer should expect because it goes with the job?

I definitely think they should expect it, but refusing to answer is certainly their prerogative. It certainly raises eybrows though, doesn't it?!


Redemption Sunday

About 18 years ago, in 1996 I suppose, my friend Beth Degler invited me to go to church with her.

I was a recovering Christian Scientist at the time, still reeling from having read C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity and ultimately leaving the church in which I was raised. Beth asked me a half-dozen times before I finally agreed to go with her.

{Side note: Beth was my T.A. for Chemical Oceanography, and she was also the caretaker for Marc, the quadriplegic man who I ended up taking over from her and who I'm still friends with to this day. Marc and I stopped being friends with Beth after she got really strange, but he's still like a big brother to me, and I continued going to the church she'd introduced to me. Later, Beth died in a car crash, which is a sad way to end this side note, but there you go.}

The church I found myself attending was the Miami Vineyard Church, and they were a small group of people who met in a school cafetorium. 

Fast-forward through my leaving Miami to move to Tampa/St. Petersburg, Florida, for my Ph.D. work, during which time I hopped around to various churches before finding myself at "home" in Pinellas Community Church...

... continue past my marrying Rob and moving to Panama City Beach, where we found out we were going to have Baby Girl Chloë not much later, and decided to go to a financial advisor who invited us to his Methodist church, which we loved...

... onward through our brief 4-month life in Guam, while I carried twins Robby and Jack, and during which time I don't remember if we ever got to go to a church throughout that period of turmoil...

... and sprint past our ten years in Virginia Beach, Virginia, where we first went to the Vineyard Community Church on Easter Sunday, the day we brought Jacky home from the NICU. I'll never forget showing up, having just lost one of my identical twin sons a month earlier, and being seated behind a couple carrying matching pink carseats with matching pink-clad baby girls...


To say I have attended "a few" churches would not be an understatement.

We moved back here to Miami almost exactly a year ago; we're just shy of a couple of weeks now. In the intervening time, I'm unhappy to admit, the only time we went to any kind of church service was one night when we were seeking desperate help from a food pantry and they invited us to come out to their block party. They gave us all kinds of food, including a giant frozen turkey, and a backpack full of school supplies for all three of our children. We vowed to go back.

And yet, we never did. I have no idea why. Lack of gratitude certainly wasn't the reason. One very real reason may be that we just have had our hands full with Rob's prolonged illness this past year, though that isn't a very good one. Another reason is that because of that illness, and all the many, many hospital runs that it has involved, the kids' and our sleep schedules are all screwy. Lately it has gotten even worse. So no one is awake at the right time, and I'll be darned if all three kids are awake at the same time as I am, which makes doing school SO complicated...! But, I digress.

So Friday night and all day Saturday, into early Sunday morning, I felt myself on the Depressive end of this wonderful (not) Bipolar Disorder. I hate that part. The mania, I don't mind; I welcome it. I get stuff done when I'm manic! But depression is about as awesome as you'd think. 

And I was sinking. Deeper, lower, quickly, into that hole.

Sunday morning, it was pretty abysmal inside my head, and I had one clear, motivating thought: GET TO CHURCH.

I decided to look up my old church online and see when and where they were having services. And at the appointed time of 10 AM, I was darkening their doorstep with no clear idea of what I expected to get out of the service.

Eighteen years later, a lot had changed: no longer in a school cafetorium, the church now had its own slick and polished sanctuary with a bold, beautiful sign out front, a parking lot full of cars watched over by a police officer, and a lobby full of people crowding around the free coffee and mountain of doughnuts. The service, once very shabby-chic (for lack of a better term popping forth into my mind), was now also slick and polished, from the pastor's delivery to the audio-visual accompaniments. The worship team, slick and polished. The décor, slick and polished. The pace of things... you get the picture.

One thing that had not changed was the pastor. Kevin Fischer was still The Guy up there, and he had always been an amazing deliverer of The Word. When I heard the topic, part 5 in a series called, "It's Time" regarding their upcoming move to yet another new, bigger location and the funds that they would need to accomplish that, well... I truly thought I'd probably lose interest and get nothing out of the service. I figured, well, that's okay, I'll just get my feet wet and come back strong and ready to go next weekend.


I went up to Pastor Fish, as he was called back in '96 and '97 at least, before the service to re-introduce myself to him and tell him how I'd come to his church. Of course, I knew he wouldn't recognize or remember me, though he did recall Beth, but he was interested in my story nonetheless. He was smiling and friendly, and he made my tense self feel welcome and at ease.

During the message, Pastor Fish asked those of us who had been there during the cafetorium days to stand up and be recognized. So, reluctantly, shyly, I stood. People who had never seen me before that day but knew each other well were visibly surprised when I did, I could tell, and several came up to meet me after the service.

At some point, and I can't even recall exactly what moment, something deep in my heart changed. In a service ostensibly about building a new church home and fundraising, I heard the deeper message that I was meant to hear: a seed was planted in me. I had been harboring some bad feelings about myself, and I felt them lifted along with the overwhelming knowledge that God forgave me. Forgiveness is a powerful thing; I was hurt and angry, and I, in turn, was able to forgive the cause of that.

I went up to Pastor Kevin after the service, and he smiled in newfound recognition of me. He was talking to another chap when I appeared, and he happily introduced me and told of my background with the Miami Vineyard. I told him of the uplifting feeling that overcame me during the service, and I shared that I was now "HOME." And then I cried. Just a little, but it's important, since my heavily-medicated state often disallows for such tears.

I told the pastor that not only did I feel like I had come home, but I wanted to get involved when they moved to the new church home in a few weeks. I didn't know how, but I told him to use me however he needed me. I wanted to serve. And, though our finances are nothing to be bragging about, I put in a meager offering with a pledge to contribute more to their building fund over the next two years. It's not a ton, not even a full tithe, but it felt right. I feel good about it.

I left church on Sunday feeling brand-new. I felt forgiven, I felt redeemed, I felt... happy. I have a great life here, I have a wonderful husband and amazing children, and I am blessed beyond my wildest dreams. I'm thankful. I'm so thankful.

Thanks for stopping by; have a great day!


Our First Annual Pilgrimage to Virginia

So, I disappeared from this-here blahg for a few weeks. Here's a brief timeline:

31 January 2014: We meet with neurosurgeon Dr. Jacques Morcos for the first time and are told that Rob needs immediate brain surgery to remove his cavernoma.

5 February: Thirteen hours of operating later, the cavernous hemangioma, along with a goodly portion of mineralized brain tissue (read: gelatinous goo) are gone from Rob's head.

Remainder of February: Lots of ups and downs in this long road to recovery.

1 & 2 March: Team Odette decides to make a trek up to our former homeland of Hampton Roads, Virginia. We had planned to go in April, to visit the numerous friends we had made over the prior ten years of living there, but a request for Chloë to audition and do a photo shoot prompted us to change the dates quickly and, sadly, ill-advisedly. 

Traveling wasn't kind to Rob, who pretty much vomited the entire 20-hour trip up to the Norfolk area. I called Dr. Morcos to explain what was going on, and while he had approved this travel, he also said it might necessitate an emergency room trip. He changed Rob's med dosage over the phone, and that seemed to settle things down. The rest of the trip, Rob did GREAT and even walked on snow and ice without his walker. Maybe not the smartest idea in the world, but you know, he did okay!

That same day, Sunday the 2nd, I went to a big meet-up of lots of friends I met in the six or so months before we moved here to Miami. It was great, and I even made about as much money as I needed to cover gas for our trip!

Afterward, my good friend Lisa and her husband hosted a fantastic cook-out for Team Odette. I met people I'd only known before online, and we hung out for hours with great, great folks. I had a blast and was so grateful Lisa made it happen.

3 March: The day of the supposed audition, our formerly balmy Virginia weather turned vicious. Roads were closed, and the snow and ice prevailed. We skipped the audition entirely and spent the whole day in our hotel room. Big. Huge. Bummer. That night, we were supposed to have lunch with Stephanie, Tim, Luke, and Vinnie, but no sooner did we get on the road and get down to the corner, but the car started spinning and spinning on the ice, out of control. Though I grew up in Syracuse, NY, I never actually drove in that crappilicious weather, so I was ill-equipped to handle it. I really learned how to drive here in Miami while attending college, so I can handle the driving rain, but ice? No way! We turned around (and around and around) and went back to our hotel.

4 March: We drove down to northern North Carolina to hang with my pal Saritah and her family.


Here's Sarah's youngest baby, Charlotte, who is the cutest little Cabbage Patch Kid, right? 

That was a fun day, because Team Odette adores Team Branham, and the feelings are mutual. [However, it wasn't all sunshine and puppy kisses, because Sarah filled me in on some un-fun things that I cannot tell you about here...]

5 March: On Wednesday of that week, we went and had lunch with Stephanie and her kids, to make up for the failed dinner attempt on Monday night.


Sophia was so cute. She went out in the backyard with Stims' dogs, Rosie May and Wazowski, and she was dancing with Rosie:


Steph and I took a selfie together while the kids watched Frozen on her iTunes account:


We gathered up our five children and had a photo-op on the couch. Of course, it's hard to get five kids to cooperate for pictures, so this was my best shot:


Vinnie, the little allergy baby, is near and dear to my heart because I knit for him and he has such a great, sweet little attitude despite being physically miserable so much of the time. Steph nursed him to sleep:


and then I held him while she did some things around the house:


After our visit with Stephanie, we had planned to go out to the Virginia Beach Farmer's Market to visit my favorite fishmonger, Uncle Chuck, and get some of his crabcakes. They're the best in the world, and I know, because I'm something of a connoisseur! However, we didn't get a chance, because it was to head to another awesome friend's house for dinner. 

Kassandra made spaghetti and meatballs with garlic bread, and we brought a salad. Before dinner, her little girl, Ava, played with my kids. Sophia, who never went anywhere without making an instant friend, played with Ava in her room, so sweetly:


And of course, Kassandra and I took a selfie together:


Us and our piercings, lolz...

That night, it was a redeux of Steph and Tim (Stim) and the boys, as they brought bathing suits for Team Odette. We all had a jolly good time at the hotel pool (which was decidedly NOT heated as advertised, but hey, the hot tub was hot enough for both of them!):


Tim with Lucas & Vincent


Rob and Jack in the hot tub


Steph cuddling Jacky


Sophia floating in the brrrrr-cold pool


After we got back to the room, dried off and warmed up, I snapped this photo of Team Goetsch, minus Luke. Luke was SO cute, telling me all kinds of adorbs little four-year-old things, and we had a great time hanging with everyone that day and night.

6 March: I snapped this photo of Jack and his dad in the bed after we went down for breakfast while the girls continued to snooze:


I was supposed to have lunch with a sweet friend at the Olive Garden that day, and then go to Uncle Chuck's before heading back to see Lisa and some more friends that afternoon, but a necessary trip back to North Carolina prompted me to have to cancel the remainder of our plans. I can't say that trip ended well for everyone, but we headed back here Florida on Friday, March 7th, and we arrived back at home in the morning on March 8th. I napped about six times on the way home, since Rob can't drive and I was super tired.

All in all, it was a fun-filled, eventful trip back north, but I probably should have waited and gone in April as planned after all. I do think we were brought there for a very good reason, though, and that will have to speak for itself... 

Thanks for stopping by; have a wonderful day!


Sunday Stealing: The Yeah Meme


I'm back - though maybe not better than ever! Link up here if you're a fan of thievery, too!

The Yeah Meme 

From FYeah, Surveys!

Do you have another window or tab open? If so, what are they for? 

I have one for Saturday 9 so I can (for once) visit all the participants, and this is it for Google Chrome, which I hate. I also have IE open for my yahoo email account, Facebook, etc. I'm not sure what else is open but I am a true multi-tasker and always have a few things going on at once.

Do you like to cook/bake? 

Hells yeah, I do! I adore baking and fancy myself quite good at it. My hubs and kids think I'm a pretty decent cook, too, so I guess that's what counts.

What are you currently listening to? 

The kids are watching The Muppets, which I got for a steal on recently and got two free movie tickets to the upcoming Muppets Most Wanted movie for buying it. Can't beat that! ;)

How long have you lived in the house you live in? 

We live in a condo in Homestead and are about to renew our lease after being here for one year. Before that, we lived in Virginia Beach for 10 years.

Are you tired? 

No, but I have a horrible headache that I just can't seem to get rid of. Bah!

Do you pick your words carefully, or just tend to blurt everything out? 

I'm a well-known blurter. You know that filter that some people have, that helps them think before they speak? Yeah. I don't possess one of those. It's a problem.

Are you nice to everyone? 

I'm nice to everyone who is nice to me. I try to be nice to the rest, but... sometimes I fail. Don't we all have our moments?

Have you ever tripped in public? 

Pfft. Yeah. Of course. I'm very "white" about it and don't play it cool, either, like it never happened. I tripped once with a good (African-American) friend of mine who taught me how to pass it off better, but I'm afraid I'm still not cool.

Are you a morning person or a night person

Definitely a night owl here

Is it easier to forgive or forget? 

Forgive. I never, ever forget, but I will forgive you readily as long as you express that you are sorry. 

Is there something that’s recently shocked you? 

Yeah, I was pretty shocked last night... but I don't really want to talk about that here, now or ever. That surprise was not for general public consumption!

Which is harder: walking away from somebody you love or coming back? 

I think once you walk away, it's hard to come back without reliving all the old hurts and whatever it is that made you walk away in the first place. At least for me, neither is easy, but walking away is the easier of the too.

What were you doing at midnight last night? 

Pretending I wasn't crying my heart out

What color are your eyes? 

When I first moved away from my sister to go to college, she would always tell me, "I miss your shit-brown eyes!" (She's a blue-eyed beauty herself.) The older I get, though, the brighter and bigger the ring of green around the outside gets, but you do have to look deep into my eyes to see it.


Saturday 9: Unicorn

So, I've been taking a long blahggy break while we work through Rob's brain surgery on the 5th of February, along with a mountain of complications from that and, really, the radiation surgeries he had last summer... But, I'm eager to jump back back in the game. What better way to get started than Saturday 9? Link is here if you want to play along with us!

"The Unicorn" was selected because Monday is St. Patrick's Day. Unfamiliar with this week's song? Hear it here.

1) This song was recorded by The Irish Rovers. While it's said that on St. Patrick's Day everyone is Irish, can you honestly claim Irish heritage?

Nope, I can't claim even a morsel of it, though I'm about a sixth English... close enough, right? No, though, I have never felt any kind of Irish identity, even on St. Patty's Day. I've never even had green beer!

2) According to the 2000 Census, Massachusetts is the state with the largest percentage of residents of Irish descent. Have you ever been to The Bay State?

I have been to Boston with my mother, via train from NYC, but I was 5 or 6 then. I don't remember it at all and would love to re-visit it as an adult!

3) Other than St. Patrick, what is Ireland famous for?

The Potato Famine. Castles. Sheep and pastures. Beautiful land. Wonderful people. And pubs. Am I close?

4) St. Patrick's Day is celebrated the world over. They even watch marching bands and wave Irish flags on St. Patrick's Day in Moscow. Does your town have a St. Patrick's Day parade

I really don't know, but I can tell you one thing: I was out last night, and Miami sure knows how to do St. Patrick's Day sobriety checkpoints! Holy cannoli, I saw about a bajillion police officers - and their cars - last night. Thankfully, I passed through easily.

5) "The wearing o' the green" is one way to celebrate St. Patrick's Day. Will you wear something green in honor of the day?

Yeah, I will probably do that much, but that'll be it.

6) Have you ever had green beer?

I must be psychic. Nope, I never have, but I would if I liked beer. Can't stand it.

7) Have you ever ordered a Shamrock Shake at McDonald's?

They just don't sound good to me, and nowadays, since my gastric bypass surgery 5 years ago, they would make me sooo sick. So, nope to that, too!

8) A four-leaf clover is considered good luck. Do you have a lucky charm?

No, but I'm not superstitious at all. In fact, I have walked under ladders and opened umbrellas indoors. Cray-cray!

9) Speaking of Lucky Charms, they are magically delicious.  What brand of cereal is in your kitchen right now?

I can't eat cereal either, but I believe we have a lot of Cheerios and Kashi. Maybe some Raisin Bran?

* * * * *

And now, a bonus Sat9 from last week, because you love me so much and can't wait to read more, right?


1) Spring, summer, fall or winter: which season do you consider most wonderful? 

I'm loving our eternal summertime here in Miami-Dade, close to the Florida Keys! When we went up to Virginia's cold and snow last week, I confess, I was miserable and eager to get back home. Here's where we belong.

2) Crazy Sam learned this song when she played flute in the high school orchestra. Did you participate in many after-school activities? 

I was in Drama Club, Choir, and active in the Honor Society. Sometimes I helped out with the school musicals, but behind the scenes as I was terrified to have to audition. I can't remember if anything else; I was active mostly in my studies! And I had a job or three. I worked my buttooki off in school.

3) The flautist next to her in the orchestra was Jeanne Pepitone. After a little Facebook spying, Sam learned that Jeanne is now Jeanne Moran, a nurse with a husband and a daughter. Sam shot her a "friend request." Do you keep up with your high school classmates?

I do, yes, and have a large group of Facebook friends from my high school years. I can't wait to go up to Central NY this summer for my 20th reunion and see so many of them!

4) When she performed with the school orchestra, Sam was required to wear gray slacks and a black sweater. What are you wearing right now, as you answer these questions?

I had to wear black pants or skirt and a white top for choir performances. Always hated that, but we looked good as a group. Anyway, right now I'm wearing a turquoise skirt and a hot pink shirt. I don't shy away from color!

5) Sam was especially dedicated to the school orchestra because she had a crush on Mr. Hanley, the school's musical director. He was the dark/thin/sensitive type. Tell us about a teacher you remember, and why he or she stands out.

I have several, but I'll talk about my favorite Spanish teacher, Joanne O'Toole. She and I are still friends and keep in touch; hopefully, I'll get to see her this summer as well. I'll have to use my Spanish with her, as it was always the rule that you spoke that language whenver you were in her presence! I use it frequently here in Miami, anyway, so hopefully she won't be too disappointed with me. She has spent a lot of time in both Spain and Latin American countries, so her command of that language is impeccable. Aside from that, she's just a beautiful person, both inside and out.

6) Because Sam was so crazy about Mr. Hanley, she was desperate to attend his band camp. Her parents wouldn't allow it unless she could pay her own way, and so she didn't get to go. Were your parents strict or permissive? If you have children yourself, what's your parenting style?

My parents were abusive. My dad was authoritarian, and my stepmother was just psycho. I don't don't think that's an official parenting style, but you get my drift, right? My mother, God rest her soul, would have been an amazing parent and would have raised well-rounded, happy girls if she had lived. I try very hard to be Authoritative, neither too permissive nor too strict. My children are everything to me, and I want to do my best by them.

7) Sam liked Fridays because her favorite food, fried rice, was served in the school cafeteria. When you eat Chinese food, do you use chopsticks or a fork?

We never had Chinese in the cafeteria; that's pretty cool. Hubs and I always use chopsticks when we eat any Asian cuisine, but the kids haven't mastered them yet!

8) When Sam was a little girl, a new box of Crayolas could get her pulse racing. Now she loves her Sharpies. Do you enjoy shopping for school/office supplies?

Oh yes, I love, love, love new school and office supplies. There's nothing better, haha! I still get giddy.

9) Do you have any plush toys? Or did you give them all up when you left childhood?

No, I have a huge teddy bear that Hubs gave me when he proposed; I sleep with it every night and find it difficult to go without him! My kids, too, have far too many softies but always want more... And I'm a little indulgent when it comes to that, because I loved them sooo much myself as a kid.

Thanks for stopping by!