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Entries from August 2014

Saturday 9: All Night Long

Link up here if you're playing along this weekend!

Saturday 9: All Night Long (All Night)
(because Lia asked for an 80s song)

If you're not familiar with today's song, you can hear it here.

1) This music video was produced by Mike Nesmith of The Monkees. Can you name a Monkees song?

Hmm... I know the show's theme song, and I know "Daydream Believer."

2) The song includes the foreign sounding phrases, "Oh jambali Tom bo li d, say de moi ya," and "Oh, Jambo Jumbo!" Mr. Richie meant to include language indigenous to the Caribbean, but was writing the song under deadline and simply made those phrases up instead. Tell about the most recent time you cheated or "cut corners."

Let's see... Well, it's not really cheating, per se, but it's all I can think of at the moment: I'm a big coupon user, and Target puts out all different kinds of mobile coupons that are a pain to access at the cash register. So instead of dealing with that nonsense, I just took a screenshot of all the codes for the cashier to scan in one fell swoop. Does that count?

3) Richie was a frat boy at college. Kappa Kappa Psi, to be exact. Were you a member of a fraternity or sorority

Uh, no. I was a member of Beta Beta Beta (National Biology Honor Society) and Rho Rho Rho (U. of Miami's Marine Science Honor Society - get it?! We nerds have such a sense of humor), but that's about as Greek as I got.

4) When this song topped the charts (September 1983), Vanessa Williams became the first African American to be crowned as Miss America. Do you watch beauty pageants?

Holy crap, was it that long ago that she was crowned? I actually love beauty pageants, particularly this one, but I haven't watched in at least half a decade. It's been that long since we've subscribed to TV service. We all miss it; whenever we stay in hotels, we're all glued to the television when we're in the room. Lame.

5) Since it's Labor Day weekend, that holiday established to celebrate the American worker, let's talk about the workplace. Tellers work in a bank, actors work on a stage or a set, auto workers work on an assembly line. How would you describe your workplace?

I work everywhere and nowhere all at once. I'm a work-at-home business evaluation specialist, AKA a glorified mystery shopper. I work when I want, wherever I want (within limits), so I'm my own boss. It's great fun with great pay on some days, and lousy pay with zero benefits on other days. Heh.

6) An estimated 40% of us have dated a coworker. Have you ever had an office romance?

When I worked at the Publix near UM during my college years, I went out with everyone and his brother that I worked with. Good times, good times.

7) Labor Day is a big weekend for travel. How did you book your last vacation? (Online, through a travel agent, over the phone...)

We went to New York for my 20th reunion (I've only mentioned it about a thousand times by now) a few weeks ago. I booked that trip with our tax refund back in February online - do people still use travel agents? 
8) Mother Winters won't wear white again from now until next Memorial Day. Sam thinks that's just crazy. Where do you fall in this heated mother/daughter debate? 
I live in Miami, dudes. It's always summertime here. If I didn't have a big ol' fat butt, I'd wear lots of white all year long. Maybe if I ever get my freakin' plastic surgery done, that'll be my new wardrobe.

9) When you look at back on Summer 2014, what will you remember?

That afore-mentioned reunion will top the list. The whole week was pretty grand. I saw tons of friends, and my sister's family, and renewed even more friendships that had lapsed. I'm thrilled we were able to go. It was every bit as wonderful as I could possibly have imagined it. 

Today is my husband's 42nd birthday. He's had a rough year, and I'm thankful he's still with us. Happy birthday, Darlin' Hubs o' Mine!

Thanks for stopping by!


Sunday Stealing: Fictional Favorites Meme


Link up here if you're feeling thievish today!

Favorite Fictional ? 

1. Favorite fictional couple?  

I still love Ross & Rachel from Friends. Favorite lines: "I'm over you!" "When were you under me?"

2. Favorite fictional character

I guess I'm old school, because Jack Tripper from Three's Company was the first character I loved who came to mind.

 3. Favorite fictional TV show

 Kinda goes without saying, doesn't it?

4. Favorite fictional movie? 

I loved Jennifer Gray and Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing!

 5. Favorite fictional villain? 

Angelina Jolie in Maleficent really touched my heart.

 6. Favorite fictional hero? 

Nobody did Superman like Christopher Reeve did. RIP!

 7. Favorite fictional pet? 

I really am old school, 'cause I'm going with Sprocket on Fraggle Rock.

 8. Favorite fictional setting/universe? 

Again, I guess it goes without saying, because I was a big fan of Fraggle Rock!

 9. Least favorite fictional couple? 

I was never a big fan of Chandler and Janice on Friends.

 10. Least favorite fictional character? 

Sorry, but having been subjected to numerous episodes of Disney's That's So Raven by my kiddos, I have to say that Raven Symone was WAY over-acting on that show. I don't think it's her fault, though; Disney seems to encourage such "talent" in its actors.

 11. Least favorite fictional TV show? 


I'm certain I won't be the only one picking Barney for this answer!

 12. Least favorite fictional movie? 

Any Ernest Goes to... movie gets seventeen thumbs-down from me!

 13. Least favorite fictional villain? 

I love Disney's The Little Mermaid, but I always hated Ursula, the sea witch who took Ariel's voice. Demon!

 14. Least favorite fictional hero? 


I never really understood the point of Batman's sidekick, Robin.

15. Least favorite fictional pet? 

I can't think of a single one! Gonna have to pass on this one.

 16. Least favorite fictional setting/universe?

I'm not a fan of Sci-Fi and just never could get into the whole Star Trek thing, sorry!

Thanks for stopping by!


Your Ticket To Click It

Yup, I'm going to do a bunch of reviews on my sampling projects here, and I would appreciate it if you all would please, please, please click on each link to give me credit for telling you about this stuff. Pretty please, with sugar, whipped cream and a cherry on top?

Caltrate product 208x208

Up first is Caltrate Calcium & Vitamin D Gummy Bites. I'm not even going to lie, I love these things for the taste and texture alone. They're seriously yummy! I may or may not have popped a couple-two-three like candy on one particularly sweet-toothy day. Aside from that, they're great for strengthening bones - a must for us women - and the D increases absorption of Calcium, so that's a WIN, right?!

Click here for a $1 coupon or a $2 coupon, depending on which size you're interested in buying.

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Preph product 208x208


Next up, I'm going to talk about bottoms. Specifically, hemmorhoids. Do you have them? Because I totally have them, ever since I was pregnant with Chloë 13 years ago. They SUCK! I've even gone to an anus doctor (hehe) to see about having them surgically repaired in the past, they were so bad. Enter Preparation H Medicated Wipes for Women

I've been using these for about a week now, thanks to my free samples from Smiley, and wowsa! They really help soothe my sore behind. Wanna give them a try?

Click here for a $1.50-off coupon. Trust me. Your bum will thank you (and me, right?!)

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Thirdly, we have Pepcid Complete, which I jumped at the chance to sample. I have suffered from some serious GERD (gastro-esophageal reflux disease) for about 16 years now, and it's a real pain in the neck. Literally! Smiley sent me a coupon for a free bottle of Pepcid Complete Acid Reducer & Antacid, and I rushed right over to my nearby pharmacy to redeem that bad boy.

I had run out of my prescription acid reflux meds, so this was really just what I needed. Pepcid Complete tamed that savage beast in less than an hour, and I have been comfortable ever since. I might even use it in conjunction with my Rx, if I ever fill that again, because it works so well. If you're a fellow sufferer, you can click here to get a coupon for $2 off your purchase. You'll be glad you did.

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My next mission is about something that's very close to my heart: Childhood Domestic Violence (CDV). As a product of CDV myself, it's my goal that everyone who cares about this issue - whether from first-hand experience or not - will go out and purchase Invincible by Brian F. Martin here. Let me know if you do; it would mean a lot to me just to know you looked at the page.

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And finally, for now, a bit of fun: Build-a-Bear Workshop and Smiley gave me a gift card to go and make a Superhero, My Little Pony® or Disney® Princess Palace Pet at their workshop. Sophia recently made a sparkly kitty, and Chloë's getting a Princess Palace Pet (Ariel's kitty, which she's named Pumpkin) for her upcoming birthday in two weeks, so I think I'll use this gift card to get a Superhero for Jack. How fun!

Have you ever been to Build-a-Bear Workshop? We've done it several times now, and each time we go, it's super-fun and super-special for the kids and us parents alike. The staff really go out of their way to make sure the kids' (or your) creations are one-of-a-kind and just the way they're wanted. They even throw great parties for special occasions!

Click here for a special $5-off-$25 coupon to use on your next visit - and make sure you let me know you went!

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Thanks for stopping by, and please remember to click, click, click for me. Thanks!



Sweet Pea Academy: Art, Week 1 - Kandinksy & Indiana

080714 Sophia drawing

This isn't an official "art project" of Sophia's, but she drew it on her own, copying a book cover of a much smaller size. I think it demonstrates what a great little skill she's developing, here, at age 9.

I've been following the Art Projects For Kids site and blog for a number of years now, and in addition to the Native American arts and crafts we're going to be doing during this 2014-2015 school year, I want to spend each Friday doing at least one project from Kathy Barbro's site.

We started our school year this past Tuesday, after a false start on Monday, so yesterday we got out our new Art notebooks and supplies and worked on a project inspired by this, Robert Indiana's "LOVE":

Robert Indiana - Love (April 2010 Mix Cover)

Sophia's work was largely imitative:

082214 Sophia, Artist Robert Indiana,

while I let the kids pick whatever four-letter word (!!) they wanted. Jack's turned out like this:

082214 Jack, Artist Robert Indiana

and Chloë, not surprisingly, chose to do this:

082214 Chloë, Artist Robert Indiana.

After the Littles went to bed, Chloë still wanted to do another art project based on the APFK blog, so I had her do one based off this, Wassily Kandinky's "Farbstudie Quadrate":

Farbstudie Quadrate, c.1913 Poster

She took it in a whole different direction, which I love, and this was her finished result:

082314 Chloë, Artist Kandinksy

I just love it! What do you think?

Maybe today, when the bitties wake up, I'll have them do their own interpretation of Kandinsky's circles.

Thanks for stopping by!


Saturday 9: I Got You, Babe

Link up here if you're playing along this weekend!

Saturday 9: I Got You, Babe
(recommended by Thank You Great Spirit)

If you're not familiar with today's song, you can hear it here.

1) Popular music has produced almost countless groups, but not that many duos. Besides Sonny & Cher, can you name another?

I'm loving The Madden Brothers' song, "We Are Done" right now!

2)  Hearing this recording from his clock radio is how Bill Murray woke up every morning in Groundhog Day. What woke you up this morning

Honestly? Nothing. I didn't wake up until about 2:30 in the afternoon, but in my defense, it's because I really screwed up my meds this week and I get "stuck" asleep and have trouble waking when that happens. I should be back on track now, though. And we still got in a full week of school!

3) When she was growing up, Cher practiced her autograph for when she became a star. Is your signature legible? Or is it more of a scrawl?

It's more of a scrawl now, though it used to be legible. I recently changed it, without having any explanation.

4) In addition to showbiz, Sonny & Cher had many careers: Sonny was a restauranteur and politician, Cher is an interior designer. Would you like to try your hand at any of those professions?

I'd love to be an interior designer! I've actually thought about going into it.

5) In 1965, when this song topped the charts, Sonny and Cher were as famous for their wardrobe as for their music. Sonny was fond of tall, heavy-heeled boots while Cher often paired granny dresses with bare feet. What's on your feet right now?

Call me Cher; as usual, I've got bare feet, too. With blue polish on my toenails.

6) By 1968, their career crashed. Cher's early attempts as a movie actress failed, their records stopped selling and the IRS came after them for back taxes. Have you ever been audited?

Knock wood: no.

7) In 1971 they were on top again with their TV show. But their marriage was coming apart. Sonny said, "For the last 5 years I worried about our career, not about us." Have you ever been guilty of putting career before relationship? 

Oh yes, but truthfully, that relationship was doomed from the start.

8) By 1972 they were living separate lives - in the same house. For the sake of The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour, they pretended to be happily married for another year and a half. Tell us about a time when you pretended to be happy, but weren't.
Are you kidding? I'm a pro at this. Most of us with crippling depression are pretty good at putting on that mask for society's sake.

9) While their separation and divorce were bitter, they resumed their friendship when Cher showed up at the opening of his restaurant in 1976. Have you ever made the first move in repairing a relationship?
I actually have, recently. And I'm glad I did, because I adore the person and had a wonderful time catching up. 
Thanks for stopping by! Here, enjoy some artwork of Sophia's from this week, in the style of artist Robert Indiana:

Wordless Wednesday: First Day Of School

Link up here if you're any degree of Wordless today!


We homeschool, and our first day of school for the year 2014-2015 was yesterday! From left to right, the kids are: Sophia, 4th grade; Jack, 6th grade; and Chloë, 8th grade.


Here are the kids working on Math! May not be the neatest, cleanest picture, but it's comfy and cozy. ;)


After getting our work done for the day, we celebrated the new year with a trip to Dairy Queen! I'm glad we were finished, because Sophia was on quite a sugar high after her hot fudge sundae!

Thanks for stopping by!


Random Tuesday: Baseball, #Jamberry Nails, And Pancakes?!


This may be only the second or third time I've participated in Random Tuesday with Stacey Uncorked, but I'm feeling it today, so here I am! Link up if you're completely random on a Tuesday, yes?

Shall we?

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Last week, Sophia and I spent a good 3½ hours at the pediatrician's office to get her bloodwork done. She's completely traumatized by doctors and dentists and especially their needles, so she spent that whole time screaming and carrying on about getting the blood drawn. It was exhausting - for her, for me, for the poor bewildered doctor, for the staff, and maybe even for the next office over, some of the staff of which had to come in and help hold her down to end the whole episode.

I had promised Sophie pancakes at IHOP, having gotten a certificate for a free stack in my email inbox a few days prior, but by the time we got home from the doc's office, she just wanted to go to sleep. I couldn't blame her; so did I! And that we did.

By the time we were both ready to go to IHOP for a short stack of flapjacks, it was about three o'clock in the morning. But we went anyway, and as you can see, the trauma had subsided and she was all about getting her stawberry hotcakes on. 

I don't quite have the heart to tell her she needs more bloodwork and some immunizations in the very near future... :\

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Crafting 2

I've been doing a buttload of planning for this upcoming homeschool year, 2014-2015, and the kids have been kicking around the house kinda bored. I had stocked up on craft supplies for Sophie's birthday party, but we never held it, to her utmost disappointment.

I had also had a ton, give or take a few hundred pounds, of both cardboard and styrofoam egg cartons saved up for a crafty occasion. Actually, I was hoping to Freecycle them to someone who needed them for chickens or what-have-you, but such a person never materialized. Enter Pinterest! I found oodles of egg carton crafts on that wondrous site, and behold, two or three days of crafting were born.

Crafting 1

All three kiddos started out with the supplies, which included pompoms, feathers, glue, patterned crafting tape, paint, and so much more aside from the egg cartons. Jack, my least crafty kid, wanted to join... but he finished with slap-dashery that was hard for me to encourage. And so, in a rare (I hope?) moment of shoddy, discouraging parenting, I asked him why he bothered. Admittedly, that was pretty shitty of me, and we both agreed to have a time-out from each other for the remainder of that afternoon. #MomFail

Chloë is pretty crafty, but I think it's Sophia who is the most talented in this arena. Not that Chloë isn't artistic, because she is; however, she's a complete perfectionist like her mother, and therefore she finds it harder to break loose and just have fun with the process with no perfect goal in mind. The above pompom family was Sophia's creation, with no inspiration form Pinterest or anything else but her own imagination.

I could wrap up this segment of post in numerous ways, but suffice it to say that I learned something about the kids and their different abilities and learning styles, yes, but more about me and how I parent differently to them. Fortunately, I think I grew from the experience!

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Somehow, I managed to lose my entire post and get it back again without having saved it myself. Whew! I tend to give up when that happens. Yay for Autosave features!

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Another difference between Jack and his sisters is that he does not generally enjoy being photographed, whereas the girls love having a camera lens aimed at them. So when I changed my Facebook profile picture to this, my dad started condemning the lack of Jack, talkin' 'bout how he (my dad) applauds Jack for being a different kid, etc, blah blah, yakkety yak, and I shouldn't exclude him.


It touched a nerve, as parents and their comments are wont to do. I bend over backward - occasionally literally, even! - to make sure my kids feel recognized for their individuality and their strengths. Rob and I both have abysmal self-esteem, and so it is high on my list of priorities to develop a healthy sense of self in all of my children. Furthermore, I try to spend time with each of them, alone, every single day, and honestly, I do the best I can do be the best mom I can be for them!

I think we're doing all right. So my message for all the grandparents in the world, if you happen to come across this is: Unless you have cause for grave concern, step aside and let your kids do their job with their kids. You raised yours, and now it's our turn to raise ours. Not that input isn't necessary or even desired, but come on. Wait until we ask, if you can, and in the meantime, be as positive and supportive as you can manage.

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Baseball 1

On Saturday, Chloë and I took Sophia over to baseball tryouts at a park in Miami. How cute is she here?! I love this picture of her.

She was "trying out" (which really meant having her skills assessed for placement on the best team for her) at the oldest age group, 9-10 years, in the league we're joining, so really she ended up being one of the very few with no experience playing baseball.

I don't think she cared. She's got confidence to spare, that one!

She was also the only girl we saw on the field, the only one not fully decked out in a uniform from season's path, and from what I could see, the only Southpaw. That didn't stop her! She went up there, swung her bat three times at the pitches, ran around the bases, and practiced catching and throwing with an assistant coach.

She thinks she did poorly because she didn't hit the ball, but that will improve. I think she did fine because she showed up and bravely tried something new!

Baseball 2

After Sophie's try-outs ended, the three of us ran across the park to the playground for some fun. Both of them made friends, as per usual, and they played until we ran out of water and heat exhaustion became a threat. I haven't heard back about the baseball team yet, but I'm sure there will be more on that in future posts. Watch this space!

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Jamberry 0

Apropos of not much, I painted a French manicure on my nails the other day. I'm sharing partly because I just like the picture, and partly as an intro to the current state of my nails (I know you're waiting with baited breath to find out).

Jamberry 1

My friend Tiffany sent me this awesome package on Saturday, so that I could experience the Jamberry phenomenon! As a JAFRA Consultant, I haven't had the pleasure of being introduced to Jamberry nail wraps until now. I couldn't wait to get started... but I did until yesterday, because I didn't open the mail until late Sunday night and discovered the treats contained therein!

Jamberry 2

How cute is this manicure I did all by little ol' self, with Berries and Gingham? I love it!

Tiffany sent me more "grown-up" adult-sized nail wraps, with these in mind for Sophie and Chlo, but I kinda stole them because I thought my nail beds were too tiny. Luckily, there are still plenty left for the girls, because each sheet comes with enough for several manicures. We'll have to do theirs tomorrow!

A few observations I've made so far about my Jamberry mani:

☼ There's just a very slight learning curve! I did my left hand first, starting with the thumb, and I immediately realized upon application that I could have gone with the larger size and dealt with minimal trimming of the wrap. I did my index finger second, and I accidentally wrinkled the wrap. I'm going to try to use my hair dryer, which is used to soften the wraps to make them easy to manipulate, to smooth that down. ☼

☼ There are SO many designs in the catalog, even for little girls' hands, that I know I'll be getting more in the future. Plenty of mature, adult designs (please, get your minds out of the gutter!), along with lots of whimsical themes. I love them all, and I can't wait until the Collegiate set includes one for my UM 'Canes! ☼

☼ For my oddly-shaped upside-down triangular nail shapes, I realized I could either go to the larger, regular size and trim the decals down easily, or paint my nails to match the wraps before applying them, so the gap's not so obvious. Tiffany assured me the wraps go on just as well over painted nails as bare ones. I'll be trying both methods soon, and you know I'll be reporting on that! ☼

Have you tried Jamberry nails yet? I'd love it if you would check out Tiffany's site and tell me what your favorite design is. Stay tuned for a special offer in the near future!

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Finally, we had a bunch of burnt-out light bulbs in the house, so we ran to Lowe's to get a bunch of new ones. What did we spot but this huge Halloween décor display?! Seriously, mid-August is way too soon for that. Do you agree?

Thanks for stopping by!


Sunday Stealing: The "WOULD YOU?" Meme


I haven't blogged regularly in about a month, so I almost completely forgot about Sat9 and this one. Oops. Here I am squeaking in at midnight to get started. Go with me, won't you?

From "A Place Of My Own" by L'Empress

 Would you ever cheat on someone if they cheated on you?

Not gonna lie; I've been on both sides of it, but I'm not a tit-for-tat person. That's just dumb.

Would you ever consider becoming a teacher?

I homeschool my kiddos. I've taught college Biology at USF. I've been a substitute teacher in K-12. Do the math.

 Would you ever give a hitch-hiker a ride somewhere?

To my husband's dismay, I've given a few ladies rides. Never a man, not in years, and never with my children in the car with me.

 Would you ever try fasting for a whole week?

Never say never, but I like to eat too much, so it would be difficult. I'd have to have a damn good reason!

 Would you ever try to quit one of your addictions?

I quit an addiction cold turkey this year. It was hard but not impossible. Admitting it is definitely the first step, yo. 

Would you ever dye your hair purple?

Sure, it's only hair. My hair is reddish-brown. I want to get black, platinum and fuschia streaks in it, but my sister the stylist won't let me. ;) 

Would you ever spend $100 for the best tasting hamburger in the world?

Nope. I quit eating mammals 19 years ago. 

Would you rather chew gum off the ground or kill a squirrel?

Gross, but I'd have to go with the gum. I'd not intentionally kill a squirrel. You'd think I was a Buddhist; I hate killing bugs (though I do it when they get on me without my permish!)

Would you rather play Monopoly or Operation?

Monopoly is one of my favorite games. Operation... I hate the jumpy feeling I get when that timer is about to go! 

Would you rather eat chocolate or fruity candies?

People used to ask me how I could be vegan and still be chunky. Listen, people, there ain't no meat in chocolate. 

Would you rather listen to one CD forever or become deaf?

Can I pick the CD? If so, I would not want to lose one of my senses. 

Would you rather be deaf or blind?

Gee, like that question never comes up; I'd choose to go deaf over blindness. I enjoy the beautiful colors of the world too much. (Ironically, I'm slowly losing my vision; I have glaucoma and have noticed a difference over the past year.)

Would you rather text or talk on the phone?

I'll text you all day long, but it kills me every time I have to answer the phone. I hate it. 

Would you rather spend a day with Lady Gaga or Miley Cyrus?

I love Gaga! Nothing personal against Miley. I just think Gaga is more like me.

Would you rather learn to play piano or guitar?

I'd like to play the electric violin or the saxaphone. 

Would you rather have a stomach-ache or headache?

I would rather cut off my left foot than have a headache, sometimes. But I suffer frequent migraines. I once had one last every day of ten years.

Would you rather be overly interesting or overly dull?

I would hate to be dull! 

Would you rather be too loud or too quiet?

I'd rather things be loud. After 13½ years of marriage, you'd think I wouldn't still have to tell my husband, "I'm not yelling at you; I'm just being emphatic!" ha.

Thanks for stopping by...


LATE Saturday 9: Mine Would Be You

Link is here. Mood is bad. You are warned.


Saturday 9: Mine Would Be You

(recommended by Kathy W)

If you're not familiar with today's song, you can hear it here.

1) The lyrics mention his respect for "90 proof and Marlboro Red." What was your most recent drink? When was your last cigarette?

I had a couple shots of tequila about a week ago. I don't smoke, never have, way too fucking smart to start.

2) They also reference "singing like crazy fools." What's the last song you sang?

I crooned along with Sam Smith to "Stay With Me" earlier today while the dark cloud over my head temporarily lifted.

3) Blake Shelton won a Grammy for his performance of this song. Crazy Sam won the award for "most improved bowler" when she was in third grade, and it's now in a closet somewhere. Do you have any trophies? If so, where are they?

I have never won a trophy in my life. All my achievements were academic. Ain't nothing wrong with that, but I don't have any damn trophies. I might like one someday.

4) Blake is currently on tour. The merchandise sold at concerts brings in big money for the artist. Do you have any tour memorabilia (like a poster or t-shirt)? 

I don't. However, I did buy Hubs a ringer t-shirt when we went to his Bucket List concert in Norfolk a few years back: The Wiyos, whom I adore, opened for the headlining trio of Willie Nelson (killed it), John Mellencamp (knocked it out of the park), and Bob Dylan (sucked ass).

5) In addition to The Voice, Shelton is on TV a lot with his Pizza Hut commercials. What chain restaurant is nearest your home? Do you eat there?

We've never eaten at Casavana, a Cuban restaurant, and I don't know why. Maybe it's because I just don't want to spend the money if the kids aren't going to eat the food. Maybe it's because I'm not sure yet what I want to order. We'll get there.

6) Shelton has a million-seller CD called Cheers! It's Christmas! What's the first Christmas carol to pop into your head this hot summer Saturday?

Deck the Halls

7) Shelton and Miranda Lambert were married in front of 550 guests. Do you enjoy weddings?
In a word, yes. I love them.

8) The wedding took place on a big Texas ranch. Have you spent much time on a farm or a ranch?
Not really. My friend Sarah's family lives on a North Carolina farm, and we have loved visiting there a handful of times, but we don't get up there much now. They've done so much with it that I'd love to do if we could.

9) In 2013 he helped organize a relief benefit concert for victims of the Oklahoma tornados. Tell us about a charity you support.

 I donate my blood to the wee babies regularly, formerly to the American Red Cross, and now to the South Florida Bloodmobile or whatever the hell that big red bus is called. No ARC around here.


Travelogue: Reuniting In Upstate New York

So, I'm finally getting around to posting more fully about our trip to Syracuse and beyond. We left on 30 July, out of Miami International Airport. The kids haven't flown since January 2007 or so, when we came to, ironically, Ft. Lauderdale from Virginia Beach to see my late gran'pappy. They love flying, theoretically, and so they looked out the windows with eager anticipation.

 I wanted to bring a few souvenirs up to New York, so I stopped in the little tienda near our gate in the Delta terminal. I knew I needed some salt water taffy for my BFF, Dr. Lisa, but for my nieces? I had a feeling they might be amused by flamingo/gator/pelican poop, but I passed and settled for a picture. Too silly!


 The pilot on our flight to LaGuardia, in NYC, was wicked cool. (I couldn't say the same for one of the flight attendants, who took every opportunity to show us her inner malevolence, for no reason that we could discern.) We were allowed, Jack and I, into the cockpit. Jack should be something to do with planes as an adult; he adores them and is a little obsessed. The captain interacted with him on his level, showing up some of the switches and knobs, and generally lighting up this ordinarily-grumpy little boy's face. It was terribly fun.

We got into Syracuse Hancock Airport at 11:33 PM that Wednesday night. It was just in time to rush over, with Rob in his wheelchair, to the rental car counter to get our vehicle. There had been much concern on my part about that, but we made it! Our rental turned out to be a teensy-weensy Hundai Elantra, which barely seated five people. Half the car was trunk space. Weird. Anyway, we fit, and we rolled out to our nearby hotel to crash for a few hours before heading out early on the 31st.

* * * * *


We headed that Thursday to my sister's, way out west in Jamestown, by 0900. It was nearly four hours later when we arrived. My nieces, 12-year-old Hanna and 14-year-old Karen, greatly impressed me: they had put on a carnival of sorts, which included a variety of fair-type games, rides on the trampoline, obstacle courses, and more. Entries cost anywhere from tuppence to a dollar each, yet my kids were free. Several neighbor kids had come. The whole thing was put on for our benefit, but to raise money for an animal rehabber. I thought it was absolutely fantastic. What ingenuity they demonstrated!

And then we headed over to Stacey's salon to get our hairs done. All five of us were beneficiary's of Stace's 100%-off family discount. Thanks, sista from the same mista! ;) Jack went first, and he went from cute to simply adorable. For such a grumpy pants, he sure is yummy! ♥


Sophia went next. I had already chopped off her hair the night before we'd left Miami - at her request - but of course my sister needed to touch it up. Sophie also requested pink streaks, so Stacey put some washable ones in there for her. Can you see them? She (and I) loved it! We may do something a little more permanent next time.

Chloë just needed a trim, and I had some shaping done. I should have done a before-and-after of Rob, though, because he went from looking positively homeless to quite dapper under Stacey's careful handiwork.

I think this may be my sister's one and only selfie (ussie?), but I made her. Rarely do I get to be the one in charge, so it surprised me that she agreed, but here we are. You see? We look absolutely nothing alike.


That's my niece, Karen, in the fluorescent yellow kicks. We went over to the girls' soccer game after haircuts to watch them play in the summer recreational league. Jack and Sophie wanted no part of that, so they hung around the nearby playground while Rob, Chlo, my sister, her hubs Michael, and I watched. I took bunches of picture of that, but none up close. My dad keeps kvetching about that. Sorry, Pops! I put my camera away and forgot to take it out again. 


Chloë found a four-leaf clover on the soccer field, so natch we had to Instagram that. See her long fingers? She's tiny, so we had to switch from flute to piccolo last year, but I'm thinkin' now would be a good time for those lengthy phlanges to tickle the ivories instead!

Stacey made us a wonderful dinner before taking all of us out for ice cream at the local 50s-style diner. Jack stayed back with Uncle Michael; he doesn't eat much and had had his fill of tween/teen angst for that moment. There certainly was a fair share of that, but as you can tell from this photo, for the most part, these four girls got along swimmingly.

* * * * *

 Friday found me sleeping in 'til the crack of noon; I was exhausted after getting back around 0100 from Jamestown. I didn't do anything until it was time to leave for my 1800 "date" with my Baldwinsville C.W. Baker Class of 1994 cohorts. I met Dr. Lisa and her hubs, Faris, outside the meeting place at the appointed time, and my gosh, you'd think I was going in for a heart transplant, I was so nervous! I'd not brought any anxiety meds with me to New York, so by the time the three of us made our way downstairs to our destination, I was visibly shaking like a leaf. How embarrassing. Oh, and I lost my voice, too; I was, in short, a wreck!

Faris put a glass of wine in my hand, and I calmed almost immediately. The first glass caused me no buzz but settled my nerves greatly, so after an hour or so of chatting and mingling with old friends, I accepted another glass of wine from Faris. And then someone bought me a Cosmopolitan and then... well, by the end of the night I'd been given three more from various classmates.

I had had a blast reconnecting with my peers, and I was thoroughly enjoying my night. So when midnight came around, and my friend Judy removed the last Cosmo from my hand and informed me that I was cut off, I realized I could not possibly get myself back to the hotel. I sheepishly called Faris and Lisa, who'd gone home three hours earlier to relieve their babysitter, and begged a ride. Fortunately, Faris came right out to get me and seemed nonplussed about it. Whew! Good friends, I have.

* * * * *


On Saturday, we had our actual class reunion across from where we'd had our alumni gathering the previous night. This was a clambake for kids and spouses to join. Here, an "ussie" with Dr. Lisa and Esq. Dominic, another good high school chum.


Another "ussie" with my (obviously much taller) friends from school: Melissa on the left and Beth on the right. Both ladies have a child, a son for M and a daughter for B, and I was quite charmed by both children.


The clambake was a little complicated for me, because of needing to take care of the kids' and Rob's needs as well as visit my friends, so I didn't enjoy myself nearly as much as I had on Friday night. I'm glad I went, of course, but Friday was the better day for me (thanks to that social lubricant, mayhaps?).


Dr. Lisa's adorable daughter, Emilie, and mine, Sophia, showed off the face painter's talents. Pretty good! 


Sophia and Emilie really hit it off, as did Jack and Em's brother Jacob. Chloë was kind of odd man out on this occasion, but she didn't seem to mind too much. She was older than the vast majority of kids there; guess Rob and I got started early!

Straight away after the clambake, we headed out west again. This time, we landed in Rochester at the home of my other "bestie," Shana. She and husband Kevin have a lovely, sprawling home that they share there with son Connor and daughter Jaden. The kids played out in the backyard pool for a while, and then they moved inside to the hot tub. Nice, huh?!


After the kids dried up and shared an Indian dinner with Shana's family, a young man whose name escapes me came to watch the chirren while we adults went out to watch Kevin's band play at the bar Daisy Dukes. Here's an "ussie" with Kevin on the drums! Shana totally tried to inveigle me into riding the mechanical bull that night, but I was in a skirt, and there was just no freakin' way. I would have needed to imbibe a hell of a lot more than I did for that to happen! Maybe next time... ;)

* * * * *


I had mostly paid attention to phenomenally-cute Jaden on Saturday afternoon, but early on Sunday morning I chilled for a few hours with phenomenally-witty Connor. What a card! I'm huge fans of those kids now and considered absconding with them, but I had a feeling Shana and Kevin may not have continued the friendship after that.

Shana and Kevin prepared an awesome breakfast spread Sunday, and we all chowed down. Kevin was off to the races, so I didn't get to talk to him too much, but Shana was all about playing the part of the perfect hostess. I can learn a few things from her. Shana is way more chill and laid-back than I am; she's the B to my A. Love her.

After breakfast, the kids did some more time in the pool and hot tub before Shana got out a ton of artsy-craftsy stuff for the girls and turned on the Wii for the boys who had no interest in such stuff. We did that a while, ate some lunch, and then headed back out to see my sis again.


We ate dinner, dealt with more adolescent angst, and had a photo shoot before heading out east again to our hotel. I'm sure there was more in there, but for some reason I can't remember what it entailed. Maybe because I was running on empty by that point?

We got back to the hotel around 0130, once again, and crashed... 

* * * * *

Play Video

 Monday, our last full day in New York, we had breakfast with la Señora who taught me Spanish in high school. I hadn't seen her since then, and both of us had seen a lot of things change in our lives in the 20 years hence. She, too, put on quite a smorgasbord of deliciousness for us before leading the kids around the house to all her grandkids' toy hiding spots. And then, to my delight, Señora - who is now rightfully Doctora - gave me a plethora of Spanish-language books to further my own as well as the children's progress in that language. Score! I had a great time seeing her and introducing the Odettelettes to her loveliness.

That day was one full of gluttony and piggishness for us. After breakfast, we headed straight for Gino & Joe's, which is only the best pizza place in B'ville. We encountered a lot of bees by that point, so this is Sophia demonstrating out to keep them from going up your nose or in your ears. Hee. 

No one met us for lunch, but we missed a couple of people who showed up after we left. Boo... but to my surprise, Andy was still there. He was there when I was in middle school, junior high, high school, and 10 years ago, and he's still at G&J's, making pizzas! Now, that's longevity! (And he looked scarcely a day older, to boot. Tomatoes and mozz must agree with him.)

After lunch, we had some time to kill, so we went nearby to Byrne dairy for ice cream. Only, Rob and I had brought cannoli over from Gino's to enjoy while the kids ate their lunch-dessert. Yes, pigs we were. I must have gained 5 pounds that day alone.

From there, we drove down the road to my missing-in-action friends Stacey K's old house to see her mom. Her family, along with Shana's, had been my oases, my safe havens, during all the tough times growing up at home. Many a time, Mrs. K. picked me up and either brought me to their house or to work, or just came to get me and do whatever it took to get me out of the house. She was a Godsend. But she wasn't home, and I was saddened.

We moved on to my old house in Harbor Heights. I barely recognized the neighborhood! My friend Shannon had told me it was now full of "McMansions," and I could see what she meant. Someone once told me that living in Harbor Heights made us one of the "rich families," but now, for sure, it was definitely true.

We drove down to Shannon's house to see if she was home. Of course, it being a Monday afternoon, she was at work. I left her a present in the outside freezer: Chloë's cup of unfinished ice cream! I told her about it later, over dinner, and she laughed, but I have secretly worried ever since that she was mad. To be fair, I did try to find a garbage can, but I found none and didn't know what else to do with it other than refreeze it! Sorry, Shannon! :\



Eventually, we made our way back to downtown Baldwinsville, which is a much smaller place than it seemed to be 20-30 years ago, for dinner with friends at the Diner. If you ever find yourself there, you must have the gravy fries! I did... well, I had a half-dozen before Oscar, my pouch, called it quits on food for the day. Instead, I visited with pals Melanie S., above, Melissa and her son JV, Shannon, Faris, our fellow alum Kris, and Dr. Lisa's dad and stepmom. (Lisa was, coincidentally, in Orlando for a medical conference.)

What a great time we had. My kids were surprised because I let them each get their own desserts, which is a major eating-out rarity for us. I talked at length with Melissa, which was great, because we bonded more than we ever had two decades prior. And Lisa's 'rents gave me presents: Two soaps he'd made and a lip balm she'd made. I've been using these since then. They're heavenly, full of rich scents and great texture. The soap gives a good lather; you can check them out at Summer Bee Meadow for yourself!

After that, it was time for us to head reluctantly back to the hotel one last time to pack. I went out late and returned the car in a comedy of errors that took me over an hour to get back via shuttle, leaving me just three hours to get a little shut-eye and throw things last-minute into luggage before the long trip home. I don't think we forgot anything?!

* * * * *

The shuttle brought us to the airport no later than 0400 last Tuesday morning. Talk about tired - and yet, wired. It's hard not to be, even for sleepy times at a sleepier airport, with all the accompanying hustle and bustle. 

At the gate, it was hurry up and wait time, as our flight didn't leave until 0600. We made it uneventfully to JFK, and then some serious trouble with getting decent wheelchair service for Rob started. He was treated, from my perspective, like a second-class citizen. He felt like cargo. It was awful. Delta has since responded to this information with a small travel voucher which, I guess, is fine.

And then we were home. The kids were thrilled to be back; I was less so to pay the $114 parking bill at MIA! Eek. Next time, I'm giving a friend the job of dropping us off, whether they like it or not. :P

Hard to believe a week has passed since our return. I'm still feeling like it just happened, this trip, such being the magnitude of its impact on me. Good times, good friends, good memories. Ahhh... 


Sunday Stealing: 13 Things Meme


Link up here if you're playing along today!

1. Outside my window… 


Well, it's 12:13 AM right now, so you can't see it, but this is the picture I took around sunset last night, in our neighborhood. 

 2. I am thankful… 

... that this crew got to go up to New York this past week for my high school reunion. It was a great time, and I'm glad we went!

 3. In the kitchen… 

... well, my kitchen is a disaster at the moment, and we have few groceries. I should probably remedy that soon! But this picture, above, is from my pallie-girl Shana's house (she of the Josh Groban concert violin-playing mentioned in yesterday's Saturdday 9 post). We spent Saturday night there a week ago, and she was a perfect hostess.

 4. I am wearing… 

Well, I just got out of the tub, so I'm not wearing a whole helluva lot right now, but this is what I wore to my reunion get-together last Friday night. That's me on the far right, wearing something I never would have thought I'd have worn!

 5. I am creating… 

...hopefully, memories and connections my children will cherish for years to come!

 6. I am going… 

... to miss this sister of mine, right, during the year before we go back up to New York!

 7. I am reading… 


... up on my Native American history, because that will largely be the focus of our coming school year here at Sweet Pea Academy. I can't wait! If you have any personal connections, I'd love to talk to you about them!

8. I am learning… 


... how blessed I am to have such great friends in my life, like Dr. Lisa above (my BFF)!

9. I am pondering… 

... whether I should let me 9yo, Sophia, get permanent pink streaks in her sweet blond hair, since these have already faded. I think they're tres cool.

 10. A favorite quote… 

 11. One of my favorite things… 

... is my lovely little trio of babes.

 12. A few plans for the rest of the week… 

... involve doing a lot of damage to this stash, since I haven't done any knitting in about 10 days, when I'm not cleaning this icky house and working on this year's curriculum.

 13. A peek into my day…


... involves posting silly things like this picture on Instagram (@Smellyann) when I'm not doing the above-referenced planning, cleaning, and knitting. I'm insta-happy.

Thanks for stopping by!



Saturday 9: Super Duper Love

Link up here if you think you can handle it, ey?

If you're not familiar with today's song, you can hear it here.

1) The lyrics say, "I'm as proud as a girl can be." Tell us about something you're proud of.

I graduated at the top of my high school and college classes. Not valedictorian, no, but right up there. After spending a week in New York going to my high school reunion, I can tell you that I need to find something else of which to be proud! ;)

2) This song is from her first CDThe Soul Sessions. She's told interviewers that the first CD she ever owned was by Aretha Franklin: Greatest Hits. So while we're talking firsts, do you remember your first CD (or tape or record)?

I think my first tape was Milli Vanilli! Hahaha... and yes, my taste in music continues to be as stellar!

3) Last year, two men were convicted of plotting to kill Joss Stone. Even though she had (fortunately!) never even met the men, she still had to testify during their trial. Have you ever had to speak to a judge?

Yup, and even though I want to be a family court judge myself, it's very intimidating for someone of my intestinal fortitude (or lack thereof)! The first time, I had to explain why I flipped off a cop. Long story short, I won. Case dismissed!

4) Joss is frequently in the British press because of her friendship with Princes William and Harry. Who among your friends leads the most exciting life?

Hmmm. Probably, amongst my closest pals, Shana. At least before kids, when she played in concert with the likes of Josh Groban. I was so impressed by that!  

5) Because of dyslexia, Joss had trouble in school and dropped out when she was 16. What's the last grade you completed?

I did three semesters of Ph.D. work, followed by a semester of my master's, before I gave up academia for marriage and motherhood.

6) She provided the voice of the villainness for the James Bond video game, Blood Stone. Do you have a Playstation or Xbox?
We have an Xbox, which isn't hooked up, so we've never used it. Lamesauce.

7) Sam is especially crazy this morning because she can't find her phone. What's the last thing you misplaced?
I'm pretty good about having a place for everything and putting everything in its place. If I lose something, it's usually because someone else in this family takes it.

8) After composing this Saturday 9, Sam is off to Lowe's to pick up some heavy duty indoor/outdoor trash bags. Will you be in any stores this weekend?
I just bought milk and eggs at the neighborhood Publix. Nothing more thrilling than that...

9) Do you consider yourself more book smart, or street smart?
After spending the latter 10 years of my childhood being screamed at for being book smart and having no common sense, it's hard to believe anything else.
On that fun note, thanks for stopping by!

Saturday 9s: The Last Three Weeks

I took a bit of a bloggy break, but for the time being at least, I'm back. So here is last week's Saturday 9 entry, because I like doing it and there you go:


If you're not familiar with today's song, you can hear it here

1) This song begins with the story of a man who moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career as a comic. What comedian always makes you laugh?

Steven Wright is hilarious. Hubs and I saw him perform once. It was, as expected, pretty damn great.

2) The lyrics say, "You don't need to worry about me 'cause I'm alright." Tell us about a time when you had to reassure your family or friends.

Pretty much every month, if not more often, because I have this wonderful hat trick of traits: I'm quite intelligent, I'm highly self-aware and know my faults, and I'm very emotional. So I'm smart enough to know my faults, I'm bothered by them, and it fucks me up. To say the least, it's kind of amazing I haven't shot my brains out yet. Yet.

3) This song was the original theme of the Tom Hanks sitcom Bosom Buddies. Tom Hanks is a direct descendant of Nancy Hanks, Abraham Lincoln's mother. Is there anyone noteworthy, celebrated or infamous in your family tree?

Funnily enough, my great-grandmother was a Lincoln, but I'm not sure if there's a similar relationship.

4) Before going solo, Billy Joel was in bands called The Echoes, The Emeralds, The Hassles and Attila. What do you think would be a good name for a band?

The Pot Stirrers. I don't know. I'll tell you when I come up with a better one.

5) Billy Joel wrote one of his most famous songs, "Just the Way You Are," for his first wife, Elizabeth. Even though they divorced more than 30 years ago, fans still demand he perform the song in concert. Do you go out of your way to listen to songs that remind you of a long-ago lost love? Or do you avoid them?
Neither, really. I don't go out of my way to listen to them, but I don't avoid them, either. If I run into one, then I dwell for the time the song is playing, and then I try to let it go.

6) In 2008 Billy Joel had to return a $3,000,000 advance for his memoirs because he didn't finish them. Have you ever read a celebrity tell-all?
Nope. It's not my thing. I read Ellen deGeneres' book years ago, and it was hysterical but not really a tell-all.

7) Billy Joel was in a motorcycle accident and did irreparable damage to his left thumb. Are you comfortable on a motorcycle?
Not really. My husband has a motorcyle he may never ride again, and I never got too terribly comfy on the back of it. So I'll probably never ride again, either. As far as driving it myself? Nooo...

8) In addition to riding cycles, Billy enjoys sailing in Oyster Bay. Do your summer plans include time on a boat?
I was on a boat last week, but it was parked at the dock. We didn't go anywhere. I wish! I LOVE boating!

9) Billy Joel is a popular college commencement speaker. If you were asked advice from the Class of 2014, what would you say?
Relax and enjoy the ride.

Wordless Wednesday: Superstar Soccer Nieces!


I don't know how well you can see that my niece, Hanna, has bright red hair in this picture, but she's the one on a full-on run in front of the girl with red shorts. She's a "Pink." And she plays the game well, as far as my uninformed eyes can tell, especially for a 12-year-old.


My other niece, Karen, is the blond about to go for the ball in this picture. She's 14. Watch out for these two! I had the pleasure of watching them play in Upstate New York this past weekend, and believe me, it was truly a joy to watch them maneuver on the field.

Thanks for stopping by!