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Entries from November 2014

Sunday Stealing: Shop On The Corner Meme

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Shop On The Corner Meme 

Stolen from: FYeah Surveys

What kind of job did your mom have when you were growing up? 

She died young, when I was 7 and she was 33, back in 1984. She was home with us, as far as I can remember, but my dad tells me she had been working as a secretary when she died. I just don't remember that. He says she would have loved computers, though... but they weren't really around back then.

 Have you ever known anyone who’s been on tv, including you? 

My daughter, Chloe (that's her page on IMDB), is an actress. She has been in several films as well as the "Dark Dreams" episode of A Haunting on the Discovery Channel. She's done other stuff (modeling in the Dollar Tree ads several times, etc.)... but she hasn't worked since we moved to Miami and Hubs got sick. She's in demand back up in Virginia, so I should probably work on finding her an agent down here!

(He's looking in at my daughter in this scene, but I couldn't find a screenshot of her...)

 What was the most interesting animal you have seen in the wild?

When I was in graduate school, I was doing a reef survey out in the Dry Tortugas. A juvenile nurse shark - one of the most docile sharks - kept swimming in and out of my survey plot during the course of my work. She was sweet, and it was the first time I swam with a shark. Even though I knew she had no plans to harm me, it was quite a rush!

 What holiday do you enjoy the most? 

I enjoy everything about Independence Day (America's); it's my favorite day of the year.

 What was the first video game you ever played? 

When my mom was still alive, she was a big fan of Atari's Frogger. I seem to remember that was my first video game. We had Donkey Kong, Pac-Man, and all those original games, but I was never as good as Mom and my sister. I still suck at arcade games!

 What is the one thing you own, that if it got lost, you would be bummed?

Everything, and nothing. I don't like it when my stuff goes missing, but in the end, it's all really just stuff. And that just doesn't matter so much.

 Do you have a favorite breakfast item? 

I eat a lot of eggs since my gastric bypass surgery. I don't eat meat, but I have high protein requirements, so the eggs help. I eat them all the time. (Truthfully, a cheese Danish is my favorite, but I can't really go eating those anymore now, can I?)

 What do you find yourself buying all the time? 

Eggs, for reasons that should be clear now, and milk. My kids are whole milk fanatics.

 When was the last time you got a real letter in the mail? 

I can't even remember, but my kids get the occasional penpal letter. Sophia just sent her latest one out yesterday.

 Do you have a most prized piece of jewelry?

My wedding and engagement rings mean the most to me. I have to take them off all the time because my fingers swell up when I get hot, which is constantly, and I hate that. Putting them back on when I get cold again is the best!

 Do you own any board games? 

Yeah, we have a few. Lately we've been playing the family edition of Trivial Pursuit. That's probably my favorite game, even though I keep getting all the ridonk questions!

 What chore seems the most daunting right now? 

Cleaning up my desk. It's the most never-ending task. Everything just seems to land right. Here.

 Were you born in the state you live in? 

I'm a native New Yawka, but no, I live in Florida now. Again.

 Have you ever lived in a house that has been broken into? 

When we lived in Portsmouth, VA, before moving here, our house was burgled several times. My daughter's brand-new bicycle was taken, my Nikon DSLR, Hubs' fishing stuff... ugh. It makes me sick to think that we lived there. What a mistake that was.

 What is your favorite cheese? 

love cheese so much. All cheese except maybe Limburger. But I think Meunster is my favorite.

 Who do you know that watches the most sports? 


Too many people to count! I am not a sports nut, nor did I marry one, and for that I am thankful. I'm forever thinking to myself, "It's JUST a game!!!"

And that is all. 



Saturday 9: Paint It Black

Link up here if you're playing along today!

Saturday 9: Paint It Black (1966)
Not familiar with this week's song? Hear it here.

1) This song was chosen because yesterday was Black Friday, the traditional day of sales. Have you begun your Christmas shopping? 

I have... months ago. I pick up deals and store them in my gift closet as we go through the year, crossing my fingers that the same things will matter by Christmas that mattered when I picked them up!

2) Are there any Thanksgiving leftovers in your refrigerator right now? 

Just a few. Pfft. I couldn't squeeze a grape in there if I tried! 

3) AAA says Thanksgiving is a big travel weekend. Did you venture far from home for your holiday dinner?  

No, but we hosted my dad and Victoria (my additional homeschool student), and I took pumpkin pie to Victoria's mom, who was in the hospital having a sweet baby girl:


and we also took a plate of dinner and apple pie to our neighborhood gate guard, Rodney.

4) Keith Richards likes France but, alas, the French authorities haven't always been fond of him and his criminal record. Have you ever been to France?  

Yes, I've been to Nice and Eze. We went as part of the '08 European cruise I'm forever mentioning (you can read more about it here). What can I say, it was the trip of a lifetime for me!

5) Mick Jagger jokes that, to be polite to fellow hotel guests, he always finishes trashing his room by 10:00 PM. What kind of hotel/motel guest are you? Are you rockstar rambunctious, or are you quiet? Are you neat? Have you stolen any towels, bathrobes, etc.?  

It depends whether it's just me (and the Hubs) or if the kids are joining us. I'm neat and hate to trash the place, but my kids adore staying in hotels and get a little rambunctious themselves. I don't think I've ever stolen anything - even extra toiletries off the housekeeping cart! I always ask first.

6) Mick Jagger got his financial savvy as a student at the London School of Economics. Are you good with money?

I try to be, but I tend to be a spender, rather than a saver. :\ 

7) In the early 1990s, a then little-known actress named Angelina Jolie appeared in a Rolling Stones video ("Anybody Seen My Baby?"). Name an Angelina Jolie movie.

My favorite: Maleficent, which touched my 9-year-old (rather stoic, normally) daughter, Sophia, so much that she cried for an hour after it ended.

8) In the early 1960s, the Stones nearly avoided tragedy when their tour bus skidded off a bridge. Tell us about a near miss you're thankful for. 

Hmm. Well, yesterday, our Chihuahua puppy, Paco, nearly ran into a car that zoomed by. Instead, he got scared and turned tail at the last minute. I keep reliving that moment a little bit in my head today, because a cherished German Shepherd puppy of mine, Charoki, did get killed by a car when I was in graduate school. I am so thankful I did not have to experience that again!


9) In 1966, when this week's song was popular, CBS telecast How the Grinch Stole Christmas for the first time. What's your favorite Dr. Seuss story?

I think it would be The Lorax, with its wonderful environmentalist message.

Thanks for stopping by!

(and if anyone knows how I can stop these crazy spammers from continually hacking my account, please tell me! It's driving me ape...!)


Sunday Stealing: Thanksgiving Meme

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This week's Thanksgiving Meme comes from the archives!

1. Are you celebrating Thanksgiving at home or elsewhere this year? With whom will you spend Thanksgiving Day?

Team Odette is spending it home, which is our modus operandi, but we'll have my new homeschooling student, Victoria, my father, and perhaps one of the guards of our gated entrance. It'll be a full house - plus I invited a friend with a large family, too. They're moving house this week, but I don't think they'll come.

 2. What do you have for breakfast on Thanksgiving? 


We mix it up each year. This year, we're having mimosas (virgin for the four kiddos), bacon and eggs for those who partake, banana muffins with cranberry-orange butter, and lemon-raisin scones with sugar & spice butter. I'm positively salivating. Our feast menu is so long this year, I had to write it out on a sheet of butcher paper and hang it on the wall by the kitchen!

 3. Do you go to a Thanksgiving parade or watch one on TV? 

Neither. I love watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade on TV - and have actually been in person once or twice - but we have no TV service, so I don't think we can watch it. I've tried live-streaming it online in the past, but that didn't work out. Anyone have any tricks?

(We have a Wii, Netflix, a trial of Hulu Plus, and of course the Interwebs... so maybe there's hope?)

 4. Do you serve appetizers, lunch, or snacks during the day?

Appetizers and snacks, yes; lunch, no. We'll have spinach-ricotta dip with crostini, a pickle-and-olive plate, mixed nuts, mixed chocolates, a cheese-and-cracker plate (no one better beat me to the Brie!), and chocolate dipped cookies. A little o' this, and a little o' that.

 5. What do you wear on Thanksgiving? 

Some sort of apron, and if everyone's lucky, something else underneath it. Yeah, we have company coming, I better get dressed, huh? 

In other words, nothing special. We save that for Christmas. P.S. Don't do a Google Image search for "Naked Chef." I warned you..!

 6. What's your Thanksgiving table like -- do you use special plates/silver/glasses, etc? Do you have a centerpiece? A color scheme? Candles? 

Candles are a must. I like to mix and match everything else. As for a centerpiece, I believe it used to say, "Gobble, gobble!"

 7. Do you serve buffet-style or family-style? What do you have to drink? 

We sit down together, but this year I may actually have to set up a card table for the wee ones! No room for a buffet in this tiny apartment, and I'm not a huge fan of them anyway. 

 8. Once you're at the table, do you say grace or a toast or does everyone go around and say what they're thankful for? 

We say grace, and then I cheerfully force everyone to go around saying what they're thankful for, while trying to ignore the eye-rolling amongst the tween set... We say grace every family meal.

 9. Do you have dessert right after the main meal or later on? 

We will have to wait. Everyone better be stuffed or all that time I'll have spent in the kitchen will have been a waste! For dessert this year, we're going to have Pumpkin Pie with homemade whipped cream, Dutch apple cream pie, Raspberry Mascarpone Custard, and Pear Lemon Pie with a special crust I can't pronounce.

The custard is my take on a delishamus yumminess we had in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, last week. I hope I do it justice!

 10. What do you do with your leftovers?


Eat them?! I don't know what else we would do with them. Isn't that the best part of having a huge feast?

Although if our gate guard doesn't come to the table, we'll be bringing him a plate of food at work. I'll also be bringing a warm plate to Victoria's mama, who will have just had a baby two days earlier.

Fun times. I can't wait. Yeah!

I mean, um, thanks for stopping by! ;)


Saturday 9: The Main Event

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Saturday 9: The Main Event (1979)

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

1) This is the theme from a romantic comedy set against the backdrop of boxing. Sam admits she's not crazy about boxing. What about you? Do you enjoy boxing, martial arts or wrestling?

Hell to the nizzy. I grew up watching whatever my older sister wanted to watch, because she was so fair like that, and she liked to watch Jake the Snake and the other WWF wrestlers. Not so much, me. I haven't since.

2) If you went to a dance club on a Saturday night in 1979 or 1980, you might well have danced to this. What are your plans for this Saturday night?

First of all, I was born in 1976, so no dancing to this one for me in the clubs. Secondly, Team Odette has been stricken with a major case of influenza, so I'm thinking you can guess why I'm doing this meme on Sunday!

3) Gilda Radner was one of the original Saturday Night Live performers, and in 1979, she parlayed her TV popularity into her own one-woman show on Broadway. Who is your all-time favorite SNL cast member?

Hmm... I have to look her up. I know her first name was Melanie, but I'm not sure how to spell her last name. Ketzel or something like that. One segundo... oh, Hutsell. She cracked my arse UP!!

4) Sally Little and Nancy Lopez were at the top of the LPGA in 1979. Do you golf? 

No, it's not my thang.

5) The movie The Main Event co-starred Ryan O'Neal. He is better known for Love Story, and saying the line, "Love means never having to say you're sorry." When did you last apologize?

Over and over since the kids have been ill, I've been telling them I'm sorry they're sick. But that's not what you meant, is it? I bumped into someone at the drugstore this morning and apologized then. Really, I say it all the time. I'm one of those over-apologizing annoying types!

6) O'Neal got his big break on the nighttime soap opera, Peyton Place. He played Rodney Harrington, the handsome golden boy that all the girls dreamed of dating. Tell us about your big high school crush.

His name was Mike Amati, and I'm friends with him on Facebook. He never posts or really checks in, though. I just thought he was adorable... he had little regard for me, though, so alas...

7) In researching this week's Saturday 9, Sam discovered that The Main Event is a popular name for sports bars all across the country. Do you enjoy sitting at the bar or do you look for a booth or table?

I have mystery shopped quite a lot of bars over the past 8 or so years that I've been doing that, and they almost always require you to sit "belly up to the bar," in shopper lingo. I wouldn't know what to do with myself at a table!

8) The Mane Event was the salon Sam went to for years. She switched when it got too hard to get Saturday appointments. As a consumer, what's more important to you - convenience or price?

Quality. Then price. Convenience takes third place.

9) More than 50 years after her first million-selling album, Streisand recently had a #1 hit with her current CD, Partners. What's the last song you bought/downloaded?

I "bought" the Imagine Dragons album Night Visions just a few moments ago, which I put in quotes because it's free today on Google Play. Go get it!

Thanks for stopping by!


Mayan Riviera Vacay


Kinda hard to see what that says, I know, but NO color seemed to want to work there... so I'll tell ya what it says: "Azul Fives, Play del Carmen, Mexico," which is where Hubs and I stayed from 12-16 November.


This grassy-looking "AZUL FIVES" blue mat greets newcomers outside the drop-off location in front of the lobby at the all-inclusive resort. We were there for a "Happiness Vacationar" (seminar/vacation, as it was christened by the travel agents who planned it), having received a crazily killer deal that we couldn't pass up. Not only was the rate for the resort at rock-bottom prices, but everything - everything! - we consumed while there was included for nothing extra. Suh-weet.


On Wednesday morning, after we checked in with Maykent at the Front "desk," which was more like a series of four podiums in the lobby, we were informed that we could go get breakfast. So, we did! Mimosas were offered, and of course we said, "Heck yeah!" to that. I drank two sips before I called it quits. I mean, our early-morning flight to Cancun and 42-minute drive to the resort still had us eating breakfast at something like 0830, so while mimosas sounded splendid in theory, in practice they were more... impractical.


Our room was not ready yet, and having gotten less than two hours' sleep after dropping the kids off the night before in Fort Lauderdale with our friends, come home and packed as lightly as possible so as not to have to check any luggage, and briefly crashed... I was exhausted. So when we walked outside the breakfast restaurant, Flavours, after eating, and spied the round, white loveseat on which Rob is perched up there... well. I quickly made like Goldilocks in Baby Bear's bed and fell promptly asleep. ZZZzzzzz....

Only, it was too hot, so then we went back into the air-conditioned lobby to wait for our room and let me doze some more. I slept so long and so hard, it was embarrassing.

Our room was finally ready around 12 or 1 PM, and we made our way there straightaway. I don't remember much after that, until I woke up the following morning around 0500 or so with the sun streaming through our balcony windows! Uh. Oops. So much for making the most of our first free day...


Naturally, the first thing I did was step out onto that balcony and take a morning picture of the view. I had wanted to catch a sunrise photo, but I was too late. Sunrise came and turned so quickly into full-on daytime, that you'll just have to imagine it was as early as 0600 or so here. 'Cause it was.


The view outside our Villa 14, from the atrium of the villa


There were many times I said to Rob, "Go stand over there and let me take your picture, Babe!" and of course, ever the indulgent husband, he did just that. This was on the walkway between our central villa and the nearby villas leading to the front of the resort.


Outside the breakfast/shopping/spa area of the resort, up front, Rob took a picture of me. Yes, I know I look like gelatinous goo with all my extra weight-loss skin showing, but ask me if I care?! (Of course I care, which is why I want to get it all snip-snipped in the Spring...)


The first morning, I had a bunch of pastries and fruit for breakfast. Be prepared for lots of food pictures in this post, because I swear to good gracious that half the time we were there was spent getting our collective grub on!

This morning, Thursday the 13th, I visited the omelet bar and piled up baby shrimp, chopped onions and tomatoes, bean sprouts, and loads of cheese before handing my plate over to the cook. It was delicious, yo. So good, I had pretty much the same omelet the next morning, too. I finished most of it, and the oatmeal-and-coconut muesli with tropical fruits I assembled on the northeast side of the plate. And that's not poopies on my plate; it's refried beans. Not really my typical breakfast fare, but I was craving it. I was not disappointed, and right now, I am wanting it all over again!

Playa Del Carmen


The iguanas, tropical birds, and coati plaques on the property promised that we would see each of these in the wild, and we did! Except coati, which I couldn't find but got reports of sightings from other guests.


After breakfast on that Thursday morning, I was once again overcome with exhaustion (I can't help it; ever since my gastric bypass surgery, I get tired just from eating). I excused myself from our table and told Rob I needed to go lie down in our villa room. On the way there, I took a different route and found this spider monkey sign. Thinking to myself, "Yeah, right, there is no way I'm going to see a spider monkey in the 'wild,' such as it is, so I may as well just take the picture for posterity's sake. I did so and continued on my way.

Playa Del Carmen-001


(click to embiggerate)

Well, of course, not five minutes later, I rounded a corner and there was a spider monkey, walking along the edge of a pool on the property. Really?! I brought up my Nikon to start taking pictures, and as soon as Mr. Monito heard my click-whirring noise, he turned and hid his face. So I waited, he returned to his stroll, and I snapped away again. And again he hid. This went on for several long moments until finally he high-tailed it (literally!) right on out of there. I thought it was going to be the highlight of my trip, because it was super cool.


After a brief respite in the room, we decided to head down toward the beach. On the way, we spotted this life-size checkerboard and chess board set. Pretty cool! I wanted to play, but Rob wasn't feeling it, so on we went. We never encountered that again on this visit.


At the beach, we came upon the infinity pool facing the Caribbean Sea, so of course I had to photograph that! I wanted to get right in, but first we needed to head down the stairs to the sandy beach to find some chairs on which to rest our belongings. But ah... isn't it lovely?


Down by the sea, we watched a couple of kayakers pass by the long stretch of pier before finding towels and chairs. It felt, right then, like we were in Paradise.


Shortly after we sat down, we grew hungry again (something about the heat and humidity - and probably not having to pay for anything - expanded our appetites throughout the week!) and headed over to the Oriola Beach Club Grill for lunch.

While there, we watched a server leave a basket of nachos on a ledge, walk away, and let some birds swoop in to steal a few chips. After, the server returned, having realized what had happened, and tossed the whole basket of food in the trash. Wasteful, but funny... and this was just the first of several times we saw such things.


After lunch, we encountered a trio of hammocks and decided to take a quick lie-down. Even Rob lay down with me, which I'm proud of him for, because he's not the most steady, balanced fella right now, and hammocks can be persnickety!


See? He got in there, without falling on his butt or busting his face. Yay!


One more gratuitous hammock shot, because this is one of the few shots of the two of us together in Mexico.


This black iguana and I have something in common: We're both cold-blooded creatures. Don't believe me? It's high-70s or 80s here most of the time in Miami, and I am always sitting on a heating pad and still freezing. ;)


"Hey, Rob, go stand over there by that gazebo and let me take your picture." We were I was totally playing tourist on this trip, and I didn't care who thought what of it!


Alberto, our personal concierge, was always so thrilled to help us when it came to our several requests. He made sure our room mini fridge was constantly stocked with Coca Dietas for me, made our dinner reservations, and gave us plenty of help and advice when trying to figure out what to do with ourselves in our free time. Great guy!


We meandered up to the little shopping area of the resort to collect some souvenirs for the children. These brightly-colored pottery pieces, including Dia de los Muertos skulls, were intriguing and lively, but alas, I knew they would break in our suitcases on the return flight. I opted for smaller, sturdier pieces, along with a couple of postcards for my collector pal, Erin.

Playa Del Carmen-003

Some of the fun souvenirs we brought back for our kids, as well as for Victoria to swap in an autobiographical box with her cross-country homeschool partner (more on that in the future).


Another respite, probably for me to order a Diet Coke and give Rob a walking break

Playa Del Carmen-002

Our room in Villa 14


That Thursday night, we were due to have a welcoming celebration dinner party with our Seminar group. On the way there, by the fountain, I grabbed some passersby and asked them to take our picture. They weren't accustomed to my camera, of course, so the one picture the guy deigned to take was while I was in the middle of asking if he was ready. Ha! Oh, well. It works.


The Zky Bar where our dinner party was held


Honestly, our party wasn't until 1930 that night, so we were starving by about 1800. We snuck down and had dinner before our dinner party, which enabled us to duck out early when we felt out of place at the party, not being hungry. I'm just not the world's best small-talking mingler, and I couldn't wait to go. Call me what you will, but sometimes having a husband who has had a brain tumor removed and generally feels like crap quite a lot of the time... can be rather convenient in social settings!


The next morning, we met in front of the lobby for our tour bus to take all of us seminar attendees 20 minute north, to El Dorado Royale, a sister resort of Azul Fives. There were plenty of waters and teas set out... but no Diet Cokes. Uh-oh! Rob spied someone who had one, though, so I made a beeline over to her to ask where she got it. She was someone in charge and said she'd special-ordered hers and would get me one, too. Sure enough, I had mine in hand several minutes later. Thumbs up!


Rob and the gang, milling about waiting for the seminar to begin


Here we are taking a rapid getaway taxi back to Azul Fives, having decided that the Happiness Seminar was most decidedly not designed with Team Odette in mind. We listened to one show-offy name-dropping speaker, whose Powerpoint presentation kept failing, with feigned interest. The second speaker, Michelle LastNameEscapesMe, was much more vibrant and applicable to our lives, but not sufficiently so that we didn't desperately want to leave. Humph. 

We ducked out during the break after Michelle, talked to the Dorado concierge about calling a taxi, and headed back to our home resort, claiming illness in Rob. On the way out, we spotted the Holy Grail of Diet Cokeness waiting in the lobby, which made Rob ask me if I wanted to change my mind about leaving, but I felt so supremely uncomfortable that not even that could get me to stay.


If you look carefully at the picture of Rob in the taxi, you'll see he's holding his prescription glasses on his lap. Somewhere between the cab and our villa, they disappeared and have never been heard from again.

So after that, he was relegated to wearing his Rx sunglasses everywhere we went, even at night (my man is blind, y'all), and combined with his constant cane use, he was elevated to Stevie Wonder status amongst the resort denizens. And I don't mean in the celebrity sense.


"Hey, Hon, stand over there by that vertical garden and let me snap your picture." Indulgent. He is.


Some of the lounge chairs seems to live in the pool, on a shallow ledge. The water was so freaking cold, though, that you didn't miss any swimming by not being there. I promise.


I know this is a horrible picture of a cat. Allow me to explain: My three wunderkinds are cat fanatics. We were walking to the beach in the pitch-blackness that night, when we heard some rather loud meowing. "That's a cat!" one of us exclaimed. I moved in for a closer look, and the cat, who Rob decided was a female in heat, just lay there mewling. I tried to take a decent picture, but there was absolutely zero light for my camera to use in focusing, and I'm not that talented a photographer. Long story short (i'm not good at that), I took this picture for my kids' sakes.



Dinner that night was the Japanese restaurant, Tsuki, at 1930. I prefer not to eat critters in general, but this trip was an exception to the rule, because (a) the seafood I still adore was so plentiful, and (b) I try to eat something novel (for me) every time I travel somewhere new. So for an appetizer at Tsuki, we ordered the Duckling Rolls. I had one of the four, and Rob polished off the rest. It's not without a little bit of guilt that I can say mine was absolutely scrumptious.


We debated on what to have for entrees, but when it comes down to it, the two of us are major sushi lovers who just can't resist over-ordering when the opportunity presents itself. And so we did. This was my platter; Rob's was identical. We brought a lot of it back to our room and noshed on it for a midnight snack. Mmmm, it was so good. Sushi for the win!


Of course, I can't keep sushi down, because I am unable to process rice, so I was feeling rather miserable after several quick runs to the ladies' room... I finally had to excuse mysef from our table and sit in the lobby to wait for Rob to finish. The walls were adorned with these three-dimensional metal flowers, which I found interesting, and so here they are for your viewing... pleasure?


Having mentioned I'd spent some time losing my lunch dinner in the restroom, I'll share that until that point, we didn't know there were nightly shows at the resort. I happened to find a newsletter in the ladies' room that listed the evening entertainment, and that night, Friday the 14th, was the Fire Show. Um, yes please! I am so easily entertained, and this sounded right up my alley.

That's Diego, one of the Entertainment Staff members at the resort. He was a cutie patootie who spoke both in Spanish and then in English, in a rapid-fire style in both languages that made him so difficult to understand in my native language, I had to translate from the Spanish to Rob on multiple occasions. But because he was so cute, I quickly forgave him.

Playa Del Carmen-005

(Click to embiggerate)

The Fire Show was the Bomb-dot-com. Aside from our culinary expedition through the week, this show was the highlight of the trip for me. I think. It was all pretty great!


The Gin Bar was still open late, as was the Zky Bar, but we didn't want to mess with the crowd, so we went to this one up at the front of the resort. It was our first of three trips over the remaining days of our trip.


The bar was cooly decorated in silvers and purples, and we found a spot in the corner. Oh, and everywhere we went to eat or drink something - even at breakfast in Flavours!!! - we were offered tequila. "Some tequila?" "More tequila?" Neither of us is very big on tequila, so no... but I finally ventured into one drink on this occasion:


I ordered a Caipirinha, which tasted like firewater. It was AWFUL. Rob ordered a pina colada; I brought up my belly burner of a beverage to the bartender and quickly requested a colada of my own. Whew. Thank goodness it was all included...


Saturday the 15th. Our ultimate day in Paradise. I ordered a whitefish ceviche for lunch, and of course because of my small pouch, I couldn't finish it. This happens all the time, and pretty much invariably, it upsets the server that I don't finish. They think I don't like the food; I just really can't eat more. But I would've if I could've, because this was Yum.


We really had no plans for that day, but it was raining, so there was either (a) go somewhere off-property with some resort umbrellas, (b) hang around in our room - boo, or (c) get electrocuted in the pool. We chose to hire a taxi to take us on the short drive to downtown Playa del Carmen. 

I took a picture of this Buddha for no real reason other than I just wanted to, and when I was showing the children the photos from our trip last night, I asked if they knew who this was. "BUBBA!" was Chloe's quick response. Um. No. But I died laughing just the same...


Downtown, we first stopped at the big Plaza La Fiesta, a kind of outlet store for Mexican souvenirs. I needed a few things, specifically something that screamed "JACK!" to us, and some little trinkets and chocolates to round out our meager welcome-home offerings. Lots of great deals to be had there; I wish I hadn't shopped at the resort store, because prices here were much more budget-friendly.


Rob spotted this totem-like statue, and asked me to take a picture. Here you go, honeybunny-boy!

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We spotted these handmade name bracelets, and I told Rob that if they were a certain price or less, I'd get one for each of our daughters. Well, they were under the mark, so we sat and chatted - entirely in Spanish for me, as I did for most of the trip - while they wrapped out bracelets for Sophia and Chloe. I picked colors I knew the girls would like and tried to get the dots over Chlo's "e," but they weren't able to do it. No worry, though, because they loved them.

Jack, obviously, didn't get and wouldn't have wanted a name bracelet, so I gave him all the Mexican pesos I came home with, instead. That sufficed.


There. There was a Haagen-Dazs on the opposite corner, and we saw a Starbucks and all manner of 7-Elevens in between Playa del Carmen and Cancun. But no McDonald's. I was oddly relieved about that...


I could not go to Mexico without getting some authentic Mexican chocolate, could I? No. We went in Ah Cacao for a treat. The samples were very dark chocolate, a mixture of sweet and bitter, and were excellent. However, I prefer a milk chocolate, so I bought this bar for $5 or $6. Well, two bites in, and I declared it, I think, "yucky." We finished it together before heading back to find a taxi "home," though, because I hate nothing more than wasting money!


I inveigled the taxi driver into stopping at a gas station, so I could get a Coke. (Hello, my name is Melanie, and I am an addict.) Honestly, I could've waited, but I wanted the cool bottles. Diet Coke, aka "Coca-Cola Light" on the left, tasted much sweeter to me but boasted zero calories, so I drank that. The "Coca-Cola Life," above right, was a mixture of cane sugar and Splenda. I got it for Rob... but he didn't drink it, and ultimately we forgot it in our hotel mini-fridge.

Oh, but when I got up to the counter, the cashier told me it was 18.70 or something near that. "WHAT?!" I exclaimed. "Oh... dolares," she realized. $1.45 for two 20-oz bottles of Coke isn't bad at all, y'know? (Little things like this interest me. Apologies if I'm alone in this!)


It was still raining when we returned to our Villa. Rob was carrying his cane in on hand, and his bumbershoot in the other. As for me, I had the umbrella, my Nikon, my purse, my sunglasses, my phone, my camera bag on my shoulder... and a slippery sidewalk. So when I stopped at the pool bar outside our Villa for a couple of pina coladas to take upstairs and drink on our balcony, well, you know that is just complete dedication to libation, right?!


After our beverage du jour, we were hungry for sumpin' to eat, so we headed back toward the beach. "Hey, Rob, let me take your picture with your umbrella!" He indulged me, yet again.


My boy Rob, walkin' in the rain...


Infinity pools in the rain... even more beautious?


We went in to the Sea Olive for lunch. Or Lunner. Dunch?  Rob started off with an oddball Caesar salad of sorts, with tuna tartare and a poached egg. But he liked it, and that's what counts.


Another ceviche for me; this time it was shrimp, scallops, and I don't know what the other thing was. Some kind of mollusc, I think.


Rob's main course was a stuffed poblano-pepper seafood chili thingamabob. Not my tastes, but his were quite thrilled with it.


I had this salmon quiche, and I remember wishing it had significantly more cheese in it than it did. I found the best thing was that dark reddish sauce blob, and therefore I didn't eat too much of this dish.


This mascarpone custard was absolutely THE best thing I had to eat in Playa del Carmen. So much so that I'm eager to duplicate it at my earliest opportunity. Excuse me for a few minutes while I salivate over the memory of it...


There were several weddings going on during our stay at Azul Fives. I told Rob, when we deposited our umbrellas in the holder at the front of the restaurant before eating that there was NO WAY we were going to have umbrellas when we finished. I was right. This bride's wedding party swooped in, post-nuptials, and absconded with everyone else's umbrellas.

It wasn't really the end of the world, except that I didn't want my Nikon getting wet. Before heading to our room, I headed over to the towel boy's cabana to get some protection for my camera, which I wrapped and carried like a baby back to our villa. Hey, priorities.


The infinity pool was deserted, so the reflection was just perfect at that point. *snap, snap*


White roses discarded by the bridal party


I knelt down in the wet sand to capture this photo for you. No need to thank me. I did, however, climb into my bed with sandy shins, having forgotten that I had just done that. I think I still have sand on me. Oops.


Sundown on the pier


Back at our room, Rob decided to settle down for a long nap, while I read the magazines I'd brought, watched a little telly, and tried not to pace the floor. I was homesick for my babies to the point of tears, and I wanted to be home. Soon, but not soon enough. Then I became hungry (gee, surprised?) and decided to order up something for dinner. I found this chicken with mashed potatoes and seasonal veggies on the menu, and suddenly I wanted nothing more than some good ol' mashed taters. 

And they were. Good, that is. I ate every delicious bite.


Sunday, the 16th, we checked out around noon but were still free to use all the resort facilities until our shuttle pick-up time at 1620. We sat down for a slow, leisurely lunch back at the Sea Olive, because I wanted another stab at that Mascarpone Custard before we went home!


Remember Diego from the Fire Show? The emcee? Well, he popped up again to MC another event while we dined.


They'd brought in a mechanical bull for a contest amongst our fellow resort-goers, and good gosh, but that was entertaining as men, women, and kids of all ages took their turns. (No, I did not.)

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This woman was quickly thrown, as were most people. I think a tween kid won the contest in the end!


Back to lunch. I had an appetizer of "tomato tartare," which made no mention of the shrimp contained therein. Good thing I'm a huge fan of crustaceans!


Rob had some kind of Lebanese shish kebabs, and for the 2nd or 3rd time this trip, he exclaimed over how good was the chicken. Really? Chicken. Good for him.


I ordered a fresh mozzarella, eggplant, and hummus sammy, and it was just mediocre. Which was fine, because I didn't want to eat a whole lot anyway. I had mascarpone plans!


Rob ordered this chocolate banana cookie tart thing, and he liked it, but found it weird. But he did like it, so... okay.


This one, I ate ALL BY MYSELF. I don't normally partake much of desserts, because I just can't without becoming quite ill. But this... this was heaven on a plate. I was super-stuffed afterward, but the discomfort was worth it.


I needed to get vertical after that, to help gravity get the food moving out of my pouch. We went over to the infinity pool so I could snap a picture of the paint-your-own pottery available, but I didn't want to partake because of the aforementioned risk of luggage breakage.


Obligatory toes in the surf pose


We looked around in the distance ad realized we could see Cozumel from the coast. See the buildings there in the distance? They're there. I promise.


I had to lie down in a hammock after that, still exceedingly full from lunch. It's very painful and uncomfortable when this happens. Rob sat on a nearby branch while I did what I called "Hammaerobics" and "Hampilates" to get the gut moving. It worked. I was finally feeling better and could get on with my life.

Was the mascarpone really worth it?

Hell yes!


I was thrilled to find these notices that Azul Five recycles all over the property. If you know me well, you know I'm a major supporter of the environment. You can't see it in the ashtray sand on top, but all of these also had the AZUL logo in the sand. That is, at least, until a cigarette butt marred the scene.

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I've become quite enamored of photographing flowers in recent months. I did a lot of that on this trip, especially that last day, Sunday, while we waited for our transportation.

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Foliage, too, not just flowers, has captured my attention.


We finally headed back down to the swim-up infinity pool bar to get a couple of the resort's signature drink, Azul Sueno. Only, Santiago, our master bartender, was on his lunch break, so our Azules turned out to be quite... Verdes instead. Ah, well. They tasted great and did their job. I'm surprised I managed not to fall on my face even once!


The Black Iguana popped out to say good-bye to us as we made our way toward the lobby to check out. I tried to approach him, but he wasn't having it and crawled under his favorite rock.

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Then, guess what? Thirty minutes before our shuttle was due, this little spider monkey dude made an appearance about 10 feet from us. I sloooooowly approached him, taking pictures the whole time, while he monkeyed up and down the tree, alternatively posing for me and showing me his, um, derriere.

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And then, lo and behold, he came down and sat 18" away from me. I'd have offered him a banana, but I didn't have one, so I booked a quick photo session with him. I sat down on the ground a foot away from him and snapped away. It was so... exhilarating! I could've reached out and touched him, but Rob warned me I might get bitten, so I just shot the photos. We stayed there for about ten long minutes, just him and me, with onlookers exclaiming about me sitting there taking his picture. I loved every second of it!


And then, just like that, he was gone. I think he enjoyed our session. I'll send him a disk, so he can mail out his holiday cards with them. Yeah, that's the ticket.


Hours later, we were landing in Miami. And now our family is all together, home, safe and sound again. I couldn't be happier about that.

Thanks for stopping by!


Sunday Stealing: Taking Stock Meme

Link up here if you´re playing along today!

Taking Stock Meme 

Stolen from: The Blake Collection



Plans for the current week


Nothing today; we picked up the kids after a long, arduous day, from Fort Lauderdale, and everyone has been munching and snacking on their own since then. Well, before they went to bed...


Drinking entirely too much caffeine today, but in this case, it's Diet Mt. Dew instead of coffee...


My approximately 1,000 emails delivered during our sojourn in Mexico, trying to prioritize what must be read and what can be trashed...


This anxiety to go away - the panic attacks exacerbated by the over-caffeination, I'm sure, but nevertheless, I'll not stop drinking it...


for crafts the kids and I can do before Thanksgiving next Thursday, to decorate the home and set the tone


time doing rather silly, mundane things instead of readying this house for company tomorrow, all week, and especially my neatnik dad next week. Eek!!


... for that elusive money tree...


The incessant chattering of Chloe, who is still up, helping me with a few chores... she's delightful!


... for the anxiety attack to wear off!



The photos of the spider monkey photo shoot I had yesterday in Playa del Carmen, Mexico


How big a turkey to buy tomorrow, given that I don't know how may people will be joining us yet..!



Taking advantage of the freedom to educate our kids at home, so that I can spend every precious moment possible with our brood <3


"Lonely No More" by Rob Thomas of MB20


sleepy time...but miles to go before I sleep tonight. If at all...



Paco's farts. They, um, reek.


I'm wearing a turquoise skirt and a teal top. I don't exactly match. I don't exactly care.


The Amanda Bynes story... I sympathize with her SO much, and I wish nothing but the best for her and her family. So sad.


that my clonazepam, aka Klonopin, is doing the trick.... helped by some slow and steady breathing. 


^^ Pretty much that ^^


... that I should sup on more than just a handful of Triscuits tonight. But I probably won't. We'll see.


Overwhelmed by everything I need to accomplish over the next 10 days or so! Trying to remember not to eat the whole elephant...


Numerous recipes from the November 2014 issue of Martha Stewart Living, wherein I have found numerous delicious-looking recipes I want to make this year!



all the souvenirs and trinkets I picked up for the Odette babies from Playa del Carmen last week, for show and tell. Fun times! Stay tuned for more on that trip!


When we arrived home from the airport yesterday, my son's cat, Muffin, had strung my yarn from top to bottom, front to back, over and under everything around the house. It was a wool-fiber obstacle course just to get IN. Thankfully it was the least important yarn in my stash, so I was able to laugh about it. Otherwise... she would have been up a creek without a paddle!!

Thanks for stopping by!



saturday 9: All About That Bass


Link up here if you played along this weekend!

First, let me say, I´m in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and the keyboard is completely different from what I´m used to... it´s slow-going and frustrating. Gah!! And I can´t seem to insert photos, so... we´ll just have to add that later. ;)

Let´s go!

Saturday 9: All About that Bass (2014)

(A special request from Smellyann) (which is weird because I don´t remember requesting it and now, knowing how hurtful this song is for my daughter, I never would!! LOL)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here

1) This song is body positive. In that spirit: What physical feature would you never change, no matter what?
Actually, it´s NOT body-positive at all. It´s a skinny-shaming little ditty. However, to answer the question, I would never change my face. I hope to return here to Mexico in the Spring of 2015 to have a full body lift, but leave my head alone, please!! It´s not perfect, not beautiful, but it´s cute enough.

2) The lyrics mention how often the media uses Photoshop to present a more ideal female form. Is Photoshop on your computer? If so, do you know how to use it?
I don´t have it. If I did, I would learn, but only to enhance photos I take to make them more beautious, never to damage. 

3) She also sings about Mattel's Barbie doll. According to Toys R Us, this year's best-selling doll is not Barbie but Disney's Elsa. Have you seen Frozen?
I have, and I love it. I´m not surprised the dolls are selling so well. Chloe, my eldest at 13, loves singing ¨Let It Go¨!
4) In the video, Meghan dances merrily around her twin bed with its pink head/footboard. Describe your bed to us.
I couldn´t. It´s covered in laundry right now, and I haven´t seen it for a couple of months. Haha! But my dad is coming for Thanksgiving week soon, so I absolutely must remedy that before then.

5) Ms. Trainor began writing songs when she was 11. Would you find it easier to write lyrics or music? 

Definitely lyrics. I actually wrote a song in junior high, where I did the lyrics and my friend Shana wrote the music. We were all supposed to sing on it in her dad´s recording studio... but I was grounded and couldn´t go. I still have the tape.

6) Meghan recently performed "All About that Bass" on the CMAs with country star Miranda Lambert. Who is your favorite country singer?

That´s just not in my wheelhouse. I hate country, so I can´t answer that question.

7) In September, Meghan had to cancel several concerts because of throat trouble. Are you battling a cold, cough or sore throat this morning? 

No, thankfully, or our Cancunian vacay would probably have been a lot less pleasant!

8) Meghan was born in Nantucket, MA. "Nantucket" is an Algonquian name that means, "faraway island." How did your town get its name/what does it mean?

I´ll answer for Miami, which got its name from the Miyami (sp?) Indians. We´re studying Native Americans this year in our homeschool, and we recently went to the ancient grounds of the Tequesta, in downtown Miami. It was supercool.

9) According to the National Weather Service, between rain and snow, winter brings Nantucket the most precipitation it sees all year. How is the weather where you are today?

It rained all day yesterday, but today is a balmy 81 degrees. Quite muggy, but I don´t think we´ll see rain. We´re going home today, and I expect Miami´s weather to be quite the same.

Thanks for stopping by!


Sunday Stealing: The Blue Meme

Link up here if you're playing along today!

From Brighter And Wider Than Snow

  The Blue Meme 

26) Are you happy with the person you've become?

I'm definitely a Work in Progress. I have plenty of awesome qualities that I love, but I have much to work on still...

27) What's a sound you hate; sound you love?


the sound of children laughing;


nails on a chalkboard - gives me the heebie jeebies!!

28) What's your biggest "what if"?

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What if Robby had lived? What if I had gotten the ultrasound I was demanding, and we learned there was a problem when we should have...? Would this would be a picture of four children, then?

29) Do you believe in ghosts?

In a word: Nope.

30) How about aliens?

I believe it's possible they exist. I trust Science to find the answers.

31) What is the single best decision you have made in your life so far?


Marrying this guy nearly 14 years ago!

32) What's the worst place you have ever been to?

I'm not a fan of Nassau, Bahamas, and have no desire to return after the second visit in 2006 confirmed my first impression from 1991.
33) Can insanity bring on more creativity?

Abso-freaking-lutely!! I definitely believe that.

34) Most attractive actor of your opposite gender?

I find Matt Damon to be completely adorable.

35) To you, what is the meaning of life?

I don't claim to know the answer to that one!

36) Define "Art".

Anything created that someone can appreciate

37) Do you believe in luck?

I really don't know. I believe lucky and unlucky things can happen to people, but whether it's "luck" or "karma" or something else? I cannot say.

38) In your opinion, what makes a great relationship?

Communication, patience, and understanding. Hot sex helps. ;)

39) What's a song that always makes you happy when you hear it?

This song makes me dance every time, no matter what mood I was previously in.

40) Where were you yesterday?

Sophia's ill-fated final baseball game. The season isn't over... except for her. :\

41) What's the worst injury you've ever had?

The emotional injuries I've endured have been far worse than anything physical.

42) Do you have any obsessions right now?

I have OCD, so how much time do you have? Current, new obsessions, though? Not really. Which is unusual. I guess I must get obsessed PDQ with finding a new obsession about which to ... obsess! ;P

43) What's up?

We'll be here on Wednesday (in Mexico), and other than finally getting our last-minute passports, I am not even remotely ready to go... who wants to dog-sit our Chihuahua puppy??

44) Ever had a rumor spread about you?

Of course I have. I went through middle school, right?! (Sometimes, I feel like I still am...)

45) Do you believe in real magic?

No, I really don't. Just illusions...

46) Do you ever hold grudges against people who have done you wrong?

Yes, yes I do. But when I expect an apology, and I get it, that offense is immediately forgiven and forgotten. "I'm sorry" holds a lot of weight with me.

47) What's your favorite (non-pet) animal?


Mako Shark


African Elephant



48) What is your secret weapon to get people to like you?

I smile. I try to be nice. When/if I warm up to them, I act like myself. If that doesn't work, then I don't want them as friends anyway...

49) Where is your best friend?

My BFF is "Dr. Lisa" - I love her!!

50) What do you think is Satan's last name?


Really? That's how we end this week? BOOooooo! ;)

Thanks for stopping by!




Starting November With A Bang


So you may have noticed, we have a new student in Sweet Pea Academy. My pal Veronica asked me to school her 9-year-old daughter, Victoria, who was not having the greatest experience in public school. She has, perhaps, more faith in my abilities than I do. After a deep discussion with Rob, we decided to thumbs-up the idea and give it a go. Victoria joined us full-time this past Monday, November 3rd. We started with a pancake breakfast.

Usually, Rob makes the pancakes in Casa de Odette, but he's not feeling too well lately, so I took a turn. There is a reason I don't normally make them: I'm not the best at it. At all. And this time was no different. I burned half of them, and I don't make cool shapes like Mickey faces or their names or anything else. Nevertheless, everyone gamely ate pancakes aplenty, and then we started school.


The kids watching their daily Math-U-See lesson


On Tuesday, we visited the library for our weekly trip. The kids wanted nothing more than to read their selections when we returned home, so of course I let them before we got started on our next task.


Each of the kids is doing a swap with a homeschooling partner somewhere else in the country; this is our third month participating. Each month, a different theme is chosen. In our first month, only Sophia did a swap, and the theme was SPACE. The second month, all three of my kids swapped, and their theme was HABITAT. This month, the theme is BIOGRAPHY, and Victoria is joining us in that. All four kids, after a discussion about biography, chose to do their swaps autobiographically, so I took pictures of each of them to include in albums they are making about themselves.


Naturally, Chloe wanted to include a photo of her beloved Pepper in her autobiography album!


On Tuesday, before we got started with school, we had a Welcome party for Victoria. It was a surprise planned by Veronica and us after Sophia came up with the idea during our family meeting about her joining us. Victoria had no idea; she was completely shocked!

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Veronica brought a pineapple upside-down cake she baked, which I love but didn't eat because I'm trying soooo hard to be good about eating healthy calories. But man, I wanted some!

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Rob played along with Party Mode, wearing the hat and everything. He's such a trooper.

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The look on Victoria's 3-year-old sister, Belen, cracked me up. She was like, "Um, no. Just... no."

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Veronica is 37 weeks pregnant with baby #4, Melodie-Grace, due around Thanksgiving Day. We can't wait to meet her!

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In homage to Victoria's Mexican heritage, I decided to make some simple Cinco de Mayo pinatas filled with - what else for this time of year? - Halloween candy. When Belen and the rest of the kids pulled a string, out fell the candy. Fun! And, I just knew there was a reason I was saving all those toilet paper rolls!

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I made the pinatas; Chloe made the welcome banner you can kinda-sorta see in the first photo, and Sophia made the paper flowers that I apparently neglected to photograph. That's a shame, since they turned out so well.

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We, uh, got just a little silly with paper hats. I swear I did not spike the punch!

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Victoria insisted I get silly with them. I'm always happy to embarrass myself; why not?

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I forget what Sophie was pretending to be here. She's always imagining something new and interesting; I wish I could record every moment of the child's life!

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Before we sent Victoria's mom and sister home for the day so we could start our lessons, Belen got into the party hat fun, too. Yeah!

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On Thursday, after several days of talking about the Tequesta, Ais, and Jaegas Indians of South Florida, we did a lab to demonstrate to the kids some of the ways in which these people lived. I sent the kids out on a scavenger hunt for sticks of various sizes, while I managed to score this huge fallen palm branch. I learned from an old Physics professor that, sometimes, to start things off, you need to "WOW" them in. When I hauled that giant branch into the living room in front of the kids, it was definitely a WOW moment!

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I had gotten several sizes of sharks' teeth, as well as a variety of mollusk shells, over the past several weeks in preparation for this lab. My goal was to show the children that natives used these as tools to help create their dwellings, hunt for food, make clothing, and even make more tools.

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Sophia really got into the whittling of this branch with the largest shark tooth.

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Victoria started with a smaller shark tooth on a smaller branch.

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Chloe got to work with an oyster shell on the great big palm branch I found, and she shaved off the outer "skin," realizing it could be used as lashing to tie together sticks and other materials for building purposes. Brilliant!

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The shells could be used to carve out canoes, but obviously I didn't have a large enough piece of wood for that, so we practiced on tiny twigs.

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Jack really enjoyed this lab. Even though he moaned and groaned, as he is wont to do, when I said we were doing a lab (who knew what that meant at the time?!), he was the first one to complain when I told them we were finished and had to clean up our materials. It's always that way with him!

So all in all, it was a pretty great week for Sweet Pea Academy. I think Victoria was just what we needed for a breath of fresh air in our daily lessons. With all our lessons, field trips, fun, and yes, meals, I still managed to get a ton of knitting done, and we were able to go get our passports ordered and then picked up for our trip to Mexico next week. Who needs sleep?!

(This girl.)

Thanks for stopping by!


It Started With A Sweater.



Yesterday was Friday, November 7th, 2014. We've had a busy week of homeschooling! I'm going to start backward from Friday because, as any busy mother will understand, what's easiest on my tired brain is what wins right now. I started the day with this unfinished hoodie sweater for Stephanie's son Vinnie who, as you may remember, is allergic to, like, practically everything on the planet. Including the planet. So when I can, I knit for him.


After Victoria was dropped off by her mom, Veronica, we did the kids' weekly spelling test before running off to Publix for supplies for lunch. When we returned home, I packed lunches while the kiddos watched their daily Math-U-See lesson. I printed off their practice work to do in the car - hey, carschooling is a thing! - and then off we went for an hour-long drive to downtown Miami.

We were in search of the site of ancient Tequesta ruins, found over the past year among the high-rise office buildings, hotels, and condominiums that make up much of the city. I read article after article about the findings, but I could not for the life of me find the exact location of the excavation, which is still underway. So I warned the kids that while I hoped we would find it, we might not see a darn thing.

I drove to the hotel mentioned in one article, the J.W. Marriott Marquis, and lo and behold, there was this site cordoned off by fences and barricades. I was terribly excited, knowing in my heart of hearts that that was the place. And so, for eight bucks an hour, I parked in the closest garage I could find... and mentally crossed my fingers.

The kids were kind of under a microscope in the city, this being in the middle of a busy workday in a huge office building as we rode down the elevator. One lady stepped on and couldn't keep herself from saying aloud, "Well! This is interesting!" to my amusement. I cautioned them to behave, hold hands when crossing streets, and above all, be completely respectful of the site if we had, indeed, found the ancient Tequesta burial grounds.


This woman, a Mrs. Carr whose first name I didn't catch, was looking at the five of us curiously when we approached the site where workers were... digging and hauling artifacts. She walked to her car nearby and then, I took my chance. "Excuse me, ma'am?" I called out to her. She hesitated, looked around, and then came over. "Is this the site of the Tequesta burial grounds?" To my utter delight, she confirmed that it was! We found it on the first go!

Not only that, but she turned out to be the wife of the internationally famous archaeologist, Robert Carr, who also came over and introduced himself to us! Of course, I had to explain who the heck we were and what we were doing there. Dr. Carr surprised me by first telling me about his book, Digging Miami, which can be found here on, and then telling the Mrs. to bring over some artifacts to show the children! 

Yeah, folks. We struck homeschool field trip GOLD. Fo'reals.


Mrs. Carr told the kids about the Tequesta way of life. She explained, as we had previously read over the past week, that these native people were not farmers but rather hunters and gatherers, relying on fish and other seafood that pretty much came right to them, allowing for much leisure time - a rarity amongst the whole of American Indians. Here, she was showing them a piece of pottery, made mostly of sand. No clay is found in the Miami area, y'all.


The hundreds-of-years-old bone of a turtle was shown, explaining yet another part of the Tequesta diet.


Dr. Carr's wife also brought over a fossil conch shell to show the kids that not only did the Tequesta feast on the plentiful mollusk, but they used the shell for digging and scooping as well.


After the kids learned quite a bit of cool information about the Tequesta from Dr. and Mrs. Carr, and handled some ancient artifacts, we were left alone to peaceably observe the excavation. We bowed our heads and took a moment of silence, out of respect for the people who exist no more. Solemnly, yet excitedly, we headed back to the car to discuss what we had just experienced. The kids were curious and respectful, and I was just utterly full of awe and gratitude.


By that point, everyone was starving, so I found nearby Gibson Park for lunch. We feasted on turkey and Meunster sammiches, a variety of fruit, juice boxes, and Pepperidge Farm cookies. Hey, guess what was on sale at Publix today? However, I quickly discovered that we were in an area of Miami called Overtown, and... well, it is well-known as not the safest place to be if you're of the paler skin persuasion. We were surrounded by children who kept their distance but stared at us the whole time.

I don't have a racist bone in my body, so I didn't feel scared, but I will admit to feeling uncomfortable there. Out of place, if you will, and kind of unwanted. Speaking of under a microscope...! Fortunately - or not? - three of us seriously needed to use the bathroom, and we could not find a restroom in the park. So we left, with my promises that we would go home and find a park closer to Homestead.

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After stopping at the Overtown Winn-Dixie to use the facilities, the five of us headed home. The math papers were not finished; the kids chose to snooze or chatter about Tequesta people on the hour-plus drive home in the Miami rush hour traffic. We picked up Rob and Paco at home before heading to a nearby park where Chloe is supposed to be having her Cheerleading practice.

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There was a gated-in area where the kids could play, so I took the kids in there while Rob and Paco sat on a bench outside. Paco hadn't seen Mama all day, though, so all he wanted to do was be near me.


Poor, but adorable, Paco... but oh, the cute!


The girls really enjoyed this half-swing, half-jump feature of the playground. Every time I turned around, one, two, or three of them were on there again. Jack got a chance or two at it, but not many!

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He found this curious structure in one corner of the park, with a hole in it. Expecting there to be something on the other side of the park where his voice would come out to a passerby, he hollered, "HELLO!!!!!" into the hole.


A second later, his own voice returned the hello.

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I managed to capture this, "What the heck?!" look on his face when he heard the echo. It was pretty fun. He yelled a whole bunch more into it and twisted his voice each time, to make different sounds. Yup, I see more visits to this park in the near future!

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Soon, it grew dark, and I missed my hubs and my dog. So I announced a 10-minute, and then a 5-minute, warning before we headed home. I had asked Veronica if Victoria could stay for dinner, and she agreed. 

Back at home, I had the kids blog about the Tequesta field trip on their own personal blogs (they're password-protected, so if you want to read their posts, you'll have to ask me for the deets) while I made a dinner of baby artichokes and turkey sliders. No cheese for Jack, please!


For the second time in a week, I gave the four kidoodles a cup of vanilla and chocolate pudding for dessert. They all ate a great deal for dinner and dessert; between the field trip and the park day, I must have worn them out and hungered them up but good!

After dinner, they finished their blog posts and then wanted to work on our Astronomy lessons, but I was waaaaay too tired to keep doing school. The six of us played the family edition of Trivial Pursuit instead. It was fun and full of laughter, and we all had a great time. Sophia won for the first time, and man, did she let us know it!

I took Victoria home after that and crashed soon afterward... but only for a little while, as you can see it's not even 0400 and I'm sitting here posting on this little bitty blahg.


Oh... and now, the sweater has its hood. Next up: SLEEVES!

Thanks for stopping by!



Saturday 9: Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?

Link up here if you're playing along today!

Saturday 9: Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? (1932)

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

1) Bing Crosby wants a dime for food. Adjusted for inflation, 10¢ in 1932 is now worth $1.69. Can you think of anything you could buy at the grocery store with $1.69?

A small bag of chips or a candy bar or two? Ooh, I know! A 20-oz bottle of Diet Coke!

2) This song was originally released as a 78 rpm record. Have you ever seen a 78?

Of course I have. I was born in 1976. Adjusted for inflation, that's 38 in people years.

3) In 1932, Jean Harlow was Hollywood's glamor queen. Who do you think sets the standard for glamor today?

I think Blake Lively has really come into her own in that regard.

4) One of 1932's best selling books was Agatha Christie's Peril at End House. She remains popular today. Are you familiar with her work?

Well, of course I know of Christie... but I've never read anything by her. Maybe I'll put that on Ye Olde Fashioned Bucket List!

5) This week's featured artist, Bing Crosby, worked as a caddy when he was 12 and continued to enjoy time on the golf course his entire life. What type of exercise do you do most often?

Most... jumping into waves at the ocean. Most often? Does chasing after three... no, four, now that we've "adopted" Victoria into our homeschool... kids count?

6) Bing had twin sons, Dennis and Philip. Many people believe that the propensity for twins is hereditary. Are there twins in your family?

I had identical twin sons, Jack and Robby. My husband's family has many sets of twins, and yes, they do run in families.

7) Bing's daughter, Mary Crosby, has her own place in TV history. Do you know why?

Nope. Do I need to Google?

8) In the mid-1970s, Crosby and his family did commercials for Minute Maid. Do you have any orange juice in your refrigerator?

No, and we rarely do. I'm of the mindset that you should get your fruits and vegetables whole, rather than from sugary juices. Call me crazy!

9) Now for something completely random: Do you like beef jerky?

I haven't touched beef since 1995, so no. But last year, during a mystery shop and with the always-strong desire to introduce my children to new and interesting experiences, when we were out in the Everglades, I bought some alligator jerky. They all tried it; Jack liked it.

Thanks for stopping by!


Halloween 2014


Halloween, 2013: Last year, we got our pumpkins at least a fortnight before the day. And they rotted. And I had to buy new ones. And those rotted.

Halloween, 2014: This year, I decided to play it "smart" and buy them the day before we needed them. Um, not so smart, because everyone was out of them. We went to Publix, Winn Dixie, and Lowes before I finally convinced my terribly disappointed children that these orange and white and green ones would make a really cool display. I wasn't lying; I do think they are cool. The kids disagreed, so I had to put up with lots of grumbling. Hey, I did my best.


Eventually, they got over their dismay and went to carving. We had a dickens of a time, though. The guts really hung tough!


Last night was Halloween. I did my best to maintain regular school lessons throughout the day, but I finally had to call "Uncle" and give in to their desires to get into costume! Sophia and Chloe wanted full makeup; here's Sophie posing with my makeup case prior to being gussied up by Yours Truly.


My three Trick-or-Treaters were, from left, the guy from Scream, a voodoo sorceress, and a witch. I tried to get Chloe to wear an actual witch's hat, but apparently she was not supposed to be that kind of witch? No broom, either.


"Give me your scariest faces, guys!"


Jack posed for exactly one individual shot before he took off to wait for darkness and thus, the candy hunt. There was still over a half-hour to kill, so the girls and I decided to do a mini photo shoot:


Sophie looking pretty in purple


She's starting to sprout a few freckles of her own, like her siblings. No doubt, baseball has something to do with that.


A rare serious face for Sophia; this kid is always animated!


Chloe, ever the perfect poser


I got those glowy things for about $0.50 at Walgreens last week. Perfect timing, because with the three of them in all black after dark, I would have lost them otherwise!


These three sillykins really cleaned up for Halloween! The candy trickled in slowly at first, but then toward the end, bam! bam! bam! They got it hand-over-fist and filled up their baskets. I guess people saw the crowd thinning and just wanted to get rid of it?


Robin, the mother of two of Sophie's baseball friends, invited us to her kids' Halloween party at their school. We went there tonight for Trunk-or-Treat. Lots of fun was had by all.


That's Robin with the silly orange hair. She's cool; I like her a lot. And they might be moving to Homestead this month! I'm stoked.

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After trunk-or-treating and riding a bouncy-house slide eleventy-billion times, the kids played a mess of games and got even more candy. TOO. MUCH. CANDY!!! (for my fat arse)


There was a pizza food truck there. I was told that we had to pay with tickets at the front of the party, but then the food truck told me to pay with cash, so I paid with cash. In hindsight, I think someone was scammin' someone, there. :( The pizza was way pricy and not too good, so meh.


All in all, this was a pretty rad Hollerweenie. Good times, good times...

Thanks for stopping by!


Sunday Stealing: The Music Meme

Link up here if you're playing along today!

The Music Meme 

1. Which bands/artist do you own the most albums by? 

Eric Clapton is my man!

Unless we count my daughter's albums, in which case it would have to be Taylor Swift. She's a Chloe is a huge fan.

Or The Grateful Dead, if we're including Hubs in this, too...

2. What was the last song you listened to? 

My kids are watching some horrendously annoying movie right now, so I've got the ol' earbuds in. Michael Jackson is currently crooning about Pretty Young Things in my ear.

 3. What’s in your CD player right now? 

Taylor's new album, 1989is currently in the car player. I got it for Chloe.
 4. What was the last show you attended? 
My awesome friend Shana took me to see her hubby's band, The Hollow Bodies, play at a country bar. That was when we were up in New York and no, I did not ride the mechanical bull.

 5. What was the greatest show you’ve ever been to? 
The Blue Man Group concert was pretty freaking off the chain, as the kids say... or do they still say that? I'm old now, you know.

 6. What’s the worst show you’ve ever been to? 
Sorry Robert Zimmermann, but when you played in concert, not only could *I* not understand you, but even Hubs - who knows every word to every one of your songs - couldn't either. It was a let-down.

 7. What’s the most musically involved you have ever been? 
I was in choir all through school and now I sing along really well to the radio... I used to play the organ, but I never got anywhere near as good as my mom, whom I was emulating, because I suck at reading music.

 8. What show are you looking forward to? 
I don't have anything in the works.

 9. What is your favorite band shirt? 
I never bought a t-shirt for a band, ever. Not my thing.

 10. What musician would you like to hang out with for a day? 

Meghan Trainor, if only to tell her how very misguided she was in "All About That Bass," and then to school her with a careful listen to this.
11. Who is one musician or group you wish would make a comeback? 
Since Whitney can't come back, I'd love to hear Madonna return to her 80s style.
Her more modern stuff just doesn't interest me.

 12. Who is one band/artist you’ve never seen live but always wanted to?
 Call me lame or whatever, but I think I would really enjoy seeing Kelly Clarkson live.

 13. What was your last musical “phase” before you wisened up? 
From 1994-1997, I listened to predominantly "black" music, which was cool but then I moved and couldn't find any applicable station, so I went back to my old standby of Top 40 stations. And I thought Boy Band music was cool. Umm... I got     educated by my friend Melisa that it was not considered such, PDQ!

 14. How many music related videos/DVDs do you own? 
Does "none" count? Okay, none. It's 2014. I don't own any videos except the Disney ones my MIL bequeathed unto the children.

 15. How many concerts/shows have you been to, total? 
Not too many, really. I like to go, but it's not something I really like to spend money on, so maybe ... six?

 16. What’s your “guilty pleasure” that you hate to admit to liking? 
I like that new song by Nick Jonas, "Jealous." I didn't like it at first, but People mag says it's good, and behold, it grew on me overnight. Heh. Power of suggestion, much??

 17. What is your favourite movie soundtrack? 
It's a tie between these two.
Thanks for stopping by!


Saturday 9: Welcome To My Nightmare

Link up here if you're playing along today!

Saturday 9: Welcome to My Nightmare (1975)

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

1) Tell us about a bad dream you've had.

Recently, I woke my kids up when I was screaming in my sleep. They ran out to see if I was okay. I remember the dream vividly: in it, my best friend turned on me and stabbed me to death. That's the short version. It's the first time I've actually died in a dream. I thought you weren't supposed to be able to do that?!

2) Sam is not crazy about spiders. What frightens you, or gives you "the creeps?"

Mustard. Ugh, ick, eww.

3) This week's featured artist, Alice Cooper, has always liked to dress up. Performing as Alice, he wears garish eye makeup. In his first group, he and his bandmates dressed as the Beatles. Will you be wearing a costume this weekend?

I dressed up to go to a kids' Halloween party tonight. I was Urban Smurf: black slouchy hat, black pants, and green shirt. LOL

4) Alice says his makeup was inspired by Bette Davis in his favorite horror movie, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? This Halloween weekend, will you seek out horror movies and scary TV shows, or will you avoid them?

Avoidance is the key for me, unless I want to have more very bad dreams! I am such a chicken about horror movies.

5) Born Vincent Furnier, Alice used to tell reporters that he and his band got the name Alice Cooper from a Oujia board. Have you ever tried a Oujia board?

I think maybe once? I really can't remember. I don't believe in that crap.

6) Alice and his band (also called Alice Cooper) were discovered by music manager Shep Gordon while playing in Venice, California. Have you ever visited Venice, California or Venice, Italy?

We visited Venice, Italy, on our 2008 Mediterranean cruise. I have never been to the California Venice.

7) In 1970s England, a morality campaigner named Mary Whitehouse persuaded the BBC to ban Alice Cooper. The ensuing publicity resulted in such a bump in record sales that Alice sent Ms. Whitehouse flowers. Do you believe in censorship? Or should adults be able to choose to see/hear whatever they wish?

Adults should be able to censor their own media consumption. Except in the case of child pornography. :\

8) Today Alice has a popular syndicated radio show, Nights with Alice Cooper. Listeners all over the United States, Germany, Denmark, New Zealand, and the UK hear him introduced as, "a man for whom even Dr. Phil has no cure." Do you watch Dr. Phil?

I have, a few times, but not lately and not regularly

9) Did you get many trick or treaters this year? What candy did you give them?

We didn't hand out candy this year, and I regret it! We got maybe 2 trick-or-treaters last year, and my kids got all the rest. I didn't want that to happen again... sure enough, there were tons of kids in our neighborhood this year. Of course!

Thanks for stopping by!