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May 2015

Entries from April 2015

April Tinker & Doodle Crates from Kiwi Crate


Disclosure: I received no compensation for this post. However, I love Kiwi Crate, Tinker Crate, and Doodle Crate so much (as do the kiddos), I like to blog about them from time to time. Links contained within this post may be my referral links, for which I may get credit. However, all opinions are, as always, 100% my own.

April brought another crop of Kiwi Crates to the youngest two Odettes of the household: Tinker Crate (for ages 9-14+) for Jack, the mechanically-inclined child, and Doodle Crate (for ages 9-16+) for Sophia, the artistically-inclined child.


Jack's box was about ROBOTS for April. What I love about these Crates, apart from the fact that they get the child to think outside the, um, crate, is that they offer supplemental material and activities to further the lesson. My kids don't always want to continue, but with these Crates tailored to their particular interests, this lesson expansion is much more likely to happen.


ROBOTS was a really cool crate. When Jack saw markers, his first sinking feeling was that it was an art-related box. If you read this post, you'll remember that Jack "hates Art." But soon, we learned that he would be building a robot that colored on the paper after he built it, and that was Awesomeness. He let his robot go on drawing for quite a while and just admired it from nearby. And that, my friends, was a check in the "WIN" category for my boy.


Sophie's Doodle Crate was all about PAPERMAKING for the month of April. This was quite challenging, Sophia found. She could not get the paper pulp to come out of its container at first, and she actually got upset and walked away from it the first night. True to form, though, she came back and worked at it the next day - this, all on her own, just like I knew she would - and then, she was successful.


"Look, Mom! I made paper!" It looked just as I expected it to look, having seen homemade paper plenty of times. Sophia found it to be, shall we say, rustic, but I explained that that was part of the charm of making paper at home.

The next part of her April Doodle Crate was about BOOKBINDING. She used the paper she made, cut up into teensy pieces, to bind together pages for a book for her Littlest Pet Shop characters. Her latest obsession craze is creating little vignettes for her LPS critters and having me photograph them, which I then print out, miniaturized, onto photo paper for her to frame in her handmade frames. This is one of them.


So it didn't surprise me when she decided to make a tiny bound book for the LPS guys. For the cover, she had me scan the cover of our well-loved copy of e. l. konigsburg's From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler "so that it will match the style of the paper," she said. I miniaturized the scan and printed that out, and that became the cover of her newly bound book for the LPS. I love this. LOVE it.


So there you have it. This month's Kiwi Crates, a "Robots" Tinker Crate for Jack and a "Papermaking" Doodle Crate for Sophia, were complicated and challenging on both counts but definitely scored an A+, each, from both. Way to go, Kiwi Crate!


P.S. We started out with Kiwi Crates when my three were younger, and they all absolutely adored them. These are tailored to ages 4-8 and have plenty of adventures to keep the kids involved and intrigued for month after month of fun!


And now, for even younger kids (toddlers or so), they have introduced Koala Crates. These look so cute, and you can get them even more inexpensively with a monthly subscription like we have for Tinker and Doodle crates. I have no personal experience with the Koala Crates, but based on our love of all the other Crate series, I think these must be pretty fabulous, too!


Wordless Wednesday: YMCA Kids' Day

Link up here with 5 Minutes For Mom, and pretty much all around the blogosphere, if you're wordless today!


On Saturday, we went to the YMCA Kids' Fair down the road from our house. The first stop was to visit the National Parks Service table, where we asked a billion questions and received tons of information. And the kids got to blow in a conch shell, which was super fun!


To promote healthy kids, they were giving out freshly made strawberry-banana, and blueberry, smoothies. I think Sophia went back three times for more, you guys. Fortunately, the ladies at the table encouraged it!


They were giving away free books at another table. The selection was a little junior to my kids' ability, but they didn't mind and have read all the books since then. My girls, especially, love to read!


The local Police Department was giving away free bicycle helmets, and Sophie snagged the last one. Lucky girl was making out like a bandit that day!


They were also giving away fresh pineapple chunks and bananas! Yum. Jack looks less than thrilled because he wanted to get on down the road to the Miami Children's Museum, but the girls had a couple servings each. Way to get our nutrition on!

Thanks for the fun day, YMCA!


5 Trades Away: Please Help! #5TradesAway

My friend, and the CEO of BSM Media, Maria Bailey needs our help.


Here, I'll let her tell it:

"The back story:  It began as a homework assignment. Yes, my homework and not one of my children's. If you don't follow me on Facebook or haven't peeked in on my life lately, I went back to school last summer.  I'm currently working toward my Executive MBA at the University of Notre Dame.  You are never too old to realize your dreams in my book.   

"It started as an assignment but has grown into saving the lives of expectant mothers in Africa. 

"Let's start with the assignment.

"I was assigned to practice my negotiation skills by trading with a simple, yet authentic pair of Chinese chopsticks.  The chopsticks were purchased in China by my professor. Although they look like something I've seen on Canal Street, I have to believe he actually bought them in China because he's a priest.  My mama taught me to trust men of the Catholic cloth.  The exercise basically mimics One Red Paperclip, where Kyle MacDonald traded up his red paper clip until he traded for a house.

"Here's a great video on his journey. It's quite inspiring if you haven't seen it.

 "Well I don't need a house like Kyle. In fact, there's not much I need other than an A in this class. (Just joking about that one - sort of.)

"So I'm going to focus my homework assignment to trade up to something I can use to support my recent passion - saving the lives of expectant moms and their unborn babies in Africa.

"Each day, 800 moms die due to complications in pregnancy and childbirth. Many of these women live in villages in Uganda and die because they can't get to a clinic. Imagine. 

"Pulse, a company building village transports that universally hook to the back of any bike or motor scooter, is working with health care organizations to supply Village Ambulances to remote communities. I will be going to Uganda in June to work with Pulse on maximizing their efforts. I'm excited and grateful for the opportunity but most of all, passionate about this cause.

"Giving birth is a blessing, it shouldn't be a death sentence. We deliver our babies in clean birthing suites and these mothers can't even get to a clinic.

"Back to the chopsticks.

"My plan is to trade my chopsticks up in order to get the highest value item I can obtain and then sell that item to purchase as many Village Ambulances I can for the mothers in Uganda. It's a big goal for a small pair of chopsticks. That's where you come in.


Follow me on Facebook.

 "There I will conduct my trades. Follow along and if you have something of value that you are willing to trade let me know.  Think about it.  Do you have a signed football lying around the house?  Frequent flyer points you aren't going to ever use except for magazine subscriptions you don't need?  Access to a famous person who would donate an hour to spend with someone who might pay for that experience?  Anything? You may not value it but someone in my network might. 

 "I need your help.  I can do a lot of crazy things on my own but not this time.

"Here's the rules I have:

  • I can only trade 5 times
  • I can't trade with any employees or immediate family members
  • I have to do my final trade by May 5th

"I've dedicated my career to moms, however now I have a chance to help save the lives of future mothers. I would really appreciate your help on this one.

"I'm only 5 Trades Away.

"That's where it started but my friends overwhelmed me!

"So many of my friends have come forward with so items to trade and generosity that I couldn't possibly leave on the table. Each item means a little more help to provide a Village Ambulance to a village in Uganda. My team has created a way for you to participate in any way you want. I hope you will join me."


{This is Melanie again, now.}

 I have decided to participate in 5 Trades Away because, as a mother, I have experienced my own childbirth traumas and lost one of my precious twin boys, in 2003. Aside from that, I've had three emergency slice-and-dice c-sections, and they were traumatic in their own right. But I haven't lost my life to childbirth, and I can't imagine what my family would have had to endure if I had. It's not fair. It's not right.

I will have a pair of Maria Bailey's chopsticks, and I have traded with her for my next item to trade with someone else:


{Don't ask me why the "Mood Light," but whatever.}

This Digipower 32-in-1 USB 2.0 Card Reader/Writer is new, sealed in factory packaging. I'm looking to trade up for something, anything of greater value you may have to give to the women in Uganda who need your help.

Please share this post on your social networks, "like" it, comment (here, too) and help me get to my next trade!

I only have until May 1st at midnight, so I don't need to actually have the item in my hands; I just need a photo of what I will be traded.

Think about what you may have to give to the cause, to help me, Maria, and the women of Uganda. I'll post my next item, after this one is traded, and will keep this post at the top of my blog until the trading is over.

Follow along on the 5 Trades Away Facebook page to watch the progress of this wonderful cause.

Join in on Tuesday, May 5th at 8 PM EST for an online auction and Twitter party where they will sell my final trade item to benefit Village Ambulances. #5TradesAway

You can purchase one of the trades during the auction. All purchases will be paid via PayPal.

Thank you so much in advance for any support you can give.



Sundays In My City: Miami Children's Museum

Unknown Mami
Straight from Unknown Mami's mouth, er, fingers: "Share your city/town/suburb/you name it! Think of this as a photography carnival or photography meme (with or without words) that not only lets you share your part of the world, but lets you visit other parts of the world virtually. If you link up, please link back or post the Sundays In My City button either in your post or sidebar to let people know that other bloggers are sharing their communities too. Happy trails!"
Link up here if you're sharing today, too!
On Saturday, Team Odette had the opportunity to head up nearly to Miami Beach to visit the Miami Children's Museum. Disclosure: We were given five free passes to go as a family, courtesy of the Museum staff. Though we received tickets as compensation for this post, all opinions remain 100% my own.
We had a little difficulty getting into the museum with our passes, because the ticket seller did not recognize the code on them. But, it was a minor snafu that turned out to be completely worthwhile, because the children were enthralled and engaged throughout the museum, from beginning to end.
(Oh, I need to take a moment to apologize for some of these less-than-stellar photos. The combination of interesting lighting inside the museum and my apparently faulty attempts to adjust my Nikon accordingly was not such a good one.)
The first exhibit we encountered was "My Green Home," regarding energy, conservation, and sustainability. The raging environmentalist in me enjoyed that. The kids got right into it.
I loved the wind turbine, but it was hard for the children to see what was happening on top from down below, where they were operating it.
One thing I really liked seeing, here in this culturally rich city, was that all signage was posted in both English and Spanish. Good thinking.
This thermal imagining piece helped demonstrate how insulation works.
Next, we visited the bank! Bank of America - my least favorite financial institution in the world - clearly sponsored it, but I got over myself quickly and followed along with the fun.
Jack and I solved the riddle together to crack open the safe. {It isn't that it was too hard for him to do by himself, it's just that the kids were too spazzed out, having fun, that they failed to read all the signs posted everywhere. One of the pitfalls of edutainment, I think.}
SCORE! We're rich!
There was so much kiddie eye candy at the museum, we couldn't decide where to go first!
The fireman's pole was super fun. Jack refused to go, naturally. He's my chicken.
Sophia's going to be a speed demon when she grows up. I just know it. (She comes by it honestly.)
Guess where this silly girl was next?
Did you guess "veterinarian's office"? Sophia was all about the x-rays. That was a cool touch.
The other part of Pet Central had to do with adopting a new pet. This was a child-sized play tunnel. You guessed right, didja?
Chloë couldn't resist her turn, either.
The Construction Zone received our next visit. Of course, Jack was in his element there. I couldn't believe how much fun this kid was having... even more than he did at Legoland Florida, I would venture to say!
There was a whole room dedicated to Pirates. Jack started digging for treasure right off the bat.
Miami Children's Museum
{Click picture to embiggerate.}
The Pirate section was fun. The kids all swabbed the poop deck, which is something I'd love to see them do more of at home! ARRRR!
The Ocean Odyssey was just my cup of tea. The live coral and related fish species were like old friends of mine, from my marine biology days at University of Miami. It was quite relaxing for me there, too. As you can imagine, the hyper (at that point) children didn't stay for too long. Rats!
Yup, I was there, too! Forgive the heavy bags under my eyes. I hadn't slept well. By the end of the day, I was yawning my head off! The other moms grinned at me knowingly; they were feeling it, too.
What do we have here? I found a Jack!
We visited the USS Holtz Kids after that, but of course, Jack disappeared immediately. That was another cause of my not-amazing photography: The kids - mine and others - were just moving too fast, and either they whizzed out of my viewfinder too quickly, or another child whizzed in! Oh, well.
And then boom, back we were in the dentist's office. Jack did a great job brushing those teeth. Made me wish he was so spectacular at it at home!
In the Health & Wellness Center, the kids on crutches proved to be quite hilarious for moi
And then, we were off to the nation's second favorite grocery store, Publix! I had thought this was a vending machine, but Hubs informs me that it was actually a sniffer for different spices. He said it worked fine; Chloë, whose smellerator is broken, says otherwise.
I was terribly amused by the random lobster creeping along the floor, which I didn't discover until I was editing these pictures.
Miami Children's Museum-001
{Click photo to embiggerate.} 
"Publix" was tied for most-fun exhibit in the museum, for my kiddos. They had an absolute blast there, I swear. Jack had much fun cashiering and, since I loved working at the Coral Gables Publix while in college, I must say I was a little proud of that!

Chloë has "milk a cow" on her Bucket List. This cow didn't give any milk, so it didn't satisfy that need exactly, but it was still fun to make her moo!
Sophia is making my current favorite facial expression, which she and I both do to imitate "Lex" from Disneynature's Monkey Kingdom (which we saw on Earth Day), to show her disdain for the "bad" corn vs. the "good" one in her other hand. She cracks me up.
Every single day, I endeavor to make this child smile for real. Yesterday was definitely a success!
Sophia just having a little moment with the frozen pizza. Nothing to see here. Move along.
Chloë informed me that she was going to be the person at Publix who puts everything people don't want back. I always hated that job. Go for it, girl.
Uh-oh, we're back on crutches again! Bye-bye, Publix.
The green-screen room would have been pretty cool, except the monitors showing what they were doing were kind of sketchy. If they were fixed, awesomeness would be restored.
And, we are back to the pediatrician's office for another check-up. Kind of like art imitating life for Team Odette, eh?
Jack wanted to check his own reflexes, but that didn't work. I couldn't get them going, either. Rob knew what to do and bam! out shot that leg. Nailed it.
With Pedal Pushers, Jack and Sophia competed against each other to be the first one to light up all the lights. They both admitted to being exhausted when it was over. Dudes. I need to get that for my house!
Back to Bank of America for the girls, who have just discovered the vault.
Jack joined in, just in time to play "Teller" with Sophia, with Chloë as "Customer."
♫ "We're in the moneyyyyy!" ♫
Well, hello up there, Curly Sue! Where are we now?
There's Chlo peeking out from the top story of the fantastic and beautiful Castle of Dreams. It was definitely worth an "ooh-ahh" moment.
Hey there, Sophie! Jack didn't follow up there. Again, chicken.
Y'all know we are huge fans of - and collect the work of - Romero Britto. So of course, I had to snap a pic when I found his son Brendan's donated seahorse on the wall.
Speaking of which... there was this gigantic Britto right up the stairs from all the seahorses. Come to Mama!
Rob was having some fun of his own. I found him and watched undetected for several long minutes as he piloted a remote-controlled boat around "Biscayne Bay."
On my way up the ramp from peeping at Rob, I found Jack playing Stevedore. This exhibit was the tie for "most fun," with Publix. They kept going back to it.
All three kids had a fabulous time loading and unloading "cargo" into the ships.
I really liked it, too, because it invited teamwork between siblings and friends old and new. One person manned the controls while the other hooked and unhooked the cargo.
Above that, we found ourselves aboard a Carnival cruise ship, as we all have in real life more than once. This was the noisiest place of all, since drums could be found here. And oh, my word, they found the drums. I got an instant headache; so did Hubs. But, they were having fun, so we stayed as long as we could possibly stand it.
When we stepped off the ship, of course it was time to visit some World Cultures! Where else would you go on a cruise?
Jack stayed back to captain the ship. Not surprising.
Ahhh, here in this reading nook, Chloë found her element.
In these fun mirrors, diminutive Chloë found herself growing taller. She stayed there for a very long time. Broke my heart a little bit.
"Hello? Hello?"
This moment cracked me up. Jack, my cuddliest child, snuggled with this giant teddy bear in the World of Bears. And then...
...he pounced on it to hug it some more! So funny!
Oh look, Jack finally found the RC boats. I can't believe it took him that long.

There was a dance party at 1530 in Kidscape Village. It was cute. None of the kids joined, though, so we didn't stay for long.
The Sketch Aquarium was pretty freaking amazing. Chloë never found it, but Jack and Sophia were able to color on and digitize their own drawings to have them become part of an animated undersea environment: 
The Littles got a pretty big kick out of it, too. I loved this exhibit, the first of its kind in the US.
Right after that, we were invited into the auditorium for showtime. The actors played Pig and Gabriel. It was a pretty cute show; even though it was for the younger crowd, my kids giggled quite a lot.
By that time, we had pretty much seen and done everything we wanted to see and do, so it was about time to call it a day. I rounded up the troops, and their "aww, Mom" groans were relatively short-lived. We decided a visit to the gift shop was in order before heading home.
Jack selected this metal plane model, and the girls each chose this ball that bounces on water. I tried to steer them in different directions for everyone, but Sophia wanted none of the arts and crafts sets in which I tried to interest her; she was stickin' with that ball! In a move that should have surprised no one, she asked to take a bath as soon as we got home, so could start bouncing that ball! Haha.
Special thanks to the Miami Children's Museum for our fun outing, and don't forget to visit the Unknown Mami for more of Sundays In My City!

Sunday Stealing: Funky Twenty-Five Meme


Link up here if you're playing along today!

Funky Twenty-Five Meme

Stolen from: The now-defunct Tense Teacher
1. Most unflattering hairstyle you ever had? What made it so unflattering? 


When I shaved my head 2½ years ago in a fit of bipolar mania, that was pretty unattractive. Unless no-hair doesn't count as a hairstyle. I think it should. I have no occiput, which makes the shape of my head non-conducive to going bald. Ugh.

 2. Favorite movie(s) that were made in the 90's? 

Image result for titanic

"I'll never let go, Jack." - Titanic, probably my favorite 90s movie.

3. Do you rent movies? If so, from where? 

We have Amazon Prime, Netflix streaming and, when that's just not enough, we rent movies from the ol' Redbox down the road. I have a billion codes for free movies, so I only pay for them when I forget to return them by 9 PM the next night. Which is always.

4. Do you like cookies better when they're just out of the oven or after they've cooled? 

If the chocolate chip cookies make it out of dough form, IDGAF whether they're warm or cooled. Get in my belleh!!! (and the kids wonder why I don't bake more often. I never met a CCC I didn't love.)

5. Do you still talk to the person who gave you your first kiss? 

No. And I would, except his wife blocked me on Facebook, because she's apparently deluded into thinking he's actually a "catch." Um. Not.

6. Did you go to pre-school? If so, what was the name of it? 

Nope, I was advanced and went straight to kindergarten. Don't hate. ;)

7. How do you take your coffee? 

Enough cream to make it the color of Bambi - flavored, please, but I prefer hazelnut over peppermint, for the love - and depending whether it's a Grande or Venti (because Tall is for weenies, amirite) - three Splendas. I can't do real sugar, 'else I would.

Really, if I go to Starbucks, more likely than not, I'm getting a Grande or Venti Java Chip Frappuccino "Light" with coconut milk. That shit is GOOD. I still only drink a third of it before I get pukey, so the kids usually finish the rest.

8. Do you like fuzzy things? 


I'm a fan of Albert Einstein, so picking this image was a no-brainer. Of course I like fuzzy things. It's the opposite of, say, coarse sandpaper. Which is my least favorite thing on the planet. Eww.

9. Favorite kind of chocolate? 

White chocolate is dead to me. Dark chocolate is okay, but MILK CHOCOLATE IS WHERE IT'S AT, people!

10. Are you more optimistic or pessimistic? 

I'm definitely an idealist, and that does not translate well to pessimism. The few times I'm cynical about something, it's "write this down on the calendar" noteworthy!

11. What about Do you think the site is mean, funny, or both? 

I have this motto: "Anything is okay, as long as it's funny." However, I don't find something that denigrates other people to be the standard by which humor should be measured, so it is not okay in my book. NOT funny.

12. Do you like fat sandwiches? If so, what does your favorite one have on it? 

I have a small jaw, so not too fat, please. My favorite sandwich is tuna from Subway on an Italian herbs and cheese roll. I put on Provolone cheese, lettuce, cucumbers, and oil and vinegar. Heavy on the acetic acid.

13. One restaurant you'd never been to but would like to go to?

There's a restaurant here in Homestead, Florida, called Mario's that is something of a fixture. They serve Cuban cuisine. It comes highly recommended to me, but I have yet to go. Soon, I hope...

14. Last time you got a haircut? Do you need one? 

I just got one at the beginning of the month. I was overdue. I'm good now. My stylist asked me to model for his web page when get it to the length and exact cut we want. Cool, huh? Little ol' me?!

15. What's your favorite pattern for clothing (stripes, plaid, etc.)? 

I like mixing patterns, but truth be told, my favorite pattern is paisley. I've never owned a single paisley thing. Why not? Gonna have to get me some. And not Brad.

16. What's your age backwards? 

I'll be 39 years old on my next birthday. I'm kind of stuck on that fact and couldn't get around to actually reversing the digits. When did I get so old?

17. When you see typos in a survey, do you correct them? 

Of course I do. I'm a Grammarly fan, aren't you?

18. When was your last vacation? Did you go someplace special? 

We went to Playa del Carmen, near Cancun, Mexico, in November. It was our first getaway as a couple since, I think, 2008. I guess you could call that special! We had a good time. Drinks were included, so of course it was.

19. What's your favorite kind of pancakes? 

I prefer Belgian waffles. With blueberries. Or strawberries. Or bananas. Or... okay, I can't lie. I can't eat them regardless. Too many carbs.

20. Do you like movies with computer graphics, like Avatar?


Burn! And unless it's Pixar or something, then I don't think I do?

21. Do you know how to sew? 

I sewed these shorts for Jack and Sophia when they were itty-bitties, when I was going through my sewing phase. I went a little crazy sewing at the time. Let's just say, thank goodness I knit better than I sew. I just couldn't really get the hang of it!

22. Are you good at wrapping gifts? 

I can be when I want to be, and usually I want to be.

23. Do you like flavored yogurt? 

Yes, but if it doesn't have strawberries in it, I pretty much don't want it.

24. How old will you be in December of 2015? 

We covered that already. 39 years old. I'm busy keeping 40 at bay, here.

25. What's the age difference between you and your siblings?


My oldest half-sister, Pamela, is... I have no clue how many years old. Maybe 50? I really don't know. I've never met her, and I probably never will. My sister, Stacey, just turned 40. She's 17 months older than I am. I'm the baby of the family. I'm pretty awesome, but I can be a spoiled, self-indulgent brat. I'm not my own biggest fan...!

Now that I'm finished, I'm going to go pop a Tramadol. And then probably another Fioricet. Pain sucks. I wish I could get off this merry-go-round; it's no fun!

Thanks for stopping by.


Saturday 9: Hawaii Five-O

Saturday 9: Hawaii Five-O (1969)

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

1) This is the theme from the TV show that originally ran from 1968 to 1980 and is on now again with a new cast. Were you/are you a fan?

No, I was four when it ended, and my grandpa used to watch it. Stacey, my sister, and I always used to moan and groan when he'd put it on! Ugh. As for the current run, nah. No interest in that, even for sentimental reasons.

2) On both shows, Five-O is an elite police task force led by Det. Lt. Steve McGarrett. Who is your favorite TV cop?

Debra Morgan from Dexter!

3) On both shows, the part of Danny "Danno" Williams was played by a second generation performer. (James MacArthur was the son of Broadway legend Helen Hayes; Scott Caan is the son of movie actor James Caan.) If you followed one of your parents into their chosen profession, what would you be doing? 

I'd be selling insurance. I'd be making good money but bored as hell. Blah.

4) Both shows are filmed in Hawaii, the boyhood home of President Obama. Have any of our 44 Presidents hailed from your state? 

Florida? No. And God willing, Jeb Bush will not ever become Prez. Bah. Perish the thought!

5) Kona coffee is made from beans cultivated on the Big Island of Hawaii. Are you a big coffee drinker? 

When I can't or don't want to drink Diet Coke, for whatever reason, I default to coffee. I consume a ton of caffeine, so I guess if you do the math, yes?

6) This week's song was written by the late Morton Stevens. In addition to composing for TV shows, he was the musical director for a group of entertainers known in the 60s as "The Rat Pack." Can you name any "Rat Pack" members?

Frank Sinatra. Dean Martin. Uh... Sammy Davis, Jr.?

7) This week's featured band, The Ventures, began when Don Wilson purchased a used car from Bob Bogle. During negotiations, they discovered a shared passion for playing guitar. Did you buy your current ride new or used? Did the negotiations go smoothly?

We got our 2012 Kia Sedona used, at 2½ years old. Negotiations took for-freakin'-EVER. The kids came with us. Wasn't that fun? (Hint: No.)

8) The year this song was popular, 1969, is when Donald and Doris Fisher opened a San Francisco clothing store called The Gap. Today there are more than 3,200 Gap locations. Do you shop at The Gap or

On the exceedingly rare occasion, I will shop at The Gap. I used to wear a lot of clothes from there in high school, but meh. It's really not my style now.

9)  Random question: What's on your Saturday to-do list?

There's a kids' festival at our local YMCA down road, so we're going to go there. That's only from, like, 10 AM to 2 PM or so, which leaves a lot of daytime to get things done. So, I don't know, maybe we'll swim?

Thanks for stopping by!


Friday Fragments: Episode 4.24.15

Half-Past Kissin' Time

I'm back again! What is this, two weeks in a row? Can you stand it? I know!

Link up here if you're fragmenting today!


Silly as it may seem, this might just be my favorite thing from our field trip to the Gold Coast Railroad Museum on Wednesday. If you missed it (and you know you did), you can read more about that here.

I hear it snowed all over parts north of here today. Well, yesterday. On April 23rd. Yes, I live south of Miami, Florida, but my attitude is more of dismay and sympathy than nanny-nanny-boo-boo. And seeing as I was raised in Central New York, I have experienced this phenomenon myself. It sucks. I know. So sorry, y'all.


For Earth Day, after the railroad museum, we made a couple of stops here and there. One stop was at local Disney Store to get our free Disneynature Monkey Kingdom reusable tote bags. I love a tote bag. Save the planet, and all, you know; that's me.


Anyway, that there is 12-year-old, itty-bitty Jack piggybacking on 10-year-old baby sister, Sophia. Nope, that's not a camera trick; he really is that small! And the Yoda hat? Totally works for him.


Miguel, the Castmember at the Disney Store, was all about the enthusiasm for my camera, when I asked him to pose with my freebie tote bag. I loved it. (Not a bad looking young man, either, huh?) And, he let me make two small purchases and get two bags. I loved that, also.



We also received our free milkshakes and fruitshakes from EVOS, which serves AirbakedTM food instead of deep-fried, much of it organic. I had not heard of it before Earth Day, so this was a great marketing ploy to get us in the door and come back for more. We didn't buy anything Wednesday, but we do plan to come back soon, probably on a Kids-Eat-Free Sunday. (I love a deal, y'know?) Since they're a lot closer to Homestead than our beloved Elevation Burger, we're anxious to try EVOS food and compare the two restaurants. Have you been to either one?

(Note: It's not McDonald's. You won't be paying Mickey D's prices.)

Color Me Mine - The Art Of Having Fun


We attempted to use our $60 Groupon for Color Me Mine, for "ceramics and sitting fees" for four people that day, but lo and behold, it doesn't actually cover all the costs, only some of the costs, and there is pretty much nothing ceramical that would have cost little enough so as not to have required me to fork out any additional money. Can you say, disappointment? We were all bummed. 

Except Jack. As Jack says, "I hate Art!"

So we'll go back sometime between payday and May 1st, when the Groupon expires... but I was pretty upset that we couldn't get our Arts and Crafts on that day. Stay tuned to see what ceramics everyone ends up picking out!


I had a mystery shop at a semi-local movie theater to do that night, so in honor of Earth Day yet again, we opted to go as a family to see Disneynature's Monkey Kingdom. I cannot say for sure whether I've seen any other Disneynature films before this, but maybe Oceans...? In any event, I absolutely loved Monkey Kingdom. It was fascinating to me as a Biologist, but heart-tugging to me as a mother. Definitely a show worth watching.

(And, I thought Tina Fey did an excellent job narrating it. What is she, some kind of professional?!)

Image result for two thumbs up


Two thumbs up, all the way around!

P.S. I adore that Disneynature films donates money to the programs and communities shown in the feature, in honor of each moviegoer who sees it opening week. Yay for Team Odette and the monkeys! Have you seen it yet?


After watching the Toque Macaques' antics for the last hour and a half, my monkeys were all amped up and silly-goosing around when let loose outside the theater. Good reminder how influential screen time can be, yo.

Welp, that's it for me this week. Thanks for stopping by!


Trips Afield: Gold Coast Railroad Museum


Wednesday, like every April 22nd for the past ... well, that's up for debate, but read this story if you want to know more ... was Earth Day. We had big earthy, environmentalist plans, but those fell through. Fortunately, we had backup plans! We visited Miami's Gold Coast Railroad Museum, next do the Zoo, instead. Wow, did this trip come along with lots of history lessons!

Disclosure: We were given free passes to visit the Gold Coast Railroad Museum in exchange for this blog post. All opinions are, as always, 100% my own.

I kinda wanted to steal the "NO SNORING" sign from the museum's gift shop wall. Cute and funny!


We all had to test out the Morse Code telegraph machine. It was loud and, yes, obnoxious. God bless the twin girls working in the shop, because they must have to put up with that nonsense a lot.


And with that, we were outta the gate and into an immense, old railroad yard with all manner of antique and old-fashioned trains to explore. What fun! This was definitely right up Jack's alley.




I sort of have a fetish for antique suitcases. I love them. They bespeak so many adventures, I think. I would love to collect them, but I never find them, so...


Chloë thought this old wheelchair was pretty cool. I don't know whether it was kosher for her to sit on it, but she already was and there was no "keep off" sign, so I snapped the pic. I could say that about a lot of these pictures...


When Rob rang this bell, it was so loud and unexpected, I wanted to ring his bell!




Maybe you can tell from Jack's stance, but he was freaked out by the wax figure of a porter up there ahead, on the left. So I did what I do: laughed and took a photo.


Have a seat!


Sophe pretending to wash hands in the sink on the train... a rare sight, since I still have to tell her to do it for real now!


Very cool.


We were told that if the train was open, we could go ahead and go in and explore. We found lots of open trains to visit! This one... wasn't.



Proof that I was actually there, experiencing this, too. I gotta remember to take more pictures of me. Y'know, for posterity.


I guess they use the trains for after-school programs. Pretty cool place to go, if you ask me.


Silly Sophie, pretending to eat at the table. I love that she still has such fun imagining at ten.






This is Sophia trying to get up into the luggage cart. No, she didn't, but if I had looked away... she'd have been up there in a New York minute! ;)


Jack was pretty much in seventh heaven out here.



NASA, the early days


Rob checkin' out the innards


Hey, you gotta go, you gotta go. The train bathrooms remind me of the ones on the Piedmont airplanes back in the 80s.


Again, we weren't invited on one of the beds in the sleepers, but we weren't chastised or warned off them, either...


Sophia looking so cute with her little bandanna.... love it!




The kids loved the idea of transcontinental train travel. We vowed to do it sometime before they're grown.


This does not look even remotely comfortable!


Well, hello, Rufus.



Yeah, that might not be good.



At this point, I was having a total Stand By Me moment.



Rob, being a sweety... but I made him leave them there. Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, after all.


Why, hello up there!








This is the part where Sophie pretends to be a hobo, hopping on and off cargo trains and going joy-riding!


Girl versus the machine?





Switch operator, Chloë


Speaking of Stand By Me...


Chugga-chugga-woo-woo! Hey, we're tweens and teens, but a train is a train, man.




Because Thomas.



Sophie in her babushka


The trainy equivalent of Air Force One. Pretty cool.




Hilariously, Sophie was pretending to be interrogated and pleading for her freedom. She cracks me up.


Jack was giggling because men used fancy China and drank tea. Silly boy!


The girls were terribly excited to find this very old, dusty book amongst the artifacts on one train. The books, we like them.





Now this one, I coveted. Badly.


America's Playground, Florida's East Coast, you say? I must go to there.


Yeah. I can't remember what she was doing here. Basking in the glory?



Uh, not a good angle for him!


Tiniest President ever.


My fellow Americans...!







Jack accidentally honked the horn, and it was LOUD. We all jumped. It was pretty hysterical. Eh, you had to be there.


What about wheelchairs?




We learned about blimps our first year of homeschooling, way back in 2010, so we kind of have an affinity for all things hydrofoil.




In honor of Daddy, the girls insisted I take their picture with the US Navy flag.


We totally confused the "We Can Do It" poster with "Rosie the Riveter" and talked all about the Normal Rockwell piece as if this was it. Uhhh.... ooops. Now we know better, though, and knowing is half the battle.

(RIP to the real "Rosie.)


True facts.


Yes, but do you know the way to San José?

We learned a lot of history on this field trip, and quite a lot about the history of race relations in this country. The kids all agreed by the end that racism pretty much sucks. Phew! I'm glad that was the attitude learned. 

Thanks to the GCRM for having us, and thank you for stopping by!


Sundays In My City: Chihuly At Fairchild, A Garden Of Glass

Unknown Mami

Link up with Unknown Mami HERE if you want to play along, and "share your city/town/suburb/you name it! Think of this as a photography carnival or photography meme (with or without words) that not only lets you share your part of the world, but lets you visit other parts of the world virtually. If you link up, please link back or post the Sundays In My City button either in your post or sidebar to let people know that other bloggers are sharing their communities too."


On Sunday night, from 6-9 PM, we went to Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden to visit the Dale Chihuly blown glass art exhibit. Disclosure: We were given complimentary passes to the Garden in exchange for this blog post. As always, all opinions on this post are 100% my own.


This was the first exhibit we encountered. That's all glass, floating in the water! How cool, no? You can read all about artist Chihuly here.


The sights and scenery were breathtakingly beautiful throughout the garden.


This exhibit brought new meaning to the term "party boat" for me.


We craned our necks to look at this bird. Heh. See what I did there?




I really thought the White Belugas looked more like the crane than the whale, but what do I know? They were still Teh Awesome.


I hadn't realized the scientific name of Coffee before, but it makes sense in both generic and specific form. To me, anyway, and I drink a lot of the stuff.


♫ "Walking along. Singing a song. At the bottom of a beautiful, blimey, shimmery, shiny, sea..." ♫






Chloë thought the central blue starry thingy was more like a porcupine, but I was team sea urchin all the way. What do you think?



Please, no jokes about blue balls. I wouldn't dream of making one myself, either.





My girls, especially, seem to have this odd fascination with lily pads. I don't know what it is, but personally, I think they're pretty cool, too.


Electric blue




To me, these flowers in Spanish moss look like baby birds in a nest. Do you see it?


Chloë had to visit the restroom, and we were next to the garden café at the time. I got in line after seeing they had handcrafted tropical fruit sodas. I saw myriad flavors and guessed that the children would probably want to share the mango flavor, since they all positively adore all things mango. I guessed correctly, they affirmed when returning from the bathroom. As for me, I can't stand mangoes or anything flavored thusly. Just not my thing...


I find that plenty of vignettes, such as this one, found in the garden were objets d'art in and of themselves.


The koi pond was a beautiful location for this installation.


I think the blue koi pond, combined with this Chihuly piece, was my favorite, favorite part of the whole showing.



I hope I get an invite!


(Psst: probably my least favorite of the Chihuly pieces. Hey. Everybody's got to have one.)



"Mmm. Chocolate." (...said like Homer Simpson and his donuts.)


That's just bananas!


The edible garden was quite cool. No, we didn't actually get to partake of any fruits.


Got any colada for that piña?



Aguacate! YUM.


The honeybees, they matter. Keep 'em around, you guys.


I swear my grandma had this much aloe on her window ledge in her New Jersey apartment. No lie. I remember, like, every summer, at least one of us (my sister or I) would get a bad sunburn at the Leonia municipal pool, and we would break off a piece of aloe to rub on the burn.


This reminds me: I miss our compost bin. It was usefully huge (for our sizable family) and hugely useful. We left it behind at the house in Virginia Beach. Wah.



Speaking of mangoes...!



I love these camo pants on Sophie. Just sayin'.


There are so many different species of palm trees, I swear! I should probably go look up how many. Hang on a sec...

☼ Intermission ☼

I'm back. Holy crap, according to this Palm Wiki, there are about 2600 different species. Whoa!


Just a spider doing important spider things...



That guy in the hat, admiring the Icicle Tower, was wearing a utilitarian kilt. The kids wanted to ask him about it, but they dared not, so I had to suck it up and ask for them. He got it in Washington State, it's a Utilikilt, and he's not entirely Scottish. He was, however, quite terse, and so that's all I learned. His wife was far more friendly, and she was wearing a pretty butterfly skirt.



I like the name "Buccaneer Palm" better, personally.


"Here, lee-zard, lee-zard!" We saw a rather lot of rather large lizards, including one iguana, at the garden last night.


*ahem* Phallic! *ahem*


That one on the bottom reminded Rob of Stevie Wonder in his beaded-hair days, but I was immediately thinking of Bob Marley, myself.


Love this pic of Sophie carrying her OLDER brother Jack on her back! Love it, love it, love it!


A statue of the great Marjorie Stoneman Douglas, speaker for the Everglades, holding Sophia's hand. Well, maybe vice-versa, but you know what I mean.



Oh say, can you see?


This raccoon was just ambling along, nose to the ground, with nary a care in the world that we were standing there watching him, exclaiming, taking pictures, and otherwise carrying on about his nonchalance.



The Bird of Paradise, one of few tropical plants I can properly identify. Gee, I wonder why?


Sophie tried to get in the fountain, as she is always attempting to do. She has, at times, succeeded. That's life with Sophia!





Team Odette, just being silly, pretending to land tush-first on a giant cactus



A lady, speaking to me mostly in Spanish, asked for "the one that looks like a Christmas tree." I don't know who told her that, but apparently someone did, about this one. I don't see it at all?


I love you THIIIIISSSSSS much!


Jack was pretending to be a statue on a bench, like the one of Marjorie S. Douglas, but to me he looks more like a zombie. Silly.







I joked that this large ball cactus was almost as big as Chloë's enormous head. She indignantly exclaimed, "Hey! No, it's not!" Ha. Hahaha.



"The Trash Heap has spoken!" Who remembers Fraggle Rock?

Gotta watch this, whether you do or whether you don't:


Right? D'ya see it??!



The "Apple Blossom" Amaryllis is a monocotyledon. I prefer monocots to dicots. I said so aloud. This brought on an instant Science lesson about the differences in leaf striation between the two, when other people started gathering around to listen, and I got embarrassed and started walking away. Which reminds me, we really need to do a big ol' Plants Unit soon. I've sort of been avoiding it like the plague.


This piece reminds me of a bonfire explosion. Or something. I'm not sure. But I like it.


Back to the back!



"Talent is a flame. Genius is a fire." - Bernard Williams


We interrupted an engagement party, at which all the guests wore white. It looked soooo lovely, and what a beautiful setting for the fête! I had to know what was in all the goody bags everyone had, so I stopped a woman on the way out. She hadn't even looked in hers yet, so she didn't know! Can you even?! I made her look. She giggled and went right ahead and looked. I know there was a book about Chihuly and some chocolates, but I forget what else. Either way, it was cool to be semi- a part of things. ;)


Chloë, ever the dramatic child...!


We didn't, but we did visit the gift shop. It was quite the coolness. I didn't get pictures, but they had blown glass cnidaria ("jellyfish") inside more glass of another color. I wanted one. I dared not ask how much.


We loved this scene spread before us near the entrance/exit, so of course we had to take the photographic opportunity. I tried to get the kids to sing the "Farewell" song from The Sound of Music, but since they've never even SEEN it, they didn't know the song. Yes. I have failed them that much, apparently, since it's among my five top favorite films. Sadness.

In case you don't know that heck about which I am speaking:


On that note, adieu! And merci for stopping by.

Thank you, again, to Director of the Garden, Dr. Carl E. Lewis, and to Brooke LeMaire and the Marketing team at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden for sending us the free passes to visit the garden. We had a wonderful time seeing the Chihuly exhibition and will definitely be back! As always, all opinions are completely mine in this post.


Saturday 9: Neon Lights

Link up here if you're playing along today!

Saturday 9: Neon Lights (2013)

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

1) Think of a neon sign you pass by often. What does it say? 

The Miami Subs sign is about as N*E*O*N as it gets for me, I think!

2) In the video for this song, Demi Lovato spends a great deal of time in the water. When is the last time you swam?

Swimming, which I normally love, is low on my list of priorities right now. I'm just not feeling well. So, I guess it's probably been a couple months, if not longer.

3) The song encourages us to "look up at the sky." OK, we will. How does the sky look where you are today?

I had to go out to look, since it's after midnight on Saturday. The sunset was beautiful, as the tropical South Florida ones typically are, but that was hours ago. I saw one star, but mostly the city's light pollution around here drowned out the noise of the other stars. I like to find the Big Dipper and Orion's Belt - the most recognizable constellations for me - but I couldn't spot either one.

4) Demi is a contributing editor for Seventeen magazine. When she was in junior high school, Crazy Sam eagerly awaited each new issue of Seventeen. When you were younger, what magazine(s) did you read regularly?

I read Sassy, which became Jane, and I loved it... but I didn't "fit in" with their general follower types. Meh.

5) Demi is an investor in the company that makes Texas Tea, a bottled beverage available at Whole Foods. Do you have any tea in your kitchen right now?

Image result for Arnold Palmer Drink

We have tons and tons of Lipton and some other organic and other brands in there, too. I'm not a fan, but Hubs LOVES it. However, he prefers an Arnold Palmer when he can get his hands on one.

6) Demi is currently on tour, performing halfway around the world in Australia and New Zealand. Have you ever had a job that required travel?

Yes and no. Being a marine biologist, as I was in the previous pre-kids life, required lots of sea time. Does that count?

7) Demi had a recurring role on the show Glee. That show's series finale aired last month. Is there a show that's no longer on that you miss?

No. I used to be a huge TV Junkie, but now I am an Internet Junkie and my television-watching has gone the way of the dodo. I pretty much only watch Jeopardy! and The Big Bang Theory.

8) Fast-growing fast food chain Chipotle reports that their top sellers include a burrito bowl with steak or chicken, salad with chili-corn salsa, and a soft taco. Which of these would you order?

I'd order the salad, as long as there was no beef in it. I haven't touched cow meat in 20 years.

9) What beverage would you like to enjoy with your burrito bowl, taco or salad?

Diet Coke. Sigh. I try to eat well, but my liquid intake is another matter on which I need much work!

Thanks for stopping by!


Friday Fragments: Episode 4.17.15

Half-Past Kissin' Time

I haven't fragmented in a dog's age, but I felt like a brain dump was necessary, so here I am! These posts are for the purpose of shaking out all that loose change rattling around in our brains that isn't big enough for a whole post. Link up here with Mrs. 4444 if you're fragmentin' today!

Mike & Gail

First and most importantly, I'd like to give some birthday shout-outs to some very important people in the lives of Team Odette! Above are Hubs' twin brother and sister, Mike and Gail, who turned the big 5-0 on Thursday (yesterday). Happy half-century, you two!

Stacey 40

Also, my big sister Stacey Jean is turning the big 4-0 tomorrow, April 18th! WOW, huge milestone years for all of the siblings! Happy fourth decade, Sis; I you so much!


When Rob (Hubs) was in the hospital for eight days, I did my best to give the kids a decent passing time for that period. I had free tickets to go to the movies, so we went to see Home, which they had been talking about for a while.

All three of them agreed that it was better than Big Hero 6, but I greatly disagreed with that assessment, since I loved the Disney flick. I could have waited easily for it to come out on DVD, and the only thing that tickled me were the running gags about "My Mom..." and "going Number Three." Other than that, big fat "MEH" from me!

Have you seen it, and if so, with whom do you agree?


This was the afternoon I sprung Rob from "The Clink," a.k.a. the hospital where he was staying through the beginning of April. I had brought plenty of treats to the hospital ward for the other patients, including four dozen Krispy Kreme donuts, dozens of magazines of all kinds of genres, and a huge batch of homemade chocolate chip cookies, and this pleased me greatly to do. However, nothing made me happier than this moment, when he was released to me to come home. I lurve this guy!


Partially to celebrate Rob's homecoming, we went to the Miami Youth Fair that evening. Ohmagosh, it was hot!! I rented him a wheelchair, since he was feeling pretty dizzy (and, secret? that helps carry the bags we collect along the way, too). Here are the girls in our ticket redemption line. I do have to say, I think they look so cute in their glasses!


Of course, when you visit the fair, you are required to eat fair food, right? My obligatory fair food is cheesy fries with excessive amounts of vinegar and, I must confess, among the five of us we shared about three large orders that day! Jack, however, is our carnivorous kid (the girls have all but sworn off the meat-eating through no attempt of mine to have them do so), so he was all about getting a turkey leg.

We laughed so hard at the enormosity (that's a word, right?) of the turkey legs at the fair compared to his diminutive size. He put quite a pretty good dent in it, too, before Daddy had to take over!


Soft-serve ice cream... yet another food from the fair in which one must indulge. I mean, c'mon. It's the fair. You're not getting a salad, people.


We mostly walked around and looked at exhibits, ate, rode rides and... played games. Wait, that's kind of a 'duh,' because that is what the fair is, after all. 

Anyway, I spent entirely too much money on games, because Sophie decided she had to win this "hippocorn," as Rob calls it, for her dad. She's a sweet kid, that girl.


Poor Jack has had a time of it lately. Between an awful dentist visit (we have known for years he has bad teeth, so this was not a surprise) and a subsequent visit to the Miami Children's Hospital Emergency Department, plenty of work was determined to be needing done. But none has been done. Our dental bills, for the five of us, are going to be astronomical. And we are triple-insured for this. SUCKAGE, y'all.


Speaking of Jack emergencies, he tripped over a rope his younger sister had tied to the bucket he wanted to use for making bubble wand mix the other day, and he landed smack on his cheekbone on the edge of the bucket.

Image result for ouch

His cheek swelled up enormously and turned black in seconds. This was on Sophie's 10th birthday, this past Monday, so quite an unfortunate accident indeed. I delivered him and his dad to the local ED for X-rays and Ibuprofen, and it was determined that nothing was broken. Phew! That poor cheek has turned 57 shades of ugly since then, though!


Rob and I went out to downtown Miami and South Beach for a fun date night a couple nights later, and that was a much needed reprieve from the stresses of previous weeks. At the one restaurant we visited, our bartendress was quite moronical. She did not know how to make anything normal. Holy cow. I'm glad Rob didn't decide to blow her mind by ordering his usual favorite stumper, a Colorado Bulldog!

In the end, I ordered this, a "No. 8," which was quite good with its raspberry-mint essence. I liked it, though I'm not a fan of mojitos or any other minty beverage. Seriously, though... as Rob pointed out, she wasn't there for her brains (quite a hottie, she was)!


At that same restaurant, our food and table service were exquisite. We had this Bufala Mozzarella deliciousness that included pine nuts, pomegranate arils, and some kind of sweet hazelnut mashy thing that we quite liked.


My scallop dinner was delectable, but unreasonably priced: I paid $36 for this plate and received three not-even-that-large scallops. Do the math. If I wasn't being reimbursed for this meal, I would have passed out!


On the other hand, our dessert was quite creative and simply amazing: a creamy topped Monkeybread concoction. What? Monkeybread?! How unusual. I loved the idea of that being on the menu at a fancy restaurant nearly as much as the dish itself. Would you order it?

041115 Pinkberry Ocean Drive FroYo

After all that food, it was such a tragedy that we still had to get some FroYo for another shop, but we went through with the horrible disaster. I didn't eat any and gave the whole thing to my bottomless pit husband. Apparently this brand, which we were experiencing for the first time compared to Menchie's and Sweet Frog, tasted a lot more like actual yogurt than, you know, ice cream? I can't say personally, though I think I might actually have liked that.


And last but definitely not least, I came up with idea for instituting a Swear Jar all on my own, since I have a HA-rrible (as I pronounce it, being from New York) potty mouth. No one forced me; I brought this upon myself. I bought a set of large mason jars - because I couldn't seem to get just one - and we hot-glued the lid shut so I couldn't break into it for emergency gas/Diet Coke/what-have-you funds.

Um. Yeah. Bad idea. The kids are making bank off me. That jar is now full to capacity after a mere three or four days, and we have to start a new one. Most of that money is from me. The kids also have to throw in a quarter (it's 25¢ per swearing offense, as well) for saying "Shut up!" or calling each other "stupid," "idiot," or such things, but unlike me, they seem to have learned their lessons quite quickly.

At this rate, we'll have the down payment for a live-aboard boat in no time. Oy vey...

Welp, I think that's enough of a brain-dump for me this week. Thanks for stopping by!


P.S. Here's a gratuitous cute picture of Spike, Rob's new kitten, having a nosh:


Redland Blues & BBQ Festival #Miami

On Saturday, April 11th, Team Odette ventured out to the Fruit & Spice Park, located in the Redlands area of Homestead. I had gotten super-cheap tickets for the Redlands Blues & BBQ Festival on Groupon and, despite at least one of us (moi) not feeling up to par, we went. We saw. We conquered!


We have been to the Fruit & Spice Park before, at least twice, but I never noticed this directional sign having the "Robert Is Here" entry before Saturday. What the what? I didn't know anything about it, other than obviously we needed a photograph of Rob next to it. Right?


Naturally, Sophia had to pose in the Park's "Kodak Moment" stand. She loves those things!


Once we entered the Festival, our first stop was to this soft-serve ice cream and tropical fruit station. Holy cow, it was awesome. Serving only fruits actually grown there in the park, some native to the area and some exotic, we paid a mere $3 per well-filled cup of whatever fruits we wanted atop our ice cream. The girls went for it, and Rob had some, too, I think. 


Chloë was the more adventurous of the girls, as Sophia only wanted her beloved mango in her ice cream. Chlo opted for all kinds of fruits we had no experience with or knowledge of, and an edible flower on top to boot. So... what did she think of all this?


Yeah, no. Not so much. Heh heh heh. But I admired her for her willingness to try new things, as I am a big proponent of such!


After that, we visited a stand selling bags of fresh pecans and macadamias - my favorite - shipped directly from Hawai'i. We all got a chance to crack the macs out of their tough, thick shells (which I'd never seen before, wow!), and sample the goods. I didn't buy anything at that time, but as promised, I did buy a bag of the yumminess on our way out of the park!

Jack hammered them all open for me here in the abode, since he's a strong little munchkin, and I devoured the entire bag myself. Well... I think Chloë snagged one?


Of course, since it was a BBQ fest, and Rob is from Missouri where BBQ is, you know, kind of a thing, I wanted him to partake of the goodness there. This stand purported to have the "Best Ribs," so I urged him to get 'im some o' dat. He, being quite the connoisseur of ribs, said it was "okay." This is often about as enthusiastic as the boy gets, so I took it as pretty dang good. In any event, he ate the whole plate of 'em.


And, really? THIS is a thing that exists? We had a good laugh about that. Really, though?!


Not a fan of the Conch Fritters, personally, but they offered crabcake sliders at this shack. Speaking of fanatical foodies, I'm all about the crabcakes, so I grabbed a plate. It took me ages, and I had to take it off the bread, but I "managed" to choke the two on my plate down. ;) I kind of expected an allergic reaction to something in them or the dipping sauce, but nothing. Guess that phase is over now, too. Anyway... 


Delicious... but still, nothing I've encountered compares to the crabby patties I've gotten from Uncle Chuck's, the fishmonger in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Y'all seriously just don't know until you've had it!


I enjoyed the Blues music that was being played in the park, and Rob seemed to enjoy it as well. As for the kids? I asked them each, in turn, and all of them were highly negative about their opinions of it. Oh, well; we tried.


The kids had no interest in crabcakes, or conch fritters, or BBQ ribs, or any of that such stuff. However, they were all about some Dippin' Dots ice cream, and despite having bought them the tropical fruit-covered stuff at the beginning of the outing, I decided to go ahead and let them have it. It was a boiling hot day, after all, and I wanted them to keep cool. So, I spoiled them a little bit. Why the heck not, anyway?


So, this is a Jackfruit. It's pretty much bigger than our 12-year-old son, Jack. I find that kind of... heh.

So that was a fun excursion of the food and of the music. Mostly enjoyed by the parents, but the kids got ice cream twice, so not so horrible, right?

Thanks for stopping by!


My Baby Is In Double Digits! #10YearsOld #TBT #ThrowbackThursday


So on Monday, April 13th, this girl of mine, Sophia Lorelei, our fourth and last bitty baby, turned a DECADE old. Oh ma garsh! TEN?! How fast those years flew by me.


I treated her to a Polar Pineapple Smoothie at Robek's around the corner, since that's one of her favorite treats. She literally asks for it at least once a week, if not every single time we're in that shopping plaza (which is sometimes every day). Happy kid = happy mom.


The next treat was taking Sophie to the Hair Cuttery next to Robek's to let her get the tips of her hair dyed royal blue. It was AWESOME. {She's also wearing earrings and sporting a temporary tattoo from the Miami Youth Fair we went to, more birthday treats during what my lovely MIL terms "Birthday Season!"}

What was NOT so awesome was that, despite being promised 2-6 weeks of color, she waited three days before washing her hair and then used color-treated hair-specific shampoo and conditioner... and it all came out. Uh. Big bummer. We went back in to show them, and we'll be going back in soonly to have them redo it. More permanently this time, I hope.


Sophia's favorite flowers are pink carnations, so when we ran to Publix and spied such a bouquet or two, I had her pick one out for another treat. The clown nose? Well... that was for a fundraiser they are running at Walgreens, and we snagged one for the purposes of silliness. Because she is a LOT like her mom in that regard!


We were actually at Publix not for carnations but for ice cream cake. I had planned to make her a Duff Pink Camo cake like so:


...but as I'm having numerous severe, ongoing medical issues right now, and that night was particularly miserable for me, she agreed to a Carvel cake instead. Good enough for me! We got a big ol' one, because ice cream cake. And I had a coupon, so it was all good.

The candles were supposed to be musical, but they did not work for me. I even fried my right thumb lighting and relighting the candles and messing with those musical two in an attempt to get them to work, to no avail. Humph.

Meanwhile, my tech-brained son Jack was able to get them working in seconds. Like he is always doing, fixing up what I can't manage where anything remotely mechanical or technical is concerned. Kid's a wiz, I tell ya!


The birthday gift Sophia most cherished from Mom & Dad was her new kitten, "Sugarplum Yogurt" (don't ask, that's just the kind of kidoodle she is!). Well, spontaneously, when we were picking up Plum, we decided to get the cat Hubs is holding, too, as a gift to HIM. Rob named him "Spike," after I mispronounced "Spice" for "Sugarplum and Spice" as a cutesy joke.

So now, (gah!) Team Odette consists of five human members, four feline ones, and a pooch. One pet per human. Everyone has a cat except me, because though I lurve the kitteh-cats, I am definitely a doggy person.


On Wednesday, Sophie received a birthday card with some cashola in it from her paternal grandpappy and step-grandma, Denise. Though I had little time for it, she begged and begged to go to Toys 'R' Us for some "LPS" (AKA Littlest Pet Shop) accoutrement.

Welp, since I ended up busting off an essential piece of my Samsung Galaxy S5 phone and we had to go uptown to Kendall to have it fixed, guess what? Time was made for a TRU visit after all. With her birthday moolah, Sophia bought two LPS toys, including a limo and a panda in some kind of tent-y thing. I was rooting for her to get the LPS Eiffel Tower toy, which was très cool, IMHO, but she said negatory to that choice. Eh, well. Her money. Happy kid, etc.


Meanwhile, back to the kittens. Rob is, seriously, like the Pied Piper of fur-babies. As you can see, he likes to nap, and the littlest of our pets need to nap frequently. He is their bed of choice. There are Paco the Chihuahua on the bottom left, Sugarplum on the bottom right, Robert (der), and Spike in the center. So cute, right?!


Throwback: Sophia, circa 2007, age two

Anyway, I can't believe my youngest kiddo is TEN years old. Holy schmoly. I'm still in denial. I could post a litany of traits about her which make her truly amazing, but suffice it to say that she is. By the time her end has come, the world will know her name, I guarantee it.

Thanks for stopping by!


Sunday Stealing: Sizzle Says


Link up here if you're playing along today!

The Sizzle Says Meme

Stolen from: Ms. Sizzle
1. If money were no object, what would you be doing with your life? 

I would be visiting every corner of Earth.

2. Money is just that - an object, so why aren’t you doing it? 

Hey, I'll get there, if only in books and dreams.

3. What’s better: horses or cows? 

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4. What do you think the secret to happiness is? 

Learn to be content with "enough."

5. When was the last time you had a dream that you either remember well or did not want to awake from? Can you share a bit? 

I tend to have either wild, outrageous dreams, or future-foretelling dreams of mundane conversations that later happen in real life. I often have a sense of déjà vu when that conversation then happens. It's so eerie. Does this happen to you guys, too?

6. When you were a little kid, what did you want to be when you grew up? 

I wanted to be a concert singer, a famous gymnast and figure skater, a world-renowned novelist, and... oh, wait, I still do.

7. Complete this statement: Love is… 

... indescribably wonderful. When you know you have it, you just know.

8. Can you tell a good story? 


Orally, not so much. I suck at speaking the language of my native tongue. I just don't talk right! I mix up words, I'm the queen of Spoonerisms, I sometimes mentally grab the closest word to the one I really mean, and so on and so forth. I'm a much better storyteller in written form.

9. Can you remember your last daydream? What was it about?


You know what I sometimes daydream about? What it would be like to be mentally "normal." Is anyone in that category? I'm certainly not... and sometimes, all the various -oses and -isms etc. just get to be a wee bit too much. I daydream about being a regular person with regular shit on my mind.

10. If you were to thank someone today, who would you thank? 


I would thank Robert Allen Odette for taking a chance on and with me, and for creating this awesome little family with me. I love you and I love you and I love you...!

11. If you could be anyone's mojo, whose would you want to be, and why? (For those you do not know what mojo is, it's personal magnetism; charm.)

Did you not just read the last answer? Same guy! He's got my heart forever and always. Awwwwwww, shucks now.


Saturday 9: Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?

Welp, I'm starting 22 minutes after the day has officially ended, but that seems to be about par for the course for me, eh? Here we go anyway. Link up here if you're late, too.

Saturday 9: Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is? (1970)

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

1) This song asks, "Does anybody really care about time?" How about you? Do you pride yourself on being punctual? Or don't you really care?

I hate being late, but it's not uncommon for me to be late. It's a conundrum for me, especially as an OCD-havin' perfectionist type. Bah.
2) The lyrics refer to a stranger asking the time. When is the last time you conversed with someone you didn't really know? What did you two talk about?

I spent from 3 AM to after 12 PM today in the Emergency Department of the local hospital with yet another ruptured ovarian cyst that had me crying in pain. My male nurse, who came on shift around 0700, and I hit it right off. I learned a lot about his life, the last 20 years of which he's spent in the States after moving here from London, England. We talked about our travels, our backgrounds, and pasts and futures. I guess he didn't have many patients aside from me? Nice guy, though.

3) According to the Top 40 tracker Tunecaster, this song knocked Tony Orlando and Dawn's "Knock Three Times" out of the #1 spot on the charts in January 1971. Are you familiar with "Knock Three Times?"

Yes, because it was on our jukebox growing up. We had one, a real old-fashioned one, in our dance-floor basement in Syracuse. "Knock Three Times" was actually one of my favorites.

4) Chicago is not only the name of the group but also of the midwest's largest city. Chicago is the proud hometown of such luminaries as Bill Murray, Michelle Obama and Derrick Rose. Does your town have any favorite sons or daughters? 

I live in Miami, home of countless famosos. Many of them, unsurprisingly, speak Spanish. ;) Google it. 

5) The group Chicago was originally known as The Chicago Transit Authority, after the city's public transportation system. When is the last time you were on a bus or a train?

About a year ago or so, Chloë (my then-12yo daughter) and I took a big red tour bus all over downtown Miami, Coral Gables, Miami Beach, and Little Havana. We did it for a mystery shop. It was loads of fun!

6) Four of the original seven band members are still with the group … after 48 years! What's the longest you stayed at the same job?

If being a stay-home mama counts, fourteen years is my max.

7) Lead singer Rob Lamm confessed that, at times, being in a band has been hard for him because he is by nature a loner. How about you? Are you more introverted or extroverted?

I'm definitely introverted, but I think lately I have come out of my shell more. Maybe it has something to do with aging, or maybe I'm just forcing myself to do it and break out of my comfort zone, but I've been learning a lot about people with whom I might barely interact lately. I'm enjoying it, too!

8) This summer, Chicago will be touring with Earth, Wind and Fire. Have you seen/will you attend any concerts in 2015?

I'm taking Chloë to her very first major concert around Halloween: Taylor Swift's 1989 tour! She is super excited, and I have to confess, I can't wait!

 9) Random question: What's the last mess you cleaned up?

We were at the point of washing a dish just to dirty it right up again, as all our dishes and silverware and pots and pans were used up while Hubs spent his eight days in the hospital. It took me a day or two (since our dishwasher is on the fritz), but I got them done. And now they're halfway to the same stage again, ugh!

Thanks for stopping by!


Wordless Wednesday: Visiting The New River Family

Link up here if you're Wordless today!























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Hope you've enjoyed the photos of our trip up to Fort Lauderdale to visit Erica and Kira (Jack's girlfriend!), along with their dad, Kevin (not pictured). It was great hanging out with them while Hubs was in the hospital; a great de-stressor. 

Thanks for stopping by!


Easter Odette-Style, 2015


Saturday was all about egg-dyeing. 'Scuse the mess and the jacked-up kitchen table (it needs resurfacing), but life is crazy now.


Chloë declared the annual egg-dyeing day her favorite family activity of the year!


Even Jack got into the fun. We dyed three dozen eggs - one per kid.


The kids decided they wanted to do some hard-boiled and some raw eggs. I agreed, so we did half-and-half. Jack and Sophie each decimated a raw egg, and Chloë managed to demolish a hard-boiled egg. Not really a bad loss ratio, all things considered.


The finished products, which they insisted on keeping separate


On Sunday, before church, we dressed the kids in their Easter outfits and had them hunt for baskets outside. This was a new switch, but we didn't want Paco getting into any chocolate if we hid them inside!



Chloë was first to find her basket.


True to age order, Jack was second.


And shortly after that, Sophia found her basket last of all.


Happy Easter, Mom & Dad!


Each kiddo received one unique thing in his/her basket. Chloë's was a small Grumpy Cat stuffy. She's been having fun holding it up and saying, "NO" to every question asked of her, making me rethink that purchase! ;)


The kids each received an egg that was supposed to soak for a while in water, revealing a hidden treasure inside... Sophia couldn't wait, though, and smashed hers to reveal a bunny right off the bat. Par for the course!


Jack may or may not have been delighted to have LEGO City as his unique gift... I can't really tell, can you?


Discovering treasures


It always cracks me up when the kids get their Easter baskets and have a smörgåsbord of candy at their fingertips, and they have to sample each and every type right off the bat. No patience where sugar is involved!


I asked Sophia to show me her special item from her basket, which was really a bucket of sidewalk chalk, but she showed me her Extra Gum instead! Hahaha! GUM!!!


They each got a packet of finger lights, and these were found to be fun by all. It's been a day and a half, and I'm sure they're all lost by now! :/


Jack followed Sophie's lead and smashed his egg to reveal a chick. Kind of an ugly chick, if I do say so myself!


Daddy and Paco watched the festivities from the couch, their favorite spot to hang out together.




Silly fun with Easter grass "wigs"



Paco was content on this, his first Easter Sunday. Awww...

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you all had a great weekend with your loved ones!


Sunday Stealing: More Or Less Meme

Happy Easter! Link up here if you're playing along today.

The More Or Less Meme

Stolen from: The Archives
3 (or more, or less!) things... 

1. cannot live without. 

Because I'm excluding people from the description of "things," I'm going to say:

(a) My Samsung Galaxy S5, to which I am joined at the hip,

(b) The Interwebs, without which I'd have to actually do stuff. I mean, though! And,

(c) Travel and adventure. I do love change, and that includes a frequent change of scenery. I have Le Wanderlust.

2. CAN live without, but cannot seem to part with. 


(a) Diet Coke, I must reluctantly admit again;

(b) Chocolate (in very small quantities nowadays); and,

(c) More yarn than I'll ever be able to knit into a very useful thing.

3. wish to accomplish this COMING week. 

(a) Get all the laundry put away. Y'all, we have SO MUCH CLOTHES, I have stuff not put away that doesn't even fit my kids anymore. And two of them barely even grow. I must tame this beast!

(b) Get Sophia and Chloë's bedroom clean, because Sophie's turning 10 next week, and her birthday surprise depends on their room being clean! And,

(c) Do the taxes, because that refund has been spent eleventeen different ways in my head, and I really oughtta, you know, ensure we get it.

4. have accomplished this PAST week. 

Anyone with kids (or a husband) can totes relate to that ^^^, amIright? Anyway...

(a) I did all the dishes. More than once. It wasn't as big a job as the laundry, but nearly so;

(b) I brought Hubs and the other patients on his ward treats every single day I visited, including: TONS of magazines of all different genres to read, four dozen Krispy Kreme donuts (I checked; no diabetics there), and a whole batch of chocolate chip cookies. They LOVED me. I was asked multiple times to please bring more cookies, and someone even asked me to mend his pants! That cracks me up; and,

(c) I sucked it up, buttercup, and admitted I needed help. Hey, this is a huge feat for me.

5. ...on your holiday (or non-holiday) 'wish list.' 


(a) Yarn, yarn, yarn... but not the cheapy acrylic stuff. I'm allergic to that, and I don't just mean that because I hate the squeaky, scratchy, plasticky nature of it. I want the good stuff, man;

(b) A new bed. The whole kit 'n' kaboodle. Our mattress is crap, our frame is crappier, and we have no box springs. I would LOVE a nice, new beddy-bye;

(c) A new couch. I don't care if this is secondhand, but because Hubs does, I haven't gotten a used one on the cheap yet. The kids like to flop down HARD on the cushions when they're fixin' to chill, and the frame just completely gave up the ghost recently. The whole thing slants forward badly. What a mess!

6. would like to change about yourself. 


(a) I would like to improve my bottom-of-the-barrel-scraping self-esteem. I'm no longer in a place where every little thing that goes wrong has me wanting to kill myself, which is aMAZing for me, but it would only take a day or two of missing my meds to feel that way again. And yes, this is closely related to my self-image;

(b) In conjunction with that, being manic-depressive. Officially, I am diagnosed as Bipolar I with Psychosis, which is as non-awesome an affliction as it sounds like if you were to actually Google that. And no, that does not mean I'm going to chop you (or anyone else) up with an axe; and,

(c) I'd like to be less selfish. I try and try and try to do things for the good of my husband, my kids, society in general, the planet, etc., but I so frequently fail to take my own self out of the equation. I'm very self-absorbed, I must say. :\

7. like about yourself. 

(a) I'm freakin' hilarious (but you have to get to know me for that to come out);

(b) I'm smarter than it sounds like when I speak (because I talk a lot like Yoda on Speed); and,

(c) I give a shit. About everything. I mean, I really, really do.

8. should be doing right now instead of what you ARE doing. 

(a) Did someone mention the laundry?!!!

(b) It's 6:11 AM currently on Sunday morning. I woke up at 2:30 AM or so and knew I would never get back to sleep, but Easter or no, that's what I should be doing.

(c) *Ahem* TAXES *ahem*

9. your life that could use a little more organization.


(a) My schedule;

(b) My desk; and,

(c) My MIND. Oh, hell yes to that lastie!

Thanks for stopping by! Happy Easter!


Saturday 9: Easter Parade

So, I'm a day late and a dollar short. What of it? I was busy doing family stuff, but here I am now, so let's go! Link up here.

Saturday 9: Easter Parade ("In Your Easter Bonnet") (1933)

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

1) This song is about a special Easter hat to be worn with your "Sunday best." Will you be getting dressed up this weekend?


This is what the kids will be wearing today. We're going Miami-casual. I haven't decided on my attire yet. Yes, I'm one of those annoying moms who likes to coordinate the kids' holiday outfits.

2) Sam is not crazy about hats because she cannot stand "hat hair." Do you have a lot of hats or caps?

No, I don't feel I look good in them. I have one, maybe two, hats. I do have a lot of bandannas from I shaved my head a few years back, though!

3) This song was inspired by New York City's Easter Parade. Does your community host a similar event?

Not that I know of here in Homestead, but y'know, I should probably investigate that...?

4) On April 6, President Obama and Michelle will host lucky children for the 137th White House Easter Egg Roll. Which are your favorite eggs: colored hard-boiled eggs, chocolate marshmallow eggs, or plastic eggs with coins inside?

Hard-boiled, particularly deviled, of which I will be making tons this year. We dyed three dozen eggs yesterday! (Truth be told, though, I could make myself sick on Cadbury Mini Eggs!)

5) How about Peeps? Would you rather have yellow chicks or pink bunnies?

Negative. I'm not a marshmallow fan. My kids love Peeps, though, so they'll each be getting some in their baskets!

6) The biggest chocolate Easter egg was made in Italy,  measured 34 feet tall and weighed a staggering 15,000 lbs. Do you thinks it's possible to have too much chocolate?

Pre-gastric bypass surgery, I would've laughed at the notion. Now, though, I have to be very careful. Too much sugar (or fat), and I'm completely miserable. I don't mind this; it keeps me honest!

7) Jelly beans are also popular this time of year. A 2013 poll tells us that red is by far the favorite jelly bean color, with yellow a distant second. Do you have a preference?

My entire life, I have absolutely hated jelly beans. Too much sweetness. I also hate fudge and frosting, for pretty much the same reason. Blech!

8) We've been talking a lot about sweets this morning. The only holiday that generates more candy sales is Halloween. When do you eat more candy: Easter or Halloween?

It's probably equal. I was just lamenting to a Walgreens manager yesterday about all the holidays focusing on candy anymore. Hopefully, we are personally finding a proper balance, but it's a process!

9) Easter is considered the season of rebirth. What makes you feel refreshed or rejuvenated?

Nothing does me better than sleep and a good bath or shower. I do not feel like I can really have a day without it; even if I don't get in there until 10 PM, I simply MUST shower every day!

Now for Sunday Stealing! Happy Easter, y'all!