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Entries from October 2015

Wordless Wednesday: Taylor Swift 1989 World Tour Miami

This post is going to be not-so-wordless, because the event was so fantastic. You'll survive! ;)


Last night, I took my oldest kiddo Chloë, 14, to her first major concert: Taylor Swift! We went to the AmericanAirlines Arena in Miami for the 1989 World Tour. Rather than navigate for an hour or seven through the streets looking for a decent - or at least, not expensive - parking spot, we parked well far away and road the Metro into the city. That turned out to be a fantastic plan, and we had zero trouble. Here we are together on the train, riding in to the city.


We finally arrived at the AAA, and Chloë's excitement was tangible by that point. Can you see?


We had zero problems getting into the arena, because it was so well managed. Of course, we needed to take advantage of the photo-op. It was a good thing, because after the show, the prop was gone.


When the show finally started at 1930, Vance Joy took the stage. He was great, but I felt bad for him. The huge, sold-out arena was only about a fifth full for Vance, and yet he performed like it was a full crowd. Kudos to him for that! I didn't really know any of the songs from his set, until he played "Riptide" at the end. Either way, he was fantastic. (And a cutie, to boot!)


In case you're wondering, we sat up in the nosebleed seats, and our tickets were not inexpensive! I bought them for Chloë's Christmas present last year, and she's been waiting for the concert all year. But no wonder Taylor is pulling in a million dollars a night on this tour!


After Vance performed, we waited about a half-hour for T-Swizzle to take the stage. By that point, the excitement coming from my daughter was palpable. When she finally arrived at 2030, the screaming was absolutely deafening from Chloë and the other 15,000 fans in the arena. And no, I did not bring earplugs. Heh. (I did take a video of her entrance, if you want to check it out on my Instagram: @Smellyann.)

Dwayne Wade

Taylor called us a "supercrowd" and said she had a few surprises for us throughout the show. (My phone died, so I had to pull these off the interwebs.) Dwayne Wade of the Miami Heat was first. The crowd went ballistic as he presented Taylor with a team jersey. I had to look up the significance of the number 13, since I couldn't hear anything: it's her lucky number.


The second special guest was Pitbull, who performed with Taylor on the song "Give Me Everything." That was crazy-town, with the screams from the mostly-young female fans. As a lifelong pop music fan, though, I gotta admit I was pretty stoked, too!


The final special guest of the concert was Ricky Martin! He and Taylor performed "Livin' la Vida Loca" (naturally) for the Swifties. Chloë had no idea who that was or what that song was, but she had fun dancing along regardless. (My girl rocked OUT throughout the show, and I had a blast watching my normally-shy girl cut loose.) Anyway, that song was released when I was a young doctoral student at the University of South Florida in 1999, so I was all about it! So fun.

I could go on and on (and on) about how epic the concert was, but I'll reign it in this one time. Suffice it to say, while I already loved Taylor Swift's music, particularly on the 1989 album, from the radio, I was not a superfan like Chloë is. However, seeing Taylor really belting out on some songs - no lip syncing for her, guys - and playing several instruments last night was eye-opening for me. I gained a whole new respect for her, not just as a performer, but as a musician. This young woman is incredibly talented, and she is unstoppable!


Are you wordless (or not, like me today) this week? Link up here with Create With Joy to join in the fray!

Thanks for your visit. :)


Sunday Stealing: 25 Fun

Link up here if you're stealing today, thieves!
25 Fun Meme
Stolen from: My Random Randomness
1. If you were trapped in a room with the person who asked this for 24 hours, what would you do? 
 Since Kwizgiver and I both knit, I imagine we'd sit, knit, chat, knit some more, repeat. Or maybe read.
2. If you could learn any language instantly, what would it be?
Well, all of them! I would love to know every word of every language. Arabic, Japanese, and yes, French. But I'm selecting French for this question because though I can read a lot of it, I can't speak or understand spoken French. It just doesn't sound how I expect, from learning Spanish and bits of Italian. Not phonetic. (Yes, the Romance Languages are my favorite family.)

3. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be?
The dictionary!

4. Favorite song lyric?
Weird Al's song, "Melanie" is in my head now. Maybe because that's my name? So, "Me-eh-eh-elanie, why won't you go out with me?" But not really. I am just always hard-pressed to pick a favorite anything!

5. Favorite album?
Eric Clapton's Unplugged. Love it, love every song on it! (I don't know what happened with my formatting here. Ugh.)

6. Which time of day would you say is best for you work-wise?
About 8 PM. Total night owl, here!

7. Favorite city that you’ve visited?
I'm going to be an oddball and say Dubrovnik, Croatia. It was on our European cruise, and I was surprised to see Croatia on the itinerary. I had never heard of it. But it was beautiful, it was unexpected in so many ways, and I loved every second of every step within the old city. So thank you, Dubrovnik, for showing me many lovely surprises at every turn!

8. Favorite city that you haven’t visited?
How can I know the answer to this?

9. If you could donate $10,000 to charity, what charity would you pick?
I would give half to an environmentalist cause, like maybe Greenpeace, and half to, I think, Heifer International. I really like what they're doing.

10. What is one book you wish you could get all your friends to read?
Mine! ;) Come on, NaNoWriMo!
11. What is one movie you wish you could get all your friends to watch?
Well, Food Inc. for starters. We'll go from there.
12. What do you think people assume about you from first glance?
... the worst. I have a lot of paranoia about people talking and laughing about me. I don't like this question right now.
13. If you could play any musical instrument, what would it be?
Saxophone, definitely! And then, harp...

14. What is your favorite item of clothing?
 Welp, since I don't have an awesome dino hoodie, I'm going to have to go with the black cardigan I'm wearing right now. It doesn't button, just hangs open, and I keep it on the back of my desk chair when I'm not wearing it, day in and day out, until it can stand up on its own stank. Seriously, I gotta be the only person freezing like it's Antarctica out there, when we're still reaching temps over 80 degrees F at the end of October. #GastricBypassProblems
15. Who was your first follower on your blog? Do they still follow you?
Damn if I know.

16. If you could create one thing, what would it be?
If I could, I would create a United States that was all the best and none of the worst things that make up our 239-year history.

17. Favorite superhero?
Christopher Reeve. Oh, I mean, Superman. ;)

18. If you were to write an autobiography, what would you title it?
I don't know. Maybe: Shit Just Got Real, Y'all. 
19. If you were to have a band, what would you call it?
I think "Free Beer" sounds like a winner, personally! Except maybe let's make it "rum" or "vodka" instead of beer? I'm not much for suds.

20. What is your favorite card/board game?
Scrabble. I play Words With Friends on my phone, like, every day. I have about 27 games going right now. Might be obsessed?

21. What was the first IM service you used? Who was the first person you talked to on it?
mIRC, of course! When I was an undergrad at U-Miami, I started learning about online chat groups. I had a friend named Kevin from Kentucky or Kansas or something. He turned out to be a Nutter Butter.

22. If you could give a friendly hug to any one person, who would it be?
My Hubs' best friend, Larry, whom I've never met. We've become cronies over the Interwebs (aka Facebook Messenger), and it would be really cool to give him an actual hug.

23. Have you ever won any sort of contests? What kind?
Not a beauty contest, that's for sure. Since I'm taking my older daughter, Chloe, to her first major concert on Tuesday (Taylor Swift), I'm thinking back to when I won concert tickets to the Black-Eyed Peas. I also won tickets to take my husband to see Crosby, Stills and Nash, another year. Both were epic experiences.

24. Who was the last person you hugged? Cannot be your romantic/sexual partner if you have one.
Can it be my kids? Other than Hubs, it was probably my son Jack. He's the biggest hugger of my kids. First thing he does when he comes out of his room in the morning, and the last thing he does before he turns in for the night, is come give me a hug. 

25. If you could be skilled in any one activity, what would it be? Cannot be romantic or sexual.
First, it makes me giggle that sexual skills are disqualified. But, but...! ;) Second, I wish I was an amazing gymnast, especially on Floor. Bounding across a gymnasium, leaping, twisting, and turning? I mean, yeah, I'm knocking on 40's door, but that's always been a little secret fantasy of mine.
Welp, that's it for now. Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday 9: It Don't Come Easy

Link up here if you're joining in the fray this weekend!

Saturday 9: It Don't Come Easy (1971)

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

1) This was Ringo's first big hit as a solo artist. Who is your favorite member of his old, very famous group, The Beatles?
I really don't have one. I could not even begin to select a favorite. Sorry.
2) In this song, Ringo sings that you have to pay your dues. Do you belong to any organizations that require you to pay dues?
At this moment, I don't, but I have thought about rejoining Mensa. I got my Mensa card and membership when I was about 22, when I was a young doctoral student feeling very insecure about my own intelligence. I needed it to prove to myself that I wasn't an idiot, I guess. Academia was overwhelming me at that point in my life.

3) He also sings, "you don't have to shout." When did you last raise your voice?
Last night. Listen, in a boisterous family such as mine, with a half-deaf husband who never lowers his voice, three zany kiddos, two dogs, four cats, and me? I often need to raise my voice in order to be heard.

4) Ringo has two piercings on each ear and one tattoo on each arm. Do you have more piercings or body art?
I have four holes in each ear, and my nose is pierced. That's it for me so far, but that may change in the future. And that's all I'm gonna say about that right now.
5) Ringo gave his first wife, Maureen, a one-of-a-kind birthday gift. Frank Sinatra made a recording of "The Lady Is a Tramp" personalized to her. Tell us about one of your most memorable birthday celebrations.
My most memorable birthday occurred when I turned 25. I had just given birth the day before for the first time, to Chloë Raine, but she was in the NICU while I recovered apart from her, from an emergency c-section. People were sending two sets of flowers to the hospital, for my birthday and for her birth, and I was so caught up in the wondrousness of being a nervous first-time mom that I forgot about my own birthday. That was on September 8, 2001, so three days before the terrorist attacks. Talk about tumult, especially since Hubs was on paternity leave from active duty service in the Navy at the time.
Also, when I was 17, I made my father an apple pie for his birthday. It was my first apple pie. He asked me to hold it up so he could take a picture. I had done an elaborate lattice top crust on the pie, so Dad asked me to tilt the pie up for the photo, and all of the innards of the pie slid out, onto the floor. After the shouting and hollering that ensued, we about laughed our fool heads off. Ah, well. The rest of it was still good!

6) Ringo appeared as Mr. Conductor on Thomas the Tank Engine. He recorded the narration for the entire first season in just a week. Tell us what you did last week. 
Well, this week (because I can scarcely remember last week, an ongoing situation) saw me going to downtown Miami, an hour away, for two separate doctor visits with University of Miami clinicians. On Tuesday, I saw my fibromyalgia specialist for the first time. I think she will really be able to help me get the intense daily pain I've been experiencing since May under some semblance of control.
Thursday was even better. I took 14-year-old Chloë, who is extremely petite and who has been diagnosed with "idiopathic short stature," to her pediatric endocrinologist. (Jack, who is also significantly small for 12 years, sees him as well, but he has a different diagnosis of pituitary dwarfism.) Anyway, Chloë should have been tested years ago, while Rob was still Active Duty Navy, for her delayed growth. The testing was finally done this year, and she just got news that she has been given approval for growth hormone shots! It would be an understatement to say that she is elated:

7) Ringo also did the narration for Ladybird children's books. Do you like audiobooks?
I have hated having someone read to me since I learned to read at three years old. I wanted to do it myself! But on the recent spate of long road trips we have taken, I listened to an audiobook or two while I drove. I didn't care for it, particularly, because I thought the tone of voice and inflections in each sentence were all wrong. On the other hand, I never take the time to read a book anymore, and I really wanted to read these books, so I definitely saw the value in them.

8) As a boy in Liverpool, Ringo loved watching American westerns. His passion for the genre is reflected in the outfit he's wearing on the sleeve for "It Don't Come Easy." Do you like cowboy movies/shows?
Nope, not my thing at all.

9) You know what else don't come easy? Nine questions every week. Crazy Sam has heard it all: this meme asks too many movie questions, too many questions about sports, too many questions that sound familiar ...  OK, now it's your turn. Help a tired meme mistress out. Contribute a random question that is not about movies or sports (pro or collegiate) and has never been asked before on this meme. Sam will compile these for an all-random Saturday 9 in November. That way she'll get a much-appreciated week off. Thanks for your help!
What's the perfect sandwich, complete with just the right bread, just the right fillings, condiments, and garnishes, and what kind of sides does it require? Chips? Pickles? Potato salad? (I say the word "pickle" a lot - don't ask - so I started with that thought. Haha.)

Wordless Wednesday: Sophia's Riding Lesson With Cloud Nine






Sophia's fifth lesson at Miami International Riding Club on the beautiful gelding, Cloud Nine, took place on Tuesday afternoon. Her confidence is growing by leaps and bounds!

Are you Wordless today, too? Link up here with 5 Minutes for Mom to join in the fun!

Thanks for stopping by.


The Buck Stops Here.

I read this book nearly 20 years ago, and it was hilarious of course. But with all due respect to Ellen Degeneres for stealing her book cover, this will probably not be a hilarious post.

It's just some stuff I need to say somewhere, and this seemed like the appropriate place. I mean, it is my space, isn't it? Where else could I get away half the shit I say? This might be the only post where I close the comments; I really can't remember. 

It's not that I don't value your feedback. Of course I do. It's that I'm emotionally a sensitive, fragile little flower, and sometimes I can't hear (or read, as the case may be) anything negative without taking it all the way to the inner recesses of my heart. If you have something positive to say, then by all means, let me hear it. But negativity here is not needed. Please.

I do remember doing this, clearly and distinctly, with my mom. I don't have a huge ton of memories of my mother, as a kid should, because she died when I was 7½ years old. I don't really remember doing this more than once, but this one memory is huge in my head:

It's about 1980 or '81, so I'm maybe four or five years old, and we're living in Monroe, New York. It's late, like, way past my sister's and my bedtime late, and my dad is not home - probably working. Mom is lying on her back on the floor, and the three of us girls are just laughing away at ourselves. Mom has the giant, square pillow my grandmother probably latch-hooked for our house under her head. She takes turns, flying one of us, then the other, as long as it lasts until her legs can hold on no longer, and she lands us safely on the big, puffy pillow, giggling all the way.

That's it. That's the whole memory. Pretty simple, and yet so wonderful.

Another memory from about the same time, around Thanksgiving or Christmas 1980:

My mom's younger brother, Uncle Chris, came up to visit from Florida. He brought this new thing with him, something we hadn't heard of before then: an Atari game console for my mom. He also gave her Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, several other things, and her beloved Frogger. She played whenever she had a spare ten seconds to rub together!

It seemed like Mom was playing Frogger whenever she got the chance. She loved that game! I never did manage to advance to the higher levels like she did, but man, could she leap through some snakes and crocodiles in no time flat! Me? Splat!


Mom was a pretty amazing mother. My dad has told me time and time again, "She was what made parenting fun for me. It was all her doing."

All Dad had wanted was a boy. He had been an only child, himself, born fairly late in his parents' lives, and he wanted a son of his own. I was supposed to be Clayton, but then I came out and was another girl - his third daughter. Dad tried to name me Eleanor after his own mother, but he left the room, and Mom wrote "Melanie" down on the birth certificate papers all lickety-split. I guess I got Ann as a middle name for lack of something better, but I still wish she had chosen Penelope. It's so much more fun to say!


Sure, I remember Popeye. I also remember moving away from all my friends and my grandparents in nearby Leonia, New Jersey, and moving what seemed like forever away up to the Syracuse area.

One year later, on April 9, 1984, my mother died from acute complications of diabetes and Christian Science. Dad didn't know what to do with two little girls. He started dating entirely too quickly (really, WTF, Dad?!) and just like that, on July 13, 1985, he was married to ... her. 

His explanation, "I wanted a mother for you two girls, and she seemed like a good one," has failed to appease me ever since.


There was all kinds of abuse going on in that household after that. Every kind. All the kinds.

I don't really don't want to talk about that too much right now, so I will spare you there. Suffice it to say, my sister took the brunt of the physical abuse from my dad, and she eventually got emancipated at 16 because he beat the crap out of her. Meanwhile, because my stepmother hated my dad, and I was his "precious favorite," she took all of her mental/emotional/physical anguish out on me.

And believe me, there was a lot of it. She utterly destroyed me.

There are those out there who knew what was going on in that house but kept silent. I'm sure they have their reasons. I don't have any ill will toward them. And then I had a homeroom teacher who saw me come in crying one morning, and when I talked to my amazing friend Shana about what happened, the teacher saw some injuries that had happened.

Well, you know what they say about that, right?


Shit rolls downhill.

Needless to say, the outcome wasn't pleasant. It was never pleasant.

Image result for university of miami logo


Fast-forward a few years to my college years at UM.

I had finally escaped! I made it! Only... I did not make it out unscathed. I no longer had to try to commit suicide all the time - as I had been in Baldwinsville, at least monthly if not weekly - just to get out of that terrible situation. But, as I learned in the Child Psych classes I took for the babies I hoped to have one day, along with some research I have done on my own, the damage was pretty well done by the time I finished high school at 17. I learned that abuse of one kind often manifests itself in other ways in the next generation of victims, which scared the bejeezus out of me, having experienced all the kinds.

I went to therapy as a graduate student at the University of South Florida, but my therapist was still a student herself and, therefore, ill-equipped to handle me. So, I stopped going.


I was taking a break from USF when I met Rob, and we eloped right away. Chloë was born less than a year later. That first year, home alone with my baby girl while Hubs was at work in the Navy, was heaven. I mean, she was a sickly little baby and projectile-vomited a dozen times every day, so that was tough, but for the most part, I was madly in love with my life! That was what it was all about for me.

Then we had the twins, and Robby died, which messed me up all over again. I started going to therapy to get through my grief almost immediately after that. The total-fucked-uppedness of my brain was masked by my intense bereavement, so it wasn't until another therapist and another psychiatrist got me in their chairs three years later - after Sophia had already been born, too - that my Bipolar Disorder was finally diagnosed.


That was a blessing in disguise, because I was finally able to get on the med cocktail I needed to help my head straighten out a bit. Unfortunately, stability is a myth with this disease, so the meds all-too-often need some tweaking, but now we all recognize when that need happens. I swear the whole of Facebook knows when I'm getting manic before I do, because I stay up all night baking everything in sight!

And now, I am finally getting to my point.

There are those who think I'm ridiculous (at best) or horrible (at worst) for all the things I do, as myself, as a wife, as a mom.  But my world revolves around these people, these little humans I have been given, and I do my damnedest every day to give them the best that I can.

Sometimes I fail. Sometimes I fall. Sometimes, I lose my shit and have to go slam out the door and drive to Walmart - of all places, if you know me - to walk around and look at stuff I don't want to buy for an hour!

But the point is, I leave before my mental shit comes out in some other form, and when I come back, I apologize for the huge bitch I was. Maybe I never got that Ph.D. I wanted, or that Nobel Prize I envisioned when I was a silly teenager, or a bunch of research journals with my name published in them, but that's okay. Rob and the kids know that they are wanted, and loved, and that I would lay down my life for them. That I will never stop, no matter what. That "home" means love and laughter, not crying and fear. The kids are all right.




Sunday Stealing: Swiped Meme

 Link up here if you're playing along today, too!

Swiped Meme

Stolen from: Love Me Some Surveys


1. Did someone die in the last movie you watched?


Close, but no cigar. We rented Tomorrowland on DVD at the Redbox last night, and it was just as fantastic as it was during opening week at the theater. It's going on my short list of all-time favorites!

2. Are the trees pretty colors outside for you?

If you count green as a pretty color, which I do, then yes. Miami in the house!

3. Have you ever made a bad first impression on someone's parents?


Yeah. Mine.

Seriously, though, all the time! I'm bipolar and am a difficult patient to medicate, y'know? I try, though. I try, and I really do care.

4. When's the last time you video recorded something on TV?


Haaaaa, I know! I Video-recorded off the TV? What am I, [almost] 40? Oh wait, yes.

5. What is a career you wanted to have when you were younger, and still kind of want to have now? 

marine biology quotes | Not-so-funny-but-true Marine Biology "Humor":

A brief career history:

Kid: wanted to be a marine biologist

Teen: wanted to be a marine biologist

17-20 years: studied Marine Biology

20-24: was a marine biologist, working on Ph.D.

rest of life so far: quit pH.D. program, eloped, had a baby a few nanoseconds eight months later, then three more, Mom ever since, still miss being a marine biologist

6. What are your views on sunflowers?

We see them being sold - along with all kinds of other blooms - on the side of the road here all the time. I once got a bunch of bigguns for, like, three dollars = one of the awesomest things about living in South Florida.

7. What is your favorite incense or candle scent?

I like anything fruity, especially citrus and apples. I can't stand floral, pine, and vanilla scents. Seriously, they give me a migraine.

8. Caramel apples or candy apples?

Hey, thanks for this question. I've missed a lot of things since I had my gastric bypass and can't eat anything with too much fat or sugar ever since, but I never cared much for either of these. So there's that.

9.  Have you ever walked into a wall?


(Watch the guy behind Mr. Reporter, in the red shirt)

I have been a klutz my entire life. This is my specialty. It's an innate talent, don't be jealous. #HatersGonnaHate

10. Would you ever or do you make your dog wear a bandanna?




Of course. It was my furparental obligation, wasn't it?

11. Do you find dandelions when they're gone all-white pretty?


Yard work was the most frequent demand - and therefore the bane - of my childhood existence. I pulled more weeds than I have hairs on my head. And still, I forgot about this when I willingly made a wish and blew on the seed my 10yo daughter, Sophia, held out to me recently. And then I wanted to duck and hide after I remembered, in case someone was watching.

12. What makes you laugh?


Hubs. Rob makes me laugh day in and day out. He makes me angry, too, but then often while I'm pissed off, he does something hilarious to draw me out of that anger. I him so much for that!

13. The scariest moment of your life?


This is my "Twin B." When my identical sons were born in 2003, Robert William  - aka "Twin A" - suffered through four holes bursting out his lungs, countless medical interventions, and some heroic measures for which we had to give his neonatologists specific written permission. He finally succumbed to heart failure and lung collapse, caused by severe hydrops fetalis from acute Twin-Twin Transfusion Syndrome, on the third day after birth. It was a devastation unlike any other in my life.

A week or so later, I visited tiny 3-lb Jack River - aka Twin B, here - in the NICU. I was holding him and giving him a bottle of expressed breastmilk when suddenly he stopped breathing and turned several shades of blue. I screamed for help before gently (but truly) throwing him back into his incubator and bolting from the unit. He's 12 years old now, but he's still an itty bitty peanut. And every time he swallows wrong and splutters to fix it, for example, I feel that same terror well up in me. I can't lose him, too.

14. What’s the coolest thing you’ve bought lately?

I have enough trouble keeping milk in my kids' tummies after all the road trips we've taken lately, let alone buy cool things. But if I owned this celly case, I'd never get anything done, that's fo'shizzle.

15. What’s the worst you’ve had to do because of losing a bet? 

I never take a bet I know I won't win! I may be crazy, but I ain't stupid.

Thanks for stopping by!


Saturday 9: Beyond The Sea

Link up here if you're playing along today!

Saturday 9: Beyond the Sea (1959)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.
1) This song mentions golden sands. When do you think you'll next visit the beach?
We were there on Monday, at the little laguna beach near our home. The kids wanted to swim after we did a photo shoot for our 2015 Christmas cards, but the beach was closed. My kids dubbed the place, Homestead Bayfront Park, "Remora Beach" after our first visit, when a remora (aka "shark sucker") visited me for quite a while. Anyway, I don't know when we'll go again, but probably once or twice before the year ends.

2) Shortly after "Beyond the Sea" hit the charts, Bobby Darin met and married movie sweetheart Sandra Dee. Her squeaky-clean image is spoofed in the song, "Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee," from Grease. Can you name another song from Grease?
Ermagerd, you're talking about one of my favorite films! I can name them all! My favorite one is when Olivia Newton-John sings "Hopelessly Devoted to You." I've sung that song after many a heartache!
3) Years earlier, Bobby had an ill-fated romance with singer Connie Francis. According to Ms. Francis, Darin wanted to marry her, but her father forbade it. Have you ever had a relationship that your parents disapproved of?
Pffft. All but the first one and the last one, really! I'm completely colorblind when I date, but my WASP father is most decidedly not. And vocal about it. Ugh. It damn near annoys the crap out of me that he "approves" of my marriage.

4) Bobby was a Renaissance man: Grammy-winning singer, Oscar-nominated actor, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and an excellent chess player. Are you good at chess?
It's on my Bucket List to learn, because I have never done so. I have to soon, though, because my 7-year-old nephew, Harrison, challenged me to a chess game the next time I'm in Missouri to see him!

5) A car buff, he drove a 1960 custom car that was so unique and spectacular, it's now in a Detroit museum. The bright red paint was mixed with ground diamonds to ensure that it sparkled in the sun. Each of the four bucket seats had its own AC/heat control and radio speaker. The steering wheel was slightly squared for easier handling. What features would your dream car have?
I'll take a red Mazda Miata convertible, please. Done.
6) Beyond the Sea is also the name of the 2004 screen biography in which Kevin Spacey played Bobby Darin. Who would you choose to play you in the story of your life?
Right now, I'd pick Jennifer Lawrence, at least for my younger adult years. She's stunningly beautiful (har har, like I am), and she emotes perfectly. I'm very emotive, y'all.

7) When he was just 8 years old, Bobby Darin was stricken with rheumatic fever, and the disease left him with a dangerously weakened heart. Did you spend much time in the hospital when you were a kid?
Not a day after my birth. I probably should have, but I was raised as a Christian Scientist. No doctors. 

8) In 1959, when "Beyond the Sea" was popular, Alaska became our 49th state. What comes to mind when you think of Alaska?
Cold. Beautiful scenery, with the icebergs charging out of crystal waters. Land of the Midnight Sun.
9) In 1959, Conair introduced the first hair dryer developed for home use. Is there a hair dryer in your bathroom right now?
There should be, but Sophia, my ten-year-old daughter who inspired our family phrase for those household occurrences which might otherwise seam inexplicable "Because Sophie," probably never put it back after using it for an art project...
And thus we close. Thanks for the visit!

Road Trippin': Miami To Missouri


Earlier this month, we spent about ten days on the road to Missouri and back. From here in Homestead, Florida, it's a two-day drive. Since I have been really unwell lately, I allotted 2½ days on either end, and it worked out perfectly that way. 

Rob's mother and brother live in Missouri still, and Rob's dad drove down from Michigan to see us, too. We and Mike (Hubs' bro) and all five of our joint kids spent a full Sunday together. Here is our Sophia, aged 10 (on the right), with Elizabeth, Mike's 9-year-old daughter. She looks a lot like her mom, but you can still definitely see the Odette in her!


This picture of 12-year-old Jack getting a good-bye hug from his nearly 8-year-old cousin, Harrison, just breaks my heart. Seriously. I could sob every time I look at it. My kids have wonderful relatives, but they are all far, far away.


Well, hello, locust bits..! cringe

Missouri Trip

Another day, Rob's mom took us to Kehde's Barbecue in Sedalia, where there was so much eye candy everywhere we looked. I had as much as the Littles, and of course even 14-year-old Chloë had to get on the mechanical horse. Truthfully, I tooted that whistle a time or two myself, so who's to talk? The food was wonderful, too. Great fun!


There was a lot of talking going on amongst the adults, but when Chloë told me to look over at where she and Jack were playing with the blocks from a game of Jenga, I was thrilled at what I saw. Genetics is one of my favorite parts of all Biology, so to find them making DNA was pretty dang cool for this homeschooling mom.


We headed out after our time was up in Missouri, tempted to visit Mike (and maybe the kids?) again in Columbia, MO, on our way out of the state. However, Mike is chef and part-owner of a wonderful restaurant there, Sycamore, and we didn't want to interfere with his many duties. I know we all would have liked one more hello, hug, and so long for now from Uncle Mike, but... Rob opted to just keep going.

So here are the girls shivering it up at a rest stop in Tennessee. We had bought all their non-Miami clothing at Osh Kosh here - the day we left town! - and I'm glad we did. They would have frozen to death if we had not. (Another plug for the gals, Vivian and Idalia at the OKBG outlet near here in Florida City, because their personalized customer service was outstanding!)

I'm so glad we were able to go!


In Which My Kids Are So Adorable, I Can't Stand It

I know. As the person who, you know, they inhabited for 7-8 months (36 weeks, 31 weeks, and 38½ weeks, respectively), I may just be a little bit biased. But I think that my children are adorbs and quite photogenic!

All of their visible clothes came from Osh Kosh B'gosh, which I love. We get great customer service from our local outlet center store reps, but I am simply a happy customer. This is not a sponsored post. Shout out to Vivian and Idalia from Florida City's store!)

Anyway, I got started on their Christmas/Holiday 2015 portraits a bit earlier than usual this year. Why? Because (a) I had a significant amount of OKB rewards to use up and didn't want to miss having access to the clothes represented here when I saw them a few weeks ago in the store, and (b) the codes for great deals on photo Christmas cards are coming out earlier than usual. So there is that.

Anyway, without further ado, here are some of their photos. I'm not a trained photographer, just a hobbyist, so be nice to me, please! ;)


Christmas 2015 Card Portraits


Christmas 2015 Card Portraits-001

Why yes, 14-year-old Chloë can be that sassy in her attitude at all times at home. And so it begins...

Christmas 2015 Card Portraits-002

Meanwhile, Sophia, who is only 10, wants to be a little kid and a teenager at the same time, sometimes within the same hour, so we are definitely IN for it with these kiddos! Haha!

Christmas 2015 Card Portraits-003


This is the lone picture of Jack I could get that day, because he does not like to be photographed. He just doesn't cooperate when he is DONE, and he was done before we got started. So, I knew we would need another outing of the Christmas outfits to get my trio together. Fast-forward two days to last night at Homestead Bayfront Park.

Christmas 2015 Card Portraits-004

The only thing worse for Jack than being photographed is being photographed having his sisters loving on him. Oh, my!

Christmas 2015 Card Portraits-005


See what I mean?! Still, this is one of my favorite photos. Silly boy.

Christmas 2015 Card Portraits-006

We moved to the water, to make use of the natural lighting and photography's "Magic Hour" at sunset. I did my best not to enhance the photos at all.


When I told the children they were nearly finished with our little photo shoot, they did not need any encouragement when asked to jump for joy! Heh.


This unexpected gem was Sophia's idea, who did that and called me as I was turning away, saying, "Mama! Mamaaaa, look!" I asked the other two kids to do the same thing, and I love how it turned out!

I hope you enjoyed the pictures. Which will I choose for our cards? HALP a mama out!

Thanks for stopping by!


Sunday Stealing: That Alphabet Thing Meme


Link up here if you're playing along today, too!

Cheers to all of us thieves!!!  

That Alphabet Thing Meme
Stolen from: Songs of innocence and of experience


A. Accent:


I have an Central New York accent until I get amped up. Then I am all New York City.

B. Breakfast:


I sometimes eat "breakfast" at 2200, and it may consist of an egg or two on a piece of toast. Or two. But I rarely eat breakfast at the proper time anymore.

C. Chore you hate:

Cleaning up dog shit is probably not my favorite chore. Listen, I had a passel of kids so I wouldn't have to do those things. You know?

D. Dad's name:


My dad is Robert Eric Simmons. He took off the "Jr." that was originally part of his name.

E. Essential everyday item:

Normally I might say my smartypants phone, my Samsung Galaxy S5. But last night, during the big UM vs. FSU game, it was either my voice, or the wine. We lost, but it was still an awesome game, because my boys FOUGHT those $%^&* 'Noles!

F. Flavor ice cream:


My favorite flavor is Peanut Butter Chocolate ice cream, but Mint Chip follows right along behind that.

G. Gold or silver:


So many precious metals, so little time... I choose copper! :P

H. Hometown:


Though we moved up to Baldwinsville when I was six, my hometown was originally Monroe, NY. Hence the accent answer, above.

I. Insomnia:


That's pretty much correct, right there. My sleeping cycle is AFU.

J. Job title:


I'm not sure if it's "Mom" or, now that we have teen/tween kids, it's "Moooooommmmmmmmm!"

K. Kids:


We have Chloë Raine, 14; Robert William, our forever baby and identical twin to Jack River, 12; and Sophia Lorelei, 10.

M. Mother's birthplace:

My mom was born in The Bronx, New York. (Dad is from Staten Island.)

N. Number of significant others:


Um... one at a TIME? Hubs and I are rapidly coming up on our 15th anniversary. I'm pretty stoked about that!

O. Overnight hospital stays:

I've had three C-sections, a hysterectomy, and gastric bypass surgery. And that's just the beginning of it. Glad you asked?

P. Phobia:

In this story, I am the one petrified of this scenario. Hubs is Buzz Lightyear, and he loves loves LOVES his mustard. Ugh.

Q. Quick at:


Actually, I love math, and I have used this ^^^ in real life! So pbbbtthhh!

R. Religious affiliation:


I was raised as a Christian Scientist. At 21, I read Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, and ever since, I'm a non-denominational Protestant. Trust me, I'm much happier this way.

S. Siblings:


That's me in the black, and my older sister Stacey with her arm around my back. We also have an older half-sister, Pamela, whom we've never met.

T. Time you wake up:

Most of the time, I wake up on my own. Sometimes, though... eh. Too complicated to go into it. We'd need some of that alphabetical math.

U. Unnatural hair colors:


My friend Erin once told me, in high school, that she and I had "hair-colored hair." It was kind of a mousy brown. In May 1995, my college roommate told me we should dye it reddish-brown. I have been doing so ever since. That's about it, color-wise, for me.

V. Vegetable you refuse to eat:


I have never eaten okra. We didn't have it growing up in New York, and I consider it a Deep South thing. Maybe that's why? But maybe not, since I have eaten grits. Meh.

W. Worst habit:


I don't smoke or do illegal drugs. Other than that... Hey, leave me alone. I'm a work in progress, m'kay?

 X. X-rays:

I think my first x-ray was when I was in graduate school, and I broke several toes on my left foot. Oh Em Gee, that hurt. But now, I probably would just walk around that way. Now I know what real pain is!

Y. Yummy:


I'm a semi-vegetarian, and I adore my hummus. HUMMUS FTW!

Z. Zodiac sign:

I am a true Virgo. I don't go into the whole horoscope nonsense, but hey, maybe there is some truth to that shit.

Wow, this post was like my autobiography, eh? Time to go bathe and then read some of y'all's posts. Thanks for stopping by!


Saturday 9: Cheerleader

Link up here if you're playing along today!

Saturday 9: Cheerleader (2014) 

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

1) Homecoming and football make this an important time of year for cheerleaders. Were you a cheerleader, or did you date one?
Negative, on both counts.

2) Beyond cheerleaders and the big game, homecoming is a time for parades. Have you ever ridden on a float?
Yes, at least twice or thrice. Once as a Brownie Girl Scout, once in high school for reasons I don't remember, and once in college. Okay, in college I helped organize the float for our dorm, so I don't remember whether I actually rode on the float, but I was definitely a big participant!

3) OMI sings that his girl is always there when he needs her. Who do you know you can always count on?
Hubs is not reliable when I need a honey-do job done, but as for being there for me? Always Hubs.

4) This video features a sandy beach, a rocky shore and palm trees. What do you see outside your window right now?
Lots of palm trees, a fence, and the next row of apartments over...

5) In the lyrics we hear that his cheerleader girlfriend is "like a genie in a bottle." Who would rather hang around with? Jeannie from I Dream of Jeannie or Samantha from Bewitched?
Oh, definitely Jeannie. She seems like more zany fun than serious Samantha.

6) OMI is from Jamaica. Have you ever visited that island country?
I have. My grandfather took us on a cruise in memory of Grandma. In the hills of Jamaica, mansions were next to lean-tos and shacks, with goats roaming in the roads. It was interesting.
7) Christopher Columbus landed in Jamaica in 1494. Columbus Day will soon be upon us (October 12). Is it a big deal in your community?

8) Queen Elizabeth is Jamaica's head of state. Her Majesty is now 89 years old and a great grandmother. Who is the oldest person in your life?
I guess that would have to be a certain husbandly matriarch, who is past three-quarters of a century...

9) Her Majesty was named Elizabeth Alexandra Mary after three of her relatives, who also were queens. Were you named after anyone?
Yes. Me. I was named after myself. Could you imagine me trying to fill someone else's shoes? Nah. Couldn't do it.
Thanks for stopping by. GO 'CANES!!!