I am the queen of TMI. I have said way too much, way too much!
2. Change one thing about the world. What would it be?
I'd make people stop being assholes for NO GOOD REASON. That pretty much sums up many things in one neat little package.
3. Live in any country/city, where would you choose?
4. What perfume do you wear?
I switch it up among several different JAFRA scents, but my favorite are these fruity / floral three that are meant to be blended in any way you want, or worn alone. I go through them entirely too fast.
5. How are you feeling right now?
Like my whole existence is flawed. In finally coming to have our 13-year-old son evaluated for Autism Spectrum Disorder, I'm realizing that not just Jack but I, too, almost certainly have Asperger's Syndrome. It's been quite a shocker. My world is upside-down. Did people not know? Which is possible, since I'm nearly 40 and am just now figuring it out... or did my parents suspect, but because of their religion, never took me to a doctor who might have figured it out? And coupled with the severe emotional abuse I suffered from my stepmother after my mom died... well, let's just say, I'm having quite a tough moment right now.
6. If money was no object, where would you move to?
1) The subject of this song is frankly sexual. Do you blush easily?
I do, always have, but I find I'm able to get away with more shenanigans without blushing now that I'm older. Since I'm pale and freckly, I'm very relieved about this. I couldn't get away with anything before!
2) Prince was his real first name (Prince Rogers, to be exact). Growing up, his relatives called him "Skipper." Do you have any nicknames within your family?
My dad called me "Joyous" in the early years, along with "Mellie-Ann." My older sister Stacey is the one who changed it to "Smellyann," when we were in middle school. I guess the joke was on her, though, because I thought it was funny, too!
3) Prince said he was "obsessed" with Mozart and read whatever he could find about the composer. What's the last book you read?
I can't read.
4) Between Prince and The Beach Boys, the Corvette is a much sung-about car. Tell us about your vehicle.
5) In the 1980s, when Prince was popular, MTV could turn a song into a hit. In 2016, where do you hear new music?
I pretty much listen to the radio 24/7. If I'm in the house, it's on my computer speakers. In the car, there. I almost never turn it off, except for Jeopardy!
6) In 1982, when "Little Red Corvette" ruled the airwaves, Braniff Airways shocked the travel industry and threw passengers into chaos by declaring bankruptcy. When did you last fly? Did your trip go smoothly?
I haven't flown since our November 2014 trip to Playa del Carmen, Mexico. It was a great trip, and we saw lots of these silly monkeys!
7) 1982 is also the year Disney opened Epcot. Have you ever been to a Disney park?
I've been to Walt Disney World several times. I've never been to Disneyland in California, or any of the rest of the world's Disney parks.
8) 1982 is the year Cheers premiered. The sitcom was set in a bar where "everybody knows your name." Tell us about your favorite local bar or restaurant.
I don't really have one here in Miami, I guess. In Baldwinsville, New York, where I grew up, the local hangout was the B'ville Diner. Everyone went there. Everyone.
9) The 1980s were considered a high point in professional tennis, with Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe dominating the sport. Do you play tennis?
No, my serve is okay, but I hate running back and forth all over that court. I'd rather play volleyball...
Let me just say, YOU SHOULD READ THIS ONE if you read no other post of mine. I know it's kinda long. But please?
This is Chibbikins.
On Saturday, Sophia received a birthday card with a Walmart gift card in it, from her paternal grandfather and s-grandmother. As children are wont to do, she went a little berserkazoid trying to figure out what to spend her birthday money on. I mean, she was on her tablet saying, "Okay, Google. What can I get for $25 at Walmart?" Finding things like big packs of socks and underwear were unsatisfactory.
She thought about buying a pool with her money, but when I informed her it was too big to fit in the backyard, we had to abandon that short-lived idea.
We virtually walked all the aisles of Walmart.com and systematically rejected every idea there. She debated about a papasan chair - or a beanbag one - for a while, but nay. I don't know why. #BecauseSophia.
Finally, I decided to give her the cash in exchange for the card. Hell, I can always buy groceries.
The first thing she did was try to convince me to let her get a ferret.
Um, no. One, because she didn't have enough money. Two, we already had six pets (four cats and two dogs, thank you, and don't forget the occasional lizard or froggy who manages to get inside the house), and that is quite enough. Three, because ferrets are stinky, and I don't want to deal with that right now when staying on top of three litter boxes is already enough to drive me crazy.
The second thing Sophia wanted was to go to Robek's. I don't know if you've got a Robek's near you, but it's all healthy crunchy granola smoothies and bowls and other vegetarian goodness, which we love. Sophia loves to get a Polar Pineapple from there, and since I had a few bucks' worth of reward dollars from the app on my phone, we headed right over there and got her a PP. YUM!
I finally agreed to take Sophie to the local more-holistic-than-many pet store, and I said I would let her get a hamster. Or a gerbil. Whichever, as long as it was small and cute and fuzzy - long tail or no.
And so, we went to said pet store, and immediately, she said, "THAT ONE!"
We got a cage. We got a rolley-ball thing. We loaded up on bedding, food, treats, and wood-chewy thingies. I wanted more, but she was past her birthday money total. Note who wanted more!
And all the way home, I kept saying, "How do I let you talk me into these things? Yes, he's cute!"
That first night, Chibbi was the nonstop talk of our brood.
And he had unceasing attention from Paco (the Chihuahua). Less so, Otto the German Shepherd; more so, Muffin and Pepper and Henry and Sugarplum. The cats.
Oh, my gosh. I thought I would never sleep again. That cage got knocked off its place of honor (which would be my craft table, which Sophia unceremoniously cleared off in order to make room for Chibbikins' cage... #BecauseSophia) more times than I can count.
And then, Jack, my kid with the one-track mind, had a new-found fervent desire for a gerbil of his own.
A boy gerbil, so they don't mate.
A girl gerbil so they don't fight.
A boy! A girl! A boy! I don't know!
Either way, he had to do chores to earn this gerbil, and I meant it.
He did dishes. More dishes, and more dishes. (We go through a lot of dishes in this place.) He did laundry. And more, and more. (Second verse, same as the first.)
He swept the floors.
He walked the dogs.
He cleaned my bathroom. Listen, this kid Wanted. A. Gerbil.
He took a butter knife and cleaned the gunk off various tiles throughout our home.
I'm serious, y'all. Jack was relentless in his quest - and I didn't overpay him for anything, because I was in no hurry to add Gerbil #2!
He cleaned the whole foyer area, which was, eh, atrociously built-up with daily deposits from five people too lazy to put shit where it belongs.
He vacuumed the three air purifiers we have.
Finally, at six p.m. Tuesday, Jack had enough money to go get a gerbil.
Awesome. Fantastic. Let's GO. This kid had earned himself a gerbil, and now Mom was onboard with him getting one. And we already had a second cage for her - a girl, it was decided, was the gerbil for him - but that's a story for another day.
For heaven's sake, do you know how hard it is to find a female gerbil in this town when you are on a deadline? The stores all close at 9 PM in Homestead, I swear, and it was imperative to me that I not let this hardworking kid down!
We went to the more-holistic pet store. One male gerbil. Nope, no thank you, next!
We went to Petco, where the pets go, but where I try not to go because (text omitted to avoid being sued). No gerbils. And they would have been $10 more if they even did have them. Pffft.
There were tears and lip quivers. Jack was upset, too!
And now, I was on a serious mission. It was after 7 PM. I had other errands to run, too! One of them was right next door, so while we raced over there, I called Robert and barked orders which were essentially thus: "Call every pet store from here to kingdom come and find out if they have a girl gerbil. And how much. And what time they close, if they do." He knew better than to argue with me and basically said, "Okay. Bye!"
I'll spare you the details... okay, no I won't, #BecauseMelanie. Hey, I can be a hashtag, too!
Here's what happened: However many calls in, Rob found a PetSmart in Kendall, 32 minutes away by the fastest route on Google Maps, with THREE female gerbils. I was there while he was on the phone with them. I was coaching him in the background: "What time do they close? (9 PM) How much are they? ($10.99) Have them hold one! (They have three.)
Gentlemen, when your wife tells you to send out the gerbil alert and have them HOLD A GERBIL, you ask them to hold a freakin' gerbil, m'kay?
Rob felt assured that since they had three girls, we'd be arrright.
Chloë, Jack and I jumped back in the car. (Chloë was coming along for funsies. She wants a guinea pig. Sure, kid, but that'll be a hundred bucks minimum for critter and accoutrement and will have to wait awhile longer.)
When we got to PetSmart in Kendall, we rushed inside and skidded around looking for the Small Animals department.
My heart stopped, people. I don't mean it figuratively. I mean it literally. My heart actually stopped. My jaw dropped to the floor (figuratively that time; I'm not a freakin' snake). I think I said something exclamatory and possibly language-y, but God knows what.
Jack was crushed. Absolutely crushed. We looked at all the cages. Mouse. Rat. Hamster. Mouse. Some other thing. MOUSE! But no Gerbils. "Maybe I'll just get a mouse."
"Maybe a hamster..."
"Hang on, Jack. Just... hang on. Let me find someone."
I found someone, two rows over. "Do you work in the Small Animals department?" "Well, kind of." "Good enough." I explained the situation. I remember saying, "I'm pissed right now!" He hesitated, looked at my determined jaw, and said, "Let me check in New Arrivals in the back."
I started calling Robert to give him the what-for about not having a gerbil held. A girl gerbil. I hung up right when he answered, because Semi-Small Animals Gent returned and said, "We have two in the back. I don't know what the sexes are. Follow me."
I think that is when my heart finally started beating again, you guys.
It turns out, the Definitely-Small Animals Young Lady who took my husband's call had a guy come in and say, "I'm here for a gerbil." Since Rob never gave his name or had one held, she assumed this was the guy from the phone! So, she got him his gerbil.
How we got lucky and had her decide, hmm, maybe not, and take the other two little gerbil girlies to the back must have been Divine Intervention, I dunno, but she did.
I was just about to point to one gerbil and say, "That one's cute!" when Jack pointed to the other one. "THAT ONE!"
And so, we had miss Lucy.
Before we left the store - and I brought Definitely-Small Animals Young Lady in on the act just in case Rob called back - I called him back. I said they had no gerbils and no, I did not read him the riot act. I just said I was pissed and Jack was very upset. I might have hung up on him, but I promise, honey, this time, I didn't do it on purpose!
We got Lucy in her little travel-home box and, well, we traveled home! Jack talked nonstop about her. I could tell he was happy. I was happy. Chloë was happy. It was a much faster trip home than the agonizingly-long half-hour drive to Kendall.
I walked in the door first and said hello to Rob, who was waiting on the couch. "I'm sorry," he began.
Chloë walked in and just ... pretended to be a grouchy teenager.
Jack walked in with his box, his uncontrollably giant smile, and shouted, "SURPRISE! I GOT A RAT INSTEAD!"
Rob asked, "What? You got a rat? Let me see it!" and lo, and behold, it was a gerbil.
A girl gerbil. Named Lucy.
And he was not mad at me. Behold, he was very glad. #BecauseJack
Last week, my father came down from South Carolina on a semi-business trip, and we met up to go visit his 88-year-old cousin Arlene and her husband Kenny in Central Florida. I had visited them when I first got to the University of Miami 22 years ago, and maybe a handful of times since, but other than that it's been almost two decades since I've seen these fine folks.
First, though, since Sophia was turning 11 this week, Jack turned 13 last month, and my dad still had Christmas presents for Chloë and the younger two... we stopped at his hotel for present-opening time. The kids received books, games, crafts, and models. Fun stuffs!
We also met Nancy, my dad's current flame. She was lovely, and I enjoyed getting to know her.
After the quickie reunion with my dad and meet-and-greet with Nancy, Dad followed us up to the cousins' house in Lake Worth. They had a beautiful home, which they had built, on the water. Here's Sophie admiring the view.
One of the first things we noticed when we entered the house were the beautiful stained glass windows surrounding the circular main room. They were designed by Kenny and made by an artist who normally only works with churches.
Everywhere we looked, there was something to see. Jack was particularly active in finding lots of hidden treasures.
He was taken with the tall grandfather clock tucked away in one side of the room.
Sophie wanted to know more about the player piano near the clock. I hadn't seen one in many years!
Kenny, a very obliging gent, set right to work getting a song ready to play for us.
We were intrigued to find that there were quite a variety of songs from which to choose, especially when Kenny informed us that even current songs were available for the piano.
There were cozy bedrooms set up down the hall beyond where Chloë was standing, there. I didn't feel well that day (indeed, I haven't for almost a year), so Arlene insisted I lie down and take a nap in one big, comfy bed.
Also down that hall was Arlene's office, where she had dozens upon dozens of old dolls in display cases that made me wonder if they were as expensive as the dolls themselves!
Arlene had obviously been collecting the dolls for many years.
Sophia's favorite was the one in white, in a wedding dress.
When Jack found an old Vitamaster exercise bike, I was surprised when Kenny accommodated the kids yet again and let him ride it!
After that, the bike was the source of endless amusement for the kiddos.
Everywhere we looked, there was something interesting to see - even the ceiling was eye-candy!
Plenty of colorful knickknacks adorned the shelves, tables, and pretty much everywhere in the home. I couldn't believe nothing was dusty!
The crystal fish naturally grabbed my attention.
A special case was dedicated to figures depicting the life of Jesus Christ.
My dad's cousins' kitchen was filled with countless blue glass vases and bottles. I used to collect green glass, so this was a delight of mine to see.
Dad enjoyed himself showing old pictures of his parents and their mutual relatives and acquaintances to Kenny and Arlene.
The kids started getting restless indoors after a while, so I asked if I could take them outside and stroll around the property. I knew we would find plenty to occupy their time and imaginations outside, too.
It cracked me up when Jack decided to take a roll down the "hill" that wasn't - I'm positive it wasn't more than a 15º incline!
Sophie didn't care; she found even flatter ground!
The kids couldn't find rhyme nor reason for these little houses, which they were positive held something interesting. Maybe they did, but we didn't figure out what!
Jack wished he could go out on Kenny's boat, but it wasn't in good repair then. No matter; the dock still held his attention for a moment.
This girl... ♥
Meanwhile inside, the elders were wrapping up their reminiscing, and it was time to go. We thanked Kenny and Arlene for the lunch they had graciously provided and the beautiful day, and everyone hugged good-bye. I had thought the whole time that they both remembered me from when I had visited them during my UM years, but as I was hugging Arlene and saying I hoped to visit them again with the kids soon, she said softly, "It was nice meeting you..." and I realized that perhaps, she did not.
This realization gave me lots of food for thought as we drove back to Miami, and in the days since.
To celebrate Teacher Appreciation month, Educents, FreshGrade, S&S Worldwide, and the Sellers of Educents have partnered to give educators funding for their dream classrooms. The 7 educators with the most votes will win a combined $10,000! Any educator is eligible to win - teachers, homeschoolers, parents, and school administrators.
How to Win
Educators get pretty creative when it comes to raising money to cover expenses for classroom supplies. Many host bake sales, ask the community for second-hand supplies, or pay out of their own pockets. However, there's a new way to get money for your classroom... and it doesn't include raiding the aisles of your local dollar store. It's easy to enter to win the Educents Teacher Appreciation Giveaway, and it still requires a little creativity (see Step 3). Step 1: Save up to $5,000 in products for your dream classroom in your Educents wishlist. Step 2: Click “Enter to Win” on your wishlist page and create your voting profile. Step 3: Share with your friends, family and community and ask them to vote for you every day until May 6. This is your opportunity to get creative - how will you share your wishlist, and how will you involve your community to vote for you?? Any educator is eligible to win - teachers, homeschoolers, and school administrators. Ready to get started?
"Vote for me because I LOVE teaching. I have a wonderful class that is full of spirit and who loves to learn. I will be putting all my dream items to the end of the year lessons and summer school lessons." -Diana R. "I am a homeschooling mom of 4 children, and one baby on the way! We live on only my husband salary. I would love to create a dream classroom for them." - Gina H.
(I haven't been around the blogosphere for a while, because I've been in intense pain from Fibromyalgia. I'm trying to rally and come back, though, starting with this post in celebration of our youngest daughter Sophia's 11th birthday today.)
Feeling Wordless today, too? Be sure and link up with 5 Minutes For Mom to join in the fun!