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Entries from December 2016

Saturday 9: Tammy

Hey, welcome back everyone! I hope you all have a grand celebration tonight, and I wish for all of you a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2017.


Saturday 9: Tammy (1957)
In celebration of Debbie Reynolds

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

1. In this song,Tammy sings of being able to hear "the breeze from the bayou." What sounds can you hear as you answer these questions?

I'm listening to the radio streaming on my computer, as I do almost 24/7, and right now the Eurythmics are on, playing "Here Comes The Rain Again." Also, my husband and two pups are nearby. I hear snoring. I'm not sure which one of the three is doing it.

2. This week's song was the theme of a popular movie about a girl who grew up on a houseboat in Mississippi. Looking back on 2016, did you spend much time on or around water?

Yeah, but not as much as I would have liked. We live about 10 minutes from the nearest beach (Miami area here), but we didn't go that often because I'm restricted from being out in the sun too much. My autoimmune disorder(s) are to blame for that. It's one of the reasons I don't mind relocating to Idaho so much.

3. In addition to being an Oscar-nominated actress, this week's artist, Debbie Reynolds, was a big movie fan. She amassed an amazing cache of movie memorabilia. Do you collect anything?

Children. ;) Shot glasses. (Hey, those two pair well, right?) Yarn for knitting and occasionally crocheting. Lots and lots of books. Memories.

4. Though she never won a competitive Oscar for acting, Debbie Reynolds was awarded the Academy's Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award earlier this year for 60 years of charity work. While she supported many causes throughout her life, one she was closest to was The Girl Scouts. She was not only a Scout herself, she was a leader when daughter Carrie was young and a fundraiser throughout her life. Were you ever in Boy or Girl Scouts?

I was a Brownie when I was in elementary school, and my sister (I think) made it to the green-sashed Junior level. Then we stopped going when Mom died. My kids were all in Scouts for several years.

6. The New Year's Eve fireworks celebrations in both Disney World in Florida and Sydney, Australia coordinate pyrotechnics and music. Are you expecting either fireworks or live music on your New Year's Eve celebration?

I don't know... Hubs and I are both feeling kind of yucky, and the kids don't seem too hyped up about spending New Year's Eve in Key Largo as planned. We did the big deal in South Beach last year, but I feel like the universe is telling me that we should just stay home and celebrate quietly this year. We shall see what happens in about 12 hours!

7. According to the National Insurance Bureau, more cars are stolen on New Year's Eve than any other single day. Are you confident your vehicle will be  safe and sound this Saturday night?

Yes, but why is that?!!

8. Do you have any New Year's Resolutions for 2017?

Is it a resolution if I just want my health to improve, and find doctors in Idaho that can coordinate with alllll the specialists I'm seeing here, who can help me get better? That's really it. Oh, and I resolve to reduce clutter and live in what I hope becomes a much cleaner, neater, put-together home. This mess is so aggravating!!!

9. Looking back on 2016, what surprised you?

It makes me so ... there isn't a strong enough word in the language for sad, disappointed, angry... (disgruntled, I guess) that Donald Trump was "elected" President. He and all his cabinet appointees are going to be terrible, horrible, no good, very bad for this world. I'm shocked he won.

Have an amazing night, and I'll see you next year! ;)


Sunday Stealing: Christmas 2016 Meme

Merry Christmas, you guys! Link up here if you're playing along today.

Cheers to all of us thieves!


Sunday Stealing: The Xmas Questions of 2016

  1. Do you send out Christmas cards and if so how many do you send?

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I sent out about 100 cards this year. I love to send our greetings to friends and loved ones, near and far. The postal workers need their jobs, after all, amirite?!

  1. Do you write and send a holiday letter to describe your year?

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No, I typically do not write a letter. In fact, I don't really know anyone who is not at least 20 years older than I am who continues this practice. I'm neutral on the braggy-letter issue.

  1. What do you think of photo cards?


Does that answer your question? :D (Those are my kids, in case you didn't know.)

  1. How about the tree thing – do you have one every year? Do you prefer a real or artificial?


There's my youngest, 11yo Sophia, showing off our [artificial] tree this year. I do prefer a real tree, but with two dogs and four cats, and living in Miami, it's just really not that practical at this time.

5. Describe your typical tree (size, decorations, type).

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OMG, I love this hanging ornaments idea! Totally stealing this next year when we live in Idaho. Anyway, what? Oh, our tree is about 7.5' tall and, this year, in memory of our dear mother (Hubs' mom, who passed away just a couple of months ago), we decided to hang almost entirely just the yearly Hallmark ornaments she sent to us. As you can see, they are numerous. If you can't see, they tell the story from Our First Christmas Together, Baby's First Christmas (several times over), Our First House, and so on... I cherish these memories and plan to continue the tradition in years to come.

6. Do you hang up stockings? Whose names are on them (and relationships)?


From L-R, those are my husband's mine, and our four kids. As you can see, our son Robby's is white (I crocheted it after his death, that first Christmas) and hangs above, as he is our little angel baby. ♥

7. Your favorite Christmas movie is?

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Miracle on 34th Street!

  1. Tell us about an Christmas movie you hate.

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I'm not a big Madea fan, so though I haven't seen this one, I'm guessing...

9. What’s your favorite Christmas song?

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It was my mother's favorite, and because she sang and played (on the organ) it so beautifully, it's always been my favorite, too.

10. What holiday song makes you want to hurl?

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There isn't one. I really enjoy them all. At least today, I do!

11. What do you prefer for your holiday meal?

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OMG, that's awful! LOL We usually do lots of snacks, appetizers, hors d'oevres, and whatever else you want to call them all day long on Christmas Day. This year is particularly barren, financially, so we're lucky the kids have milk for their cereal and that's about it. Oh well. Next year will be more fruitful; I just know it.

  1. When do you open your gifts?


It's currently 0437 on Christmas morning, and there are exactly three presents left under the tree: one for each kid, from Hubs' dad and stepmom. It's the one day we're typically early birds!

13. Do you buy gifts for your pet?

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Usually we do... but like I said, this year we could not. It's not like they know! ;)

14. What's the worst gift you've ever gotten?

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Ingratitude from the recipient of a gift I gave

15. Do you ever travel for the holiday?

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Not since I was going home to visit Dad from college, no, I have not traveled then. I don't think I could stomach the crowds, traffic, or delays.

16. Did you see Santa as a child?

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I don't even know how to answer this one!

17. Have you ever gone caroling?

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I have, once or maybe thrice, as a kid. I have never taken my kids caroling. No particular reason why, other than shyness.

18. Do you drive around and look at the Christmas lights?


We drove around to three or four different neighborhoods this year to see lights. We do it every year. I love it, but I find my aging kids are getting bored with it now that it's not, you know, on their tablets. Le Sigh 

19. Have you ever had a white Christmas?

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Oh, yes. All the Christmases up to and including my 18th Christmas were chilly and white. I don't miss it, but here comes Idaho, promising more of that. I've already informed my husband I don't plan on doing any shoveling. Hee!

20. Do you know how to ice skate? If yes, when did you skate the last time?

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I haven't been ice skating in about 20 or more years, but I have a feeling it's like riding a bike for me. We'll see.

21. Are we crazy for thinking that the holiday season is WAY too commercial?

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You're not crazy. It has gotten way too commercial. I don't know what the solution is, exactly, but I don't see anything changing. Our country is a very materialistic one. I hope I'm raising my children not to see it that way.

  1. Have you ever worked Christmas Eve or Christmas Day?

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I certainly have, but that was before I was married and a mother. I worked retail for years. I honestly didn't mind the extra holiday pay, and the days were usually shortened for the holiday.

23. What are your Christmas pet peeves?


See that apron? I gave it to my husband for Christmas this year - but on the 12th of December. See that puppy below Hubs? That's our orally-fixated Chiweenie puppy, Tapioca. Hubs left the apron out overnight, and Tapi chewed a hole as big as my hand in it that same night he received it. I can not list on one hand - or two - how many items Tapioca has chewed up this month alone. She has already had one surgery to remove a foreign item. As terrifying as it is to think of losing her to something dangerously left out for her one day, I have to say that her chewing up of our stuff is a big peeve of mine and my non-dog lover son Jack's this year!

24. What’s your favorite thing about the holidays?

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Spending it with my loved ones, especially Hubs and these three no-longer-young whippersnappers! 

25. Here's your chance to say something significant to our players. Go for it!

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Happy holidays to all of you, no matter how you choose to celebrate or with whom. Thank you for stopping by my space here on the Interwebs, even though my blogging and return visits are sparse at best. I appreciate the love and support our little community has for its members, and I wish you all a very merry, joyous, happy everything! Now go have some fun!


Thanks for stopping by!


Saturday 9: Happy Holidays!


Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, and Joyous Everything Else!

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


Saturday 9: Happy Holidays! (from the archives)

1. As you can see, Sam loved giving her annual wish list to Santa. Yet some children are reluctant to climb into Jolly Old St. Nick's lap. Did you enjoy the tradition or were you shy? Or did you by pass it altogether -- either because you wrote him a letter or because your family didn't celebrate Christmas?

I remember getting on Santa's lap a time or two. I also remember that I never had much to Santa himself, because I was looking forward to getting my treat - usually a candy cane or two - from one of his elves! That was usually the only reason I deigned to wait in line so long. ;)

2. Are you currently on the Naughty or Nice list? How did you get there?

I'm always on both, and I plead the Fifth on both, too! It's not nice to share how one has behaved before Christmas, is it? Let's just say I'll be good today, and as for the rest of the year, one gets up and tries one's best.

3. Did you ship any gifts to friends and family this year? If so, which one traveled the farthest?

I sent e-cards to the nieces this year, and that's about it as far as sending gifts. I sent over 100 Christmas/holiday cards, though, because I love the tradition and don't care whether we get one back. If you didn't receive one but would like one, I still have some to send, so please email me your address. I'd love to send one! The farthest I sent one this year was to Canada. From Miami, that's a bit of a jaunt.

4. Did you buy yourself a gift this year?

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I bought myself inexpensive IKEA slippers (pardon my swollen legs & feet, ugh) and my Alex & Ani bracelets, of which I'm a new fan. Hubs usually relies on me to do my own shopping, but he did surprise me this year - just hours ago - with a cushiony new yoga mat!

5. What's your favorite holiday-themed movie?

I love A Miracle on 34th Street the best. I have to admit, though, I have never seen several popular Christmas movies.

6. Thinking of movies, Christmas is lucrative for Hollywood. Have you ever gone to a movie theater on Christmas Day?

It was a tradition for us growing up. In the family I'm raising, though, we don't do that. I bucked all the traditions we had growing up, because that time of my life sucked! My older daughter, Chloë, informed me this year that she doesn't like our traditions and will do things her way when she's an adult. Fine by me!

7. Have you ever suffered an embarrassing moment at the company Christmas party?

I have never been to a company Christmas party, but I did used to be in catering as a very young adult in Sarasota. One time, the boss and I had a rendezvous aboard ship during a cruise-to-nowhere party we were catering, and when we slipped out of the small room we were in... um, we had a few witnesses. Embarrassing!

8. What's your favorite beverage in cold weather?

I really love apple cider. My friend, Domenica, who grew up here in Miami, and Chloë, who also grew up in non-apple orchard areas, informed me that they both hate it! I was shocked, because I just assumed, having grown up in Central New York - where apples take over the place in the Fall - that everyone was a huge fan. Apparently, it's a love-it-or-hate-it kind of beverage. Who knew?

9. Share a memory from last Christmas.

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Just a couple cute snaps of my daughters, Sophia and Chloë, and one of my son with Chloë's huge Maine Coon kitty, Pepper


Thanks for stopping by! Joyeux Noël!


Christmas 2016: Advent Day 11

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Sophia Lorelei was up for taking town the baggie for this 11th day of Advent - a Sunday. A very lazy Sunday, as it turned out, because various people were napping through any given point in the day. But! At least we had candy, and we made up for it in other ways. ;)


I knew this treat would be particularly desired by Chloë, who simply adores chocolate-covered cherries ever since I gave a box to my dad and she had a sample. The other two? Not so much. So, I think Chloë garnished their treats and enjoyed a nice smackerel here and there through the day.


We were supposed to ride the trolley from downtown Homestead to Biscayne National Park for the return of their annual Family Fun Fest and THEN go to an art exhibition in North Miami, but do you think either of those occurred? Nosirree, neither did. Like I said, turns out the 11th day was for catching 40 80 1,000 winks. Fortunately, I had rented the disk for Allegiant in the Divergent movie trilogy, which was our last one. Chloë watched that with Rob and me, whilst the Littles did who-knows-what in their rooms.

(Hello, do you not want to squish and pull on all those juicy, delicious curls? I so do.)

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Last year, Sophia received a 3Doodler. It was a flop. The plastic "ink" would not feed properly through the machine, and it was just a globby, blechky mess. You know? I contacted the company and was told to mail it back, no strings attached. Welllll, it might have taken me all the way until almost this Christmas to get 'er done. I suck like that. 


When Foofers (aka Soph) received the new one in the mail this 11th day, she started working with it immediately. This is her first project. Yes, it is a blob of nothingness. No, there is no hidden meaning here. But she gave it to me, and I may keep it, just because she was thrilled the thing worked!

Only now, it seems to be jammed up in the works again, and there hasn't been much creativity with it so far. Aack. An expensive mistake.


Since it was then decided that we weren't going anywhere that day after all, thanks to Team Odette collectively playing the part of Rip Van Winkle, Rob broke out the O'Mara's Irish Country Cream for himself and moi. He poured me a rather large glass, and while it tasted great, I decided that one or two sips was enough for me. Too... too... not a huge margarita. You feel me?

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Because I am a person who gets more exciting about getting, wrapping, and giving a present than the person receiving it probably is about the getting, I like to spread out the Christmas cheer throughout the month. Long story short, we opened presents again. Well, everybody except me, because I didn't have any. And that doesn't bother me. [Shut up, Robert; it really doesn't!!!]

I have four more of these wooden pictures for Sophia in my closet, but I only gave her one because we're moving in like three months, and I didn't want her to be all, "Um thanks, but what do I do with this shiznat since I can't really hang it up on the walls for three months?" Y'know? so I will hold onto those until we are safely ensconced in a house (hopefully) of our very own (fingers crossed) in Idaho (knock wood), come April.

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Since we newly have the XBox One, I decided to get and give a few games for it to the fam. Jack and Rob were supposed to open this one together, but Rob declined and let Jack do the honors. That's completely a fake smile on Jack's face because, being 13½ and all, he has not one single clue who Tony Hawk might be. So he was kind of cranky and bummed and irritated and completely Jackish about this gift. (Never mind the fact that a few hours later, he asked to play this game and declared it "pretty fun," but whatever. Whatevs. It's cool.


Sophia decided to appease Jack by giving him a gift she'd wrapped and put into his stocking. Hahaha, it was a set of Shopkins that she no longer wanted to keep. When I saw this, I about died laughing. That Soph!

He was not, in fact, appeased by this gesture.


Because I'm a pleaser, as my beloved Spanish teacher-cum-Doctora O'Toole professor informed me tonight, I let Jack open yet another gift. He really seemed happy with the clothes he received, and as you can see, he looked beyond handsome in the outfits:

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When Chloë's turn came, she selected this long, oddly shaped package to open.

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I gave her a Shawn Mendez poster, because she has a little bit of a crush on the guy. I think you can see she was delighted with it!


Henry enjoyed the wrapping as well and crawled in to take up a spot just as soon as he could.


Robby had to get a gift, too! I gave him this present from, where I love to shop for unique presents. His package even came with an attached "worry doll" on the wrapping. He was actually going to play along and do the thing and put it under his pillow at night, but instead, Tapoica (our chewer) got ahold of it and, well, it is no longer.


He received these two handmade serving, multi-purpose wooden knives from... Bali, maybe? I can't remember right now. Regardless, they are beautiful, and he loved them!

So there's Advent Day 11. Not what we planned, but we made lemonade out of those lemons!


Christmas 2016: Advent Day 10


Saturday, the 10th day of Advent, saw us going out to Bee Heaven Farm again for our weekly local, organic produce share. That ratatouille in the bowl in the bottom center was just eh, okay, for both Rob and me, but the rest of the food was delicious goodness!


After I returned, we did our daily Advent opening. Gingerbread lollies were the treat of the day. Chloë had opened the bag that day, and she dropped Sophie's lollipop when handing it to her. Immediately, she picked it up and said she would take that one, since she broke it. That's just the kind of thoughtful girl she is!


That day, we decided to start baking our Christmas cookies. The kids are really growing up now, and so I thought I could just direct the baking activity from afar while they did the work. Pain and suffering, you know... but that plan quickly flopped, and I had to apron-up and get involved!


Here are Sophia and Chloë working in concentrated cooperation to pour the pistachio-laden batter of my favorite new cookies into a baggie for pouring into dots on the baking sheet. Yeah, I know the batter looks like baby diarrhea, but trust me, it was really good. And now you can't stop thinking about baby diarrhea, can you? Sorry...


Meanwhile, our table had ALL THE THINGS on it necessary for hours and hours of baking. Unfortunately, I didn't get as much baking finished as I'd have liked before getting tired, and so this is how our table looked for like, ummm, a week! :O


Meanwhile, Jack played Farming Simulator 17 on the XBox One, as he has tried to a little bit of each and every day. Henry watched - can you see him on the orange ottoman?


Sophia and I made Lemon Tassies together, from the Martha Stewart Cookies cookbook. I absolutely adore that book, a gift I received a while back from Rob's sister Gail. She was being very careful to make sure each crust cup had equal amounts of filling.


These were amazingly delicious. The kids kept asking for "one more." And "one more" and "one more" and "one more" later, we were out of Lemon Tassies. Those, I'm afraid, will not be gifted to our friends this year. Oops.


However, my heart belongs to these pistachio-and chocolate layered squares that are, in no uncertain terms, incredible. Unbelievable. Amazeballs. 

They are EVERYTHING. And no, we didn't save anything for gifting from these, either. #WeArePiggies

Stay tuned for more...


Christmas 2016: Advent Day Nine


On this 8th day of Advent, Jack was up to pull down the bag and see what goodness was contained therein.


He fussed and fumbled with opening the bag, causing the rest of us to be like, "C'mon, open it already! Let's go!" but he took his sweet-ass Jack amount of time to do it the way he wanted to do it, and so it was.


The kids hit the candy jackpot that Friday, because Dove milk chocolate Promises again. Yum!


I don't remember making the decision that another present must be opened that day, but I made it, and so here we are. Chloë went first, and I think she may have been a little excited about it? Just guessin'.


Chloë received two shirts and a pair of jeans from Justice, one of her favorite clothing stores. (Forgive the mess in the background; moving is messy and stressful, y'all!) The shirts were great, and she loved them. Chlo was super excited about the jeans, but when she tried them on, they were entirely too enormous to make any kind of fit happen in them. We still need to go exchange them for something smaller. Poor itsy bitsy!


Jack, who is doing an obviously fake smile here because something wasn't going his way at the moment (Who knows what or why? It's Jack), went next.


It wasn't a Gemini Jet, so he had to fake gratitude a little bit... but when I saw him drinking his milk out of his new mug (which, by the way, I designed the mug with an inspirational quote specific to Jack on a photo of flying jets on the obverse side), he admitted that he really liked his mug. I got a thank you and a hug. Typical for Jack!


Sophia was up next. Good things come in small packages! But what?


Hey, look at that. Another Alex & Ani bracelet, this time an Aries for Sophie's zodiac sign. WIN!


Rob's always a good sport when I ask him to "woohoo" about a present, no matter what it may be!


It's a sterling serving platter, but Rob was all silly about it, acting like, "Ooh, now I can separate my food on my dinner plate without all the items touching each other!"  What a card, what a scream, that man.


That night, our Advent activities included a visit to downtown Miami for the Busker Street Festival, which I, at least, really wanted to attend. The second activity was to go to Pinecrest Gardens to frolic amongst the plants while watching Home Alone outside on the big screen. Thirdly, we were supposed to visit a participating Barnes & Noble book store for a "Harry Potter Magical Holiday Ball." Naturally, Chloë and somewhat Sophie wanted to do the third thing, but Jack and partly Sophia were really into the garden in the movies idea. We compromised by seeing if we could fit it ALL in and somewhat winging it.

Well, the whole night was kind of a fail, I'll tell you that right now. We went all the way downtown to Bayfront Park and never once found a single busker, let alone a whole Buskerfest full of performers. LAME. But everyone was starving while we there, so we stopped to nosh. The kids just wanted Auntie Anne's pretzels, which was fine by me. I found a place selling lamb gyros, which is kind of a must-do for Rob, so I bought him one while he was unaware of the happenings. Not a yum for me, but hey, whatever floats your boat, Babe.


And here I am, with my still-puffy allergy face, crossing an item off my Bucket List: I tried Bubble Tea!! From the menu, I chose Green Apple flavor, with green tea, and tapioca and mango popping bubbles. It was... interesting. I definitely got full off my meal-in-a-drink, so a lot of sharing happened. Rob hated it, but the kids pretty much bogarted my beverage, which was fine except I wanted one more bubble, and I didn't get it. Not cool, kids. Not cool.

We'll just have to try another variety again sometime!


As for the Garden exploration, we missed that entirely, so that was a bust. And then we raced to Coral Gables to the girls to the magical, mystical Harry Potter party. Oh, my God. I went around and around, trying to find parking before finally barely slowing down to kick them out of the car on the fly to go themselves, while Jack and I continued our fruitless search for a place to park. At looong last, we found a spot, just as Rob was texting me, "It's lame. The girls want to leave." Seriously?!!  So there I was, kind of lost (because the Gables' Miracle Mile area is kind of a mess for a non-directional person like myself), driving 'round and 'round with my GPS yapping at me, looking for them to pick up and swoop home. I finally found them, after blocking traffic and several somewhat, uh, illegal creative moves, and off we went.

In order to save the night for my disappointed kids - at least a little bit - we drove to McDonald's and bought five hot fudge sundaes. It helped. A small amount, but it helped. Who can be sad during ice cream time?!

Thanks for stopping by!


Christmas 2016: Advent Day Eight


First of all, look at these big blooms! Four days after Robert bought them for me, they were still going strong. I loved them!!


Back to Advent. On this 8th day, Chloë was up to pull down the day's baggie for the kids' surprises within.


What is it? What could it be? Let's see.


The treat that day was a pack of Juicy Fruit gum for each kid. I don't remember what this face was about. Perhaps she didn't like the treat? Haha, she inherited my lack of a poker face, among other things. The two of us would suck in Vegas!


After Chloë read the day's activity, which was to go an uptown public library for their arts and crafts session aimed at teens and tweens (Hello, is that not what I have?!!), it was unanimously decided amongst the trio that they had no desire to participate. My God, people. Next year, I swear I'm giving them all adult activities to do, like Co-Ed Naked Twister and stuff.

I kid, I kid. Relaaaaax.

Instead of going, Mom (that would be me) determined that we would just open another present each and call it a day.


Rob, seen here sitting at my messy desk (but I WILL get it clean one of these days, come Hell or high water!), was first to open his gift.


I gave him a personalized flask, which reads, "Go Outdoors / ROB ODETTE." He liked it, and you can be darn right if you think he put some of that Jameson from Day 2 in the flask! I don't think he's ever owned a flask before, but I thought it was a thing that a guy like Rob should have.


Foofers went next, and she opened yet another puffy package. I gave her two pairs of yoga pants, which fit beautifully, from Osh Kosh b'Gosh. She really needed pants that fit, so this was a WIN. 


Jack received another Gemini Jet that day. I forget what airline, but I'm guessing very few of you out there give a crap. This brought his total number up to three, I believe. That's the beginnings of a fine collection, friends.


The boy young man insisted I take a close-up of his jet. Still can't tell what it is. Eh.


My curly girl was extremely ecstatic over her present. Sure, she received a nice reusable bag and a stuffed elephant, but what made her giddy as all get out was the certificate showing symbolic adoption of an endangered elephant. We joked that maybe she'd receive letters and pictures from it, and we'd go visit it one day... and so on. She didn't care about the teasing, because apparently this present was on point, y'all!


Here I am, still looking hideous from allergic reaction swelling and such, but so what. Don't look at that. Focus on my wrist. Rob gave me another Alex and Ani bracelet - this time, it's the tribal-looking one kind of in the center of the other two, the Britto and the mermaid, which I'd already had. I am sooo in love with A&A right now. I love my new bracelet - thanks, Bobbo!


Later that night, we drove down to Key Largo to visit a shopping center that was having a Customer Appreciation Party. The lady babies and I had to take our obligatory "we're in the Florida Keys" selfie, so here you go. Meanwhile, the party was so fun! They had food, lots of (mostly adult) beverages, giveaways, and more. We didn't win any of the big prizes, but well, I think did, because all three of the kids - even Jack! - declared the evening a fun one. Can't beat that with a stick!

Stay tuned for Day 9!


Christmas 2016: Advent Days Six And Seven


For the 6th day of Advent, we went up to the Kendall/South Miami area to look at some houses with pretty lights. These were advertised in the newspaper, so I figured they'd be amazing.



Don't get me wrong, the lights were pretty good, but...



... for being written up in the newspaper, I expected something ... more. I remember going to a light spectacular at a home in St. Pete before I met my husband, and you could go in, walk through the maze of billions of lights, and then go in and have hot chocolate or something afterward. This was not the case here.


Not to mention, my kids were just kind of "meh" about the whole experience. So that turned out to be a dud. Oh well, live and learn. And trust me, I am so learning what it's like to do "kid-friendly" or "family-friendly" activities with teenagers who couldn't give a good gosh darn about what it is we are doing here.

So, meh. That was Day 6. This was only the first house; Rob had to drive us to the second house after I grew too sleepy to drive, and I didn't even get out to take pictures!



Our 7th Day of Advent activity was to go take the dogs to visit with and get their pictures taken with Santa at one of the largest malls in the county. If not the biggest. It turned out that none of us were really up to such a brave excursion. Wha?! They were disappointed we couldn't bring our cats to Santa - hello, scratch, scream, and run away would have been the order of the day - so they were in turn peeved at the dogs. Because, you know, that's completely the fault of canines everywhere.

Whatevs. I, who can never wait to give a gift to anybody I love, decided that instead, we would open another present, each! Robert went first.

I accidentally deleted the photo of Rob opening his gift, but it was just a couple of these Strawesome straws - I don't even know the width I ordered, because I deleted the emails of the order once I received it! Oh well. They're pretty okay, and the kids keep asking to use them, but by no means were they supposed to "WOW" him. And, no, they did not. Haha!!


It was my turn next. Forgive the puffy face and everything. Whatever my autoimmune issue is, I've been filled out like a balloon from repeat allergic reactions to some unknown off and on lately, and that day, I was swollen. But moving on...


Swollen feet, too. But regardless, Rob gave me this pair of slippers i had my eye on from IKEA the other day, because we have cold (often in need of a sweeping) tile floors. I hate walking on them. Slippers to the rescue! Thanks, Honey!


We continued opening presents in descending age order. You can see that Chloë's eye was still bothering her from surgery two days prior, but for the most part, she has done extremely well since the stents were taken out.


Because Chloë is obsessed with France and definitely all things Paris, I gave her this JAFRA gift set including our new Paris Et Moi fragrance, with a travel size spritzer to keep in her purse. She loved it!


Jack was next. See that gift tag? I bought two sets of those (you can kind of see the one on Chloë's paquete, too) on super clearance at IKEA for pennies. They were so cute!


Jack is extremely excited here, because i gave him a Gemini Jet, in this case for Pakistan International airline. The kid is mad about Gemini Jets lately and wants to acquire the entire line-up of their offerings, the airport, and all the other accoutrements that go with them. Oh, for the love, here we go...


Last, but certainly not least, it was Sophia's turn. I think her strategy was to go for the puffy - rather than hard - packages first, thinking those would be clothes and she could get those out of the way and arrive at the "good stuff." Hahaha! Well, I hate to think she was disappointed, but you know. We are on a pretty tight budget for Christmas this year, thanks to moving to Idaho in a few months!


Well, she was right. It was a bright pink puffer jacket for when we do make that move. Pink. Did I mention that either she newly despises, or I am newly aware of this hatred, pink?! Oh, man. She played along as best she could and even wore it out a few times, so I hope she doesn't loathe this coat entirely. She'll be needing it up there!

That's it for Days 6 & 7! More to come...


Christmas 2016: Advent Day Five


I was up early on Monday, December 5th, because I had to take Chloë in to Bascom Palmer Eye Institute for removal of the stents in her tear ducts. Surgery was scheduled early, so when I got back from getting gas and a Diet Coke, it was still dark out. These Muscovies were walking ever-so-slowly around my door to greet me when I returned. This isn't even all of them; it was like an entire flock!


Chloë was nervous - super nervous, in fact - because the surgery to put the stents into her eyes 2½ months early had gone quite badly, and she suffered greatly after that as a result. I couldn't blame her, so I was concerned myself.

She was actually quite hysterical coming off the anesthesia, and the recovery room nurse was in stitches. She informed me, when I was allowed back there, that this child was extremely talkative and emotive, and that she simply must be an actress. I agreed and filled her in on some of the acting and modeling Chloë has already done. Nurse was convinced that someday Chloë would be famous for the craft. Who knows?!

As for surgery, of course that first day there was some discomfort and swelling, but ever since then she has been doing great. Whew!!


Later that day, we finished putting together our Christmas tree. About 90% off the ornaments came from Rob's mom, who passed away in October. Every year, a box came with an ornament or two for each one of the five of us, marked with the proper recipient's name and clearly chosen with the utmost care to make sure it matched the personality and activities of that person. Sometimes, when we had a big event like a new house or something, we would received a whole-family ornament as well. For the past 16 years, and before that for Robert, those boxes have been coming faithfully. When this year's box arrived, I lost my shit. I miss my mother-in-law dearly, and her choices were just as painstaking in this final year of her life as they had been all along. I knew we had to put up our Christmas tree for the first time in several years, using all of those many years of Hallmark ornaments. I love it!


Later on, it was Chloë's turn to pull down the baggie for that day's Advent.


The treat for the day was three pieces of Dove milk chocolate Promises for each kid. Mmmm! Other than Lindt chocolates, Dove is one of our favorite chocolate brands. So good.


Because of Chloë's eye surgery, after she read the day's activity, we decided to flip-flop the activity with Tuesday's plan. So I'll post about what her paper said next, but for Tuesday, the plan was to open one present each, with Mom selecting the gift for each kid.


I gave them each the IKEA umbrella I had picked up on our visit there the day before. We're always short on umbrellas around here, and with six months of the year belonging to the rainy season, with plenty of rain in between those seasons, well umbrellas just seemed like a good idea. They were thrilled with them!


The sillies did this "All for one, and one for all" type deal with their bumbershoots. Gooses. Then, of course, we had to take them outside to give them a whirl:


Happy Advent Day 5! Thanks for stopping by. :D


Christmas 2016: Advent Day Four


So I'm a little behind in detailing our 2016 Advent action. Ah, well, that's me.

Jack pulled down the baggie for the 4th day of Advent before opening it to check what sweet treats and activity were contained within.


Happy kid, pulling out a handful of Starbursts!


I have to admit. I may have eaten half of those things. What? They're good!


The activity for that Sunday was to visit IKEA's support of the Frost Science Museum's exhibit. They were doing all things cold and chilly, but we came in halfway through one of the presentations.


There was an explosive part with a big BOOM! and subsequent cloud, but that was all that held our interest. Mostly, the presentation was for younger kids, and I am reallllly having a hard time finding those that will interest my older kiddos. So. We decided to go for a romp through the IKEA store instead, getting inspiration for whatever, whenever.

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I took a lot of photos of things I wanted to get for our future home, post-move to Idaho, so I could remember and "oh yeah" later on. Here are some of those goodies. Have you been to IKEA? Are you a fanatic, like I am? I bought a half-dozen or so things for the family's Christmas presents. They'll make their appearances later in the Advent countdown...

Advent Day 4

On the way home, we saw a flower vendor on the side of the road. They're kind of inescapable in certain areas of Miami. You're stopped at a red light, and the vendors walk up and down the cars, in between lanes even, seemingly heedless of the dangers of the light turning green and folks slamming down the gas pedal. So in they go, showing their wares. We had a few bucks, so Rob haled one over and bought me this beautiful mini-bouquet of white roses. No particular reason why white this time; I was just in the mood for those. Usually, my favorites are yellow.

Anyway, next up: Day Five! 


Saturday 9: O, Holy Night

Link up here if you're playing along today!


Saturday 9: O, Holy Night (1967)
Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.
1) This beloved carol takes its lyrics from a French poem. What else can we thank the French for?
I assume you mean besides the fries and kissing? ;) How about our beloved Statue of Liberty?
2) How well do you know  "O, Holy Night?" Without looking up the lyrics, could you sing along with Ella?

 Not all the way through, but a great deal of it, I could
3) In order to get this record into stores in time for Christmas 1967, Ella had to record this in late July. So let's reverse that. Now that it's Christmastime, what do you miss most about summer? 
Well, considering we live in Miami where it's a clear 72ºF at 11:18 PM, it's not so bad here weather-wise. But when Hubs took the kids to the pool today, they swam for maybe 20 minutes before the pool closed for sundown, and they had to head home. Bummer! I definitely miss the late sunshiny nights, where the kids could stay out until 8:30 PM instead of 5:30. Their curfews are when the street lights come on and the sun is gone, you'd better be home! 

4) Sam is crazy about the open toed pumps she'll be wearing to holiday parties, but that means she needs to get a pedi. Will you be at a salon between now and year-end?
Oh, no. Not me. I just did my pedicure, but I've only gone to a salon for my nails twice in my life. It's just not the sort of luxury I really desire to spend our money on.
5) Will you be consuming any egg nog this holiday season? And if you do, will it be spiked?
Yes, and yes. I had my shot glass-full for the year, and it was spiked with rum. Hubs says I had some of the bottle with bourbon in it, too, but I clearly don't remember that! Ha!
6) Thinking of holiday cuisine, what's your favorite Christmas cookie?

For decorating, of course it's got to be the sugar cookies. For taste, nothing beats a good chocolate chip. But our new favorites are these chocolate and pistachio numbers that I could make myself sick on for a week straight before deciding to learn my lesson!
7) Sam knows she will get a bottle of red wine from her boss, because that's what he gives his staff every year. Is there a gift you can count on receiving?
Nope! I don't count on any gifts. Even the mail loses those I've purchased for myself. And I sent to my nieces each an iTunes gift card, which they wanted... only when they received it, I'd ordered Apple Store gift cards, instead. FAIL, Aunt Melanie. I don't know what to do with those except replace them and buy my youngest - the only one of us with an iPhone - some charging cords or something?
8) What one gift would you most like to receive this year? Do you think anyone will get it for you?
I would really just like the gift of good credit, which I've never had as an adult, myself. I'm working on that now. And after all these years of just wanting a clean house for my birthday and Christmas, well. I've just decided either I do it or I won't get it. So I don't get it! ;)
9) This time of year is big for charitable fundraising. Here's your chance to plug a cause or organization that's near and dear to you.
I would love there to be some big push for Fibromyalgia research, but if there is a place that's doing it, I'm not finding it. Basically, no one cares about us sufferers and thinks we are crazy, except for a few doctors who are probably suffering it from it themselves or have someone close to them who is. I'm in a lot of pain tonight, so that's where my head is.
Cheers, y'all.

Sunday Stealing: The Bearded Questions

Link up here if you're playing along today!


Sunday Stealing: The Bearded Questions

What is some of your favorite music?

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I grew up listening to Top 40 music. That was in the 80s, for the most part. I still listen to Top 40 music, to my Classic Rock-loving husband's chagrin. I still love 80s music and I not-so-secretly listen to his stations in the car, even when I'm driving by myself.

List your three favorite scents. 

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All citrus. Apples. Yeah, pretty much all fruit.

How do you ground yourself or recharge?

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Knitting or, when I need to work out some of the more intense pain, yoga

Any ways you treat or spoil yourself?


When one of my best friends, Shana, introduced me to Young Living Essential Oils earlier this year, I didn't expect much if anything. She was doing her best to help me out of my extensive pain and misery. Little did I know, I would experience tremendous relief from those oils. So now my collection has grown to far more than the ones she gave me. Fortunately, whether it's just a placebo or the real deal, it works for me - and Hubs fully supports my using them. Whew!

Besides your blog, do you have a creative past-time? 

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I'm pretty artsy-craftsy, and I'm working on a book. But not the book that I told you guys about oh, a year or two ago. A different book that may actually see the light of day. And then we'll see if I write another.

Share something difficult you've been through. 

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I've had five major abdominal surgeries, including Caesarian deliveries for all four of my children (the middle two kids were twins). The first three came by emergency slice-and-dice operations, all prematurely. Sophia, never wanting to do anything that's been done before, decided to bake a little while longer, but my OB-GYN said her delivery was also urgent because of my high risk for uterine abruption. The surgeon also said no-way to any more babies, so she was the last. I love my children, though, and I'm grateful for the three surviving ones every single day of my life. ♥

     What helps you fall asleep?

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I'm not a good sleeper, so I pretty much have to exhaust myself before I go to bed or I'll lie awake for hours. Since I developed Fibromyalgia, though, that rarely happens anymore. When I'm in excruciating pain, Hubs massages me with Frankincense essential oil, and that knocks me out like nobody's business.

What is one strength and one weakness of yours?

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Strength: I'm pretty humble. I used to be an intellectual snob, but Fibro has cured me of that. Now I think I'm a fecking idiot, because I am much of the time.

Weakness: I have no filter between brain and mouth. None whatsoever. I say things I didn't even think yet!

Have you ever received a letter or written one to someone else?

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Of course! One of my favorite letters came from the afore-mentioned Shana, who wrote to me while I was at my grandparents' for the summer back in our high school days. Nothing in particular - except everything - stands out about that letter, it was just funny as hell. 

Another letter came in college, from a guy I had a small crush on. He wrote me a long letter after I'd moved away once, and it contained one of the best lines anyone has ever written to me: "You may not be the girl of my dreams, but you're the girl IN my dreams."  Uh, you had me at "hello"!

What makes you feel powerful, what breathes life into you? 

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I think my answer is NSFW! ;)

What's your favorite thing to do at night? 

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Again, NSFW!

If you could go back to any era, what would it be?

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I'd go to the era of poodle skirts and sock hops, drag races and ...oh okay, just put me in Grease, would you? And then bring me back to the present, because no-thank-you to being a 50s housewife. Wait, I am a 21st Century housewife, and I bake cookies and shit. Heh.

Your favorite things to wear at home? 

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Oh, you didn't know? Lady Gaga gets all her awards show outfits from my closet.

If you could be immortal or have an extremely long life span which would you pick and why? 

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Oh, I don't think I would want immortality or an extremely long life. Unless this Trump shit is just a bad dream. Then we'll talk.

Tell us about something positive you have done for yourself or someone recently.

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Well, technically, this is something Hubs did the other day, but that's okay right? We went down to Key Largo the other night, but on the way out of Miami-Dade County, I first made a pit-stop at the Racetrac on US1. (You know the one, right?) Anyway, Jack was hungry, and I was hungry, so I tried to buy something the two of us could split, being short on cash and with neither of us able to eat much anyway. He didn't want the sammich I selected, so Hubs rolled down his window and shouted at a passing homeless man, "Hey, are you hungry? Do you want this sandwich?" The guy seriously looked hungry; he took the sandwich.

One thing you like about your appearance?


I guess my eyes are all right.

Something that makes you feel better after a hard day? 

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A hard night! Of sleeping, my friends. Sleeping.

If you have one, name a favorite book & movie. 

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Movie: it's a tie between Grease and Dirty Dancing

Book: it's a tie between Evergreen by Belva Plain and pretty much anything by Jodi Picoult


Thanks for stopping by, kids!


P.S. Bud: I like beards. On the right guy, I think they're quite sexy. Especially a goatee...

Saturday 9: Snowbird

I'm back with a vengeance! Well, I'm back, anyway! 

Link up here if you're playing along with the rest of the gang today!

Saturday 9: Snowbird (1971)

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


1) In this song, Elvis wants the snowbird to fly away and take the snow back with her. Have you seen a measurable snowfall yet this season?

No, but it's a chilly 71ºF here in Homestead (Miami), Florida right now. We might even get some rain later!

2) Drivers in snowy climes are encouraged to keep salt, sand or kitty litter in the trunk because those items can help a car regain traction in the snow. Do you have an emergency kit in your car right now? If so, what's in it?

Other than jumper cables, I think not. We'll have to get used to doing that again when we move to Idaho in April!

3) Back in 2007, North Dakota set the world record for the most snow angels made at one time (8,910). Do you enjoy playing in the snow?

No, but my kids are super excited to live in a snowy area next year. I don't know how I'll do, I really don't, but if they are happy, then I plan to be happy, too! Maybe I'll learn to ski?

4) Chionophobia is the fear of snow. Astraphobia is the fear of thunder and lightening. Lilapsophobia is the fear of tornadoes and hurricanes. Do you have to cope with any of these fears?

No, but I don't like the snow and cold. Not the same, I recognize.
5) Elvis' daughter Lisa Marie split her childhood between Memphis and Los Angeles, so she seldom saw snow. When she was a little girl, she was whisked off to Denver in her father's private plane so the two of them could spend an afternoon playing in the snow. If you could take off and spend the afternoon anywhere in the world, where would you go?

If I could be whisked off anywhere myself, I'd take Rob and go to Sydney, Australia.

If I could whisk off Chloë, of course I would take her to Paris.

If I could whisk off Jack, I'd take him to outer space.

If I could whisk off Sophia, hmm... I'd take her wherever she could ride a pegasus amongst the rainbows.

6) At home and onstage, Elvis refused to wear jeans and only wore denim if a film role demanded it. This is because when he was young, classmates teased him for "dressing poor" in jeans and coveralls. What did you wear to class when you were in grammar school?

I wore things like Gap and whatnot. We were not poor. We did okay... or at least that was the illusion my parents wanted the world to see. We had all the fancy things one could want: a huge house, cruise vacations, nice clothes, half a dozen cars in the driveway. The only thing we were missing was love. There was none of that.

7) Elvis and President Jimmy Carter are distant relatives (the President is the sixth cousin of the King's great grandfather). Your turn: Tell us about one of your more interesting relatives.

My grandfather was a hoot and a saint. His mother's maiden name was Lincoln. My grandmother convinced me as a child that we were related to Abraham Lincoln, a "truth" she held until her death. When I mentioned it, much later on, to Grandpa, he about died laughing at the trick. I was so disappointed! But they were fun grandparents, and they were the only thing that made my childhood worth having (after my mom died).

8) In 1971, when Elvis released his recording of "Snowbird," You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown was a hit on Broadway. Who is your favorite Peanuts character?

I think it has always been Schroeder. No matter what Lucy does to annoy him, he just bangs away steadfastly at that piano. He's kind of unknowable in that regard. I think Lucy and Schroeder remind me a lot of my husband and myself, come to think of it! (I'm the obnoxious one, in case you didn't have the inkling.)

9) Random question: You receive a gift certificate from a gourmet food company that can be redeemed for one of these three things: 1 lb. of caviar, 5 lbs. of steak or a 10 lb., live lobster. Which would you choose?

I would choose the caviar, though I would much prefer 10 lbs of hummus, with cheese and spinach and pita and... you get the gist. I haven't eaten a steak in about 22 years, and I would not want to be killing the lobster, no no no. Caviar it must be!


Fun to be back! Missed y'all! What's going on in your worlds? I hope to find out later, when things are quieter around here.


Christmas 2016: Advent Days Two And Three


Sophia pulled down the 2nd day's Advent treat baggie, and passed it to ...

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Jack! We continued doing that for oh... one more day? Maybe? Before I decided to have the same person do all the things, out of frustration with remembering who did what the two days prior.


The 2nd day's treats were Christmas tree lollipops or, as Robert and half the country calls them, "suckers."

Advent Day 2 (2)

That day, a Friday, our Advent activity was supposed to be to go down the road to the Homestead Miami Speedway, where the kids could watch Daddy drive a racecar around the track for a few laps. However, because of his brain tumor surgery, Rob didn't feel comfortable driving, and no one wanted to go and just watch a bunch of strangers drive. So... we opted for Mom's back-up plan: Head to downtown Homestead for the tree-lighting ceremony.

Only, we're going to call this plan a Fail, for three reasons:

  • We were late, and the tree was already lit when we got there,
  • This lady's rather voluminous arse was bent down in front of the tree for so many minutes, I finally gave up and took the picture anyway... and the photo was blurry, and
  • The event was otherwise lame.

Oh well, can't win 'em all, right?

Advent Day 2

Except for Rob. He won it, because I gave him a bottle of Jameson Irish Whiskey (and also a bottle of spiked eggnog). He stumbled into bed that night (morning??) at God-knows-what hour and woke me up, whispering all kinds of filth into my ear. It's funny now, but at the time, I wanted to slug him! Ha!



On Saturday last week, Chloë pulled down the third day of Advent's baggie.


The treat of the day was blueberry candy canes for all the kids, and I'll get to the activity in a moment. But first...


So this wasn't part of our Advent, but it happened that day, so I'm including it. Chloë, my frequent traveling companion, and I went out to Bee Heaven Farm here in the Redlands Farming area of Homestead. We get a weekly Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) share from Bee Heaven, and it's always wonderful. The food is organically produced, and fresh food is always needed 'round this house! We also get, besides our small share of veggies, a Mediterranean share. The first year it was Lebanese ful, which was delicious, and this week it was hummus. Also amazing, but I ate it before I took the photo. Oops!!


Back to Advent: The night before, Rob and I snuck out to the store to pick up some salami, a cheese log, and Triscuit crackers (two of the kids' favorite!), along with a bottle of sparkling grape juice. After the farm trip, I set it up while no one was paying attention to me (what else is new?!) and then called them over to partake of it.


They loved it!! The kids said a toast to Christmas and Advent and each other first. We even let them use the good wedding crystal from our friends Lisa and Faris. That was a bonus. Lucky duckers.




Christmas 2016: Advent Day One


I haven't been blogging for a while, and I'll explain why later... But it has been so long since I did, I almost forget how!

"Fibro(myalgia) Fog" has overtaken my brain so much that I often forget how I got to bed the night before or any number of other things, so I can't remember what we've done for Advent since we've lived here in Miami. I love planning activities and giving treats to the kids in celebration of The One whose birth we are recognizing, so this year I put together a last-minute (though not-exactly slap-dash, as much planning and care went into it) Advent tree. With a huge amount of help from 15-year-old Chloë for the first time this year, on November 30th after Jack and Sophie went to sleep, we glued and packaged and assembled this-here Advent calendar. Voilà!!


Sophia pulling the first day's baggie down from the Advent tree

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I decided to ask Chloë actually to open and disperse the contents of said baggie.

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Today's treat was a pack of bubblegum for each kid. And then **drumroll, please** the reading! As you can see from Jack's face, somethin' exciting was about to happen!


This year, we decided to flip Christmas upside-down and give the kids their big gift on the FIRST day of Advent, rather than on Christmas Day. And why not? Who says we can't? Nobody, that's who! So, what was it?

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XBOX ONE! With the Minecraft Bundle! The kids ALL wanted the Xbox One for purposes of updated game-playing, and both girls really wanted to play Minecraft. That seems to be a craze that is not going anywhere anytime soon. So, yay! And that's genuine joy on Jack's face!


I wasn't able to get a photo of Jack with the big game he wanted, because he ripped it open so fast and accidentally ripped off the cover in his haste to start playing it. Boy-child LOVES his Farming Simulator on his tablet, and he wanted the '17' for Xbox exceedingly much. Trust me, this child has been asking to play this game as often as he breathes. School? What school?

(Just kidding. To his chagrin, there must still be school.)


But why did we flip Christmas upside-down this year, you might ask? (Well, even if you didn't, I'm still gonna tell ya.) Because... I bought this 3-month Xbox Live Gold membership (if I said that wrong, it's because I'm a total gaming n00b, so forgive me) (see, I know that much), and I accidentally redeemed it when I bought it. Heh heh! So... I kind of forced myself into giving the gift early so as not to waste any of those three months! Silly me!

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THE UNBOXING! Woohoo! Let the games begin!


I haven't been blogging for over a month, because I feel like I've lost my audience and because of that, my voice. You see, I started this blog over 10 years ago to keep our far-flung family and friends apprised of our excruciatingly important (ha) goings-on. Mainly, my audience consisted of the rapt attention of my dear mother-in-law.

A couple of months ago, Mamacita as I fondly called her, passed away.

I'm crying even as I write this, because even though I wasn't her child by birth, and I was often the problem child by marriage (trust me when I say that I am difficult and I know that I am difficult), I loved her. I loved her and her involvement with our family and with the kids' upbringings.

She sent decorations for Christmas (from Missouri, where she lived until moving to Louisiana to be closer to Rob's sister Gail in the last year). She requested the kids' homeschool reading book lists each year, and each year a box would come from Amazon with many of my selections inside, waiting for the children when the time was right. She sent her love, she sent her heart, she sent her spirit, with every box that came.

And I loved her.

And I miss her dearly.

Love you, Mamacita...