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Entries from May 2017

Sundays In My City: Field Trip To Babby Farms

Sundays In My City
Welcome back, those of you here from By Claudya's weekly carnival, Sundays in my City. I haven't been posting in a while, and now we've moved from Miami, Florida, to Boise, Idaho. Big leap of faith and huge culture shock, there! So now that we're out and about in our new home, I'd love to show you what we're up to.
Sunday, May 28th, we visited nearby Caldwell, Idaho, to take a family field trip to the exotic petting zoo known as Babby Farms. [Full Disclosure: Babby Farms gave us complimentary passes to visit their zoo, and three bags of animal feed, in exchange for this post. No other compensation was received and all opinions are, as always, my own.]
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First, I have to show you my absolute favorite photo from our visit. Jack was feeding the donkey (I think this was the donkey; I got my photos a little bit mixed up and thanks to Lyme [disease] brain, I get easily confused these days. Apologies to the Farms if I get any of my facts wrong!) and was disgusted by the hand-licking thanks he received in the process. Jack's a bit of a neat freak; he rarely likes to get dirty. Of course, there I was with my handy-dandy Nikon to capture the moment! Hilarious.
Moving right along.
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Other than me, the members of Team Odette. Left to right, we have 12-year-old Sophia, [email protected]$$ Rob, 15-year-old Chloë, and 14-year-old Jack. And since it was hot and sunny yesterday, well, we had squinties.
Ready for some animals? Me too.
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[Click to embiggerate.]
First, we encountered a trio, I think, of deer. They were docile and welcomed our visit, and they provided a darling first encounter as we entered the pathway the would lead us throughout the zoo.
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We encountered many animals, like the Suffolk sheep, Cashmere (Kashmir?) and Angora goats, and Yaks that the knitter and me saw and just thought, "YARN!" ;)
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See what I mean? Ahhh, the fluff! All the fuzziessss!
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The zebra was a remarkable fella. He (she?) loved to visit and didn't want us to go.
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Bye-bye, zeb.
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Why, hellew, llama-dama-ding-dong! Nice to meetcha!
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The yak took food from Chloë's hand like candy from a baby. 
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Likewise, the miniature zebu enjoyed a good munch of feed. All the animals appeared to be well-fed, but visiting with the kids and eating their grub seemed like an extra-special treat.
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We're still with the zebu here, but I just had to show you that huge grin on Sophie's face. The kids were enjoying their time, that's for sure!
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Ah, but the ponies. Showjumper Sophie had a great time visiting horses again, and it seemed to be quite mutual. That visit lasted quite a while.
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The fuzzier pony seemed to befriend Chloë, meanwhile.
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Jack was a little chicken-y about feeding some of the animals, so he gave his feed temporarily to Rob. Hence the tattooed arm feeding this charming guy.
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I'm not sure if this was the mule or the hinny, but it was clopping right over for its own visit with Team Odette.
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And this would be the donkey who was mentioned above in the gross feeding incident with Jack. Hee!! Good boy!
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The zedonk was also quite friendly, and enjoyed a good petting from Sophia while Rob offered some munchies.
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Likewise, the zorse relished its tasty treats from Chloë, next to the zedonk.
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Our next visit occurred with the dromedary camel, which brought me back to the memory of my parents taking my sister and 3-year-old me to maybe the Bronx zoo or something? Anyway, my mom had bought herself a delicious frozen elixir and gave me the cup to finish the last third or so. As she carried me in her arms, back to a dromedary camel, Mr. Camel leaned over and took that cup right out of my hands, drank my drink, and at the cup and all! I was so upset! But I didn't hold it against this guy. Probably a different camel, right? ;)
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Camel toes.
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The bactrian camel, in the midst of a good spring shedding spree, was pretty chill. Maybe you can tell?
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Wouldja look at all that camel fluff?! YARN!!
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Jack was finally back in the picture, ready to visit the yarn, I mean, llamas and alpacas.
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There were signs for each animal on the premises, and the kids took turns reading from them so we could educate ourselves more on the creatures we were visiting. So the trip wasn't just for funsies - we were there as part of our Sweet Pea Academy homeschooling endeavor.
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Fuzzy buns!!!
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A lot of the animals were inside their habitats - some more visible than others, like this tortoise, here - in the high heat of the day. I was glad to see that they were well taken care of in that regard, with nobody left outside to cook!
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Next, we entered the pygmy goat pen for some good petting fun and nuzzles from the wee ones.
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Even Daddy got in a good "scritch," as he calls them, or two.
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Eventually, it was clear they were either too hot or had had enough of us, so we took our leave of the goat pen.
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Here, I finally caught a glimpse of the half-shaded, half-sunned red kangaroo. Nap time at the zoo?
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The American bison was also clearly in the middle of shedding season. All that fur must get so uncomfortable in the heat of late Spring and Summer!
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The raven was surprisingly friendly and interested in getting an up-close peep of us.
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The owl, meanwhile, kept its distance, blinking at us from the shadows. I finally managed to catch it mid-blink.
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Sleepy bobcat.
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The binturong of Asia, too, kept its distance during what was clearly sleepytime in much of Babby Farms.
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Asian Spotted Leopard Cat
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Caracal Cat
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After we finished visiting all the critters in the main outer area at that back, we headed inside the "Rainforest" section and were immediately greeted by this parrot. Or red macaw. Honestly, I don't know what it was other than beautiful.
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Polly wanna cracker?
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Years ago, I crocheted a replica of my friend Cyndi's late African Gray parrot as a gift for one of her sons, so Chloë was happy to point out this one, alive and well.
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Next, we visited with the spider monkey and the capuchin monkey for a while, just because these primates were so darn entertaining. The staffer was, as well!
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Rob and I had seen several of these spider monkeys up close and personal during our visit to Mexico in 2014. What fun we had with them!
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Hey, sweetie!
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This girl was quite a ham!
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Sophia reached in to "pet" the African spurred tortoise. I was thankful that Babby Farms placed plenty of hand sanitizer strategically throughout the property.
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Several of my friends have had bearded dragons, which apparently make pretty cool pets if you treat them well.
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Likewise, we have seen many huge green iguanas throughout South Florida and the Keys. Still, pretty cool to see one again way up here in Idaho.
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Russian tortoise
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Sloth doing what sloths do best: resting. Hee!
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We kept our distance from the African Crested porcupine, and likewise, it did the same.
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Patagonian Cavy
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Sorry, I have no more crackers...
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Australia's Laughing Kookaburra was majestic up there on its perch.
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We caught a quick glimpse of the North American porcupine, but not much more than that at the time.
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Red-Ruffed Lemur time!
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The Ring-Tailed Lemur took his leave of us then, but we'll see it later. I think.
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The kinkajou popped down for a few moments to wave, "Hi!"
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Probably the best part of the trip, for me, was our extensive chat with Samantha and her counterpart, Hailey (not shown), about all the inner workings surrounding Babby Farms. Rob and I later agreed that it appeared the animals were well cared for, healthy, and happy in their Babby Farms home.
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I'm sorry, you, but I don't know who you are, because I missed photographing your sign. I'm sorry. But I like your toys!
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Oh, hey! Look who came back to say hello!
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The ring-tailed lemur was our last critter of the day, before we headed back up front to nicely-merchandised gift shop to give our thanks for the visit. We really enjoyed it and hope to come back one day soon.
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So if you're ever in the Boise, Idaho area, please consider a visit out to Babby Farms. You'll be glad you did!
Thanks to By Claudya for hosting Sundays in My City! Now go back to see her and visit some of the other participants!

Sunday Stealing: The Procrastination Questions

Welcome back! Link up here if you're playing along with Sunday Stealing this weekend!

Cheers to all us thieves!

Sunday Stealing: The Procrastination Tool Questions

1. What is your favorite sit-down restaurant?

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I'm not very good at choosing favorites for anything, but I'll venture to answer this one: The [fancy-schmance] Town Point Club in Norfolk, Virginia. Every bite of every course was beautifully presented and memorably tasty.

2. What food could you eat for two weeks straight and not get sick of it?

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You mean besides chocolate, right? Because chocolate. And pizza. If pizza and chocolate were in my life every day, I'd be a very happy lady.

3. Have you ever had anything removed from your body?

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Yes: my entire reproductive organs except my left ovary; my gall bladder; possibly my appendix; a precancerous lesion on my chin; and also, my stomach and small intestine are seriously rearranged.

4. What is the last heavy item you lifted?

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At the job I had for oh, two days (before I had to quit thanks to my health), we were all called to the garden center to stock the shelves with an unexpected surplus of plants they'd just received. Carrying a huge, I don't know, plat of plants was quite a load for wimpy me!

5. Have you ever been knocked unconscious?

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Knocked out by a force outside myself? No, but I have fainted my fair share of times.

6. If it were possible, would you want to know the day you were going to die?

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I've wrestled with that question before, and I think I've finally decided that yes, I would want to know. I like preparing for shit, what can I say?

7. If you could change your name, what would you change it to?

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I would change my name from Melanie Ann to Melanie Penelope. I like multi-syllabic names.

8. What’s your goal for the year?

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I want to see Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada; Seattle, Washington; Portland, Oregon; and San Francisco, California before Lyme Disease f-king kills me. At least one of those this year, preferably.

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9. Last person you hugged?

This gorgeous 15yo daughter of mine!

10. First place you went this morning?

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I pee-peed. I don't feel well today; I haven't been outside my house.

11. Do you always answer your phone?

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Pfffftttt. I'm notoriously terrible at answering my phone. It's a New Year's resolution of mine to be better at it. So far, I am.

12. It’s four in the morning and you get a text message, who is it?

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Uhhh, probably the creditor for our car, saying we owe a payment.

13. If you could change your eye color what would it be?

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Green eyes, like these and like me gran'pappy had

14. What’s on your wish list for your birthday?

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I would love it if we were able to afford to have our household stuff delivered to us from Miami, an obstacle that seems forever out of reach. :(

15. Does the future make you more nervous or excited?

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A little bit nervous, but mostly excited. The future of my health is uncertain (fecking, fecking Lyme!), but every day over the age of 33 - which is when my mama died - is like a magical gift I can't wait to open. I'm looking forward to every "What's next?"

16. Do you have any saved texts?

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I rarely delete my texts.  Most are promo codes from various businesses, anyway.

17. Ever been in a car wreck?

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Here comes a story: When I was 18, and my dad was driving me back to college in Miami from South Carolina, we left in the middle of the night. Sometime around 3 or 4 AM, I fell asleep as Dad drove. Sometime during my nap, we were hit from the back by a very drunk young man going extremely fast. I woke up screaming as our car spun and spun and what felt like 1,000 MPH, before we landed down the side of the road in the thick brush, facing the road. We were later told that if all four tires hadn't blown out during that mess, we never would have survived.

Since it was the middle of the night, we were stuck there alone (it was 1995; neither of us had cell phones back then) and both stunned out of our minds. Finally, a trucker started approaching, and I leaned over and hit the horn and didn't stop hitting that horn, telling my dad to flash the lights, until the trucker screeched to a stop. He found us, then ran back for some tools and radioed the police.

Meanwhile, the father of the drunk driver found his son, and the car, and knew something bad had happened. He later told us, "I said to him, "Son, you've got to go back and fix this.'" My dad decided not to press charges against him, which pissed me off at the time because my neck and back were all jacked up, and it threw off my college schedule, but it set an example for me not to be so quick to run to the law and settle things outside of court (in a good way, not like, in a backyard vigilante way).

The creepiest part about being stuck there in the brush was that the windows had all shattered, and my boombox flew out the window - and was playing screechy music the whole time we waited to be rescued! {shudder}

18. Do you have an accent?

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19. What was the last song to make you cry?

 This one, "To Where You Are" by Josh Groban. It makes me think about my angel son, Robby.

20. What did you do last night?

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As usual, I didn't sleep well. I woke up about 0230 and wrote the first half of this post about The Peregrine Fund at the World Center for Birds of Prey.

21. Have you ever felt like you hit rock bottom?

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Not yet, thankfully.

22. Current hate right now?

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My chronic, debilitating Lyme Disease. :'(

23. Met someone who changed your life?

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Sure; everyone I've met has changed my life in some way.

24. How did you bring in the New Year?

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I didn't make it to midnight this year. That was a first for me, in my 40 years of life. I was bummed.

25. What song represents you?

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"Crazy," by Gnarls Barkley is, I feel, my anthem.

Field Trip: The Peregrine Fund At The World Center For Birds Of Prey

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Way back on March 20th, before Jack's 14th birthday, Team Odette was invited to visit The World Center for Birds of Prey in order to learn about the important work being done by The Peregrine Fund. I feel absolutely awful about not posting this up before then, but my health took a nosedive shortly after that, and my good days have been fewer and farther between than ever. By never mind that; no more whining. Onward!

[Full Disclosure: We received complimentary passes to the Center in exchange for this post. All opinions are, as always, my own. No other compensation was received.]


On our way to the Center, we already started spotting several species of raptors, but since I am no ornithologist, I hesitated to venture a guess as to what they were - other than beautiful, incredible creatures of the wild, of course.


I thought this one might have been an actual Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus), but I wasn't at all sure.


Since we had just moved to Boise, Idaho, ten days earlier, the soaring birds against the stark, still wintery backdrop, reminded us that we were in entirely different territory than the flamingos, sea gulls, and of course plenty of migratory birds that visited us in Miami.


At last we arrived at the World Center for Birds of Prey, which houses and supports the crucially-important work of The Peregrine Fund. Speaking of Peregrine Falcons, they were eventually taken off the endangered species list in 1999 after they started disappearing in the 1970s, thanks largely in part to the work of biologists at The Peregrine Fund, as well as other organizations and individual contributors. This news is important for humans as well, because scientists realized that DDT pollution was contaminating insect populations, which in turn led to the pesticide's effect on birds and species higher in the food chain - including us. With the EPA eventually banning DDT in 1972, and through important conservation work, not only did the Peregrine Falcon population make a comeback, but food for humans was positively impacted as well.

You can learn all about the Peregrine Falcon on their website here, and even watch a nesting pair on a downtown Boise Peregrine Falcon cam here!


The beautiful landscape as we made our way into the sanctuary


Aside from raptors, plenty of other birds make their homes in and around the World Center for Birds of Prey. Here, you can see the abundance of diversity in songbirds [click to embiggerate] present here in Boise.



After a volunteer started showing us around outside, we were treated to a viewing of the majestic United States symbol, Skye the Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus). (Forgive the blurriness, please.) It's not often I've seen one up close, and they are just as breathtaking as I expected. Amazing creatures, which you can learn more about here. Like the Peregrine Falcon, DDT and lead poisoning diminished the population of Bald Eagles, and they were placed on the endangered species list in 1973, finally being removed in 2007 after many efforts to protect them and their habitat.


We also visited with Fancy, an Ornate Hawk-Eagle (Spizaetus ornatus), but I just couldn't capture anywhere  near a good photo of it. You can learn all abut this species here.



Ah, Lucy the Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura), which we've seen plenty of in our former home of South Florida. Also affected by the use of DDT, largely in the 1950s and '60s, the Turkey Vulture population is now considered stable and moving northward in habitat. That may be due to global climate change, so please learn all you can about what you, personally, can do to effect positive environmental change where you live. In the meantime, you can learn more about Lucy and other Turkey Vultures on the Peregrine Fund's page, here.



The next bird we visited was Stoffel the Bateleur (Terathopius ecaudatus). Native to Africa, this species is currently "near threatened," but their numbers continue to be at risk due to habitat loss, poisoning by eating toxic carcasses from ranching practices, and accidental drownings. Learn more about this beautifully-colored creature here, and what The Peregrine Fund is doing to help.


As you can see, there is a lot we can learn about birds of prey and how human intervention can both harm and help their populations and diversity in nature.


Many contributors, including those listed on the rock here, help The Peregrine Fund continue its important work in bird conservation. If you feel like making a donation, too, you can help this 501(c)(3) nonprofit by contributing here - and thank you!



Finally, the last birds we were treated to viewing up close were the California Condors (Gymnogyps californianus). One of the largest birds in North America, males of the species are visibly indistinguishable from females. The largest threat to these giants is lead poisoning, making them critically endangered. The work that The Peregrine Fund is doing to restore wild populations of this amazing creature is fascinating, so take a look over here to learn all about them and this important work.


As the Center's volunteer took her leave of us, we were joined by Education Coordinator Curtis Evans. The depth and breadth of Curtis' knowledge about the important work being done by The Peregrine Fund was astounding, and we really enjoyed chatting with him to glean just a tidbit of information about birds of prey.

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The view as we headed inside to the education center


Cameras keeping track of all the inhabitants at the World Center for Birds of Prey





As you can see, there were plenty of exhibits to teach visitors all about the important work needed to be completed by The Peregrine Fund.


Meanwhile, I was delighted to see that my kids were getting involved in the exhibits, educating themselves without my having to "encourage" it. ;)











Sophia enjoying puzzling out matching the proper eggs with their corresponding nests in the Discovery Room


The size- and shape-comparison of eggs (the bottom left one being from an extinct Madagascar Elephant Bird, middle Ostrich, and bottom right Hummingbird) fascinated me.


Seriously, I loved all the exhibits. Maybe it's me just missing my pre-motherhood biologist days, but I felt they were really well thought out and executed. What a cool and simple way to make the point about egg shapes!






They may be tween/teenagers now, but clearly the Odettelettes are still young children at heart when it came to dressing up like the birds about which they were learning! The costumes smartly taught them a thing or two while providing fun at the same time.


Awesome work being done by The Peregrine Fund


Embryonic Development of the American Kestrel



Kinda like The Butterfly Effect, we must all think about the choices we're making for ourselves which also affect our local - and distant - wildlife.


Lastly, we trekked over to the Tom Cade Theatre, where Curtis was waiting for us with an American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) to demonstrate.


She was a beautiful bird, and we were glad to be able to see her up close.



While Curtis was feeding the American Kestrel some "mice krispies" (heh heh heh), she rewarded him - and the rest of us - with flights around the room. At one point, she perched up in the AV equipment cubby right above our heads and would not be coaxed out! Stubborn as a... kestrel?


As we were leaving, we stopped in the gift shop and peeped these stuffed owls. See what I did there? So cute! And I have an owl fan (Harry Potter-crazy Chloë) on my Christmas list.


Heading back to our vehicle, we spotted a bunbun up close! I don't know about you, but seeing rabbits (or hares, in this case? I don't rightly know) in the wild is always exciting. Or deer, or moo-cows on a farm, or... okay, so I just like all animals, all right?


And off we went. We give our many thanks to Curtis and the rest of the staff and volunteer team at The Peregrine Fund for hosting us (and for their patience in waiting for my post) - and more importantly, for all the work they do to ensure these beautiful birds are protected, conserved, and educated about so we can try and do the same.

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Again, if you want to make a donation, click the logo above. It will be greatly appreciated and definitely put to good use.

And thank you, as always, for stopping by my humble space on the 'Net.


Saturday 9: Stars And Stripes Forever

Happy Memorial Day Weekend, everyone! Link up here if you're playing along this week!

Saturday 9: Stars and Stripes Forever by The Muppets
Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

Memorial Day is the federal holiday designated to honor American service people who died in battle. Though our song choice is humorous, we honor their sacrifice in our hearts.

1) Memorial Day was introduced after the Civil War. War memorials, as well as the graves of veterans, are to be decorated with flags and flowers on this day to show our appreciation. Is there a war memorial in your neighborhood?

In my neighborhood? No, but I'm sure there is some sort of war memorial somewhere in Boise. I'm really not sure.

2) Andrew Johnson, our 17th President, was in office the first time Memorial Day (then called Decoration Day) was celebrated. Have you ever met one of our 45 Presidents? 
No, but I really would have loved to have meet a few, especially Obama.
3) According to the AAA, 36 million Americans will hit the road this weekend and drive more than 50 miles. Will you be traveling far from home this weekend? 
Not this weekend, no, but I do have some upcoming travel plans...
4) Memorial Day kicks off the summer season. What's your favorite picnic food? 
I'd have to say I like the experience of a fun picnicking gathering with my friends and family more than any specific food.
5) Have you packed away your winter clothes? Or is the weather still so changeable that you still may need something warm?
I'm wearing sweat pants and a tank top, and I'm sitting on a heating pad. Our weather here seems wholly unpredictable!
6) As you answer these questions, is there an air conditioner or fan on? 
I believe the AC is on, because my family doesn't get chilled to the bone as easily as I do, but the fans are off.
7) This week, we are featuring the Muppets. Jim Henson made the first Muppet out of an old coat, and he used ping pong balls for the eyes. Do you have a talent for do-it-yourself/arts and crafts projects? 
Yeah, I guess you could say that. I'm pretty crafty. I miss my glue gun! haha
8) Random question: Think of the last thing you bought. Did you get a good deal?
Yes, I'm pretty thrifty. We bought our current couch for $29 plus a military discount at the ReStyle thrift store recently. It's sooo comfy. But our puppy has chewed about 30 different spots on it already, arghhh! Good thing it was inexpensive! :\
9) Crazy Sam needs your help: What song or a performer would you like to see featured in a Saturday 9 this summer? You'll begin seeing your suggestions as Saturday 9 themes in mid-June. Thanks!
How about Fastball, or Marcy Playground, or Tracy Chapman if we haven't done her yet, or Maroon 5? I could suggest so many, but y'all may not listen to that stuff like I do! :\ LOL
Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday 9: Him Or Me

Hey, y'all. Link up here if you're playing along this week!


Saturday 9: Him or Me -- What's It Gonna Be? (1967)

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

1) In this song, a man pleads with his girlfriend to make up her mind. Do you consider yourself decisive?

Well yes and no. Hahaha! It depends on whether it's something I care about or not. I hate wishy-washy indecisiveness in other people, though, so I tend to make the decisions around here more often than not.

Since this song is all about either/or, we're using that as our theme this Saturday ...

2) Choose a condiment: Catsup or mustard?

I'd prefer neither, but if I must, obviously it's gotta be ketchup. Mustard is the debbul.

3) Choose a sci-fi series: Star Wars or Star Trek?

Um, neither again, but Star Wars for sure if you force my hand! ;)

4) Choose your spy: James Bond or Jason Bourne?

Well, I kinda like the Bond movies and have never seen a Bourne movie, but Matt Damon... ooh la la! I'm going with Jason.

5) Choose your winter sport: Football or hockey?

Are you ready for some football???

6) Choose your breakfast: Pancakes or waffles?

I prefer waffles. All those nooks and crannies hold so much more goodness than a pancake ever code.

7) Choose your side: French fries or potato chips?

Hmm. I like both. Fries, I guess.

8) Choose your chore: Washing dishes or doing laundry?

I'd rather wash dishes. I don't mind either, though.

9) Choose your next-door neighbors: Munsters or Addams Family?

Both are fun, but I think I'll pick the Munsters. They seem slightly less wicked. ;)


And guess what, y'all?

Exciting, right? Congrats, Sam & Friends!

Whirlwind Trip To Los Angeles


Last week, Chloë was requested to come audition in Los Angeles. It was a spur of the moment request, ten days earlier than the official posted audition dates were to begin, so I guess they really wanted her. However, we had no way to get her there and figured that would be that. But no! At the 11th hour, my longtime friend Tiffany, who now works for Delta, stepped in with stand-by tickets to get the two of us from Boise to LA! We set it up, dyed her beautiful curls red for the part, and found ourselves on standby at the Boise airport early the next morning!

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Once we arrived in Los Angeles, we hopped in the shuttle to our hotel and found that... we actually did not have a hotel room, after all. They had nothing for us. Desperate and freaking out, because it turned out all our bank account funds were frozen for the duration of our trip, another longtime friend - my BFF Shana - stepped in to save the day. Soon, we were in our room, where Chloë took a nap and I waited until it was time to catch a Lyft from our airport hotel into downtown Hollywood for the audition.

In the Lyft car, our driver was really nice... and overly chatty. Chloë wanted nothing more than to rehearse her lines with me, but he kept interrupting to ask about her role, her history with acting, and so on. Argh! We did get a few run-throughs in, and soon she had her "sides," the part of the script that she had to know for the audition, memorized.

The audition itself went really well. The casting director was zenlike, and the whole thing was fairly chill. Chloë and the young man with whom she auditioned did some deep breathing exercises together before delivering their lines, and the director seemed quite pleased with her. We were asked for all of our contact information, and Chloë gave only hers, so I've kind of been all over her to check her email constantly! I did get the feeling they wanted to hire an LA local, though, so I'm not sure how that will go. It was certainly worth the effort to get her name in the hat, though.

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After the audition, my phone was dead, and we had no way to get a Lyft back to the hotel or anywhere else. Oops! So we took a long walk down Hollywood Boulevard until we found a busy cross street with many businesses on it. I figured somewhere along that route, we could both get something to eat, and I could charge my phone long enough to get our next ride. 

Having decided to grab sandwiches from the 7-Eleven we found on that other street, the cashier let me charge my phone while we ate. Really nice! Chloë was starving and ate a ton, so that gave me long enough to charge in order to secure a ride for us. We had the whole day in front of us, though, and while she had napped in our hotel before the audition earlier, I had done some poking around to figure out what we might be able to do. I had decided to take her to the famed Santa Monica Pier and have some fun at Pacific Park, and she agreed it sounded like fun!


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We all like fair food, right? My favorite thing is cheesy fries, while Chloë loves nothing more than a good funnel cake. That's what she wanted, so of course when we found this stand in Pacific Park, that's where we headed. The wait took forever and then it was a little overcooked, but neither one of us cared by that point. We were starving!

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Yum!! Chloë was wholly undecided about whether to put strawberries or just powdered sugar or what on her funnel cake, but in the end we decided to keep it simple. Good thing, because though we put a fairly good-sized dent in the thing, we threw out a good portion of it!

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I like this pic, because you can really see how red her hair was at that time. A lot of it has already faded out, so she's mostly back to her natural golden brown. We're glad for that, because though Rob and I liked the reddish hue, she hated it with a passion! Oh well. I say, she changed her hair for a movie role; doesn't that make her more of an actor than ever before? Hee.

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There were lots of sights and sounds to enjoy while we were on the Pier, including a billion and one pigeons stalking all the crumb-droppers everywhere. They were brazen, as you know those city birds often are, and this little guy was no exception. "Flying rats," my husband calls them.

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I was interested in this man, who surely was homeless, having his entire belongings on his bicycle and leaving the whole shebang next to a coffee shop while he went inside to procure for himself a beverage. No one so much as glanced at that bike, let alone messed with it, despite it not being locked up. I felt pretty good about that and wished I could have bought him some food myself.

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Another frequent sighting on the Pier were the buskers. This guy, Ben Bostick, had a really interesting voice which I enjoyed. I recorded him playing, but I don't think you can hear him that well with all the passersby going up and down the pier:

Loved him! Throw a couple dollars in his case for us the next time you're on the Pier! ;)

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And you can check her out on YouTube, too:

Clare Means was another busker on the pier that day, and Chloë and I both really enjoyed her singing. Check her out!

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It was a cold but sunny day that afternoon, so there weren't a whole lot of sights for me to photograph. Hence, you get Mr. Seagull here! :D

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We walked to the end of the pier, where there were a few souvenir shops to take advantage of, and that we did.

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With the beach right next to the pier (duh), we longed to go in, but it was just frigid that day. Not a chance of that happening!

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My beautiful, lovely woman-child admiring the sea

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I don't know why, but this sign grabbed my attention. I can't explain it.

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We've collected pressed pennies for years, at least a dozen of them, so naturally we had to press some in the machine at the end of the pier. I had tons of change, so we made all four:

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The view of Pacific Park from the end of Santa Monica Pier

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Get your kicks on Route 66! So now, we've been all the way West on 66 and all the way south, to Key West, on Route 1.

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One last view of what we saw leaving the pier, before heading to meet our next Lyft back to the hotel


The two of us crashed in the hotel room that night and woke up an hour before check-out the following morning. We had nothing to do but spend all day at the airport, and so we did! Chloë became powerful hungry once we reached our terminal, so we stopped at this French bistro-esque place. She really wanted some crêpes, but apparently we missed when they were available. Booo... I had to adjust her order to Brie and Gruyère grilled cheese, and she didn't much care for that. The apple juice and Moodibars I brought her seemed to make up for that, though!

Right after I took this picture, I attempted to open my Diet Pepsi (blech). However, it started spewing carbonated soda all over our table, our food, ourselves - and the two young Frenchmen at the table next to us! Oh, my gosh, I was mortified! The two of them jumped up immediately and fetched a wad of napkins to help us clean it up, and they weren't upset at all. They were so nice and smiling, so that was a blessing. I felt horrible for soaking them, though - and I swear I never shook that bottle!!


The ceiling in the bistro was covered in lights. COVERED! I had to snap a pic.


Just another selfie (ussie) with my Share-A-Coke for Herrera. Who knows a Herrera?


Our pizza in the airport that night was only about six or seven bucks, but now I can say I've eaten at a Wolfgang Puck restaurant!


As we walked to our final gate, or so we thought, Chloë informed me that I said, "Ooh, nice balls" right when a strange man passed us going in the opposite direction. Hee!


One last beverage before we were told to switch gates for the third time - always in a different terminal!


At 5'1" for me and 4'9" for Chloë, we certainly don't fit the Dutch profile, eh?


When we finally boarded for Boise, we were bumped up to First Class! It was Chloë's first time, so she was super excited!! All in all, even if she didn't get the role, she still deemed this her most fun trip to LA so far. I call that a win.

Thanks for stopping by!


Saturday 9: Mama Can't Buy You Love

Happy Mother's Day to all of you moms out there! Link up here if you're playing along this weekend.


Mama Can't Buy You Love (1979)
Unfamiliar with this week's song? Hear it here.

1) This week's artist, Elton John, was made an Office of Arts and Letters -- one of France's highest honors for people who have contributed significantly to the arts. What's the most recent compliment you received?

Well, the most recent one was kind of NSFW filthy. So I'll just keep that one to myself. Maybe the one before that: I think you're up to the challenge!

  2) In 2013, Elton had to cancel an international concert tour because he had an appendectomy. Do you still have your appendix?

I don't even know! As far as I know, I've never had it removed, but the last time or two I've had abdominal scans, they haven't seen it. Weird, right?
3) In 1979, Elton John was the first Western rock star to tour the Soviet Union. Would you like to visit Russia?

Not really on my list, no.
4) Elton and his mother hadn't spoken in years but he reached out to her and healed their breach in honor of her 90th birthday in 2015. Who is the oldest person you know?
My dad and my father-in-law, both in their mid-70s now.

5) Flowers and plants are popular on Mother's Day. How is your yard or garden? Is it green and/or blooming? 
Idaho is really weird in Spring, we are discovering. For several weeks, we had tulips everywhere. When those died, we had bright green grass. Now new flowers are threatening to bloom. And it was 85oF on one day and in the 40s the following, this past week. Strange place!
6) Mother's Day is a big holiday for card shops. So are birthdays, weddings, and St. Patrick's Day. Hallmark sells greetings for everything from "Congratulations on Your New Job" to "Happy Retirement." Who received the most recent card you bought? 
One of the best friends on the planet, and one of my longest: Shana, whom I've known since 6th grade and whom I'll be seeing in Salt Lake City next month. She's kind and generous, and I love her. 

7) Sam's mother is very careful when she unwraps presents because she likes to save money by to reusing wrapping paper and gift bags. Tell us one way that you economize.
I'm a major couponer. I have a big ol' binder and make lists and read sales blogs and the whole nine yards. I couldn't feed my children without couponing!
8) Mother Winters used to scold Crazy Sam for leaving her dirty dishes in the sink. Sam admits it: as a grown up, she still leaves dirty dishes in the sink. How about you? Is your sink or dishwasher empty?
I have three teenagers. It's never empty, but it's rarely my job to do them for the time being! We rotate chores on a weekly basis, and washing dishes seems to be the most hated job. I don't know why; I don't mind it so much.

9) RANDOM QUESTION: What size mattress do you sleep on -- twin, full, queen or king?
Floor! ;) Our stuff hasn't made its way to our house from Miami yet. So either the couch or the floor for now. Chloë, my 15-year-old, and I went to Los Angeles for her to audition for a movie role earlier this week. We slept in a hotel overnight, and oh, my gosh! I did not want to get out of bed the next morning. Best sleep I've had in two months by a long shot.
Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday Stealing: Crazy Chicago Questions

Hey there! Link up here if you're playing along this weekend, too!


Cheers to all of us thieves! 

Sunday Stealing: The Chicago Crazy Questions

1) What was your dream growing up?

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Forever, I wanted to be a marine biologist. And for a while, I was: I have my bachelor's degree in marine biology and worked on my Ph.D. in shark feeding behavior and ecology for a couple years. I ended up getting married and having a family instead of completing my advanced degree.

2) What talent do you wish you had?

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I can sing okay, but I wish I had a powerhouse voice. I'm definitely only back-up singer material.

3) If I bought you a drink what would it be?

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Any earlier than before we moved here to Idaho two months ago, I would have said a fruity mixed drink like a Piña Colada or a Mai Tai. Now, though, Hubs and I have been going to weekly craft beer tastings at the local brewer's shop, and I'm quite interested in beer now. For the first time in my life, I'd pick a beer. But not a boring beer. An interesting beer, with a nose and a story.

4) What was the last book you read?

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I'm four chapters into Factory Girl by Josanne LaValley. I'm already hooked.

5) Worst Habit?

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Lately, I've been eating in my sleep. I've gained quite a bit of weight. The other day, my eldest was making fun of me for waking up with chocolate drool on my cheek. Heh.

6) If you saw me walking down the street would you offer me a ride?

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If I knew you, of course! But please be freshly 'showerd.'

7) What is your favorite sport?

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I love watching my 'Canes play (and win)! But I'm also a fan of Olympic gymnastics.

8) What would you do if you were stuck in an elevator with me?

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I'd freak out, talk to you about my entire life (and yours, if you wanted to), and then maaaaaybe drink my urine. Ha!

9) Worst thing to ever happen to you?

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Tie between losing my mom and losing my son.

10) Tell me one weird fact about you.

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I obsessively pick at myself, any dead skin, any imperfection... it's an OCD thing. I just don't want it on my body.

11) What if I showed up at your house unexpectedly?

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I'd hope my house was clean enough and that my dogs hadn't recently used their puppy pee and poop pads.

12) If you could change one thing about how you look, what would it be?

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I'd get a full-body lift but barring that, a major tummy tuck.

13) Would you be my crime partner or my conscience?

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I'd be your conscience, I hope. Unless whatever you're doing is fun. Then we'd see.

14) Ever been arrested?

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Not yet! There's still time. ;)

15) If you won $10,000 today, what would you do with it?

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Pay a few bills, buy some new furniture, and take the kids and Rob on a road trip to Vancouver, B.C., down through Seattle and Portland, and then back home to Idaho.

16) Favorite thing to do in your spare time?

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Knit. I knit.

17) Biggest pet peeve?

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People who take six days and an hour to turn right in front of me. Oh, my gosh, just TURN already!!

18) In one word, how would you describe yourself?

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19) Do you believe in/appreciate romance?

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I do. Absolutely!


Thanks for stopping by!


Saturday 9: The Tide Is High

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


Saturday 9: The Tide Is High (1980)
Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) This song was originally performed in 1966 by a Jamaican band called The Paragons. Jamaica is the most popular vacation destination in the Caribbean. What's your ideal vacation?
Ideally, I'd like to go somewhere with Hubs (and maybe the kids, either way), exploring somewhere I've never been before that's off the beaten path. I hate tourist traps. I want to experience the local culture, cuisine, and customs. Love that.

2) In this song, Debbie Harry sings that she's not the kind of girl who gives up easily. How about you? Do you hang on stubbornly? Or do you know when to say "when?"
I'm more like Debbie. And the mules.
3) Blondie is a group that took it's name from the lead singer's most identifiable characteristic, her hair. If your band was named after your hair, what would it be called?
It might be called, "Can't Remember the Origins." I've colored my hair pretty constantly since 1995. ;)

4) Before her career as a singer took off, Debbie supported herself as a waitress. She even served drinks while wearing bunny ears and tail at The Playboy Club. Have you ever worked in food service?
I did. I was in catering at place on Longboat Key, Florida, called The Colony, back when I was doing my internship at Mote Marine Laboratory. Its clientele was often the hoity-toity rich and famous. That was a blast. The Colony is no longer in existence, sadly.

5) Debbie points to David Bowie as a major influence on her music and career. What's your favorite Bowie song?
"Dancin' in the Streets" is my favorite!

6) In 1980, when this song was popular, the best selling issue of Rolling Stone featured Robert Redford on the cover. Who is your all-time favorite actor?
I think that honor might have to go to Sir Anthony Hopkins. But for hotness points, I'm still giving it to Matt Damon. ;)
7) In 1980, Ted Turner revolutionized how we watch TV when he introduced CNN. Do you have any subscriptions services in addition to cable -- like Hulu, Amazon Prime or Netflix?
We have the latter two.

8) John Lennon was murdered in 1980. Today there's a specially landscaped section of Central Park called Strawberry Fields in his honor. If you had a day to spend in New York, what would you want to see?
I'd want to go to TriBeCa and Chelsea and see places I've never been. I grew up going into Manhattan frequently, and the Bronx and Staten Island on occasion (my parents are both from NYC), but never really got to those areas.

9) We're going shopping! Which do you need to add to your wardrobe: underwear, shoes or a swimsuit? 
I need sneakers and could use a new swimsuit - if you're buying! ;)
Thanks for stopping by!

Backyard Bonfire

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Jack is very suggestible. You put an idea in the kid's head that sounds like it might be a good one, and he latches onto it and mentions the thing at least daily.  When, recently, I brought home some graham crackers, he got the notion in his head that there should be marshmallows and chocolate, too. And so, I heard every day until this most recent payday about having S'mores.

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Robert is our resident survival expert. I mean, he seriously is - he was an Aircrew Survival Equipmentman in the United States Navy for the better part of the 20 years he served our country. So he knows about setting fires in the backyard. Do I? Not on your life. But I do know something about shopping! Thus, Rob was in charge of building a bonfire to make the S'mores for which I was in charge of bringing home the goodies. And that we did.

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The blaze was going furiously for a minute there while I stepped inside to get warmed up. It was a chilly night, and I don't do chilly very well. Plus I had the excuse of needing to ready the Hershey bars and graham crackers. As we all know, that is a job of utter seriousness.

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Can we talk about this child? Like her mother, she prefers being barefoot over any shoe in the world, but Sophie takes it to the extreme. She climbs trees, walks the dog, and clearly, roasts marshmallows with naked piggies. Which reminds me, is her tetanus shot up to date? Hmm...

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And what about the lad who inspired the evening's fire-meets-'shmallow hijinks? He kept getting them caught on fire and subsequently giving them away. To me. I don't care; burnt martianmallows are the singular food I'll deign to eat. Don't give me anything else charred - yuck! But I can handle these like nobody's business.

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I think this grumpy face was inspired by having give away marshmallow #3 after it caught fire. Or #4. I kinda lost count.

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This girl, on the other hand, and her sister were quite delighted with the experience. Honestly, so was Jack; he just needed help perfecting his roasting technique. Now, the fire pit has since been re-filled and re-covered and is devoid of any evidence. Perhaps we'll have to install an actual fire pit and make this a regular occurrence! It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience, after all!



Jack's 14th Birthday


Okay, so, considering Jack's birthday was March 22nd, I'm a little late,.. but better late than never?? 

The first thing he wanted to do when he woke up was make us some pancakes. That's right; he wanted to cook for us! We didn't stop him, of course, and the pancakes were outstanding!


All Jack really wanted to do was go to the Boise airport, which is right down the road from us. We tried and tried, walked all over creation down there, and never managed to get close enough to see planes taking off. So it was kind of a bummer, but we were determined to make the most of his day.


We took one family selfie (ussie) by the airport before heading off in search of more fun.


Jack had a free pizza coming to him from Grimaldi, so we headed out to Meridian and waited for Jack's order. He actually deigned to pose somewhat cheerfully for me. A feat.


We took Jack's pizza and skedaddled across the street to Julius M. Kleiner Memorial Park to eat it. We all agreed: it was seriously delicious. I'll have another, please!


After we ate, everyone took off in different directions. starting with Jack on the exercise equipment section of the park. He loves working out and trying to bulk up.


The girls, meanwhile, were having a tremendous time swinging together at the swingset. (Click to embiggerate.)


Sophia then headed over to the exercise park herself, and though her form was not exactly proper, she still looked cute trying!




Finally, Chloe quit the swings and joined us over in the exercise park.






After the exercise park, the kids headed over to the playground equipment for som
e more big fun.


By that point, I wanted to play on the zipline and the rest of the playground, too, so Rob grabbed the Nikon and snapped a few pictures for me - and of me. Look, I was there, too! ;)


The ziplines around Boise parks are SO fun!


At that point, Jack had gotten a little grumpy, so his dad shocked him - and lots of people - by loudly asking the ENTIRE PARK to sing "Happy Birthday" to him - and they did! He was so mortified, but I'm pretty sure he was pleased, too! ;)


After the song was sung, we got back to playing as though nothing had ever happened. But we knew it had, as Jack's grumpy mood had dissipated.


We went in search of Friendly's after that, for Jack's free birthday sundae, but we never found it. Rather, we found ourselves back in Boise at Camel's Back Park with its huge hill. I call it a mountain, because it's really tall and steep. The kids all started up, but Jack suddenly turned heel and came running straight back down! He hurtled toward us, terrified at how slippery the slope was. The girls only made it about halfway before they, too, gave up. Turns out this would be a challenge for another day.


He just kept looking back, yelling at how steep it was. LOL!


Sophia and Chloe trying to climb the steep slope


At last, we headed home. Near our house, on Federal Way, there is a scenic lookout point, at which we stopped so I could take a few pictures.


There really is no shortage of beautiful views here in Idaho. We love it here. Wanna come visit? :D

Happy 14th birthday, Jack!!