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Entries from January 2018

Saturday 9: Heartbreak Hotel

Welcome back, everyone! I had to do another disappearing act midweek to go into the hospital again for the third time in a month, and can I just say -- that's enough?!! Because it is. I'm home again now, and my fingers are crossed that this time it sticks.

Link up here if you want to play along this week. Let's go!


Saturday 9: Heartbreak Hotel (1956) 

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

1) Elvis checked in to the hotel at the end of Lonely Street. Where was the last hotel or motel you stayed at?
Utah YL Fall Festival Trip 091
We went to the Young Living Fall Festival this past October at their lavender farm in Mona, Utah. We stayed in this little hole-in-the-wall rinky-dink hotel somewhere near there (I don't even remember the town), and we skedaddled on out of there just as soon as we could in the morning! Not our most comfortable night ever.

2) He sings that Heartbreak Hotel is always crowded. The fear of crowds is so prevalent that it has four names (enochlophobia, ochlophobia, demophobia and agoraphobia). Are you comfortable in a crowd?
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I'd rather blend into a crowd than stand out on my own. I'm fine with crowds.

3) The desk clerk at Heartbreak Hotel is dressed in black. Do you often wear all black?
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I don't know about often, but occasionally. I like dressing in black, but I gotta have some color somewhere.
4) The song was written by Mae Boren Axton, who said it was inspired by the story of an anonymous young man's suicide in a hotel. She said she read in The Miami Herald that the John Doe left behind a note that said, "I walk a lonely street." What's the last note you handwrote? (Hopefully it was more upbeat.)
Utah YL Fall Festival Trip 066
I called my kids' pediatrician today to get one daughter a referral and make an appointment with the doc for the other, so I jotted down the appointment info before transferring it into my phone's calendar.

5) When Elvis was 11, his parents bought him a guitar. He had asked for a rifle, but his mama convinced him a guitar was a better idea. Tell us about a time one of your parents was right about something. 
When I was three or four, my mom, sister and I were grocery shopping. I spotted what looked like a bunch of spilled sugar on one aisle floor, and I've always had a big sweet tooth. I got away from my mom and found that aisle, and I actually went and ate some off the floor before Mom found me! She told me it was laundry detergent, and I shouldn't eat that.
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Turns out she was right...
6) Not long before "Heartbreak Hotel" was recorded, Elvis' father recommended he give up the guitar and become a truck driver. Tell us about a time one of your parents was wrong about something.
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Oh, my dad is always trying to talk me into not using modern medicine and coming back into the Christian Science fold again. Yeah, that's not happening.
7) There are many stories about Elvis' manager, Col. Tom Parker. One anecdote, about his career before Elvis, has the Colonel painting sparrows yellow so he could sell them as canaries. Have you ever been ripped off?
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When I was in college, I was headed from the main U-Miami campus, where I lived, to class at the marine science campus. My ratchet car broke down on the Rickenbacker Causeway, and I was stranded. My best friend Lisa was actually down from New York during her Spring Break on a visit, so thankfully I wasn't alone. A man with a toddler was walking along the causeway, and he said he could fix it but needed to get some parts or something first (I think it was the spark plugs). We gave him all the cash we had on us to go get those parts. To a complete stranger. In Miami. SO STUPID!!! Of course, he never came back.

8) Speaking of birds, Elvis once owned a peacock. It damaged his cars, so he gave it to the Memphis Zoo. In earlier days, it might have been dinner, for peacock was considered a medieval delicacy. What's the last poultry you prepared?
I don't remember the last actual meat I cooked that was poultry, but do our own eggs from our own backyard chickens count? If so, then I had some before I went in the hospital. Delicioso!

9)  Random question: You and a friend have dinner at a restaurant. Your friend left her wallet at home, so you pick up the entire tab of $62, including tip. A few weeks later, you two meet for lunch and when the bill comes, she puts down half. Do you remind her that she still owes you $31 from the last time you dined together?
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I would have had that all sorted before we even got to the restaurant, so that it wouldn't be a problem!
That's it for now. Thanks for stopping by; have a great weekend!

Product Review: Young Living Skincare Products


So since I've decided to stop representing JAFRA Cosmetics, I've made the leap into fully committing myself to using Young Living skincare and cosmetics. I recently purchased this YL ART Skincare System, above, which includes the 3.38-oz Gentle Cleanser, the 4-oz Refreshing Toner, and the 30-mL Light Moisturizer

Let me just say that the packaging was beautiful! It always is with Young Living products, and this set certainly did not disappoint. I couldn't wait until the next day to start using the products.


The bottles inside were gorgeous as well, and I appreciated their aesthetics. I used the ART™ Gentle Cleanser in the shower first, of course. Described by Young Living as using "a mild foaming action to lift and capture impurities without irritating the skin or stripping its natural oils,"  I have to say, I'm not a fan of it. It is too gentle! It's all fluff and foam and no substance. If you're like me and <ahem> frequently forget to take off your makeup before bed, this cleanser is NOT the one you're looking for to remove it (particularly mascara) the next day. I came out of the shower looking like Ozzy Osbourne. So that was a disappointment.

Thank goodness I had the ART Refreshing Toner to back it up. Young Living says it "removes any residual impurities without drying out the skin. With a perfect blend of essential oils, our toner will help balance your skin's natural pH." The toner helped remove the traces of mascara that were left under my eyes, as well as the rest of the little dirt or oil or whatever that remained. I did get some in my eye (with contacts in), and that stung a little but only for a moment. Oops!

The ART Light Moisturizer was nice and creamy, but not a rich, thick cream. The description reads, "works with your skin to help retain and maintain proper hydration. The proprietary blend of essential oils and natural ingredients will leave your face feeling soft and supple." Overall, I would say this is a decent starter system for someone getting their feet wet with Young Living, all of which products are made with their pure Seed-to-Seal essential oils. But... make sure you cleanse your face both morning and night!

YLEO Skin care collage

I had originally started out with this 4-oz Young Living Orange Blossom Botanical Face Wash, which I loved. I felt it worked much better than the one in the ART Skincare System. I didn't have any problems with it -- except for accidentally leaving it in my hospital bathroom (from my recent week-long pneumonia stay) when I was discharged, so that was a stunning loss from which I barely recovered. ;) I decided to try the ART System after that, but once that cleanser is gone, I'm definitely going back to the Orange Blossom wash.

Thankfully, I still have the 2-oz Mint Satin Facial Scrub. I love this scrub! Sometimes I even use it when I'm not particularly feeling like I need a good sloughing, because the Peppermint essential oil in it really wakes me up and helps me get started on my day! It feels amazing afterward. I highly recommend this one.


Now, those aren't the only Young Living skincare products I have used. I also use this fine-looking set of goodies. I'm going to switch it up and describe these from right to left, from the picture above.

I really like the Art® Intensive Moisturizer, seen in the white tub with gold lid. The pump system inside is fun, with a hole in the center where the product comes out when the top is pushed. I don't know why, but this brings me joy now that I know what to expect. I like the innovation. Little things, I guess... ;) About this moisturizer, Young Living says, "This deep, ultra-hydrating lotion recaptures the qualities of younger-looking skin by reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and helping skin feel smoother and more pliable." It's a nice, thicker cream than the Light Moisturizer in the set at the top, and I use it when my skin is feeling a little drier and/or less supple. These Idaho winters are so dry - and Idaho already has a much drier climate than I became accustomed to in Miami, so I probably use this one about 2-3 times per week. It absorbs nicely and after a minute or two, I don't feel like I've caked my skin in moisturizer, you know? 

The ART® Sheerlumé is a lovely cream that helps make my sometimes-dull skin feel much brighter and fresher. The description provided by Young Living reads, "An advanced formula powered by a sophisticated, proprietary blend of alpine botanicals and pure essential oils, Sheerlumé™ will visibly brighten and balance skin tone." I feel like it really lives up to that description, and it'll last a good long while since I only use it once or twice a week. It's a nice addition to my Young Living ART® Skincare System.

Now the next product, the Essential Beauty Serum with the purple label in the small bottle, is one of my favorites. If you're not used to using essential oils, the scent may be off-putting for the first few uses, but you quickly get used to it and, I found in my case, come to like it. Plus, it blends in quickly, so that scent is not overpowering in my opinion. Young Living says it "contains essential oils like Blue Cypress and Lavender, known for their ability to restore the skin’s natural moisture balance." To mix things up a bit, instead of using the Intensive Moisturizer, I sometimes add a drop or two of this serum (it's next to impossible for me to only eke out one drop without a second drop sneaking out) to the ART Light Moisturizer to add moisture and sheen to my skin. Like all of the Young Living skincare products I've tried, it blends into my skin quickly and beautifully, so that I don't feel greasy or oily afterward. I can recommend this product highly, as well.

Wolfberry Eye Cream

Every single day, I use the Young Living Wolfberry Eye Cream. "Wolfberry Eye Cream is a natural, water-based moisturizer. Containing the anti-aging and skin-conditioning properties of wolfberry seed oil, this cream soothes tired eyes and minimizes the appearance of fine lines." Now, at 41 years old, I can honestly say I've been using an eye moisturizer for 20 years, because I know that the eyes and the hands are usually the first parts of the body to show signs of aging. For 19½ of those years, I used a Jafra eye moisturizer, but now that I'm switched over to Young Living skincare, the Wolfberry is my go-to for this need. Believe me when I say that when you get to be about my age (or older), if you're not using an eye cream particularly targeted to this delicate skin area to provide specifically targeted moisture, it's obvious and noticeable. #SorryNotSorry if you're not using one, but if you're in need, I heartily recommend the Wolfberry Eye Cream. I was leery at first because I used the JAFRA Pro line, which is top-notch, but the Wolfberry stepped up and is a winner in my book. 

Finally, I don't use the Rose Ointment™ on my face but rather on the really dry areas of skin that sometimes pop up on my overly-moisturized body. If you can't tell by now, I am a lotion fanatic and abhor any kind of dry skin, so this rarely happens to me. But for some reason, my left elbow in particular needs extra moisture, as well as the occasional kneecaps and heels or whatever. I've also repeatedly told my kids that if they don't moisturize their hands during this dry winter, they may eventually dry out, crack, and bleed. Just a few days ago, Sophia came to me and said, "Mom, you were right," and sure enough thrust her dried and cracked hands in my face sadly. I handed her the Rose Ointment™, described as "a deeply nourishing blend for dry skin. Rose essential oil improves skin texture, while Tea Tree (Melaleuca Alternifolia) works to soothe rough, irritated skin," and she immediately felt relief with just one use. I wouldn't call it a miracle cream... or would I? ;)


So there's my bare two score and one year-old face after using the Young Living ART Skincare System products mentioned above. (Note: Obviously, I didn't use all the products I described, as I pick and choose each day which ones I feel are most necessary. I always use a cleanser, the toner, the eye cream, and a one or more of the facial moisturizers, though.) You can tell my face is still puffy from all the fluids - oh, my gosh, all the fluids (!!!) I received during my two weeks in the hospital, but never mind that. I can pretend it's not visible if you can. Please? [I started this post over a week ago, right after I was discharged, so things have eased out quite a bit since then. But I digress...] But not so bad, eh?



Now, on to the Savvy Minerals by Young Living cosmetics line! I have to admit, after 20 years of using almost exclusively JAFRA cosmetics, I was hesitant to make the leap when Savvy Minerals came out. I mean, look at my make-up case, which is entirely JAFRA except for the products above - and it's not even a complete look at the whole kit 'n' kaboodle:

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But anyway, I made the leap. Young Living states: "A Savvy woman should never have to compromise quality for beauty. That’s why Savvy Minerals by Young Living™ was formulated to include only the most pristine ingredients." Our site goes on to say, "Every Savvy Minerals product was carefully crafted so you can feel fabulous about yourself and what you’re putting on your skin. Our range of products is developed with an unwavering standard of purity and quality, giving you a full variety of naturally derived products made without cheap fillers or synthetics." Now, I don't know about you, but that sounds pretty good to me. I'd much rather have these products on my skin, all day long, day in and day out, than something ... else.


So now, a few months later, I own a Warm and a Cool Foundation Powder (I use the Cool normally, but when I have a bit of color in the summer, the Warm is more appropriate); two of the Blush and also a Bronzer; the powder Eyeliner (please use this sparingly - there is a definite learning curve with this one, so take your time!); seven of the different Eyeshadows, the Veil for a glowy, air-brushed look (seriously, this product is amazeballs); and a gorgeous Lip Gloss. I really want to get the Mascara, because I wear my fall-back JAFRA one every single day, but it's been sold out for months! Come ON, Young Living, make some more! If you go on the Savvy Minerals page, you'll see there are plenty more cosmetics to from which to choose, which I don't have yet ... but I'll get there! ;) There is definitely something for everyone, every preference, and every skin tone. I can honestly say, I love this cosmetics line and feel good about wearing it, too.


So that's me - oh, that puffy face, though! <cringe> - wearing all the Young Living skincare and Savvy Minerals products I deemed necessary that day. Note, I am also wearing JAFRA mascara, for the reason mentioned above. Except for my moonface, I do love these lines of skin care and cosmetics enough that I have shut down my affiliation with JAFRA after 20 years and am exclusively repping the Young Living brand. I can't say enough good things about it, so I'll end here. Hit me up here if you are interested in hearing about more!

Thanks for your visit!


Sunday Stealing: Friday Question Meme

Welcome back, strangers! Link up here if you wish to thieve along with the rest of us today.


  1. Have you ever tried to learn (or re-learn) a foreign language as an adult? Which one? What worked for you?
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  3. I tried to pick up French and Italian, but without formal training it was too difficult and I gave up. I would still love to learn, however!

    2. Do you donate blood? Do you know your blood type?
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  5. I'm O-negative, and yes, I've donated blood many times. I don't think I'm supposed to do it anymore, though, so I haven't in a while.

    3. Have you ever been in a play or musical?
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  7. In fifth grade, I played the Caterpillar in our school's production of Alice in Wonderland. I stole the show, too! After that, I didn't have the guts to audition anymore.

    4. Do you use certain text or ring tones for specific people? Who gets their own? Or do you just use the default on your phone?
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  9. I recently had to factory-reset my phone, which hurt like hell! I lost almost everything. I haven't set up everyone with their own ringtones and text tones yet, but Hubs has his own so far. Everyone else is on default.

    5. When did you get your first digital camera? Do you still shoot on actual film, or all digital now?
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  11. I have a Nikon DSLR, which everyone in the family knows is My Baby! For our 17th anniversary earlier this month, "Hubs" (okay I got it myself) bought me the new zoom lens I've been eyeballing. [I had a different Nikon with tons of lenses and things before, but the camera and most of the lenses were stolen out of my house.] Only, when I finally got the new zoom, it wasn't compatible with my camera! I was soooo disappointed. We returned it; guess we'll start over next month.

    6. What do you think someone else would say the most daring thing you’ve done is? 
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  13. I think that honor would go to eloping with Hubs exactly two months after we met online. Seventeen years later, I think it was the right decision. ;)

    7. Do you talk with your hands?
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  15. You'd think I was Italian, yeah...

    8. Do you have a lucky number? What is it, and what is the story behind it?
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  17. Ever since I was a very little kid, my favorite number has been 64. I have no idea why. I like to think it was the future math nerd in me that knew it was the perfect square of 8, the perfect cube of 4, four itself being the perfect square of 2, and 64 being four times the perfect square of 4: 16! (That made me sound incredibly lame, didn't it?)

    9. What kind of milk did you drink, growing up? And now?
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  19. I drank regular cow's milk, but I don't remember what fattiness percentage or anything like that. Nowadays, I'm extremely lactose intolerant, so I have to stay far, far away from la leche de vaca. I like Ripple, a milk made from pea protein. It's pretty good!

    10. What is your favorite kind of pie?
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  21. Apple pie! But truthfully, it's not regular apple pie. My favorite is Dutch apple cream pie, made with sour cream. Mm-mmm, so good!

    11. Are you a note taker?
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Oh yeah, I take a ton of notes. You know that Post-It Note® scene in A Beautiful Mind with Russell Crowe? That could so be me.

  1. 12. Do you have an eclectic mug collection, or is your stuff all matchy-matchy?
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  3. Mostly, our mugs are different hues of Fiestaware, but there is a mug for each of the kids that I made on Shutterfly for Christmas. (Hubs got an engraved silver flask instead, heh.)

    13. Do you have a junk drawer in your house/garage/at work/wherever?
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  5. Yup. It's in the kitchen, next to the refrigerator. Doesn't everyone?

    14. What is the longest amount of time you’ve worked at one job – and what was/is it?
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  7. I've been "Mom" forever and a day.

    15. How old were you when you took your first commercial flight? To where did you fly?

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Oh, I've been flying pretty much my whole life. I'm not sure where that first flight was to/from. I do remember my first solo flight, from Newark, New Jersey (visiting my grandparents) to Syracuse, New York (home). I've always loved flying!


Thanks for stopping by! I hope everyone has a great week. :D

Saturday 9: Jump

Hey, folks. Link up here if you want to play along this weekend.


Saturday 9: Jump (1984)

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

1) David Lee Roth does a lot of jumping in this video. He credits his flashy moves to his study with martial artist Benny Urquidez. Have you ever tried karate, judo, or jiu-jitzu?


A. When I was five or six years old, my parents dragged Stacey and me to their first-ever karate class. We were waiting outside, dawdling and loitering and killing time, when suddenly my mom made a mad dash out the door, followed promptly by my father. I asked, "What's wrong with Mom?" And Dad shouted over his shoulder, laughingly, as he ran past, "She peed her pants doing a kick!" This incident has shaded my opinion of ever personally taking karate classes myself.

B. Jack and Sophia started taking some faux-Korean Karate classes via a Groupon in Summer 2015, from some shamster named "Master Dave." The lessons were bogus, and they learned diddly squat and hated every minute of it. We didn't even finish out their 10-session Groupon. What a load of bunk.

C. My older daughter, Chloë, is interested in taking some self-defense courses, and I met a guy at the craft beer shop recently who runs a local Krav Maga studio. He said we could check it out for our first class for free. Free is my favorite price! Since Chloë is unbearably shy, I plan to join her in this. Soon, I hope.

2) Dave claims to be fluent in Spanish. Say something en español.

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That Keanu meme cracks me up every time!! I'm fairly fluent in Spanish and can say or work my way around most verbal obstacles with ease. I'm not sure what to tell you. Let's see: Tengo quatro hijos: dos hijas y dos hijos. Unos de mis hijos es un ángel.

3) Dave appeared as himself in an episode of The Sopranos, playing poker with Tony Soprano. Are you a good poker player?

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First of all, I have no poker face. I wear my heart on my sleeve and my emotional state on my face. Second, a former friend gave me $20 to play at the Texas Hold 'Em low-bets table in Vegas back in 1999 or so. I lost that $20 in about five minutes. So, no. I'm no good at the ol' poker.

4) Though known for his prowess on the guitar, Eddie Van Halen wrote the opening of this song at the keyboard when he was still new to the synthesizer. When do you recently venture outside your comfort zone? Was it a success?

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When I was in the hospital recently for this pneumonia, I was a fall risk. I needed help going anywhere and doing anything, including using the restroom. The nurse I had on the first two days insisted on staying in the bathroom with me and watching my every move. Despite my delirium, I had enough sense to know that I was extremely uncomfortable with this - AND I had an upset stomach at the time - AND it stunk. I was mortified by her presence while I navigated each and every bathroom trip. Needless to say, I survived, but oh my God, was it way outside my comfort zone.

P.S. Her name was Kelsey, and we eventually grew close enough during that hospital stay that I'm kicking myself for not getting her contact info so we could keep in touch and be friends!

5) Eddie's older brother Alex is the Van Halen drummer, and his son Wolfie began touring with the band in 2007. Have you ever worked with a family member?

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I worked in my Dad's travel business office in high school, for no pay. I did menial labor and basically all his computing needs, since he is so not savvy it hurts. He left me there for hours on end with no way of leaving, often with nothing of substance in the fridge or in the cupboards. Once, I was so hungry, I ate spoonful after spoonful of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter with nothing else. To this day, I gag thinking of that stuff.

6) Van Halen's first manger was Marshall Berle. Mr. Berle's uncle was Milton Berle. Does the name Milton Berle mean anything to you? 

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I think of late-show comedy. Like Johnny Carson-era and earlier. 

7) In 1984, when this song was popular, AT&T/Bell Telephone was broken up into 24 separate companies. Today, who is your phone provider?

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Right now and for the past four or five years, we've been with AT&T. We're thinking of switching to Sprint, if I'm right about their promotions that will slash our bill in more than half. If anyone has thoughts - good or bad - about Sprint, I'm game to hear them, please!

8) Also in 1984, Michael Jackson was severely burned while filming a Pepsi commercial. Would we find any Pepsi in your kitchen right now?

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You gotta be crazy with that nonsense.

9) Random question: Have you ever been so angry that you kicked or hit an inanimate object?

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I've been known to throw a dish or two at the floor when I'm super-duper-extremely pissed. Although not my Fiestaware, no sir! And I do have a rather large collection of it, though not quite as extensive as the photo above. #2018Goals!


Well I'm in a much better mood than when I started this meme. Thanks for the fun, Crazy Sam!!


Sunday Stealing: Conversation Starters

Welcome back, folks! Link up here if you want to play along today! I'm in the mood to just jump in, so let's go!


Cheers to all of us thieves!

Here are some conversation starters, stolen from Conversation Starters

1. What are some small things that make your day better?

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For the past 17 years of our marriage, Hubs rubs washes my feet and puts lotion (and sometimes socks, if I'm going to get up again) on my feet. It's so sweet and loving and romantic, and he does it whenever I ask without complaining. It's not quite a daily thing, but it's frequent enough. And of course I love him madly for doing it.

2. What shows are you into?

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Big Bang Theory is a favorite...

Image result for Jeopardy! gif is, of course, Jeopardy! (Yeah, I'm a total nerdy-nerd)...

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... and we are starting to get into This Is Us. We've only watched S1E1 so far, but I think we'll watch more tonight.

3. What TV channel doesn’t exist but really should?

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We're pretty goofy. And funny (IMNSHO). I think we should have our own channel. All Team Odette, all the time. Wait, on second thought... maybe not. ;) 

4. Who has impressed you most with what they’ve accomplished?

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Kids, especially ones who grow up poor with single mothers or some shit like that, who go on to do great things impress me. The examples, though kind of rare, come out frequently enough to make me believe that humanity is not inherently bad. I love these stories and will actually sit up and listen, take notice, when one comes across my frequency. Go Brainiacs!

5. What age do you wish you could permanently be?

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I think 35. I was at a pretty good place, both physically and mentally (ish), at 35. But I really don't want to be permanently stuck at any age. Stuck is stuck, and it's never good.

6. What TV show or movie do you refuse to watch?

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Sorry, Game of Thrones, I'm just not that into you. (I'm not a bandwagoneer, either.)

7. What is something that is considered a luxury, but you don’t think you could live without?

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I go berserkasoid when the Internet goes down. Ask my husband. I cannot DEAL!

8. What’s your claim to fame?

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I was the youngest person ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Oh wait, that was a teen-aged fantasy I used to harbor. I guess nothing, then.

9. What’s something you like to do the old-fashioned way?

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Dude, I wish I could still angrily slam the phone down on people...! Hmm, let's see. When the floor needs to be washed, I still like to get down on my hands and knees and scrub that sucker. Of course, now that I have my minions kids, I don't clean the floors, like, ever.

10. What’s your favorite genre of book or movie?

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That would be comedy. I love to laugh. There is so much BS in this world, I just need to laaaaugh and laaaaaugh to escape it, sometimes. BTW, for this reason, I completely recommend the Pitch Perfect movies. My girls and I went to see Pitch Perfect 3 the other day, and I laughed my ass off the entire time. So hilarious.

11. How often do you people watch?

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Oh, I'm all about it, Dude. Every time I'm in public, I'm doing that.

12. What have you only recently formed an opinion about?

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Well, it's still forming, but since people are now clamoring "Oprah Winfrey for President 2020!" I'm having thoughts about that.

13. What are you interested in that most people haven’t heard of?

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I've never done it, mostly because it scares the shit out of me to think about intentionally cutting through my hard, beautiful hand-knit work, but I'm intensely fascinated by the idea of steeking a sweater. It's on my Knitting Bucket List.

14. What’s the farthest you’ve ever been from home?


I mean, Guam was pretty far from the mainland United States, but it was our home for those four months. So does that really count?

15. What is the most heartwarming thing you’ve ever seen?

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A dad cuddling his baby melts me every time. Every single damn time.

16. What is the most annoying question that people ask you?

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"Can I speak to your mom, please?" when I answer my phone. I have a bit of a high-pitched, squeaky voice, so lots of times people think I'm a little kid.

17. What could you give a 40-minute presentation on with absolutely no preparation?

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Forty minutes is all I have to talk about all things Marine Life?!!! ::gasp::

18. If you were dictator of a small island nation, what crazy dictator stuff would you do?

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I'd make practicing Random Acts of Kindness and Senseless Acts of Beauty a law. Recycling would be mandatory. No smoking tobacco would be allowed, whatsoever. All the food would be organic and healthful. And Trump would not be allowed in. Or on. Whatever.

19. What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?

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Go SCUBA diving! Somewhere tropical, of course. It's the most amazing thing ever. I have always wanted to dive in the Marianas, and I just missed that chance because I was pregnant with twins when we were out there. It's the most amazing diving on the planet, though, so I insisted newishly-certified Rob go take that dive. And behold, it was good.


Why are there only 19 questions? It's a prime number. Not a nice, whole, round, symmetrical number. That agitates me.




Oh well, I'm over it. ;) Have a great weekend, y'all!

Saturday 9: Piano

Welcome back, guys!

[For those keeping score: I'm still here, not in the hospital, which is a fantastic thing. I did expect to get the PICC line out of my arm this past Wednesday, but my infection numbers just haven't come down enough, so I'm still receiving IV antibiotics through the PICC twice a day. But I'm home with my family, on the upright side of the dirt, and I prefer to focus on that!]

Now, then. Thanks, Crazy Sam for another entertaining questionnaire for us to play with this week. If you want to join us, link up here!

Let's get to it:


Saturday 9: Piano (2013)
Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) As she sings, Ariana muses about the songs she could compose on her piano. Do you play the piano?
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Yes and no. My mother played an electric organ much like this one in the 70s and 80s, right up until she died in 1984. Afterward, when it was time for me to learn an instrument, I chose to take lessons on Mom's unused organ. I did okay at it, but just okay, since I sucked at sightreading music. I still do.

2) She compares love songs, saying there are sad ones about how hard love is, and happy ones that make you want to dance. What's your favorite love song? Is it sad or happy?
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I think that honor would have to go to "If I Had a Million Dollars" by the Barenaked Ladies. It's such a fun, funny, silly, and yet romantic song! It perfectly encapsulated Rob's and my whirlwind 2-month courtship in 2000, before we eloped, and Rob gave me that album for that Christmas. It's the best ever.

3) Ariana's mother always told her that they took her name from Princess Oriana in the 1988 movie Felix the Cat. Who is your favorite cartoon character?
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Definitely Dory from Finding Nemo (and Finding Dory, but that movie was a let-down for me). She embodies me completely! I am so Dory. So Dory.

4) Ariana's favorite board game is Monopoly. What's your favorite board game?
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Monopoly here, too! Though with Hubs, it would be Scrabble.

5) She relaxes by baking. When you feel keyed up, what do you do to relax?
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Generally, I like to knit. I haven't done a ton of it in the past few years, because of Fibro pain and whatever. But I told Sophia (my 12yo youngest) that I will knit her a Slytherin (Harry Potter reference) scarf, and so I have about two rows cast on for that. I will finish it this month. I will!
6) She is a huge Florida Panthers fan, even though once, as a little girl, she got hit by a puck. Now that the NHL season is underway, how's your favorite team doing?
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Nope. Not a hockey fan.

7) In 2013, when this song was popular, the NHL reached an agreement with the players union and averted a strike. Have you ever belonged to a union?
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I don't know. I may have, when I worked for years at Publix, but I don't even remember. That would have been the only time.
8) Also in 2013, Pauline Philips died. Ms. Philips was better known to millions of readers as "Dear Abby." At its height, her advice column appeared in 1,400 newspapers across the country. Do you still read a printed copy of your newspaper?

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Sort of? I typically get four copies of the local paper on Sundays and that's it, but I get them for the coupons. The kids read more of the paper than I do, these days. I get my news fix online.

9) If you could get the answer to one question about your future, what would that one question be?
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Will I - and humanity on Planet Earth - survive long enough for me to meet and enjoy my own grandchildren?
I don't know about you, but the possible answers to that question scare the shit out of me.
Welp, that'll be all. Apparently I was feeling GIFfy. Thanks for stopping by!

Which publication or website do you visit for parenting advice? #CulturelleClubhouse

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As a Proud Parent in the Culturelle Clubhouse, I care a lot about my tween and teens, and their digestive health. There are thousands of other Proud Parents out there just like me!

Full Disclosure: I received a sample of Culturelle Probiotics for Kids for my children to try, in exchange for my participation in this Clubhouse. This occasionally results in posts like these, to help open the dialogue among parents regarding a wide variety of topics. No other compensation has been given or received and, as always, all opinions expressed in this post are my own.

January's Discussion Question is: Which publication or website do you visit for parenting advice?

My absolute favorite parenting website for about the past 7½ years or so is Positive Parenting Solutions, run by Amy McCready.


"About Amy McCready

and Positive Parenting Solutions, Inc.

"Parenting educator and TODAY Show contributor, Amy McCready is a ‘former yeller’ – she’s been in your shoes. So she understands what it is like to feel disappointed and even defeated at times trying to raise positive, happy, well-behaved children. Now, she’s trained more than 60,000 parents in over 21 countries, on 6 continents to transform themselves from YELLERS to calm and cool parents with the tools and strategies to solve the stress, and start to ENJOY their most important job: Raising terrific kids."

Sounds good, right?

When I first purchased access to the website, I was very hopeful that my chaotic household would become tame and more organized. Mostly, I hoped for less yelling. Well, as it turns out, we kind of run on chaos here at Casa de Odette, but the yelling and crying quickly ceased as we started employing the tools in the toolbox we gained from PPS. I heartily recommend the site for anyone who has trouble with yelling and wants to end the, as Amy says, cycle of "blame, shame, and pain" in our parenting encounters.

Now that the kids are older, I'm still employing these techniques as well as new ones that have become more relevant with their changes in ages, as well as the changing times. (How DO we get our kids off the 24/7 desire to be engrossed in technology?!)

Register Now

I highly recommend that you check out this webinar, if your homelife is struggling or you just want to bone-up on some excellent parenting techniques and tools for your family's peace.


So check out the Culturelle Probiotics Clubhouse, and if you're game, Positive Parenting Solutions as well! You won't regret you did.


Sunday Stealing: Happy New Year

Hey, y'all! Welcome back. I'm thrilled to be back after missing the last few weeks due to illness. Glue me down, because hopefully I'll be sticking around for a while. Link up here if you want to play along this week. Let's go!


End of Year Questions

1. What did you do last year that you had not done before? 

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I moved out West! Rob and I packed up our three kids, two dogs, four cats, two gerbils, one guinea pig, and as much of our stuff that we could fit in the remainder of our little crossover SUV, and high-tailed it cross-country from Miami to Boise in four days. It was a crazy, amazing adventure and aside from a few misadventures, I think we kind of had the time of our lives!

2. Did you keep your New Year's Resolutions/goals for the year and will you make/set more for next year?  What are they? What are your new ones?

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I always make New Year's Resolutions. However, I honestly don't remember now what I resolved for 2017, so I can't say whether I kept it or not. Probably some konmari decluttering, in which case... sort of. For 2018, I'm not making any resolutions. I just aim and hope to live a healthier life from here on out, much more so than the way I disastrously ended 2017!

3. Did anyone you know give birth? Or become pregnant?  Or adopt?

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My friend got married and had a baby boy, named Aaron! Sadly for me, I left Miami before she gave birth, so I haven't met the little love. Domenica asked me to crochet or knit something for her baby, but I've been in so much pain and stuff, I haven't had the ability to do it, yet. I think this year, I resolve to knit and crochet more again. Gotta put all the good yarn I own to good use, right? I'll make her baby something to keep him warn soon, especially now that freezing iguanas are falling all over the sidewalk in South Florida.

My brilliant mind fails me now, so I can't remember who is pregnant at the moment. Oh, my friend Lisa Keeney is expect #6, I think. But I am positive I don't know anyone who adopted last year.

4. Did anyone you know die? Or have a serious illness/injury?

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I don't think anyone I know personally died last year? I hope I'm not forgetting somewhat, sheesh. As far as having a serious illness or injury, that would be me. I wrote all about it in my last post. If you care, I detailed that experience here. I know there are lots of typos in the post, but I'm just not in the mood to go fix them right now, sorry!

5. What places have you visited? 

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We were invited to hang out with new friends at Lucky Peak Reservoir here in Boise, Idaho. It was intensely beautiful, just like everywhere we've gone in Idaho. I can't wait to go back again this summer and see more of it. 

6. Any new pets? Lost a pet?

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We gained 12 chickens, but after a few runaways and a couple of deaths, we're down to half that.

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Chloë also adopted a new guinea pig buddy, Alex, for her first little guy, James. Those two are SO noisy!

7. What would you like to have next year that you lacked this year?

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I will continue my pursuit of this grand idea of Contentment, rather than Happiness. I am often content, but those moments are often overpowered by thoughts of "now what? what's next? what else?" and I want to learn to be satisfied with the right here and now.

8. What date from last year will remain etched in your memory and why? 

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Probably January 20-21, 2017. Not-my-President Trump was inaugurated (ugh! puke! barf!) and my family and I all participated in the Women's March to protest. I made three pussyhats, for my girls and me, and I was proud to wear them and represent. 

9. What was your biggest achievement last year?

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We struggled a lot in Miami after Rob retired from the US Navy, and our financial picture changed drastically for the worse. It was really hard to find housing to rent here in Boise, from Miami, and I worked tirelessly for months to do so. Home after home after home slipped through our fingers due to the three-digit credit scores of ours that, frankly, aren't so pretty right now. But we're rebuilding, and I saw this home online right after it was listed. I jumped on it, and asked to speak the Lessor by phone, rather by email or text. He agreed and ended up talking on the phone to Rob when the time came, because I had to leave for some reason I now forget. Anyway, we landed the house, and it has been perfect for us. Such a blessing, and for it I am most grateful.

10. Did you get sick or injured?

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Oops, I already answered that in #4. Scroll up if you forgot?

11. What was the best thing you bought?

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We've had a very NERF Christmas here at Casa de Odette. Except for me, everyone received some NERF hyper-powered weapons (these things take lots of batteries now?!). We finally received all of our household goods from the Miami move on the Monday before Thanksgiving, and boxes and boxes were piled everywhere. While I was trying to work on unpacking and clearing the chaos out of our house (it's still here, by the way), the rest of Team Odette were busy ambushing each other with NERF wars. Micro-teams were built, alliances were formed, people were trying to wheedle each other's secrets out of me... these people were/are intense! And crazy. They all asked for more NERF weapons for Christmas, and Mum delivered. Even Hubs has been involved. It's been a daily thing. I'm not a fan of war and weapons and fighting and stuff, but this is actually good, silly fun. I don't participate - I can't participate, because of my Fibro or whatever - but I have to admit I enjoy this nonsense.

12. Where did most of your disposable income go (money leftover after you pay for food, medical care, basic clothing, transportation and shelter)? 


Generally it goes to having experiences and creating memories. A large part of that is Sophia's showjumping lessons, which she used to do at Miami International Riding Club back in Florida, and now does at Wasatch Sport Horses here in Eagle, Idaho. I'm trying to get the other kids more involved in things, too, because it's important. Jack wants to go go-karting, so we'll do that again very soon, and Chloë wants to take self-defense classes (we are starting with a class at the local Krav Maga studio) and get involved in archery. All are coming up, but at a more relaxed pace then the frenetic one I've tried to keep up until now. 

13. What song will always remind you of last year?

I think both the songs "Woman" and "Praying" by the new-and-improved Kesha will be my girls' and my anthems for 2017. Jack doesn't really listen to music much (except for his obsession with the Imagine Dragons), and Rob listens more to Classic Rock than anything else. The girls seem to have captured my affinity for current Pop, and the three of us are all fairly decent singers. "Praying" really spoke to me, and "Woman," despite the cursing involved, really struck a cord with me increasingly independent 16-year-old Chloë and always independent 12-year-old Sophia. And me. I've been pretty much a wimp my whole life, but I have stood up for myself in 2017 in ways that I have never done before. Kinda proud of that.

14. What do you wish you would have done more of?

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I really wish my health had been strong enough to go hiking and exploring more in our new Idahome. I am going to build it up, slowly but surely, so that when warmer weather returns, I can do exactly that in 2018.

15. What do you wish you would have done less of?

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Getting sick, dammit! This shit is for the birds. Sirrusleh.

16. What was your favorite new TV program? Movie? Album/Songs? Or if you didn't pick up any new ones, what are you still watching/listening to? Any recommendations?

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We saw a number of movies - some I slept through - in the theater in 2017, but Despicable Me 3 and The Secret Life of Pets were my favorites. Yeah, yeah, we still watch a lot of movies geared more toward a younger audience, and I actually like those a lot. I like more adultish movies, too, but I'm a kid at heart and frequently love the animated ones just as much.

17. What was the best book you read this year?  How many did you read?

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I honestly didn't read any books last year. I read some of some books, but I didn't go from cover to cover on anything. Not proud of that. Used to be such a bookworm; what happened to me?! I'm still not making any resolutions, but I plan to change that abysmal record in 2018. ;)

18. What did you do on your birthday and how old were you? Did you feel differently?

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I turned 41 in September, and neither Rob nor I can remember what we did on or around that occasion. Must have have been a real big whoopty-doo.

19. What political or social issue stirred you the most? 

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The #MeToo movement was a pretty powerful one, obviously, both publicly and personally for me. It stirred up some things that have happened to me, which I've never dealt with. I now realize that I need to, because they're coming out and looking to be dealt with whether I want them to or not.

20. Who was the most interesting new person you met?

Our neighbor a few houses down on the cul-de-sac, Gladys, is pretty interesting. She's elderly, has more facial hair than my husband, talks herself blue in the face, is part Native American, converted to Mormonism, and is never at a loss for words for something interesting to say. I love her. It's hard not to stare at her beard (please, God, let me have the sense to pluck that shit if I get to be 75 and that happens to me), but I love her. She brings us treats now and then, has invited us to this luau and the Christmas party at her LDS church, is just an all-around good soul. 

21. Describe how a relationship changed.

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My relationship with Hubs and the kids is ever-evolving the longer we're all together, of course. Now that Chloë is 16, she's maturing and more and more, developing a mind of her own. Unlike me at that age, she is not afraid to stick up for herself when she feels like she's been wronged. I admire her for that, and I encourage her to do it when she has a valid point. We had a tough time when she had a major depressive episode in mid-November, but it brought us more closely together as a family. And we're already a close-knit family. I think she'll be just fine. I think we all will.

22. Do you think you are still the same person that you were at the beginning of the year?  How so?

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Definitely not. I have moved my family from the East Coast to almost the West Coast. Life is completely different here; we risked everything for it, and it panned out. It was complete culture shock coming to Boise, Idaho, from Miami, Florida, but in a good way. I planned on not getting sick anymore, but as soon as I attempted to get a job and started working, boom! I got hit with Pneumonia #7 in a year's time. I've had two more and more severe cases of pneumonia since then, and I could have died from this latest bout from which I'm still recuperating. I've learned that my daughter and I are both immunoglobulin A deficient, and while most people with this somewhat common genetic defect (lol) are asymptomatic, Chloë and I get sick quickly, frequently, and seriously. I will need to get IgA infusions, and she may, too. I've been sick my whole life, and this is the year - I hope - that I figure out all the pieces of that puzzle. Oh, and ICYMI, I stood up for myself and set boundaries with my father - something I have never in my life done. I'm proud of that.

24. How have people around you changed?

Sophia and Bing

 We all change, everyone does, every year... or so I imagine. However, I feel like I ought to shine a light on 12-year-old Sophie for this one. As the baby of the family, she's really not used to being in charge of something or someone, and she has a habit of being, I don't know, a little passive when it comes to riding. That doesn't always work with the more strong-willed horses she's ridden, and in August 2016, she badly broke her wrist after her horse, Lacey, threw her when she dodged a jump. That led to over a year's break in riding, during with both she and I suffered from a lack of confidence when we finally found her current showjumping barn, Wasatch Sport Horses.

She's ridden a couple of strong-willed mares, Sunny and Daisy, up 'til today when she rode this beautiful boy, Bing. I didn't take her; Rob did, but Sophie described Bing as being "very jumpy," with a sly smile on her face. I talked to her, and she revealed he has quite the playful personality when being tacked up and down, too, like he has a secret song in his head! Anyway, my point is, she regained her confidence and got back on the horse's back this past Fall. She didn't let the broken wrist keep her down, and she has managed to figure out - with her coaches' help - how to show dominance over both mares in order to get them jumping and following her lead, not their own. Ultimately, she and Connie (her current coach) agree that Bing is a better fit at 17.1 hands high for those long legs of hers. And she fits well with his silly, "jumpy" personality. I hope she'll get a few more tries on Bing soon, and then we may consider leasing him for her to ride whenever she wants. I'm so proud of her!

25. What have you learned throughout the year?

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I've learned that I have boundaries and how to set them and stick with that. What? Who knew?!

26. Did you learn any new crafts or techniques? What was your favorite thing you made?

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Nope, I didn't learn anything new that was crafty. No new techniques on the old ones, either, unless you count a new cast-on technique in knitting that I didn't know before. Maybe that counts. Chloë and I want to go take a glass-blowing class soon. I keep seeing Groupon deals come up for it here in town, but I haven't jumped on it yet. I think that'll happen this spring.

27. What changed about your physical appearance? (Hair? Wrinkles? New makeup style? Etc.)

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Well, you know how I've been peddling JAFRA cosmetics for the past 20 years or so? (Well, now you do.) I started using Young Living Essential Oils at one of my BFF Shana's urging. I've gotten a lot of benefit from my YLEOs, so when they came out with the (admittedly pricey) line Savvy Minerals cosmetics, I eventually decided to come around and give it a try. Little by little, I've accumulated more Savvy Minerals items, and I've come to love them. So much so, in fact, that I have decided to end my two-decades-long relationship with JAFRA and focus my efforts (whatever little they may be) on Young Living. I have a shit ton of JAFRA makeup that I'm selling off little by little, in order to buy more Savvy Minerals. They're perfect. They feel so clean and healthy on my skin, and I know that Young Living doesn't sacrifice quality for profits.

As for hair, I'm growing it out and have been auditioning different hair colors in the brown-auburn ranges. Regarding wrinkles, not so much, but I am getting BOTOX for my migraines on the 23rd of this month. I'm pretty vain, so I don't mind dropping a pretty penny on my various and sundry creams and serums, but not so much so that I would get BOTOX to feed that vanity. I've been offered this migraine treatment more than once in the past, but I was so self-conscious about the idea that someone might think I'm using it for anti-aging purposes, I haven't gone forward with it. By this point in time, however, my various neurologists over the past 20+ years have tried every single headache/migraine medicine on the market, and nothing stops the daily onslaught. It's BOTOX time, y'all.

28. What are your hopes and dreams for the new year?  (Some suggestions: family, travel, work, lifestyle, hobbies, pets, appearance)

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I want to be cleared from this freakin' MRSA pneumonia that totally kicked my ass all around the block last month and now, and get and stay healthier. I want to be consistent with getting the healthcare I'm supposed to get, and not be procrastinating or postponing the things I haven't wanted to "bother" with because they just didn't seem so important at the time. I want to explore more of our new home state of Idaho, and hopefully get up into a road trip up North to Coeur d'Alene, into Canada and over West to Vancouver, B.C., and south into a Seattle, Washington, and then Portland, Oregon, before coming back East to Boise. I really hope this happens.

Chloë wants to visit Niagara Falls - on both sides of the border - so maybe we'll attempt that trip, too. The childrens' passports will need to be obtained, clearly! I want to pick up my knitting habit again and learn more techniques such as entrelac. I'd like for Rob to finish building our chicken habitat - an injury to his hand caused a setback, and then snow fell, and, well, it sits incomplete in our backyard at the mo' - so we can double our six-pack of chicky babies by Summer. And I'd like to shed at least 30 of the pounds I've put on in the past two years, thanks to medication changes and complications with my 9-year-old gastric bypass procedure. Lots to look forward to!


Welp, that's mah post, you guys. Hope you enjoyed! Or at least stayed awake... ;)

The 9th Pneumonia: Shit Just Got Real

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So this is a story about how, ultimately, I spent the 2017-2018 holidays. Here I was on December 4th, 2017, already sick but determined to rally and get better in time for all of the festive and fun Advent activities I had planned for our little familia.

Unfortunately, maybe?, many of those activities were outside in the cold air, and many of them were among a crowd of strangers. I don't know when, exactly, or how, exactly, I got sick, but I sort of documented my decline. Already in the beginning of December, I knew this illness would be significantly different, somehow, than the first eight times I ended up with pneumonia in the past 18 months or so.

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Here I was later, with Chloë on December 15th. I had already been to my own primary care doctor, complaining of illness and general malaise. He gave me 4 days (!!) of prednisone and informed me, perhaps for the first time since I've been getting all this pneumonia, that I'm supposed to be using my Advair inhaler twice a day as a maintenance prevention for breathing problems, and the rescue inhaler - hopefully - no more than once per week. By the time I saw them, I was using it two or three times a day.

I had also been to the emergency room the night before this visit, with Chloë and the rest of Team Odette to the Scentsy Commons Point of Light Christmas spectacle. I had not gotten better on the Advair and Prednisone routine, and I could feel myself sinking deeper into the illness. They gave me a few days - maybe a Z-pack? but I forget by now - of antibiotics and sent me home.

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By December 21st, I was admitted into the hospital. That was following visit #2 to my primary care doctor, feeling even sicker yet, but nothing was done. Absolutely nothing. He said my lungs sounded like they had "improved," and he sent me home with nothing.

No X-rays had ever been taken for any of these three combined visits, despite my complaints and despite the fact that I had ended up with pneumonia eight times in the previous year and a half or so.

No X-rays.

When I was admitted on the 21st, I felt sicker than I had ever been in my entire life. They did the X-rays, and then they did a CT of my lungs. The internal medicine specialist and the pulmonologist with whom he consulted agreed: I had the worst-looking set of lungs they had ever seen in their entire combined careers. I was feeling, I thought, "better" and didn't want to comply with certain parts of my treatment in the hospital after admission, like eating a Dysphasia Level 2 diet that I didn't feel was necessary because it was so extremely restrictive. Every time I tried to order something to eat, I was told it was not on my list. I could basically eat very soupy mashed potatoes, creamy soups, watery oatmeal, and... cottage cheese. I lived on those for a week. At first, I felt like they were serving me pre-chewed, unappetizing food and returned it to the kitchen without eating any, embarking on my own personal hunger strike. Thank goodness I could still get my beloved addiction Diet Coke from the kitchen!

I was stupid.

When my lovely nurse came in to tell me what the doctors had said about my lungs and inform me about how serious my case was, she was in tears. I didn't expect her to be in tears telling me how sick I was, in front of my family. By the time she finished, I was in tears, too. And after that, because I am a mother and I have a job to do on this earth, I agreed to be fully compliant with every step in my healing process.

(Thankfully, the kids were distracted by their tablets and were not paying any attention, which was a relief for me, because I would have wanted to deliver that kind of news myself.)

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This was the scene outside my hospital window, when I woke up on Christmas morning. I was excited for the kids, because I knew how badly they wished for snow. Enough snow to play in, build stuff with... and they got it for Christmas! I was delighted. But I knew the conditions on the road were not good, and I was sad at the thought of spending Christmas in the hospital without my family. I cried. My nurses brought me tissues and pudding. I took my solace that lonely Christmas Day in chocolate sugar-free Hunts pudding cups. Granted, I had some pills crushed up in them, but still. It wasn't so bad. Right?

By this time, I had been moved into the lead-room. I had had a shower down on Floor 2 on my second day in the hospital. It wore me out for three full days, and I had a setback. Sometime in there - I was quite delirious for parts of it - the internal medicine doc who had admitted me, came in to tell me about my case. He told me it was very severe, and he seemed both doubtful and agitated when he told me three different times, in three different ways, that I would improve, get better, recover from this. I wasn't sure if he was trying to convince me or himself.

After that, I was moved up to Floor 6. They were consolidating patients onto specific wings and floors, because they had a skeleton crew for the holidays. I was moved from my spacious 2nd floor room into this teensy-tiny lead-filled room on the 6th floor. The purpose of the room was to treat thyroid cancer patients with radioactive uranium. My nurse told me that the nursing staff had extremely limited time with these patients, due to the radioactivity, and basically had enough time to peek in and throw their food trays at the patients. They received their medicine through a double-door window. Often, these patients were from foreign countries and sometimes spoke little or no English. The nurse told me that these poor patients, usually female it seemed, were often trembling with fear and confusion about what was happening to them during their treatment. After they were finally released, the rooms were checked daily with Geiger counters until no more radioactivity was detected, and then other patients and routine nursing care could continue there.

Hearing this, I felt so sad for those patients, and I was more strongly determined that what was going on with me was relatively minor. I believed my doctor now: I would improve. I would get better. I would recover from this. I knew I would.

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Eventually, the roads did clear enough, and my family came to see me for a short 90-minute visit on Christmas Day. I was elated! I looked like hell but didn't care: this was definitely a photo op!

By this point, they and the staff were required to wear masks and, in the case of the staffs, full disposable gowns to come in and treat me. I had tested positive for community-acquired MRSA pneumonia. It was in all my mucus membranes and, because I was coughing so severely that I had to take round-the-clock narcotics for the pain that caused, every one coming into contact with me had to "gown up."

By this point, and outside first-class pulmonologist had been called in to consult on my case, and he visited me every day in the hospital after that. (I can't even remember his name, though I am sure it's in my records and in my discharge paperwork.Somewhere. One day during this stay, I was also so delirious that I could not remember my birth date, where I was at the moment, or why I was there. I was giggling and thought this made me so stupid; nurses were called immediately to evaluate me. I was still giggling and insistent that I was in the Naval hospital in Portsmouth, Virginia, having had a tonsillectomy. I was lulu-cray!)

The pulmonologist was determined to crack my case and find out why I got so sick so quickly, and why I've kept getting pneumonia all these times. Several theories were floated: The doctors seemed to believe my then-claim (which was later confirmed by bloodwork), that I had a severe IgA deficiency and make no detectable levels of this first line of defense in the immune system. I was highly interested in this theory because I knew - also recently confirmed by bloodwork - that Chloë inherited this IgA deficiency from me.

The speech therapy team were certain that I had a weakened swallowing mechanism and wanted me to have a swallowing study done. They felt I was aspirating frequently, and that this was leading to some of my bouts of pneumonia. I knew for a fact that, despite the inconvenience of the diet, they were right. On some counts.

I can never remember the third theory. That's probably a bad thing, because I was sure it, too, was playing a role in all these increasingly serious illnesses.

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The day after Christmas, Rob sent me this adorable picture of Paco in the new bed we gave him and Tapioca for Christmas. They had also been snuggling up together in it, at first, but eventually Paco showed Alpha Male dominance and claimed it for himself. I could see my husband and kids, but I missed my puppies something awful! I kept trying to get Rob to smuggle at least Paco in to see me. One of my nurses was on my side (hee!), but Rob did not relent.

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Two nights before I was released from the hospital, I had this male nurse who spells his name differently but sounds-like Bo, who is the one described above. After I posted this, he also refused to bring me my Advair and albuterol inhaler, or call the respiratory therapist for a nebulizer treatment, when I was having trouble breathing. I have many nursing friends on Facebook who talked me into filing a formal complaint against him. I did. I was shocked when, after that, he returned to "caring" for me! He was full of sad, lame excuses for what happened, how busy he had been, and how my meds were "in his back pocket" but he just didn't get a chance to bring them to me. Needless to say, I filed a second complaint against Bo - including the breathing treatments this time - when I was being released and the charge nurse came in to check on my level of care.

I must say, all of the rest of my treatment was unimpeachable but, bar none, the best care I received was from Rob. I can't complain a bit about how amazingly well he cared - has always cared - for me during this rough time. He's the best. He's an absolute keeper. Chloë asked him if I would be home from the hospital in time for our 17th anniversary on January 2nd. He could only look at her and say, "I don't know."

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During this stay, my normally crappy veins were even more uncooperative than usual. The nurses were no match for those rotten blood vessels! They kept calling the phlebotomists to do the 3x-a-day blood draws, but even the phlebs kept feeling awful about having to come in my room. I had bruises on both arms from hands to armpits, plus two more from failed attempts on my right foot. Those veins kept collapsing, rolling, disappearing, and blowing. They were upset I hadn't yet had a PICC line inserted, but on December 27th, the day before my initial release, the Resource team finally came up to put one in.

I was terrified! I knew that the line went straight to my heart and that if I picked up the wrong infection in the PICC, given my history of heart defects at birth and now MRSA-pneumonia, the outcome could be very unfortunate. Yeah. I was scared.

Plus I'm just a weeny, and I was scared about the process. I thought it would be painful and scary. In the end, sheer exhaustion went out, and I fell asleep after the 20-minute procedure began. Heh.

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On the 28th after a week in the hospital, I was released to Rob's care. Immediately after I left the hospital, we crossed the street to visit the Infectious Diseases specialists who had now been called in on my case. They taught Rob how to administer my Teflaro (ceftaroline fosamil), the antibiotics I'm getting via infusion in the PICC line, which are keeping me alive and steering me toward better health. They taught Rob how to do the 30-second alcohol cleaning of the port site, the saline flushes before and after the antibiotic is administered, and the heparin lock at the end. I could tell Rob was nervous, but only because he cared so much to get it right.

And he has.

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After I came home and had my emotional homecoming with my little family, I got the best gift! Look at all these eggs our six remaining chickens have laid! One of them lays brown eggs, and now we have an olive layer giving us those high-protein green ones! The girls seem to think the olive layer is my white silkie, Athena. Yay! (The flavor of her eggs is going to have to be an acquired taste, I think; I didn't quite like the omelet Rob made for me with them, but I know they'll be great in cookies and cakes, etc.) 

Apparently, there is a third layer out there, putting out white eggs, but her first and only egg so far was weak and broke easily before it could be stored. Rob and I went to the feed store yesterday to talk to the chicken experts there about fortifying her diet to help her make stronger eggs. Hopefully that helps.

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Unfortunately, on the night after my initial release, on the 29th, I had a seizure on the couch in front of my family. Rob says I was aware of it and asked, "What the hell just happened?" after it ended a minute later, but I don't remember that. He jumped on the phone and called up the nurse line at the hospital to get advice. During the call, I had a second one in my sleep. He hung up the phone then, saying, "Never mind, I'm bringing her to the ER right now."

I don't remember that trip at all.

What I do remember was being absolutely shocked when they told me I had to be readmitted to be observed for these seizures, since my neurologist had already documented my having a history of possible seizure disorder, with absence seizures. I was astounded at this readmission. The last time I remember feeling this shocked in my life was when I was 30 weeks pregnant and the OBs at - wait for it - the Naval hospital in Portsmouth, Virginia, told me that I was in pre-term labor with the twins. I remember begging them to make it stop, couldn't believe this was happening so early, and I felt those same feelings return on this past December 29th. I'd just been released after a week, FPS! Shocked.

The neurologist on duty, Dr. Miller, came to see me and called Rob from my hospital room. He asked Rob to come in right away and stay with me in the hospital during a 24-hour EEG. I had had another seizure in the ER, I just remembered, the tail-end of which Rob was able to catch on his phone's video camera. All the docs were looking at it. That probably forced my admission right there. Thanks, Hon. ;)

Rob set up the kids at home to be safe and independent for the next 24 hours, and then he joined me for a night in the hospital. Twenty-five, I think, electrodes were glued to my head, I was hooked up, and off we went for the next 24 hours. Rob was sleeping when I hit the "I've had an event" button for the first time. Or maybe he had run home. I don't remember. It was an absence episode, I thought. I could feel my temperature climbing higher and higher, and then I was suddenly wondering where I was. I hit the button.


My awesome nurse, Kaitlyn, was there in a split second. Like, so fast I thought she'd been waiting outside the door just for this moment, and several others joined her. I explained what had happened, and I was sorry to bother her, but she reassured me that I had done exactly the right thing.

The next morning, my next nurse, Clarinda, hit the button after another absence, a staring episode, when she came in to give me my morning meds. I don't remember that.

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After the 24 hours were up, Dr. Miller and my neuro agreed that the two absence episodes were not electrical in nature, but they wanted another 24 hours on the EEG to try and capture a convulsion event like the one they had seen on Rob's phone. I asked Rob to go home, ready the kids for another day by themselves, and pick up the tamales I had ordered from a girl off Facebook. Ha! I have been missing my friend Domenica's tamales, from Miami, all these months. I was hoping these would make up for it. I thought they were a decent (but distant) second, but nothing touches whatever special touch Dome and her family put in theirs. Sophia loved them. Rob thought they were okay. Chloë didn't care for them, and Jack wouldn't touch them. But he never did, even in Miami. He doesn't eat much anyway.

Rob brought me some tamales, these, in the hospital. They were 10x better than hospital food any day of the week, even though I was no longer on the Dysphashia 2 diet, that's for sure!

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I spent New Year's Eve with Rob in the hospital. Rob temporarily left to bring Chloë to a NYE party a church friend's house, and he brought Sophia and Jack to the hospital so they could ring in the new year with us. I ended up being severely tired when Rob went to pick up Chloë from her party, and I don't remember the midnight hour. I guess I was awake? Rob says I was, but I don't remember it.

Sometime that night, Rob hit the button after I had a convulsion. For the third time that button was pressed, nurses were instantly filling the room, blinding bright lights went on, and a loud alarm sounded. I don't remember the absences, I don't remember the convulsions, but I sure as hell remembered that!

Dr. Miller came in in New Year's Day. Happy 2018! He informed us that my neuro had been the one reading my EEG over the 48-hour test, and he had determined that none of these three episodes were electrical. Meaning, they were not epileptic, I did not have to take Keppra or any other epilepsy-related meds, and I could return to driving safely. 

So what was going on?

According to my neuro and Dr. Miller, I was mostly having PNES, or Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizures. They were probably psychiatric in nature, stemming from some unknown stressor or trauma. They wanted to bring in the Psych team to evaluate me, but I informed them I am already being followed by Psych for my Bipolar I, PTSD, etc. from my many years of childhood trauma. I was again stunned by this diagnosis, but I have an idea what may be behind these episodes. I've been putting off dealing with it in therapy for years - two decades, actually - but now I think it must be time. It's coming out whether I want it to or not. Ugh. This will not be fun.

Anyway, the EEG tech came in to remove all the electrodes from my head, and I was released shortly thereafter, on New Year's Day.


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So, as it turned out, yes, Chloë, I will be home for our 17th anniversary on the 2nd. Woot, woot! We had had these two bottles of champagne for Christmas. Those went unused. They also went unused on New Year's Eve. Finally, Rob popped the cork on our anniversary. I took a sip - barely breathing in the bubbles - and had about enough. Rob finished the bottle the next day. We haven't been able to celebrate much, barely even able to kiss due to the health risks, but we'll get there.

We'll get there.

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Unfortunately, right when I came home, we had the first full moon of the month - of the year, in fact. Whatever you may or may not want to believe, those of us who suffer chronic pain illnesses like mine (call it Post-Treatment Chronic Lyme Disorder, call it Fibromyalgia, call it whatever you wish) often suffer the most during the full moons. This is the TENS unit I bought a while back on It works like a horse, but it's not powerful enough. I often max it out on these worst-pain days. 

My doctor put in a medical request for a prescription-level TENS unit through my insurance, but they don't cover these devices. This one would have cost $150, which I didn't want to spend, but finally this month, after all this illness and now on top of that, extreme pain, I relented. I've been sitting here throughout the writing of this post, on the couch, with the prescription TENS unit working on my knees and the Amazon unit working my ankles. If I had four or five more, I might be set, because this picture showing the first time I tried it on my wrists was a total game-changer. Sadly, right now I already have the prescription TENS device on max power.

So... now what? Now what do I do? Other than taking pain meds, muscle relaxers, anxiety meds (sometimes helps, even when I'm not even feeling anxiety, to reduce the pain level), using both TENS devices on max, bringing in my most powerful Essential Oil concotions, and, when all else fails, crying and rocking in pain on my couch? I don't know. I have had many lidocaine pain-relief injections throughout my back, in Miami, and that helped a great deal. Guess I'll ask my primary care doc for another referral to Pain Management.

I'm sorry if I seem to be whining here, now, but I'm freaking 41 years old and I feel so trapped in this broken body and mind. I am so thankful for my über-supportive husband and fantastic kids who have gone out of their ways to try to be helpful to me since I came home from the hospital. So thankful.

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Yesterday, on Friday, I had to return to the hospital. Thankfully, this was for a scheduled Upper GI Series of scans for that swallowing study and to see what's going on with the problems I'm having with my gastric bypass, and not for another admission. I felt pretty comfortable (and maybe kinda cute for the first time in ages, haha) in these scrubs and really wanted to keep them! I didn't, though. Maybe I'll get some just for funsies.

Did not like that test, by the by. I was on a table, drinking first a bubbly solution that made me burpy, then the delicious barium "shake," then a pill that got stuck in my throat while I couldn't even feel it there... all while they rotated the table up and back, up and back, and capturing the whole thing on video. The power of fluoroscopy! My bariatrics doc will review those results with me on Monday, we'll go from there.

I literally see a medical professional nearly every day, right now. It's getting a little old, y'all! But I'm being compliant.

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Last night, the girls and I headed to nearby Downtown Boise to watch the movie Pitch Perfect 3. We've watched PP and PP2 together before, so we were all excited to go out and watch. Hell, I was just thrilled to be "allowed" out again with my baby girls! The movie was hilarious, by the way, and I died laughing the whole time. Gotta love Fat Amy! Rebel Wilson is such a scene stealer!

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Since my second return home from the hospital, I've even taught Chloë how to take care of my Teflaro infusion when Rob hasn't been able to be here to do it. She's so careful! This morning, when Rob had to leave to take Sophia to her showjumping lesson, she did the entire thing by herself for the first time. I was so proud of her. She didn't know what I was doing when I took this, but when the snap took, she muttered, "Are you really taking my picture right now?" Ha. Yes, loves, because I was proud of her for doing such an excellent job and being so attentive.

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So for now, here I sit. Yesterday, having my GI test done, running errands with Rob, and then going to the movies with my daughters... I admit I probably overdid it. I'm feeling a little worse for wear today. But not awful. I'm taking it easier today, watching TV, eating a pizza Rob picked up, and running my TENS machines. I have made no resolutions for 2018, unlike in past years, but I have the hopes for a healthier year - both mentally and physically - and learning how to take it easy and somehow figure out a way to relax.

I'm determined to be here for them. And for me.

Saturday 9: I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm

Hey guys and girls, welcome back to Saturday 9! I missed a few weeks due to illness, but hopefully I'm back to stay for the time being! Shall we? Let's, then. Link up here if you want to play along this week!


Saturday 9: I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm (2006)

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

1) Bette Midler sings about the storm that's raging outside. How's the weather where you are today?

Well, this bunch of snow (for Idaho) fell while I was in the hospital - what day, I couldn't tell you without looking it up - and is still lingering, but the temps have been in the mid 30s. Not too terrible compared to those of you on the Right Side of the US!

2) She mentions her gloves. Tell us about your favorite pair of gloves or mittens.
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I have a pair of smartphone gloves, similar to these, that I wear when I need coverage but need to be able to use my phone. I have a pleather (I think, I hope) pair of gloves that I like to wear when the phone isn't necessary. I prefer those.

3) Does your home have a fireplace to keep you warm?
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I wish. The last time we had a fireplace at home was in our Virginia Beach house, but it's been almost six (!!) years since we've lived there, now. After 10 months in Boise, we have finally decided we would eventually like to buy a house again here, and I am hoping it will have a fireplace.

4) Bette's father, Fred, supported his family as a house painter. Have you ever held a job that kept you outdoors a great deal of the time?
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A few. One of those was when I worked at Diver's Paradise on Key Biscayne after college. I did some SCUBA diving, of course (including some dives I wasn't "rated" for yet as an Open Water I diver, lol), but I also opened and closed the shop each day, took care of dive gear after the divers returned, etc. I was outside a great deal of the time, and it was a super fun job. I miss those guys.

5) Her mother, Ruth, was a talented seamstress. How about you? Can you sew on a button? Raise a hem? Darn a hole?
Sophia wearing my first attempt at machine-sewing. She looked super cute in her little dress!
I can do all those things and have sewn a few clothes on the machine for my kids, but I never got good at it. I'm the type of person who doesn't like to do things I'm not good at, so I haven't stuck with it. My mother-in-law, however, was an expert seamstress. She tried so hard to coach me from halfway across the country, but spacial relationships are not my thing and so sleeves and pant legs were my nemesis!

6) 2017 was a big year for Bette. At the age of 72, she opened on Broadway in the revival of Hello, Dolly! and won a Tony. As we kick off 2018, what would you like to accomplish this year?
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I spent Christmas and New Year's in the hospital, after nearly dying of sepsis. I would like to chase health and wellness in 2018 and have a much better year. I don't want to end 2018 inpatient, the way I started it! Other than that, I really want to learn how to relax and take it easy more this year. Those are not skills I currently possess, and so this slooooow recuperation period is a bit maddening!
7) Bette and her husband Martin have been married for nearly 34 years. Their wedding was officiated by an Elvis impersonator. Are you looking forward to any weddings in 2018?

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I honestly don't know of any 2018 weddngs thus far! Unless you count Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, but I expect that invite to get lost in the mail.

8) Bette and Martin are very proud of their daughter, Sophie, now 30, who graduated from Yale in 2008. Do you expect to attend any graduation ceremonies in 2018?
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We may be attending the June 2018 graduation of my soccer-star niece, Karen... But after I nearly died and my sister let me know in no uncertain terms that this was not a priority for her, suddenly that graduation attendance became more of a question mark than a certainty. I don't know. When I see my therapist next, I'm betting this gets discussed! ;)

9) Random question: Yesterday, who did you spend the most time with?
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Rob and I went out and ran errands yesterday, and he took me to my Upper GI Series appointment at the hospital yesterday. Nothing exciting, but it's those little things we love doing together that I think help cushion the blows of the harder things in our 17 years. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it, anyway!
Well, that was fun as usual - thanks, Crazy Sam! It's good to be back home, and amongst y'all.