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Saturday 9: My Valentine

Image result for paul mccartney valentine

Hey there, bloggy friends! I hope you're doing well and that maybe your weather isn't as overcast and gloomy as ours has been the past four days or so! This next week marks six months that we've been living in a hotel - except our eldest child, 19-year-old Chloë, who is now in her own apartment - and we are all OVER IT! Home after home has fallen through, and so the search continues. Send good thoughts this way, please!

As for you, I hope you're all doing amazingly well, keeping your distance and wearing those masks. Link up here if you're playing along this weekend!

And let's get to it...

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Saturday 9: My Valentine (2011)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.
 
1) Paul McCartney sings that he won't let a day go by without remembering why he loves his valentine. What blessings are you thankful for today?
 

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Well, I mentioned how frustrated we've been with our housing situation, but I have been cognizant the entire time that we are fortunate to be able to have shelter these past six months of hotel living, plenty of food, warm clothes, and all that. Our bottom three levels of needs on Maslow's hierarchy are pretty much covered, and I'm thankful for that.

2) Paul directed the video of Natalie Portman translating his song into American Sign Language (ASL), which is the third most commonly-used language in both the United States and Canada. British Sign Language (BSL), commonly used in EU countries, is very different. Do you find it easy to learn new languages?
 
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I do, actually. I pick up accents quickly as well, and so do my daughters. In high school, one of my best friends said I should become a linguist, because I just pick up the languages so, kind of, seamlessly. At one point, I was learning several at a time (Spanish, Japanese, Italian, Arabic...), but now I am quite rusty.
 
3) The song is on Paul's Kisses on the Bottom CD, for which he won one of his 18 Grammy Awards. What compliment or accolade have you recently received?
 
No description available.
 
Well, dismissing the obvious typo, this Chinese fortune cookie seems to think I've done something worthy.

4) Paul is an honorary NYPD detective. He was given this designation for performing a charity concert after 9/11. Do you know anyone in law enforcement?
 
Image result for miami police department
 
Yeah, in college I had a boyfriend who was a security guard, and we met when he was assigned to the store where I worked. He's now a member of the Miami PD. We keep in touch here and there on Twitter.

5) Bob Dylan has said of Paul, "I'm in awe of McCartney. He's about the only one I'm in awe of. He can do it all. He never lets up. He's just so effortless." Tell us about someone whose talent you admire.
 
Mobiyunni drawing (2)
I really admire our youngest child, Sophia. She excels at whatever she decides to put her mind to, whether it's art, music, horseriding, or whatever. She's got a talent for being talented, that one!
 
This is the last Saturday 9 before Valentine's Day and so this morning we shall focus on the upcoming holiday. 

6) The holiday is also known as The Feast of St. Valentine. Do you have a special meal planned for February 14?
 
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Dudes, we're living in a hotel. Would you settle for a feast of St. Taco Bell?
 
7) The phrase "wear your heart on your sleeve" began in medieval times. On Valentine's Day, men would celebrate the holiday by displaying their lady love's name on their sleeves. If you were going to adopt this custom, whose name would you wear?
 
Image result for heart Rob
 
That's the one!

8) Women buy and send more Valentines than men do. Who received the last greeting card you sent?
 
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A baby dragon. ♥ I'm a member of the Paper Hugs group in the Mama Dragons, which is an affirming and supportive group for moms of LGBTQIA+ children. Most of the Paper Hugs I'm assigned to send are for the kiddos that need support or are having a birthday or just need a kind "hello." I think I sent out seven yesterday, and I love being a part of this program so much.

9) Men buy and send more roses on Valentine's Day than women do. What's your favorite flower?
 
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Tiger lilies are my absolute favorites, but since they're not always readily available, yellow roses or any color of tulip would delight me.
 
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Well, then, back to the house-hunting search I go. Ughhhh. Come on, Maryland. Give up some addresses!
 
Have yourselves a lovely week, and if you don't have a loved one to throw all your affection toward tomorrow, make that person be yourself! You deserve it.
 
Fin.

Sundays In My City: Justin Abel Tattoo & Piercing

Sundays In My City

Well, hello and good evening. It's 11:17 PM on Sunday night, which means I'm late AF but still on time. How can that be? #BecauseMe, that's why.

Welcome to another edition of Sundays in my City, brought to us by Claudya; link up here if you want to share with us about your corner of the world, too!

Justin Abel selfie

So this is Justin Abel. Here in Mountain Home, Idaho, Justin is doing it all at his academy: Super-high professional tattoos, piercings, hair removal, tattoo removal, CPR/First-Aid Training for the Red Cross, murals, oil and acrylic family portraits, and professional skin care, and micro-needling. I don't know how he's got time and energy for all that, but today he explained that it's mostly mania. As someone with Bipolar I, I get that for sure! But instead of tattooing, I stay up all night and bake everything in the house.  

Justin Abel Kelsey Grammar

This is a portrait of Kelsey Grammar that Justin did. I think he draws them by hand, and apparently he has done some for celebrities by commission. I heard that one did not like hers, because it was so perfect that it revealed her flaws, and she didn't want that!

Justin Abel Seth Meyers

And here's one of Seth Meyers that Justin did. Isn't that amazing? 

Chloe's Tattoo

A year ago, Justin threw an event for first-time customers where he gave everyone, I think, either $50 or $100 in tattoos, tattoo removal, or piercings. It was just before Chloë's 17th birthday then, and she opted to get this Harry Potter tattoo. She's HP-mad, if you didn't know!

Sophia Piercing

And Sophia got her helix double-pierced. I have mine done, too - for over 20 years - and both of us have had issues with getting those to heal! I also had my septum and my right tragus pierced the day Justin gave out free services last year.

Rob's Tattoo

My favorite thing was that Rob finally got to have his separation of service year, 2013, added to the 1993 tattoo (not visible here) he got when he entered Boot Camp.

So fast-forward to today:

08112019 Justin Abel Doughnut Party

On top of everything else Justin does, he threw a big party all day today for the community to raise awareness about a new project he's doing: he bought the place next door from his academy and plans to turn it into either a sliding-scale high-quality sushi restaurant, or as I learned today, a teens' arcade. Hmm. With three teens, and all of us loving sushi, I am soosoosososo torn on which way to vote here! My belleh wants the soosh, but there is literally nothing here for the kids to do, so... gotta go with my Mom Gut on this one, I guess.

08112019 Justin Abel Doughnut Party 2

When we got to the shindig, we found Justin and crew making tons of doughnuts, but they needed help. In short order, Sophia and Chloë had gloved up and stepped in to lend a hand! They went full-tilt, and I can't really be out the in sun too long, so we left them there for a couple hours and went home! Ha. Oh, and the best part? Justin was raffling off $6,000 worth of his services and actual real cash in baskets. I don't know who won yet, but I've got a pair of crossed fingers! Rob wants a lot of tattoos, but that "2013" is the only one he's gotten during our marriage. Money's tight, y'know?

Anyway, I just wanted to give a shout-out to Justin Abel and his arts academy here in Mountain Home, where we now live. It's truly gratifying to see that there are decent people in the world, giving just for the sake of giving.

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I showed you mine, now show me yours!

Share your city/town/suburb/you name it! Think of this as a photography hop that lets you share your part of the world and lets you travel virtually. If you link up, please link back or post the Sundays In My City button either in your post or sidebar to let people know that other bloggers are sharing their communities too. Happy trails!  

Let’s travel the world together!

Fin.

Fin.


Sunday Stealing: Would You Rather?

Heya, folks! Welcome back to my corner of Ye Olde Interwebs. Glad to have you back. This week, we're playing a fun round of Would You Rather with Bev over at SunSt. ;) Link up here if you'd like to play along with us this week!

Would you rather be able to detect any lie you hear or get away with any lie you tell?

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Well, hmm. Both would be most useful. ;) I think, as a wife and mother, I'd have to say I'd rather be able to detect any lie I hear. I mean, I know each member of my family's "tells" pretty well, but there are those times...

Would you rather be a hopeless romantic or a hopeless unromantic?

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Oh, I'm a hopeless romantic, and I rather like it that way.

Would you rather have too many friends or too few?

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Um, why would I chose to have too few friends?

Would you rather have no taste buds or be blind?

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Easy: no taste buds. I have already significantly lost my sense of taste & smell, and while boring sometimes, it's not the end of the world. But I literally like to live my life in living color, and all the visual beauty in the world would be so... I'd be devastated if I lost that.

Would you rather never hear music again or lose the ability to read?

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Ooh, that's a tough one. I can't decide. Would I have the ability to re-learn how to read? Hm. If not, then please do one to me and don't tell me which; it'll hurt either way.

Would you rather find true love or be rich?

Appreciate Those Who Don't Give Up On You

If I didn't have true love, I'd never consider myself to be rich. One contributes to happiness; the other contributes to convenience.

Would you rather be the richest person or the smartest?

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I'm pretty fond of being intelligent. Being rich is overrated.

Would you rather create history or delete it?

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I'd much rather create history, especially if it's good stuff. Even bad stuff shouldn't be deleted from history, because well,... Winston Churchill.

Would you rather create a great piece of art and not get credit or get credit for a piece of art you didn’t create?

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I would never want to get credit for something I didn't do, good or bad. That would make me feel rotten. I'd much rather have a secret sort of joy over creating something beautiful that others admired, knowing I gave them something special.

Would you rather age from the neck up, or from the neck down.

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Hands down, neck down!

Would you rather see the world but live in poverty or stay in one place and live rich?

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I'd travel and travel and travel until I dropped.

Would you rather become famous or powerful?

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I'd never want to risk being drunk with power, so I hope I'd be famous for something wonderful!

Would you rather be a creative person or a technical person?

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I like being a creative. There's always something brewing.

Would you rather get a paper cut whenever you touch paper or bite your tongue whenever you eat something?

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I do bite my tongue constantly already, and while it's painful, I guess it wouldn't be any more painful to keep doing it. On the other hand, paper cuts are the worst!!

Would you rather wake up in the morning looking like a giraffe or a kangaroo?

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Does it matter? It's just a silly question. ;) 

Would you rather speak “whale” or read babies’ minds?

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I can already do both. Both worthy abilities under the right circumstances...

Would you rather eat pizza every day or never eat pizza again?

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Hey, now, don't take pizza away from this New Yorker! It didn't say I could only eat pizza, or how much pizza I had to eat, so eating a little a day is much preferable to never eating it again. (P.S. This pizza is what I ate in Dubrovnik, Croatia, while on our Mediterranean cruise in 2008. Such good times!)

Would you rather stay forever at your current age or be 10 years younger?

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Ten times out of ten, I'd want to be a decade younger than I am right now. Getting older is for the birds! Especially now that my health has taken a sharp detour south for the past four years. Hit the rewind button, please!

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Thanks for the fun meme, Bev! Y'all have a good week! Hopefully I'll be here on time next week for S9 & SS. I have to take my daughters to Boise Pride on Friday & Saturday.

Image result for tiny waving pride flag gif Cheers! Image result for tiny waving pride flag gif

Fin.


Sundays In My City: Creativity

Sundays In My City
Hey, guys! Happy Sunday evening to you! It's been a while (seems like my M.O.) since I joined Claudya on her Sundays in my City funtivity, but I'm feeling inspired to write on my blahg, and write in general, more lately.
If you want to show us what's going on in your neck of the woods, link up here!
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Melanie's Middle Eastern Falafel & Couscous
I feel like creating again lately, but I'm easing into it slowly. Having a nasty chronic illness (actually, more like 20) has kind of put my ability to be creative on the back burner, but that's gotten staid and boring.
Anyway, so the other night, I "unvented" (word borrowed from the amazing knit-queen, Elizabeth Zimmermann) a meal recipe that I was hankering for but for which I couldn't find online. So I made it up, typed it all up with big words and silly words, printed it and laminated it, and then handed it over to Hubs to cook for me. (Hee! Yes, but, in my defense, standing up at the stove for long periods of time is extremely difficult for me now.)
Between the two of us, we created Lentil Falafel with Yoghurt and Spiced Couscous. It's delicious! Hit me up if you'd like me to send you a copy of the recipe.
***
03172019 Robs Homemade Monkey Bread
So maybe this doesn't fall under the umbrella of "creativity" so much (at least, not ours) since I sent Hubs this recipe from the blog "The Kitchen Magpie." All he technically did was follow the recipe and omit the raisins. But look at it! I appreciate it as a visual work of art and titillation for my taste buds. And so it's included.
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Sophie's tattoo on me 03072019
The rest of the entries in this post are from my youngest child, 13-year-old Sophia. This is my foot. One night, she and I were sitting around alone at home together, when she went and got all the dry-erase markers. An hour or two later, she and I were covered in her works of art. Unfortunately, my favorite thing was the hibiscus she drew on her own right hand, but because it was dry-erase, she ended up having to wash her hands before I got a picture of it. It was beautious!
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Rose Stamp Collage
The main library here in Boise, Idaho, is pretty cool. They have all kinds of fun programs for kids and teens. Sophie went to the one last week for the first time (I'd just found out about it) and came home with this rubber stamp for a rose that she'd carved herself. Pretty cool, huh?
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03072019 Meme Machine Sophie's Neon Sign
This is another result of a different program at the same library. Sophia made this neon sign that reads "meme machine." I love it! I think it's hanging up in her bedroom window right now.
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03122019 Impressionistic Monet Tree
And finally, this Impressionistic tree that Sophia painted (and she says that she cannot paint!) was her final assignment for the Claude Monet unit in our homeschool art program. It's called Meet The Masters, and each week, she (and I) learn about another master artist, and then she practices the style of each. I'm so proud of this one, partly because I do think it's so good, and partly because she really does claim no painting ability. I'm afraid I have to disagree!
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So that's what's up in Boise. I'd love to see your part of the world!
Thanks, Claudya, for hosting this fun romp-around.
Fin.

Saturday 9: A Few Of My Favorite Things

Hey, everyone! Right now we're in a big freakin' family argument because my oldest, Chloë, wants to treat everyone to something for dinner... However, I have super-strong, scientifically-backed, non-emotional convictions about eating vegan and will not sway, plus I have had gastric bypass surgery resulting in a teeny-tiny gastric pouch, so the Golden Corral buffet she wants to go to does not make any sense for me. And I don't feel well. So I don't want to go. Some people want Chinese food, some people want pizza - all of which have vegan choices - but nobody agrees. AND I had already bought the ingredients for what I had planned for dinner.

So this is fun.

🙄

Anyway, since nothing is really happening on the dinner end of things, I thought I'd get with the program and get my S9 conquered. So let's do this!

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Saturday 9: My Favorite Things (2018)
 
Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) This week's artist, Jennie Abrahamson, is very happy living in Stockholm, but she refers to Paris as "a flirt." She enjoys her time there so much she always wants to return. Is there a place you've visited that tugs at your heart and imagination, tempting you to return?

Oh, yes. I loved every single stop on our 12-day European cruise in 2008, but I think city of Lucca in Italy was exceedingly delightful. I'd go back to any of those ports in a heartbeat, but to meander through Lucca again - even 13 years later with my health - would make me jump for joy!

2) Jennie has said her music has been heavily influenced by 80s pop, which was popular in her early teen years. Are your favorite songs the ones you listened to when you were growing up?

Image result for ariana grande god is a woman

Oh, nah. I mean, I love my 80s songs for sure, but I love listening to current pop music a ton, too. But I mean, I was listening to Vivaldi and Tchaikovsky and Mozart earlier this afternoon. I think right now I'm most obsessed with the Sweetener and Thank U, Next latest albums from Ariana Grande, especially her song "God is a Woman."

3) "My Favorite Things" is from The Sound of Music. Crazy Sam's high school claim to fame was playing Sister Margaretta in the senior class production. Though not a big part, her performance lives on because relatives love embarrassing her with pictures of her in an especially unflattering nun's habit. Who took an embarrassing photo of you? What were you doing?

Well, damn. There are (approximately) a million embarrassing photos of me, many online. Pick any given one!

4) The lyrics celebrate "brown paper packages tied up in strings." What was in the last box you received in the mail?

January BarkBox

The last package "I" got was really for our puppies, Paco and Tapi. They LOOOOOOOVE getting their monthly BarkBox in the mail, and I swear to God they know what it is when the box hits the porch! (They actually might know the timing, because they start crowding around the door whenever ANY box hits the porch for a day or two before it's supposed to come!) Tapi's been bumped up to the "Super Chewer" level as of this month, because her strong jaws destroy her favorite toys within moments at the regular level. Paco only cares about the treats, so that doesn't matter to him!

5) It mentions doorbells and sleighbells. What's the most recent bell or alarm that you heard?

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[It's now 2:14 PM on Saturday afternoon. I'm just now getting out of bed, because I've got a migraine. Again. Still. Whichever.] Various peoples' work, activity, and medication alarms all day - none of which have helped my head!

6) This song has nice things to say about cold weather, specifically snowflakes and mittens. What do you like about winter?

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When it's over.

7) Dog bites and bee stings are singled out as things that can leave us feeling sad. What's most recently given you the blues?

2019-01-24 18.52.42
I was able to drive out to, and attend, Sophia's lesson for the first time in over a year... and it was not a great lesson for her. Sunny, the Appaloosa she's on there, did not want to cooperate. And Sunny stepped on her at today's lesson, so... :\ Poor kid. She cried, I heard, and it broke the skin.

8) In 2018, when this song was released, Roger Federer won the Australian Open. Are you good with a racket?

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I wasn't bad in high school, despite not having the best depth perception. I haven't really played since then, though.

9) Random question -- Your local zoo announced the hatching of three snowy owlets. All males. You won the honor of naming them. Go ahead.

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Blue, Delta, and Echo... and if you have any guesses as to where I got those ideas, I'd love to hear them! ;)

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Sophia - Van Gogh Unit Starry Night

Before I send this post into the ether, as I'm listening to Chopin's "Noctune op.9 No. 1," I'll leave you with Sophia's latest art project: her take on Vincent van Gogh's "Starry Night," done with oil pastels.

See you for Sunday Stealing!

Fin.


Sunday Stealing: Joy

Happy New Year 2019, fellow thieves! I'm late now, because I tried to post early (when I had time), and the post wasn't up yet. Please forgive me! Link up here if you're playing along today, y'all!

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Questions from Sleepy Rambles
 
1. Are you filled with joy today?
 
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I just woke up at 1 PM, and only then because my husband woke me up to take my morning pills. Oops! But so far, I have no reason not to be filled with joy, so yeah! Sure!
 
2. Has it been a rough week?
 
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Some of it has definitely been easier than others. But I'm still plodding along, hoping to get better instead of continually worse!

3. If given the opportunity, would you like to star in a musical?
 
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I was the caterpillar in Alice the Wonderland in 5th grade, and I stole the show! (Not even lyin', it's because of the kick-ass costume my otherwise-evil stepmother handmade for me.) But I've always wanted to belt it out on a stage production of Annie. Maybe not even as Annie! Maybe as Molly!
 
4. Name one person you’d take a bullet for.
 
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Robert Allen Odette, my husband of 18 years and four days!
 
5. Did you trip over anything today?
 
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Not yet... but give me time!

6. Last time you painted a picture?
 
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Oh, years and years. I'm horrible at painting. Chloë and I bought a Groupon to go out and do a Paint Nite thing together, but it was awful and disorganized, so we left early.

7. Is your favorite color yellow?
 
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I don't hate it, but no, it's about the fourth shade to the right.

8. Were you born in a hospital? Do you know the name of the person that delivered you?
 
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Yes, surprisingly enough, since I never spent a day of my childhood other than that in a doctor's office or hospital, I was born in one. This one: Arden Hill Hospital in Goshen, New York.

9. Have you ever had a friend or relative who was incarcerated?
 
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Not that I know of, no.

10. Do you enjoy romantic movies, even when they’re cliché?
 
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Yeah, I do. Am I such a girl? I don't even care; they're fun and easy to digest. (BTW, I loved this "Thriller" part of 13 Going on 30, with Jennifer Garner.)

11. Would you rather watch a movie or listen to music?
 
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Either one, depending on what I'm also doing at the same time (because it's never just one thing). After 17+ years of motherhood, though, I'm not one of those moms who revels in peace and quiet. I hate it!

12. Ever been to Rhode Island?
 
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Not yet!

13. Can you tell the difference between a Scottish & an Irish accent?
 
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If I said I wasn't too shabby at it, and then was tested, I'd probably fail every time!

14. Can you read music?
 
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I'm not going to lie: that is one thing at which I'm really horrible. I've taken organ/keyboarding/piano lessons. I've sung in several choirs. I've taken years of voice lessons. I've been in the selected women's choir. I've studied music theory. I've been chosen to audition for All-County Choir and NYSSMA (back in high school)... and yet I feel like it's just something I have a learning disability for, or something. It doesn't come naturally to me. Sight-reading, singing solfeggio, during those auditions, was so challenging for me. It's always been very frustrating. One of my very best lifelong friends, Shana Marie, is a violist/violinist, a high school music teacher, gives music lessons at home, can probably play every single instrument ever invented, and has performed in concert with some very famous names. Now she can read some music!

15. Have you been to McDonald’s in the past month?
 
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Well, my son works there, so yeah - but only to bring him to work. I don't eat there. #vegan ;)
 
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Speaking of eating vegan, I just finished a salad Hubs made for me, from a recipe in the book Vegan Cookbook for Beginners. It calls for a cup of halved cherry tomatoes. I have never liked raw tomatoes in my whole life, but I find myself loving them. There is just something about eating more healthy, I think, that makes you just want to do more of it!
 
I hope 2019 is off to a good start for all of you! Cheers.
 
Fin.

So Long 2018, Welcome 2018: Saturday 9 & Sunday Stealing

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Howdy, folks! I missed the super amazing fun times this past weekend because I'm having a bunch of anaphylactic episodes due to what my immunologist termed a "full-blown autoimmune assault." So that's fun. I did an undercover assignment for several hours with my younger daughter, Sophia, and reacted there. And everywhere, pretty much. It's not awesome - especially because I missed you guys!

Fruit Salad

So I'm trying to get these two in under the radar. While eating delicious fruit salad. And watching a marathon of Bob's Burgers with Sophie, Jack, and Hubs. Funny stuff. Do you watch it? Why not?!!

Here goes Saturday 9:

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Saturday 9: Winter Wonderland (1968)

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

Welcome to the last Saturday 9 of 2018! Thanks for a great year, everyone.
 
*
 
1) This is an unconventional take on an old familiar song. Over the holidays, do you prefer traditional carols? Or do you like to mix it up with with more contemporary fare?
 
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I like to mix it up. Along with old favorites, I love the song "Santa Tell Me" by Ariana Grande along with pretty much everything by the Pentatonix.

2) Now that Christmas is behind us, are you enjoying a relaxing week? Or do you have socializing/celebrating/chores to do?
 
Image result for idaho potato drop 2018
 
I think most of the socializing and celebrating is behind us, other than having fun times tonight with the family. I did want us to go downtown here in Boise, where instead of a ball - I shit you not - they drop a potato. A damn potato! But we're all sick, so I think we may end up just staying home and watching it on the local NBC affiliate tonight. Bummer. Also tomorrow, I wanted us to go up to Bogus Basin, where the ski resort is near us, for all kinds of New Year's Day festivities, but the two older kids have to work, which would be no fun.

3) Winter is a time for cocooning. What book or movie did you enjoy in 2018 that you would recommend to your fellow Saturday 9-ers?
 
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I really enjoyed the movie Dumplin' with Danielle MacDonald. We've been watching a lot of movies on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video lately, but I think that may have been my favourite.

4) Looking back on the past year, what was one of your happiest moments?
 
Week 21 of 52 -Catching Light
Two things: On April 16th, Hubs had surgery for prostate cancer. His recovery was fraught, and I hated every minute of it for him. He ended up having another major surgery and more hospital stays. As for myself, I had surgery on May 22nd, and it was supposed to be far more major than it ended up being. I was honestly scared for my life and, if that ended up being not in jeopardy, then I was scared of being in even more pain than the endless amount I've been suffering for more than 3½ years. In the end, my surgeon decided to close me up early and save the rest of the surgery for another day. So I can honestly say, in 2018, my happiest moment was waking up alive and well, and being still here to torment the rest of Team Odette!

5) What was the smartest thing you did all this past year?
 
Week 27 of 52 - Leading Lines
I persevered! It's worth it.
 
6) As 2018 comes to a close, what are you most grateful for?
 
DSC_5544
♥ Smiles, joy and happiness from my loved ones ♥

7) This week's featured artist is Herb Alpert. Because of the style he popularized and the name of his band, people assume he's Hispanic. Yet his parents were Jewish immigrants from Romania. What's something we'd be surprised to learn about you?
 
🤦‍♀️ I dunno anymore; everyone knows everything about me! 🤦‍♀️
 
Vegan collage
Maybe that I've been varying levels of vegan/vegetarian since August 1995, and as of about a week ago, all five members are now onboard with giving veganism a good go! Why? Get on Netflix or some other streaming service and watch What The Health? and Cowspiracy, and that'll explain a great deal.
  
8) He performed an instrumental version of "The Star Spangled Banner" at Super Bowl XXII. How did your favorite sports teams do in 2018?
 
Image result for miami hurricanes football
 
Oh, God. My Miami 'Canes were a disaster! They were up against Wisconsin in a rematch from last year at the Pinstripe Bowl four days ago, and we got totally trounced 35-3. What an embarrassment! Hopefully new head coach Manny Diaz can turn things around for the 2019 program.
 
9) Random question: When did you last check your social media feed?
 
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I just checked my Instagram notifications a few minutes ago. I'm on it now more than Facebook, although I suppose now that they're both owned by the same people, it doesn't much matter? No, really, I like the quick-speed format of Insta much more, I think.
 
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That was fun. Thanks, Crazy Sam! I'm going to go right into yesterday's Sunday Stealing now, so go take a quick walk around your house or the block or something as an intermission. Then link up here if you want to play along with me and the rest of the thieves, albeit belatedly! ;)
 
 
 
 1. Are flowers a nice gift to give someone?
 
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They are if they're a bouquet from Bouqs, like these beautiful calla lilies! I love Bouqs.

2. Do you wear any jewelry?
Yeah, and I like to change it around frequently. I really love Pandora rings (That's why I bought a bunch of inexpensive costume jewelry on eBay recently. I just got this new ring today, and I love it! Except it's scratchy...

3. Have you ever lain in a field of flowers?
 
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I have, but it's been ages, so here's a photo from our April 2015 visit to the Chihuly exhibit at the Fairchild Garden in Miami.

4. Do you like tea?
 
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I like bubble tea. Other tea is okay, as long as it's both caffeinated and flavored. Absolutely no iced tea for me, though!

5. What would you do with a million dollars?
 
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a. Get a good financial advisor and invest wisely, living off the interest as much as possible. b. Buy us a beautiful, elaborate, multi-roomed house like the ones I've been dreaming about my whole life. c. Set up a grantor's trust, so that the kids don't have to struggle any more than we already have and any more than what's necessary for them not to lose their work ethics. and d. Take Hubs on a whirlwind tour of the world, retracing our steps for the last 18 years (our anniversary is on Wednesday!), including here to La Calle Ramblas (with lots of beautiful architecture by Joan Miró) in gorgeous Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. e. And the whole time, I'd have The Barenaked Ladies serenade us with one of our courtship songs, "If I Had a Million Dollars"!

6. What word do you have trouble saying?
 
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Many, many things, but since this is one of Hubs' favorite drinks, I have to attempt to say it a lot: Arnold Palmer. I fail each and every time.

7. Favorite fairytale?
 
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Maybe Little Red Riding Hood, since I have fond memories of my sister and I planning out our skit of it, making props, and then acting it out in front of our grandparents and some of their friends and neighbors.

8. Do you sleep with stuffed animals?
 
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Yes, I sleep with the huge teddy bear Hubs gave me when he gave me my engagement ring.

9. Do you prefer the city or the country?
 
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I am definitely a big city girl at heart!

10. Are you a big fan of makeup?
 
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I used to be, but nowadays I usually keep it simple and just wear mascara and maybe some lip gloss.

11. Favorite drink?
 
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Hands-down, it's Diet Coke! (And for my grandpa, it was "Coke on the rocks!"

12. What’s the longest amount of time you’ve stayed awake?
 
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Several days in a row, once Chloë was out of the NICU. Even when she'd sleep, I had awful insomnia. Man, those were some miserable days for me! (Aside from the beautiful new baby girl, natch.)

13. Have you ever traveled outside of your country?
 
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Beautiful Talofofo Falls on Guam
 
Yes, many times, but the one I'm most yearning to return to at this point in time isn't even technically outside the United States.
 
14. Do you like Spring?
 
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I love Spring! It's my second favorite season after Summer. Especially when all the tulips come in around Idaho.

15. Lipstick or lip gloss?
 
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I'll wear lipstick (like my Young Living ones) on the odd occasion, lip gloss (like the lighted mirror-containing one at the back of the picture above) slightly more frequently, but mostly lip balm.
 
 
I really like this minty one on Grove Collaborative.
 
16. Favorite color?
 
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All the blues in the sea...

17. Do you like to decorate?
 
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I do! My tastes run eclectic and colorful as hell, like here, which is certainly not for everybody!

18. Do you ever go barefoot when you’re outside?
 
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I love being barefoot! Especially when we're at the beach... nothing like it!

19. Are aliens real?
 
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How the hell should I know?!

20. Does your zodiac sign fit your personality?
 
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I don't really buy into astrology as anything more than entertainment. I find bits of myself in all 12 signs of the zodiac - and some of all the Chinese ones, too. But I do often see a lot of myself in the Virgo horoscope, like above.

21.Favorite sea animal?
 
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I think right now, at this moment in time, it's the Tasselled Wobbegong, Eucrossorhinus dasypogon. Cool looking, right?

22. Are you a nice person?
 
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I try very, very hard to be. I don't always succeed, but I keep trying!

23. Favorite word?
 
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FUCK! (hee.)

24. Night or day?
 
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Oh, I am a total night owl. Also, science has found that we night owls are: more creative; more intelligent; more productive; and, more successful. However, we are also more likely to be single and die early.

25. What would make you happy right now?
 
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It would thrill the shite out of me if I stopped having allergic reactions to every single thing. I mean it: everything. Every food I eat. Being too hot. Being too cold. Medications. And things are moving quickly in the wrong direction. So yeah, for 2019, which in this time zone (MST) starts in 04:12, I would really like for at least that aspect of my poor health to turn around. I just can't do it anymore!!!
 
~*~*~*~*~
 
So it's almost 8 PM, and I guess I better figure out the plan for New Year's Eve! Kinda late for that, but meh! Not feeling it this year.
 
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So, Happy New Year 2019, y'all!!!
 
Fin.
 

Sunday Stealing: Questions From The Swap-Bot

Hey, hey, whaddaya say? I'm glad to be back with you guys for another Sunday Stealing. This time, Bev brings us questions from the Swap-Bot:

Link up here if you want to join in the fun this week. Let's get started, hmm?

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1.Where were you 3 hours ago?

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You can pretty much find me on the couch lately, whenever I don't need to be somewhere outside the house. With my severe iron deficiency, it's even hard for me to peel myself off the sofa without help, so here I sit. Hope fully when I get those iron infusions in a few weeks, my energy levels will bounce up a bit. I can NOT wait!

2.Have you ever eaten a crayon?

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Not to my knowledge, but hey - we were all babies once, right?

3.Is there anything pink within 10 feet of you?

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This Victoria's Secret striped blanket is just to my left. When I'm cold and/or snoozing on the couch, it's the blanket I use. With my weird sensory issues, it has the perfect texture for me.

4.When is the last time you went to the mall?

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Chloë and I went to the mall this past Tuesday to do some mystery shops I found the strength to perform (paid for it later!), and I was so mad at myself when I realized after we got there that I had forgotten my free product & discount coupons for Bath & Body Works. Grr! I hate the mall so much, so I rarely go. Those coupons will probably expire before I get a chance to use them.

5.Are you wearing socks right now?

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No, but now I want those ^^^ cuties! I rarely wear socks. Actually, hospital socks have the perfect texture for my tactile issues, so I guess it's fortunate (or not, depending on your perspective) that I've built up quite the collection of them!

6.When was the last time you drove out of town?

Pony Club 1

Well, technically, we drove out of town to High Desert Station in Star, Idaho, when we ferried Sophia, our 13-year-old equestrian, back and forth to Pony Club camp last month. But in about 10 days, Team Odette is heading to the Bateman Horne Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, so I can get evaluated and possibly treated for ME/CFS. I'm about 1,000% certain that will be my ultimate diagnosis, with multiple triggers leading up to that. And then, a couple weeks after that, Sophie and I will be traveling to Bellevue, Idaho, to the Intermountain Pony Club Camp & Rally, where she'll be a stable manager for another club's team. (Our club isn't participating, but this will be an excellent experience for her.) Both trips will be our first forays into the Airbnb world. Any tips for us from you Airbnb veterans out there? (both links are to our respective upcoming stays)

7.Have you been to the movies in the last 5 days?

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I think it's been more than five days, but we recently went to see The Incredibles 2 as a family - minus Jack, who had to work that day. After a 14-year wait for the sequel, I had pretty high expectations. Don't get me wrong, it was an entertaining movie and my girls enjoyed it, but... I felt let down by it. Meh. At least it was a free excursion, thanks to the kids' orthodontist, Dr. Jacob Jarvis!


8.What was the last thing you had to drink?

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Dudes. I need a Diet Coke Bong in my life.

9.What are you wearing right now?

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I'm slumming it today. I'm completely mismatched.

10.Do you wash your car or let the car wash do it?

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Lately, I've taken a few car wash mystery shops for a local joint, and they do a great job. Next time we have the dough, I want to purchase their $50/month plan where you can get unlimited washes, every day, every week. Idaho is such a dusty, dirty state with little rain, so the car is constantly dirty. I hate a dirty car.

11.Last food that you ate?

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I just ate about a third of a pouch of Russell Stover Sugar-Free chocolates. They are not good. Really. Not. Good.

12.Where were you last week at this time?

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Well, it's after midnight now, so probably the same thing I'm doing now: kind of a Netflix and chill type of deal.

13.Have you bought any clothing items in the last week?

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The last clothing I bought was equestrian gear from Dover Saddlery, for Sophia. I got everything on clearance: a white and a midnight blue summer riding shirt, two pairs of riding socks with cute patterns on them, a pair of summer breeches, and for free, she received a Dover saddle pad. Her own tack - her first! Plus I had to throw in the Breyer Turn-Out Set (the toy horse) at her request, but only so I could get to the free shipping tier. Problem is, I forgot to update our shipping address to our Boise home, and everything went to Miami. I had to pay a small bundle to re-route the package to Idaho. Argh!

14.When is the last time you ran?

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Who, me? Oh, no. I don't run. I can't run.

15.What's the last sporting event you watched?

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I caught some FIFA game, but it was completely by accident. I have no horse in that race.

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And now, I have a request for you.

Sophia's art

I have started a GoFundMe page (that's the link) for my Sophia's art education. She hasn't had a lot of formal training, but she is very talented. I've purchased a program where she learns from the great Master artists, but the materials are not included. And there are SO many. I also have an Amazon Wishlist (link there) set up for the same supplies. If you would be so kind, would you mind at least sharing the link(s) to help us raise the funds so Sophie can advance her education? We would be so grateful for a few shares.

Thank you, and I'm glad you stopped by!

Fin.


Saturday 9: On And On

Oh, my gosh, how is it Friday again already?! I keep meaning to write and blog, blog and write, but the weeks are passing away from me way too quick-like these days (years)! But here we are, Friday night, which means it's time to post another Saturday 9. Link up here if you want to play along this week!

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On and On (1977)
Unfamiliar with this week's song. Hear it here.

1) This song describes the plight of "poor ol' Jimmy," who caught his girlfriend kissing someone else. Have you ever spied on a romantic partner?

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A little bit on occasion, sure, but not that much, I don't think. I'm just truly not a very jealous person.

2) In this song, Stephen Bishop sings that he "smiles when he feels like dying." When did you recently put on a happy face, even though you really weren't all that happy? 

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This is my life ^^^ right here, so ... this happens to me on a daily basis.

3) Stephen Bishop always wanted to be a musician, and as a child he began playing the clarinet. Did you take lessons -- dance, art, music -- as a child? If yes, did you take them because you enjoyed them, or because your parents made you take them?

Sophia's art

I took voice lessons and sang for years, but I had a panic attack as a college freshman and didn't attend my choir audition there. I've always regretted that. I took electric organ lessons as a kid, because my mother played beautifully, and after she died I wanted to keep enjoying her legacy that way. I took tap, jazz, and ballet lessons for several years and was good enough to be invited to Dance Olympus in Manhattan after just one year of lessons at 11 years old, when most people had to be 12 or older and have danced for three years. I'm a semi-decent artist, but I wouldn't claim to be great at it. On the other hand, my youngest kiddo, Sophia, is quite talented in both drawing and digital art. That's one of her "self-portraits" up there. I love it.

4) When he was 12, inspired by The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show, he switched to the guitar and began writing songs. Tell us about someone or something that influenced your career path.

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Which career would that be? My stay-at-homeschooling mum career? Or the Elasmobranch Behavioral Research Scientist career I began but didn't see to fruition? We'll go with that one. In my second year of college as a Marine Science & Biology major, I took the actual class named "Marine Science" for those of us with that major. There is sooo much one could cover about live  things in a marine environment, you could fill a big city's main library with books on the subject, so we didn't discuss sharks, skates, and rays much. But we had one lecture about them that had me riveted, hanging on my professor's every last word. Every fact, big and small, was intriguing and amazing to me. I couldn't get enough. (Shown above: Madison Stewart demonstrating tonic immobility in a silky shark.) That's when I knew, this was the field for me.
  
5) Stephen Bishop attended Will C. Crawford High School in San Diego. This school requires students complete 20 hours of community service every year. Tell us about an organization, cause or campaign you volunteered for, either as a student or an adult.

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This set above isn't mine, but I've made similar: When one of Hubs' and my identical twin sons, Robby, died in 2003, I was devastated. Completely, utterly, ripped apart. For a year (well, truthfully, for the past 15 years), I struggled to make some sense out of it, to find what meaning other people told me there must have been in this experience. (Fuck you people who say "all things happen for a reason" or "God doesn't give us more than we can handle" or shit like that, by the way. Those words cause immense pain to the people you're dropping such knowledge on.) Anyway. I needed to find some way to parent the son I only got to hold once, for less than an hour. I decided to take my newly-acquired knitting skills, add to them crochet skills (thank you to my late mother-in-law for re-teaching me at that point), and start a 501(c)(3) non-profit in Robby's name. I had a few volunteers help me - most notably my MIL - and some yarn companies made donations, but for the most part, it was a one-woman operation borne out of love and loss. I made tons and tons of layettes, including a hat or bonnet, a sweater or gown, booties, and blanket, and called them CARE Packages ("Calling All Robby's Elves"), which I then donated to area hospitals with NICUs. If people emailed or wrote to me about a loss, I also mailed these out. Each Package included a laminated card. One side explained who we were and what we did; the other side included a list of suggested things that parents could do with their infant before saying that final good-bye. Most of those things, I did not get to do and wished I could have or had thought of. I ran this charity for seven years, until I just needed to re-focus my efforts on raising my three surviving children.

6) In 1977, when this song was popular, Seattle Slew won racing's Triple Crown. Sam's mother has always been afraid of horses. Is there an animal you're uncomfortable with?

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Well, I played with sharks, so not too many, no... but I do require that any flying animals have my expression written permission before touching me, or I will freak the F out! ... from the surprise, of course, from the surprise. ;) Anyway, here is a gratuitous pic of Sophia on a horse, Bing, during a recent lesson. (Not the best picture, but my computer is dead in the water at the moment, and I didn't feel like scrolling thru Facebook albums to find a great one.)
 
7) Also in 1977, moviegoers waited in line for hours to see Star Wars. What's the longest line you waited in recently?

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So, Hubs gets paid his pension and other monies just once per month, on the first of each month. Once it's gone, it's gone. (Every last week of the month SUCKS.) Therefore, I have to shop for a full month's worth of groceries at once or we go hungry. I usually have to take someone with me, because I fill up at least two huge carts with food, and I can barely push one full cart anymore, let alone two or more. This past payday, a week or so ago, Sophie and I spent over an hour getting all our groceries, including about 8 or 10 cartons of ice cream. I was none so thrilled at the humongous lines we then encountered while my ice cream suffered! Fortunately, none leaked. Whew!

8) The mini-series Roots first aired in 1977. Today Americans are spending more time and money than ever to research ancestry. How far back can you trace your family tree? 

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My dad's Aunt Amy was into genealogy, and she wrote a book about my father's side of the family. On my mom's side, I know I am German and Hungarian. On my dad's side, I know I am German/Pennsylvania Dutch, and English. Aunt Amy's book tells all about how our family emigrated from Europe and settled on the then-mostly uninhabitable Caribbean island of Saba. They were all sea-going folks, like ship captains and such. (See, that's how you know the ocean is in my blood!) The island is full of Simmonses (Simmons being my maiden name) and others from our line. My grandfather was born there. Does that make me a second-generation American?

9) Random question: It's often said that nobody's perfect. How about you? What quality keeps you from being perfect?

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LOL. I have a ton of faults, so I turned to Hubs and ask him which one was my worst one. He said, "You're not very patient..." I literally say what this meme guy is saying at least once every day, so of course I had to pick this one!!

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Well, that was fun. Thanks, Crazy Sam! Time to go enjoy the amazing dinner Chloë has prepared for the third night in a row. Yum, yum, here I come.

Fin.


Saturday 9: My Funny Valentine

Hello, hello! Welcome back to the fray. Make sure you link up here to play along this week, and let's jump right into the fray!

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Saturday 9: My Funny Valentine (1991)
 
Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) In this song, Ms. Kitt sings that her lover is her favorite work of art. Tell us about a piece of artwork you can see from where you're sitting now. (Yes, that crayon drawing created by your 5-year-old nephew counts.)
 
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So, I normally write about the Britto, but I'll mention this one instead (which happens to be just to the left of the big Britto, currently.)  We bought this fish rack hook rack from an antiques shop shortly after we bought our house in Virginia Beach, VA, in 2003. I hang my keys an extra keychain or two on there; Hubs hangs a carabiner or seven with various and sundry things on them on his hook, and we then we hang the dog leashes on the third hook. We have a pretty fish-themed style going on, and I love this piece!

2) She asks him to not change his hair. When will you next find yourself in the stylist's chair?
 
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I was supposed to go last week, but the care and upkeep of Chloë's long curls came to a head (heh heh) this month, costing so much I had to scrap my plans for a trim. I cut my own bangs and called it a day.

3) Ms. Kitt always wanted to be a performer and attended the New York School of Performing Arts (aka the "Fame" school). Think back to your high school self. In what ways would you be surprised by how your life turned out?
 
 
Ha, well, by this point I figured I'd be a world-renowned marine scientist with a Nobel prize (for what?! I don't know) under my belt. I actually thought that! I had no doubts. I certainly didn't think that at 41, I'd be looking at raising three teenagers. And I most definitely didn't plan on homeschooling them even after they came along! Life is so weird.

4) Ms. Kitt took over the role of Catwoman on TV's Batman. Name another Batman villain.

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The Penguin!
 
5) Ms. Kitt enjoyed tremendous success performing in Parisian nightclubs. Have you ever been to Paris? 
 
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Not yet! Chloë wants to get engaged there (currently there is no suitor, haha)! I have been to Nice, and Eze, in France... but not Paris. I'd love to go with Hubs sometimes and stroll the Champs-élysées and of course, smooch atop the Eiffel Tower. One day.
  
This is the last Saturday  9 before Valentine's Day and so this morning we shall focus on the upcoming holiday. 

6) The holiday is also known as The Feast of St. Valentine. Do you have a special meal planned for next Wednesday?
 
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I might have a little something up my sleeve (which I can't yet divulge, since certain family members read these posts), but definitely no feast. I'm not one to go all out - or expect anything - for Valentine's Day.

7) The phrase "wear your heart on your sleeve" began in medieval times. On Valentine's Day, men would celebrate the holiday by displaying their lady love's name on their sleeves. If you were going to adopt this custom, whose name would you wear?

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Well, I'm not a man, but I would wear Rob's name on my sleeve. He has a piece of my heart, for sure. Having just celebrated the fourth anniversary of his brain surgery, he has just received a cancer diagnosis (not of the brain). I'm trying not to just fall apart... I love him so.
 
8) Women buy and send more Valentines than men do. What's the last greeting card you received?
 
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The last ones we've received were for Christmas. I plan on giving out a few on Valentine's Day, myself.
  
9) Men buy and send more roses at Valentine's Day than women do. What's your favorite flower?
 
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Tiger lilies are absolutely my favorite flowers, so much so that we named our first German Shepherd Dog after them:
 
 
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If they must be roses, however, then my favorites are yellow.
 
~*~*~*~*~
Fun questionnaire this week, Crazy Sam! Thanks for doing this!
 
Fin.

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)? 

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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!

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


Draw3D: New Art By Chloë & Sophia

As I've mentioned previously, my girls are doing Art coursework through the Emmy-winning Artist Mark Kistler's website, Draw3D.com. I've showcased some of Sophia's art here, but it's been a couple of weeks, so I thought I'd do some catching up.

I'll start with the elder girl, Chloë:

Chloe's Manta Ray

Now, I'm not going to lie: her "Manta Ray" is one of my least favorite of Chloë's drawings, and a lot of that has to do with the shadow underneath. Shading and shadowing are one of the hardest parts for her, so it will be interesting to see how she progresses in that area during the course this year.

Chloe's Dinos in Cheese

I really, really like how her "Dinos in Cheese" turned out! The cheeks and mouths, especially, look really cute to me!

Chloe's Clam

The "Clam" is one of several that Chloë colored, and at this point I wasn't sure how I felt about that. I love color, but for me, I was thinking it detracted from the black-and-white drawing somehow. I just couldn't put my finger on it yet.

Chloe's Dolphin

On the other hand, I really like how the blue color added to her "Dolphin," so maybe it was just a one-time complaint I had with "Clam"?

Chloe's Coral Reef

"Coral Reef" turned out really nice, but again, I was having trouble with the color. I think what I didn't like the most was that it just wasn't solid enough color for me, which maybe was a problem with the quality of the (Crayola) pencils.

Chloe's Jellyfish

The "Jellyfish" were a little dark and purposeful, showcasing Chloë's constant need to press hard when she writes or, in the case of her Art class, draw. She and Jack are just alike this way.

Chloe's Scuba Rex

Chloë's "Scuba Rex" was really good, I thought, with the detailed feet and wrinkles in the bent parts of his tail. I think she's showing some improvement in her her shadowing here, too.

Chloe's Seahorse

Chloë decided to ink the "Seahorse," which I thought turned out pretty well for a first effort and especially over pencil marks. The drawing itself was rather nice, too!

Chloe's Hermit Crab

Her "Hermit Crab" was nice, but then Chloë chose to color this one, too, and it's in this case that I objected and asked her not to color any more of the drawings. I just think it's a combination of the paper, the pencils, something... that just did not contribute value to her drawings.

Chloe's Pencil Power

Again, we have "Pencil Power," the inclusion of which in the course "Undersea Adventure" I still do not understand! but it turned out pretty well, I think, and showed continuous improvement from the beginning.

Chloe's Treasure Chest

"Treasure Chest" was good, but I didn't understand, once again, the shading and especially the shadowing of the box in the sand. Something about it is just difficult for Chloë, I think.

Chloe's Whale

The "Whale" was lovely - but what a huge blowhole! Sophia's turned out that way, too, so I guess that's the way Mr. Kistler intended it.

Chloe's Marshmallow Mo

After Chloë finished "Undersea Adventure," I tried to have both girls doing the videos instead of the step-by-step drawings on Draw3D, but it went a little too fast for Chloë, so I switched her back to more Step-by-Step. Thus, meet "Marshmallow Mo" from the series Marshmallow Metropolis.

Sophia's Female Face

Now, let's switch gears and look at some of Sophia's work. Here is "Female Face" from the Heads and Faces video series. I think she turned out extremely well; do you think so?

Sophia's Multi-Directional Head

The lesson "Multi-Directional Head" was next, and it showed several different angles for a face to be looking. I think Sophie did very well with this lesson.

Sophia's 2 Dinos

Next, we switched to the video series, and I chose Intermediate Dinosaurs for Sophie's next course. This one was "2 Dinos," where she started to learn smudging to show a different kind of shading detail to her work.

Sophia's Dino Momma

I thought the actual drawing and smudging on "Bronto Momma" was great, but I don't know how I feel about the seaweed hanging out of her mouth. I felt like that could have been either improved on or omitted.

Sophia's Dino Butt

The next drawing for the lesson "Dino Butt!" turned out adorably well, didn't it? What a cutie.

Sophia's Dino Herd

I love the surprised, eye-popping look of the critters in "Dino Herd"! Really great work, Sophia.

Sophia's Pterra's Nest

"Pterra's Nest" is a different kind of dino, and I like it, though I thought that, to wrap up Intermediate Dinosaurs, Sophia could have been more definitive and less sketch-y in her lines. And I also wonder what those guys are looking at - food??

Sophia's 2-Door Home

Finally, this one was a bit hard to photograph and see, but it shows Sophia's beginning drawing for the Home Improvements course, "2-Door Home." Frankly, I don't like the gerbils. I don't think it's her fault, necessarily, but I do think they could have been better. The habitat itself is cute!

So that's where we are with Art right now. I'm trying to find a good Aeronautics counterpart class for Jack, who has no interest in Art, but so far I don't see one that is well-suited to his abilities. We tried doing Circuitry for a bit at the beginning of the school year, but it just didn't take after two lessons. I know his limitations are real, so I will keep looking!

In the meantime, we're doing more school right now, and have some fun stuff coming up later this week - so stay tuned!

Fin.


Sophia Arting Around #Homeschooling

I'm terribly sorry this place has been a ghost town, but I've been having a tremendous amount of Lyme-related pain and suffering lately. As a result, we haven't done half the things we've set out to do as a family, and when we're home, I have been knocked out a lot of the rest of the time. Sucks. So I'm wanting to play catch-up in between those manifold naps. Get ready for the barrage! ;)

Draw 3D

Moving on... Chloë and Sophia have been studying art through the artist Mark Kistler's Draw 3D lessons. They began with the freebie course, to see how it would go, and now the girls are working their ways through the course Undersea Adventure. Chloë isn't quite finished, but Sophia - whose favorite subject is Art - has completed hers. Thought I'd show you those works (some of which are admittedly better than others, due to her feeling rushed through some). Shall we, then? Let's:

Sophia's Dinos In Cheese

From the free course: "Dinos in Cheese," which Sophie made to look less like the sample and more like her own style. I like it, a lot actually, but it shows her resistance to being taught new tricks that she feels are unnecessary for her to learn! ;)

Sophia's Marshmallow Mobile

"Marshmallow Mobile," which cracks her up because he looks so scary to her. Silly.

Sophia's Moon Rover

From Space, we have "Moon Rover III" picking up space rubble.

Sophia's Clam

And now moving into the Undersea Adventure course, here is Sophie's vampiresque "Clam," which looks like it's dripping in, uh... marine blood?

Sophia's Dolphin

Here is her cute little "Dolphin."

Sophia's Hermit Crab

The "Hermit Crab" was maybe her least-favorite of this course, and she rushed through it. I think you can tell, especially in the shadowing.

Sophia's Pencil Power

Next up is "Pencil Power," and don't even ask me why there is a pencil in this series of lessons. I have no clue! My only thought is that maybe in the lesson there is a new skill set necessary to learn before moving on in the series. Not sure, though.

Sophia's Whale

The "Whale" was another lesson through which I felt Sophia rushed, but I'm not sure why. It's just okay, to me.

Sophia's Scuba Rex

These last two, "Scuba Rex" here and the next one, are among my favorites. I feel like Sophia enjoyed them, took her time to do the details the way she felt was correct, and they turned out well.

Sophia's Seahorses

And finally, we have Sophia's "Seahorse," to end the course for her. Overall, I think it shows progress and also that there is room for growth, but I think for a 12-year-old taking her first formal Art lessons, the work is pretty darned good!

More later. I need yet another nap.

Fin.


Saturday 9: Wouldn't It Be Nice?

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How ya doin', folks? I actually slept a couple (literally just a couple, tho) hours last night, so I'm feeling pretty pleasant right now. What better time than to work on Saturdya 9? Link up here if you want to play along this week!

Let's get started:

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Saturday 9: Wouldn't It Be Nice? (1966)
... because Nonnie recommended the Beach Boys

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


1) In the video for this song, the Beach Boys dive into the pool with all their clothes on. Have you ever ended up in the water while fully clothed? If yes, were you pushed?
 
I don't think I ever have, but one of my fun memories of my mom was when I was about 4 or 5, and my mom was all dressed up, hair done, makeup done, and heading out for work. My dad and our neighbor, Fred, were outside by the pool. Suddenly, Fred picked up my mom and threw her, glasses and all, into the pool! :O I don't know how I would have handled it, but my mother laughed hysterically. I loved that. Man, she was great.
 
2) In this song, Mike Love sings he wishes "every kiss could be never-ending." Where did you receive your first kiss? Was it wonderful, or awkward?
 
My first kiss, when I was 14, was at Tri-County Mall in Baldwinsville, NY. It was pretty great, and  it lasted a while. People were staring at us, and we didn't care. Not awkward a bit.
 
3) Brian Wilson was the creative force behind the Beach Boys. It's possible that the group's legendary and unique sound came from an incident of bad parenting. Brian's father hit him so hard with a wooden plank that he is deaf in his right ear. Which of your senses is sharpest -- sight, hearing, smell or taste?
 
I guess that would have to be taste, by default. My vision isn't great at all. I somewhat blame Lyme Disease, through anecdotal story upon story, for my recent loss of smell except for the most pungent ones (like Hubs' farts!) and deafness in my left ear. I'm going to the ENT soon to see if they can help me with that. But hey, I'm a good taster, and my recent gain in the scales reflects that! ;)

4) Brian's brother Dennis was the cutest member of the group, and also the only one who could surf. Have you been to the beach yet this summer?
 
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We have! We went to the reservoir with friends, which the epidemiologist now credits with as the source of my two-week bout with the campylobacter bacterium. NOT FUN AT ALL, but the reservoir was so fun and beautiful, I forgive it.

5) Dennis was also the Beach Boys' most colorful member. In 1968, he struck up an unfortunate and dangerous friendship with Charles Manson. Is there anyone in your life that you worry has bad taste in friends/lovers?
 
Yes, there is, but her business is her business. When and if I need to be there to help pick up the pieces or hold them together for a minute, I will be.

6) Lead singer Mike Love is the grumpiest Beach Boy. He refuses to perform if the concert promotional materials refer to the group or their songs as "oldies." Does it bother you to hear the songs, TV shows and movies of your youth described as "classics" or "oldies?" 
 
I wouldn't say "bother," per se, but it definitely strikes an interesting chord with me now that the 80s hair bands I listened to decades ago are now on the classic rock stations. I still can't believe I'm 40! I just can't.

7) This song has appeared on soundtracks for movies as diverse as Shampoo (1975), The Big Chill (1983),  50 First Dates (2004) and It's Complicated (2009). Do you own any movie soundtracks?
 
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Well, I have no CDs anymore, but I did have the ones for Waiting to Exhale (1995), Sleepless in Seattle (1993), and Grease (1978). Maybe a couple of others, but they aren't coming to mind now.

8) In 1966, the year this song was popular, the Miranda Warning became law. Without looking it up, can you recite any of the Miranda Warning?
 
"You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney..." Um, I don't know if that's right, but that's what I know from all those Law and Order episodes I've watched! ;)

9) Random question: The local college is pleading for models of all ages and sizes to pose for the life drawing class. Would you help the kids by volunteering to pose in the nude?
 
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Nope. Sorry, kids, but I'm not comfortable in my own skin by myself, let alone in front of a group of strangers focusing on my every defect - and there are many! This is an interesting question, Crazy Sam!
 
~*~*~*~*~
 
Thanks for visiting my blog! Now it's time to blog-hop and see what everyone else had to say. I mean to do this every week, but I am always easily distracted and tend to wander off doing 19 other things. Please forgive me?
 
Fin.

Family Field Trip: Art Lesson at Young Art in Boise, Idaho

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Image2On Monday, Team Odette was invited into Young Art for a 60-minute drawing lesson, complimentary of Young Art in Boise, Idaho, and the fun and amazing manager, Shayla Putnam. [Full Disclosure: Our five-member family received the lesson for no charge, in exchange for this post and others on my social media networks. No other compensation was received by us. As always, all opinions expressed in this post are 100% my own.]

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The first thing we encountered upon entering the Young Art shop, which is at the Boise Towne Square mall right next to the Talbot's store, was the bright, cheery, and colorful nature of every square inch of space inside the studio. There was no denying they were in tune with my M.O. of living our lives out loud, in living color! Look at the photos on the walls in the above and following photographs, and see if you can pick out the pictures we were trying to draw and emulate.

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Two things confounded our visit to Young Art that day, which was no fault of Shayla's or anyone else associated with the art studio: (1) We arrived on time but could not find the location, exactly, being new in town and thanks to a weird GPS on my Google Maps which likes to mess with my head. :\ I swear it does... and (2)There was a Girl Scout troop party coming in immediately following our 60-min sesh, and since we were already several minutes into ours upon arrival, the entire time we were there was rush, rush, hurry, go, c'mon, rush, FINISH!

Some of us are more adaptable than others to these kinds of situations in Team Odette, so we all fully agreed that next time (and we do want a next time, it was unanimously decided), we'll make a longer appointment, arrive on time, and be more relaxed about the whole process. So if you go, please keep that in mind.

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Shayla quickly had us pick out the photos we wanted to use for inspiration, and then she worked with the three teens, while assigning LeVelle to teach Rob and me all about the finer points of drawing our chosen works.

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We were each given a sheet of paper and a pencil, along with instructions from Shayla to print our names on the dry-erase table (which was cool as heck, y'all) above our workspaces. LeVelle sat down between the Hubs and me and went back and forth, zippity-zip, showing us how to start with a rounded base shape and then sprout from there toward a full grown drawing. He was a congenial fellow who managed to keep us focused on the task, despite my constantly trying to turn and strain to get pictures of everything and everyone working and also despite working on two different drawings for the two of us, simultaneously.

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Rob and I have both done a lot of sketching in our 40+ years of life, with different styles and - dare I say it? - levels of talent and specific finer points of artisticness (I swear that's a word; go with it!)... However, LeVelle wanted us NOT to do small sketch lines but rather strong, bold, single, dark pencil lines to create a finished work that looked more intentional and less, well, hesitant and sketchy. Shayla worked on the same concept with the three kids, which made our artistic daughter, Sophia, balk. I heard Shayla assert that her job was to teach and show how to accomplish this, and that Sophie and the others just needed to trust her. It was probably her most difficult task in teaching my stubborn kids - especially in such a hurry!

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One of my absolute favorite things about this hour-long session was that my least artistic, most complain-y child, Jack, seemed really focused and into creating his chosen work. I was so thrilled about this, I could not even!

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LeVelle seemed to pick up on the fact that my brain was all over the map, thinking about doing my work and following along with what he was teaching me, whilst also trying to grab pictures and think about what I wanted to post here on the blog! He may have given Rob a little more attention than me, therefore, or maybe I was just over on my own ****ing planet and seemed not to be with him. But I was, LeVelle. I swear I was. (He had a total zen quality about him, but I was so self-conscious and insecure about my work as we went along, that I probably drove him insane!)

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See that look? That isn't the normal expression of a busily-"arting" Sophia. It conveyed annoyance and frustration to my expert maternal eye (at least for my own kids' sakes), and I tried to signal her to go with it, do as she was told, and maybe, just maybe, she might actually learn some techniques that helped her improve her work on her own. Who knows whether it will? But I encouraged, nonetheless.

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I couldn't get over how much Jack really seemed to be into this! It was astounding, actually, if you know my son. Astounding.

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These were LaVelle's dry erase-table work, demonstrating the strokes and details he wanted us to mimic on our own paper. Long, clean, dark lines, people. No sketching!! ;)

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Southpaw Sophia finally seemed willing and determined to get started. Let's GO, kids! Clock's ticking!

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Rob, too, was very intent on his work. Other than me, who was busy taking photos and absorbing All. The. Things., everyone was. We were having tons of fun.

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Curls, AKA Chloe, having a peek around at the others' work. Hurry up, child, and draw your outline out! This one is the perfectionist who didn't seem to grasp the concept of "hurry up, party is coming" on Monday's visit! :\

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See this expression on Jack's face?! I LOVE it!! It's sheer and pure joy, a real emotion, and not just a "oh, I gotta pretend to smile and cheese for Mom's lens" moment. He was actually enjoying himself, and that thrilled me to my soul. If nothing else, this was a WIN!

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LaVelle knew we were running out of time, so in the colorizing portion of our lesson, his hands and fingers moved quickly to dab out, blend, and illustrate what he wanted me to accomplish on my own drawing which, you may or may not be able to figure out by now, is supposed to be Dory from the Disney movies, Finding Nemo and Finding Dory. (Also, I am Dory. Dory is me. Completely and utterly alike, we are. I love her! How could I not have chosen my girl D?)

The thing that disappointed me during this phase of the work was, as you can see in the bottom middle, LaVelle had to take over the outlining, post-coloring, of my Dory's lines. I knew I was fully capable of doing this, and doing a pretty decent job at it no less, but again, the time crunch made it necessary. Booo, time crunch!

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By that point, Jack was just about done with his work and was just waiting for instruction from Shayla on what to next. He always finishes first at home - quality be damned! - so this was no big surprise to me.

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I dont know whose phone that was - Shayla's? Rob's? Chloe's? But I guess somehow Sophia voluntold someone to look up the creature she was drawing so she could stop having to crane her neck to see what her drawing was supposed to resemble. That was Rob's main critique: He wished there was a way to pull down in front of each student artist the artwork we were trying to emulate, so we had no need to get up and walk over to them to see a detail and could have them directly in front of us for faster working time.

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Again, I felt this was completely something I could have accomplished, but for the sake of pushing through the late time, LaVelle started the background painting on my work, outlining the more difficult areas and then giving the paper back to me to fill in the blank space. But it's okay. I didn't overly mind and completely understood the need for this.

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Ah! We have color on Chloe's work. At last! Just keep swimming, just keep swimming...

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I was almost - but not quite - finished. I liked my Dory, despite the fact that she looked more like Dory's even less-reliable cousin (ha!) and I had a few major flubs. Yeah. Not too bad for a quick dash through the artistic world, eh?

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Meanwhile, our Navy Veteran Rob was over there pushing through to get the finishing touches put on his work. Go, Hubs, Go! I was turning in the the cheering squad for Team Odette to finish. Seriously.

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By this point, Shayla was busy helping my kids, helping two other adorable little girls who had come in to finish a previously-begun sculpture work, and do damage control with the growing irritation amongst the Girl Scout crowd. They did not appear to be the resilient type who could appreciate that there was a delay. And we were the cause of it. Eh. It happened; I'm over it.

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After LaVelle helped Chloe, he took me over to the Glittering Station. I don't know if that's what they really called it (I'm guessing not), but I had to name it that because, um, that's what I do. He gave me a small handful of extra-fine glitter and had me sprinkle it over my work. We were each given the choice on whether to do this and I know for sure that Jack and Rob opted out. Sophia may have, too. But give ME the glitter, yes, please! Also, I was curious about what spray they were using to seal the glitter and paint in, because we do art in our homeschool, Sweet Pea Academy, and this information might very well come in handy. Turns out: HAIRSPRAY. It was hairspray. So there's your little Art hack from me for today. Take that, overpriced art/craft store merchandise! ;)

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At this point, Sophia and Chloe were getting the, "C'mon! C'mon! Hurry up! Finish!" pep talk from Mom, which was surely counterproductive. Sophia is an artiste, which means this is the only area in her life which she feels like a certain level of perfectionism is necessary. Chloe, on the other hand, is a perfectionist about everything in life (like her mama), and I am trying to get her to accept that sometimes, good enough IS good enough. But it's hard. 

GO, GIRLS, GO!!

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While the girls raced to the finish line - now about 15 minutes past our allotted time, ohmigosh, the boys and I checked out the rest of the art studio. There were lots of pictures on all the walls from which to choose a project, and all kinds of bright and colorful materials lined the front tables that greet aspiring artists as they enter the door. It was definitely an inviting environment, I felt!

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I know for sure that I will have to pick up some supplies for Sophia to improve on and expand her artworks, for Christmas probably. There was plenty of inspo here!

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I found this signage about Young Art's Summer Camp on Shayla's desk at the front, and while it's pricey, I'll have to figure out when it starts and if we ca still get in on the Early Bird Special. Sophia would like to go and, from what I gather, Chloe would, too. Which is telling because, though both were stressing about being SO super pressed for time that their artwork on Monday didn't turn out exactly the way they had in mind, they liked the process and experience enough to want to come back again and again!

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These are the chalks and tempera paints we used to colorize our drawings. We learned out to blend and overlap the colors to create just the right shades, cut in the edges while painting so as not to go "outside the lines," and more. There was a lot of rushing, sure, but education was mixed in there too - if you were paying attention. ;) I was!

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Go, Chloe, go! Stop being perfect! Just don't make any dang mistakes! NO! I'm kidding! Hurry up! ;)

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Glitter time for Sophia's work at last! Woot!

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... And then the hairspray treatment, to set.

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And look who was finally finished and ready for the glitter treatment from LaVelle! Finally!

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*~*~* ~* Sprinkle, sprinkle *~*~~

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Rather than take home our artworks right there and then, Shayla convinced us to take a spin around the mall and allow the paint and setting spray to dry for a good 20 minutes or so. We ended up in the toys and games store around the corner and found plenty of things to entertain ourselves with, like this "Coffee makes me POOP" shot glass that, um, Rob definitely needs! :P

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And now, in order of age from oldest to youngest, here are our works: A Jawa from Star Wars Episode IV, created by Rob.

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Dory, by Melanie (that's me!)

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Charmander from Pokemon, by Chloe

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Light Sabers from Star Wars, by Jack

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And a... something I forget... help me please! ... from Pokemon also, I think? by Sophia

(I'll try to update the post when she wakes up and can tell me definitively what it is!)

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What I love about Young Art Lessons is this ^^^ right here. Drop off your kids for supervised time, during which they will be productively engaged in art education, while you do your shopping around the mall. Even though my kids are a bit older (12, 14 and 15 as of this writing), I might decide I need to take advantage of this opportunity come holiday shopping season time. Y'know? It's GENIUS!

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The great thing about Young Art Lessons is that they offer all different kinds of lessons, cater to a wide variety of ages and skill levels, and have an array of different media available to use in different artworks, all to help the young artist (or older ones, like Rob and me) develop a finished work of which one can be quite proud.

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So what are you waiting for? I highly recommend a Young Art Lesson booking if you're in an area where they are offered! I can't wait until the kids' next session, maybe even as soon as tomorrow! It'll be super fun!

Thanks to Shayla, John, and LaVelle for making our experience such a great one!

Fin.


Art Project: Funky-Cool Self-Portraits

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Based off this picture and this blog post here by Miss Mancy, I decided to give the kidoodles a fun and maybe easier art project today.

First, I instructed the kids to take turns tracing the hands and shod feet of a sibling, onto some decent Bristol art paper.

I have three styles of artists:

  • Jack, who would just as soon get the project done and over with as quickly as possible, which KILLS me, because I have given him the option this year of opting into only those projects which interest him; :\

 

  • Sophia, who is rather indelicate and, to my observing eye, indeliberate in her artistic movements, and then turns out something rather amazing when it's all said and done; and,

 

  • Chloë, who is ever the perfectionist in all things, takes the longest to get any project of any sort finished, and manages to impress me with what she does end up doing.

 

After they traced the hands of feet of another onto their art papers, they were instructed to add in their faces, arms and legs, clothing and whatnot. I didn't really give them ANY information as to how to accomplish that and decided to let the chips fall where they may. Finally, they were to use watercolors to paint their portraits in any way they desired.

So without further ado, in order from shortest to tallest kid (note: this is not the same as age order!), here are their funky-cool self portraits:

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Jack River, aged 13½ years;

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Chloë Raine, aged 15 years; and,

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Sophia Lorelei, aged 11½ years.

***

So it was a fun, quickie project (relatively, anyway, on both counts) for Hurricane Matthew-Eve!

Thanks for stopping by!

Fin.


Art Projects: String Art

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This next project I want to showcase will have us caught up on Art for now, though the girls are working on another one that I'm hoping they'll finish by the weekend. If you're anything like my girls, you spend a lot of time YouTube-ing (which I do not) cool and interesting videos. I did not know that String Art was such a thing right now, but they were so excited when they learned that we were going to be doing this.

While we weren't going to get anywhere near as technically involved as this beautiful Red Rose, I was surprised to find that there would be a few challenges ahead as this project rolled out.

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I pulled our instructions directly from this tutorial over at honey & fitz, though we changed up a couple things per her suggestions. The first was that I bought two packs of cork tiles to save a little money over the bigger rolls of cork, since I would only need three per kid (they came in packs of four tiles) to get to the right thickness. Jack opted out of this project.

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I figured we'd need two, three coats max per kid of white paint, forgetting entirely how porous cork is. I had given them the choice of paint or natural cork, and what color paint, but both chose to do white backgrounds just like the tutorial showed. Fine, but they needed four layers of paint each and still weren't happy with the final look before I urged them to just continue on with the project.

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Lefty Sophia just has to do everything backward, y'all!

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Finally, that last coat was on and dry. Beyond tacky, actually dry. My girls did not want to wait that long, but I would not let them continue until no paint came off to the touch. My word, the impatience here!

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Instead of a word or a picture, the girls each opted to do their first initial. I let them pick out the font, size and all, and had them cut out the letter after I printed it out. Then they used linoleum nails to tack the initial in place.

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The linoleum nails went in easily. The girls didn't even need their dad's rubber mallet after a while, I don't think.

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Chloë's finished nails, ready for removal of the "C" template.

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She declared the paper removal to be a "satisfying" task.

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Sophia chose a much different font than her older sister's, and I was hoping she would separate the parts of the "S" the way her font did, but I didn't push. She didn't want to.

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Chloë was ready to start stringing. I told the girls to just relax and enjoy the process, stringing up, down, back, forth, however the string "told" them to go. And so she did.

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Sophia was still tacking away...

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... but at last, she finished. Sophie found the "satisfying" part to be patting all her nails after the "S" template was removed. Also, is it just me, or does my 11-year-old still have cute little baby hands?

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I also told the girls that if they just didn't like how something looked, to unstring it and redo that section. Or the whole thing. No pressure, no hurry, just go with the flow. And so they did. Several times.

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Sophia planned this to be her color palette, but she grew very frustrated with this project. It turned out not to be, shall we say, her medium for arting. She just found a lot of difficulty with this one. So she strung, unstrung, restrung, unstrung, continue ad nauseum.

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Chloë chose a rainbow color palette - my girls like their rainbows, like their mama - and mostly stuck to her plans.

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Chloë's final work, pre-frame.

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Sophia, who had given up on this project for several days, was finally pushed to finish. She turned in her work with a note that read, "I tried" and a sad face. I'm sorry she did not like the project as much as I'd hoped, but I guess you can't win 'em all! She does want hers framed, though, so that's good! 

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We finally found a frame that was perfect for Chloë's "C" at Michael's tonight. That was before Sophia told me she wanted one, too, so I still need to get hers. 

Like the honey & fitz post suggested, I bought the Velcro Command Strips for the kids' String Art, but we might save those for another use and just put up nails for the frames. Don't know yet. I do love the Command Strips, though...!

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Thanks for stopping by!

Fin.

 


Art Projects: Paper Polyhedra

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Hi again, y'all. The next Art project I'm going to showcase is a little more mathematical, the Paper Polyhedron. I wanted Jack to participate in this one, much to his chagrin, partly because I felt like he could use the fine motor skills, partly because it wouldn't hurt any of the kids to think a little more mathematically now and then ;), and partly because I wanted a set of three colorful balls to decorate our space. Hello, ulterior motives, much? Hee!

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This post over at Relentlessly Fun, Deceptively Educational explains the project a little more in-depth than I plan to, maybe, but we'll see where it goes. It's where I got the template, anyway, for the 30 pieces needed to assemble this particular polyhedron, so if you plan on doing that, you'll need to head over there to download the PDF.

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Chloë actually started cutting out her 30 pieces first, but Sophia was finished first and got right to assembling when she was ready. There is so much competition between these two girls sometimes, it's ridiculous, for everything from schoolwork quality and speed to music interests, to parental attention and time. It's frustrating, but you should know this, if you plan on doing this project with more than one kiddo: cutting the pieces is extremely time-consuming. It took them each a few days to find the time between other activities to cut their pieces out. Just don't make the same mistake I did and go out and buy 30 sheets of paper for EACH kid. DUH! I can read, I swear, but right now my logicker is broken while I work through whatever this mystery illness is that I have! It's only 10 sheets per kid, because each sheet will have three pieces on it. What was I thinking?! Oh well, now we have enough for two more if Rob and I want to get in on the immense amount of work fun, too.

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Since my children are decidedly older than the kiddos at Deceptively, I wanted them to be a little more independent with this task. I gave them a few bits of information and then just let them go and do. Once Sophia played around with the first few joins, after learning that each join would have either 3 or 5 pieces involved with it, she was good to go. 

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Sophia, who is not a fan of brushing her hair these days(!), was finished before I blinked twice. It looks so cool, doesn't it?! They're really pretty when joined up with a few polyhedral friends, too.

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Chloë finished her polyhedron next, with as little involvement from me as Sophia had received. Love her color choices, too (bottom ball)! Chloë, by the way, is very specific about having favorite this, favorite that for everything. Or "best this" or "that," or whatever. So for this project, she had her favorite and second-favorite joins, including that 5-point wheel with the dark blue at the middle bottom of her ball in the photo. Kid cracks me up!

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Jack, on the other hand - and maybe you can tell from his "angry eyebrows" - struggled quite a bit with this project. He's not great at cutting out such fine, detailed shapes as the scroll-y corners on these pieces, nor was he willing to just work and try to start connecting the pieces on his own. My patience grew a little thin after a while of trying to assist him, so his older sister kindly took over that task for me. She's really going to be a great mom someday I think, by the by...

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When he was finished, I think all of us were relieved - but he did it! So go, Jack!

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And voilà! Here are the three of my babes, happy to have completed what turned out to be a pretty cool project after all. Now, where shall I hang them...?

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Thanks for stopping by!

Fin.

 


Art Projects: 3D Hand

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Another Art project we did at the end of August/beginning of September this school year: the 3D Hand. You can see lots more examples of this project here.

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We have a ton of high-lighter markers. Where did they all come from?! I don't know. Anyway, Chloë sorted those out while I explained the project to them. Both Rob and I had done this fun one in prior Art classes of our own, so I was familiar with the details. I thought they'd get a kick out of it.

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Sophia, my southpaw, jumped right in and got started. She's our resident artist of the family, so she wasn't concerned with the logistics. It felt like just another art style to her. Boom! She got it.

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Chloë on the other hand, is our resident perfectionist. She gets that from our mother, who futilely tries to undo that personality trait. Trust me, it's not easy; to be one and to recognize it in your own kid is stressful and frustrating. Anyway, Chloë wanted hers to be just so. Just so. Sophia, on the other hand, recognizes that perfection in Art is not necessary to achieve, so long as the work is resolved. Sophie's was finished several days before her older sister's therefore.

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Here is Sophia's 3D hand, of which she is very proud. I plan to hang a clothesline on my newly-vacant office wall, so that I can clothespin (and change the works) all the projects up throughout the year. That will happen this month, te prometo.

[Jack, whom we have given the choice to opt in or out of any of the art projects the girls do, selected "in" for this one! However, he didn't like his final work (I did), completed in all maroon and dark yellow, so he has squirreled it away and refused to allow it for public consumption. Fine by me; I feel like that is his choice, too.]

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Chloë had hers completed the same day, but she didn't like it because she felt that one couldn't see the hand well enough. On Tuesday of this week, I asked to see it again. We decided together that she could darken some of the edges, as Sophia had done, to make it "pop" more to her liking. She appreciates it better but feels like it's still too difficult to see her hand here. What do you think? I think she did a great job, personally, for having stressed over it so completely.

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I hope you're enjoying our homeschooling Art show for this year. There is much more to come; I just haven't had a chance to throw it up here on Ye Olde Fashioned Blahg!

Fin.


Art Projects: Modern Tin Art

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It's been a while since we started homeschooling - this is our 7th year! And don't believe for a minute that I don't revamp our plans every single year, if not monthly. If not weekly. Daily. Heh. It's always being evaluated and re-evaluated for what works and what doesn't work.

That being said, Sophia is my artsy child, and Chloë is pretty crafty in her own right. Jack doesn't much care for anything Art-related, so I let him opt out of whatever projects don't interest him in favor of doing something else school-related.

This is one project that interested all three kiddos.

We basically used this recipe from Piikea Street's blog to do this project. I used our ChromeCast to project my computer screen with the directions on it onto our big screen TV, and just scrolled down as they all completed each step of the process. It worked well, and I plan to use that technology frequently throughout this 2016-2017 year. We followed the directions for this one pretty close to the letter, though of course I let the kids make up their own designs. Sophia liked the project so well that she decided to make the mini one (bottom left) for her Littlest Pet Shop critters' studio. It's always obvious when she likes a project: she wants to do more of it on her own!

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So now, all that's left is to decide where and how to hang their obras de arte!

Fin.


January '16 Wrap-Up

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Black-and-white portrait of the man I love, Robert Allen Odette

So, I haven't blogged as much this infant year as I had planned, because I became even sicker than I had been all throughout the latter half-plus of 2015. That sucked. Basically, I had my iron infusion chemotherapy on December 21st and 28th, and I did not react well to it. I had a semi-kinda-fake-it-'til-you-make-it rally on New Year's Eve, when we went to South Beach for the big par-tay. And then I rested a whole bunch on New Year's Day, before we drove up to Orlando on the 2nd of January to celebrate Rob's and my 15th wedding anniversary.

Well. That sucked. That was actually for a mystery shopping assignment and fun though it was, I almost did not make it home. I had to stop and rest several times along the way, once for several hours, because I was in excruciating pain again. I never did complete that report. That was a Sunday.

By Tuesday, I was calling my father and my BFF, "Dr. Lisa," to say my good-byes. No, I did not call my sister yet at that time, because I knew she would rush down if I told her that I needed her to come help with the kids and Rob after my demise, and I was hoping for a Hail Mary.

Well, obviously, I got my Hail Mary! We still aren't sure what happened yet, because my ER lab results and my primary care doctor are calling it iron toxicity from an overdose of the chemo, but my hem/oncologist swears that I received the correct dose. So, I have no idea, other than that my death definitely seemed imminent but was clearly averted.

Whew. Anyway!

I spent a ridiculous amount of time lying on the couch recovering from that episode. I felt like I got NOTHING accomplished for the whole month other than recuperating. I did, however, manage to take a bunch of pictures of stuff, and lo and behold, as I discovered last night, that means I actually did stuff worthy (at least to me, so, good enough folks!) of that photography. I'm going to share it all here because, uh, that's kinda the purpose of this interwebular space, amirite?

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Black-and-white profile of my sleeping beauty, Sophia Lorelei

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This is from the 8th of January, when Sophia was feeling poorly from a yucky cold virus, and I was feeling poorly from all the aforementioned whatever-the-feck. We were lying together on Rob's lap, if you can discern his camouflage trousers in my sepia tones. A selfie? I asked. Of course, she responded. Snap

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I rarely wear jeans, and never wear boots - certainly not leather ones - so when Rob pulled out my man-made pleather knee-highs from the depths of our closet, I decided to go for it and rock the cowgirl look at one of Sophia's showjumping lessons. Or something. No stetson atop my head, though. The big accomplishment here, though, is that I was up and about, ready to attend her lessons again!

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That night, I felt like crap again and learned that my recovery would not come all at once but in slow bursts and small backslides each day and night. I rested and kvetched about how miserable I was... so much so that my awesome hubs asked what he could do to make my awful night better. Five minutes later, he was giving me his first pedicure. Not a bad job, either!

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Puppy love from Otterbox (Otto von Dieter) and the Doodle (Paco)

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Rob and I, starting our 16th year of wedding bliss, are connecting on a whole 'nother level lately. Our marriage has had some really high highs and some really low lows, but right now we are absolutely soaring. It takes work, every day, absolutely. But we are both crazier about each other now than when we first began this story of true love.

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Rob and Jack both received NERF guns from Grandpa Al & Grandma Denise (thanks, y'all!) for Christmas, and Jack received several more from Ye Olde Maw an' Paw, so the boys were thirsting for an old-fashioned (water) gun fight! Okay, so that wasn't truly an accomplishment of mine, per se, but at least I got up off my duff and out the door to take some piccies!

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On Wednesday, my neighbor drove Sophia and me to see my hem/oncologist. Sophia had a lesson right afterward, and I could not drive. The visit went well, I had blood drawn, blah blah blah. Afterward, our vecino, Frank, insisted us taking to the Sports Grille next door for a bite to eat before her lesson. Selfie time for me and Sophie!

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And here's that neighbor, Frank, with me watching Sophia's lesson that day. He absolutely loved watching her ride Buddy. Frank clapped and cheered, and he called her a champion! It was really fun watching it through his fresh eyes, and it's true. On Wednesday, Sophie really did an amazing job!

~*~*~*~*~

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Sophia walking Buddy to get saddled up

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Buddy doesn't like to get his riding gear on, and he gets a little nippy. Once ridden, though, he's a gentle giant. He loves Sophia, though - and that might be due in no small part to her bringing him a treat at the beginning and end of each lesson!

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Sophia had achievements in January, too. She and buddy jumped together for the first time, and she got up to a canter, too! Way to go, kiddo!

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It looks so freeing...

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This is the only picture I have gotten of Sophie and Buddy jumping so far, but there been many perfect jumps since then. Gosh, I'm so proud of how far she's come in just four short months!

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Sweet sign made by one of the other 'horsey moms'

~*~*~*~*~

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Craftiness happened this month, too. I was bound and determined not to let the extreme pain in all my joints stop me from doing what I really love and find so calming: knitting. So... I started with this top for myself (and yes, some champagne might have been involved in a few mishaps there):

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But, they're fixable.

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I'm pretty happy with it, even though I would do a Small instead of a Medium next time, and extend the belly ribbing so it covers more of my, uh, mommy pooch... lol. But it's good. I might even wear it out one day?!

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All the kids got onboard with Mommy knitting again, and all have asked for projects for themselves. We had a bit of a cold snap there, and Sophie already loves gloves and mittens, so together we picked out a pattern that's a combo of both.

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Meet Tatiana. Yes, there are booboos and it's a bit tight, but my fingers are out of practice and frankly, my eyes just don't see as well anymore! But Sophie is happy and that's what matters. Now to work on the bottom halves some...

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Speaking of craftiness, Jack and Sophia received their Tinker and Doodle Crates for the month, respectively. Their arrival is always a fun day.

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For Jack's project, he had to build a gravity game. He really enjoys doing the Tinker Crates along with the YouTube videos for each one, so his tablet was trotted out for the assist.

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I told Jack that if he could get the ball into the 50-point hole at the end, he could have a day off from Math work. Guess who had the next day off from Math?!

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Sophia's project was about Watercolor Painting, which is something she knows and loves.

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She had to learn about color gradients, which was new and challenging for her. And then she painted some dishes, including my FiestaWare, which, um... was NOT okay with me!!! (But now I can laugh. A bit.)

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For a bit more craftiness, Sophia fashioned these awesome sandals out of fallen palm fronds. I got a kick out of it!

~*~*~*~*~

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I needed a lot of help to get out to Bee Heaven Farm this month, which is where we get our weekly CSA shares, but Rob, Sophia, and Frank were happy to help me get there and get our box of fresh, local, organic goods!

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You know what fresh food means? Cooking. This first dish, I went pretty simple: Salad. I wilted the kale first and did a stir-fry with some watermelon radish, some kind of pepper I forget the name of, and then just threw it together with pecans and shredded Colby Jack. Meh, it was all right, but Rob had to finish my dose portion.

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A made-up dish: fried egg with (also-fried) French Couscous, topped with a conglomerate of stir-fried veggies from Bee Heaven Farm. And Spanish peanuts. I guess I was going for a whole fusion thing? I dunno, but it was tasty.

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Kitchen Sink Mashed Potatoes

I don't think any of this was comfort food fare was from the farm, but that's okay. During my recuperation from the chemo debacle, I ate and ate and ate like a mofo! I've never eaten so much in the seven years post-op. And I still lost weight! It was cray-cray. Anyway, I used to make this in my poverty-ridden days as a vegetarian college student: loaded mashed potatoes. I add corn, sautéed Vidalia onions, cheese (I loves me some cheesy goodness), garlic... and all kindsa' salt, pepper, milk and butter. Mmm. So. Freaking. Good!

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I made Ethiopian food for the first time ever! This vegan Gomen Wat was soooo good, I ate like five platefuls. Okay, maybe six? I'm definitely going to make it again. And no, I didn't serve it on a beautious bed of injera, because... um. Because and that's why.

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Southwestern Chili Mac

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Chloë wanted to hone her cooking chops in the kitchen with me one night when I was too manic to cook, so I somewhat crazily guided her through the recipe from Hello Fresh for Butternut Squash and Sage Risotto with Feta and Pepitas. She somehow, despite my sabotage, managed to pull off a stellar dish! Rob and I inhaled the goodness she made. Way to go, Chlo!

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Sophia wanted to join her sister in preparing a meal the kids would actually eat, and she lovingly put together a vermicelli and sauce dinner for the three of them. (There was supposed to be garlic bread too, but Mom forgot to keep reminding her to check the oven and, well, I'm just glad we didn't burn the house down.) Well done, ladies! ♥

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I baked a scrummy loaf of bread, nothing fancy but tasty as all-get-out.

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Jack and the girls pal around with the neighborhood kids, so one day while they held yet another NERF gun fight, I baked them up some peanut butter cookies to share with their friends. That plate came back EMPTY. Go, Mom. (Yes, I did diligently check for allergies first.)

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Plátanos fritos

 I had never fried plantains before, in all my years of living in South Florida, though I sure have enjoyed eating my share of them! We did a quickie grocery trip to Publix and talked about making our own, at which point I just thought, Why not now? Some super-green plantains, a bunch of kosher salt, and a healthy squeeze of lemon, et voilá! Talk about tasty. I'll definitely be doing that again!

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One week, our CSA box came with two of the most beautiful, juicy red grapefruits you ever wished to have. Oh. Em. Gee. (NO accomplishment here, I just wanted to drool over it some more. Moving on...)

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I had planned on making these Honeyed Butternut Squashes from the CSA box myself, but after chopping up two good-sized gourds, I was petered out. Rob had to finish the cooking for me himself, and he did an amazeballs job. They ended up too sweet for my grumpy pouch, Oscar, and I experienced a lot of Dumping Syndrome. But I swear, I would've eaten them all if I could have!

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And lastly - but surely not least - on the cooking front, I made some of my favorite Artisanal Rustic Pizzas. The dough recipe comes from a back issue of Martha Stewart Living but the toppings are my creation. The kids don't like my fanciful ideas, so I made them a plain cheese-and sauce one. Only, we only had cheddar in the house and no sauce, so I had to improvise and make some sauce from scratch. Jack didn't care for it - he's no cheese fan (tha' heck?!) - but the girls devoured every last piece of Pizza #1.

Pizza #2 was the same but with a bunch of roasted organic scallions from the BHF CSA box on top. I unvented a different homemade sauce for that one. Rob is lucky he had any of that one, because I snatched up every last piece after he had his share!

Pizza #3 was way more unconventional: a third different homemade sauce, using torn-up fresh organo from the CSA box. Cheddar cheese, natch. And for toppers? I threw on chopped walnuts, pea sprouts from BHF, capers, and a drizzle of honey. I didn't think I would like that. My scale says the opposite! (Rob loved it, also.)

Whew. Now I'm getting hungry!

~*~*~*~*~

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Random January blooms in the neighborhood

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Rob and I were startled to find Jack, Sophia, and a neighborhood boy carrying a box with this "abandoned" duckling in it one day. They insisted its mother had left it and gone swimming with the rest of her brood. Of course, I had my camera with me. They took the ducky out of its box, I snapped a picture or two, and then... he waddled off, like a bat out of hell! Ahaha. So much for being helpless.

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Here, leezard, leezard... 

Just an anole visitor who ran away from me at the horse farm after I let out a belly-bursting sneeze

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Lest you were thinking you'd get away from me without sharing some puppy pix... heeeeere's PACO! ♥

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Otterbox is really a beautiful GSD, but he's hard to photograph well sometimes. Anyway, this month, Robert declared that he has chosen ME as "his person," which about blew my heart up with joy. Our previous German Shepherd, Tiger Lily, was supposed to be my dog, but she chose Rob for her person. The exact opposite happened this time. And I love Otty-bot soooo much. He was a bit of trouble at first, but now he is just the most fun, loving, sweet thing, and I'm glad he is a part of our wackadoodle family!

And that's about it for the round-up! Here's another cookie, if you read the whole danged thing.

Fin.


Saturday 9: Boulevard of Broken Dreams

Link up here if you're playing along today!

***

Saturday 9: Boulevard of Broken Dreams (2004)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here


1) The "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" video begins with the gentlemen of Green Day dealing with car trouble. If your car overheated, what's the first thing you would do to remedy the situation?

Pull over!


2) Thinking of cars, lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong has had his share of trouble behind the wheel and was busted for driving well beyond the speed limit. Was your last ticket for parking, or was it a moving violation?

Oh, definitely a moving violation. I have no ability to sit still, but I get into all kinds of trouble when I move... ;)

3) Billie Joe says "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" was inspired by the Edward Hopper painting, "Nighthawks." Tell us about a piece of artwork that you enjoy. (Yes, the macaroni picture frame created for you by your nephew counts.)

I adore anything by Romero Britto, but I'm especially enamored of his Kissing Fish series of artworks!

4) Let's go back to childhood. Was the home where you grew up located on a boulevard, an avenue, a street, a lane or a road?

I grew up at 5 Buccaneer Bend, Baldwinsville, NY... that's a lot of "b"s...

5) This song won Green Day a Grammy for Record of the Year. What positive feedback have you received recently?

Gosh, I don't know. The only feedback I really get, and it's mostly good news, is from my husband and kids these days.

6) Green Day uses their Facebook page to let more than 32 millions know what the group is doing. What's the last thing you posted to social media?

This picture: We're having Drunken Pizza and Movie Night here at Casa de Odette... of course, the kids are not having spiked 'nog! ;)

7) In 2004, when this song was popular, Ken Jennings had a still unbeaten string of 74 wins on Jeopardy! What game show do you think you'd do well on?

Was that really in 2004? That many years ago?!! I'm in shock. Holy crap. Time flies. I'd love to give Jeopardy! a shot, myself.

8) Also in 2004, Lance Armstrong was in the midst of his own Tour de France winning streak. Now we know he cheated. Tell us about a time you broke the rules.

Probably for my last speeding ticket, speaking of moving violations...

9) 2004 is when Morgan Spurlock released Super Size Me, his documentary about eating nothing but McDonald's for a month. What's the last fast food restaurant you visited?

Well, I just picked up Papa John's pizzas tonight, so I guess that's my answer!

***

Fin.


Glad To Go, But Aiken To Leave

Unknown Mami

 Link up with Unknown Mami HERE if you're participating today! (warning: this is a long and photo-rich post)

So on August 8th, after a conversation with my dad, I became sufficiently panicked about there being a life-or-death situation happening in his home that I booked a hotel room for that Monday-thru-Friday for myself and the rest of Team Odette. I booked, then informed Rob that we had to go to South Carolina. Such is not like me, but I was desperately concerned and not sure what I would find. Long story short, my dad was severely depressed, barely eating anything, suffering from a bad case of shingles, and so on and so forth. I was, to put it mildly, worried.

 

I had two priorities for my visit to see my dad last week: Get him to go to a doctor, for maybe the first time in his entire life, and cook enough to fill his freezer full of delicious and easy-to-reheat meals. He is a major meat-and-potatoes guy, whereas I'm mostly vegetarian, so this presented somewhat of a challenge for me.

 

For months, Dad had been singing the praises of Aldi to me, but the one time I tried to go, I was not aware ahead of time that I needed a quarter to rent a shopping cart or that I needed to bring my own bags and boxes, so I never even made it inside the store. This trip, however, Dad was determined to get me inside the store, and so I took my father shopping at Aldi in Aiken.

 

I went up and down each aisle with my dad, who normally subsists on unhealthy convenience foods, explaining about olive oil being a much healthier alternative to other vegetable-based oils and extolling the virtues of getting a well-balanced diet with well-rounded nutrition for his aging body's needs. He mostly smirked in his "Sure, I"ll humor you, Mel" way, but I think some of it got through.

 

We arrived on Monday, checked in to our craptastic Howard Johnson motel on Whiskey Road in Aiken (if I could give it negative stars on Trip Advisor, I totes would), and I met up with my dad to do the shopping. On Tuesday and Wednesday, I cooked pretty much the whole day. I had to remember he wanted ground beef in his lasagna, so that was different for me. I promise I didn't cringe; I'm a non-judgemental veggie. I did his roast chicken and his pot roast in the crockpot his ex-wife had left behind. I made a shrimp scampi, baked cheesy artichokes with a lemon aioli dip for him to share with Rob one night, and so much more.

The most tempting for me, though, were the giant blackberries in the impossibly enormous muffins I made him. Whilst they cooled, I eyed those things ferociously, but I quickly popped them individually into the freezer before I took a nibble or ten. However, you can bet your sweet patoot that I bought some blackberries yesterday, and I plan on a repeat of that recipe for Team Odette in the extremely near future. My mouth is officially watering!

 

On Tuesday, while I cooked up a storm and dirtied every pot, dish, and utensil in Dad's meager kitchen, I dropped off Rob and the kids at Richardson's Lake down the road from the house. Despite my urgings, Hubs took not one single photo, so I had to steal this one off of Google Images. The kiddos had the time of their lives, swimming, jumping and diving, while Rob watched from his position in the sand. And still, I cooked, bagged, labeled, and froze the food for Dad.

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Unfortunately, the kids forgot (and Rob didn't remind them) to reapply their sunscreen, so a week later, all are still suffering the effects of sunburnt faces. They look cute with some pink coloring on their faces, sure, but we all know that such damage is no bueno. There's Sophia on my dad's loveseat. I took a few pics inside his beach-themed home to help practice on his little digital camera, with which he was itching to become acquainted.

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Chloë, who probably got the worst sunburn of them all, relaxed in Dad's living room after the visit to the lake. The kids fell asleep, all of them, on the living room floor while I fixed the shrimp scampi for their dad and grandfather.

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Jack, of course, is never one to enjoy getting his photo taken. I don't know why; he's as cute as a button, but whatevs. Paco was happy to oblige me, right?!

* * * * * * * *

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On Wednesday, before I got into the big cooking job of the day, Dad wanted to take us down the road from his house to the Equine Rescue of Aiken. They have about 70 rescued horses, among other animals, on acre after acre of beautiful pasture. Forgive my lack of proper terminology here, because I don't really know horse lingo too well, but I was wholly impressed by this privately-owned operation.

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We were given a private tour of the facility by Caroline, who was extremely knowledgeable not only about the horses but also the ins and outs of running the Equine Rescue. I hadn't brought my wallet with me to the shelter, but I definitely plan to make a pilgrimage back to the Rescue every time we go visit my dad from here on out and, not just but partly because Sophia is such a huge horse lover, support their efforts.

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 We had suspicious about why some of the horses were wearing these blinder-thingies, but we were all wrong; it was to help keep the flies out of their eyes.

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I can't remember this woman's name, but she came up to us and offered assistance. Before our complimentary golf court tour with Caroline, she educated us on horses near the parking area. She was great with horses and kids alike, and she took it in complete stride when Sophia pointed out some kind of injury or infection on this horse's leg. 

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On our tour, Caroline took an abundance of questions, mostly from me, with a great degree of both patience and knowledge. She also stopped frequently to let the kids off and pet the horses that were approachable. This one was so sweet; Sophia and Chloë bounded up the fence - and would have gone over it - to visit this guy!

The Aiken Equine Rescue visit was incredibly impressive. I'm so thankful my father had the idea for the field trip. We'll definitely be back! You can follow them on Facebook here, especially if you're near the Aiken/Augusta area of the world.

* * * * * * * *

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Armed with the knowledge that the Odettelettes are major animal lovers, my dad suggested another great field trip for Thursday. I wanted him to take it easy and not feel like he had to entertain us, since he was feeling awful and I was there to take care of him, but he insisted he was up to it. And so, we ventured out the the Aiken SPCA (here is their Facebook page).

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All three kids are enormous cat lovers, so of course they were in seventh heaven the moment we walked up and saw several in the windows. Before we got there, I warned the kids at least twice but maybe thrice that NO PETS WOULD BE COMING HOME with us to Miami!

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I loved this sign. It warmed the cockles of my heart.

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I don't know who was more active in there, the kids or the animals wanting to be adopted. Photography was not ideal. I don't like the motion setting on my Nikon, so... what you get is what you get.

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Chloë will grow up to be (and frankly already is) a crazy cat lady, I have no doubt. She wants to be a cat-specific veterinarian, and I'm quite certian she would marry her Maine Coon, Pepper, if interspecies weddings were legal!

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Stupid comment, maybe, but I just think itty-bitty Jack with a normal-sized watch on his wrist makes for a super cute image...

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"Hi there, please adopt us?"

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Sophia had a blast playing with this trio of kitties. They were in a display room that could be seen from outside, and once we discovered we could actually enter the rooms that didn't specifically prohibit it, oh ma gaw. The kids were giddy with excitement.

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My dad and one of the SPCA residents, which is funny because he's notoriously not a cat lover

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I'm partial to white cats myself. I'd love a Persian or Himalayan someday, but yeah. The expense is something I can't stomach!

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The kids get their love of cats from Hubs. He would adopt ALL THE CATS if his wife would allow it.

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Oh, somebody discovered El Gato Blanco.

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These three puppies got out when we were trying to get in. Hysterical puppy chasing ensued. The volunteer in that area was less than amused. Don't worry; I made up for it.

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That's Sophia for you, making friends everywhere she goes!

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Finally, we got those puppies back in their room. I stayed outside to help corral them when Chloë and Jack emerged from their playtime!

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Oops, my corralling efforts were to no avail! At least the volly was in better humor about the escape artists the second time!

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I can't remember this pup's name, but she was beautiful, I thought. She was definitely eager to find a new family and home!

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This nine-year-old pooch is Mitsy. I fell in love at first sight when I saw her. She needs me. SHE. NEEDS. ME. If she's still there when/if we move to the Space Coast next Spring, count on an adoption!

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Another playful pup

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Rob is much more a cat-person than a dog lover, but he's an all-around animal lover like the rest of his nonetheless. He prefers large dogs, which makes his deep affinity for our Chihuahua, Paco, all the more strange.

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This employee came into the canine quarters to let me visit with Mitsy up close and personal. Holy crap, did we bond. I loved her, she loved me... she NEEDS me, people!!!

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Sophia wanted to get into this room, but these two dogs were SO excited by her visit, they started getting jealously snarly with each other. I made her exit the room post haste.

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A much calmer resident

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We weren't allowed to visit or, if we had wanted to, adopt this guy. I don't know what kind of broken home he came from, but apparently he did not have auspicious beginnings at the shelter. Poor dude. I hope his situation improves.

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Jack: "Look at these three puppies, Mom! Can we take them home?"

Me: "NO."

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Sophia wanted to visit the trio, too. She implored similarly to Jack. My answer was the same: NO!

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There were a number of thought-provoking quotes on the walls of the shelter. This is the one I loved the most.

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Remember the three escape-artist puppies from earlier? Their escapades wore them out. It's possible they got even cuter!

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On our way out of the SPCA, we noted the kittens were equally, er, fatigued. Three Odette kiddos will do that to ya!

* * * * * * * *

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I don't remember ever having been in a Hobby Lobby in my life, but Dad wanted to visit and get some Christmas ideas for the kids. WOW! I'm not sure I agree with their politics, but I found lots of great inspiration for decorating our next home in there. As for Jack, he found what he wanted for Christmas. The boy, he looks his flying machines.

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When we passed the art prints, the girls picked this one out of a myriad of images and almost in unison exclaimed, "We did this in Art class!" Indeed, they did make their own versions of this famous Kandinksy work, and I was proud and pleased that they remembered it!

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Here was Chloë's interpretation of the above Kandinksy. I had encouraged them to put their own unique flair in their assignments, and clearly Chloë ran with the idea.

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I found this photo and had to show it to Rob. I need this in our house! I tease him all the time about his apish, freakishly-long arms, and he returns the teasing about my freakishly-short, T.Rexian limbs. This, therefore, elicited quite a few laughs from us!

* * * * * * * *

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Finally, despite a light drizzle (which we're used to during the six+ months of rainy season here in South Florida), Dad suggested we go down to the Augusta Riverwalk to walk around and burn off some steam. In all the 21 years and change that he has lived in Aiken, surprisingly I have never visited this riverfront spectacle. Dad knows I'm never without my camera, so he obligingly posed for some photos alongside the kids.

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Rob, Chloë, and Sophia looking out over the Savannah River

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There was a fountain in the street near the Riverwalk, and since they were already being rained upon, I relented and let them go run over and indulge themselves in further soaking. They didn't want to come out, it was so much fun. They wanted to go in again when we circled 'round and headed back to Miranda (our minivan), but I declined. No towels in the van = no dice.

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Also at the Riverwalk was an amphiteater for concerts and other performances. The girls ran up and down the stairs in a vignette that reminded me of Heath Ledger in the movie 10 Things I Hate About You. Am I alone here in remembering this scene?

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A soaked Chloë by yet another watery feature

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There were plaques memorializing those from the area who fought and died in various conflicts. We read them in silent respect, as our family is steeped in military history. My dad, a former member of the Coast Guard, paused for a photo.

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Sophia had a mouth booboo, blisters on her feet, and a headache by that time, so instead of lingering, we headed back to the van at last. The Riverwalk isn't big on things to do, per se, but it more than makes up for that in beautiful scenery. I'm glad we went!

* * * * * * * *

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On Friday, we drove home from South Carolina. I was feeling as miserable as Sophie, or we might have visited throughout the day before leaving, but I was eager to get on the road. I had even gone to the Emergency Department in Aiken the night before with a severe migraine I couldn't bring under control with my meds, and added to that a very upset tummy, well... let's just say the normally 9½-hour trip took several hours longer! Paco and Henry, our youngest kitty, were certainly glad to see each other again. I think the cats missed us, too...

Fin.


Wordless Wednesday: Sophie's Sumi-e Ink Wash Painting

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Sophia adores her Kiwi Doodle Crates so much, she did extra chores when I told her she had to do them in order to open the box right NOW. Anybody who knows Sophia knows this is a HUGE deal.

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This month's subscription to the Kiwi Doodle Crate was for Ink Wash Painting. Lemme tell you, there was ink EVERYWHERE (blah blah blah, Sophie being the reason why) during this activity, but she really enjoyed learning a new artsy technique.

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The Sumi-e ink wash drawing she ultimately created was pretty cool, I thought, for never having done it before. I liked it so well, I forgave her for forgetting to do an important thing or two I'd asked of her before she started..!

Are you WORDLESS today, too? If so, link up here with 5 Minutes For Mom to join in the fun!

Fin.


Sunday Stealing: Get It All Down Meme

 

Cheers to all of us thieves!
 
Get It All Down Meme

Stolen from: My Random Randomness

  • Are you a good dancer?

I'm okay at home, but I have issues dancing in public.

  • Are you a good singer?

I'm all right, but I'm no Streisand.

  • Are you a good cook?

The James Beard Foundation isn't going to come knocking anytime soon, but the rest of Team Odette seems pretty happy with it. When I'm manic, I bake and cook enough for an army. It used to be great when Hubs had an appetite. Now I have to be careful not to be wasteful. 

  • Are you a good artist?

I'm just half-decent, and that's all. Sophia, my 10-year-old, is forever artsing and crafting, though. She does some pretty cool stuff.

  • Are you a good listener?

It's not my finest attribute... :\

  • What's your favorite clean word?

I couldn't think of anything in English, so I'm saying this instead: My husband loves to drink an Arnold Palmer (half-iced tea, half-lemonade). I can't say this man's name to save my life. It's the worst tongue-twister for me EVAHHHH. I can't even say it properly in my head. So when I run to the Racetrac or whatever, and I offer him one and say it right? Major cause for self-praise.

When I'm feeling really emphatic, I like to throw out a whole conglomeration of curse words. George Carlin would've adored me.

  • What's your least favorite word?

Any kind of derogatory term for someone's culture, heritage, race, creed, you get the picture. I hate slurs.

  • What was the last film you saw?

We saw Tomorrowland in the IMAX theater a few weeks ago. It was epic awesomeness. I came away feeling completely inspired. I hope my kids did, too.

  • What football team do you support?

Gotta support the alma mater!

  • Have you ever been bobbing for apples?

Once. I was eight or nine years old, and my step-family's friends had a Halloween party.  I had forgotten about that rare fun moment during that decade of my life.

  • What's your most expensive piece of clothing?

Honestly, the name brands I wear are, like, Crocs and Old Navy. I do have a few designer items like Calvin Klein and DKNY or whatever, but I got them secondhand from thredUP. For what it's worth.

  • What's the last thing you took a picture of?

Sophia Ginger

Sophia begged me to turn her blond hair red. I didn't wanna! Hubs said she could. We discussed. End result: blondie is now a ginger. I it!

  • What's the last thing you drew a picture of?

I don't do a lot of drawing these days, but mostly I doodle botanical things, like ferns and daisies, when I'm on the phone.

  • Have you ever bought anything from eBay?

Oh, yes. Sophia (this is a Sophie-heavy post, huh?) is obsessed with all things Littlest Pet Shop lately, so my latest find was a "rare" (she says, and I did not verify, but awesomely inexpensive) LPS from either Taiwan or Hong Kong, I forget. It took 17 days to get here. She hounded the postal carrier daily for that package. Oh, the squeals, when it finally got here on Thursday!

  • Have you ever invented a fairly unique meal or drink?

Hubs says I create great, unique meals all the time (drinks, not so much), but I didn't know what he was talking about. He specified the foil meals I mentioned in yesterday's Saturday 9 post! Cooking en papillote is fantastic. (Psst, Country Dew - They're great in the oven as well as the grill, and I swear to you, you can't mess 'em up. I generally use heavy duty foil instead of parchment paper, though.)

  • Do you have any secret family recipes?

I don't think so. My grandmother was a great cook, but she died before I could get any recipes from her. I don't remember my mom's cooking at all, except for two things: Pumpkin pie, which I'm certain was the Libby's can recipe my home-ec teachin' mamacita-in-law swears is the only one to use, and Chicken a la King, which made my sister and I feign many an upset stomach. To this day, I have never eaten that.

I swear by the Nestlé Toll House chocolate chip cookie recipe, incidentally.

Welp, that's all for the Smellyann Sophia and Cooking Show for today.

Enjoy your day, all ye dads!

Fin.