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Saturday 9: What's New, Pussycat?

Best Buy: This Is Tom Jones: What's New Pussycat [DVD]

Welcome one, and welcome all, to the carnage carnival that is my life blahg. Sit right down and buckle up, because away. we. go! We've got another Tom Jones song on tap for you today, and even though it's not "It's Not Unusual," my mind is still doing The Carlton anyway.

So that's always fun.

I don't have much else to report in this particular post, so we're going to jump right into in. Be sure and link up here if you're joining us this week!

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Saturday 9: What's New, Pussycat? (1965)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.
 
 
Welcome to the first Saturday 9 of 2023.

1) In this song, Tom Jones wants to know what's new in his girl's life. Here at Saturday 9, we're concentrating on the new year. What do you hope will be new and different in your life during 2023?
 
I'm hoping to be - and for my house to be - more organized and thus, more productive this year. Starting with my pantry. I've purchased online a number of organizing and storage items for it, and I'm now just waiting for everything to roll in. I'm going to take before, during, and after pictures, so I don't quite yet want to show the train wreck that it currently is!
 
2) He sings that he has flowers for his special girl. Are there fresh flowers in your home right now?
 
Floral arrangement featuring an orange pincushion with dark pink roses, orange roses and green robelina palms 1
 
Not yet, but our 22nd anniversary was on January 2nd, and I know Hubs ordered from The Bouqs for me. I looove The Bouqs! Save 20% off your first order with HELLO20! (This is NOT a referral, and I am not an affiliate - just a happy customer.)
 
3) He also wants to spend hours with her. What is something you'd like to spend more time doing in 2023?
 
2023 Honda Odyssey Trim Levels | EX vs. EX-L vs. TouringCricut Maker-Lilac+Essentials Bundle – Cricut
 
This may sound really stupid, but reading manuals and finally learning how to use shit stuff I own.
 
4) Before his music career took off, Tom Jones supported himself by selling vacuum cleaners. Could your home benefit from a once-over with a vacuum right now?
 
Most of it, yeah. My youngest kiddo just did the stairs. We also need to hit our bedroom with the rug cleaner, because our deer chihuahua, who never does this, just puked in there this morning, and we just spot-treated it. He's still pukey, so we haven't gone in there with the machine yet.
 
5) Memorabilia from Tom's 1990 world tour was available on eBay, and the bids went up to $599 for a jacket worn by the stage crew. Have you ever bought anything at an auction (online or otherwise)?
 
Listia - Wikipedia
 
Yes, I've bought quite a bit on eBay, and I used to get things (and list them) on Listia, too. I auctioned things for a long time in my own group on Facebook, too. Wildly successful.
 
6) Tom's adult grandson, Alex, represented Wales in rifle shooting in the Commonwealth Games. Is there a sport you'd like to try, or get better at, in 2023?
 
Murderball Movie Review | Common Sense Media
 
Nah, murderball really isn't my thing.
 
7) In 1965, when this song was popular, Tom Jones made a new friend, Elvis Presley. Tom had a meeting at Paramount Studios to discuss recording a song for a movie soundtrack and Elvis was finishing a film. It was the beginning of a friendship that would continue for the rest of Elvis' life. Did you make any new friends in 2022?
 
I certainly did! I believe I made a group of women friends for life!

8) Also in 1965, The Sound of Music premiered and became one of the most successful movies of all time. Have you seen it?
 
9 Best Sound of music meme ideas | sound of music, sound of music meme,  humor
 
Oh yes, at least a dozen times. I love musicals. And Julie Andrews. Especially Julie Andrews.

9) Random question: Were you like those shoppers we saw on TV, in line at a retailer after the holidays to exchange a gift that wasn't quite right?
 
What shoppers we saw on TV? Which year? This year? I haven't watched TV - at least not live TV - since I-don't-know-when and no, I wasn't returning anything except by mail. Easy peasy! I hope you all liked any gifts you were fortunate enough to receive!
 
~*~*~*~*~
 
Happy day to you all!
 
Fin.

Saturday 9: The Christmas Song

Ozzie & Harriet Nelson | Ricky nelson, David nelson, Hollywood actor

Hi everyone! Y'all ready for Christmas? We're almost there. Just a few things left to get, a few ornaments left to put up. I'm not sure we'll have any food that day, but we'll survive. Ha!

This weekend's offering is all about "The Christmas Song" from Ricky Nelson - yes, he of "Ozzie & Harriet" fame. I love this song; it's one of my favorite Christmas carols. What about you?

Link up here if you're joining us this weekend.

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Saturday 9: The Christmas Song (1964)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.
 
1) While this song was published as "The Christmas Song," many people refer to it as "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire." Have you ever roasted chestnuts (in an open fire or in the oven)?
 
A few times, yeah. We did them in our fireplace when I was a kid. Pretty good!

2) Ricky Nelson sings that turkey helps make the season bright. Many of us just had turkey last month for Thanksgiving. Do you enjoy turkey all year around? Or do you consider it a seasonal dish?
 
I no longer eat the turkey, but I would definitely consider it a seasonal dish.
 
3) He wishes "Merry Christmas" to kids from 1 to 92. Who is the youngest person you will celebrate the holidays with? Who is the oldest?
 
Physically in our house with us? I think it'll be Rob (Hubs) as the oldest at 50, and Ashe's friend Charlie is supposed to come over at some point. He's 15. We've got prezzies for him.
 
4) "The Christmas Song" is a perennial favorite and gets lots of play this time of year. Is there a holiday song that you think is overplayed, and that you hope to not hear again (at least not until December 2023)?
 
No, but I haven't been in stores much and have only listened on demand, so I'm fine with the amounts I've heard.
 
5) This version of the song is from The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, the sitcom that ran from 1952 to 1966. There were 435 episodes in all. Is there a series whose every episode you've seen?
 
Probably several. Maybe Friends, Seinfeld, Frasier, ummm... Phineas and Ferb. What? It's a brilliant show!
 
6) Life magazine coined the phrase "teen idol" to describe Ricky's popularity. In your younger days, did you have a crush on a teen idol?
 
Picture of Matt Dillon | Matt dillon the outsiders, Matt dillon, Young matt  dillon  Matt Damon - Movies, Wife & Age - Biography
 
I had a crush on Matt Dillon for the longest time after The Outsiders came out, even though I was teeny-tiny when that came out and shouldn't have seen it. I'm sure I had a torrent of crushes on "teen idols" after I saw an interview with Dillon and realized I didn't find him all that interesting. But another Matt D. - Damon, that is - is my enduring crush. He's so cute! Not to mention decent.
 
7) Do you have a funny/ugly holiday sweater?
 
No, I never did get on that trend.
 
8) Have you received many holiday cards this year? Did you send many?
 
We sent out about 65. We've gotten about 2. Which is okay; it's not about the numbers for me. (Which reminds me, would any of you like one? I still have plenty more supplies. DM me if so.)
 
9) If you were Santa, what cookie would you like kids to leave for you on Christmas Eve?
 
Santa's milk and cookies: The surprising history behind the popular  Christmas tradition | Fox News
 
I can't stand snickerdoodles, I'm really and truly not a fan of sugar cookies, and I could do without red velvet. For me, the perfect cookies will always be chocolate chip. I love them. Even the bad ones are good. AMIRITE???
 
~*~*~*~*~
Until next time, dear friends! And don't forget to drop me a line here or on FB if you'd like a Christmas card! I updated my list this year because I lost previous lists, so if you've gotten one in the past, that's why it's not automatic now. Love y'all.
 
Merry, merry!
 
Fin.

Saturday 9: Just Because

Elvis Presley: A First-Time Listener's Guide | Billboard – Billboard

Howdy-ho, neighbors! This weekend's post focuses on this song, Just Because, by Elvis Presley.  This is significant to me because I grew up with a dad who absolutely idolized the man (and, I'm sure, still does) and could do a mean impression of him as well. My dad could sing well, could do the moves, and even had some of the requisite attire to make the whole thing convincing. Of course, I've heard every Elvis song ever, 50,000 times over, backward and forward... right?

I had not ever heard this song before.

So, my friends, link up here if you want to join us this weekend. Read on for my answers. Thank you, Crazy Sam, for dusting this one off for me (okay, us)! Let's hit it:

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Saturday 9: Just Because (1956)

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

1) In this week's song, Elvis complains that his girl has confused him with Santa Claus. This time of year, Santa is prominent. Did you more recently hear Santa referred to in a song, see him in a holiday decoration or ad, watch him in a film or TV show, or maybe even met him in person, ringing a bell or asking kids if they have been naughty or nice?

Christmas Carols for Children | Christmas songs for kids, Christmas carols  for kids, Xmas songs

Yes, we've been listening to a lot of Christmas carols lately as we work through the activities in our Advent calendar. Santa features prominently in these, of course.

2) Finally Elvis just can't take it anymore and breaks up with her, just because. Is there anyone in your life who has a way of pressing your buttons and getting on your nerves?

That's probably true for everyone, I'm guessing.

3) "Just Because" is one of the last songs Elvis recorded at Sun Studio in Memphis. TripAdvisor recommends a Sun Studio tour as one of the top things to do in Memphis. Have you ever been to Memphis? If yes, what did you do?

15 TOP Things To Do in Memphis | Attractions & Activities

I've only ever driven through Memphis, and also Nashville, and also half a dozen times Chattanooga. I have stayed in Gatlinburg. Memphis would be an interesting trip, though.

4) Elvis left Sun for RCA, a much bigger record label. As part of the deal, RCA negotiated for the rights to all his unreleased Sun songs. "Just Because" is one of them, and it was included on Elvis' first RCA album. Have you gotten a good deal on anything lately?

Best Buy: SodaStream Fizzi Sparkling Water Maker Kit Icy Blue 1011711017

I get a good deal on just about everything. Like the SodaStream I got for Chloë for Christmas, I paid nowhere near full price, nor did I pay full price for the flavors for it, nor will I ever! And she'll be so thrilled to have it, so win-win!

5) In 1956, when "Just Because" was released, non-stick cookware was first introduced. Do you have any Teflon in your kitchen right now?

Shock Images | Free Vectors, Stock Photos & PSD

No way in hell!

6) Elvis thought peacocks were beautiful and commissioned stained glass peacock panels for his living room. Do you have any stained glass in your home?

The Most Beautiful Stained Glass in the World | Condé Nast Traveler

No, but I certainly do wish! It's so beautiful.

7) He tried to keep peacocks at Graceland. One of the birds saw its reflection in Elvis' gold Cadillac and started pecking, ruining the car's expensive paint job. Elvis donated the peacocks to the Memphis Zoo. Have you ever had a bird as a pet?

Well not exactly pets, but we used to keep chickens when we lived in Idaho for the eggs, and the five of us each had "our" specific chickens that we felt we belonged to and were particularly attached to. I loved those chickens. Here, we're not allowed to have any because of our HOA rules, even though the town would allow three, which makes me want to be a scofflaw and keep ducks. They don't say anything about ducks.

8) Elvis decorated the long Graceland driveway for the holidays with blue lights. His father teased that with the airport nearby, pilots might confuse their driveway with a runway. What airport is nearest your home?

I believe the nearest major airport is Baltimore International, although we have tons of regional ones between there and here.

9) When Elvis was alive, he kept the holiday lights up until January 9, the day after his birthday. That tradition continues at Graceland today. Conventional etiquette tells us Christmas decorations should go up the day after Thanksgiving and come down before January 6 (the 12th day of Christmas). Do you think it's ever too early, or too late, for Christmas decorations?

Holiday Light Displays | VisitMaryland.org

Well, for stores and other commercial enterprises, yeah, I kinda think there is a limit for too-early/too-late. But for private families and people, I think, who gives a rat's behind? Let people do what makes them happy! So what if Joe Schmoe at the end of the block likes to keep his lights up until the end of March and put them up again after Halloween? What's it to me? I don't pay his light bill and it's honestly kind of pretty. I'm of more of a laissez-faire kind of mind about that for private citizens.

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Welp, that's all folks! Back to wrapping presents with Chloë, my eldest! Seems like the job will never be done, but that's not a complaint! I'm grateful for the abundance, always grateful.

Have a wonderful week on purpose, everybody!

Fin.


Saturday 9: Two Black Cadillacs

Carrie Underwood | iHeart

Welcome, welcome one and all (or is it both?). I've been trying to log in to Typepad for HOURS, but something has stopped that connection. Here I am, finally, at 1513 on Saturday. What a relief.

I don't like much in the way of Country music, but I do like Ms. Underwood, so I'm glad to see this one. And I already knew this song!

Link up here if you're playing along this weekend. Let's go:

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Saturday 9: Two Black Cadillacs (2011)

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

1) This week's song is about two women who share a very dark secret. Are you good at keeping secrets?

Not usually. I have zero filter, pretty much.

2) Carrie Underwood's favorite author is Stephen King. In fact, she credits King's Christine as an inspiration for this song. Have you read much Stephen King, or seen movies based on his books?

Some. I'd say I'm a fan, but not, like, a mega-fan.

3) Carrie first came to America's attention when she won on American Idol. Prior to competing on that show, she'd never been on an airplane. Crazy Sam takes at least one round-trip flight every year and pays using the miles she accumulated from credit card purchases throughout the year. Do you try to earn miles, points, or cash back when you make purchases?

Oh, yes. I'm always trying to play the game and earn points here to spend there.

4) Black is this week's signature color because November 25 was Black Friday, when retailers historically have slashed their prices and the holiday shopping season begins. Have you begun your gift shopping?

Yes. I'm welllll into my gift shopping - and wrapping!

5) Black Friday began as a local event initiated by store owners in Philadelphia back in the early 1960s. When you think of Philadelphia, what comes to mind?

Well nowadays, I think of my trip there with Chloë for her 21st birthday, just this past September. Fun times!

6) Black Friday always comes after Thanksgiving, a day of feasting. What was the best dish at your holiday table this year?

I think it was the pies (we had 5). For the first time in years, I was able to come downstairs and help guide the children to make my pie recipes, if I couldn't do it myself. They were wonderful and were devoured quickly. Good job, kids!

7) Thanksgiving is also a big day for watching football. Did you watch any games?

Nyet.

8) What are you thankful for this year?

Oh, I'm soooo thankful for being able to come downstairs, help make those pies, and just generally be with my family for the whole day of Thanksgiving. It was a treasure. And so much more than that, but it would be a very long list. I keep that list in my planner.

9) Random question: You're in a public restroom and have a choice between paper towels and a hot air hand dryer. Which do you choose?

I'd choose the hot air. Why would I use natural resources I don't need to use when there is an alternative right there? Go tree-free. Go more sustainable (because paper just isn't, really). Yes, there is the source of the electricity, but that's more negligible than the processes of getting the paper towel to that bathroom, and using it. No, for me, it's the hot air hand dryer. Good question, Sam.

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Now I'm listening to The National on NPR Tiny Desk Concerts - those are the best; I'm obsessed - which the Carrie Underwood tune moved to after the one by Andrew Bird on YouTube. Give them a listen, if you haven't already!

Happy holiday season, y'all!

fin.


Saturday 9: Black

Dierks Bentley - Black (Lyrics) - YouTube

Hi, everyone. Haven't been feeling too well, so I had to take a bit of a sabbatical. I'm not going to do much of a prelude here today, either, lest I run out of steam and not complete this one!

So link up here if you want to join in, and thank you for visiting!

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Saturday 9: Black (2016)

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



1) This song was chosen because yesterday was Black Friday, the traditional day of sales. Have you begun your Christmas shopping?

Is this the perfect number of Christmas presents? | Daily Mail Online

Yeah, I started back in about August, I guess. I usually start socking away things here and there that I know they'll love, when I see a good deal, but between Coronavirus, being sick and moving cross-country, it didn't really go as usual. I think I'm making up for it!

2)  Was there an adult beverage served with your Thanksgiving feast?

Day Old Pizza - How Long Does Pizza Last In The Refridgerator? - Thrillist

No feast for us in the hotel room, and none of us can even remember eating, let alone what it was. And no, no alcohol.
 
3) Did any pets enjoy scraps from your Thanksgiving table?

Well, no, but they got their own treats from Barkbox!

4) Are there any Thanksgiving leftovers in your refrigerator right now?

10 Taco Bell Ordering Hacks You Need to Try ASAP

No... but, uh, I think there are a few chalupas and bean burritos in the mini-fridge?

5) Football is a popular Thanksgiving weekend pastime. Will you be watching any games over the next few days? If yes, which team(s) are you rooting for?

Miami Hurricanes football - Wikipedia

Nope. No football. Hurricanes aren't playing. Oh and, even though they've been doing fairly well, I haven't been watching too much.

6) This week's song is by Dierks Bentley. He wrote it for his wife, Cassidy Black, who appears in the video. They met in eighth grade, dated on and off, and then eloped when they were in their late 20s. Has anyone ever surprised you by going off and suddenly getting married?

09012020 Melanie Selfie 6

Yeah! This girl did! Me! I met my husband online and eloped with him two months later. We'll be celebrating our 20th anniversary verrrrry soon. Sometimess these things work out!

7) 2016 was a good year for Bentley. This song was one of three hits he had that year, he co-hosted the CMAs and was nominated for Male Vocalist of the Year and Video of the Year. As 2020 winds to an end, do you feel it's been a successful year?

.

No. Not in any way.

8) In 2016, David Bowie died. Do you have a favorite Bowie song?

I think his duet with Mick Jagger for "Dancing in the Street" is my absolute favorite with Bowie.

9) Also in 2016, CBS telecast reran How the Grinch Stole Christmas for the 50th time. What's your favorite Dr. Seuss story?

I always loved the Sneetches. And the Lorax. You know, the ones with feel-good messages, even when I was very little. I've always been into warm fuzzies.

Well, I don't know if anything is going to show up in that space there, but the settings are all off now. Weird! I hope you all have a great weekend, stay safe, and stay healthy.

Fin.


Sunday Stealing: The Winter Questionnaire

Hey, folks! Welcome back. I'm on my husband's piece of crap Toughbook laptop with the missing "p" key, making all my years-long keyboarding skills basically useless, so I'm trying not to start out this meme already grumpy!

Also - Hey, Bev! Whither the opening Sunday Stealing foto? I had to go back four posts just to copy one! Anyway, link up here if you'd like to play along this weekend!

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How do you get past the gray skies during winter?

Image result for winter gray skies

It's actually really bad for me this year. I mean, unspeakably bad. We've moved to this rinky-dink little town in the middle of Idaho with NOTHING to do to take my mind off the misery of being here. I'm not doing well at all. We've recently discussed moving and narrowed it down to Guam or southern Portugal. Money is what stopped us.

Do you like snow? Why or why not?

Image result for syracuse blizzard of 1993

Good lord, no. I grew up mostly in (well, outside of) Syracuse, New York, and was there for the Blizzard of '93, aka "the Storm of the Century" (above). Our house was up atop quite a steep slope. Thing is, once all that beautiful white snow falls, the plows come through. And then the cars, so that it all turns a disgusting brown and black speckled dirty color. And it melts and refreezes and melts and refreezes, turning your entire sloped driveway, and the lawn, and many streets to sheer ice. And let's not even get into how much I despise being cold!

    What are your favorite activities to do during the winter?

Image result for hibernation

Hibernate and wait for it to be over.

    What does a perfect winter day look like to you?

Image result for gorgeous summer day

This. It looks like this.

    What are your favorite meals/food you enjoy eating during the winter?

I'm actually really not enjoying eating this winter, but lately Rob has been trying to make it work for me. He's been making me the vegan version of this Italian white bean and sun-dried tomato soup, which is really quite good!

    What is your favorite winter holiday and why?

2019Christmastree

Oh, it's definitely Christmas. I love giving gifts I hope they'll love to the people I adore!

    What is your favorite pizza flavor and toppings?

Image result for new york pizzeria pie

Oh, the first thing I have to do when I step out of Grand Central Station onto the streets of Manhattan is get a slice of a local pizzeria pie! Plain cheese is great for me, but I do love some pineapple on my peez, too.

What are some items in your daily bag/backpack?

Well, here are just some of the things I dumped out of my Vera Bradley crossbody purse: Aside from the cash, I see my oft-used asthma inhaler, and the passport that our heavy-chewer doggo, Tapioca, fished out of my purse for a nibble once or twice. There's the bouquet of hair doodles my daughter Chloe gave me for Christmas, knowing the three of us "girls" are always searching for a ponytail holder. I have a small tube of SPF 28 (so random) facial moisturizer from MyChelle Dermaceuticals, one of my favorite skincare companies.

I have some Thieves hand sanitizer and a Savvy Minerals Poppy Seed Lip Scrub, both from Young Living. I have a tiny tube of Cerave moisturizing cream, which works great in the winter! The Hello charcoal-infused floss, which I ordered from Grove Collaborative, really makes my teeth feel clean and refreshenated. (What, it's a word.) I bought the peppermint-infused C.O. Bigelow Mentha Lip Tint at Bath & Body Works, and this, I love. (I have several others, but I'm not sure where they've gotten to. Maybe Tapi ate those, too?) I've got some Scandaleyes waterproof mascara from Rimmel - the only cosmetics I'm really using these days - and some q-tips to blot my inevitable mistakes. And finally, I keep a variety of my beloved TUL pens handy. Note: I NEVER write in black ink, unless I absolutely have to.

    Your favorite snacks?

Image result for pistachios

I don't do a ton of snacking these days. Maybe a banana, or a handful of Wonderful pistachios.

Some foreign countries that you would like to visit?

Image result for beautiful world

You know, the only things stopping me from visiting every country are the world are money and my poor health. So my answer? All of them.

What things remind you of home?

Fam

Don't you know? I don't really feel like I have a physical home. Home, for me, is wherever these guys are.

If you have one, some items from your Amazon Wishlist?

Outgrowing the Pain: A Book for and About Adults Abused As Children by [Gil, Eliana]

Well, I really want - no, need - this book.

There's this olive oil dispenser I don't remember putting there, but I probably did because I am absolutely EVOO-crazy.

2 PCS Set Cute Animal Hedgehog Shaped Ceramic Cartoon Home Garden Decoration Succulent Cactus Vase Flower Pot

And, there are these disgustingly adorable hedgehog planters, because the girls and I have gone succulent-crazy lately.

What was your favorite Christmas gift?

83580678_2576275689268963_6113672644895178752_n

I loved everything I received, especially the eco-friendly produce bags Chloe gave me... but I think my absolute favorite was Rob renewing my Mensa membership. I'd gotten it way back 20 years ago and have long since let it lapse. I wanted it mostly for the card to look at when I'm feeling especially dumb, but I'd lost that. I'm thrilled!

~*~*~*~*~

Well, Rob and I are back to searching for Lyme-literate MDs near and far, 'cause, y'know, I'm trying not to die. That would be nice. Or would it?

Take care, y'all.

Fin.


Christmas 2019: Part One - The Annual Card Photos

_DSC1117 bbb

Hey, everyone! I know, we're almost finished with the second week of 2020 already, and I'm just now getting around to posting fotos from Christmas 2019. Without getting too morose, let's be clear: I have a number of health problems which, when combined, are making the length of time I have left on Earth quite an uncertainty. So, it's more important to me than ever to actually edit and post the photos I take, for my husband's and kids' sakes, lest they be forgotten forever. 

With that sadness out of the way, let's move on. Since we've been married 19+ (!!) years, it has always been important to me to capture and share the happiness and love between Rob and me, and then baby Chloë makes three, followed closely by her brother/s and baby sister. That has never changed. What has changed is the busyness of life! My mother-in-law used to email me if I missed a day without a blog post. Then, weeks before I got an email. And then a few months before she sent, "Are you still doing the blog?" 

I know when we lived in Miami, Chloë really enjoyed reading about herself and The Littles from earlier days, so here, hopefully, there will be more posts to come for those guys - and maybe their future families? - to enjoy.

12152019 Chloë flouncing & flaring collage (1)

This year, our first in Mountain Home, snow flew before Halloween! I was not thrilled with that, so much, but at least that gave me the ability to make my demands for Christmas pix come late November: I wanted us to be outside, with a backdrop of snow. If it were any other lifetime, I would have preferred us playing in the snow, but alas, that is not the case.

December 2019 Cards Jack

I had six objectives, as I usually do, for this photo shoot. After I chose the Richard Aguirre Park in MoHo, we headed out to accomplish them. I needed (1) individual shots of Jack, (2) individual shots of Chloë, (3) individual shots of Sophia, (4) shots of the three of them together, (5) shots of all five of us as a family, and (6) shots of just Rob and me. As usual, we decided to get Jack's solo shoots out of the way. With his Autism Spectrum Disorder and just his personality quirks, he never likes this process and is prone to getting grumpier as it proceeds. Nothing changed this time!

December 2019 Cards Sophia Collage

Sophia was also somewhat a challenge to photograph at first, because I wanted stills, but then I also put them on swings. This kid is in constant motion, so there was a lot of me yelling, "Stop swinging!!!" ... and her, not

December 2019 Christmas Cards Chloë Collage

Chloë, on the other hand, is always ready to pose from back in her acting and modeling days. The most I ever have to tell her is, "chin up a little!"

December 2019 Cards - Sisters 1

December 2019 Cards - Sisters 2
Because of Jack's self-imposed isolation, it wasn't too hard to get a couple of snaps of just his sisters. For the most part, these two really are quite close and get along famously. I love to see that.

December 2019 Cards Trio Collage 2

December 2019 Cards Trio Collage 4

Not that I wasn't able to get a few fun snaps of the three of them. I think these are quite adorable.

December 2019 Cards Trio Collage 3
This, of course, is another variation of the one posted at the top, here.

December 2019 Cards Outtake 1

And this here would be an outtake, made while I was readying the camera on its tripod. This amuses me because the girls are smiling and ready to go, but the men are serious and have their true "let's get on with it, already" faces on.

December 2019 Christmas Cards Family Pic

I used this as my Facebook cover photo for a while in December, but I really kind of hate it since I'm in front. With all my illnesses, I've regained quite a lot of the weight I lost from surgery, and it's having an extremely depressive effect on my mood. Not to mention, after having 4 kids in 3½ years, it always bothers me to have my belly on full display. Really wish I'd been able to get a tummy tuck!

December 2019 Christmas Cards Family Pic 2

This, which we used in most of the seven (!!) different card styles I ended up selecting, was the family pose we opted to put on most of our cards.

December 2019 Cards Rob and Melanie Collage

After capturing just the two family shots, my camera battery died. I'd forgotten to charge it! And it was FREEZING by then, so everyone was dashing to the car to get warm and go home. And then it occurred to me: every single one of us has a late-model Samsung Galaxy phone, and they all have good cameras. Duh! Jack opted to stay in the car and try to get toasty, but the girls trekked back out into the snow to get these shots of Rob and me. I don't know who took which ones, but I love them!

December 2019 Cards Rob and Melanie

And finally, this is the top-left photo from that collage, which I doctored up for fun on the app PicsArt. I use it a lot to play around.

Hope y'all enjoyed the show! More to come.

Fin.


Sunday Stealing: The Queen's Meme

Hi everyone! Welcome back. I'm seriously not feeling well right now, so it's anyone's guess whether I'll be able to finish this post. Worth giving it a shot!

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

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Stolen from The Queen's Meme

January usually has ample amounts of snowfall in parts of the world. Did you ever make snow cream as a kid?

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The only time I ever did was in my senior year of high school, when we made it one day in my AP Biology class (must have been right before Christmas break, or something). I've made it with my kids, too, while we were homeschooling.

January is one of the months with 31 days. What are you going to do with that extra day?

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I've never really considered that an extra day. That day is payday, so I'll be looking at the budget and checking off boxes that day, I guess.

What is your favorite magazine?

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Growing up, my grandmother had a stash of Reader's Digest back issues here, there, and everywhere. Eventually, I think I read them all during visits. I think I have the current issue on my night table right now. She also bought the Star, Enquirer, and I think a third tabloid every week, too, and People - all of which I also read when I was there. I still read People, but Martha Stewart Living is currently my favorite. I love her!
 
If you live to be 99 years old, what would you like your life to be like in that last decade??

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With Lyme, I really don't think I'll live that long. But if I do, I'd like my mental faculties to be intact, and I would like to be free of this constant, agonizing pain.

The great world of Wikipedia tells me that scientists claim 99% of all documented species are extinct. Which remaining species in the 1% category would you really like to see extinct?  And which species in the 99% category would you like to bring back?

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I would love for ticks and mosquitos to be eradicated - but that would also be a bad thing (at least the skeeters). I would love to see a mammoth! (Also I had the The Far Side book this particular cartoon was in; and also, I had the weiner dog one. So funny!)

On January 14, 1986 motorists were required for the first time to wear seat belts? Do you always buckle up? Why or why not?

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Man, I remember when that changed. My father pitched a fit - and he still doesn't wear them! I always wear them, and if I'm driving, the car doesn't go until everyone is buckled up. Why? Because I appreciate their purpose and also the data that backs up the fact that they save lives.

Why did the cow jump over the moon?

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I don't know - to get to the other side?

Have you said anything in the last 24 hours that you regret?

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Not this time! Ask me tomorrow.
 
Have you ever written anything on your blog that you wish you could take back?

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No... There have been some interesting moments after a few things I've posted, but I wouldn't take any of it back. All of the past stuff has been mostly written and forgotten. When we lived in Miami and Chloë started reading it, she would exclaim over this or that that I wrote. It was fun reliving some things!

Are you the blabber or the blabbee? Tell us your most embarrassing blabbermouth moment.

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Oh, I'm definitely a blabbermouth with NO filter. I've had a ton of "oops, I shouldn't have said that" moments. Probably a lot of them happened with my mother-in-law. I've always been certain that our baby, Sophia, who looks just like me and nothing like Rob - unlike Chloë, Jack, and presumably Robby (Jack's identical twin) - has been suspected of having a different father by my in-laws. I've always wanted them to request a DNA test, because I KNOW he is the father. No one else could be. Once, on the phone with my MIL, I joked, "Just do a DNA test! I have no fears! Besides, she's the wrong color if she did have a different dad!" ...crickets...

How important is a cell phone in your life?

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Once upon a time, there were no cell phones... Yeah, I depend on it pretty hard. Right now my phone isn't holding a charge, and I can't get it above 8% or so. It's frustrating because most of what I do is on that phone! I've got to trade up PDQ, I guess.
 
A "cuisine" is typically influenced by and named after geographical regions and cultures. Pretend your blog is a country. What is the name of your cuisine?

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Crazy Fusion cuisine

You are the Blog Paparazzi! Which blogger's real photograph are you most interested in getting?

Janice and Susan

Hmm. Well, all of you, since we've been doing this thing together for so many years, but I think I've been following the blog 5 Minutes for Mom the absolute longest. I'm "friends" with Janice and Susan on Facebook, and Janice and I have chatted a few times. Maybe when we sail out of Vancouver, B.C. for our Alaskan cruise in September, she'll meet me at the airport for a selfie?!

Are you always on time or just a tad late?

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I'm usually early. Before I got married I was always very prompt. I still abhor being late. In the Navy (and I presume with every other branch of the military), being 15 minutes early is "on time," and being on time is considered late. So with that in mind, and having four kids in 3½ years, we learned to s.c.r.a.m.b.l.e. for appointments!!

Can you think of a time when you were late for something and it was REALLY a big deal?

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Well, yeah. Lots of times. For choir, we obviously had to be at the school - or wherever our performance was - dressed and ready to go well before showtime. My stepmother made it a point to screw with me, trying to destroy everything in my life that was important to me. She screamed at me every single day for something - even things she had to invent if there was nothing she could see. On concert days, she screamed about three times as long, to make sure I not only walked in extremely late, but I'd be a mess from crying, and everyone was staring at me. And I hated attention.

If you were on your way to work and had five minutes to get there, would you stop in the road to rescue a crossing turtle?

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Sure, and I have done this many times - especially in Tampa when I was on my way to one of my grad classes or teaching the lab.

When you are having a really good day, what usually makes it good?

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Hmm. Usually it's a productive day, with many things crossed off my to-do list. (By the way, here's the rest of that list, above; it's worth a read.) Maybe I got a nice compliment that carried me through the day. Or maybe a good package came in the mail. But productivity is pretty key!

What is the most annoying Christmas song?

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Growing up, my dad always got a big kick out of "Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer." Now I hate it.

You are Snow White. Which dwarf is your favorite and why?

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I hate to be cliché, but I think Dopey. He's sweet, and he tries really hard!

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Well, y'all, speaking of productivity, I have a few things I'd like to do before my brain shuts down and tells me it's time for the first nap of the day.

I hope you're all having a great weekend!

Fin.


Saturday 9: Cold As Ice

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Heyyyyy, err'body! My last post was a little over a month ago, as I took some time off for health and Christmas preparations. But I have missed you guys, and it's good to be back in the fray.

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Image result for christmas tree I hope you've all enjoyed your respective holidays with your friends and loved ones,if you've celebrated! Image result for christmas tree

Now, link up here to play along today!

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Saturday 9: Cold as Ice (1977)

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

Our last Saturday 9 of 2019. Thank you for another great year, everyone! {And thank you, Sam!}

1) Look back on 2019 and share a happy moment.

Well... amongst many other wonderful happenings, we adopted a new kitten!

Periwinkle 07182019

2) As 2019 ends, are you making any New Year's resolutions for 2020?

Oh, yeah. I didn't think I'd even make it to see 2020 for a while, there, but now that I'm still here, it's time to decorate this big ol' new house of ours! I definitely want to start with the master bedroom. Here is our design inspo, from HGTV; both Rob and I love this!

3) Tell us about an obstacle or challenge you faced in 2019.

POPFit3

It's been a tough year for me, health-wise. I thought we might finally catch a break when my neurologist in Boise referred me to the Johns Hopkins Lyme Disease Research Center in Baltimore, but they turned me down. That was pretty crushing. But I've been picking myself and trying to carry on. I'm in a wheelchair whenever I leave the house pretty much full-time now, and I sleep about 900 hours a day. My immune system has pretty much revolted and shut down, and I have allergic reactions about a dozen times a day. But like I said, it's time to rally. I'm not done here yet.

4) Is it "cold as ice" outside where you are today?

WTForecast 12282019

Nah. My WTForecast app has us at a balmy 26ºF right now!

5) Foreigner is this week's featured artist. The band formed in New York City. If you were to travel to New York City, what would you be sure to see?

lin manuel miranda hamilton GIF by Recording Academy / GRAMMYs

Oh, for sure, the girls and I would have to go see Hamilton on Broadway - and then try hard to see Lin Manuel Miranda backstage! That would be amazing!

6) The band went by the name Trigger. They changed it because their prospective record label was already auditioning a different group named Trigger. They settled on Foreigner because half the members were foreign -- from England. If you received a free, round-trip airline ticket to any foreign country, where would you go?

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Well, you know, I've always been torn between wanting to go to Australia and Japan. Right now with the fires burning Down Under, and the way the government is not handling it at all, I can't decide between not wanting to go and running straight to Tokyo, or making like Greta Thunberg and diving in to help and make a big fuss. Now that I think about it, yeah. Australia. There are koalas on fire to rescue!

7) In 1977, when this song was popular, Star Wars was breaking all box office records. The Spy Who Loved Me, a James Bond movie, was also a 1977 hit. Which film series do you prefer: Star Wars or James Bond?

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Hmm. Well, I have some serious catching up to do on both series, but I think Star Wars has to take this one!

8) In 1977, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak incorporated Apple. Are you answering these 9 questions on an Apple product (PC, laptop, pad or phone)?

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Nah, hope I don't disappoint. Current situation: The monitor is HP, the CPU is Dell, and the keyboard is Logitech... it works.

9) Random question: What was the last thing you thought of as you dozed off last night?

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Well, this, actually. What Rob is doing is reading the letter representing the last Christmas present given this year. I saved the best for last for once! In the letter, I am telling him that I am finally taking him on a cruise to see Alaska, where he's always wanted to visit, because I want to make sure I get to see the joy in him doing that before my time runs out. So now time is running out in another way - I've got serious plans to make for that trip!

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I hope y'all are doing well! Thanks for having me back! ;)

Fin.


Saturday 9: Shake It Off

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Welcome back, y'all! Well, as you can see I didn't die from my excessively-busy weekend last week (although, as predicted, no comments on my late-entry Sunday Stealing, lol). It's been another busy week as I've kept up and pushed through for the sake of my newfound purpose: Activism. Giving a damn just feels good, you know? Not that I didn't before, of course, but now that I give a damn AND am learning more and better tools to do something about it, it feels really validating.

Anyhoo. My then-14yo daughter Chloë and I saw Taylor Swift perform "Shake It Off" at her 1989 concern in Miami, in October 2015, so this is an exciting one for me. I'd like to think this is a special present to me from Crazy Sam, therefore, but we all know better.

Let's get on with it then, shall we? Link up here if you're a wacky joiner, like we be.

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Shake It Off (2014)

Unfamiliar with this week's song. Hear it here.
 
1) This song makes Crazy Sam want to dance. What song inspires you to get on your feet?

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So, so, so many songs. Back in grad school, it was Lou Bega doing Mambo No. 5. Love that song!

2) Paul McCartney met Taylor Swift at the SNL 40th Anniversary special and told her he really enjoys playing and singing this song. What's the last song you sang along with?

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I've been playing Hamilton nonstop for the last several days. I haven't had my singing voice in 2+ years, much, but I still can't help it when it comes to Lin-Manuels words. The girls and I would DIE to be able to go see Hamilton in real life!

3) The lyrics tell us Swift "shakes off" nasty gossip and unfair criticism. What about you? Do you worry about what others think of you?

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I've always been one to take to heart - forever and for all my days - the harsh words (and thoughts I imagine) that others have had for me. I turned 43 on 9/8, though, and I feel like this is finally starting to become my time to "shake it off." 

4) Her parents are big music fans, and were going to name their baby (boy or girl) "Taylor" after their favorite artist, James Taylor. Can you think of a singer that your mom and/or dad really enjoyed?

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This is a painful question for me. When my mother died in 1984, she and my dad had three Ronnie McDowell tapes on pretty heavy rotation in the car. I knew (still know) all the songs. We even went to a Ronnie McDowell/Conway Twitty concert in Syracuse shortly before her death, which I remember pretty clearly for a 7yo.

When I was in college and "home" at my dad's for the first summer, I went snooping through his old pictures and things. I found those three Ronnie McDowell tapes and "liberated" them, 😏 along with a gazillion pictures of my mother.

Then, coming up on one year ago, I happened to find some Ronnie McD songs on... YouTube? Amazon? I don't even know. I gave a listen to them and found myself disgusted by much of the overtly sexist, somewhat predatory lyrics on a song or three. I posted what I thought was a rather innocent update about that on the book of faces, and my dad lost his shit about it, basically about what a liberal treehugger I have become (have always been, hate to break the news to ya, Pops). I told him I was sorry he'd been so foolish to buy into Trump's lies, and he said the immortal words to me, "Just leave me alone."

I haven't spoken to him since. (P.S. No great loss. That narcissistic, abusive, sexist louse is a Trump wannabe through-and-through, and I'm better off not giving a damn what he thinks of me or what he thinks, period.) But intensive therapy ensues.

I5) She grew up on an 11-acre Christmas tree farm. Do you get a fresh tree every year, or do you have an artificial tree, or do you not put up a tree at all?

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We usually do an artificial tree. It's just easier with all the dogs and cats and their excessive curiosity. At some point, I'd like to put up at least three in this house - but I don't think we'll have the budget for it just yet this year. This white flocked tree was last year's.


6) Taylor Swift is 5'10". According to the CDC, the average American woman is 5'4" while men are, on average, 5'9". Are you taller or shorter than average?

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At 5'1½", I'm shorter than average. But I've got 18-year-old Chloë beat. Like her paternal grandmother, she is maxed out at 4'10".

7) She enjoys good, old fashioned mysteries, especially those by Agatha Christie. Are you currently reading a book for pleasure?

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I'm just getting into Holding Up the Universe, by Jennifer Niven.
 
8) Her brother Austin is a freelance photographer who took the official pictures for her 2008 concert tour. Who took the last photo of you?

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That would be Christine Vorobieff, one of the other equestrian moms from Sophie's Pony Club, last Sunday.

9) Random question: What's your go-to comfy outfit?

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Sweats and a t-shirt, I guess. Now that illness rules the day, I dress for comfort; rarely for "cute."

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Thanks for the fun meme, Ms. Sam o' the Cray. Thanks for all you do for us!

Next steps in tackling the Climate Crisis involve this. Whatever you do, do something.

Fin.


Saturday 9: Tossed Salad and Scrambled Eggs

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Hey, y'all - welcome back! I'm in the throes of a full-on, true migraine right now, with visual aura, dizziness and nausea... the whole bit. But sleepiness, unfortunately, is not one of those symptoms, so here I am. All that to say, if my answers are sloppy, that's probably why. (This time; I can't excuse all the other times.)

Link up here if you wanna chit-chat with us about Frasier this week!

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Tossed Salad and Scrambled Eggs (1993)

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

1) This is the theme from Frasier, a TV show that ran  from 1993 to 2004. Were you a fan?

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Definitely! That right there is my jam. Right up my alley.

2) The show is about a radio advice show host, Dr. Frasier Krane. When you listen to the radio, do you tune in for talk or music?

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I'm not really into talk radio. I feel like I'm supposed to be, intellectually speaking, but I just don't want to. I listen for the music.

3) The theme's composer explained that tossed salad and scrambled eggs are both "mixed up," like the people who called Frasier's radio show. Which did you eat more recently, tossed salad or scrambled eggs?

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I did eat eggs today - twice, since they are my main way to get my protein requirements in - but they were sunny-side up, over easy, on toast with a smidge of cheese. I haven't really had scrambled eggs in a long time. Maybe it's just not fancy enough for me? So anyway, probably a salad. Now I want a salad. A funny one, like these.

4) Peri Gilpin played Roz, Frasier's coworker at the radio station. The actress originally cast was Lisa Kudrow, but the show's producers didn't feel she was "right." Being released from Frasier gave her the opportunity to accept a bigger and better part: Phoebe on Friends. Can you think of a time when a setback was really a blessing in disguise?

Sure, like when the 100-year-old house we thought we loved in Kimberly, Idaho, came back with a plethora of safety and repair issues upon inspection, we were sorely disappointed. But that made way for us to find the house we bought instead (some of which I showed, above, and on Instagram). I love this house so much. Love it, love it, love it, love it!!!

5) Dr. Krane shared his home with Martin, his retired dad. Martin's favorite chair was a well-worn recliner, held together in parts with tape. Frasier tried to replace it by giving his father a brand-new, expensive leather chair as a gift. Martin wanted his old recliner back. Tell us about a present you either gave or received that wasn't a hit.

Image result for casio g shock dw 9052

It's actually kind of an inside joke between us now: Rob (Hubs) kept asking for this Casio G-Shock DW9052 watch, when we lived in Miami. For Christmas, year after year after year, I gave him at least one new watch - not that watch, but a different watch or watches that I thought were better, which cost a lot more normally but for which I got incredible deals. He never wore any of them, though. This happened probably three years in a row, yet he kept asking for the Casio G-Shock for Christmas. Finally, the last Christmas before we moved here in 2017, I got him the watch he asked for. He wears it every single day. Heh. (I did get a deal on it, though!)

6) Kelsey Grammer played Dr. Krane on three different series (Cheers, Wings and Frasier) over 20 years. What job have you held the longest?

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Well, I've been a stay-home mom since I was pregnant with Chloë (lots of complications, so I could not work). She'll be 18 in less than a month! So I guess Mum is my longest-held job, especially considering I home-schooled all three kids for ten years. Now that it looks like Chloë is heading off the CSI in Twin Falls, Idaho, to study nursing soon, and the littles are entering public high school, I'm going to have to start finding new ways to self-identify and validate myself!

7) Before he found success on Cheers, Grammer played bit parts on the daytime dramas Ryan's World and Another World. Have you ever followed a soap opera?

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When I was a kid, I watched Guiding Light, but that was only because my stepsisters did, really. My mom was a fan of All My Children, so sometimes after she died I would watch that, too.

8) In addition to work in front of the camera, Grammer has done voice over work on commercials for Dr. Pepper and Cheerios. Are either of those products in your kitchen right now?

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The kids love Cheerios, so I'm willing to bet there are at least two boxes in the pantry right now. I hate it. I can always tell when the kids have been eating it, because I think it smells like baby diarrhea. Blechhh!

9) Random question: You're invited to a party where dinner is served buffet style. There's spaghetti with tomato sauce, barbecue spare ribs and buffalo wings. When the evening is over, how likely are you to have a food stain on your clothes?

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I can normally be pretty messy when I eat, but not in this case, because I wouldn't be able to eat any of those three things: I can't eat spaghetti, because of my gastric bypass surgery; I can't stand barbecue sauce and have never eaten spare ribs in my entire life; and, same thing with wings: I don't do barbecue, and I can't keep chicken down because of the bypass surgery. And since I'm allergic to everything, I'm basically on the ice diet now.

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That was a fun one, Sam! Thanks for taking my mind off the migraine while I completed it. I think I've actually got a moment or two, so for once I'm gonna go 'round and visit y'all. Go me, such the equitable blogger! 🙄

Fin.


Sunday Stealing: Curiosity And The Queen

Welcome back! I saw a few of you guys left comments, but I haven't had a chance to read most of them yet because of being suuuuuper tired. I was already dealing with exhaustion, and then I had to go the ER for pain relief last night. We got home as the sun was coming up! Needless to say, I'm hitting the sack early(er) tonight!

Link up here if you're playing along with us this weekend!

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Questions from Durward Discussion

Thanks to Kwizgiver for the suggestion.

 
 
1. What is the nearest book to you?  Your Kindle does not count.
 
Kelloggs Books IGd
 
These are the latest ten books we received for free from Kellogg's "Feeding Reading" program this month. I have the book Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven next to me, atop the printer. I've already ordered Book #11 and can't wait to get all 20!

2. When was the last time you took a "me" vacation?
 
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Does naptime count? If so, then I just woke up an hour or two ago...

3. How many telephone numbers do you have?
 
 
Me, personally? I just have one. But with five people in the house, each with a separate cell phone number, and then individual phone numbers for each of the kids' tablets... we have eight.

4. If you could fix one thing in the public school system, what is the one thing you would do immediately?
 
An Infographic About Teachers Infographic
 
There are so many big things that need fixing with our educational system, but I think the number one thing is money. I would pour it in, to raise the annual teacher salaries and to buy excellent curriculum. There is no reason in the world why the U.S. shouldn't have the best educational system one could find.
 
5. Are you a big tipper?
 
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I tip appropriately.

6. Do you watch reality shows?
 
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Nowhere near as much as I used to be, but I did watch the entire latest season of The Voice, and I picked Maelyn Jarmon (shown with the legendary Sara McLachlan) out as the one who had to win during her first appearance, in the Blinds. If you don't watch, treat yourself to a screening of her singing Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" in the finale, or Fields of Gold in her blind audition. I could watch and listen all day long. And, she's deaf!

7. Who is your favorite sports team player?
 
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Maybe Steph Curry or, here, Colin Kaepernick, who wasn't afraid to take a stand (sorry) on a desperately important issue when he took a knee. #BlackLivesMatter

8. If you could travel in a spaceship to any planet, which planet would you like to visit and why?
 
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After I quick detour to Jupiter to reassure him that he's still my favorite, I'd head to Pluto. Gotta show the little guy some big love.

9. When was the last time you sat in a church?
 
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Probably Easter, if not the candlelight service on Christmas Eve. Can't miss that! I hate that we've turned into "holiday Christians," but if we can't find an LGBTQIA-accepting church here in Mountain Home, then that's the way it's going to have to be right now. Hurts.
 
10. Are there any aspects of blogging that annoy you?
 
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Two things, mostly: one, when I write up something really meaningful to me, and there are crickets. Two, my own ability to make/find/have time to comment back on an your lovely pages with any kind of frequency.

11. When someone follows you on their blog or subscribes to your Facebook page, do you automatically follow and subscribe back?
 
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Hee. This actually applies to me more on Instagram and Twitter. I try to be descriminate and not follow back anyone whose stuff I really don't want to see, but most of the time that doesn't happen, and I do. One thing that drives me away: the inane "ItWorks" products and their proponents. Just a waste of time, space, and energy for me!
 
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All right. And now back to working on our August 2019 budget. Whoopty-do!! (Thanks, Bev & Kwizzy!)
 
Fin.

Sunday Stealing: Here's A Cookie, Cookie!

What's up, party people? I'm sitting here home alone right now, after the family had to turn around from a trip two hours away to bring me home. My health just wasn't up to going along with them today, but I'm hopeful they'll have fun and bring home good news when they return. You see, we were - and they are - going out to Twin Falls, Idaho, to look at a house on which we might put an offer!

We all love it from the description and the many photos, so hopefully it turns out to be just as amazing in real life. Eeek!!!

Anyway, so let's get started:

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I just learned that March 6 was was National Oreo Cookie day, so in honor, here are some cookie questions.

1. Do you eat Oreos?

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They're okay. I can take them or leave them. Last month, I did an Oreo-themed House Party (for RippleStreet.com), so I'm kind of Oreo'd-out by now. But we did get some cool swag in addition to all those cookies:

So much awesomeness in our Oreo Party Pack!!!

2.  If you eat Oreos, which are your favorite – original, double stuff, golden original, golden double stuff, Oreo brownies, Oreo ice cream?

Oreo House Party
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Well, these are all the kinds of Oreos we used in our house party, but I can honestly say with all those choices, Double Stuf is still my favorite! I could eat a whole package in one sitting - or maybe three - easily!

3.  Do you twist your Oreos apart?

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I tend not to, no. I chomp!

4.  Are you able to pass by a plate of cookies and not take one or are you a bit of a 'Cookie Monster'?

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I can usually pass by, unless they're (my) chocolate chip cookies. I cannot resist the chip. Everyone in my family agrees my chocolate chip cookies are the best, which is a huge compliment. When we moved away from Miami, I brought a plate of cookies to two young men at the gas station convenience store we frequented. Neither of them really had mother figures. When I brought in that huge plate of cookies just for them, they jumped up and down, hugged, and cried. It was great.

5.  Tell us about your favorite cookie. Crunchy, soft, chewy, crumbly, other?

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I like my chocolate chip cookies on the soft and chewy side, not hard or crunchy at all. And definitely not crumbly. You can never have too many chocolate chips, either! Also, I prefer chopped walnuts or pecans in mine, but I think no one else in my family does, so I leave those out.

6. Have your tastes changed since you were a kid?

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I'm guessing we're talking about cookies, so no, not really there. However, my husband has helped me learn to love a lot of foods I didn't used to enjoy, such as avocados, artichokes, and sun-dried tomatoes. Mmmm!

7.  Inquiring minds want to know if you are a dunker and, if so, do you dunk in milk, coffee, or tea?

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I rarely dunk, if ever. I hate the way the cookie gets mushy and then bits of it fall to the bottom of the glass! Too messy; no thanks!

8.  It is that time of year and they are selling them on every corner and in front of every store!  Do you buy Girl Scout cookies and if you do, which is your favorite?

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I haven't bought them in about three years - maybe more - because we tend to go crazy and buy at least a case. My favorites are the Samoas, but I really need to eat sugar-free ones. I don't know if they're even selling SF ones anymore, and I don't want to make myself sick on cookies, or crush our budget, so I've abstained.

9.  Raw cookie dough. Yay or Nay?

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Definitely yay!!

10.  Do you like cookies with filling?

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Yes! I like to make these Raspberry Linzer cookies for Christmas. They're always a big hit.

11.  Do you prefer organic cookies?

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I do like to buy and eat as much organic food as possible, but when it comes to junk food like cookies... all bets are off!

12.  Large cookies, or small cookies?

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I think large cookies, like those God-awful cookie cakes, lose something in the making. Smaller, perfect cookies are the ones I prefer. I don't like cookie cakes at ALL.

13.  Do you like familiar flavours in cookies?

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I don't really care as long as (a) I'm not allergic to the ingredients and (b) they taste good!

14.  Do you make your own cookies, or buy them?

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I vastly prefer to make my own, especially at Christmastime. I haven't made any in a long time. Now I feel the need!

15.  Please tell us something random about your week!

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My oldest, Chloë, jumped ship from Subway and now works at Taco Bell. And no, she has not brought me one single bean burrito yet! ;)

~*~*~*~*~

Anyway, I just woke up from a nap and now I have a headache, soo... on that note, thanks for your visit!

Fin.


Decemberists Thus Far... 2018

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Heyyyyy kids and bigger kids! I figured I'd try to blahg here and there, once in a while, to fill up some cyberspace with my special brand of bizarre.

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We're down to 20 chickens in the backyard coop now, which sounds like a lot for city life, and that's because it is... They have grown SO much - and all 19 that survived this year's September hatching are much bigger than Athena, our only 2017 flock survivor. I'm gladdened and amazed that so many of our n00bs have done so well. Even little Waffle, our runt of the "litter," is thriving! See them up there, barging out the coop door and then peering in the window, when someone forgot to latch the door? Haaaa. Kills me. (And yes, we have more than one feeder; the 20 of them are so dumb, they never realize it.) But they are pigs! They eat a freakin' ton and a half. I need to get a bucket with a lid, because we're going to start giving them fermented feed at least once a week. Good for them and good for the pocketbook!

~*~*~*~*~

Mirror notes

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So like, Rob and I are currently in awe of the fact that we've now been together 18 years. We had a whirlwind courtship: We met online on November 1st, 2000, and eloped on January 2nd, 2001. Two months! Throughout November, we put daily (or so) sticky notes on each others' bathroom mirrors to find when, y'know. Bathroom stuff. We took them all off at the end of the month, and now we've started over again for December. It's nice. Romantic, right? We're telling each other all the things we love and are thankful about each other. I'm surprised there are so many things about me that Rob has to say! Delightfully surprised. But I'll run out of Post-Its™ long before I run out of niceties to share with Rob. ♥

Engagement Ring

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We met in person for the first time on November 17th, and by December 8th, at our second tête-à-tête meeting, Rob put a ring on it! At the end of that weekend, I drove all the way back to St. Pete from Panama City Beach, Florida, trying not to crash while I admired the ring on my finger. ♥

Xavier BearPo 

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This is "BearPo," aka "Xavier the X-rated Bear" (heh), aka my engagement bear. Robert gave it to me the same night he gave me my engagement ring, but he hadn't had a chance to tie the ring around BearPo's neck 'cause I drove about 100 mph all the way to the Florida Panhandle (aka Lower Alabama). I still sleep with BearPo - and Hubs - every night. Every damn night.

~*~*~*~*~

Rose Gold Collage

Apropos of nothing, I'm really having this rose gold moment. It's weird, because historically, rose gold has been hovering pretty damn close to the bottom of the totem pole when it comes to my favorite metals. (Mercury is probably, y'know, rock bottom.)

In order of love, from greatest to least, here you go [please note, I have never had a relationship with platinum, so don't send me hate mail. I'm a champagne and caviar dream on a beer and silver-plated budget kinda girl, ya dig?]:

Copper, Cu > Silver, Ag > Gold, Au > Rose Gold, umm Rose Au > Cadmium, Cd > Nickel, Ni > Lead, Pb > Mercury, Hg

(Yeah, uhh, Cd and Ni had to be included because they're often the base metals in your cheaper jewelry {ahem from China ahem}, and I am severely allergic to them. So fancy it is, for me!) 😉

Anyhoo, so now that rose gold is having its moment, it kind of pisses me off that I find myself drawn in by it! I usually loathe trendy things! I despise following the trends! I'm the opposite of a fashion-follower, you know? I do my own thing. Now that everyone and their motherfecking brother has pierced their nostrils, I hate it. Hate it!

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Rose Gold Rings a

So, that prettiful septum ring (not trendy so far, I hope?) is rose gold from here, but I don't love it because it's really poorly balanced and looks crooked AF unless I constantly adjust it. The hibiscus earring from here (yes, it's the same shop) is supposed to be for my tragus piercing, but doesn't freakin' fit in there, because the post is waaaay too short 🤬😠; it's also rose gold. And the two stacked skinny rings from here on my hand are rose gold. All from Etsy. I want more, but the budget says noooo...

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Also, my sister says she misses my "shit-brown eyes," because they've been turning greener and greener as I get older (and ahem, I am not old, no matter what all this mail from AARP is trying to tell me!). I like it. She does not, apparently. I think she feels like I'm horning in on her green/blue-eyed genetics?! 😏

~*~*~*~*~

WorldWide Candle Lighting

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On Sunday, December 9th, we observed the annual Compassionate Friends' Worldwide Candle Lighting for all the angel babies. At 7 PM, in every time zone, candles were lit to keep the wave of light going around the world. We were supposed to go to one of the downtown parks to join in communion with other bereaved families, but I was not well enough to make it that night. So Sophia, Rob and I lit candles for Robby, our little boy lost, and all the other babies in the world who are dearly missed. (Chloë and Jack were at the church youth group.)

♥ I miss my son. ♥

~*~*~*~*~

Rob Breast Cancer pin

Right now Rob and I are sporting these beautiful enamel Breast Cancer Awareness pink ribbon pins I bought from Jos. A. Banks, in recognition of a close family member going through this particular trial right now. We are praying and hopeful, but it's been a rough go for her. Additionally, since my grandmother had breast cancer twice, in her 30s and 50s, and my BRCA gene-testing proved to be "indeterminate" thus far, we are forever vigilant. With this and Rob's prostate cancer (with a very strong family history) along with, well, pretty much every other health problem in the books between us, the kids really have NOT won the genetic jackpot! Sorry, kiddos.

~*~*~*~*~

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🎄

Now that it's December, of course Christmas is on my mind. Here's a little blast from the past, part of our Christmas 2013 photo shoot. Hard to believe it's been five years - but these kids have changed so incredibly much since then, I guess I have to believe!

~*~*~*~*~

Presents are now present! (We used to do a present here and there along the month of December, as part of our Advent calendar activities and stuff, but we didn't plan on doing that this year. We failed.):

Jack's Bike from Vineyard

🚲

Jack's been wanting to buy himself a mountain bike so he could get himself back and forth to work when Rob and I aren't able. Sometimes, he works, Chloë works, and Sophia needs to be in Eagle (a 40+ minute drive) for horse lessons. With one car and, currently, one driver much of the time while I'm down and out, the kids find themselves waiting and waiting. Jack HATES that, and I get it. So since he's on the autism spectrum, one characteristic of note is that he obsesses. He gets an idea, and he obsesses and dwells and talks and talks about it. (It's kind of annoying, but I'm used to it.) 

Anyway, he talked up his desire to buy a good mountain bike at church, too, so imagine my surprise when his church youth group leader, S, called me up to say they'd just bought him one and wanted to bring it by the house! He was so extremely delighted, it was fabulous. Yay, Jack! And thank you, Vineyard Boise! ♥

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Robert, so far, has gotten a new Farberware Stockpot. I had to give it to him early, so he could cook me some shizz. And the rest of the family, but whatever. He loves it! (I think; he's not the most emotive sonofagun.)

Emirates 2
Emirates 2

As for me, if Rob doesn't get me this artified Emirates diamond-encrusted private jet, I'm frankly not interested. Wait... Lindt chocolate truffles, you say? All right, let's talk.

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This year, we decided to put up a white Christmas tree. Chloë and I both agreed that we wanted a white tree, and I couldn't decide whether to do pink lights or teal lights. In the end, we decided on teal, but the fates did not allow. So we have... this. But I love it! I think it's so pretty. ♥ The kids decorated the entire thing themselves.

Eeyore Collage

This year, I've partnered with BSM Media to promote their Original #PillowPets campaign, and in exchange for this adorable Eeyore Pillow Pet (which I pretty much wanted for myself, but that would be super selfish, and I'm trying to avoid that ugly trait), I am sharing him with y'all and my other social media channels. [I received no other compensation. All opinions are, as always, honest and my own.] Because Jack is our resident grump (hehe), I decided to gift Eeyore to him. I wouldn't call Jack depressed nor friendless, but you get the point. Ho-hum, y'know? I think he liked it. He seems to have gotten the joke. I just hope his two bunnies don't decide to snack on it! (P.S. It now belongs to Muffin, his cat, who quickly adopted it for its softness.)

Chloë's HP Books Collage

Chloë's grandmother (Rob's mom) was always interested in making sure my kids were reading. She always wanted to know what their annual book lists were for school (we homeschool: Sweet Pea Academy is our domain). In 2014, Grandma gave Chloë, knowing I'd given the kids Kindles for school, all seven of the Harry Potter e-books for her Kindle. Oh, mah gaw! This kid devoured book after book after book, and then we bought her all the movies, and she is now berserkezoid crazy about all things Potter. So finally, after years of yearning, we've given her the book set so she can hold them, turn the pages, and feel the stories. She was ecstatic! (I had Sophia wrap them, taking each book individually out of the case and wrapping it. Hee!)

Sophie Chloë Present Massage

Sophia got a new pastel oils set that night, for her masters art class that she's doing this year. She's doing beautiful work, y'all!

~*~*~*~*~

Okay, that's it for this post. I'm going maybe chop Christmas 2018 up some, for brevity's sake. Yeah, 'cause I'm brief. I've never been succinct a day in my life.

Happy Chrismakkwanzah, y'all! ;)

Fin.


Not A Creature Was Stirring...

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Well. Except the chickens. The chickens want to be fed. The sun was up, after all, and roosters and hennies do not keep quiet.

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Foraging while impatiently waiting for their Christmas breakfast

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Ahh, Chloë to the rescue with Fine Dining First Course: Leftover noodles

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Look at them. She's got it, they want it. She's like the damned Pied Piper of Hungry Chickens.

Also, which of you kids left the %^&* hose out?!!

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Fine Dining Main Course is out: cooked beans, good for a little protein and fat for cold, hungry birdies.

{And don't judge; we just ran out of our usual 'spensive oranic [chicken] layer feed. Nobody told me we were getting low. It's Christmas and our feed stores are closed. And it's not bad for them. So :P}

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Twenty feathered dinosaurs, all in a row...

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A few chickees started foraging again, and Chloë still had beans for them, so she pulled out her trump card: She started singing the "Happy Birthday" song, which is our associative cue to the chickens to come to us. We sing it when we feed them and they're coming running, so even when we're not feeding them, if we sing it, they come running. #BecausePsychology

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Watch how it works.

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And here they come! PFM: Pure F*****g Magic!

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{Tin Type is my favourite editing effect of the moment.}

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Oh, what'd you say? You want a little more? I got you.

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Hard to believe how quickly our chicks, hatched September 4th, have grown into big, beautiful chickens! sniff

Well, Merry Christmas, y'all! Now I gotta get back to editing my hyoomin photos! ;)

Fin.


Sunday Stealing: It's The End Of 2018 As We Know It

Welcome back, homeslices! 🤣 I woke up sick as a DAWG today 😞😭🤧😷, so I'm not feeling the (self) love. I know just being "here" with all of y'all will cheer me up, though, so let's bring it! 😍🤩💗💖 Link up here if you'd like to play along with us this weekend, or want to check out all the other amazing thieves among us!

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

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Boise Pride Festival 2018 020

Well, since two of my kiddos came out late last year as gay or bisexual, the three of us attended the Boise Pride Festival this past summer. It was SO fun, so loving, so joyous, and so inclusive. I loved every moment of it, and I am so proud of my girls for having the strength and courage to embrace their true selves.

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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'm sure I set some, but I don't remember what they were! I'll probably set more for next year, but I haven't done so yet. I'll keep ya posted! 🙃

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

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My good friend Stephanie, who first was my kids' babysitter in Virginia Beach, when they were itty bitty, is pregnant with her fourth son!

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And my high school pal, Lora, gave birth to her second son this year. Her kiddos are so cute! It's the year of boys! (I'm sure there are plenty more, but I'm forgetful.)

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

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Gosh, I can't think of anyone who died - I hope I'm not forgetting! Aside from myself, Hubs was diagnosed with prostate cancer earlier this year and had surgery to remove the prostate. The recovery was heinous for him, and he had another surgery after that to repair the perforated bladder and fix the internal bleeding happening after the first surgery and on and on... it was just terrible for him. 😢

Rob Breast Cancer pin

Also, someone on his side of the family is in a serious breast cancer battle right now, and we are thinking of her all the time, wishing her well.

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What places have you visited?

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Well, the hospital for one - a LOT! heh heh

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We visited the Boise Ronald McDonald House on multiple occasions to make donations and take tours. This is a cause that's near and dear to our hearts (Dammit, Gal, I left it off your annual charity round-up post! DUHHHHHHHH!!) because we stayed in one while Chloë was in the NICU in Pensacola for 10 days. It's an amazing place. Visit one and I guarantee your heart will melt.

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We drove out to Wasatch Sport Horses in Eagle, Idaho, many, many times for Sophia's riding lessons. Our new second home!

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We went to many lessons at Chloë's fencing club, until she decided not to continue at the end of the season.

Listen, y'all, I could go on and on. And on!

Any new pets? Lost a pet?

Yes; critters we've lost this year:

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We lost Rob's gentle giant, Henry, to a suspected sudden asthma attack. It was very sad.

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We lost both of Chloë's beloved guinea pigs, Alexander Sirius and James Theodore, on the same day to unknown causes. She feels devastated and blames herself. 😢

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Jack's old gerbil, Lucy, who lived a good, long, loved life with him, passed away peacefully. She is missed.

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And finally, we lost all but one of our 2017 chickens, our White Silkie Athena, to a predator massacre. I was so crushed!

Critters we've gained this year:

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We got 21 new rare-breed chicks in September. There's Athena keeping watch over the new babies. Two of them have since died, so we're at a 2018 flock of 20 chickens, currently.

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Jack adopted this bunny-buns, Fudge, for his 4-H project this year. He's ridiculously soft!

Rocky and Jack 1

And very shortly after that, Jack - an extremely conscientious pet owner - adopted Rocky so that Fudge could have a playmate. The two are still in separate cages, though, awaiting their neutering so they don't fight. Rocky's such a love!

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What would you like to have next year that you lacked this year (doesn't have to be a physical thing i.e. love, job security, peace of mind...)? 

Wishful Thinking House

Well, aside from improved health, obviously, I would love to buy and move into a house of our own once again - like this one!. I yearn for it!

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

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April 16th, 2018 - that's the date of Hubs' prostatectomy that sucked big ass. He's still recovering.

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What was your biggest achievement last year?

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I try to keep it lighter in my SS posts, but that's not always possible for me. So to answer this question: I realized and acknowledged that I was raised in a cult. I was an unwilling member for almost 21 years. And I went back to therapy, where I am finally in "intensive care" to undo the effects of the trauma, abuse, and brainwashing I've endured.

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Did you get sick or injured?

Walker

Well, yeah! I have a lot of new diagnoses from this year. Mast Cell Activation Disorder, ME/CFS, and (possible, waiting to be genetically tested) Ehlers Danlos Syndrome among them... and since I'm now stumbly-bumbly all the time, lots of injuries from falling. I rely on my walker or wheelchair most of the time when I'm out of the house now.

What was the best thing you bought?

Pf changs

Well, I don't know! Lots of things, I guess, and I'm sure I'll get this wrong. I won, this week, a photography contest, wherein I was stacked up against several professional photogs, and for the prize I could get a $50 gift card to anywhere. I opted for P.F. Chang's, which we never get. I don't know why. But I snuck a slice of cheesecake in there, and WOW! That shizz was the bomb! And this is coming from a New Yawka who knows her cheesecake. Two thumbs up!

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Oh! And I signed up for Grove Collaborative to get all kinds of good-for-us and good-for-the-earth stuff, and I'm really happy with our membership thus far. Their customer service is outstanding, and the products and prices are great! I'm a huge fan. If you want to sign up here, you'll even get a free 5-piece gift set. I loved mine!

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

Barkbox Dogs

You say that as though there is any disposable income! 😂😂😂 Have you never tried to raise three hungry teenagers, 20 chickens, two dogs, three cats, and two bunny rabbits - not to mention the four score and seven prescription medications I take daily - on an enlisted veteran sailor's pension? BWAHAHAHA! But if so, we tend to spoil the pets. Especially the doggos. I mean, I love to get the chickens toys and chubby mealworms and stuff, watch the cats go insane on new catnip toys, etc., but the dogs! Nothing makes me happier than watching two butt-wiggling pooches get their BarkBoxes in the mail!! And oh, they know that that box is theirs, long before it gets opened. They just know. (I highly recommend it!)

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What song will always remind you of last year?

"Girls Like You" by Maroon 5, featuring Cardi B (Gal, can we please, please, pleeeeeaaase do this song on Sat9 sometime?) is a song my 13yo daughter Sophia and I have played on the radio, YouTube, or whatever umpteen million times over and over. We sing along to every word and then, when Cardi B's part comes on, we blast it even louder and rap along to every word. I don't care how white we are, we rock that $h!t!

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What do you wish you would have done more of?

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My husband! 🤪😂😈

What do you wish you would have done less of?

Tears in Heaven

Crying in pain (this photo is from Friday night, just hours ago, but represents many nights)

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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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Well, I've finally really gotten into Bob's Burgers this year, and it's a good thing I did, because that $h!t is fookin' hilarious! I like to pretend I'm just like Linda, which I am, and I do both Linda's and Bob's and sometimes Tina's voices. If you're not watching it yet, why not?! You oughtta be. I DVR every episode. We all love it. Yeah. So.

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Also, I recommend Ellen De Generes' new stand-up special, Relatable, on Netflix. I love her talk show, so I finally queued it up and am watching it right now. She swears, y'all! That's relatable!

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

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I'm reading Recipes for Repair right now, which I just started but bought about two years ago, to see if it will help any of my autoimmune disorders. It's hard. I'm having allergic reactions - sometimes anaphylaxis - to every single thing I eat lately, so I've just gotta do something! Plus, my therapist recommended I read something along these lines. I don't think I've read any other books this year! Shocking!

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

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Well, first of all, I turned 42, and Chloë made me these birthday cupcakes. She baked Hubs' chocolate bundt cake - his favorite - too, and was really excited about doing both. Only, I was looking at these photos recently, and I just don't remember these cupcakes. I mean, I know I was there and must have taken the pictures and blown them out, but I cannot recollect them for the life of me. This is very distressing. My short-term memory has been stolen from me since I became ill in 2015, and I hate it!

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Also, Hubs gave me a pedicure, which he often did during my pregnancies when I couldn't reach and now often does again since my joints are so stiff and painful. Yeah, he's a keeper. (Also, pssst! Robert! I'm due for another one!)

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Chloë's birthday (9/7) is the day before mine (9/8), so we usually celebrate together by running around collecting all the billions of birthday freebies out there. Here are some from this year:

Birthday Freebies Collage

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I'd list them out for you, but as you can see, um, it's kind of a lot.

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What political or social issue stirred you the most?

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I will always, first and foremost, be an environmental activist. Now, more than ever, it is crucial for denizens of Planet Earth to become acutely aware of what we as people are doing to harm the planet and what we as humans can do to remedy that.

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Additionally, I am a Global Citizen, and I am dedicated to working for the causes of education for all; those that promote equality for women and girls; ending world hunger; and, bettering the health and sanitation practices around the world. I even get points for sharing the information I learn, and I've used those points to enter contests. This year alone, I've won two concerts: Amy Lee (of Evanescence) and Lindsey Sterling, which I'd entered for Chloë's sake - but I ended up winning the one in Phoenix, Arizona, and we could of course not make it there. The other concert was just recently, here in Boise: Metallica, which I sent Rob and our 15yo son Jack to. They had a blast!

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Who was the most interesting new person you met?

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Hmm. I don't know; I've met a lot of interesting folks. I'll say my new orthopedist, Dr. Alex Homaecheverria. Not only is this doctor smoking hot (I'm married, but I mean, c'mon! I'm not dead!), but he's relatable. Great bedside manner. And he genuinely seems interested in truly helping me improve.

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What changed at your job?

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Well. For one, Chloë, Sophie, and I started a specialty candle company called Every Wick Way on November 1st! I'm so excited about this! Most of our items are listed in our Etsy shop, but I'm still working on the website for Every Wick Way. Check it out! ;)

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What changed in your home?

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Well, we got those 21 baby chickies from the hatchery, so they would need a place to live, right? After forever and a day (seriously; we're talking over a year), Hubs and another military vet friend got together and built it basically in a day. It's not perfect, but it's pretty great, and so far we've avoided another slaughter. Whew!

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Describe how a relationship changed.

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Well, I'm like this ^^^ so it's completely surreal for me to read things like this. Anyway, I've been distancing myself emotionally from my father more than I ever have in my life. It's been hard. He's noticed, too, and wrote a note to me about it in our Christmas card. Such tomfuckery. I'll not have it!

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

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No. Of course not. At the end of every year I hope I have grown and learned so much during that year that I am a completely new and more enlightened person by the end.

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Summarize the year in three words or less. Bonus points for doing it in one word. Explain.

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How have people around you changed?

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Well, I don't know about everyone's internal dialogue or whatnot, but I feel like this year, as I've become even more self-aware and adulty than ever, I feel that people are changing the way they respond to and interact with me. I feel it every day. It seems like some people actually like me, which I never really thought could be true. It's delightful.

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What have you learned throughout the year?

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Well, I've definitely learned that I do, in fact, have limitations. And also that getting older sucks, and I do not care for being forty-freakin'-two!

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What was your favorite outfit for warm weather? Cooler weather?

Warm weather:

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Something cool, comfortable, and hopefully, cute!

Cool Weather:

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Anything remotely warm, comfortable, and hopefully cute! ;)

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

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Oh yes, of course! For Every Wick Way, the girls and I jointly learned how to make soy and beeswax candles and melts, and we're taking very explicit notes so that we can duplicate everything that turns out great. And most things do, because we're just amazing like that. ;) I'm always learning something new in the craft world. Every year, I've got a new thing going. I embrace change. Love it. Adore it!

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

Well... Before:

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And now:

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So let's see... Since the top picture was taken a couple of years ago, I've gained a little (read: not a little) weight, my eyes are getting greener as I get older, I've at least temporarily stopped coloring my hair auburn (which I've been doing since my freshman year of college!), I started growing out my bangs for the first time ever in my live (but just got sick of it and trimmed them back to 'normal' this week, heh), pierced my septum, and pierced my tragus. Dang, when I read it back, it sounds like kind of a lot, no?

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What are your hopes and dreams for the new year?

Well, I'd love to say I wanna buy a house (but I said that already) and that I want to lose weight (but when don't I?); however, instead, I hope to bring awareness about and then somewhat defeat the health struggles constantly plaguing me:

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I have multiple Autoimmune Diseases, including: Raynaud's Syndrome, Mast Cell Activation Disorder, Chronic Spontaneous Urticaria, and Anticardiolipin/Antiphospolipid-Antibody Syndrome, for starters - but now I'm blessed with a medical expert in Asthma, Allergies, and Immunology who is doing the right tests and looking at the right things.

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I struggle with Fibromyalgia, but now I'm blessed with a medical expert who brings me in and gives me Trigger Point Injections whenever I call up and say I need them.

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I have Bipolar I with Psychosis, but now I am blessed with an expert psychiatrist who listens to me and knows what to tweak when I tell her what I am experiencing, as well as an incredible therapist who is helping me navigate the intense, childhood-long traumas that (I believe) led to the bipolar, along with severe PTSD, OCPD, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

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I have Chronic Lyme Disease and am daily trying to manage the extreme pain in my bones and joints from that, while trying to explain to every medical professional under that sun that just because I was treated with antibiotics for two weeks after I tested CDC-positive for Lyme, that I am not "cured." Some listen. Much, much more education is needed on this subject, and it is intentionally being squelched. Very frustrating!

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I probably have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, but I'm waiting for genetic testing to rule it in or out, which takes up to a year for the appointment in these parts. I have hypermobility and am constantly having dislocations and subluxations, along with just about every other symptom up there - but fortunately, I am now blessed with a knowledgeable physical therapist and a stellar (and hot - see above) orthopedist who have many tricks up their respective sleeves to try and help a girl out.

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And now, I also have Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, but I'm now blessed with an ME/CFS specialist in Salt Lake City, whom I now see every other month or so, who has made it her life's work to care about those of us with this devastating illness. 

And that's not even my whole list. So when someone (I believe from here, but I'm certainly not going to name names) tells me to "snap out of it," or when I get letters from my fng father telling me not to be a drain on society and make something of myself... well, it kinda breaks me. That is so soul-crushing. So, you guys, just don't do that to chronically ill people, okay? That is just not cool!

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Whew! That took me hours upon hours to do! Well, okay, I watched the Ellen DeGeneres Netflix special Relatable. And then the whole family sat down with me to watch the Netflix documentary What The Health? which everyone should totally watch, and they all - even JACK!!! - decided pretty much on the spot that we're all gonna be vegans now. I'm so excited about that. Okay, and then Chloë and I stayed up all night watching Titanic, and finally the girls and I just wrapped up Crazy Rich Asians, both on Amazon Prime Video. So I was a little distracted... Hee.

See y'all after the happy merry!

Fin.


Saturday 9: Dudes, I'm Walkin' In A Winter Wonderland

What's up, guys?! Didja miss me? Nah, of course not. I hope y'all have had a great week. Link up here if you wanna join us in this Happy Holidays post, 'cause we'd love to have you. Jumping right in:

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Saturday 9: Happy Holidays! (from the archives) 

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

Hmm. I can't remember sitting in Santa's lap ever, so I don't know if I did or not. NONE of my kids liked it their first and maybe their second Christmases - we have pictures of all three sitting there crying in his arms 😂😂 as babies. I probably hated it too, if I did it, because I've always been desperately shy. I don't think I ever wrote him letters, either; after my mom died, my stepmother just asked us to write lists for her.

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

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Oh, I remember this question. I think for once, this year, I'm on the Nice List! This is quite a shocker, as I generally try to keep pretty naughty. Hubs and I are coming up on our 18th anniversary, and we had a couple of grumpy months over the summer and early autumn. So I came up with this idea to stick sweet things I love about my husband on his bathroom mirror every day. Then he started doing it back, and by the end of November, we had two mirrors full of  Post-It notes! I took them all off and we started over again in December. I love it! It's a real pick-me-up.  

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

I sent a gift to my niece, Karen Joyce (who is named exactly after my mother), now a freshman in college. I'm kind of a slacker in the gifts department, especially this year, and Karen has a younger sister, Hanna! I haven't sent anything technically for Christmas for them yet, though. Karen's got a December birthday, so that was that gift. I'll make it up to them. I swear. 😉

4. Did you buy yourself a gift this year?

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Well, I'm in this rose gold season of my life - did I mention this last week already? If so, forgive me for the redundancy but it's 0604, I'm watching Titanic with Chloë (her first time), and I haven't slept a wink! 😉 So I treated myself to a few things; my husband spoils me entirely too much. I bought this rose gold septum ring on Etsy, and I have a love/hate relationship with it because it isn't properly balanced. I have to keep adjusting it.

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I also bought this hibiscus tragus ring from the same Etsy shop, but the post isn't long enough to meet the back of my tragus hole, so I'm wearing as an earring at the mo' and have a hoop in the tragus. I'm annoyed about that, too.

Rose Gold Rings

I got these rose gold stackable rings from a different Etsy shop, and I am very happy with these. I would love more! And I got the ColorStreet nail appliqués for free for me, when I bought three more sets for the girls' stockings. I thought they were beautiful, but because of the glitter I think, they did not last anywhere near as long as promised. Boo. 😞

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For Chloë, Sophia (whose birthstone it is), myself, and Chloë's boss it turns out, I was able to score nine pairs of diamond earrings for less than $4.00 on eBay! So when they came, I was happy to share with the boss-friend. Why not?

Mel Slippers

And finally, so that Rob could have something to give me for Christmas - because I rarely let him buy me anything - I got these Dearfoams slippers for an absolute steal on Shoes.com. I wanted them early to keep my feet warm, though, so here they are. haha!

5. What's your favorite holiday-themed movie? Have you seen it yet this year?

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Miracle on 34th Street. No, not yet. I think I recorded it on the DVR, though. The kids have never seen it.

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

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I know we saw Home Alone - maybe more than one of them in subsequent years? - on Christmas Day. Maybe others, but that's the main one I remember.

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

No, but I have had an embarrassing moment at a different company party. Not exactly PG-rated, though! I'm too embarrassed to tell it on this post! 😜

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

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Hmm. I don't know, maybe egg nog spiked with Bailey's Irish Cream? We had that for my first and only time in Miami one Christmas. Didn't take us long to finish that bottle! 😂

9. Share a memory from last Christmas.

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I spent last Christmas and New Year's - a total of about two weeks - in the hospital with a life-threatening case of double MRSA pneumonia. I was fighting for my life, locked up in a tiny leaded room, crying thinking I was going to die and leave my kids motherless just like I had been, and thinking maybe I wouldn't even get to see them that day. But for 90 minutes, they were allowed to come in! I truly felt like it gave me a much needed boost of immunity that day, and I pulled through. ♥

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Thanks so much for joining us again at Saturday: 9. As always, feel free to come back, see who has participated and comment on their posts. In fact sometimes, if you want to read & comment on everyone's responses, you might want to check back again tomorrow. But it is not a rule. We haven’t any rules here. Join us next week for another version of Saturday: 9, "Just A Silly Meme on a Saturday!" Enjoy your holidays!

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Fin.


Saturday 9: We Need A Little Christmas

What's up, bunny rabbits? (Don't ask, I won't know either.) I've been a little manic this week, which is great. Also, it's not so great. I ate some things last night, knowing I'm highly allergic to them already, but I was f-ing HANGRY. So I wolfed it down quickly and had an immediate anaphylaxis. Rob got me in the car, shot me with the Epi-pen® while en route to the hospital, and stuck me in the ER for meds and observation. Two and a half hour later, we were discharged, but... on the way out I had a second phase of anaphylaxis. I wanted to go HOME, though, so I did not, uh... mention this to any medical professionals. Also, later on that evening, I ate even more of the offending food.

Listen, I may be brilliant AF, but I am also stupidly stubborn!

So that happened.

Let's go, y'all! Link up here if you'd like to play along with us this weekend; we don't bite! (Well, that's a complete lie. I totally bite someone daily. Not even exaggerating.)

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Saturday 9: We Need a Little Christmas (2006)

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

1) At the beginning of this recording, Daffy says he hopes all his friends remember his size, style and favorite color. What piece of clothing would you like to add to your wardrobe?

I've always wanted a Burberry trench coat. I'm kind of digging this long black, cashmere one. It's only $3,790. Totally in the budget!

2) His friends are late for Daffy's holiday soirée. Think about the last get-together you attended. Were you early, late or right on time?

I was fashionably late to Sophia's most recent Pony Club meeting at a local pizza joint. I despise being late, so by that I mean fewer than five minutes.

3) It hasn't a snowed a single flurry where Daffy is. Have you had to shovel yet?

I did plenty of snow shoveling growing up in Syracuse, New York! Snow capitol of the world, I swear. I am now physically unable to snow, though I bet I could do it in an emergency, with the right amount of adrenaline. That being said, Boise is actually a desert, so we don't get too much snow.

4) Daffy sings that he's looking forward to fruitcake. How about you? Are you a fruitcake fan?

I could take it or leave it. I think it gets a bad rap. I don't really care for the red and green candied bits, but the rest isn't awful IMO.

5) Daffy is an American Black Duck. Their usual diet doesn't generally include fruitcake (he he he!!!). These ducks more commonly dine on seeds, foliage and bugs. What was your most recent meal?

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My most recent meal consisted of Ahi Tartare from The Cheesecake Factory, and then I snacked on three Lindt Lindor Milk Chocolate Truffles for dessert. I'm kind of addicted to those little balls. (Heh.)

6) The only Christmas card Sam has received so far this year is from her insurance agent. She never sees her agent socially. In fact, she doesn't think she's seen him at all in 2018. Have you received many cards this year? If so, were they from people you feel close to?

So far, I've sent out about 95 Christmas/Holiday (because a number of our family & friends & associates are Jewish or Atheist) cards. It's my favourite Christmas tradition, and I don't care who responds in kind! I've gotten exactly one back from a neighbor, today, along with a plate of homemade cookies. (Yay!) We've also gotten three or four from business, and another from former President Jimmy Carter. That one may be my favourite? I still have plenty more; would you like one? If so, drop me your address info: smellyann at gmail dot com

7) When do you start holiday shopping: Christmas Eve (haha!), Thanksgiving/Black Friday, Halloween?

I've never, ever done the crazy Black Friday gift grab thing, and believe you me, it is definitely not on my Bucket List. I usually shop starting in September or October and put things away here and there. I follow Hip2Save closely, especially during this season, and snag what I can when there's a stellar deal.

8) Sam was recently driven crazy by kids running through store aisles wearing elf hats with bells. Do you have any apparel that makes noise? 

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Only dangly earrings. I have three (well, technically four, but I rarely use the fourth) piercings in each ear, plus my right tragus, along with my right nostril and septum. When I wear multiple earrings in each ear and swish my head, it can be a bit noisy. But clothing? I don't think so. [Photo is a selfie from 08 December 2018.]

9) This time of year is big for charitable fundraising. Here's your chance to plug a cause or organization that's near and dear to you.

Well, am I making a huge faux pas if I name more than one? Right now I have several that are critically important to me:

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I've mentioned Heifer International in multiple years past. You can read about it here. It's a fantastic organization, and I've fully vetted it; it's legit. This year, we gave a flock of chicks, though I was torn among that, a flock of ducks, or a flock of geese. BTW, when we buy a house, if there's sufficient acreage, I want to add ducklings to our menagerie. ;) (I have not informed Rob of this plan. Heh.)

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Secondly, there are obviously a number of environmentally-conscious projects dedicated to, well, "saving the earth." That may sound like crazy hippie tree-hugger talk, but I absolutely do not care. This should be important to all of us. Those running our country (USA, for those of you who are not American) are hell-bent on destroying this gd planet, and where will that leave future generations?! I have three living kids. Some of them do want to have kids of their own. I aim to make this possible for them, so I support projects like the Environmental Defense Fund, and others.

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The Blue Ribbon Foundation

The third charity I'd like to mention is The Blue Ribbon Foundation. Because I have been diagnosed with ME/CFS by Dr. Lucinda Bateman of The Bateman Horne Center in Salt Lake City, which I visit monthly or so, a horribly misunderstood (especially my the medical community) and under-funded disease, I would love for more awareness to be brought to this cause. I mean, I'm 42 years old and take about 90 medications daily just to function, and I rely heavily on the use of my walker and my wheelchair. I sleep far more hours per day than I care to admit, and I'm still exhausted. My ability to drive is now severely limited, and I'm usually in bed each night, crying out in pain and begging my husband and kids to amputate my arms and legs. In short, it's no picnic!

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Diabetes Research Institute Foundation

And finally, I'd like to call attention to the Diabetes Research Institute. Diabetes research has long been an important cause of mine, ever since my mama died very suddenly and unexpectedly at the age of 33 from untreated diabetes. (In my opinion, she was murdered by my father and the Christian Science Church, but that's a story for another day.) I was seven years old and suddenly motherless, and I've been a bereft daughter ever since. During all my pregnancies (and, of course, when not pregnant as well), I've been extremely vigilant about that particular aspect of my health. I am adamantly not going to leave my children motherless, the way I was! No way in hell. So far so good, but my doctor did put me on Metformin just to be on the safe side. I'm fine with that.

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Well, I enjoyed that! Thanks, Crazy Sam for another excellent meme and for the chance to dedicate our posts to those things that are important to each of us. I really appreciate that!

Have a great Saturday, y'all.

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.
 
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Fun questionnaire this week, Crazy Sam! Thanks for doing this!
 
Fin.

The 9th Pneumonia: Shit Just Got Real

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

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

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

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

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

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

No X-rays.

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

I was stupid.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And he has.

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

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

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

I don't remember that trip at all.

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

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

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

BAM!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So what was going on?

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

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

Yay!

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

We'll get there.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday Stealing: It's Beginning To Look Like A Meme

Hello, Internet Friends! Welcome back. I'm sick as hell, so I have no fun intro thoughts right now. I'll try and save all my witticism for the actual questions. With that, link up here if you're joining us this week!

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Last week we talked about things that bug us.  This week (and maybe next), how about things that we like about the holidays.  

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

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Of all the things we - personally, as a family - do during the month of December, the best favorite thing about it is family together time. When we're not, you know, arguing over stupid bullshit. LOL.

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

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Yes, I always send out cards. It's a thing I must do. This year I'm late and just got them in the mail yesterday. Except for the dozen or so still sitting here because I've run out of stamps and haven't bought more yet. This year, I'm sending out 75, which is about par for the course for us. Wanna get a card from us? I'd love to send you one. But I need your address. Promise I'm not a stalker. ;)

3. Be honest: holiday newsletters. Love ‘em or hate ‘em?

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I hate the ones that are like, brag brag brag, with an extra-heavy dose of brag. You feel me? I've never written one, but every year I'm tempted to send one and just be real with shit. For example, and this is all not related to this year, "In January, I forgot to pay the electric bill and we damn near froze to death... In July, Sophia was riding her horse who decided to turn at the last moment and bucked Sophia off, breaking her wrist..." etc. You know? Funny, because it's real.

4. Be honest: photo cards. Love ‘em or hate ‘em?

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This is ours this year. Obviously, I'm in the love 'em category. However, admittedly, this one was not my best work. For one, Chloë was cropped out of the picture in the top left, which sucks big time. Secondly, it's just kind of meh and boring. But it got done, I could cross it off my list, and so there's that. But yes, I really do like getting (and sending) them.

5. How soon do you start shopping?

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I start shopping whenever I find a hot deal on something I know a person wants and I concurrently have the dollahs to do so. Like my Christmas cards, I started a bit late this year.

6. Real or fake tree?

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Well, ideally, I'd love to have a real Christmas tree. However, I don't think in all our years of marital bliss that we have had anything but a pre-lit artificial tree. And we have the cats. And the puppies. So planning our tree placement is rather difficult. This year, no tree (so far, but I'm working on it, Zippi!), so no problems! (But real would be nice.)

7. When do you put up your tree?

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It's against my religion to put up the tree before Thanksgiving is over. Preferably, the first of December or later for me. I don't really care when everybody else does it, though, and I enjoy looking at everyone's Christmas décor!

8. When do you take down your tree?

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Ideally, by New Year's Day. I'm not a Scrooge or anything, I just don't like dragging things out forever and a day.

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

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It's usually about 7-8 feet tall, pre-lit, chock full of ornaments that represent our entire life histories - both separately and jointly - and usually strewn with that tinsel stuff you have to blow upward to get to the top of the tree.  I try, annually, to collect a new angel-themed ornament in memory of my son Robby, and those must always go toward the top of the tree. We also have an angel Christmas tree topper. All of this is in a box somewhere (or three boxes, or maybe four), because we haven't really gotten our Christmas on this year in a big, showy way.

10. What do you top your tree with?

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I already answered that, oopsy. An angel. It changes, though.

11. Do you put Christmas lights outside your house?

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Usually, but that's a job delegated to Hubs, and I haven't been able to get Hubs to do that deed this year. Yet.

12. Is there a wreath hanging on your door?

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Right now, we have this bell thingamabob on the front door in lieu of a wreath. It'll do for this year, its second or third appearance for us, but I think I'm going to get a nicer, real wreath next year. I get bored of things like this, shown over and over.

13. Do you hang up stockings?

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These are ours, right now, at this moment. So yes. I made the white one. That's Robby's.

14. Your favorite Christmas Movie(s):

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I don't even really know. I've never sat down and watched ElfA Christmas StoryIt's A Wonderful Life, or much else that makes me feel like a bad... Christmasser. OH! WAIT! I know. It's Miracle on 34th Street. I adore that flick.

15. Be honest: A Christmas movie you don't like:

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I liked Home Alone, but I've seen it umpteen million times and now I'm sick of it. So I guess I'll choose that one.

16. Favorite Christmas Song(s):

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Really, my favorite Christmas song is The First Noël, because that was my mother's favorite, but Rob's is Little Drummer Boy. I stumbled across this African tribal version last night and absolutely loved it. I suggest giving it a listen!

17. Be honest: If I hear this/these Christmas songs again I will throw up:

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I haven't really heard it this year (yet?), but I have memories of lots and lots of Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer from my childhood, which mostly sucked, and so I'm no longer a fan. That's pretty much it. I actually love Christmas music.

18. Give or Receive?

December 3rd Advent

I definitely prefer to give! The above collage is from December 3rd of this year, because I had things to give, all wrapped up and waiting... If you know me, I just about EXPLODE with anticipation and giddiness over giddiness, and so... we opened everything we had already in the house so far in the year on that date. I'm trying so hard not to do it again! Hee.

19. Eggnog or Mulled Cider?

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I used to be an eggnog girl all the way, but now... I'm more into the mulled cider. Yum!

20. Ham or Turkey?

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EWW, ham. Never liked that crap even before I became a strict vegetarian in 2005. Ew EW EWW! Sorry if you're a fan. Turkey is not as obnoxious (to me), but obviously I can't eat that, either. So give me some hummus and we'll all be happy, 'kay?

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Well that was fun. I'm feeling festive now. Except for looking at that ham and bananas crap (who does that?!). Here's hoping y'all have a lovely Sunday!


Saturday 9: Silent Night

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Hey hey, what do you say? Welcome back. Link up here if you wish to play along this week!

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Saturday 9: Silent Night (1957) 
Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) How well do you know "Silent Night?" Without looking up the lyrics, could you sing along with Elvis?
 
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I could do the whole first stanza and then manage most of the second. After that, I'm mouthing the words!

2) The Christmas with Elvis album hit the stores in October 1957. Were you already preparing for Christmas back in October?
 
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Often I am. This year, no.

3) Clearly Elvis liked a flocked white Christmas tree. Is your tree flocked, aluminum or pine green? Real or artificial? Or do you skip the whole tree thing altogether? 
 
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Ideally, I would be the type of person who had a beautifully curated, themed, and colour-coordinated tree in every room of my house. Usually, we have a fake "pine" tree decorated to within an inch of its life with ornaments and bedazzling. (lol) THIS year, however sad it may make me, we have NO tree. I was convinced we'd brought our tree with us in the household packout that just came before Thanksgiving, but alas, we must have given it away. So then, I bought what I thought was a rather nice tree out of the last of our meagre budget, from Kohls.com. It turned out to be a sad little piece of corner-tree-crapola. That was returned, and the money used for groceries. So no tree this year. Ah, well. It's not the biggest deal in the world.

4) Back in the late 1950s, Elvis left his hair its natural brown color. In the 1960s he began having it dyed black. Do you have a salon appointment scheduled between now and year end?

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No. I was going to take curly-haired Chloë and myself in for a trim, but Jack needed it worse, I cut my own bangs, and Chloë can wait. So, nope!
 
5) Have you ever peeked, looking for a Christmas gift you know is hidden for you somewhere in the house?

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I don't think so as an adult, but I know as a kid I carefully unwrapped a few presents with my name on them. That ruined the surprise for me, though, so I discontinued the process.
 
6)  Which do you prefer, candy canes or gingerbread?  
 
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Not a fan of gingerbread, except looking at prettily made houses.
 
7) Is anyone receiving a home made or do-it-yourself gift from you this year?

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I don't know if I'll get it finished in time, but I'm hoping to make Sophia (my 12yo) a Slytherin scarf like this one. She and Chloë are now both heavily "into" all things Harry Potter. (Chloë would like to gleefully point out that she is a Ravenclaw.)

8) Do you wrap holiday gifts in paper, or do you take the gift bag route?
 
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I only take the gift bag route when I have exactly ZERO time to wrap presents. I love wrapping gifts. Ideally, each separately themed tree would have a coordinating pile of gifts under it. Hee.
  
9) This time of year is big for charitable fundraising. Here's your chance to plug a cause or organization that's near and dear to you.
 
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I love Heifer International. We donate money for a bunch of bunnies, or a goat, or whatever is needed, every year. And throughout the year, we get an occasional letter telling us how our gift has been used and benefited the recipient community. I love those letters! I really think Heifer International is one of the greatest causes out there!
 
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That is all. Have a lovely, and if you're celebrating Chanukah, happy happy!

Sundays In My City: Advent Days 1-9

Sundays In My City
Here in Boise, my family and I are going through our 2017 Advent calendar. So far, of course, we've completed activities out and around Boise since the first.
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Every year, I assemble an Advent calendar with a treat and an activity for each day. This year, I had to enlist help from Hubs with assembling it. He went to the store and bought all the mini stockings for me, while I bought the candies and spent hours combing the Interwebs and our past calendars to come up with the 24 activities.
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Sixteen-year-old Chloë started us off with a smile and a yank! of the first stocking.
December 1st Advent{Click to Embiggerate Collage}
On December 1st, we headed to nearby Meridian, Idaho, for their annual Christmas parade. It was so fun! We were freezing, though - I don't think Team Odette, collectively, have quite adjusted to the fact that we will be in real, honest-to-God WINTER here and not balmy Miami winters, heh. But it was fun, hot chocolate was enjoyed, and home we went.
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Jack took over the Advent calendar for Day 2. It's hard to capture a real Jack smile on camera, and honestly, I'm not sure if this is one!
December 2nd Advent
For December 2nd, we went to a fun Christmas activity at Zoo Boise. To be honest, we have visited some amazing zoos as a family, and Zoo Boise was the least impressive. But since we often tease Chloë about her two chubby guinea pigs being capybaras, it was certainly fun to see a few of those at the Zoo!
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Chloë with Alex and James
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Sophia took over for Day Three of Advent.
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On Day Three, we hand made snowglobes. Super fun activity; we all really enjoyed it a lot, and Chloë (in red) said she wants to do lots more like this in the future. Yay!
December 3rd Advent
Ultimately, that night, we also hemmed and hawed about whether to open all the presents that had arrived thus far in the house and... giddily, we decided to open everything. Christmas on December 3rd? Why not? 
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December 4th Advent
On December 4th, Team Odette visited "Winter aGlow" at Idaho Botanical Gardens. OMGosh, you guys! It was so beautiful, with the plants and flowers so intricately lit and designed. We loved it. There were free cookies, along with free cocoa and hot cider, which really helped control the chill of the evening. (Because holy heck, Idaho is cold in December!) Totally worth every moment we spent there!
 
December 5th Advent
On December 5th, we had a Day of Remembrance for the loved ones we have lost. Individually, Rob, Chloë, Jack, Sophia, and I each lit candles for our son Robby (Jack's identical twin), Rob's mom, my mom, and others whom we are missing this year. It was a solemn evening, but definitely necessary and cherished by all of us, I think.
 
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On that evening, I let Jack open a gift that I knew he really wanted and would enjoy. He hadn't received much other than tons of SOCKS and a few other small things on the 3rd, when the girls had a lot to open, so I knew he was feeling a bit disappointed. I gave him the Xbox One version of the game "Halo 5," which had been on his wishlist. I think you can tell that this is a genuine Jack smile.
 
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On December 6th, we had options: there was going to be a Basque Christmas concert at the capitol building's rotunda, but that clashed with the timing for the kids' youth church. Instead of the concert, all of the kids opted to go to church instead. So that's what they did!
 
December 7th Advent
On December 7th, we went to Downtown Boise (just a hop, skip, and a jump from home) for their First Thursdays event. There were goodies galore, some shopping, and plenty of eats. We went to The Stil Ice Cream Shop and had a beer-and-ice cream flight. The kids and Rob each had a different ice cream, while Hubs and I shared the beers. Pretty damn good, I must say. We'll have to go back there. We had delicious chocolates from a truffle shop, and Hubs gave me an "Idahome" decal that I wanted for the car. Fun night!
 
December 8th Advent
 On Friday, December 9th, we were supposed to go out to Eagle, Idaho, for a Christmas event, but that's when I started feeling like absolute crud. Instead, we decided to stay in and have fun playing games on the XBox. Chloë really wants to use her Just Dance game, but I guess you need your cell phone to use it, and she has killed three phones in just as many months, so I was in no hurry to loan her mine! 😂 You know? Understandable, I hope. So she and Sophie played Minecraft, and Jack played his Halo 5 game. I think I... slept. Probably.
 
December 9th Advent
Last night, December 9th, we were invited to our neighbor Gladys' LDS (Mormon) Church's Christmas party! It was a ton of fun, if not a bit unusual for us, since we are not LDS. There was SO much food - yummy stuff (have y'all ever heard of Funeral Potatoes? Gladys made those, and it is essential that I get her recipe!), and even picky Jack got his fill. As we were leaving for the night, the girls even grabbed a second plate of cheesecake each. Ha! There were two women who played the Japanese harp, the koto, which was absolutely beautiful, and several people sang. Santa came, and since my children have long since believing, they refused to go up and partake of that. Darn, I wanted pictures! ;) We had a great time, and despite my being sick, I'm so glad we went.
 
SO that's it for our area this past week and change in Boise, Idaho. Looking forward to "visiting" some of you also posting on Claudya's blog! Thanks for hosting, Claudya! 

Saturday 9: My Church

Hey, everyone! I hope you're having a jolly December so far. We have been, but in a delightful turn of events, I have another, mostly-unFacebooked rash of illnesses and things going on, AND I'm "good ol' regular sick" on top of that, so I'm feeling like poo today. And we have a Christmas party to go to at a neighbor's church, which I am so not feeling, but I'm going to muster up the effort to get in the shower and get ready for it soon. 

ANYway, link up here if you'd like to join in today's Saturday 9!

And away we go...

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Saturday 9: My Church (2016)

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

1) This song is about a woman who loves singing along with her car radio. Is that something you enjoy?

So this is a video we made - it's utterly ridiculous and awful, and we know it - a year or two ago. I think two. Yeah. Anyway, I believe we sing along to the radio in some of it. Yes, it is one of my true loves, actually!

2)  The video begins with Maren Morris finishing her cigarette before getting behind the wheel. Do you allow smoking in your car?

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Ha. Yeah, right. If it were up to me, there would be no smoking allowed in the world. Period!

3) In this song, Maren admits she's lied. What's the last fib you told?

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I just lied about an hour ago, to a mystery shopping scheduler. I lied about the recent I didn't get a shop's report in on time. Heh.

4) She mentions having her radio on the FM dial. Are you loyal to a single radio station? Or do you spin the dial?

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In the car, I change the station all the time. I can't stand listening to people jabbering on radio. In the house, I generally keep it streaming on one station on my computer all the time, wishing I could change stations when the jabbering starts!

5) Maren was inspired to write this song while on a long car trip from Nashville to Los Angeles. When do you get your best ideas?

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I've always maintained I do my best thinking in the shower. It's true!
  
6) She performed this song on Saturday Night Live last year. The host that week was John Cena. Do you follow professional wrestling?

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That ^^^ is in response to all the WWF memes I tried to explore before settling on this fact that I didn't understand a single one of them! Because no, I don't follow it.

7) In 2016, when this song was popular, Alex Rodriguez played his final Major League Baseball game. He has embarked on a second career as a broadcaster. Would you be comfortable on camera?

BOOM
No, not me! But my 16-year-old daughter, Chloë, has been acting since she was five years old. She's as shy as I am in real life - maybe more so - but when the camera turns on her? She's a natural. (This is from a short film she was featured in in 2009, called Boom.)

8) A 2016 study revealed that 43% of Americans own mutual funds, many in their 401(k)s and IRAs. Are you involved in the stock market? 

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Nope. I've often thought about educating myself on such matters - financial matters are not my intellectual forte - but then I see things go so badly for so many people very quickly and think, "nahhh."

9) Random question: You have something awkward and embarrassing that you simply must tell a pal. You know your friend will not be happy with the news. Would you prefer to deliver it by email, in a phone call, or face to face?

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Email or text. Or Facebook messenger, whatever. I get anxious with face-to-face and phone conversations. C'est la vie!

Welp, time to go get ready for that party. I'm feeling a little bah-humbuggy about it, but only 'cause I'm sick...

Ciao.