Hi again! Link up here if you're playing along this weekend.
What do you find hilarious, but most people don’t find funny?
2. What was the best year of your life so far?
Probably 2001, since that's when this crazy family began!
3. What’s your favorite thing to do on the Internet?
I go from window to window to window... not true multi-tasking, since I don't believe that's truly a thing, but close enough!
4. What fad have you held on to even tho it isn’t popular any more?
I try not to give into fads much, so I don't know of any?
5. What do you spend most of your time doing?
Hubs calls me the nucleus of the family, so I guess I spend most of my time nucleating!
6. What do you spend way too much money on?
Um, I have three teen-aged children. FOOD.
7. What event, large or small, has changed the course of your life most?
Losing my mom at the age of 7
8. Whom do you have a hard time taking seriously?
9. What do you judge people for most often?
Voting for this guy - if they did...
10. What was the most beautiful view you have ever experienced?
I've seen some pretty stuff in my life, but Tumon Bay, Guam, where we stayed in 2002, ranked high up there!
11. What is something you read or heard that has stuck with you for a long time?
I have long been a proponent of saving the Earth's various ecologies... but especially the rainforests. So in college, when I learned that Americans are the primary consumers of the beef and other livestock that the rainforests are being destroyed to raise, I quit eating meat then and there. That was in 2005.
12. What’s your favorite thing to shop for? Why?
Y'all know I love my yarns. I could shop for yarn every day of my life and never get tired of it!
13. What’s the best compliment someone can receive?
I think it varies for each person. For me personally, I think it would be that my kids have turned out to be great human beings. Let's hope!
14. What’s something people go on and on about and you just can’t stand sitting through?
I'm just not into finance or insurance stuff - I really don't have the head for it, and I'm okay with that - so when people talk about it, my eyes gloss over and I tune out immediately.
15. What’s something you can do that most people can’t?
I have genuine Bipolar I Disorder - the kind with honest-to-goodness, REAL mania - not the kind far too many people insensitively joke that they or someone they know have, so I can spend all night cooking and baking everything in the house and then completely function the next day... and repeat! (Or whatever my craze of the moment is)
16. When was the last time you tried to look cool and ended in embarrassment?
I could never pull off trying to look cool, so I don't even bother!
17. What is the most ridiculous rule you have to follow?
Well, just the societal norms, now... but shortly after we were married, again on Guam, I took our pets to the Air Force base vet. Well, something (I don't remember what) went wrong, and I was pissed and acted like it. Shortly after that, both my husband (mostly him) and I were reprimanded for my bad behavior. It was then that I learned that as a Navy wife, my actions reflected completely on him, and I had to learn to control my outbursts. Heh. I'm pretty good at outbursts, y'all. (Goes with the aforementioned Bipolar...)
18. What country do you not know the location of, even though you should?
I honestly have no earthly idea where Tahiti or Bora Bora are.
19. What do you have a hard time with but most people find quite easy?
I have the hardest time getting coherent thoughts out of my brain and off my tongue. I just cannot speak well. I think the part of my brain that controls speech melted, or something...
20. What’s the most impressive skill you have?
I guess I knit and crochet pretty well. I should probably do some more of it!
I've shrunk a bit. I'm now 5'1.5" and my 12yo daughter is taller than I am!
7. What shoe size are you?
I'm about a 5.5 - 6, depending on the maker.
8. How many pairs of shoes do you own?
I have about a dozen pairs, and at least 75% of those are different styles of Crocs. Yes. It's true. I love my Crocs. Shame on me.
9. What was your last dream about?
I dreamed there was no more chocolate to be had in the world. It was a horrendous tragedy.
10. What talents do you have?
I can knit and crochet quite well, although I'm not so good yet at designing my own patterns. I can also carry a tune, although my vocal cords are a bit damaged from years of sore/strep throat. I can't wait until my tonsillectomy on Thursday!
11. Are you psychic in any way?
I joke that I am, but nope.
12. Favorite song?
Right now, I'm digging "Praying" by Kesha a great deal.
13. Favorite movie?
Animated: Finding Nemo
Are you religious?
I prefer to think of myself as "spiritual" rather than "religious."
15. Have you ever been to the hospital?
At least on a monthly basis since... forever, yeah.
16. Have you ever been in trouble with the law?
Only inasmuch as my lead foot has caused me; other than that, no.
17. Have you ever met any celebrities?
Just Dave Barry. No one else really.
17. What color socks are you wearing?
Right now, I have a yellow and black one on the left foot, and a purple and white one on the right. :)
18. Have you ever been famous?
Oh yeah. I'm like, real tight with the Kartrashians.
20. Would you like to be a big celebrity?
Nope. Not one bit!
21. What type of music do you like?
I like a pretty eclectic variety of music, but I must admit, Top 40 is my favorite!
22. How many pillows do you sleep with?
I just got this new Sleep Number ComfortFit Pillow for FREE, and I LOVE it. It's the only pillow I need.
23. What position do you usually sleep in?
I toss and turn. Mostly on my tummy in bed, on my back on the couch, but I'm really all over the map.
24. How big is your house?
It's a fairly unassuming 3/2 ranch-style house. I want to work on making it more curb-appealing next year!
25. What do you typically have for breakfast?
I love avocado cheese toast, but I have a variety of things, often eggs, sometimes nothing at all...
Hope y'all have had a great weekend. Our prayers and positive thoughts go out to those affected by these latest Hurricanes to hit this season. Be well.
As part of our schooling the first week of this new 2017-2018 year, the students at Sweet Pea Academy have been learning about our Neighbors to the North: Canada. We've done a timeline of the nation's history, completed map work, read library books with lots of cool information (which is what they're doing here), and wrapped up with a few things you'll see later in the post.
Sophia's turn at reading aloud some cool facts about Canada
One of the most fun things we did was find a few Canadian recipes and choose one to make: Sweet Corn Pancakes. All right, to be honest, it won because that's the one for which we already had all the ingredients on hand. Heh. The first ingredient was six egg whites, whipped into shape. Chloë started off that process, which was slow going with just an immersion blender!
Sophia hurt her foot just before the making of the pancakes, so most of her participation consisted of sitting there and pouting. Poor kid - we went to the ER later in the evening and discovered she had quite the fractured pinky toe!
Jack, meanwhile, put a beatin' on those egg yolks.
Chloë was still whipping egg whites, so Jack continued with the dry ingredients. Um, funny story: I'm notorious amongst the members of Team Odette for always leaving an ingredient out of the pumpkin pie each Thanksgiving. Something different each time (but never the pumpkin, at least)! Well... I'm usually not that bad when it comes to cooking, but I was so concerned with helping the two older kids whilst simultaneously concerning myself with Sophie's foot that I forgot to have Jack put in the flour! D'oh!
Wait, why is Chloë cracking more eggs? We already used six... oh, that's right. When she finally finished whipping the whites and I wanted to take a picture, she held the bowl up and dumped out half. the. bowl. in the process! So Finnegan, we begin again.
Corn, obviously went into these Sweet Corn Pancakes... but only half a cup?! That didn't seem right to me, but we stuck with the recipe. Unlike the flour omission, that is.
Chloë finally tired of doing nothing but whipping egg whites, so Jack took a turn for her sake. Okay, maybe for his own, too.
Finally, it was time for the twain to meet. And you thought it would be never.
Chloë did the honors of dumping all the flourless ingredients into the eggy whites. What the heck? Why was it so runny? Maybe because Mom LEFT OUT THE FLOUR. (Yes, it was that big a deal.)
Poor Sophia. Bored, hurting, and left out of the pancake game.
At last, it was time to start heating up the pan and getting some oil going.
But wait, who's this joining us? Sophie, up off her booboo chair, wanting to watch and help with the pancake proceedings? Yay!
"Mama, something don't look quite right." That's not what she actually said, but look at her face. Says it to me!
Well, shall we have a taste? Let's. Jack looked rather dubious.
The pancakes received a big fat, "Meh," from the Odettelettes. Ah, well. We thought about making them again - this time with flour - but the kids decided they didn't even like them enough to try. Boo. Maybe another recipe, another time.
Undaunted by broken toe and sad pancake tastings, Sophia decided to actually add the flour to the remaining pancake batter and try again on her own. We still said meh after trying those and ended up scrapping the whole thing. Well, sometimes you just need to screw up a thing in order to figure out what to do next, right? In this case, what to do next would be to make something else. But for another day, another time... #LessoneLearned
To wrap up our loony adventure, the kids did a few simple but fun Canadian-themed crafts. Look - loon collages! If nothing else, this activity was worthwhile because it was artsy-craftsy and Jack admitted, "Hey, that was actually kind of fun." Not an art kid, that boy.
And there are our Canadian flag-themed paper lanterns, adorning one corner of our living room/school room. I kinda like them there. Don't know how long they'll stay there, but I enjoy them in the meantime!
Next country to come up tomorrow: Brazil. No, no one will be getting waxed.
On Monday, Team Odette was invited into Young Art for a 60-minute drawing lesson, complimentary of Young Art in Boise, Idaho, and the fun and amazing manager, Shayla Putnam. [Full Disclosure: Our five-member family received the lesson for no charge, in exchange for this post and others on my social media networks. No other compensation was received by us. As always, all opinions expressed in this post are 100% my own.]
The first thing we encountered upon entering the Young Art shop, which is at the Boise Towne Square mall right next to the Talbot's store, was the bright, cheery, and colorful nature of every square inch of space inside the studio. There was no denying they were in tune with my M.O. of living our lives out loud, in living color! Look at the photos on the walls in the above and following photographs, and see if you can pick out the pictures we were trying to draw and emulate.
Two things confounded our visit to Young Art that day, which was no fault of Shayla's or anyone else associated with the art studio: (1) We arrived on time but could not find the location, exactly, being new in town and thanks to a weird GPS on my Google Maps which likes to mess with my head. :\ I swear it does... and (2)There was a Girl Scout troop party coming in immediately following our 60-min sesh, and since we were already several minutes into ours upon arrival, the entire time we were there was rush, rush, hurry, go, c'mon, rush, FINISH!
Some of us are more adaptable than others to these kinds of situations in Team Odette, so we all fully agreed that next time (and we do want a next time, it was unanimously decided), we'll make a longer appointment, arrive on time, and be more relaxed about the whole process. So if you go, please keep that in mind.
Shayla quickly had us pick out the photos we wanted to use for inspiration, and then she worked with the three teens, while assigning LeVelle to teach Rob and me all about the finer points of drawing our chosen works.
We were each given a sheet of paper and a pencil, along with instructions from Shayla to print our names on the dry-erase table (which was cool as heck, y'all) above our workspaces. LeVelle sat down between the Hubs and me and went back and forth, zippity-zip, showing us how to start with a rounded base shape and then sprout from there toward a full grown drawing. He was a congenial fellow who managed to keep us focused on the task, despite my constantly trying to turn and strain to get pictures of everything and everyone working and also despite working on two different drawings for the two of us, simultaneously.
Rob and I have both done a lot of sketching in our 40+ years of life, with different styles and - dare I say it? - levels of talent and specific finer points of artisticness (I swear that's a word; go with it!)... However, LeVelle wanted us NOT to do small sketch lines but rather strong, bold, single, dark pencil lines to create a finished work that looked more intentional and less, well, hesitant and sketchy. Shayla worked on the same concept with the three kids, which made our artistic daughter, Sophia, balk. I heard Shayla assert that her job was to teach and show how to accomplish this, and that Sophie and the others just needed to trust her. It was probably her most difficult task in teaching my stubborn kids - especially in such a hurry!
One of my absolute favorite things about this hour-long session was that my least artistic, most complain-y child, Jack, seemed really focused and into creating his chosen work. I was so thrilled about this, I could not even!
LeVelle seemed to pick up on the fact that my brain was all over the map, thinking about doing my work and following along with what he was teaching me, whilst also trying to grab pictures and think about what I wanted to post here on the blog! He may have given Rob a little more attention than me, therefore, or maybe I was just over on my own ****ing planet and seemed not to be with him. But I was, LeVelle. I swear I was. (He had a total zen quality about him, but I was so self-conscious and insecure about my work as we went along, that I probably drove him insane!)
See that look? That isn't the normal expression of a busily-"arting" Sophia. It conveyed annoyance and frustration to my expert maternal eye (at least for my own kids' sakes), and I tried to signal her to go with it, do as she was told, and maybe, just maybe, she might actually learn some techniques that helped her improve her work on her own. Who knows whether it will? But I encouraged, nonetheless.
I couldn't get over how much Jack really seemed to be into this! It was astounding, actually, if you know my son. Astounding.
These were LaVelle's dry erase-table work, demonstrating the strokes and details he wanted us to mimic on our own paper. Long, clean, dark lines, people. No sketching!! ;)
Southpaw Sophia finally seemed willing and determined to get started. Let's GO, kids! Clock's ticking!
Rob, too, was very intent on his work. Other than me, who was busy taking photos and absorbing All. The. Things., everyone was. We were having tons of fun.
Curls, AKA Chloe, having a peek around at the others' work. Hurry up, child, and draw your outline out! This one is the perfectionist who didn't seem to grasp the concept of "hurry up, party is coming" on Monday's visit! :\
See this expression on Jack's face?! I LOVE it!! It's sheer and pure joy, a real emotion, and not just a "oh, I gotta pretend to smile and cheese for Mom's lens" moment. He was actually enjoying himself, and that thrilled me to my soul. If nothing else, this was a WIN!
LaVelle knew we were running out of time, so in the colorizing portion of our lesson, his hands and fingers moved quickly to dab out, blend, and illustrate what he wanted me to accomplish on my own drawing which, you may or may not be able to figure out by now, is supposed to be Dory from the Disney movies, Finding Nemo and Finding Dory. (Also, I am Dory. Dory is me. Completely and utterly alike, we are. I love her! How could I not have chosen my girl D?)
The thing that disappointed me during this phase of the work was, as you can see in the bottom middle, LaVelle had to take over the outlining, post-coloring, of my Dory's lines. I knew I was fully capable of doing this, and doing a pretty decent job at it no less, but again, the time crunch made it necessary. Booo, time crunch!
By that point, Jack was just about done with his work and was just waiting for instruction from Shayla on what to next. He always finishes first at home - quality be damned! - so this was no big surprise to me.
I dont know whose phone that was - Shayla's? Rob's? Chloe's? But I guess somehow Sophia voluntold someone to look up the creature she was drawing so she could stop having to crane her neck to see what her drawing was supposed to resemble. That was Rob's main critique: He wished there was a way to pull down in front of each student artist the artwork we were trying to emulate, so we had no need to get up and walk over to them to see a detail and could have them directly in front of us for faster working time.
Again, I felt this was completely something I could have accomplished, but for the sake of pushing through the late time, LaVelle started the background painting on my work, outlining the more difficult areas and then giving the paper back to me to fill in the blank space. But it's okay. I didn't overly mind and completely understood the need for this.
Ah! We have color on Chloe's work. At last! Just keep swimming, just keep swimming...
I was almost - but not quite - finished. I liked my Dory, despite the fact that she looked more like Dory's even less-reliable cousin (ha!) and I had a few major flubs. Yeah. Not too bad for a quick dash through the artistic world, eh?
Meanwhile, our Navy Veteran Rob was over there pushing through to get the finishing touches put on his work. Go, Hubs, Go! I was turning in the the cheering squad for Team Odette to finish. Seriously.
By this point, Shayla was busy helping my kids, helping two other adorable little girls who had come in to finish a previously-begun sculpture work, and do damage control with the growing irritation amongst the Girl Scout crowd. They did not appear to be the resilient type who could appreciate that there was a delay. And we were the cause of it. Eh. It happened; I'm over it.
After LaVelle helped Chloe, he took me over to the Glittering Station. I don't know if that's what they really called it (I'm guessing not), but I had to name it that because, um, that's what I do. He gave me a small handful of extra-fine glitter and had me sprinkle it over my work. We were each given the choice on whether to do this and I know for sure that Jack and Rob opted out. Sophia may have, too. But give ME the glitter, yes, please! Also, I was curious about what spray they were using to seal the glitter and paint in, because we do art in our homeschool, Sweet Pea Academy, and this information might very well come in handy. Turns out: HAIRSPRAY. It was hairspray. So there's your little Art hack from me for today. Take that, overpriced art/craft store merchandise! ;)
At this point, Sophia and Chloe were getting the, "C'mon! C'mon! Hurry up! Finish!" pep talk from Mom, which was surely counterproductive. Sophia is an artiste, which means this is the only area in her life which she feels like a certain level of perfectionism is necessary. Chloe, on the other hand, is a perfectionist about everything in life (like her mama), and I am trying to get her to accept that sometimes, good enough IS good enough. But it's hard.
GO, GIRLS, GO!!
While the girls raced to the finish line - now about 15 minutes past our allotted time, ohmigosh, the boys and I checked out the rest of the art studio. There were lots of pictures on all the walls from which to choose a project, and all kinds of bright and colorful materials lined the front tables that greet aspiring artists as they enter the door. It was definitely an inviting environment, I felt!
I know for sure that I will have to pick up some supplies for Sophia to improve on and expand her artworks, for Christmas probably. There was plenty of inspo here!
I found this signage about Young Art's Summer Camp on Shayla's desk at the front, and while it's pricey, I'll have to figure out when it starts and if we ca still get in on the Early Bird Special. Sophia would like to go and, from what I gather, Chloe would, too. Which is telling because, though both were stressing about being SO super pressed for time that their artwork on Monday didn't turn out exactly the way they had in mind, they liked the process and experience enough to want to come back again and again!
These are the chalks and tempera paints we used to colorize our drawings. We learned out to blend and overlap the colors to create just the right shades, cut in the edges while painting so as not to go "outside the lines," and more. There was a lot of rushing, sure, but education was mixed in there too - if you were paying attention. ;) I was!
Go, Chloe, go! Stop being perfect! Just don't make any dang mistakes! NO! I'm kidding! Hurry up! ;)
Glitter time for Sophia's work at last! Woot!
... And then the hairspray treatment, to set.
And look who was finally finished and ready for the glitter treatment from LaVelle! Finally!
*~*~* ~* Sprinkle, sprinkle *~*~~
Rather than take home our artworks right there and then, Shayla convinced us to take a spin around the mall and allow the paint and setting spray to dry for a good 20 minutes or so. We ended up in the toys and games store around the corner and found plenty of things to entertain ourselves with, like this "Coffee makes me POOP" shot glass that, um, Rob definitely needs! :P
And now, in order of age from oldest to youngest, here are our works: A Jawa from Star WarsEpisode IV, created by Rob.
Dory, by Melanie (that's me!)
Charmander from Pokemon, by Chloe
Light Sabers from Star Wars, by Jack
And a... something I forget... help me please! ... from Pokemon also, I think? by Sophia
(I'll try to update the post when she wakes up and can tell me definitively what it is!)
What I love about Young Art Lessons is this ^^^ right here. Drop off your kids for supervised time, during which they will be productively engaged in art education, while you do your shopping around the mall. Even though my kids are a bit older (12, 14 and 15 as of this writing), I might decide I need to take advantage of this opportunity come holiday shopping season time. Y'know? It's GENIUS!
The great thing about Young Art Lessons is that they offer all different kinds of lessons, cater to a wide variety of ages and skill levels, and have an array of different media available to use in different artworks, all to help the young artist (or older ones, like Rob and me) develop a finished work of which one can be quite proud.
So what are you waiting for? I highly recommend a Young Art Lesson booking if you're in an area where they are offered! I can't wait until the kids' next session, maybe even as soon as tomorrow! It'll be super fun!
Thanks to Shayla, John, and LaVelle for making our experience such a great one!
Today, I needed some caffeine and rustled up enough change to go get some kind of diet cola from someplace. Chloë decided to go with me, so we could have a little mommy-and-me time. It's harder to come by now that she's 15½, those moments are harder to come by. I brought my camera along for the walk, expecting to capture a few things of interest, starting with these pretty purple tulips and the lilac tree of a couple neighbors.
Found this unhitched green trailer inspiring on Virginia Ave, heading out of the 'hood.
On Victory Road, one neighbor had just ONE section of a pallet fence up, so I decided it would be a perfect backdrop for a Chloë shot. There is a lot of traffic on that road and no shoulder or sidewalk, so I had to take a car-free moment and grab a quick snap!
This walk turned into a little mini-shoot for Chloë, as I found her my inspo most of the time! The neighbor next to single-pallet-fence house had this wee bridge over the tiny creek-let underneath it, so I had her hop on it and let me grab another quick shot.
Phlox and old mailboxes at the corner of Triumph and Victory. I dig it.
A particularly flowery neighbors' house
Old truck. I like it.
No train was coming from either direction, but Chloë was still a bit reluctant to stand next to the train tracks. If it were Sophia, she'd be doing cartwheels up and down the rails! But Chloë is more demure and dainty than her baby sister.
I know Chloë doesn't quite fully embrace her curls yet, but I am a bit obsessed with them. I can't get enough of them. They're so beautiful and springy. And yes, I am an annoying person who "boings" them when she's washing the dishes and can't stop me. Heh heh heh. So I snagged this pic while she was walking and didn't know the lens was on her.
Chloë with the mountains behind her... they had snowy peaks this morning, but by this time, they were definitely showing signs of Spring!
Crossing the overpass was a little scary for Chloë - and, I must admit, I was afraid, too - but I thought it looked cool criss-crossing with Federal Way and the shadows. I loved the interplay there.
Tumbleweed; we are a tiny bit TW-crazy!
We ended up getting a 1L of Diet Coke at Walgreens with my change and Balance Rewards points and then starting back home. Only, we were walking with the wind at our backs on the first leg of the trip. On the short leg from Walgreens to Joann's Fabric at the return, the wind was a wall of sheer opposing force in our faces and on our bodies.
Chloë and I could not here each other speak when we were inches apart, so we decided to have Rob pick us up instead of walking into that the whole way home! Weenies, yes we are. Also, Joanne's had a lovely variety of fabric and all-around crafty stuff, so we were not impatient in waiting for him to get us at all!
And soon, there he was: our knight in shining armor, riding in his black coach to retrieve us and tease me about being a quitter. ;)
One more shot of Chloë... because those juicy curls just speak to me!
I stole Bud's Sunday Stealing logo right off his blog! I clicked that instead of the ... well, long story short, it was un accidente, and now that it's there, it amuses me because it's in keeping with the idea of the meme. Sorry, Bud. ;)
Link up here with the rest of us if you're playing along this Earth Day weekend!
c. Crafting/creating/making in general; knitting, specifically.
d. Mother Earth (and Science #FTW!)
Experimenting with food! I love to cook!
2. List up to ten random facts about yourself.
I have had my nose pierced twice, but what I really want is a septum piercing. I told Hubs I would do it after my dad dies. When Hubs asked me why I didn't just go ahead and do it before Dad dies, I replied, "I don't want to kill him!" (The piercing was really hard on my father. His precious little girl... it was right as I was getting out of college, and he saw it and said, "I didn't send you to school so you could become some kind of hippie Bohemian!") lmao
I'm married to a "hippie Bohemian." Seriously, my husband's maternal family is from Bohemia, which is now the Czech Republic. So, lol to that, too!
I've had four pregnancies and four live births, but there is not a 1:1 relationship (for those of you who know your math) there. One of those live births is now our little angel baby, waiting for us...
I have so many medical issues, my last neurologist labeled me "complicated" when trying to medicate me for migraines. The last med nearly killed me, so we're on to Botox next.
I have Lyme disease, Fibromyalgia (maybe) and, I suspect, ME/CFS. (myalgic encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for those who hate acrobreviations) ;) And that only accounts for half the shit medicine I'm on.
I also have Bipolar Disorder 1 w/ Psychosis, but I suspect it may actually be Schizophrenia - and so does my current psychopharmacologist. Thing is, the same drugs I'm on are used to treat both, I take my drugs, and I'm more or less stable (that's a myth, like a unicorn achievement, with serious mental health issues, really). I'm not going to go off my meds to find out, so we'll never know unless my chemistry raucously changes. Hey, I'm due for menopause in about 10-15 years, so...! (Hush yo' mouth, I'm not hoping!)
My surviving kids are 15.5, 14, and 12, and I'm already looking forward to being a grandmother one day. Which damn well better be in a decade or more. ;)
I'm a permanent Idealist/Optimist, despite all the trauma and abuse in my history. I'm a rainbow-seeker wearing my rose-colored glasses, I'm sensitive, and I'm splendidly naive. Please don't take advantage of me, or I will cry. And I didn't pack the waterproof mascara, 'kay?
I consider myself a Biologist, a scientist who just didn't finish her Ph.D., as well as a Christian. This throws people way the hell off. 'Specially since I curse like a sailor - since long before I married one. Pretty sure God's okay with me the way I am. <3
I have a (Young Living) essential oils addiction that about mirrors my JAFRA addiction... I'd love to share them with people, but I'm painfully shy and not at all a salesperson, so my only real clients are on the Interwebs. I keep thinking the older I get, the more my scaredy-cat nature will crack, but that's a Big Fat Nope.
3. List five people (personal, historic, living or dead) who have had a major impact on your life or the way you think.
All right, well:
a. My mother (RIP), whom I have put on a pedestal of perfection when it comes to motherhood, since her early death at age 33;
b. My father, whom I have not with respect to fatherhood;
c. My stepmother, AKA "The Bitch From Hell," who played an enormous part in my becoming Bipolar/Schizo while "helping raise" me from ages 7 to 17 and beyond...;
d. My maternal grandparents, without whom my childhood would have completely sucked and who rescued me from my miserable home life many times (RIP, RIP, and THANK YOU!)
e. My U-Miami physics professor who, during exams, always used to write, "WAEFRTGDQ" on the chalkboard before starting. The meaning, "When All Else Fails, Read The God-Damned Question!" and which I have used many times in my own life. His surprising addition to this short list startled even me.
4. List 5 things you'd tell your 15 year-old self, if you could.
While life might suck, at least you have your (relative) physical health and strength. Getting older can be quite painful!
There actually are some blessings in your life, and you should appreciate them. Some of them won't always be there.
Yes, studying and good grades matter, but let loose every once in a while and try to enjoy yourself.
Don't cheat on Ben. He's a decent guy, and he cares about you. And don't ever do that again, either! >:(
You're in Syracuse, New York, one of the most perfect places to learn to ski, so do it, you bonehead. One day, you'll end up in freaking Idaho!
5. What is a major strength that you have?
My husband will disagree, but he's only right when I'm pissed: I have the ability to use logic and reason in a Euclidean sort of way.
6. What is a major weakness that you have?
I lose my freakin' shit when I'm really mad. (When I'm happy-manic, yay, baking is happening! When I'm angry-manic, you'd better watch the F out.)
7. Describe the family dynamic of your childhood versus your family dynamic now.
Huge pile of shit (then)
Unicorn farts... Capisce?
8. What popular notion do you feel that the world has most wrong?
That Climate Change is not real, and Global Warming is not happening. As a scientist, this one kills me the most, I think. These are the people in charge of legislation, FFS, and they are ruining mankind for the rest of us. Oy vey. Don't even.
9. Name three things that always cheers you up when you are down.
Seeing one of my kids accomplish something that I know was difficult for her/him to do
Coming to an understanding with someone who might ordinarily not have connected with me on a mental or emotional level
10. Name three things would you like to be remembered for?
Being a good mom to my bebes (and holy crap, my favorite author says what I say all the time to people, too!)
That I did my hardest to protect the natural resources that have been bequeathed unto me.
So many things running through my mind. Does anyone care anymore now that my dear Mamacita (Mother-in-Law, for my uninitiated pals) has departed us? I feel like she was my only audience who gave a rat's patoot, and now I should shaddup.
Of course, I won't, and then I remember my lovely teenage daughter, Chloë, loves to read my posts when she has time. The old ones about herself, especially. And so, for my beautiful curly girl, I will continue. (And I love you, Toots!)
So on January 2nd of this year, Rob and I celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary. I'm guessing no one who knows us personally thought we would hit this mark. There were times over the past decade-and-six that make me think I'm not sure how we did it, myself. But here we are, still kicking away at this marriage thing sixteen years in, and not I'm thinking we'll go far longer than we all anticipated. I love this guy an immense amount, and he loves me an immense amount, and that's pretty much kept us going. It's enough, y'all.
Now, let's discuss something which I rarely talk about: FASHION. (I know, right? Me.)
I know nothing about fashion, other than I'm no good at it and don't really mind that. So this should really be: CLOTHES MY KIDS WEAR.
First, there's this awesome boho shirt Chloë splurged her gift card money from my sister, Aunt Stacey, on. She got a couple pairs of leggings and a pair of cute socks to round out the total, and I had a coupon and a military discount, and it was after Christmas clearance time, so she did quite well. (Wherever the photo of Chloë actually showing us what it looks like, instead of, you know, a ton of curls... I can't find it. Oh, well.)
Next up, Señorita Wet Head is showing off her new LuLaRoe leggings and dress (Carly? I have no recollection which model). She loves these, and they look so awesome and feel so comfortable on her, I may have snagged a couple pairs myself.
I had no intention of getting in on the LLR craze. I really did not. But then I had an awesome friend, Summer from Virginia Beach (where from I did not meet her until a year or two after we moved away from there, which is crazy but awesome) gift Chloë with these two beauts following a Facebook conversation.
Not only do they look and feel great, Chloë and I both share nearly identical sensory issues with fabrics, and I find they will work for me, too. Here are the ones I've demanded requested from Summer:
(because I love to cook and bake, duh)
because these just sing to me. Aren't they nice? I love 'em, can't wait to get 'em.
Speaking (constantly, at least in real life) of Idaho - oh, we weren't? - I've been collecting sales for cold-weather gear. They all now have snow pants that will grow with them, boots that will (well, who knows with the ever-growing Sophia?) fit awhile, and winter coats! Chloë is dying to go downhill skiing. I am not a skier, but maybe I'll take lessons with her if I can brace against the cold long enough. I've gone cross-country skiing, which I enjoyed, but a lot chicken about the other kind. On the other hand, Chloë is afraid of the ski lift, and I can't wait to go on that!
Sophia wants to go snow boarding, and Jack just wants to play in the snow, I guess. I don't know what he'll end up doing. I suspect I'll be nursing hot cocoa next to him in the lodge while the others frolic in the cold and snow, most of the time!
And now for another topic that is omnipresent lately: COOKING.
I don't always fail when it comes to cooking. I don't remember this so much, but I made a lot of it from the CSA share we get weekly, and none of it got thrown away! (I don't remember it because of my Fibromyalgia Fog that is making me dafter and derpier than even my usual self. It's muy frustrating.)
(If you're in the Homestead area of Miami, by any chance, check out this CSA. We get ours from Bee Heaven Farm, and the foods are organic, sustainably-raised produce. This year, we also get a small Mediterranean food share from one of the CSA-connected farms. I've enjoyed that a bunch. We have gotten Rachel's eggs from there and have even sought out more such foods at the Pinecrest Farmer's Market on Sundays. Pretty awesome stuff.)
Anyway, so sometimes I make decent stuff, and I don't get injured in the process.
And then, last Sunday night was different. As a semi-vegetarian (sometime-pescetarian here), I haven't had a steak in over 20 years. I don't know how to cook one! But I bought these sirloin steaks from Publix on the hunch that maybe extremely-picky (and tiny!) Jack would eat it and like it. In 16 years of marriage, I had never cooked Rob a steak, so I was all equipped with my Interwebs knowlij and ready to make it.
Fail. Fail, fail, fail.
Sure, I was able to 'gram the above photo of Rob's plate (that sourdough from Publix was amazeballs, btw). But then he cut into it, and that was not Pinterest-worthy. It wasn't done nearly enough. So I threw the steaks back in the searing-hot pan and started cooking it more thoroughly.
I ended up burned and bandaged when I grabbed the hot pan a little too hastily and splashed the tiny bit of hot EVOO I was using so as not to burn the steak. That was after the apartment filled up with smoke and all five detectors starting screaming and rioting. Oh, my gosh, it's funny now, but at the time I was not laughing!
Here's how it looks a few days later (scroll past quickly if you're squeamish or cranky about boo-boo pictures):
The amazingly miraculous thing was, I used my Young Living lavender essential oil on the burn, as I had read was a THING, and you guys, it totally took away the pain. I had zero pain after that, none after the bandages came off, none ever. It blows my MIND.
(I haven't even talked much about my Young Living oils on this blahg, because I don't want to be coming off as the scientist who lost her marbles, but I am totally having an epic experience with the essential oils. I don't even care if it's a placebo effect but they help me. I lurve them.)
So yeah. Good lavender oil on a burn is a thing. Who knew?
I used two 13-oz (I think) packages of Hillshire Farms Turkey Sausage instead of ground Italian sausage.
I had no celery, so I just put in extra diced onions. Why not?
I didn't have the Great Northern beans, so I put in small red beans and red kidney beans as requested.
I didn't put in dry pasta, because we had leftover orecchiette in the fridge. It turned out far paste al dente, of course, but it was fine for this time.
I had no chicken broth, so I put in water and some Lipton onion soup mix. Maybe don't do that, but it was fine.
I didn't have Parmesan, so I grated fresh Romano on it, instead.
I had mixed results with the kids, but Rob loved it and had eaten the whole pot (and it was a bigg'un!) by lunchtime the following day. I'll try this one again sometime, for sure.
Meanwhile, I had ordered some $90' worth of Harry & David Royal Riviera Pears (not having paid nearly that much, but still) after Christmas that arrived looking less than regal. The replacements are being sent out to us, but in the meantime, that's a whole lotta sweet pears to use up!
Since they had been frozen in shipment sometime and were wrinkly and um, subdued, I decided to cook with them.
Jack and I decided to try the Crockpot Pear Sauce recipe from the Pretty Hungry blog. Jack did all the work himself, while I just called out steps to him to do from the computer screen. We pretty much followed the directions verbatim, and it was a good one. This recipe is, to me, perfection. We loved it. Speaking of this, I think I'll go have some more after we wrap this post!
A few final Saturday morning fragments:
Rob and I had a good short visit with Anne-Marie from Miami International Riding Club, where Sophia took lessons until breaking her wrist following a fall (her mistake) this past July 1st. (Sophia misses horses and riding desperately and will continue after we move to Idaho.) I had made horse show bows for one of Anne-Marie's young equestrian students, and she came by to pick them up. Lovely girl. Too bad Sophie was already in bed and missed her. We'll go say our good-byes before we go, of course.
Our foster-fail Chiweenie puppy, Tapioca, is just a few months shy of a year old now. She was rescued by That Black Dog Rescue, Inc. after a tough start with a litter-eating mama and too-early weaning from her bottle by the initial rescuers. She's done well except for her major chewing problem, and now she's starting to exhibit more aggression toward Rob and Jack. We'll probably end up getting her doggy therapy in Idaho. Poor thing.
And finally, I'm going to miss my subtropical South Florida flowers and balmy winter weather after we move! This photo was from earlier this month.
However, I am excited for our look forward now that moving date is just over a month and a half away! Packing has not yet begun here at Chez Odette, but we will soon start in earnest. I plan to jettison a lot of my belongings to which I am no longer feeling a strong emotional attachment. A fresh start is just what the doctor ordered.
Well, if you read this far, thanks for sticking with me through it all! I hope to keep up more regularly and redevelop my readership and my blogging mojo. Famous last words from me, but I'm gonna try.
I haven't been blogging for a while, and I'll explain why later... But it has been so long since I did, I almost forget how!
"Fibro(myalgia) Fog" has overtaken my brain so much that I often forget how I got to bed the night before or any number of other things, so I can't remember what we've done for Advent since we've lived here in Miami. I love planning activities and giving treats to the kids in celebration of The One whose birth we are recognizing, so this year I put together a last-minute (though not-exactly slap-dash, as much planning and care went into it) Advent tree. With a huge amount of help from 15-year-old Chloë for the first time this year, on November 30th after Jack and Sophie went to sleep, we glued and packaged and assembled this-here Advent calendar. Voilà!!
Sophia pulling the first day's baggie down from the Advent tree
I decided to ask Chloë actually to open and disperse the contents of said baggie.
Today's treat was a pack of bubblegum for each kid. And then **drumroll, please** the reading! As you can see from Jack's face, somethin' exciting was about to happen!
This year, we decided to flip Christmas upside-down and give the kids their big gift on the FIRST day of Advent, rather than on Christmas Day. And why not? Who says we can't? Nobody, that's who! So, what was it?
XBOX ONE! With the Minecraft Bundle! The kids ALL wanted the Xbox One for purposes of updated game-playing, and both girls really wanted to play Minecraft. That seems to be a craze that is not going anywhere anytime soon. So, yay! And that's genuine joy on Jack's face!
I wasn't able to get a photo of Jack with the big game he wanted, because he ripped it open so fast and accidentally ripped off the cover in his haste to start playing it. Boy-child LOVES his Farming Simulator on his tablet, and he wanted the '17' for Xbox exceedingly much. Trust me, this child has been asking to play this game as often as he breathes. School? What school?
(Just kidding. To his chagrin, there must still be school.)
But why did we flip Christmas upside-down this year, you might ask? (Well, even if you didn't, I'm still gonna tell ya.) Because... I bought this 3-month Xbox Live Gold membership (if I said that wrong, it's because I'm a total gaming n00b, so forgive me) (see, I know that much), and I accidentally redeemed it when I bought it. Heh heh! So... I kind of forced myself into giving the gift early so as not to waste any of those three months! Silly me!
THE UNBOXING! Woohoo! Let the games begin!
I haven't been blogging for over a month, because I feel like I've lost my audience and because of that, my voice. You see, I started this blog over 10 years ago to keep our far-flung family and friends apprised of our excruciatingly important (ha) goings-on. Mainly, my audience consisted of the rapt attention of my dear mother-in-law.
A couple of months ago, Mamacita as I fondly called her, passed away.
I'm crying even as I write this, because even though I wasn't her child by birth, and I was often the problem child by marriage (trust me when I say that I am difficult and I know that I am difficult), I loved her. I loved her and her involvement with our family and with the kids' upbringings.
She sent decorations for Christmas (from Missouri, where she lived until moving to Louisiana to be closer to Rob's sister Gail in the last year). She requested the kids' homeschool reading book lists each year, and each year a box would come from Amazon with many of my selections inside, waiting for the children when the time was right. She sent her love, she sent her heart, she sent her spirit, with every box that came.
I know, I know. Easter isn't for 2½ more weeks. But all the memes on Facebook and Pinterest get my craft bug itchin' to do something new, and after all, eggs were on sale!
I may have overbought? That's five dozen eggs, folks - minus the three I broke while hard-boiling them. Oh, don't worry. Those were still boiled and eaten, too!
Now you may say, and rightly so, that hard-boiling isn't necessary because the raw eggs will take dye better than boiled ones. While that may be true, I'm glad I did decide to boil every last egg. Sophia alone must have dropped a half-dozen eggs in the Egg-Dyeing Skirmish of 2016!
The first undertaking involved about a dozen eggs and a dozen bottles of nail polish. Rob and I ran to CVS, where the cheapest bottles of polish were 99¢ Wet 'n' Wild bottles, also on sale this week for Buy One, Get One Half-Off. Yes, I bought an odd number, which ruined my bottom line, but no signs were on the WNW stuff. Oh well. There were $1.49 bottles of another brand, Eternal, so I snagged up five of those to bring our total to an even twelve and have more color variation for the kids.
One thing I did not remember to buy was nailpolish remover. Make sure you get it, kids, because this project is messy.
Jack did not want to participate, as he doesn't like arts and crafts, and he doesn't like being messy. That left the girls and me. I let the lady-babies divvy up the bottles into three groups of four or four groups of three; they chose the latter. For instructional material, I recommend this post on the blog Hello Glow. Or this post, 'cause I'm gonna tell you how we did it. First up: neon green, glittery silver, and tangerine.
I didn't want to sully any of our good Fiesta dishes, or ruin our towels, so I had to go the dreaded disposable route for this project: paper towels and plastic Solo cups, along with Dixie plates and bowls. We ended up using six different cups for this project, as the girls ended up wanting to change their color combinations after the first go-round. You'll want to fill the cups pretty full with room temperature water. Too cold or too warm, and the nail polish drops right to the bottom and ruins a good time.
I drizzled the three different colors chosen in the top of the water, and Sophia decided to have the first crack at it. She held the egg at the poles and tried rolling it around in the water. That... semi worked, but it only covered half the egg. I needed to add more paint to the cup and let her dunk the other half.
Also, unlike us, maybe use breathing masks and do this outside or in a well-ventilated area, because the fumes were noxious. All three of us were complaining, but all three of us were too stubborn to have done anything about it. So take my advice with a grain of salt.
Chloë chose the next color combination of glittery violet, raspberry, and shimmery gold.
I also bought toothpicks for spider-webbing the colors together, but as you'll see later, that proved to be an unnecessary purchase. Also, the paint clings to the wooden stick, so it was doubly wasteful. And y'all know how much I truly hate waste!
Oh yeah, also wear aprons or art shirts if you do this, because drips and dribbles will inevitably happen. And don't do it on your good dinner table unless, like ours, it already needs refinishing. Newspaper is your friend.
See why the toothpicks are not necessary? For the third try of black, turquoise and purple, I just drizzled the nail colors in different swirly patterns. They pretty much stay put on the water's surface, so there is no worry that they will seep in and blend together.
However, Chloë liked using the toothpicks, so whatever. Maybe get some if you have multiple kids and want to let them each try doing things her own way.
Eggs starting to dry on the paper will stick. You could try spraying the paper plates, if you use them, with a little Pam or other cooking spray.
The fourth color combo of yellow, baby pink and baby blue seemed to go on the eggs the best. It also poured out of the bottles more easily. For 50¢ more per bottle, it might be worth it to spring for a slightly better product.
On the other hand, glitter did not go on the eggs well. And we emptied several of the twelve bottles of color I bought just for this product, so don't use your good manicure colors. Paws off my Jafra Nail Lacquers, ladies!
I found our eggs didn't quite have the beautiful marbling off the ones on Hello Glow, but they still looked cool nonetheless. And I liked trying a new technique with the kiddos.
This egg looked almost floral to me. Do you see it, too?
One positive attribute of our interestingly-colored eggs: major SHINE factor!
Sophia complained that her fingers were covered in polish, but she had a lot of fun just the same. Both girls agreed that this was definitely a repeatable process for future generations of eggs.
Even Chloë, who also does not appreciate getting dirty and who is my perfectionist child, enjoyed this activity. I was mostly there to guide and take pictures, so I liked not having to get dirty myself! In other words, parents of toddlers may want to hold off on this one for a few years.
After we had a little trouble with getting polish to stick to the eggs nicely, I reread the original Hello Glow blog post. I came back and told the girls to DUNK the eggs straight down and back up again, rather than roll the eggs in the top of the water/paint combination.
That was the trick; it worked beautifully.
It also led to even messier fingers!
Yet another color combo
Sophie lent a hand to her big sister in smoothing the polish around to the uncovered parts of her egg. Judging by the latter girls' expression, maybe this wasn't entirely appreciated help...!!
For this project, I bought the cheapest can of shaving cream - not gel - at CVS for a couple of bucks, and the old-fashioned McCormick food coloring dropper thingies at Publix. I originally thought we'd use my good Wilton gel food colorings, because I have a ton of those sitting unused, but Crafty Morning specified not to use the gel kind. So I had to sent Rob out for the drops.
Sophia used an old high-edged cookie sheet for this project, which was fine because I rarely use this one anymore anyway. I let her put drops of food coloring in however much and wherever she wanted it on the shaving cream.
Chloë used our glass casserole dish, which was also fine since it wasn't permeable and any dyes would just wash off. (The spoons we used to rescue eggs from the first experiment with nailpolish didn't fare so well. I think we had to throw them away?)
The girls didn't complain as much about their fingers getting dirty swirling around the dye in the shaving cream as they might have if the fingers weren't already covered in nail polish! You could use the toothpicks, or even straws, for this swirling, but it's not as fun!
Okay, so Chloë wasn't as thrilled with the "fun" of this mess, but she got into it later on, I promise! ;)
Don't swirl up your colors too much, or the color gets a little muddy, like greenish-brown. Which is not so pretty.
Also, instead of shaving cream, you could use Cool Whip. You might want to do this anyway if you're prone to licking your fingers mid-project! But since egg shells are permeable, I read that the eggs do pick up the taste of the shaving cream and render them inedible. I don't know, though; Chloë ate several of them today with zero complaints. I haven't tried, because I am allergic to all but the Vegetarian 4 Grain eggs. :\
So for this project, you just roll the egg around in the dyed shaving cream and then plop the eggs on a dish to dry for ten minutes. Easy-peasy.
Of course, the eggs are covered with fluffy cream while they're drying, but this will come off later in the process. I let the ladies color as many eggs this way as they desired, and there were still plenty of cream and dye left in their pans for more eggs after that.
The drying eggs set for ten minutes. I let the girls play Minecraft on their tablets to take a break, while I set the timer on the microwave. I had hope that the eggs would be this vibrant in the end, but...
Ten minutes later, I had the girls dry off their shaving-cream caked eggs to see the final results.
Sophia was a bit shocked at how pastel-y pale her egg turned out to be!
True, some eggs turned out more colorized than others. I'm not sure why this is.
I liked the cloudy nature of the eggs. Definitely an interesting method of egg-coloring.
We went through a lot of paper towels for this project, I will say. Maybe 2/3 of a roll?!
Sophia's finished shaving-cream eggs. Oops, looks like another cracked, dropped egg there on the bottom right. She had the dropsies!
Chloë's shaving cream eggs, with that purty blue-green one in the center.
We still had two dozen undyed eggs left over, and the girls wanted to try another method, so I decided to just go the McCormick food coloring route. We used the box and our own minds to make dusty pink, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet. Creative thinkin' there, I know...
Chloë's beautiful eggs - after only five minutes in the dye baths! White wine vinegar was what we used, instead of regular white vinegar. Maybe that's why they're so bright?
Sophia had a lot of fun with this project, as did her big sis. In the end, we all had a great time, and I'm glad we decided to forego the PAAS kits this year. Much more fun and creative this way! Have you ever done any of these methods? What's your favorite way to color eggs?
Black-and-white portrait of the man I love, Robert Allen Odette
So, I haven't blogged as much this infant year as I had planned, because I became even sicker than I had been all throughout the latter half-plus of 2015. That sucked. Basically, I had my iron infusion chemotherapy on December 21st and 28th, and I did not react well to it. I had a semi-kinda-fake-it-'til-you-make-it rally on New Year's Eve, when we went to South Beach for the big par-tay. And then I rested a whole bunch on New Year's Day, before we drove up to Orlando on the 2nd of January to celebrate Rob's and my 15th wedding anniversary.
Well. That sucked. That was actually for a mystery shopping assignment and fun though it was, I almost did not make it home. I had to stop and rest several times along the way, once for several hours, because I was in excruciating pain again. I never did complete that report. That was a Sunday.
By Tuesday, I was calling my father and my BFF, "Dr. Lisa," to say my good-byes. No, I did not call my sister yet at that time, because I knew she would rush down if I told her that I needed her to come help with the kids and Rob after my demise, and I was hoping for a Hail Mary.
Well, obviously, I got my Hail Mary! We still aren't sure what happened yet, because my ER lab results and my primary care doctor are calling it iron toxicity from an overdose of the chemo, but my hem/oncologist swears that I received the correct dose. So, I have no idea, other than that my death definitely seemed imminent but was clearly averted.
I spent a ridiculous amount of time lying on the couch recovering from that episode. I felt like I got NOTHING accomplished for the whole month other than recuperating. I did, however, manage to take a bunch of pictures of stuff, and lo and behold, as I discovered last night, that means I actually did stuff worthy (at least to me, so, good enough folks!) of that photography. I'm going to share it all here because, uh, that's kinda the purpose of this interwebular space, amirite?
Black-and-white profile of my sleeping beauty, Sophia Lorelei
This is from the 8th of January, when Sophia was feeling poorly from a yucky cold virus, and I was feeling poorly from all the aforementioned whatever-the-feck. We were lying together on Rob's lap, if you can discern his camouflage trousers in my sepia tones. A selfie? I asked. Of course, she responded. Snap
I rarely wear jeans, and never wear boots - certainly not leather ones - so when Rob pulled out my man-made pleather knee-highs from the depths of our closet, I decided to go for it and rock the cowgirl look at one of Sophia's showjumping lessons. Or something. No stetson atop my head, though. The big accomplishment here, though, is that I was up and about, ready to attend her lessons again!
That night, I felt like crap again and learned that my recovery would not come all at once but in slow bursts and small backslides each day and night. I rested and kvetched about how miserable I was... so much so that my awesome hubs asked what he could do to make my awful night better. Five minutes later, he was giving me his first pedicure. Not a bad job, either! ♥
Puppy love from Otterbox (Otto von Dieter) and the Doodle (Paco)
Rob and I, starting our 16th year of wedding bliss, are connecting on a whole 'nother level lately. Our marriage has had some really high highs and some really low lows, but right now we are absolutely soaring. It takes work, every day, absolutely. But we are both crazier about each other now than when we first began this story of true love.
Rob and Jack both received NERF guns from Grandpa Al & Grandma Denise (thanks, y'all!) for Christmas, and Jack received several more from Ye Olde Maw an' Paw, so the boys were thirsting for an old-fashioned (water) gun fight! Okay, so that wasn't truly an accomplishment of mine, per se, but at least I got up off my duff and out the door to take some piccies!
On Wednesday, my neighbor drove Sophia and me to see my hem/oncologist. Sophia had a lesson right afterward, and I could not drive. The visit went well, I had blood drawn, blah blah blah. Afterward, our vecino, Frank, insisted us taking to the Sports Grille next door for a bite to eat before her lesson. Selfie time for me and Sophie!
And here's that neighbor, Frank, with me watching Sophia's lesson that day. He absolutely loved watching her ride Buddy. Frank clapped and cheered, and he called her a champion! It was really fun watching it through his fresh eyes, and it's true. On Wednesday, Sophie really did an amazing job!
Sophia walking Buddy to get saddled up
Buddy doesn't like to get his riding gear on, and he gets a little nippy. Once ridden, though, he's a gentle giant. He loves Sophia, though - and that might be due in no small part to her bringing him a treat at the beginning and end of each lesson!
Sophia had achievements in January, too. She and buddy jumped together for the first time, and she got up to a canter, too! Way to go, kiddo!
It looks so freeing...
This is the only picture I have gotten of Sophie and Buddy jumping so far, but there been many perfect jumps since then. Gosh, I'm so proud of how far she's come in just four short months!
Sweet sign made by one of the other 'horsey moms'
Craftiness happened this month, too. I was bound and determined not to let the extreme pain in all my joints stop me from doing what I really love and find so calming: knitting. So... I started with this top for myself (and yes, some champagne might have been involved in a few mishaps there):
But, they're fixable.
I'm pretty happy with it, even though I would do a Small instead of a Medium next time, and extend the belly ribbing so it covers more of my, uh, mommy pooch... lol. But it's good. I might even wear it out one day?!
All the kids got onboard with Mommy knitting again, and all have asked for projects for themselves. We had a bit of a cold snap there, and Sophie already loves gloves and mittens, so together we picked out a pattern that's a combo of both.
Meet Tatiana. Yes, there are booboos and it's a bit tight, but my fingers are out of practice and frankly, my eyes just don't see as well anymore! But Sophie is happy and that's what matters. Now to work on the bottom halves some...
Speaking of craftiness, Jack and Sophia received their Tinker and Doodle Crates for the month, respectively. Their arrival is always a fun day.
For Jack's project, he had to build a gravity game. He really enjoys doing the Tinker Crates along with the YouTube videos for each one, so his tablet was trotted out for the assist.
I told Jack that if he could get the ball into the 50-point hole at the end, he could have a day off from Math work. Guess who had the next day off from Math?!
Sophia's project was about Watercolor Painting, which is something she knows and loves.
She had to learn about color gradients, which was new and challenging for her. And then she painted some dishes, including my FiestaWare, which, um... was NOT okay with me!!! (But now I can laugh. A bit.)
For a bit more craftiness, Sophia fashioned these awesome sandals out of fallen palm fronds. I got a kick out of it!
I needed a lot of help to get out to Bee Heaven Farm this month, which is where we get our weekly CSA shares, but Rob, Sophia, and Frank were happy to help me get there and get our box of fresh, local, organic goods!
You know what fresh food means? Cooking. This first dish, I went pretty simple: Salad. I wilted the kale first and did a stir-fry with some watermelon radish, some kind of pepper I forget the name of, and then just threw it together with pecans and shredded Colby Jack. Meh, it was all right, but Rob had to finish my dose portion.
A made-up dish: fried egg with (also-fried) French Couscous, topped with a conglomerate of stir-fried veggies from Bee Heaven Farm. And Spanish peanuts. I guess I was going for a whole fusion thing? I dunno, but it was tasty.
Kitchen Sink Mashed Potatoes
I don't think any of this was comfort food fare was from the farm, but that's okay. During my recuperation from the chemo debacle, I ate and ate and ate like a mofo! I've never eaten so much in the seven years post-op. And I still lost weight! It was cray-cray. Anyway, I used to make this in my poverty-ridden days as a vegetarian college student: loaded mashed potatoes. I add corn, sautéed Vidalia onions, cheese (I loves me some cheesy goodness), garlic... and all kindsa' salt, pepper, milk and butter. Mmm. So. Freaking. Good!
I made Ethiopian food for the first time ever! This vegan Gomen Wat was soooo good, I ate like five platefuls. Okay, maybe six? I'm definitely going to make it again. And no, I didn't serve it on a beautious bed of injera, because... um. Because and that's why.
Southwestern Chili Mac
Chloë wanted to hone her cooking chops in the kitchen with me one night when I was too manic to cook, so I somewhat crazily guided her through the recipe from Hello Fresh for Butternut Squash and Sage Risotto with Feta and Pepitas. She somehow, despite my sabotage, managed to pull off a stellar dish! Rob and I inhaled the goodness she made. Way to go, Chlo!
Sophia wanted to join her sister in preparing a meal the kids would actually eat, and she lovingly put together a vermicelli and sauce dinner for the three of them. (There was supposed to be garlic bread too, but Mom forgot to keep reminding her to check the oven and, well, I'm just glad we didn't burn the house down.) Well done, ladies! ♥
I baked a scrummy loaf of bread, nothing fancy but tasty as all-get-out.
Jack and the girls pal around with the neighborhood kids, so one day while they held yet another NERF gun fight, I baked them up some peanut butter cookies to share with their friends. That plate came back EMPTY. Go, Mom. (Yes, I did diligently check for allergies first.)
I had never fried plantains before, in all my years of living in South Florida, though I sure have enjoyed eating my share of them! We did a quickie grocery trip to Publix and talked about making our own, at which point I just thought, Why not now? Some super-green plantains, a bunch of kosher salt, and a healthy squeeze of lemon, et voilá! Talk about tasty. I'll definitely be doing that again!
One week, our CSA box came with two of the most beautiful, juicy red grapefruits you ever wished to have. Oh. Em. Gee. (NO accomplishment here, I just wanted to drool over it some more. Moving on...)
I had planned on making these Honeyed Butternut Squashes from the CSA box myself, but after chopping up two good-sized gourds, I was petered out. Rob had to finish the cooking for me himself, and he did an amazeballs job. They ended up too sweet for my grumpy pouch, Oscar, and I experienced a lot of Dumping Syndrome. But I swear, I would've eaten them all if I could have!
And lastly - but surely not least - on the cooking front, I made some of my favorite Artisanal Rustic Pizzas. The dough recipe comes from a back issue of Martha Stewart Living but the toppings are my creation. The kids don't like my fanciful ideas, so I made them a plain cheese-and sauce one. Only, we only had cheddar in the house and no sauce, so I had to improvise and make some sauce from scratch. Jack didn't care for it - he's no cheese fan (tha' heck?!) - but the girls devoured every last piece of Pizza #1.
Pizza #2 was the same but with a bunch of roasted organic scallions from the BHF CSA box on top. I unvented a different homemade sauce for that one. Rob is lucky he had any of that one, because I snatched up every last piece after he had his share!
Pizza #3 was way more unconventional: a third different homemade sauce, using torn-up fresh organo from the CSA box. Cheddar cheese, natch. And for toppers? I threw on chopped walnuts, pea sprouts from BHF, capers, and a drizzle of honey. I didn't think I would like that. My scale says the opposite! (Rob loved it, also.)
Whew. Now I'm getting hungry!
Random January blooms in the neighborhood
Rob and I were startled to find Jack, Sophia, and a neighborhood boy carrying a box with this "abandoned" duckling in it one day. They insisted its mother had left it and gone swimming with the rest of her brood. Of course, I had my camera with me. They took the ducky out of its box, I snapped a picture or two, and then... he waddled off, like a bat out of hell! Ahaha. So much for being helpless.
Here, leezard, leezard...
Just an anole visitor who ran away from me at the horse farm after I let out a belly-bursting sneeze
Lest you were thinking you'd get away from me without sharing some puppy pix... heeeeere's PACO! ♥
Otterbox is really a beautiful GSD, but he's hard to photograph well sometimes. Anyway, this month, Robert declared that he has chosen ME as "his person," which about blew my heart up with joy. Our previous German Shepherd, Tiger Lily, was supposed to be my dog, but she chose Rob for her person. The exact opposite happened this time. And I love Otty-bot soooo much. He was a bit of trouble at first, but now he is just the most fun, loving, sweet thing, and I'm glad he is a part of our wackadoodle family!
And that's about it for the round-up! Here's another cookie, if you read the whole danged thing.
Would you rather be stuck on an island alone or with someone who talks incessantly?
I am that person, and I drive myself crazy. I would rather be alone if the other person talks as much as I do!
Would you rather be too hot or too cold?
I'm rarely warm enough, thanks to my internal thermostat being broken after my Gastric Bypass Surgery in '09. I would SO much rather be too warm, but alas, I am always, always cold.
Would you rather have a cook or a maid?
I love to cook, but I hate to clean. That maid is a no-brainer!
Would you rather be the youngest or the oldest sibling?
I don't know. I am the youngest of two, four, or five, depending on how you count the offspring from my childhood. I feel like I wish I was the oldest, because I have no backbone whatsoever, and I can be selfish and petty and spoiled like a baby. But, I am what I am, and it can't be changed other than to address it head-on! (Which I do try.)
Would you rather get rich through hard work or through winning the lottery?
Gotta play to win it big, and I don't play.
Would you rather have a 10-hour dinner with a headstrong politician from an opposing party, or attend a 10-hour concert for a music group you detest?
What, like Donald Trump? Or Ben Carson? Or Marco Rubio? Or the league of other guys - and Carly Fiorina - vying to become POTUS? I couldn't handle a 2-hour dinner, let alone ten of them. No, I'd rather go to a country music concert or something else I detest. #DontGetMeStarted
Would you rather be an Olympic gold medalist or a Nobel Peace Prize winner?
I would obviously rather win the Nobel Peace Prize. I would have done something good for humanity. Being an Olympian - gold or otherwise - does not preclude that, but it doesn't guarantee it, either.
Would you rather have a desk job or an outdoor job?
I have had both. The desk job, for me, was a snooze-fest all day, every day, week in and week out. No, I need to be out in the field, communing with nature, breathing in fresh air... ahh. Yes.
Would you rather live at the top of a tall NYC apartment building or at the top of a mountain?
I must be a stay-home mom (I am), because my first thought was, "Either way, think of the groceries I'll have to lug up there!" Ha! Living in NYC for a year is on my Bucket List; living at the top of a mountain is not, so I'll go with the Big Apple.
Would you rather have Rambo or The Terminator on your side?
I don't really know enough about either one; not my genre. I can't comment on it. Sorreh!
Would you rather be proposed to in private or in front of family and friends?
I was proposed to privately, and it was exactly the way it should have been - for me. And then we eloped and, to get married in front of family and friends and God, we had a small, calm, quiet wedding on the beach. I wore a $17 slip nightgown from Kmart and was barefoot; hubs wore his Navy dress blues. I had an inexpensive grocery store bouquet, and my friends sang and played guitar for the music. It was very tasteful, very small, and very us. I loved it. I would not have wanted it any other way.
Would you rather have to sew all your clothes or grow your own food?
I'm a beginner at both, but I love both ideas. I could knit much of our clothes better than sew, and I'm not the best gardener, but I find both ideas very appealing. This photo shows what I just picked up yesterday from the farm that hosts our local CSA. We joined our first one this year, and I'm SO excited! I used a bit of the mizuna and some of the garlic chives to make homemade sauce last night, and it was outstanding!
Would you rather hear the good news or the bad news first?
I would rather hear whichever one is the bottom line last, so that I can act appropriately.
Would you rather be your own boss or work for someone else?
Wouldn't everyone rather be their own boss? Actually, I don't mind working for someone else, as long as the job is right. It's a bit of a trade-off for me.
Would you rather have nosy neighbors or noisy neighbors?
I would rather have noisy neighbors, which we do, over nosy ones, which we also do. Both are annoying, but at least the noisy ones leave us the hell alone! Gahhh, I can't wait until we move...
Would you rather be on a survival reality show or dating game show?
I don't know... I think I'd rather be on Survivor, because at least I will have gone somewhere really cool and not lived out my dating drama publicly.
Would you rather be too busy or be bored?
Only boring people get bored. I am never bored. I am often too busy, but I definitely prefer that over being bored. I can't remember the last time I wasn't actively - or even passively - doing something.
Would you rather watch the big game at home or live at the stadium?
I'd rather be there, where the action is! We went to our (U. Miami) homecoming game this year, and we won! That was epic. (Sorry, Country Dew...)
Would you rather spend the day with your favorite athlete or you favorite movie star?
You're offering me Matt Damon or...what again?? ::drool::
Would you rather live where it is constantly winter or where it is constantly summer?
I took this picture earlier this month. I have lived in Syracuse, New York, and I have lived in Miami in the past. I only went back to Miami. It's a no-brainer for me!
Finding Nemo, of course! And yes, I did just go to Kohl's and get a Dory stuffy for my bed, because like I recently mentioned, she is so me! And she shall be my squishy.
Have you ever painted a house?
The outside? No. But I had painted the interior walls of our Virginia Beach house every color of the rainbow. Except puce and chartreuse. It's driving me insane living in a box with white walls right now, y'all.
What's the tallest tree you've ever climbed?
I used to climb the tree in our front yard in Monroe, NY, until we moved when I was six. At the time, it seemed huge... now, I'm not so sure it was much bigger than a stick. Who knows?
Do you always wear identical socks?
Dudes. I can count on zero fingers the number of times I've worn socks at all in the past year. I live for being barefoot!
Do you live by any motto or philosophy?
My motto has long been: "If you want something done right the first time, you've got to do it yourself."
Do you lick the yogurt or dessert lid?
Of course! Isn't that the best part?!
Do you lick the spoon clean after making something sweet?
Before children, of course. After children, I have to divvy up the spoon, the beater, and the bowl amongst the three of them!
Have you ever played the bongos?
On Halloween 2000, the night before we "met" online, Hubs went as a bongo-playing beatnik to a costume party. We still have those bongos. I, of course, have played them (however badly) on numerous occasions. They are now adorned with artwork from our youngest child, Sophia, who has came out of the womb wielding crayons...
Have you ever handled a snake?
When my sister was 16, she was emancipated, and she lived with her future husband - and Jade, a Florida King snake. I used to hold Jade and let her wriggle and writhe all over me. I was 15 and probably held her until I graduated at 17. I don't think I've held a snake since then...
Have you ever assembled furniture by yourself?
I have, even IKEA furniture. When Hubs was in the hospital one of the first times with his brain tumor, we had the kids up in Fort Lauderdale with friends for the extended visit. One night, I went all gung-ho and built the girls' dressers myself. It took ALL night, but I got it done. Woot!
When did you last go to the beach?
I was in Key West on Wednesday with the family. All Sophia (our artistic youngest child) wanted to do was wade in the water. We ate dinner - and yes, I had a rather large and delicious piña colada - shopped for towels since we hadn't brought any, and walked around endlessly to look for our cars after NOT wading in the water. I think she is still holding a grudge. We'll go back to Key West in the next week or two. Need anything? Gal??
When if ever did you last go to London?
The last time I was in London was in a previous life, I guess. It's still sitting on my bucket list. I'll get there. Ain't dead yet!
What do you do to cool down when it's hot?
Listen. I'm probably the only idiot in Miami who needs a heating pad. Too hot? You must be crazy. (My gastric bypass surgery took away my ability to regulate my body temperature. It's a curse my family must live with. MWAHAHAHA...)
What's the most unusual thing you've ever eaten?
Probably sea urchin sushi, which I highly do NOT recommend. I nearly barfed.
Do you have a favorite mug?
This is my mug, and I love it. Meh.
Do you know any self-defense or martial arts?
Not really. When we were in high school, we learned the bare minimum of self-defense, which consisted of "Grab, Twist and Pull" the testicles of any male attacker. That's pretty much all I got out of it, anyway. I've never used it...
Who's your favorite movie action hero?
Lately it's Iron Man. I'm not really an action movie type of girl, but let's face it: Robert Downey, Jr. is HOT.
Have you ever ridden a motorcycle?
I've ridden on the back of the bike with my uncle (scary on purpose) and my husband (scary NOT on purpose). I'm not a huge fan of either, but I'm too chicken to learn to drive one myself.
Do you collect anything?
I collect shot glasses. I just had to buy my third case. And yes, I have actually used a few of them, once or twice...
Is there anything you wish would come back into fashion?
I don't know or care much about fashion. I wear what I like.
Do you stick to conventional fashions or like to try and be original?
Like I just said... I wear what I like. Haters be damned. :P
Have you ever given someone a handmade present?
I have. Sometimes you win some, sometimes you don't. Meh.
If you could have any feature from an animal what would you want?
Wings. I want freakin' wings. I want to fly. Someday... if it's the last thing I do...! ;)
A long time ago, maybe five or six years, we received our first Kiwi Crate for the kiddos.
Sorry for the mess, but you know what? It's always a mess in Casa de Odette, so I guess I can't apologize forever...
Anyway, the Crates were a HUGE hit, and now I'm super excited that they have Tinker Crates (for Jack's type of kid) and Doodle Crates (for Sophia's) for the older crowd, too!
This morning, Sophia woke up to discover her latest Doodle Crate was here! It took approximately 15 seconds for her to rush over, pick up the box, and open it. That's just a little excitement right there, folks!
This month's theme was Terrarium, and wow! I thought Sophia did a beautiful job setting hers up. She thoroughly enjoyed this activity. I can't wait to see how it grows and develops!
Also in the kit, she even got to make a clay "Jellyfish" with plant tentacles. So cute! I forget where she said she was hanging it up, but I'm sure she already has...
Thanks again, Kiwi Crate, for another wonderful kit! Stay tuned for more on Jack's upcoming Tinker Crate in the next few days! ;)
1. Most unflattering hairstyle you ever had? What made it so unflattering?
When I shaved my head 2½ years ago in a fit of bipolar mania, that was pretty unattractive. Unless no-hair doesn't count as a hairstyle. I think it should. I have no occiput, which makes the shape of my head non-conducive to going bald. Ugh.
2. Favorite movie(s) that were made in the 90's?
"I'll never let go, Jack." - Titanic, probably my favorite 90s movie. 3. Do you rent movies? If so, from where?
We have Amazon Prime, Netflix streaming and, when that's just not enough, we rent movies from the ol' Redbox down the road. I have a billion codes for free movies, so I only pay for them when I forget to return them by 9 PM the next night. Which is always. 4. Do you like cookies better when they're just out of the oven or after they've cooled?
If the chocolate chip cookies make it out of dough form, IDGAF whether they're warm or cooled. Get in my belleh!!! (and the kids wonder why I don't bake more often. I never met a CCC I didn't love.) 5. Do you still talk to the person who gave you your first kiss?
No. And I would, except his wife blocked me on Facebook, because she's apparently deluded into thinking he's actually a "catch." Um. Not. 6. Did you go to pre-school? If so, what was the name of it?
Nope, I was advanced and went straight to kindergarten. Don't hate. ;) 7. How do you take your coffee?
Enough cream to make it the color of Bambi - flavored, please, but I prefer hazelnut over peppermint, for the love - and depending whether it's a Grande or Venti (because Tall is for weenies, amirite) - three Splendas. I can't do real sugar, 'else I would.
Really, if I go to Starbucks, more likely than not, I'm getting a Grande or Venti Java Chip Frappuccino "Light" with coconut milk. That shit is GOOD. I still only drink a third of it before I get pukey, so the kids usually finish the rest. 8. Do you like fuzzy things?
I'm a fan of Albert Einstein, so picking this image was a no-brainer. Of course I like fuzzy things. It's the opposite of, say, coarse sandpaper. Which is my least favorite thing on the planet. Eww. 9. Favorite kind of chocolate?
White chocolate is dead to me. Dark chocolate is okay, but MILK CHOCOLATE IS WHERE IT'S AT, people! 10. Are you more optimistic or pessimistic?
I'm definitely an idealist, and that does not translate well to pessimism. The few times I'm cynical about something, it's "write this down on the calendar" noteworthy! 11. What about peopleofwalmart.com? Do you think the site is mean, funny, or both?
I have this motto: "Anything is okay, as long as it's funny." However, I don't find something that denigrates other people to be the standard by which humor should be measured, so it is not okay in my book. NOT funny. 12. Do you like fat sandwiches? If so, what does your favorite one have on it?
I have a small jaw, so not too fat, please. My favorite sandwich is tuna from Subway on an Italian herbs and cheese roll. I put on Provolone cheese, lettuce, cucumbers, and oil and vinegar. Heavy on the acetic acid. 13. One restaurant you'd never been to but would like to go to?
There's a restaurant here in Homestead, Florida, called Mario's that is something of a fixture. They serve Cuban cuisine. It comes highly recommended to me, but I have yet to go. Soon, I hope... 14. Last time you got a haircut? Do you need one?
I just got one at the beginning of the month. I was overdue. I'm good now. My stylist asked me to model for his web page when get it to the length and exact cut we want. Cool, huh? Little ol' me?!
15. What's your favorite pattern for clothing (stripes, plaid, etc.)?
I like mixing patterns, but truth be told, my favorite pattern is paisley. I've never owned a single paisley thing. Why not? Gonna have to get me some. And not Brad. 16. What's your age backwards?
I'll be 39 years old on my next birthday. I'm kind of stuck on that fact and couldn't get around to actually reversing the digits. When did I get so old? 17. When you see typos in a survey, do you correct them?
Of course I do. I'm a Grammarly fan, aren't you? 18. When was your last vacation? Did you go someplace special?
We went to Playa del Carmen, near Cancun, Mexico, in November. It was our first getaway as a couple since, I think, 2008. I guess you could call that special! We had a good time. Drinks were included, so of course it was. 19. What's your favorite kind of pancakes?
I prefer Belgian waffles. With blueberries. Or strawberries. Or bananas. Or... okay, I can't lie. I can't eat them regardless. Too many carbs. 20. Do you like movies with computer graphics, like Avatar?
Burn! And unless it's Pixar or something, then I don't think I do? 21. Do you know how to sew?
I sewed these shorts for Jack and Sophia when they were itty-bitties, when I was going through my sewing phase. I went a little crazy sewing at the time. Let's just say, thank goodness I knit better than I sew. I just couldn't really get the hang of it! 22. Are you good at wrapping gifts?
I can be when I want to be, and usually I want to be. 23. Do you like flavored yogurt?
Yes, but if it doesn't have strawberries in it, I pretty much don't want it. 24. How old will you be in December of 2015?
We covered that already. 39 years old. I'm busy keeping 40 at bay, here. 25. What's the age difference between you and your siblings?
My oldest half-sister, Pamela, is... I have no clue how many years old. Maybe 50? I really don't know. I've never met her, and I probably never will. My sister, Stacey, just turned 40. She's 17 months older than I am. I'm the baby of the family. I'm pretty awesome, but I can be a spoiled, self-indulgent brat. I'm not my own biggest fan...!
Now that I'm finished, I'm going to go pop a Tramadol. And then probably another Fioricet. Pain sucks. I wish I could get off this merry-go-round; it's no fun!
Rarely. It's not a "yes" or "no" question for me, because normally I am not jealous of much. However, there have been a few instances in my life when the green-eyed monster came out and surprised me. I'm more jealous of my children getting attached to someone other than Mommy than of, say, Hubs checking out a hot chick!
When is the next time you’re traveling out of state?
We left Miami last night and spent the night in Palm Beach, which is practically like leaving the country - does that count?
Can you write your name in a foreign language?
"your name in a foreign language"
Yup, just did it.
My name is my Melanie, regardless of what language I'm speaking. it doesn't change from that to something else when I'm speaking another language - or writing it. However, I can't read, like, cuneiform, so maybe it would be something else in a language with other characters than English?
When you’re getting ready for something, do you listen to music?
There are two times when I will stop listening to music: When the telly is on, and I don't want to compete with that, or when I'm listening to "IRIS" (my Samsung Galaxy S5's voice) navigate me around parts unknown.
What is your favorite day of the week?
I'm a stay-at-homeschooling mom, and my husband is retired. One day really just blends riiiiight into the next. I often don't know which one it currently is.
What is something you did yesterday and wish you could have done today?
Hubs and I went to a swanky French restaurant in West Palm Beach for a mystery shop last night. It was pretty amazing. I had a stellar companion, excellent service, and beautifully presented plating of our food. I would repeat that experience tonight if I could... but I would whisper in my own ear to order the gnocchi instead of the sheepshead (fish)!
If you woke up tomorrow and knew/spoke a different language, which language would you want it to be?
All of them. I'd be a walking Altavista Babelfish.
What did you last order online?
After I took the children to see Big Hero 6 at the theater, I immediately went home and pre-ordered the blu-ray/DVD combo pack from Amazon. It finally arrived yesterday. Woot! Such a good flick. I was extremely gratified when it won the Oscar last week.
Do you have any specific hobbies?
Read my tagline: I blog. I knit. I crochet. I scrap. And sometimes I even parent my three young children. (Not necessarily in order of importance)
What’s a song you recently discovered that you want to tell everyone about?
I'm really loving "Bills" by LunchMoney Lewis. I haven't listened to this version before now, just the radio edit.
Favorite fall or winter accessory?
I live in Miami. Your normal calendar seasons don't really apply. So I pick my nose rings, of which I have a full wardrobe. If it's the monsoon season (June through November), maybe Wellies?
What did you last eat?
I had an onion bagel with whippity cream cheese. I put entirely too much cream cheese on it, but I like it that way. And no, that isn't a gastric bypass-friendly food choice, but I was about to eat myself, I was so hungry!
Look to your left. What’s there?
That's about the size and shape of the morass that is my desk at the moment. Eleventy-billion things are on my left. How much time do you have?
How long does it take you to fall asleep?
I drink about 19 gallons of Diet Coke per diem. It rarely affects me anymore if I drink 'em, so you may be surprised to find that lately, I've been falling asleep at the drop of a hat and sleeping many hours. (Note to self: ask doctor for results of B12 and iron levels from last week's blood draw...)
Is there a TV in the room you are in?
There is one television set in our abode and yes, it is in this room. It is considerably smaller than the hole in the entertainment center, which drives my OCD-having self bonkers.
What comes to your mind when I say "red"?
"Lips," but if you said it to Chloë, 13yo daughter, she'd probably think of the album by T-Swizzle (a.k.a. Taylor Swift).
Name something you think is pointless?
I couldn't think of anything at the moment other than the turn signals on the cars of most Miami drivers (hey, I use mine, and I even told the kids earlier that when they learn to drive and see that most people here neglect theirs, they should use them anyway), so I polled the room. Here are the responses:
I don't know what I believe about that sort of thing, but I will say this: I get deja vu a LOT. I dream inane, mundane conversations and things that end up really occurring the next day or soon thereafter, all the time. It's so odd.
I am a good back-up, choir-type singer. Lead singer material, I am not, though I have always wanted to be. I had strep several times in sixth grade, and it ruined my vocal chords for good.
4) Are you a good cook?
People seem to like what I make, usually. That's good enough for me.
My brother-in-law is a chef at his own restaurant, Sycamore, in Columbia, MO. You should go; the food is excellent.
5) Are you a good artist?
Not in the fine art sense of the word, but I'm pretty good with artsy-craftsy stuff. I do believe, however, I could be a decent artist with some training.
6) Are you a good listener?
No, it's something I continually need to remind myself to do. I'm a good interrupter, a good chatterer, but listening is hard for me. #TheStruggleIsReal
7) Are you a good public speaker?
Uh, no, not at all. I do not like attention focused on me, whether it's positive or negative attention, and I have panic attacks. Crying, shaking, the whole nine. Not a good scene.
8) Are you a good babysitter?
I love babies! BAAAAABIEEEEEES!!! (I think so?)
9) Are you a good mechanic?
Not in any sense of the word!
10) Are you a good diplomat?
I try very hard to be diplomatic, fair, and tactful. Sometimes I fail, but it's important to me.
11) Are you a good employee?
I love Dilbert! ;)
I am a very good employee. My one failure is timing. I hate being late, but sometimes I am.
12) Are you a good dresser?
It's not something I really care about, so probably not.
13) Are you a good swimmer?
I'm decent, but not great. Grandma made sure that I could tread water indefinitely when I was four or five years old, though! My sister, Stacey, and I were always in the community pool when we visited her and Grandpa, and it was important to her that we could swim and tread water so we could be in the pool by ourselves if she wasn't feeling it. She watched like a hawk, though!
14) Are you a good skier?
I've never gone downhill skiing. I used to like cross-country in P.E. back in high school. We certainly had enough snow and hills in Central New York, but I didn't go out for downhill ski club. Too afraid, I think I was...
15) Are you a good gift giver?
Yes, I am! But I do appreciate appreciation in return. I recently gave a gift, and the recipient said, "Why did I get this? I wanted that!" Really? I was disgusted. Thankfully, it wasn't my own child who said that.
16) Are you a good musician?
Not really. I try, but I am pretty horrible at sightreading music. It just doesn't come naturally to me. I envy my good friend Shana's skillz, because she is a natural.
17) Are you a good comedian?
I've been told I'm funny and should do stand-up, but alas, that is like comic public speaking and... NO. Never gonna happen without drastically altering my state of consciousness.
18) Are you a good cleaner?
I am an awesome cleaner. I don't half-ass it, I clean until it's clean. However, I have 3 slobby kids (and a slobby husband), and we homeschool (and he's retired), and I do not like to waste my effort! So please don't pop in unannounced! ;)
19) Are you a good actor?
I recognize good and bad acting when I see it, and I recognize in myself that I would probably not produce the good kind.
20) Are you a good writer?
I like to think that I am, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder, isn't it?
I have a book or nine in me. I just can't seem to draw them out. I think I'm afraid of success more than I am of faillure. Time will tell.
So you may have noticed, we have a new student in Sweet Pea Academy. My pal Veronica asked me to school her 9-year-old daughter, Victoria, who was not having the greatest experience in public school. She has, perhaps, more faith in my abilities than I do. After a deep discussion with Rob, we decided to thumbs-up the idea and give it a go. Victoria joined us full-time this past Monday, November 3rd. We started with a pancake breakfast.
Usually, Rob makes the pancakes in Casa de Odette, but he's not feeling too well lately, so I took a turn. There is a reason I don't normally make them: I'm not the best at it. At all. And this time was no different. I burned half of them, and I don't make cool shapes like Mickey faces or their names or anything else. Nevertheless, everyone gamely ate pancakes aplenty, and then we started school.
On Tuesday, we visited the library for our weekly trip. The kids wanted nothing more than to read their selections when we returned home, so of course I let them before we got started on our next task.
Each of the kids is doing a swap with a homeschooling partner somewhere else in the country; this is our third month participating. Each month, a different theme is chosen. In our first month, only Sophia did a swap, and the theme was SPACE. The second month, all three of my kids swapped, and their theme was HABITAT. This month, the theme is BIOGRAPHY, and Victoria is joining us in that. All four kids, after a discussion about biography, chose to do their swaps autobiographically, so I took pictures of each of them to include in albums they are making about themselves.
Naturally, Chloe wanted to include a photo of her beloved Pepper in her autobiography album!
On Tuesday, before we got started with school, we had a Welcome party for Victoria. It was a surprise planned by Veronica and us after Sophia came up with the idea during our family meeting about her joining us. Victoria had no idea; she was completely shocked!
Veronica brought a pineapple upside-down cake she baked, which I love but didn't eat because I'm trying soooo hard to be good about eating healthy calories. But man, I wanted some!
Rob played along with Party Mode, wearing the hat and everything. He's such a trooper.
The look on Victoria's 3-year-old sister, Belen, cracked me up. She was like, "Um, no. Just... no."
Veronica is 37 weeks pregnant with baby #4, Melodie-Grace, due around Thanksgiving Day. We can't wait to meet her!
In homage to Victoria's Mexican heritage, I decided to make some simple Cinco de Mayo pinatas filled with - what else for this time of year? - Halloween candy. When Belen and the rest of the kids pulled a string, out fell the candy. Fun! And, I just knew there was a reason I was saving all those toilet paper rolls!
I made the pinatas; Chloe made the welcome banner you can kinda-sorta see in the first photo, and Sophia made the paper flowers that I apparently neglected to photograph. That's a shame, since they turned out so well.
We, uh, got just a little silly with paper hats. I swear I did not spike the punch!
Victoria insisted I get silly with them. I'm always happy to embarrass myself; why not?
I forget what Sophie was pretending to be here. She's always imagining something new and interesting; I wish I could record every moment of the child's life!
Before we sent Victoria's mom and sister home for the day so we could start our lessons, Belen got into the party hat fun, too. Yeah!
On Thursday, after several days of talking about the Tequesta, Ais, and Jaegas Indians of South Florida, we did a lab to demonstrate to the kids some of the ways in which these people lived. I sent the kids out on a scavenger hunt for sticks of various sizes, while I managed to score this huge fallen palm branch. I learned from an old Physics professor that, sometimes, to start things off, you need to "WOW" them in. When I hauled that giant branch into the living room in front of the kids, it was definitely a WOW moment!
I had gotten several sizes of sharks' teeth, as well as a variety of mollusk shells, over the past several weeks in preparation for this lab. My goal was to show the children that natives used these as tools to help create their dwellings, hunt for food, make clothing, and even make more tools.
Sophia really got into the whittling of this branch with the largest shark tooth.
Victoria started with a smaller shark tooth on a smaller branch.
Chloe got to work with an oyster shell on the great big palm branch I found, and she shaved off the outer "skin," realizing it could be used as lashing to tie together sticks and other materials for building purposes. Brilliant!
The shells could be used to carve out canoes, but obviously I didn't have a large enough piece of wood for that, so we practiced on tiny twigs.
Jack really enjoyed this lab. Even though he moaned and groaned, as he is wont to do, when I said we were doing a lab (who knew what that meant at the time?!), he was the first one to complain when I told them we were finished and had to clean up our materials. It's always that way with him!
So all in all, it was a pretty great week for Sweet Pea Academy. I think Victoria was just what we needed for a breath of fresh air in our daily lessons. With all our lessons, field trips, fun, and yes, meals, I still managed to get a ton of knitting done, and we were able to go get our passports ordered and then picked up for our trip to Mexico next week. Who needs sleep?!
Yesterday was Friday, November 7th, 2014. We've had a busy week of homeschooling! I'm going to start backward from Friday because, as any busy mother will understand, what's easiest on my tired brain is what wins right now. I started the day with this unfinished hoodie sweater for Stephanie's son Vinnie who, as you may remember, is allergic to, like, practically everything on the planet. Including the planet. So when I can, I knit for him.
After Victoria was dropped off by her mom, Veronica, we did the kids' weekly spelling test before running off to Publix for supplies for lunch. When we returned home, I packed lunches while the kiddos watched their daily Math-U-See lesson. I printed off their practice work to do in the car - hey, carschooling is a thing! - and then off we went for an hour-long drive to downtown Miami.
We were in search of the site of ancient Tequesta ruins, found over the past year among the high-rise office buildings, hotels, and condominiums that make up much of the city. I read article after article about the findings, but I could not for the life of me find the exact location of the excavation, which is still underway. So I warned the kids that while I hoped we would find it, we might not see a darn thing.
I drove to the hotel mentioned in one article, the J.W. Marriott Marquis, and lo and behold, there was this site cordoned off by fences and barricades. I was terribly excited, knowing in my heart of hearts that that was the place. And so, for eight bucks an hour, I parked in the closest garage I could find... and mentally crossed my fingers.
The kids were kind of under a microscope in the city, this being in the middle of a busy workday in a huge office building as we rode down the elevator. One lady stepped on and couldn't keep herself from saying aloud, "Well! This is interesting!" to my amusement. I cautioned them to behave, hold hands when crossing streets, and above all, be completely respectful of the site if we had, indeed, found the ancient Tequesta burial grounds.
This woman, a Mrs. Carr whose first name I didn't catch, was looking at the five of us curiously when we approached the site where workers were... digging and hauling artifacts. She walked to her car nearby and then, I took my chance. "Excuse me, ma'am?" I called out to her. She hesitated, looked around, and then came over. "Is this the site of the Tequesta burial grounds?" To my utter delight, she confirmed that it was! We found it on the first go!
Not only that, but she turned out to be the wife of the internationally famous archaeologist, Robert Carr, who also came over and introduced himself to us! Of course, I had to explain who the heck we were and what we were doing there. Dr. Carr surprised me by first telling me about his book, Digging Miami, which can be found here on Amazon.com, and then telling the Mrs. to bring over some artifacts to show the children!
Yeah, folks. We struck homeschool field trip GOLD. Fo'reals.
Mrs. Carr told the kids about the Tequesta way of life. She explained, as we had previously read over the past week, that these native people were not farmers but rather hunters and gatherers, relying on fish and other seafood that pretty much came right to them, allowing for much leisure time - a rarity amongst the whole of American Indians. Here, she was showing them a piece of pottery, made mostly of sand. No clay is found in the Miami area, y'all.
The hundreds-of-years-old bone of a turtle was shown, explaining yet another part of the Tequesta diet.
Dr. Carr's wife also brought over a fossil conch shell to show the kids that not only did the Tequesta feast on the plentiful mollusk, but they used the shell for digging and scooping as well.
After the kids learned quite a bit of cool information about the Tequesta from Dr. and Mrs. Carr, and handled some ancient artifacts, we were left alone to peaceably observe the excavation. We bowed our heads and took a moment of silence, out of respect for the people who exist no more. Solemnly, yet excitedly, we headed back to the car to discuss what we had just experienced. The kids were curious and respectful, and I was just utterly full of awe and gratitude.
By that point, everyone was starving, so I found nearby Gibson Park for lunch. We feasted on turkey and Meunster sammiches, a variety of fruit, juice boxes, and Pepperidge Farm cookies. Hey, guess what was on sale at Publix today? However, I quickly discovered that we were in an area of Miami called Overtown, and... well, it is well-known as not the safest place to be if you're of the paler skin persuasion. We were surrounded by children who kept their distance but stared at us the whole time.
I don't have a racist bone in my body, so I didn't feel scared, but I will admit to feeling uncomfortable there. Out of place, if you will, and kind of unwanted. Speaking of under a microscope...! Fortunately - or not? - three of us seriously needed to use the bathroom, and we could not find a restroom in the park. So we left, with my promises that we would go home and find a park closer to Homestead.
After stopping at the Overtown Winn-Dixie to use the facilities, the five of us headed home. The math papers were not finished; the kids chose to snooze or chatter about Tequesta people on the hour-plus drive home in the Miami rush hour traffic. We picked up Rob and Paco at home before heading to a nearby park where Chloe is supposed to be having her Cheerleading practice.
There was a gated-in area where the kids could play, so I took the kids in there while Rob and Paco sat on a bench outside. Paco hadn't seen Mama all day, though, so all he wanted to do was be near me.
Poor, but adorable, Paco... but oh, the cute!
The girls really enjoyed this half-swing, half-jump feature of the playground. Every time I turned around, one, two, or three of them were on there again. Jack got a chance or two at it, but not many!
He found this curious structure in one corner of the park, with a hole in it. Expecting there to be something on the other side of the park where his voice would come out to a passerby, he hollered, "HELLO!!!!!" into the hole.
A second later, his own voice returned the hello.
I managed to capture this, "What the heck?!" look on his face when he heard the echo. It was pretty fun. He yelled a whole bunch more into it and twisted his voice each time, to make different sounds. Yup, I see more visits to this park in the near future!
Soon, it grew dark, and I missed my hubs and my dog. So I announced a 10-minute, and then a 5-minute, warning before we headed home. I had asked Veronica if Victoria could stay for dinner, and she agreed.
Back at home, I had the kids blog about the Tequesta field trip on their own personal blogs (they're password-protected, so if you want to read their posts, you'll have to ask me for the deets) while I made a dinner of baby artichokes and turkey sliders. No cheese for Jack, please!
For the second time in a week, I gave the four kidoodles a cup of vanilla and chocolate pudding for dessert. They all ate a great deal for dinner and dessert; between the field trip and the park day, I must have worn them out and hungered them up but good!
After dinner, they finished their blog posts and then wanted to work on our Astronomy lessons, but I was waaaaay too tired to keep doing school. The six of us played the family edition of Trivial Pursuit instead. It was fun and full of laughter, and we all had a great time. Sophia won for the first time, and man, did she let us know it!
I took Victoria home after that and crashed soon afterward... but only for a little while, as you can see it's not even 0400 and I'm sitting here posting on this little bitty blahg.
Oh... and now, the sweater has its hood. Next up: SLEEVES!
(Again, this post and that last one were not compensated posts; I just want to share!)
We did the second set of Kiwi Crates today. I had planned to save all six boxes for Advent, but the kids saw them, and that plan went right out the window. Ah, well.
Jack's second Crate was Fun With Flight, which included a rocket craft and a flying kite craft.
I didn't help the kids at all, and perhaps I should have, because there was a bit of difficulty with this. It didn't "rocket" off the base, and he was so pissy bummed about it, he refused to even try the kites activity. Perhaps we can try it another day?
Sophie's Crate was Wild Safari, which included My Safari Jeep and My Safari Search.
The Jeep gave her a bit of trouble at first, but I encouraged her to put it aside and stop thinking about it, going instead to the second activity. By George, it seems to have done the trick!
She had great fun making, arranging, and rearranging her safari animals! She created the stamps herself, and in the blink of an eye, she was finished. I think these critters will be sticking around for a while.
(Also, she had some Webkinz cats that made an appearance and took a ride around in the Jeep. Or two. Or ten.)
Link up here if you're wordless (or hey, wordful) today!
My kiddos LOVE getting Kiwi Crate projects in the mail. We don't do it regularly anymore, but I got a great deal on some crates, so I bought two for each child. Last night, I got the inevitable "I'm bored" from Sophia, so though I had intended them for Advent activities, I decided to let them each do one. Sophia chose her rainforest crate.
Each crate came with a magazine for extra expansion activities on the topic, and Sophie got started by reading about hers. I could tell she was getting excited to start creating!
Jack came over and wanted to know what we were doing, so I let him pick: he chose the Robot crate.
Chloe (I got a new keyboard and can't figure out how to put the dots over her "e" yet, argh!) wandered over, finally, and decided to get busy on a craft of her own. She chose the Camping crate.
Sophia's Rainforest crate came with a rainstick-making activity, which she loved! I thought she did a great job, and it worked really well.
The crate also came with a frog-launching game, and she built it really well. Her frogs landed right where they were supposed to, in the "pond." Fun!
Chloe's crate came with a camfire-building activity that really lit up. I thought she did a great job, and though the crate was a little young for her, she enjoyed the activity. There was a backpack sunprint activity in the kit, too, but we'll have to do that during sunny hours of course!
Jack's Robot crate was really right up his alley, and you can tell from his look of concentration that he enjoyed it (which is saying quite a lot, if you know this selective kid). I made a video of his paper robot, powered by a wind-up toy, which you can see if you follow me on Instagram or Facebook. Here, his magnetic robot game moves the robot around a maze with, obviously, the power of robots. I could hear him playing with both of these in his room, after we cleaned up the crafts from the living room. Pretty cool!
If you like these and want to check out Kiwi Crate, here's my referral link for $10 off your first order. They have tons more crates available for all ages, and my kids have always enjoyed them. (Note: this post was not compensated; I just wanted to share and get back in the blogosphere game!)
This may be only the second or third time I've participated in Random Tuesday with Stacey Uncorked, but I'm feeling it today, so here I am! Link up if you're completely random on a Tuesday, yes?
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Last week, Sophia and I spent a good 3½ hours at the pediatrician's office to get her bloodwork done. She's completely traumatized by doctors and dentists and especially their needles, so she spent that whole time screaming and carrying on about getting the blood drawn. It was exhausting - for her, for me, for the poor bewildered doctor, for the staff, and maybe even for the next office over, some of the staff of which had to come in and help hold her down to end the whole episode.
I had promised Sophie pancakes at IHOP, having gotten a certificate for a free stack in my email inbox a few days prior, but by the time we got home from the doc's office, she just wanted to go to sleep. I couldn't blame her; so did I! And that we did.
By the time we were both ready to go to IHOP for a short stack of flapjacks, it was about three o'clock in the morning. But we went anyway, and as you can see, the trauma had subsided and she was all about getting her stawberry hotcakes on.
I don't quite have the heart to tell her she needs more bloodwork and some immunizations in the very near future... :\
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I've been doing a buttload of planning for this upcoming homeschool year, 2014-2015, and the kids have been kicking around the house kinda bored. I had stocked up on craft supplies for Sophie's birthday party, but we never held it, to her utmost disappointment.
I had also had a ton, give or take a few hundred pounds, of both cardboard and styrofoam egg cartons saved up for a crafty occasion. Actually, I was hoping to Freecycle them to someone who needed them for chickens or what-have-you, but such a person never materialized. Enter Pinterest! I found oodles of egg carton crafts on that wondrous site, and behold, two or three days of crafting were born.
All three kiddos started out with the supplies, which included pompoms, feathers, glue, patterned crafting tape, paint, and so much more aside from the egg cartons. Jack, my least crafty kid, wanted to join... but he finished with slap-dashery that was hard for me to encourage. And so, in a rare (I hope?) moment of shoddy, discouraging parenting, I asked him why he bothered. Admittedly, that was pretty shitty of me, and we both agreed to have a time-out from each other for the remainder of that afternoon. #MomFail
Chloë is pretty crafty, but I think it's Sophia who is the most talented in this arena. Not that Chloë isn't artistic, because she is; however, she's a complete perfectionist like her mother, and therefore she finds it harder to break loose and just have fun with the process with no perfect goal in mind. The above pompom family was Sophia's creation, with no inspiration form Pinterest or anything else but her own imagination.
I could wrap up this segment of post in numerous ways, but suffice it to say that I learned something about the kids and their different abilities and learning styles, yes, but more about me and how I parent differently to them. Fortunately, I think I grew from the experience!
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Somehow, I managed to lose my entire post and get it back again without having saved it myself. Whew! I tend to give up when that happens. Yay for Autosave features!
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Another difference between Jack and his sisters is that he does not generally enjoy being photographed, whereas the girls love having a camera lens aimed at them. So when I changed my Facebook profile picture to this, my dad started condemning the lack of Jack, talkin' 'bout how he (my dad) applauds Jack for being a different kid, etc, blah blah, yakkety yak, and I shouldn't exclude him.
It touched a nerve, as parents and their comments are wont to do. I bend over backward - occasionally literally, even! - to make sure my kids feel recognized for their individuality and their strengths. Rob and I both have abysmal self-esteem, and so it is high on my list of priorities to develop a healthy sense of self in all of my children. Furthermore, I try to spend time with each of them, alone, every single day, and honestly, I do the best I can do be the best mom I can be for them!
I think we're doing all right. So my message for all the grandparents in the world, if you happen to come across this is: Unless you have cause for grave concern, step aside and let your kids do their job with their kids. You raised yours, and now it's our turn to raise ours. Not that input isn't necessary or even desired, but come on. Wait until we ask, if you can, and in the meantime, be as positive and supportive as you can manage.
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On Saturday, Chloë and I took Sophia over to baseball tryouts at a park in Miami. How cute is she here?! I love this picture of her.
She was "trying out" (which really meant having her skills assessed for placement on the best team for her) at the oldest age group, 9-10 years, in the league we're joining, so really she ended up being one of the very few with no experience playing baseball.
I don't think she cared. She's got confidence to spare, that one!
She was also the only girl we saw on the field, the only one not fully decked out in a uniform from season's path, and from what I could see, the only Southpaw. That didn't stop her! She went up there, swung her bat three times at the pitches, ran around the bases, and practiced catching and throwing with an assistant coach.
She thinks she did poorly because she didn't hit the ball, but that will improve. I think she did fine because she showed up and bravely tried something new!
After Sophie's try-outs ended, the three of us ran across the park to the playground for some fun. Both of them made friends, as per usual, and they played until we ran out of water and heat exhaustion became a threat. I haven't heard back about the baseball team yet, but I'm sure there will be more on that in future posts. Watch this space!
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Apropos of not much, I painted a French manicure on my nails the other day. I'm sharing partly because I just like the picture, and partly as an intro to the current state of my nails (I know you're waiting with baited breath to find out).
My friend Tiffany sent me this awesome package on Saturday, so that I could experience the Jamberry phenomenon! As a JAFRA Consultant, I haven't had the pleasure of being introduced to Jamberry nail wraps until now. I couldn't wait to get started... but I did until yesterday, because I didn't open the mail until late Sunday night and discovered the treats contained therein!
How cute is this manicure I did all by little ol' self, with Berries and Gingham? I love it!
Tiffany sent me more "grown-up" adult-sized nail wraps, with these in mind for Sophie and Chlo, but I kinda stole them because I thought my nail beds were too tiny. Luckily, there are still plenty left for the girls, because each sheet comes with enough for several manicures. We'll have to do theirs tomorrow!
A few observations I've made so far about my Jamberry mani:
☼ There's just a very slight learning curve! I did my left hand first, starting with the thumb, and I immediately realized upon application that I could have gone with the larger size and dealt with minimal trimming of the wrap. I did my index finger second, and I accidentally wrinkled the wrap. I'm going to try to use my hair dryer, which is used to soften the wraps to make them easy to manipulate, to smooth that down. ☼
☼ There are SO many designs in the catalog, even for little girls' hands, that I know I'll be getting more in the future. Plenty of mature, adult designs (please, get your minds out of the gutter!), along with lots of whimsical themes. I love them all, and I can't wait until the Collegiate set includes one for my UM 'Canes! ☼
☼ For my oddly-shaped upside-down triangular nail shapes, I realized I could either go to the larger, regular size and trim the decals down easily, or paint my nails to match the wraps before applying them, so the gap's not so obvious. Tiffany assured me the wraps go on just as well over painted nails as bare ones. I'll be trying both methods soon, and you know I'll be reporting on that! ☼
Have you tried Jamberry nails yet? I'd love it if you would check out Tiffany's site and tell me what your favorite design is. Stay tuned for a special offer in the near future!
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Finally, we had a bunch of burnt-out light bulbs in the house, so we ran to Lowe's to get a bunch of new ones. What did we spot but this huge Halloween décor display?! Seriously, mid-August is way too soon for that. Do you agree?
Muffin, Jack's cat, gets around. She's been awfully cuddly lately, for the most cattish of our cats. What's her deal?
This is where Muffin spends MOST of her time. It's the thirty-one utility tote in which I keep all the stuff I'm selling on ebay and Listia. Not very comfortable. Crazy feline.
So anyway. Speaking of cats...
On Monday morning, I set out to clean up my long-neglected kitchen. Dishes were in the sink, the dishwasher was full, and half the groceries were piled up all over the counters, since I did a big shopping trip last week - and we don't have that much pantry space.
Well. That didn't last. To my credit, I did empty the dishwasher and then run it two more times, and I hand-washed the dishes that couldn't go in the machine, but that's it. Instead, I cooked and baked. A lot.
Rotisserie chickens had been on sale at Publix when I shopped, so I'd gotten three. Three! We ate two, and some of the third (yes, Jack, I'm "supposed to be a vegetarian," but I do eat chicken, turkey on Thanksgiving, and certain sea creatures when I'm craving protein... which is ALL THE TIME, ugh). I decided to make chicken pot pies (above) with the rest of the meat. I like the Bisquick Chicken Pot Pie recipe, only I just had enough of that for one crust. And no veggies. Thankfully, I did have the necessary soup.
So, I chopped up fresh green beans and opened a can each of peas and corn, and I made my own "Bisquick" with just some flour, salt and baking soda. I had to use evaporated milk, too, since the kids finished off all the regular milk for their cereal. The result, with the Fiery Cranberry rotisserie chicken that remained? Delicious! Rob ate one pot pie entirely by himself yesterday.
I'd been craving mashed potatoes and could not wait another week and a half for Thanksgiving, so I peeled a 5-lb bag of Russets and got those cooking, too. Those turned out okay, but I used unsalted butter (for Rob's sake, since he's supposed to limit the salt while he's on the meds for brain inflammation) and more evaporated milk. Not as good as always.
Also for Rob's sake, I didn't make my loaded mashed potatoes. I adore them, but he hates them: I'll make regular mashed potatoes with tons of (salted) butter, lots of creamy milk, sautéed onion, sometimes sautéed garlic, sweet corn, sometimes cheese... and I forget what else. I haven't made it since the early days of our marriage when it became clear that it was a no-no for Hubs, and we're coming up on 13 years. Anyway, it's good. Really, really good.
We're pretty bad about making - or, in this case, buying pre-made - cookie dough and then eating it all up before I bake the cookies. My mama-in-law bakes and then freezes cookies, and I decided to do that with the Immaculate Oatmeal Chocolate Chip and Triple Chocolate Chunk cookie doughs I'd also gotten at Publix last week. I mean, as long as I was going to be running the oven, I might as well toss my cookies in there, right? ;)
Verdict: Also just okay, but not as good as my homemade - and those are Rob's and the kids' words, not my own! I actually thought they were quite good, especially straight out of the freezer.
While I cooked, I snacked on pomegranate arils. I'd gotten those, too, and the kids hacked into this one and left the poor carcass to dry out on the counter. Not having it, I decided to eat it myself. Of course, the kids saw this and decided that it was pretty good, after all. Everything's better on Mom and Dad's plates, right?
This is what I found when I opened the freezer to put in the cookies. A carton of sherbet with no lid and the ice cream scoop in it.
Yup. It's official: Kids live here.
None of us are big fans of white chocolate, but this cookie was quite palatable. They were gone even before the oatmeal! Jack decided they were his, so they didn't stand a chance.
Rob had taken a huge chicken out of the deep freezer the other day and then done nothing with it, so I decided I'd better cook that up, too.
Imagine my dismay when I opened the Crock-Pot to put it in and found the remains + mold from the last time I'd crock-potted! UGH!!! After I scrubbed that mess out, I needed to find a recipe and came up with this one that sounded quick and simple, yet delicious. Fortunately, I've been restocking out depleted spice cabinet lately, so I happened to have everything on hand that I needed. I was dubious about that "no added liquid" thing, but I went ahead just the same.
Oh, and while I was gathering the ingredients for that, I was rummaging through my baking cabinet and found the Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Bread mix that I'd gotten inexpensively a month or two ago. It was for the bread machine, and I hadn't given that a workout in a while, so... I made that, too!
It's pretty good. Jack even asked me to make it again, soon!
We're not gluten-free people here, so I probably bought that because it was the cheapest thing. I'll try anything once. ;)
As for the bicycle? It was on the table, and I'm random like that...
After the bread machine started, I rubbed my spice mix all over the cleaned chicken. That was one big bird. With all the chicken we've been having lately, I just knew there would be lots left over to make something else.
Oh, my word. The "100 Days of Real Food" recipe chick was right: no liquid needed and it still literally fell off the bones. That was fun, fishing all those bones and meat out of the onions... I'm a biologist, but there were way more bones in that chicken than I thought there'd be. :P (Rob is usually the bones person; I leave that up to him.)
It was amazing, though. While I was cleaning the carcass and pulling fallen meat out of the broth, I kept sampling it. More and more, I was putting meat in my throat instead of the bowl...! This recipe got printed out and will be added to my frequent rotation. Yummo!
If you're wondering, "what about school?" it's because the kids are all sick. They were lying around in my bed together, napping and watching YouTube videos on their Kindle Fires. Three days of nonstop resting later, and we should be good-to-go for school tomorrow!
And then, the pièce de résistance, homemade pasta! I enlisted the help of Big Red, my lovely KitchenAid mixer, for this task. I don't have the pasta attachments for it - yet - but I boldly went where no me has gone before and decided to whip up some fresh ravioli with some of that chicken from the crock pot.
I also used my Ninja food processor to mutilate purée the chicken into wee bits for the ravioli filling. Love that thang!
Rob said, "There's no way you're going to be able to get it thin enough for ravioli," which my female brain interpreted as, "You can't do it," so of course, do it I must.
I used this recipe for the pasta dough and semi-unvented the chicken filling myself: puréed chicken from the roasted crockpot one, sautéed garlic in EVOO (just two cloves, let's not get carried away here), a bunch of freshly-grated Parmesan cheese (I'm not big on measuring when I'm unventing), a wee pinch of nutmeg, some tarragon (because it smelled good compared to the chicken, and I wanted something green and had no fresh parsley or spinach), the two eggs, and voilá! Filling!
The funny thing is, I made enough pasta dough for, oh, about two dozen ravioli, and enough filling for four or five times as much! So I froze the rest for later... later may come sooner than I thought, though, because all 4 of the rest of Team Odette wolfed them down and asked for more.
While that was being prepared, naturally I made an Italian bread to go with it. Bread-machine bread, not by-hand bread, but that's okay because it was good enough for everyone else to ask for more of that, too!
I served four of the ravioli, some buttered Italian bread, and some Tuscan pasta sauce (thanks, Barilla, since I had no tomatoes for homemade that-ness) to Rob, and then I stood there and watched him eat while I held my breath. Trés annoying, I know, but that's me for you.
He liked it, he really liked it!
(I ate two and it was okay, but I couldn't keep it down... so that affected my opinion.)
When I got up today, all the ravioli were gone, and the kids were raving about it. That's a good sign!
I must confess, I was pretty proud of myself. I done did it!
Gratuitous picture of Chloë snuggling with Pepper
Gratuitous picture of Chloë, asleep on her schoolwork, sick as a dog
So there ya go. I still haven't cleaned up the kitchen, but I'm starting to feel a Manic Thursday coming on. It'll get done today, by George... but probably not before I restock the cookies and who-knows-what-else.
I'm terribly embarrassed to be showing you that picture, but accountability may help. That's what my bed looks like right now. My friend C and I had a laundry challenge going on Sunday to see who could tackle our mountainous piles of clothes to fold and put away first. She totally won. I think she got all hers finished AND the rest of her house clean, while I... did not. At all. It's now, what?, three days later, and my bed still looks like that. But by this Sunday, by gummit, I plan on having a bed again. Totally. Promise. Pinky promise, as Sophia would say.
You see all that candy? (And that's not even all of it, but we gave a bunch away when we "BOO-ed" a couple of our neighbors last week, remember?) Anyway, you probably know that I'm an avid couponer and reader of the blog Hip2Save (Collin Morgan is totes my virtual BFF, you guys) (only she doesn't know it) (anyway!), so as usual, I've been getting tons of deals at the drugstores on candy for Halloween lately. I probably spent a total of three bucks on all of that at candy up there - if that!!
We live in a neighborhood chock-full of kids now, so I have no earthly idea how much candy we'll need or how many kids we'll get on Thursday night. I've been stocking up big-time. But... I may have overplanned. That's a shit-ton of diabetic coma up there, y'all. What to do, what to do?
Welp, instead of laundry, I wasted spent Sunday making up 125 (Sophie counted) packets of candy to give out to all the little ghosts and goblins who'll come our way soon. I had tons and tons of scrapbooking paper, ribbons, and other doo-dads from years of crafting stocked up, wasting space, not being used, so it felt good to finally put it to good (?) use. Hopefully someone (besides me) will appreciate the time and effort I put into it, but... I kinda doubt it Whatever. Let's move on.
I received a free jar of JIF Hazelnut Chocolate Spread in the mail the other day. On its own, it doesn't beat Nutella - not by a long shot - but the jar came with some recipes for treats. I made these delicious cookies with it, and OH, MY WORD, they are OUT of this WORLD. Caps necessary, because they were that good. I'll definitely have to make them again. Or not. I don't want to chub up again, after all!
Rob brought me home a few pie pumpkins, at my behest, and the kids helped me scoop them out and carve them. I had planned on doing something like I saw in the October issue of Family Fun magazine, stacking the three of them on top and decorating them like my kiddos, but it didn't work out like that. Change of plans!
They looked pretty cool that first night. But... this being Miami and all, where it's still 80º+ during the day, they rotted by the next day. Dammit! The kids picked out big ol' pumpkins for their Jack-o-lanterns, too, and even though we kept them in the house and not carved, they still rotted, too! Rats.
On Sunday morning, the kids walked with me to the local drugstores to do my wheelin' and dealin'. They always stop and look out over the water on our walks there, and I thought it was a cool moment. So me being me, I snapped a shot of it.
I'm grateful for the IKEA shopping tote cart thingy that my friend Jenny From the Block gave me a while back. It's really coming in handy now while we're without a vehicle and still have shopping to do! At least, it was until a cat peed on it. I'm going to murderize those felines, by George. I will!
Not this cat. Tinkerbell's a good girl. I woke her up from a nap, here. She was startled. Hee.
And speaking of napping cats, does Muffin look comfortable to you? HA! Sophia and I died laughing at her over this pose... but you probably had to be there.
But maybe one of these two rascals. Lucky and Hunter are always canoodling in the bathroom sink together. Too funny. But naughty, they are!
Anyhoo. A fellow Hip2Saver turned me onto my latest latest addiction, Listia. CHECK IT OUT!
It's kind of like eBay, but more like freeBay, because you just give stuff away and in return, you get credits for things to get from other Listians. I'm SO loving it!! I still have a shit-ton of craft stuff I will probably never use, like all these buttons and brads here, so I'm giving them away to get credits for things we will use. I'm hoping to save them up for cool stuff like a new computer for Rob, or maybe a replacement DSLR for my camera that was stolen from our piece of shit house in Portsmouth last year. (I'm still bitter!)
If you're a yarny (or a thready), maybe you can snag some of my stuff on Listia. I'm giving away some pretty cool stuff and have lots more to list... but I'm at my limit for the mo'. So we'll see. If you sign up with my link, you'll get a bunch of free credits to use, too. Cool, right? So let me know if you do!
I'm even giving away this brandy-new pair of Gymboree shoes on Listia if you need size 12s for your little girl... ;) They don't fit Chloë already - so whatcha gonna do?
Link up with Unknown Mami here if you want to show us around your town today!
It's been a fortnight since I showed any real pictures around here, so I'll take this opportunity to do just that. We're making the most of October in the Tropics by having fun Halloween-themed snacks and/or crafts every day or so. When last I mentioned it, I had made spidery devilled eggs for the first day of the month. Let's see what else I've been treating the kids with, shall we?
Another time, I made these mummy dogs for the kids' lunch. And please, don't be impressed; there are no original ideas here. I stole this off the Pillsbury site. (Mine were blind, because my kids had zero interest in mustard eyes. Blech!)
A few days into the month, we drove up to Dadeland Station in Kendall to go to Target. Wish we had one closer; ours is a half-hour away! I had two mobile coupons from Target for free watches, and I let the Littles pick one each. They were worth about $25 apiece, so it was a sweet deal. Y'all know how I love my coupons! Chloë didn't miss out, either - the coupons required a minimal purchase, so I let her pick out a couple pairs of earrings on clearance. She was happy, and I had several free Target gift cards from the Shopkick App, so the whole deal cost me nothing! Sweet!
After our shopping trip, we headed down the road to Dadeland Mall to get lunch. I've been chosen as a Chick-fil-A mom, so we indulged in some more goodies courtesy of that restaurant. The kids each got a nugget meal, and Rob and I shared some sandwiches. Well, I lie. We circled the Food Court first, where I filled up on teriyaki chicken samples from the various Asian-themed restaurants, and Oscar (my gastric bypass pouch) was done after that. So Rob had the sammies, while I sat back and rubbed my full belly!
Another time, we were at the Wal-mart down the road (figures we'd have that and not a Target, right?!), and Sophia spotted these fruits hanging on a tree near Penelope (formerly, our Honda Odyssey). I still haven't quite figured out what they are... my powers of species identification are limited when it comes to plants. Thankfully when I chose biology as a profession in my past life, Botany wasn't one of my preferences!
Can't remember where I saw these ghost bananas, but aren't they adorbs? The kids got a kick out of them, and I have to admit, I made myself a couple, too! Hey, chocolate and bananas were good enough for Elvis... Oh, wait. That was peanut butter. Whatevs.
These "Cuties" orange-pumpkins were super simple to make, but I thought they were terribly, well, cute! (I had one of those, too.)
Another idea, which I did not make up, were these ghost-in-the-graveyard pudding cups. So fun! So junky! Hey, they can't all be nutritious, but they have to be delicious, so they passed muster. I let the kids pig out and eat two apiece, too!
Now that we're having to walk everywhere [bye-bye, Penelope :'( ], Sophia and I decided to take a trolley trip to downtown Homestead to run a few important errands. I told her we'd wait 20 minutes before giving up, so she hung out on the railings (mostly right-side-up, like here) while we did. Nineteen minutes later, guess what finally showed up?
We've gotten a bunch of free Redbox rental codes lately, so I let the kids take a break from clearing out toys from their rooms (Christmas is coming, gotta make space!) to have a movie night. And yes, there are still way more toys to go... I don't know if we'll ever dig ourselves out of the girls' room. Sheesh!
Wrapping up, here's my view of Sophia from this morning, when we walked to Publix and Walgreens to do a little shopping. She loves to mix and match patterns! Does it drive you crazy? I think it's fun, and I don't care about the looks we get!
Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go figure out what Halloween-themed treat I'm going to make for today!