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Saturday 9: Just Because

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

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

I had not ever heard this song before.

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


Saturday 9: Just Because (1956)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

15 TOP Things To Do in Memphis | Attractions & Activities

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

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

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

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

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

Shock Images | Free Vectors, Stock Photos & PSD

No way in hell!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Holiday Light Displays | VisitMaryland.org

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


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

Have a wonderful week on purpose, everybody!


Saturday 9: Better Now

Post Malone - Better Now ( XLNT REMAKE ) – XLNTSOUND

Hey kids of all ages, what's the haps? My body, right now, is giving me the evil eye, but I'm going to have rally by tomorrow afternoon when it's time to attend Pride Salisbury with my two LGBTQIA+ kiddos (and whomever else wants to come). I'm already exhausted. There's supposed to be a luau a few towns over tonight (unrelated to Pride), and I have always hada a luau on my Bucket List, but if it's not in Hawai'i, does it really count?

Phew, that was a lot of words! Join the rest of S9ers right here!


just heard that the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, and I am crushed and also furious.

Will there come a day when they will rue the destructionn of Roe?


Saturday 9: Better Now (2018)

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

1) In this song, Post Malone tries to assure his ex that he's better now ... but he's not. He's still hurting. Have you recently told someone you were fine when you weren't?
10 Challenges in Treating Lupus
Of course. All the time. I had a procedure on Wednesday - no, Tuesday - and the anesthesiologist came over and was like, "Wow! You have a number of significant disease processes going on! Did you know that blahblahblah about your mast cells is--" and I'd interrupt him and go, "Yes, I have a doctor who is an expert in mast cells at Johns Hopkins," and so on. But that is my life. For each new diagnosis, Hubs turns to me and says, "Can you please try not to have everything??" So I try not to constantly bring up all these things and be a general pain in the ass about it, unless something is NEW-new or someone asks me about it.
Now, I know that wasn't exactly the intent of this question, but yes to that, too.
2) He and his girl were so close he introduced her to his extended family, and now his aunts and uncles wonder where she's gone. Have you remained close to an ex's friends/family?
Absolutely Not synonyms - 208 Words and Phrases for Absolutely Not
Nah. I mean, I'm on friendly terms with one or two, but I don't hang out with their families or anything. I don't think it's appropriate.
3) He sings that he never meant to let her down. What about you? Have you recently encountered anything -- big or small -- that didn't live up to your expectations?
Paco Collage
I mean, yes? No? Lots? Everything? Nothing? Too much too list, too little that counts, so here are a few cute fotos of my puppo, Paco, scooting around on the heating pad. See? All better. #DogPeen
4) Post recently announced he will soon become a father for the first time. Do you know anyone who is currently expecting a baby?
85+Best Funny Baby Quotes For New Parents (CAN'T STOP LAUGH)
I couldn't thinking of a single person, so I went through my FB friends' list before I said "no" live on the interwebs and a close, pregnant friend read it! Could you imagine! Anyway, still no, but now I've shaved a bunch of people I never talk to and don't really know off that ol' list.
5) Before making it big as a musician, he supported himself as a wedding DJ. Think back to the last wedding you attended. Did they have a live band or a DJ?

Umm, it was a DJ. But it was not, I can confirm, Postie. Darn!
6) Not satisfied being a successful musician, Post has branched out and introduced his own rosé wine, Maison No. 9. Will you replenish your beer/wine/spirits this weekend?
Sad Face | The Dragonfly Foundation
I think there's already beer in the fridge for Rob, but nothing for me, please. I've proven to be allergic (to have those mast cell activation reactions, as above) to spirits - especially to red wines and rosés. Ah, wellll.
7) Post Malone has more than 70 different tattoos. He designs them himself and is so into ink that he has tattooed his friends. Would you trust a friend or relative to do your body art (tattoo or piercing)? Or would you go to a licensed professional?
Instagram Reviews ii
Welp, it's no secret that I like my piercings - no ink, though - but only a licensed professional for me, please!
8) In 2018, when this song was popular, Sears filed for bankruptcy. In the 1970s, Sears was known as the place "Where America Shops." As of 2021, there were only 23 Sears stores left. Did you ever shop at Sears, either at the store or through the catalog?
1897 Sears Roebuck & Co. Catalogue: Skyhorse Publishing: 9781602390638:  Amazon.com: Books
I'm sure my parents, and step-thing, must've shopped through the Sears catalog when I was a dinky little kid, and I know they shopped in the store when I was an older kid. (Mostly they seemed to shop at a place called Service Merchandise?) I shopped kind-of a lot at Sears, but more at Kohls, I think.

9) Random question: What's your favorite way to spend an evening at home alone?
Upworthy Screenshot
Well, I spend a lot of time on the Paper Hugs committee for Mama Dragons, discussed here by Upworthy. Did you catch that? We were #ReportedByUpworthy! That was really exciting for all 8,000+ of us, especially those of us on the Paper Hugs team. So to answer the question, I spend many an evening giving each and every Dragon - be it Mama or Baby - my love and heart.
Salisbury Pride
And now, I must make some Hugs and get ready for Salisbury Pride! Have a great weekend, y'all!

Saturday 9: I See Love

Mike & Molly, Weekdays at 4 & 4:30pm | 45TV

Welcome back, kids of all ages! This week I'm coming at you from Salisbury, Maryland, in complete confusion about where I am and where I actually belong. This isn't a bad thing. It's that necessary reset that happens whenever we find ourselves in new surroundings that are at once familiar and completely unknown.

So because of the crazy of the last few days (my girls and I flew in on Wednesday), I totally forgot it was Friday and there were questions to answer. Must get into it. Link up here to play along this week!


I See Love (2010)

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

1) This is the theme from Mike and Molly, a TV show that ran from 2010 to 2016. Were you a fan?

Mike & Molly Series Finale: Stars Say Goodbye | PEOPLE.com

I wasn't a fan; I wasn't a non-fan. It was the kind of show I call "filler," something I watched if nothing else was on.

2) Molly was played by Melissa McCarthy. Today she's one of Hollywood's best-paid actresses, but when she began her career, she was barely scraping by. She recently recalled the time when, as a struggling actress, she was rejected at the ATM because it only gave out $20s and she didn't have even that much in her checking account. How often do you visit the ATM? Several times a week? Several times a month? Never?

Atm Machine GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

It's probably been close to a year and a half since I've gone to an ATM, but it was monthly or so before that.

3) When she was broke, Melissa couldn't afford blueberries and avocados. Now she savors them. When you're a few bucks ahead, what do you splurge on?

Organic foods are healthier than conventionally grown foods – Texila Connect

We're not that different. Even my daughters agreed, "food," when I asked them what we splurge on if we can. That may be when I get organic produce, concentrating especially on EWG's Dirty Dozen.

**** INTERMISSION while I fall asleep and then forget I didn't finish this until 2:42 PM EST (oops!) ****

4) Mike was played by Billy Gardell. He was working at a comedy club, cleaning the bathrooms and answering the phone. He used to crack jokes with other employees and finally one of his coworkers dared him to go onstage on "open mic night." A comedy career was born. Tell us about someone who pushed you to make the right move.

NF - Leave Me Alone (Lyrics) - YouTube

Honestly, there aren't many such instances. Maybe people realize that I'm just going to do what I want to do no matter what they say? I don't know. But the one push I needed, after multiple attempts to cut my dad out of my life over the years, came from the man himself. He said, on Facebook, "Oh, just leave me alone!" and I haven't talked to him for a year and a half. It feels great. I don't miss him. WE don't miss him. And we definitely don't need him.

5) On the show, Mike's best friend was his fellow officer, Carl McMillan. Carl was not especially motivated and still lived with his grandmother, well into his 30s. How old were you when you moved out of the house for good?

Fernando Flores Life Quotes | QuoteHD

I was 17 when I finally escaped the hellish torture chamber that was my house in Baldwinsville, New York, for good. I graduated high school one day and moved out of New York the next.

6) Mike's and Molly's mothers are different as night and day and frequently did not get along. Have you ever had in-law trouble?

Shawn Spencer James Roday GIF - ShawnSpencer JamesRoday BurtonGuster -  Discover & Share GIFs

Things have not always been easy.

7) This week's song was written by Keb Mo. He switches among several different guitars when he works -- electric, acoustic and resonator. Can you play guitar?

Great Guitar Gifs | Music wallpaper, Guitar, Guitar art

No way. I wish!

8) In 2010, when this show premiered, Apple introduced the iPad. Do you use a tablet?

Old School Meets the iPad Funny Meme – FUNNY MEMES

No. I really don't feel the need. I have my celly (Samsung S20 Ultra), my desktop, and now I have a laptop (ASUS VivoBook). The kids each have a Samsung tablet, though. We defected from Apple a while ago.

9) This week's random question gives you an opportunity to brag: What's something you do better than most people?

Crochet Doily 1 Crochet Doily 2

Oh, I don't know that I could say I do anything better than anybody, but I'm not bad with sticks and string, and I'm a pretty good "hooker," too. I'm trying to get my mojo back. I've been saying that for a while...


Okay. I've been coughing pretty badly lately, but I've got to try to get up and get out of this hotel today. No promises, children (mine, not you guys).

See you all on the flip side.


Saturday 9: The Candy Man

Image result for sammy davis junior

Hey there, swell people!! What's the haps?


I'm still coming down from the high off of organizing - and attending - the #ClimateStrike here in Mountain Home, Idaho. What a moment this is! Did you go? Did you strike? If not, WHY NOT?

And now back to our regular questions, brought by the lovely Crazy Sam:


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

1) This song is from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, starring Gene Wilder. The movie was remade as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, with Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka. Which Wonka did you prefer?
Image result for willy wonka
I guess I'm old-school on this one. I love the inimitable Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka!

2) In the movie, this song is sung by Bill, the candy store shopkeeper. Think about the last counter person you dealt with. We know that he or she likely didn't break into song, but did you two engage in conversation?
09192019 Twisted Ewe event

Yeah. Well. Last night, Chloë and I attended the "Sweater Weather Get-Together" at The Twisted Ewe, a yarn shop up in Boise. I engaged with several of the shop staff, and especially introduced myself to the young woman who runs their social media stuff, because I engage with her frequently, and I'd never met her in person. I also signed up to be a test knitter.

3) The lyrics tell us that The Candy Man can make the world taste good. What's the last thing you ate? Was it delicious, or just OK?
Image result for meme about oatmeal
I ate oatmeal with raisins. As you can probably guess, it was just okay. This morning I had oatmeal with flax and chia seeds. That was actually better - even though it was cold by the time I ate it.
4) The most popular recording of this song was by Sammy Davis, Jr. Sammy was in a horrific car accident when he was 29 years old. His cheek and nose were broken and he lost an eye. That he survived at all left him reflective and after his hospitalization, he converted to Judaism. Do you still worship in the faith you were raised in? 

Image result for christian science is a cult
No. Not only no, but hell no. No, no, no, no, no.
5) Sammy was proud of the honorary college degrees he received because he never formally attended school. As a child, he performed on the road with his father and uncle. In addition to depriving him of an education, that lifestyle kept him from kids his own age. He would later describe his childhood as, "in a word, 'lonely.'" Give us a one-word description of your childhood.
Image result for teenage girl bent over crying
6) Because he spent so much of his youth on the road, living on buses, trains and hotel rooms, he loved eventually having his own kitchen and being able to cook his own meals. This weekend, will you spend much time in the kitchen?
Probably not. Chloë and I are going to be in Boise all day tomorrow at the ACLU's Activist Academy, and then on Sunday we'll be watching Sophia at an equestrian competition. So maybe we'll have time to cash in on some more birthday freebies (like these delicious chocolate-covered strawberries from The Melting Pot) while we're out and about!

 7) Sammy enjoyed experimenting with clothes and jewelry. What about you? Do you consider yourself conservative in dress or are you fashion forward?
09172019 Selfie
Eh. Neither, maybe? I'm just me.

8) When he died, Sammy was in debt to the IRS. Do you handle your own taxes, or do you use the services of an accountant?
Image result for IRS funny
I do 'em. Not worth much since Rob retired, though!
9) Random question: If you had to tell nothing but the truth (not even the tiniest white lie) for 24 hours, do you think you'd get yourself in trouble?
Image result for yes definitely gif
Very much so, yes. Who wouldn't?
Arrright. I gotta prepare for the next thing. And then the next. Gotta remind myself of what my physical therapist, Susan, tells me: "Pacing, Melanie. Remember to pace yourself."
I'm not good at it, y'all!!!
♥ Take time for yourselves, and thank your hostess, Gal - er, Sam - she works hard for us. (I'm still sorry.) (P.S. I did know the song, of course, but I clicked the link and listened again, and then more of Sammy, and then on to some other stuff. Really light-hearted comedy and Adam Sandler and things I just truly, honestly needed right at this moment in time.) ♥

Saturday 9: Ooh La La

Image result for Britney Spears performing

Well, well, well. As she says, "It's Britney, bitch."

Welcome back, playas. It's Friday, just after 1800 MST. (Speaking of which, we've lived in Idaho over two years, and I still forget about the time change. My East Coast pals, of which I have many, are not always amused by this!)


Let's get started. Link up here if you want to link up with Crazy Sam and the rest of the gang this week for another fun round of Saturday 9. Sam never disappoints.


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

1) "Ooh la la" is defined as an interjection said when you think someone or something is "surprising, unusual or attractive." Looking back over this week, did you come across anything that deserves an "ooh la la?"

Image result for i stand with ravelry

I guess? Kinda? I just learned last night that Ravelry, the fiber arts (think knitting, crochet, etc.) community of which I have been a member since October 2007, has banned all support for POTUS #45. Their statement reads:

"We are banning support of Donald Trump and his administration on Ravelry. We cannot provide a space that is inclusive of all and also allow support for open white supremacy. Support of the Trump administration is unambiguously support for white supremacy. For more details, read this document: https://ravelry.com/content/no-trump"

I love this!  Personally, I'm with them, but the rest of the fiber community (and yes, it is immense, for those of you not in the know), is all unraveling over it. My interest in this whole situation is certainly piqued.

2) In this song, Britney Spears sings that she's eager to accompany you, even if you're not a millionaire. But let's say you suddenly become really rich. What's the first leisure trip you would take with your new funds? Who would you bring along?

Image result for Red japanese decor

I would want to head to Japan with hubs. We'd probably want to spend at least 10 days to two weeks, right? There's so much diversity; I'd want to see everything! B-t-dubbs, the photo above is my inspiration for how I want to decorate this office. Hubs is all, "It's your office, do what you want, but..." LOL but it's going to be great. I promise.

3) Britney is eager to dance with you, even if you don't wear designer clothes. Let's say you need to add a blouse (or shirt) to your wardrobe. Where's your go-to for clothes shopping?

Have you guys tried thredup yet? OMG. I've gotten amazing clothing from there for myself, my kids, and Hubs. I've saved - no exaggeration - thousands of dollars on some really sweet great-condition, designer clothes for all of us. I've paid pennies on the dollar and almost never been disappointed. We love thredup!!

4) The video begins with Britney at the movies with her two young sons. Will you be seeing any family members this weekend?


Just these knuckleheads.

5) This is a theme from the movie Smurfs 2. A Smurf is a little blue creature who lives in a mushroom-shaped house in the forest. Assuming that your home is not shaped like a mushroom and isn't in the forest, how would you describe your abode? (Mansion, ranch house, farm house, high-rise, igloo ...)

Josephine House

In a word, our new house is immense. It's a two-story house in the middle of Idaho (so nowhere), but it's our dream house, so I accept the trade-off. I it. I truly do. (Also, I just looked back up to the question and saw "igloo" for the first time. 😂😂)

6) Britney admits to smoking and biting her nails. What bad habit do you wish you could break?

Image result for diet coke gif

Y'all know I'm addicted to Coca Dieta. I gotta quit.

7) In 2013, when this song was popular, Pope Benedict resigned. Thinking over your working life, have you been more nervous on your first day of a job, or the last one?

Related image

Hmm, a little bit of both, probably. Definitely the first day. I worked at the law firm in St. Pete on and off for three years, and on my last day, I left a little early to grab the bus (my car was in the shop) to the nearest stop to the courthouse. There, my love (who had also hopped a separate bus from my apartment to the courthouse stop), found me, and we ran, hand in hand and laughing and smiling, as fast as we could to the JOP to be married before close of business. We made it! But not before Hubs remembered his pocketknife and stuffed it under a potted plant outside before we went in. Best day ever! But yes, I was nervous that day. Not sure whether it was about getting married or about leaving my job... hmm, what do you think?

8) Also in 2013, golfer Phil Mickelson won the British Open. When did you most recently golf?


Oh, gosh. Not for years. My pain, my body won't allow it. In December last year, I took Sophia for some fun at this place in Meridian, Idaho (technically, I was ahem working), and there was miniature golf. Alas, she had to play alone, since I could not join her. Sucks. Speaking of golf, though, how about Tiger Woods? It's weird, but I'm so proud of him, y'all!!

9) Random question -- On what part of your body was the last itch you scratched?

Image result for scratching head gif

I was actually scratching my forehead as I read that question. My bangs keep getting caught by the blowing air from the AC, and it tickles my forehead. Annoying.


Much fun as always, Samantha! Thanks for running this show!


Saturday 9: Along Comes A Friend

Hey, guys! You came back! I'm always excited when I (remember to) do a Saturday 9 or Sunday Stealing post on time, because it usually means I get to visit with my friends in the blogosphere. So I'm thrilled you're here.

Link up here if you wish to play along this week!

And let's begin:


Saturday 9: Along Comes a Friend (Theme from Kate and Allie) (1984)

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

1) This week's song is the theme from Kate and Allie, a sitcom that ran from 1984 to 1989. Were you a fan?

Image result for jane curtin kate and allie

Oh, yes. I loved that show!

2) The show was about two divorced women who live and raise their children together. Were you ever a single parent? Were you raised by a single parent?

Image result for single parent meme

No, I've never been a single mom. Thank goodness, because even though I know I would find the strength, I don't have it innately. I was not raised by a single parent, either. I give single moms and dads a LOT of credit, because I know how soul-exhausting that must be.

3) Allie is proud that she can make a perfect cup of coffee: "Just the essence of the bean. No acidity." Kate is proud that she can belch the alphabet. What are you proud of?

I am proud of my ability to turn sticks and string into works of art!

4) Kate and Allie share half of a duplex in Greenwich Village. Many episodes had them doing laundry in the basement. Where are your washer and dryer?

We have a laundry room about smack-dab in the middle of our ranch-style house. Nothing special.

5) Kate was played by Susan St. James. She was familiar to viewers as the "wife" in McMillan and Wife. Without looking it up, do you know who played McMillan?

Actually, I'd never even heard of that show! :O

6) Allie was played by Jane Curtin. She was one of three women in the original Saturday Night Live cast. Without looking it up, can you name the other two?

Hm. Gilda Radner and... no. I don't know the third.

7) On the set, Jane Curtin ran a poker game for the cast and crew. Do you think winning at poker takes more luck or skill?

Image result for good poker hand

I'm not sure which it takes more of, but I've played poker and know that it definitely takes some skill. But luck definitely plays its part.

8) The Kate & Allie theme was cowritten and sung by John Lefler. Years later, Mr. Lefler wrote the theme for the Pokemon show. Is anyone in your life into Pokemon?

Image result for pokemon go gif

9) Random question: What's the last thing you whispered?

Oh, I don't know; I'm not a big fan of whispering. I usually only do it in jest.


I fell asleep halfway through writing this, because I was just exhausted! Fortunately, I'm still technically "early" for our time zone. ;) Have a lovely weekend, everyone!


Saturday 9: On And On

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


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

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

Image result for funny jealousy quotes

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

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

Image result for Lyme pain

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

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

Sophia's art

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

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

Image result for tonic immobility sharks

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

Image result for White knit layette

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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


Sunday Stealing: Happy New Year

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


End of Year Questions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. What places have you visited? 

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

6. Any new pets? Lost a pet?

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

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

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

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

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

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

9. What was your biggest achievement last year?

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

10. Did you get sick or injured?

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

11. What was the best thing you bought?

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

21. Describe how a relationship changed.

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

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

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

24. How have people around you changed?

Sophia and Bing

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

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

25. What have you learned throughout the year?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Sunday Stealing: Crush Meme

Hi again! Link up here if you're playing along this weekend.


What do you find hilarious, but most people don’t find funny?

Lavender Farm Day 010

Potty humor

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?

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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?

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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?

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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?

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Um, I have three teen-aged children. FOOD.

7. What event, large or small, has changed the course of your life most?

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Losing my mom at the age of 7

8. Whom do you have a hard time taking seriously?

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This guy

9. What do you judge people for most often?

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Voting for this guy - if they did...

10. What was the most beautiful view you have ever experienced?

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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?

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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?

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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?

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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?

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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?

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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?

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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?

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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?

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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!


That's the end. Thanks for stopping by!


Sunday Stealing: Something Different Meme

Welcome back! Link up here if you're playing along with Sunday Stealing today. Here we go:


Writes Bev: "Here's something different for this week.  
"There is a woman named "Wendy Weetabix" who wrote a blog called That's My Bix, but the last entry was from 2015.  But she has been posting random questions for the past several months on Facebook.  I went through and picked a few of them for us to answer this week."
1. What is a normal thing that took you an embarrassingly long time to learn?
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Welp, I suspect more than one person will say telling Right from Left - and me, too - but I just learned the other day that Greenland is a territory of Denmark. I either never knew that or just forgot and relearned it, but I felt stupid after learning it this time! ;)

2. In what ways are you old-fashioned?
I'm not very old-fashioned in a very lot of ways, being quite a leftward Liberal. But by the same token, I've become kind of a homebody. My husband and kids are my favorite people in the world, and I get to hang out with them every single day! (We homeschool.) I bake and cook, I knit and crochet... my kids jokingly call me "Grandma" when I'm fiddling with sticks and string! And Martha Stewart is my home-making idol - no lie!

3. What is the best sandwich you've ever eaten? Where did you get it? What made it so delicious?
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(Note: This picture was not it.) When I worked as a legal secretary in St. Pete, Florida, there was a bagel/deli in the same plaza, down at the other end. I didn't go there too terribly often, but on occasion, I would venture over. They had so many choices! But I will never forget the time that I ordered a Fruit & Nut bagel with their homemade Strawberry Cream Cheese. So maybe not technically a sammich, but it was crazy-good!

4. What are you currently not bragging about that you should totally brag about? 
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So I'm going the opposite route here: I run this weekly online auction on Facebook, and people pick up from my house when they have won something(s) from me. Usually, I send one of my girls out (my son is pretty much scared of people) because my pain level is too high, and today it was Sophia who went out. The woman, who was new to my auction group, was very impressed by my youngest, Sophia. The woman overpaid by a dollar and refused the change I sent Sophie out with before she left. It was declined, and then the above conversation ensued. I was beaming! And so yes, I totally bragged about it. ;)
5. What food have you never tasted and are most interested in trying? 
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Paella! Maybe not in as gigantical a paella pan as this one, but Seafood Paella is a Bucket List item for sure! And I think it may be happening in the near future. ;) Have you ever had it?

6. What history facts were you surprised to learn because it was never covered in school?
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First let me say this: As a former public school student who now homeschools my own kids, it sometimes rankles me that we hardly covered ANY of the world's give-or-take 200 countries in my Social Studies classes. I mean, I had to learn all the, what, 17 different republics or states or whatever that made up the former USSR, but I learned virtually nothing about Latin America until I went to college and took a semester-long course on recent Latin American History.
BUT, as a homeschooling parent who is now studying Brazil, preceded by Canada and to be succeeded by South America, I have also come to respect that class(room) time is extremely precious. Every wasted moment on scolding for behavior or other intrusions in the schedule is a moment taken from time for actual instruction. And with 30+ kids per class these days, there are bound to be tons more interruptions than we have with just three! So that rankling dissipates...
So to answer this question (FINALLY!), I will say that I had no idea how corrupt Brazil's government has been since the beginning, how many times its leadership has changed over after a political coup, or just how... difficult it has been to have peace for Brazilians.

7. What is something that you waited entirely too long to start or stop doing? What made you say "Why did I wait so long?"
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It just occurred to me, four-plus years into Rob's retirement from the U.S. Navy, that I could delegate some of the responsibilities of homeschooling to him! Well, to be fair, for 21/years of that he was downed by the brain tumor, but since then! We school year-round, and it just recently occurred to me that I could have him grade math papers! DUH! That takes a huge load off my plate, y'all! Sometimes I even have Chloe grade the papers of the younger two, but that's rarer. Such a relief to have that taken care of fairly effortlessly on my part now.

8. What socially expected thing do you hate doing the most? What thing about polite society really grinds your gears? 
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SMALL TALK!! I suck at it, I hate the inane exchange of pleasantries. If I can't have a real, meaningful conversation with someone, I'd just as soon not bother beyond the "hi, have a nice day, thank you, bye" stuff with, like, a cashier or someone. As for what grinds my gears, it's the social construct that dictates we must always be upbeat and positive with strangers. I'm sorry, I have Chronic, Late-Stage Lyme Disease, which is not a recognized illness by most of the medical society in this country, and I suffer every moment of every day. Lately, I've been amusing myself by answering, when asked how I am, "Do you want the truth or the socially acceptable version?" Maybe I'm a whiny, over-complaining brat, but IDGAF anymore. :\

9. What is something about your city that I should know if I'm going to visit? What is the hidden "must see" that you always tell friends and visitors to not miss?
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Well, you should know that's it's extremely dry here. When we got here from Miami, I could barely talk, my mouth was so dry all the time. And that still happens, even though I've acclimated to it! I've actually been diagnosed with Diabetes Insipidus because of the constant drinking I have to do. I don't know the greater Boise area well enough yet, having only been here for five months, but I would say the "must sees" are all the natural wonders here and around Idaho. OMG, it's SUCH a beautiful state. The mountains! The valleys! The lakes and rivers! The mountains. Just so gorgeous, everywhere you look.

10. What do you miss most about childhood?
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You may remember that my mother died when I was seven years old, and that life was hell after that, so not a whole helluva lot. However, before she died, we used to gather as a family, with grandparents and aunts and uncles and friends, around the organ while she played and sang. I remember her singing well, and my grandfather, who had a charming Baritone voice, belting out the Christmas carols with her. I loved those times. I also remember my sister Stacey and I arguing over whose turn it was to play that organ, on other days, and Mom setting a timer for five minutes for us to alternate on it.

11. What "fact" did you learn in school that is not true or no longer true?
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That people are born as a blank canvas and are generally warm, nice, kind, sweet, and loving. The first part may very well be true, but nurture causes so many to become exactly the opposite. Okay maybe this is a cop-out, because obviously I didn't learn this in school, but it's a heartbreaking adult discovery, that is for sure.

12. What's your favorite piece of useless trivia? 
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I don't think any trivia is 'useless' if it's interesting to someone - and it's almost all interesting to me!

13. What's your best go to homemade "lazy" meal?
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I used to make this for myself when I was a poor undergrad, and then graduate student: I call it "Cheesy Pasta Bake." I just mix a bunch of interestingly-shaped pastas together - whatever half-box or quarter-box here and there left over in the pantry - and cook that, then throw it back in the pot with different kinds of cheeses (at least three! It's a rule), a jar or so of sauce, mix it up, then bake it on 350o for about 20-30 minutes until the cheese is melted. The girls and I adore it. The menfolk, meh, not so much.

14. What's the title of this current chapter in your life?
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"Oh, Boise!" (And LOL! Our church is located in Garden City. It's really not so bad... now, maybe.)

15. What is a habit or practice that you learned from your childhood that you didn't realize was "weird" until you were an adult?
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I don't know. Nothing, probably. I'm a highly self-conscious introvert. I know i'm weird. I embrace it now, at 40 years old. Finally!
That was fun! Thanks, Bev. And thank you for stopping by.

Sundays In My City: Field Trip To Babby Farms

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

Sunday Stealing: 17 Meme


Hie thee here and link up thusly if you're playing along today!


17 Meme

Stolen from: Survey Haven
Are you a jealous person? 

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. 

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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"? 

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"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:

Hubs: Cummerbunds (I disagree)

Sophia, 9: Haz-mat suits (I disagree)

Chloë: Thin socks (I kind of agree!)

* * *

Well, that was fun. Thanks for stopping by!


I Done Been Creatin'


For the last four days or so, I've been working on this purdy li'l thang. I finished less than an hour ago!


The sweater, technically called a "sacque" because I don't know why, was the first piece I made. I almost ran out of the light pink on this, but not quite.


The bonnet, on which I pretty much did run out of the light pink, was next, followed by the booties. I hate crocheting booties. I don't know why; they're just not my favorite a-tall. But they turned out nicer than the picture shows, so all is good, right?


The soaker (a cloth diaper cover) was the last piece. The pattern looked harmless enough... it's not really crooked; I just didn't notice I laid it out that way when I took the photos.


My favorite part is the ruffly tushy!! So cute! Deceptively yarn-, time-, and labor-intensive, I was fixin' to give up when I finished the first one and saw how adorable it looked. Can you imagine this on a wee baby girl? I so wish I had a model... le sigh.

Anyway, this-here's what's been keeping me up nights. Well, this, and caffeine, anxiety, stress... ;)

You like it? I like it. Good enough.


On Being Crafty

Since this guy:

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has been freaking me out since Thursday with his possibly having had a stroke or several (hi, two ER visits later and we have yet to have him see a Neurologist, grr), I've been what you might call "productively unproductive." Huh? Welp, instead of doing (mostly) what I ought to do, like school the chillens and clean the house and sech, I've been spending the time trying not to be One Big Worrywart by being crafty instead. Crafting helps soothe my frazzled nerves and so, in this case, I gave myself a free pass to do whatever it was that I needed to do.


Firstly, I was determined to conquer this beast, which all of our girls - including the little 5-7-year-old Daisies - were supposed to have made at our encampment last weekend, but which proved to be next to impossible for just about everyone (including us adults). Chloë massively impressed me - and, I think, several of the other Leaders there - by reinventing the wheel and coming up with her own successful way to do it, but even then, it wasn't "right," as the directions given were confusing and, well, it turns out, just wrong. Since we had several 2-L bottles in the recycling bin, I decided to take another whack at it, and behold! Once you follow the dang directions, it's really not too bad. And it looks kind of cool, so I ended up making, like, five. (Hey, it was nerve-soothing, remember??)


Ignoring the background, and the fact that I couldn't get off the entire Coke label, I think it turned out pretty well. I filled it with glass beads and water, then went outside and snipped what may be my last lily of the year to snap this picture. My mistake was leaving it there alone. Half-hour later, I went into the kitchen, and I found our two wee kittens had battered the flower and drunk all the water they could reach out of the vase. Cats!!

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Ah, but they're so cute and sweet and innocent when they're sleeping (not unlike the kids, eh?), it's hard not to forgive them and just laugh it off...


I was enjoying the craft so much that when I ran out of 2-L bottles, I decided to try making one out of a much smaller and more rigid SoBe LifeWater bottle. That took all my strength to cut! But, I rescued what was by then left of the flower and think it turned out mighty purty with some blue glass beads (I almost typed "glue blass" instead, as I am the queen of Spoonerisms). Right?


I then turned my attention to making my SWAPS ("Something Whimsical Affectionately Pinned Somewhere") for my Outdoor II (camping) training session that I was supposed to be at, well, right now. (After the Rob scares, I had to cancel my attendance, but I didn't know that at the the time.) So what's this jumble of mess?


Since our group's chosen Patrol name, with the overall camp theme was "Under the Sea," was the Sassy Sharks, I came up with this SWAP(s) first: A Sassy Shark intentionally pinned to the TOP of the crocheted chain. Get it? Sharks are apex predators, at the top of the food chain? Yes? You see? C'mon, it's jeenyus. Okay, okay, whatever, I liked it.

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This was the second set of SWAPS I worked out. Up close:

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A baggy containing a little card reading, "Make no bones (get it? Get it? Sharks have no bones! I'm so damn clever) about it, we Sharks sure are Sassy!" with another sassy, dancing little shark clip-art photo, and some frou-frous thrown in there for extra sass. I wanted to make a third set of SWAPS, but time was running short, and I still needed to make our Patrol's name tags, for which I was responsible.


A lot of Google Imaging, printing, cutting, laminating, and badge-attaching later, and my name tags were done. I was SO proud of them, and that's probably the one disappointment I had about not going camping this weekend; "that" being able to explain to each of our participants why I assigned them the sharks that I did. So, you'll have to sit through while I explain them to you, 'cause someone has to know the truth of the matter.

Top, L to R: Hard to see, but N was our "Ghost Shark," because she was absent for our initial training and planning session, so we only had her in spirit. J was our Hammerhead, because they're one of the few sharks that really school in groups and they're quite dominant, and I got the sense that J was a real team player but also a natural-born leader-type. See?

Middle, L to R: S was our Wobbegong, one of my favorite sharks, because she struck me as gentle and shy, like these more docile fish. D wanted to be the Great White, and I forget why, but I gave that to her. She had a strong personality as well, so it seemed fitting, anyway. And, my Assistant Troop Leader, Miss D, was our Patrol Leader, a.k.a. the group cheerleader, so I made her our Megamouth Shark. Get it? Like she had a megaphone to cheer us all on with? Ha. I kill The Me.

Bottom, L to R: I made myself the Nurse Shark, because I was our Patrol's elected First Aider (which makes it suck even more that I couldn't go! Hope no one gets any boo-boos...). The next one was a Chimaera, which I LOVE because it belongs to AD: The overall camp trainer, she gets a name tag from EVERY Patrol to keep for her collection. So why a Chimaera? Well, they are related to sharks, but not really sharks, for one, and for another, in mythology, chimaerae are thought to be able to change themselves into different things, and since she gets to be part of all the Patrols, technically, she's changing roles depending on which one she's with. Love it? I do!! Our Patrol Trainer, C, is a runner, so I made her our super-fast Mako Shark. And last, but not least, A, the oldest (by far) in our group, was the now-extinct but long-lived Megalodon Shark. Heehee.

Yup. I'm proud of these and hope everyone was able to figure out their sharky identities without my help. Am I a nerd? You betcha!

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Once I finished that, I was still distracted by my fretting, so I turned to the one guaranteed nerve-calmer for me: needlework. The knitting project (my Sparkle! dress), I deemed to be at a point to stressful to get the job properly done, so I switched tactics and started a pretty doily (Ravlink) instead. (PDF here) I was so glad to finally finish those 10 flowers last night! After about six, I was bored of that. But sometimes, a little tedium is just what the doctor ordered, so that was okay, too.

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Last night, I worked on the center of the doily, a fast work-up, and am now at the point where I'll switch colors again (this is actually a light mint green, if you can't tell from the pic; click to embiggerate, as usual) and start attaching the flowers. I can't wait and will jump into that as soon as I finish this post!

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And finally, I made the creamed corn at which my teen cooking class balked,and since I was so exhausted from my ongoing Hell Week, I gave them a pass and let them have Study Hall instead, agreeing to make the four (nope, three, since one student did agree to make the rice dish, so I sent her home with the ingredients for that) side dishes on last week's cooking agenda myself and report back to them. My report? Utter deliciousness, and I have since engulfed about 2/3 of the dish. Rob's pronouncement? "Ugh.That is all you." Fine by me! Yum!

Today, I'll make up the other two dishes and show you those, later.

Have a swell week!


Tesla II


My friend C has a pet African Gray parrot. Recently, she commissioned me to make a crocheted version of Tesla. I haven't done a lot of amigurumi, and I couldn't find any patterns for an African Gray, so I had to "wing" it (heh heh...sorry). Here are the results! I sent Tesla II to C recently, and she seems happy with her. So, I'm happy, too.

[Click picture collage to embiggerate.]


Friday Fragments

Friday Fragments 

Link up here if you're fragmenting along with Mrs.4444 today!

I can't promise my fragments today won't depress you. If you don't feel like it, shuffle on along now... ;)

So I had this friend. A really, really good, close friend, who I cared a tremendous bit about. I knew him a very short period of time, but we clicked immediately and got along like two people who get along real well.

Anyway, things got too intense, and when I posted this, he had enough. It cost me the friendship.

That was what, a week ago? My heart is still broken.

Actually, for the first time since I was a teenager, I did this:


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I never considered myself a "cutter," because I have always used my fingernails (I have attempted scissors and knives but couldn't ever manage to break the skin with them), but apparently that counts. It's worse than it looks in the picture; that was fresh. Don't ask me why I took a picture.

Right now it looks like this, though:



...because Hello Kitty was all I had in my First Aid kit. Hey, whatever works. It hurts like hell. I won't be doing it again anytime soon. That's a promise.


I did try not to cut. I even put on my sneakers - which I never, ever wear - and went out for a run to try and stop the pain I was feeling. I don't run. I just don't. But I did. And I liked it. So I've been gathering up a Playlist of run-worthy songs on my iPod, and as soon as the weather isn't crappish, I'm going to keep doing it. I WILL run that 5K this year!! Another promise.

Anyway, CM, if you're out there reading this (which I doubt, but you never know), please stop this nonsense and be my friend again. Please?

Here's another thing I posted this week, that I think you should read. I'm actually kind of proud of it. I printed it out and mailed it. Kinda hoping it makes the old man cry again. Is that wrong?

I have to admit, I feel like I've been falling down on the job when it comes to homeschooling. I think we do okay at it when we DO it, but we haven't spent enough time on it since Christmas. Granted, my 5yo went from not knowing all her letter sounds to READING, and my 7yo went from a mid-kinder reading level to a mid/late-first grade level so far this school year, and my 9yo went from being TERRIBLE at math to adding up $80 worth of groceries in her head and only being 3¢ off the actual total... and oodles of other things, but... I'm slacking. There. I said it. I'm slacking. Time to get back in the saddle and be more gung-ho again.

We've been doing lots of Valentine's arts and crafts projects this week, including all these on Tuesday and more stuff today:



our bedecked chandelier, and


our Valentine (eucalyptus) tree, and



our bannisters, and 


this little love-note to my alma mater, the U. of Miami. Fun times. I had every intention of doing more academic stuff today, but we had a rough, tough morning, so I made it up to the kids with an afternoon full of buttons, ribbons, glitter and hot glue!

Tonight, I continued the craftiness by finishing up the African Gray (amigurumi) parrot I've been making for a good friend of mine. I had no pattern or experience, really, with amigurumi other than one or two little things, so it was a real challenge for me. I can't show you the picture yet because she hasn't seen it and reads this blog, so I'll just show you my starting point a few weeks ago:


She approved of my color choices, but that's it! Everything else will be a surprise. Eek! I'm nervous!

At Bunco last night, Skinny-Minnie T totally made my night by standing next to me and joke-angrily saying that SHE was supposed to be the skinny one, here! At the time, I was wearing size SIX jeans and really needed a belt!! :D

I'll leave you now with this funny (and totally wrong!) little conversation that my husband texted to me. It happened a little while ago:

Hubs, to son Jack, 7: "I'm trying to take a dump, can you leave [the bathroom], please??"

Jack: "I'm trying to look at the damn [valentine] tree!"

I busted a gut. I probably shouldn't share that, but I think it's hee-larious. Some - maybe all - of you are shaking your heads, and I don't care. It's funny to ME!

All right, good-night and happy weekend.


Peep. Peep. Peep.

Flappy Chick 004

I'll be brief.  I made this today, being highly desirous of some instant gratification.

Flappy Chick 003 

It satisfied the need. His name is Flappy. He's cute as a bug, and I love him.

It's my first amigurumi, unless you count this rocket I made Lucas for his first birthday:

Luke's rocket 001

I always think amigurumi should have eyes, though.

Now, I'm itching to make more. I bought four bags of safety eyes, and I have lots of yarn, so... what's next?

 Flappy Chick 008


Your Name Rhymes With Snot


On Friday morning, I drove out to EBF Chesapeake to pick up Stephanie and wee baby Luke (who, at 8 months -8 months already!!!! - is really no longer "wee" at all) and carry them back to our house.

They spent the entire day and well into the night with us, so that I could knit Luke a redeux pair of wool shorties that would actually fit his cloth-diaper clad little butt this time, unlike the last pair that came out, well, rather ginormous. (As Steph says, "They go up to his boobies.")

As for the title of this post, I believe it was Chloë who joked to his mama, "Lucas Mucous, your name rhymes with snot!" I giggled and was relieved when I looked up to see if Steph was offended and found her giggling, too. Phew!

The knitting took about 10 hours. We tried the shorties on at one point, but since I was using DPNs (double-pointed needles), a bunch of stitches fell of the needles. Even though I'd used big rubber bands to hold them in place. Fecking stitches. Steph quickly grabbed me a crochet hook, and I was able to save every last one of them (sending a silent "thank-you" to the anonymous yarn shop employee who taught me how to do that, four or five years ago). Phew again!

I didn't take many breaks, knitting almost continuously through the full 10 hours. To say my hands were cramped afterward is an understatement! The only real break I remember taking, aside from inhaling a crab cake and using the powder room, is getting up to show Steph my dance skilz to "Cotton-Eyed Joe" on Wii Just Dance. I think she was impressed and amazed. Or amused. I don't really know.

Oh yeah, and I took a shower, because we were going to go go this awesome (so I heard afterward) Etsy-sponsored crafting party in Norfolk, but we mutually decided not to go and continue on with the knitting. My new mail-order bathing suit arrived from Land's End, and I tried that on. I'm wearing all size 12 stuff from Old Navy right now, but since they were out of size 12 suits, I bit the bullet and ordered a size 10. Well, it fit!! I had to squeeze it on, but Rob said I looked "hot" and that a 12 would probably have been too big. Yay! That means that after I get my abdominoplasty, I should be at least an 8, if not a 6. (I have a LOT of skin to remove.) Single digits, baby!! I can not WAIT.

Anyway, the shorties finally got finished, and I held my breath while Steph tried them on Lucas Mucous. The final decree? They fit!!! Woohoo!! The hard work paid off.


He does look rather cute, doesn't he? I mean, with the shorts. He could wear a brown paper bag and look cute, though. =D


In other yarny news, I had to work through the night into Friday morning, but I finished crocheting the blanket I was working on at the HEAV convention last week:


Oh, my bad, did you want to see the whole thing? Here you go:


I like the finished product very much. I didn't like it at all at the beginning, because it's made with icky-crappy Red Heart yarn (with my apologies the people who donated the yarn to CARE Package the day before I started making the blanket from a pattern book donated by Bunco-friend-Linda) that squeaked throughout the process. I wasn't a big fan of the colors for the first half of the blanket, and maybe the first 7/8 of the blanket but finished, I actually think it looks pretty. And it's softer finished than it is started, if that makes any sense. In the end, I'm satisfied that it will make a nice blanket for the full-term baby girl who will be unfortunate enough to need it. :(



In much happier news, Thursday was Bridging Day for Chloë's Brownies troop. The girls are now officially Juniors! After a year of Daisies and three years of Brownies, I couldn't be more proud of her and the girls, most of whom have been together since they were five. I spent a good deal of time on Thursday sewing on the patches she'd received in December and asked me to sew on ever since; after the ceremony, I sewed on all the rest, in completely the wrong places (ie, non Try-It patches on the front, since I ran out of room on the back). But she's never going to wear it again, so does it really, truly matter?

(I also sewed the patches Sophia has earned on her Daisy smock (Early Bird registration, plus a Make-It-Build-It patch from Lowe's for the trellises they made me for Mother's Day, and a soccer patch from Fall Soccer), and the ones Jack has earned on the back of his Cub Scout shirt. I KNOW those are in the wrong place, so Rob will probably have to take them off and re-do them, as the boys actually have uniform inspections.)


Miss Nikki, the Troop Leader, introduced the girls and sent them across the bridge, and Miss Karen, the assistant TL, gave them their certificates and pinned on their new insignia. Congratulations, Chloë!!


Is she giving me that tween look that says, "Moo-ooommm, stop taking my picture"?? Is she old enough for that yet? My word.


Before the ceremony, we ate dinner, and Miss Nikki passed out all the patches and things the girls had earned. She even gave me a Volunteer certificate and a gift bag with goodies and a couple of patches of my own. Everyone had to bring something to eat to the potluck; we brought the McNuggets and fries and all the Shrek godies that we were supposed to have at our Shrek party last Sunday. Since almost no one was going to come to that, I canceled it and decided to bring the Shrek party to Bridging Day, instead! It worked out.


After the party, during which the girls also sang and recited some things for us, Chloë was completely exhausted. She passed out immediately, which sucked, because we had more than an hour's drive (with traffic) up to Newport News for an audition.

H, the casting director, had called us as we were literally ON OUR WAY to the Girl Scouts party, asking us to come up immediately. Um, no can do, sorry. He said that he was sure that if they saw her, they would want to hire her, and since it was a national commercial, I hemmed and hawed and finally decided no, we really have to go to this party. He countered by saying they would stay late just for her, if we could come up right away after the party. Well, we had plans to go to Michaels to make a Father's Day craft for Rob, but we couldn't really say no, could we?

So we went.

Rob took The Littles downstairs to Maggie Moo's for some amazing (but not cheap) ice cream, while Chloë had her on-camera audition with H. I had forgotten to mention her teeth situation (she's missing several, and others are half grown-in, at the moment) on the phone, but he said it was no big deal. She "slated" for the camera, which is basically saying your name and age and whatever else they want you to do by way of introducing yourself. She was much too tired for that, so it wasn't great, but then she had to take a potty break.

During the break, she really woke up and became her regular, silly, "on" self, so the rest of the on-camera part was really cute. You never know how they'll perceive you, though, so I'm not holding out much hope. H said we should find out by Tuesday if she gets it. It would be a great gig, though!



Lookee!! Rob was a busy boy today. He put together our new compost bin, hauled all the compost we've been making from behind the bushes in the front "yard" and filled it up. Doesn't it look great? I'm SO excited to have a proper bin now.


Also, he built the first of our two cedar raised beds. Unfortunately, he had a dickens of a time actually getting them into the ground, so he had to take it all apart again! D'oh!! Poor Rob. He's going to put it in separately tomorrow, I guess. But still, it looked nice, right? LOL

Can you see my two pretty Tiger Lilies under the tree in the bag? Love. Those are my faaaaavorite flowers.


And finally, Jack snagged my camera and took about 800 pictures with it. Most were crap, but here are a few I kept. Chloë, busy playing games on my iPhone - a favorite activity for all three kiddos.


Sophia, looking completely enthused.


An amusing self-portait


Daddy working; see his hand all bandaged up? He got some horrible blisters trying to pound the box into the ground. Poor Daddy!!

That's all. Back to working on promoting the new blog. If you haven't entered the giveaway, please, please, please go do. :D Thanks, I really mean it. Thank you. There will be a new one posted later on Sunday!


I'm The Only One Who'll Leave A Light On For You

Don't ask. It won't make sense anyway.



Sophia looked particularly adorable. She dressed herself, as always, and even though I told her it was about 1100º out and she would be far too hot, she insisted on wearing the sweater.  


I've never met a cuter child being rude to her mother. (If she hadn't done that, the resulting picture would have been even more adorable; oh, well.)


Jack has been all about rockets. He built a rocket, talked about rockets, "saw" rockets in ordinary objects, and asked to learn about rockets this year when we home-school. Is he trying to tell me something?


Sophia had a routine hearing screening at the Naval hospital. Perfect in both ears. She kept saying through the microphone, to her tester, "How long is this going to take, anyway?" She has places to go, things to do, people to see... you know.


The Littles played together quite nicely, for most of the day. 


Chloë took this picture, noting growth of our transplated tomato plants from the Keeneys. It's doing quite well, thanks!


  • I continued to crochet that multi blanket, which I had planned to finish over the past weekend. At this rate, I will definitely be finished by NEXT weekend, at least.
  • I scrubbed down all three bathrooms, including three pretty gross toilets. I feel accomplished. The last two, I washed in the nude after taking a cold shower, and Rob walked in the kids' ladybug bathroom as I was bent over to scrub the tub. "Hello!" he exclaimed. "It's a full moon out tonight!"
  • After dinner, which Rob made, the kids and I sat on the front porch to enjoy the nice breeze. I crocheted; Chloë sketched pictures of herself, her sister, and various objects; Jack drove his truck around the driveway; and we all pointed out fireflies.
  • The Littles and I cleaned up the entire downstairs in about 45 minutes, except for the kitchen (Rob's domain), and except for the clutter in the office (my domain, which I attend to 24/7/365 and still can't seem to manage to tame). Anyway, it looks pretty good in here for the moment.
  • I found out that Chloë will need to head up to DC early next month to reshoot part of the beginning of Boom. She'll actually get paid this time, a per diem and travel rate. Awesome!

Back to my crocheting. Until midnight, when Rob's pay hits, and then it's time to pay bills and make plans. Have a good night!




That guy is supposed to be "overwhelmed," which is what I was when I first arrived at the Greater Richmond Convention Center on Thursday afternoon, but I don't know if that's what I think of when I look at it. But never mind him. OMG, the GRCC is huge, the amount of people there was huge, the number of things to see and do was huge, it was all just... huge.

I was really wishing that the rest of my family, or at least my husband, were with me, but alas, I was alone. (They were supposed to come, but then Chloë had a mandatory dance rehearsal on Saturday morning, and Sophia had preschool graduation on Friday afternoon, followed by a picnic, followed by Chloë's party for being Super Citizen of tte month for her class...)

After checking into my cheaper-than-cheap hotel room in a not-so-classy part of Richmond, I drove the 2.5-mile, 25-minute (yes, I'm serious) drive down to the convention center, paid six bucks to park, and followed the crowd. I was semi-organized in that I had highlighted in green all of the workshops I definitely wanted to attend, and in orange, those that I might possibly want to attend... but I probably should have studied the maps more, because I had no idea where to go.


Fortunately, the home-schooling community is made up of Generally Nice People, and one such GNP noticed me standing in the middle of things, wide-eyed, looking around in bewilderment. She walked me to the registration table and then pointed out where I should go after that. She told me to try not to get too overwhelmed (too late) and before walking away, said, "You're here alone, for your first time? Oh, bless your heart." I think my poor heart was blessed about 75 times during the course of the convention.


Anyway, for the next 5½ hours, I sat through four workshops on, basically, "how to homeschool." There were half-hour breaks after each hour-long session, during which I crocheted on a baby blanket for CARE Package. Unfortunately, I have done a TON of research on home-schooling, homeschool laws in the state of Virginia, and choosing curricula, so I really didn't get a single new piece of information out of that period of time. Suckage. But, had I not gone, of course I would not have learned that much, right? And there was nothing else that I really could have done in that time, so it wasn't a total waste.


After the workshops, I had about an hour left before my parking garage closed at 1900 (lame!), so I went to explore the ginormous Exhibit Hall full of vendors selling everything from Christian Curriculum (80%) to crafts (5%) to gadgets (5%) to miscellaneous stuff (8%) to, uh, oh yeah - secular curriculum (2%). YEAH. It's VERY hard to be a secular home-schooler, at least in the state of Virginia. Er, commonwealth. Whatever.

Which brings me to the point where I could editorialize for hours about home-schooling from a Christian-based point of view, but I will try not to do that. Suffice it to say, I am Christian, but I am also a scientist, a biologist, and I not only "believe in" evolution but know that is an actual, real, observable phenomenon. I can do nothing but roll my eyes at the people who believe and teach their kids otherwise, and I do. A lot. Sorry if you're one, but oh, my God, learn some science. Evolution does NOT contradict Creationism, and if you want to read a great explanation about that, read the top of this page. Just the top. ;)

Anyway, before I get myself worked up, let's move on to this funny sign I spotted on one vendor's table:


I asked her before I took the picture, and I think she was tickled that I noticed it. Maybe you've seen it before, but I hadn't and thought it was too funny!


I looked through half the Exhibit Hall, spending just a tiny bit of money on a couple things for the kids, before I had to go rescue Vanna from the garage and head out for something to eat. On the short-but-long drive "home" to my hotel, I took a few pictures of some of the houses. Richmond is full of really great, old architecture, and I would have loved to have more time to walk around, take it in, and snap some pictures. But I have one more, and that's it:


I look at houses like that and see faces. I see faces on cars, too. Do you?

One picture that I really wish I had been able to take: near the GRCC was a very old apartment building, very stylish and well maintained but obviously as old as the country itself, probably. Well, probably not that old, but OLD. But smack-dab in front of it was a sign promoting a "move-in special," and it was bright and splashy and couldn't have been more in contrast with the old building. I stopped and looked at it every time I passed it.

I tried to find this place to get something to eat, since I wanted to continue eating local, organic food and this was definitely The Place to go for that, but I couldn't find it. Not because the GPS on my iPhone wasn't sufficient - it was, and it was my lifeline while in the city - but there was so much construction going on around Broad Street where I mainly traveled, that I couldn't figure out where to actually turn to stay on path. So I skipped it in favor of a tiny Mexican restaurante that promised authentic food.


Um, so why was half the menu Greek food? I didn't get it. I ordered a vegetarian plate, subbing beans for the rice I can't eat, and ate about a third of it, and two sips of my drink. The service was terrible, and no one came to ask if I needed anything. I was reading many of the things I'd picked up at the Exhibit Hall, so when the server came to check on me, finally, I told her I was "all set." Normally, when someone leaves a ton of food, you'd think they might want a box, right? Or at least you'd ask? No. She whisked my plate and drink away and dumped them in the trash! I was mortified! I planned on eating more later that night, or the following night. I was so dumbfounded, I just paid and left. But holy cow, I was not happy.

I had stayed up all night the night before, planning my trip and generally being too excited to sleep, and my two cups of coffee had long since worn off. I went back to the hotel and crashed. Hard.



My phone had died, and I forgot to set the room's alarm clock, so I slept really, really late. I missed the free hotel breakfast, and I missed the first workshop session at the convention center. It wasn't that upsetting, though, because I really hadn't settled in on one that I felt I had to attend. I would have liked to have gotten something out of it. Oh, well.

For breakfast, I spent a buck and had a bag of seeds and nuts out of the vending machine. It more than filled me up. I'm glad I can eat so little, so cheaply, since I had very little to spend!

Driving back to the convention center, I happened to find a GREAT parking spot that someone else was just vacating, just two blocks from the hall. I tried the parking garage, but it was full, as was every parking lot around, so I sent up a prayer of thanks when I happened upon this space. And it was FREE! The limit was two hours, but I decided to chance it and stay there the whole time. I was right, no ticket. Yay!


It was during the long lunch break when I arrived, so I meandered around for a minute, until I decided to which workshop I wanted to go. These two home-schooled students were playing classical music for the crowd during breaks, and they were great. Very talented.


I settled on a class about teaching your children art. I was the first person there, so the presenter, Barry Stebbing, asked me to run the projector for him. We chatted for a minute, and he asked where I was from. I told him, and he said, "Oh, Pat Robertson! Right? Do you ever watch the 700 Club?" I should have known that he was yet another deeply conservative Christian, but I didn't, so when I replied, "Uh, well, I've seen it, but I don't go out of my way to watch it," his face changed slightly. He didn't really chat with me much after that, at that time.  But remember him, because he will come back later in this post.

The class was great, and I learned a great deal. It changed a lot about how I planned to run our art classes this year, from willy-nilly and unfocused, to fundamental and well-planned. I knew what I needed to buy and where I needed to start.  Perfect.

I headed down to my next workshop room and crocheted for the half-hour until it started. I did that a lot: got there early, sat and crocheted, and listened to the people around me whispering about what I was doing. Sometimes I saw them point. Sometimes they tapped me on the shoulder and either said I was really fast or asked what I was amaking. Sometimes they said I was industrious or something like that. Some lamented that they hadn't brought their own needlework. That surprised me. Why wouldn't you bring it? I can't even imagine why not. Knitters and crocheters never complain about having to wait.




The workshop was on evaluating your child's writing, and I enjoyed the speaker. I got a lot out of it, but maybe not as much as I would have liked, since it was mainly geared toward older students. The main thought in my head when I left was that I definitely needed to find a grading rubric for my kids' writing assignments.


After class was over, I was finished for the day, so I decided to explore the second half of the Exhibit Hall. I loved these tiny violins, which were about the length of my forearm; I should have put something in the picture for scale. They were too cute. 

I do think it's time to get Chloë playing an instrument, but we can't afford lessons. And I certainly am not the one to teach her. We'll do music class as best as I can, but... I don't know. I guess I'll just pray and put on my thinking cap and see what develops.


After I left, I was starving, so I decided to check out the little hole-in-the-wall pizza place on the corner near where I parked. For $1.76, I ate one huge slice of cheese pizza, and that was more than enough for me. It was delicious, so I intended to go back the next day for more! If you're ever in Richmond, go to Romanza pizza at the corner of 1st St and Marshall. It's run by Africans. The service and ambiance are non-existent, but the prices and food more than make up for it!


I had three hours to kill, so I decided to take a bath. I hate baths. I get bored. I don't want to just sit there and do nothing, but I can't do anything much, because it'll get wet. I tried to read, but my magazine was getting wet, so I hurried through it and hopped out of there in five or six minutes. Baths are so boring for me! Rob laughed that I actually took one, but I told him, "hey, I've got a clean tub, no kids to interrupt me, and nothing much else to do."

Actually, I was living in the lap of luxury at that seedy hotel room. It was clean and clutter-free, I had all the AC and TV I wanted, and no one wanted my constant attention. So different from home. I decided to enjoy it... but truthfully, I missed my hubs and kids dreadfully.



A friend of mine was coming into town to hang out and have a drink or two, so I got dressed up for the occasion. A stranger in the hotel said I looked "really nice," and another stranger at the bar called me a MILF when told that I had three kids at home. A MILF! Hello, I am a MILF! I have arrived! I derived great pleasure out of that one!



I wasn't out that late, but I couldn't sleep well and didn't get to rest until about 0400.  I tried to read, crochet, watch TV, but nothing was holding my interest, so I just kind of lay there and stared out the window. It sucked, because even though I set my alarms this time, I still woke up late!

Actually, I didn't. I woke up and went downstairs to eat breakfast (a muffin, whoop-de-doo), and then I went back up and fell asleep again. I did set an alarm, but... I didn't hear it. So again, I missed the first workshop session. Damn it!

When I got to the convention center - after finding another free parking space, across the street from the one the day before, woot! - it was lunchtime again, and I was starving. I should have just gone to the pizza place, because I ended up spending over 7 bucks on a sandwich I couldn't eat, and I threw most of it away. I hated that. Hated it. I had nowhere to put it, though, and I didn't have anyone else to take it. Boo.


Remember Joel Salatin from Food, Inc.? (If you haven't seen it yet, you should!) He was the speaker I was most excited to see, and he was giving two back-to-back workshops. I was a little star-struck. I loved the man in the documentary, and I couldn't wait to meet him. I crocheted nervously away, waiting for him to arrive. And then he did:


He was busy setting up his book table, so I got a lovely picture of his butt. No cowboy hat, which I had expected, so I almost didn't recognize him.

I was sitting front and center for both talks. I didn't like the first one at all. He made jab after jab at liberals and tree-huggers like moi, and I thought for a moment about walking out of there. Except for that, though, I liked his message, and really, I was interested in the questions that would be asked at the end. The main thing I got out of it was when one lady asked, "What should we eat when we're traveling? What about eating out, what about eating at someone's home?" And he answered, "Be gracious. If you're served (whatever, can't remember what he said, but basically non-organic, non-local, processed food), smile and be gracious. But remember, I didn't say you have to pig out!"

Smart answer. I hadn't even thought of that myself.

I decided to sit through the second talk anyway, and see what else he had to say about hippy-dippy types like me. Really, I had no idea he was such a "fundy," as my friend J put it, and I was pretty surprised. But the talk was good, less insulting to types like me, and I learned a lot. Nothing about home-schooling, but a lot about his business ethic.


Immediately after that last workshop, I hurried right over to him and asked to have a picture with him. He was more than willing; he's a very nice, approachable, regular guy, even though he gives talks all around the world and is well sought-after at the moment. He cracked a joke just as this picture was being taken, if you can't tell!

Rob arrived right after that, on his motorcycle. He had left the kids home with our friend Linda, so that he could come up with the credit card that we have been trying so hard not to use. But, I really needed to get some things for "doing school," which I'll show you in a minute, and I'm going to aggressively pay that back, so it'll be okay.


Before we left, I picked up a copy of Joel's book (yes, we're on a first-name basis now, didn't you know?) for him to sign. I had been wanting to get it, from either Michele at the organic food shop we patronize or from Amazon, but I figured this was the perfect opportunity to have him sign it. Right?


Can you read it? It says, "To Melanie and Rob - Thanks for being on the right side of the food system. Joel Salatin." And now I can cross meeting him off my bucket list. I'd still like to go for a lunatic tour on his farm sometime this year, though!

So... after that, we ran through the Exhibit Hall once more, to get the goods. We shopped 'til we dropped, or at least, until we hit the credit limit on our card. I didn't get everything I wanted, but it's okay. I was going to buy the huge Spelling Power book, but I can easily find spelling plans online for free. And I was going to buy a Spanish program to teach all three kids, but there is a German teacher in my home-school group who wants to trade lessons for knitting and crochet lessons for her kids, so I might do that instead.

Here's what I did get:


This small kaleidoscope for the kids, because they've never looked through one before, and I think every kid should have one. 


Some really inexpensive flash cards that the kids couldn't wait to get their hands on


Sophia really liked the Disney-themed Phonics flashcards. Jack helped her read the words when she couldn't guess from the pictures.


Chloë was, hm, a mite less thrilled about the division and multiplication flash cards I'd picked up for her, but she was still enthusiastic about them.


And before I could take the picture, Jack was already putting away the fourth set of cards, dealing with time and money. "This is boring! I hate this!" LOL we'll see...


The kids delved into the box from Math-U-See right away. I bought everything from the Primer to Epsilon, which will teach them for years. Well, the younger two, anyway. Hopefully Chloë will progress quickly through the levels, although I am going to start her off on the primer, just to make sure we fill any gaps she has. I know there will be some; she really flounders when it comes to math, and unlike at school, I am going to stay on a concept until she masters it. We will not just move along because it's time to teach something else, whether she gets it or not, which is the beauty of schooling at home, isn't it?


Math, math, math!


The math manipulatives, about which Jack was very excited. Apparently they used something similar in his class at school, and he knows all about these. He wanted to know if we could start using them right away!


I ended up going to Barry Stebbing's How Great Thou Art booth in the exhibit hall. Remember him? He's the guy who taught the art workshop I attended. I really liked his presentation, so I decided to go ahead and get the goods. We have a manual, paint cards for each kid, paintbrushes, paints, markers, drawing pens, colored pencils, erasers, pencil sharpeners... we are set! His wife, Sandra (I think), told me that this should last us for three years! Unless the kids are really gung-ho about doing art, in which case we could get through it all in a year. Either way is fine with me; I have a feeling they'll want to do it a lot, as they were very excited and wanted to get started today!

I wanted to share something really heartwarming that happened while at his booth: Our card got blocked, because it was a new card, and we had already charged a large amount at the Math-U-See booth. So while Rob was on the phone with the bank to get it unblocked, I was letting the Stebbings know what was was going on, since we had already picked everything out that we wanted to buy, and they were waiting to charge us. Mr. Stebbing told me to just go ahead and take anything I wanted, and if the card didn't go through, I could send him the money in a month or two when I had it. What! I was all, "No, no, I can't do that," but he insisted, saying, "I've never had a homeschooler not pay me." Wow. What a guy. But the card got unblocked, and we were able to use it, so that was good. Still. I was touched.


And last but not least, I picked up this book from the Kids Love Travel booth. It will provide lots of information for taking field trips with the kids throughout the coming year and beyond, and I can't wait to get started. Should be lots of fun!

Okay, I've held you captive long enough. And I need a drink. Ciao!






In The Still Of The Night

I should probably go to bed soon, but I'm wide awake. I hope that changes soon. I have to go up to Richmond - and back - tomorrow for Day One of the homeschoolers' convention. Tomorrow is just preliminary stuff, like learning how to homeschool, but for me, that's the crux of the matter, so I intend to be there. I planned to get a hotel room, and I still might for Friday, but we couldn't afford it for both nights. Friday and Saturday will be long days, starting early and ending late, so it kind of sucks that I have to drive home tomorrow night. But, such is life.


This afteroon, we all gathered up and went to Sophia's dance recital for her Creative Movement class.


Look, she is the tallest one in her class! Kind of funny, isn't it, since the other two are always the smallest in theirs? Rob whispered to me, "She gets that from her father... who isn't me." He can claim that all he wants, because there isn't a thing on her that she gets from him... except her blood type. And, well, her DNA. The rest is ALL Simmons (my maiden name, btw).

The recital, as always, was pretty cute. Here is a video of Sophie and the class singing "Where is Thumbkin?":


(Let me know if that works or if I need to change the way it's embedded. It looks weird on my screen.)


They do lots of fun things in that class, always with children's music that you probably know. Sophia has a blast. She is a bit of an attention whore right now, too. See where she's looking? Back at herself in the mirror. Chloë was exactly the same way at that age!


Here, they were doing a train song, and toot-tooting the horn. Sorry for the red eyes; these pix are unedited.


Jack was not heavily invested in the proceedings. He kept whining to me, "When is it over? When can we go out to the car? I'm hungry. I'm tired. I'm thirsty. Etc." At this point, he refused to watch any longer. Brothers!

They do a lot of "animal action" in this class, and this is Sophia pretending to be an elephant. She had a silly noise to go along with it!037

I think she was a snake here. (No shoes, because she just outgrew them a couple of weeks ago, and I wasn't about to drop more cash for new shoes at the very end of the year!)


A frog. Sorry about the dirty wall; not my fault.


Here, all the girls kids are waiting for their end-of-class stickers. What I love about this is that for the last song & dance, all the siblings kind of spontaneously joined in, although Jack had to be urged at the last moment. It was great fun! 


After the recital was over, it was picture time. Sophia took that to mean she should do a couple of sweet poses for Mommy's camera.


Sophia with her teacher, Miss Jessica. What a ham she is, look at that hand on her hip! Do you think she knows she's cute? It's kind of sad for me, because she plans to do gymnastics next year instead of continuing on with ballet, but she has such a natural affinity for dance that I won't be disappointed if she runs from the gym again, like she did two years ago. I think she'll be great at anything she does, though - she's just got a great physicality that I totally envy. Too bad she was unmotivated on the soccer field, because I think she could have been great at that, too!


We totally failed on getting her a mini bouquet of flowers, which is a post-recital tradition, so I was so pleased when another little girl gave Sophie one of hers! How sweet.  And someone else gave her a Silly Bandz, which she also loved. I think those things are, well, dumb (and ugly!), but whatever. They're harmless.


Then she started gathering props and posing for Mama. Silly girl! There are a ton more pictures from the recital on my Facebook page, if you're interested. If we're not friends there, and you want to see, add me! I keep pix for friends only on there.

After that, Jack and Soap played on the ground next to the van while Chloë was in her Jazz class. Rob napped - sorta - and when he was awake and playing on his iPhone, I was busy peeling his back. He got a wicked sunburn the other day, which is horrible, but also a big gift to me, a born peeler. It's kind of like my crack cocaine. Poor Sophia's fingernails peel like crazy, and I am always attacking them! Anyway, what?


Tonight was also Bunco night, so after we came home, I rushed through a shower and then mixed up some brownies to take with me. I always pick a dessert, but next time, I have a side and have no clue what to make.  Hummus? Maybe. We'll see.

Tabitha, our everymonth host, now lives right down the road from me. I would have walked, but I was already a half-hour late, because the Brownies wouldn't cook through. And I had to carry five chairs, and my prize, and my Brownie pan, back home again. So Rob dropped me off and picked me up again when the night was over. Kind of wasteful, but necessary.

Bunco was a lot of fun this time. It usually is, but occasionally, it's kind of not. I had a bunch of caffeine onboard, though, so I was really into it. We had a lot of laughs, and I really enjoyed myself. Good times.

When I came home, I'd won a butter dish, so I decided to whip up some butter. We were out. I'd never made it before, but Rob had informed me that all I had to do was whip the crap out of some heavy cream, and it would turn into butter. I took his word for it and didn't bother looking up directions. I now know that I should have, but it's okay. Half-decent, anyway. Edible.


Here's the beginning, with the cream just dumped into the KitchenAid. How I love that thing. On top speed, it only took about 4 minutes from cream to whipped cream to butter to whatever I ended up with last.


You can see I overwhipped, and it started to get kind of curdy. And also, I tasted it at the stage after whipped cream but before butter, and it was quite bland, so I added two pinches of salt. Now I know I should have stopped at one pinch. Salty!


Sorry for the flash; it looked greyish without. That's my new butter dish, sans top. I like it! I also baked bread in the machine while I was at Bunco, and it finished at the same time as the butter, so of course I had to have a little of both together. I had improvised a bread recipe, just kind of throwing in some stuff willy-nilly, and it turned out great. I like it. It's a small loaf, though, so I'll have to make more this weekend.


And lastly, remember this sweater from a little while back, for CARE Package? I'm putting sets together now, so I decided to whip up a hat. It's the Puff Stitch Baby Hat, which I was glad to find on Ravelry, since the sweater also has puff stitches. Does it need a pompon? I can't decide. Next, of course, I'll improvise some puff stitch booties, and then a wee blanket. I think after that I'll move onto that pink kimono I made a while back and didn't love...

Okay. Off to get ready for the convention. Have a great Thursday!




Donations For CARE Package

As most of you know, Rob and I run the charity that we started in our son Robby's memory, called CARE Package, Inc. You can read more about it on that site; I won't go into it here in this post if you're not already aware of what we do.

Anyway, a while back, I received a large box of goodies for CARE Package from "Lady M," a friend who found me on Facebook and has been working diligently ever since to create items for us. She was very generous with her time and sent about a dozen sets, including sweaters, blankets, bonnets and booties! It is always so gratifying to receive such packages, from both strangers and friends/family alike. My mother-in-law has been a supporter of our efforts since we began, and I appreciate each and every stitch that she, Lady M, and our other volunteers create!

Here are a few of the items Lady M sent:


Lady M made several of these blue sets with green blankets to match. I didn't photograph them on the blankets because they just didn't show up in the pictures as well as in real life. I'm so thankful for these, because we receive many more girl items than boys', and unfortunately, the majority of losses are little boys. These will definitely help!

Lady M made several of these sets, too - do you think they are unisex? I always have a hard time deciding. I think they are, but you let me know what you think, please! At any rate, they are so soft and cuddly!


We also received one of these "pouches," which are perfect for the smallest and/or most fragile babies who can't be traditionally dressed. I never get enough of these.


Lady M even sent me six cameras for some of the packages! It has always been my desire to include such a camera in each package (I wish we'd had one with Robby), so the parents can capture their final moments with their child, if they wish. I wrote to both Fuji and Kodak requesting donations, but sadly, both companies turned me down. 

Thank you, Lady M, for all your kind and generous donations! We look forward to receiving more work from you in the future and are happy to have you with us!


I never showed you, here, the latest sweater I have made for CARE Package, myself. I intend it for a boy, although I suppose there's no reason it can't be unisex thus far. Hopefully the rest of the package will make it more so:

These are the original buttons I chose for the sweater, but Stephanie, my Official Button Chooser, vetoed them. I still like them, but I defer to her!

007 (3)

Steph still hasn't seen the buttons in person to make a final decision, but this is the set she chose - and most others did, too - based on a survey of buttons I posted on Facebook. What do you think; are these better?  Hopefully I'll remember to bring all the buttons with me to our lunch date on Wednesday, so I can get them sewn on and the next project begun! Oh, who am I kidding, the next project doesn't have to wait 'til then...

Until later, my dears,



I was a trouble-maker at the doctor's office today, but you know what? I don't care.

After I posted last night, I ended up soaking in a tub that Rob says was very hot but felt like lukewarm to me. It did the trick, though, and I was able to stop shivering. And crying.

When I got up to go to the doctor this morning, I put on layer after layer after layer to keep warm. It worked. I looked like the Michelin man, but I was warm, dammit!

So when the nurse or whatever called me back, and took me to the scale, I half-jokingly asked if it was really necessary to be weighed, since I had about ten layers on and was just there last month. She looked at me and said, "Well, you'll need to take them off..."

"Oh, no," I returned. "I'm not taking it off."

"You're not taking it off?!"

"I'm not taking it off."

"Okay, then. Let's go," she muttered, walking me to the exam room. Then, she told me I had to take all my clothes off so she could check my vitals. I took off my coat, but I told her I wasn't taking anything else off.

"You have to take it off!"

"No, I don't. My blood pressure is good, really good, like 110 over 60 the last time I was hear, and I promise it hasn't changed. I'm freezing, and I'm not going to get naked in here."

"Listen, you can't just come in here for a weight loss follow-up and not be weighed, not have your vitals checked..."

"I'm not in here for a weight loss follow-up!"

"Well, that's what your paper says!"

"Then the paper is wrong!"

"Listen, they don't just write down any old thing, they write down what you tell them!"

"I didn't write it down, they can write down whatever they want, but that doesn't make it so!"

And 'round and 'round we went, until she huffed out, muttering under her breath, and into the provider's office next door. Still bitching; I could hear her for several minutes. I didn't care. I was NOT going to take off all my clothes and ruin the good warmth I had goin' on, you hear me??  One layer, and that would have been the end of it. Chills and shivers all over again. No thanks.

The provider (he's not a doctor, but I'm not sure if he's an NP or a PA or just what) came in after a few minutes, shrugging his shoulders and telling me he's sorry it's cold, but it's standard procedure to take the vitals of every patient, for every visit.

I said, look, all I need is to get my referral to my surgeon updated, and maybe some chelated iron if you can prescribe that. You don't even have to look at me.

He agreed, wrote "refused" on my chart for the vitals, and told me that the next time I needed this same referral, to just call him up - I didn't even need to come in! So I could have saved myself the trouble of dealing with the angry nurse.

Who was probably in a fine mood until I came in wearing my ten layers, but whatever.

I stayed warm, people!

I relayed the above to Rob after I got out, and he called me a trouble-maker. Laughingly, of course. So the word "shenaniganizer," I think from Cloudy With... has been in my head all day because of it.


The Girl Scout cookies are coming in this Saturday, so to make room for dozens and dozens of cases in the office, here, I planned to finally get clean it up and clear it out. Well, that didn't happen. I was so tired after I got home from the doc, after being up all hours of the night taking a bath, that I just needed a nap. And so I did, for two hours, until the kids came home.

Chloë didn't come home, though, because she started back to the math tutoring today. Jack and Sophie played and snacked, until it was time to pick her up. I was going to let her come home on the activity bus - last time I picked her up each time - but between Ballet lessons every Tuesday and Brownies every other Thursday (the two days of tutoring), it's just not going to happen too often!

We picked up and intended to rush right over to dance class, but we sat in traffic for ages instead. So she was ten minutes late. Have I mentioned that I hate being late?? Hate it.

While she pranced, the Littles played in the back. I made their dentist appointments and my follow-up with the plastic surgeon (for this morning at 0830, which is why I'm still up instead of trying to get any sleep), and then I read a magazine. Pretty uneventful, which is why I'm telling you. I think you need to know every breath I take, don't you?

The rest of the evening went quickly and calmly. The kids wanted pizza (groan) for dinner, and they ate the entire thing. At least they're not sick of it, and it's somewhat healthy...

Homework was done - but not without Jack getting pizza grease all over his math paper, ugh - and everyone washed up. They took a shower, I worked on laundry, The End.


After they went to bed and the laundry was all folded, I finally got the motivation to do some work. I swept the floor and then got out the CARE Package bins containing donated items for the layettes (the vast majority of which came from Rob's mom).  There was a lot more going on in there than it may look like; my office was covered with knit, crocheted, sewn and quilted goodness!


I'm glad I went through the bins. I found this cowl that I knitted a while back and promptly forgot about. I wore it for over an hour, until I was so hot that I had to strip down a few layers to a single one! And I found the kids' tooth pillows that have been missing for over a year (did I really need to buy three? What's the likelihood of three kids losing a tooth on the same night? Probably nil), along with all those nice dishcloths and towels that I made to sell at the craft shows. But didn't. So, they're ours now, and now I don't have to make more! I never did do that last night...


I worked for hours assembling packages - stopping only to cook yet another pizza for Rob's return from work, and ew, don't eat the buffalo chicken one. Too spicy! - and printing out cards to put in them. Each package gets a sweater or gown or other body covering, a hat, a pair of booties or socks, and a blanket. They also get a card with information about our charity on one side and suggestions for what to do with their baby as they're saying good-bye on the other, our business card, and a "CARE" silicone bracelet.

I've long wanted to include disposable cameras, but of course we don't have the budget for that. I've been meaning to write to the various camera companies (Kodak, Fuji, etc.) and see if they'll donate some, but I haven't yet. Then I got the idea tonight to see if Ziploc would sponsor us, too, since I use a great deal of their bags for the packages!

I do have lots of gift bags from baby showers, but I haven't started using them yet. First, because that would only be a temporary solution as I don't plan to buy more when they're gone and don't get a lot donated, and second, because it doesn't work well with the way I like the packages to work. You can't really see what you're getting through a gift bag, and my stickers labeling size and sex might not be seen as well on the gift bags. So... I don't know. Maybe I'll just give them to the hospital and let them deal with them?


In the end, I was able to assemble exactly 30 complete packages for donation to the children's hospital, without having to lift a needle or hook myself to add something! This is exciting; usually I have to work for ages to make booties or hats to finish half the packages, but I had everything I needed and more. Thank you, to all of you out there who made this possible!

There were a surprising number of items in the packages that I did make, though, just not tonight. Beautiful sweaters out of Rowan yarn, and Malabrigo, and other fancy stuff. I love to squish and squeeze those soft, fine wools. Ohhh, how I do.

The hardest part of the night was assembling two or three toddler packages. I would just sit there with the items on my lap, pouting and frowning and trying hard not to think of the child who would need to receive them. So very sad. Of course, they're all sad... but the longer you have your child with you, I think the harder it is to say good-bye. Just my theory, anyway.


Remember this Baby Suprise jacket that I made? Probably not, it's been a LONG time. I never put buttons on it! Sorry, Steph, I had to take your job tonight, and these are the buttons I ended up with. Not too exciting, but they'll do. They'll do.

And that was the last item for the 30th package. Tomorrow, after I get home from plastics (and hopefully scheduling my abdominoplasty!!), I'll call up my contact at the Children's and see if I can arrange a drop-off. I haven't talked to her in over a year; that's how long it's been since CARE Package has made a substantial donation. We've mailed out packages to parents here and there, but this is the first one in a while, as I took 2009 off to mostly do what I felt like.

I'm ready now, though, to get back into working hard, full-time for our charity. I do have to make some longies - or shorties, now that Luke is almost 4 mos? - that I promised Steph, but otherwise, I am going to pick up hooks and needles for CARE Package again. I'm excited!!


P.S. I keep forgetting to add that I got a letter Monday, saying that Chloë had some artwork chosen to be put on display down at the airport! Her artwork will be exhibited throughout February. I can't wait to go and see it. She asked me not to, though, very modestly saying it was terrible and that she's "not creative." Whatever! She is SO crafty and clever. She thinks it's a clown, of which she doesn't seem to be very proud, but she's not sure. Will keep you posted.

Where The Hell Is Summer?

I'm freaking FREEZING. It's about 28º out right now, and I can't get warm. I have no adipose fat, the brown fat that keeps us insulated against the cold. I think I've complained about this before, maybe more than once. Well, it doesn't get any easier. I haven't acclimated. I'm cold, I'm miserable, I'm cranky, and I want to cry.

I stayed up until about 0530-0600 this morning, watching the Diane Keaton-Queen Latifah-Katie Holmes vehicle Mad Money on Netflix streaming, and knitting that kimono. I finished at the same time the movie ended. Being so preoccupied with movie and yarn kept me unaware of how cold I was, but as soon as it all finished, I became acutely aware of my nonstop shivering.

(The movie, by the way, was entertaining and amusing. It wasn't a bad choice; if you've got nothing else to do, it's worth seeing.)

So I was so cold, I went straight upstairs, with a magazine tucked under my arm, to the kids' bathroom to take a bath. I rarely take baths. I hate taking baths. But sometimes, it's the only way to be warm and comfortable.

I walked right back out. Oh, my God. Let me just say that my children are disgusting, and that every visible surface of that bathroom was COVERED in toothpaste, except for the tub. I was pissed!

So, I went back to my own bathroom and took a hot shower instead. A very long, very hot shower. When I was all done washing up, I started shaving everything there was to shave - except my head, natch - just so I could stay in the water longer!

I had been wide awake up until that point. That warmth knocked me out, though, and I was yawning furiously by the time I got out. I am a creature of strict bathing routines, and I always, always, always brush my teeth as soon as I get out and towel-dry my hair, then do my various facial creams and what-not, before applying body lotion, combing out my hair, and blah blah blah. Last night - nay, this morning - I didn't do any of that. I was just so tired. I went straight from the shower to the bed, without even drying off, and fell fast asleep immediately!

Needless to say, my hair looked quite... interesting when I woke up. Rob did the ol' point-and-laugh routine at me.

Thankfully, he gets the kids off to school nowadays, so I didn't have to worry about that. I was aware at some point that he crawled under the covers and snuggled me, but I didn't really wake up until 1400. And then I freaked, because my phone was downstairs, and my alarm clock was flashing numbers much later than that. I thought I'd missed getting the kids! It turned out to be okay, and Rob was still home, and he came up to cuddle me some more before we both had to get moving. He normally leaves between 12-1300 for work, but he didn't have to be in until 1600 today because of the Super Bowl. Really? That's a reason to... oh, whatever.

We left the house at the same time, he for work and me for the bus stop. The kids were late, and I stood out there, freezing. Bah, no fun. They came home, finally, and had a snack, and then I started them right to work on their homework. Sometimes I let them chill a while first, but we had too much to do tonight for that.

Jack finished his up quickly, but Sophia was bothering Chloë too much, so it took her a long time. I had to scold the girls every couple of minutes, so she could get her work done. I got tired of nagging, so that's when I took the kimono upstairs to press it and block it out on our bed. When I came down, she was somehow miraculously finished. Maybe I should just leave the room more often!

We hopped in the van to pick up a Freecycle after that. I was supposed to get it two weeks ago, but then it snowed, then yesterday, but I forgot...  The lady was very nice and patient, though, and she had a bunch of things for CARE Package as well as the stationery I was there to pick up! Nothing photo-worthy, just some used gift bags for packaging up the layettes, but a LOT of them.

Back at home, I gave the kids their marching orders. I let into them about the toothpaste-covered bathroom upstairs, and then I handed each of them a wash cloth and sent them away to clean it up. I haven't even checked it yet, but Chloë said it was all clean except for the vanity drawer. I have a hard time believing that, but if it's true, I will be amazed and impressed!

I made dinner while they cleaned. I use that term loosely, though, because tonight's dinner was - guess? Guess? Give up? - yet another stupid DiGiorno pizza. I shouldn't say it like that; I'm grateful for many nights of free, easy dinners, but it's getting to be a little too repetitive! When I have some freezer space back - because we definitely need to make up those pizzas and free up some room in there - I'll be able to stock more foods. And really, like I've said before, with Rob working nights, it sucks to cook meals that the kids just aren't going to eat anyway. At least with the pizzas, they are eating well.

After dinner, it was time to head out to Cub Scouts. Chloë brought a pencil and some paper so she could do some writing (she ended up making lists of names, for whatever reason); Sophia brought her "Raising a Reader" bag of books from the preschool. At the beginning of the meeting, the boys colored pictures of Boy Scouts setting up camp, while they waited for all the kids to arrive. We had seven tonight.


When everyone was there, Den Leader Beth told the boys that tonight's activity would be to make balloon decorations out of their Tiger manuals, for the Blue and Gold ceremony/party commemorating today's 100th Boy Scout birthday, next Friday. They had to decorate empty soup cans with birthday wrapping paper scraps, pompoms, feathers, stickers, and whatever else Beth had brought, for the centerpieces. They tore into it and made such a mess! I was mostly busy keeping the girls, so another dad helped Jack out a great deal, and I appreciated it.


Jack mostly used pompoms and stickers. He had a blast gluing things on!

While they worked, we parents talked with Beth about all the requirements for rising to Wolves next year, as well as making sure the ones who wanted to were signed up for the Arena racing (Rob's taking Jack), the Blue and Gold (I'm taking Jack and the girls), and summer camp. We signed Jack up for the 4-night Cubs camp in July, and I talked to Beth at length about it. She's going to be there, looking over him, which relieves me greatly. I let her know that he still wets the bed sometimes (privately, of course), so we talked all about that and making sure he's fine. He may not be my youngest, but he's definitely the one I tend to worry myself about the most!  But after seeing his big sister go to sleep-away camp for the past two years, he is beyond thrilled to be going himself!  My big boy ♥

After the den meeting, we headed to the Girl Scout Cookie Chair's house, nearby, to pick up a new cookie packet for me. Rob accidentally recycled my entire cookie sales stuff last week, a fact that had me in a major panic Sunday morning! She rescued me and calmed me down, though, reassuring me that she could replace everything I needed. Whew.

After a quick stop at the bank to deposit a mystery shopping check, it was time to get home and work on the laundry. Rob's been washing up a storm, so I had about eight loads in need of folding up in my room. The kids all had more pizza first, and then we got down to business. Actually, now that I think about it, I sent the Littles into their bathroom the scrub it some more, and then they went right to bed. Chloë stayed up for more than another hour, helping me put away laundry. When she started saying, "Am I done yet, Mommy? I'm so tired," of course, she was excused! 

I only got about halfway done with it before my back was in agony from the way I was sitting on the bed, so I gave up for the night. Unfortunately, there are piles of folded clothes all over my bed now, and it's too cold to sleep downstairs on the couch! Guess I'll have to... thankfully, Rob brought me down some long underwear when he came home, because I was in tears from the chills. He's a good man, that one. I love him.

I finished up the kimono, and now I think I'll crochet a few quick dishcloths. I threw away our last sponge today, because it was gross even after washing it in the dishwasher AND zapping it in the microwave, so I need to have something to wash with before I can buy some more this weekend. Fortunately, I have the know-how and plenty of kitchen cotton yarn for it in my stash.

Welp, that be it. Hope the start to your week was just dandy.


P.S. Call me crazy, but all this scouting stuff has me in a tizzy lately, and I am seriously considering being Sophia's Daisy Troop Leader next year! Am I out of my mind?!

Goodies From Grandma

Hey again, y'all. I'm yawning like crazy here, but I think I slept well enough that I really don't need a nap. And besides, I have stuff to do and the kids only have a half-day and it's 1100, so I really can't take one even if I did require a little more sleep!


Tuesday night into Wednesday, I didn't get a lick of sleep. I was just wired! For no reason that I could think of, other than maybe I'd slept so much during the day? Duh, yeah, that has to be it. Damn those naps.

I got super sick of eating all this DiGiorno pizza we've been having (and I don't think I've lost an ounce in two weeks because of it), so I decided to actually cook something real for dinner instead. Plus, I had three about-to-expire containers of sour cream to use up, chicken legs aplenty in the freezer, and a desire to send Rob to work with something more than a can of soup and a Coke.


So, after some serious SwagBucks searching for a recipe with chicken legs and sour cream, I decided to make this. It was 0500 and at least 12 hours from dinnertime, but who cares? No time like the present, I say. Okay, I really don't say, but I did say this ONE time.

{First, speaking of SwagBucks, I have two things to tell you: I just redeemed them for my first AND second Amazon.com $5 Gift Cards! I had 44 and did a number of searches with no luck to get that last one for the 45 needed to redeem, so I decided to complete a couple of free offers. Less than an hour later, Bam! $10 in free money. Sweet, right? My goal is to earn two $5 Amazon cards every month by Christmas, and I'm well on my way!

The second thing is that I did a LOT of searching for all kinds of weird things to earn that last buck, and I ended up getting hit with the "rules" page the last few times. I finally figured out why: when you do a lot of searching like that, it picks up on what you're doing and stops you in your tracks. Their FAQ tells you this. So... don't think you're going to be able to search all day and get loads of SwagBucks. I usually win twice per day, as do most folks. So, be aware!}

Back to the dinner. The first thing was to cook the chicken. I had just taken out six drumsticks from the freezer, but I was itching to start cooking, so I had to defrost them in the microwave. I hate defrosting meat that way, but I'm the impatient sort and, well, that's the way it goes sometimes. I think it's the "mania" part of being bipolar when I get in the mood to do something in the middle of the night and have to do it Right. This. Second! You know?

I probably should have taken out more meat than that, but after all, we are trying to stretch the buck these days. After thawing the meat, I had to boil it. Now, I'm a little embarrassed to tell you, but I have never in my life boiled chicken before. I didn't quite know what to do. So I put the thawed chicken in a big pot, added two cans of Campbell's chicken broth and filled the rest of the way with water, to cover the chicken. I added two bay leaves and a small chopped onion, some salt and pepper, and that was it. Brought the chicken to a boil and then, like the recipe said, let it boil for 20 minutes. I crossed my fingers the whole time that the chicken wouldn't be nast-ay!

It wasn't! Oh, my gosh, y'all. I boiled it skin-on, but I removed the skin after cooking (it's easier that way, don'tcha know). As I was taking the extremely moist and appealing meat off the bones, I started salivating for a taste. (So did Tiger Lily, at my feet, and she was not disappointed.) So I sampled once, twice, thrice... so good!! I will definitely be boiling chicken this way again soon, even if that's all I do with it instead of further recipying it up. Yummay!

So after feeding Lily all the bits that I deemed unacceptable (ie, toughened from being nuked) for my dinner casserole, I mixed up the rest: a whole pint of sour cream, and a can of cream of chicken instead of mushroom. Because mushrooms are gross, y'all. I don't like 'em. It seemed like a really low chicken-to-cream ratio there, and I was kind of worried it would be nast-ay, once again!

The topping was super simple. I used a box of generic stuffing, since it was older than the Stove Top I also had on hand, a melted stick of butter, and another can of chicken broth. Good thing I'd stockpiled broth recently! Patted that all on top of the creamy stuff, covered it with aluminum foil, and refrigerated that baby for later.

Fast-forward to dinnertime, after the kids had been begging me for pizza all day (apparently they didn't get the memo that I was sick of it), et voila:


The kids were complaining that they didn't LIKE chicken casserole as soon as I told them what we'd be having. Well, guess what folks, you've never had it and you ARE going to try it. Jack cried. Sobbed, even. He wanted pizza. The girls were equally dissatisfied, but at least they tried a bite. They all hated it. I told Jack if he was going to pitch such a fit, to go do it in his room. He left and wouldn't taste one bite. Hmph. 

So I was thinking dinner was going to be a big FAIL, but you know what? I don't care. I liked it just fine. There was plenty of chicken in it after all, and if I made it again, I'd still only use about six chicken legs. Rob ate two plates of it when he got home from work at midnight. We both liked it just fine. Did we love it, was it the best thing we ever ate? No, not at all. But we both agreed it was good enough to make a second time, and that works for me.


As for the rest of the day, let's see... I slept after premaking dinner, finally lying down at about 0751. The kids were on a two-hour delay from school WITH a half-day, so they were only going to be there 1030-1430. Rob got them up and off on the bus, and then he woke me to make sure I had an alarm set for 1430 to pick them up. I assured him I did (I really did).  

Well, guess what, folks. Either it didn't go off, or I slept right through it, and I popped awake at 1445!! Aaah! My bladder was completely overloaded, my hair was a mess and my mascara was running down my cheeks, but ther was no time to worry about any of that. I flew out the door with my coat open and my boots barely on and not zipped up, and ran, ran, ran to the bus. Which was already there, having barfed out all the kids from our stop except Sophia. They won't let preschoolers go without their parents there, which is a pretty damn good idea except this particular preschooler's parent is late half the time!

Thank goodness she stopped and waited for me, knowing I'm always late for the bus. I always think she's going to be there at 1515, which she usually is, but sometimes she shows up at 1512. Luckily it's only a 30-second walk to the bus stop, but still, I bet she's tired of waiting for me! I think I'll make it a point now to get out there by 1510, even if i am freezing. Yeah, that's the ticket.

What now? I forget what I was talking about. Oh, yes, so I got the kids home and then burst through the door just in time to pee all over the floor. Not really, I made it to the bathroom, but I sure did not have any extra time to get there! Whew.

Aren't you glad you read this post today? Now I really DO tell you everything, including when I have to go pee. 

Enough of that.

None of the kids have homework this week, because it's such a short one, so we didn't have to worry about that. Yay! There wasn't a lot of playtime before it was time to leave for dance class. The only thing was, we were still late getting there, because I'd forgotten all the dance clothes were in the laundry! And Sophia couldn't find her ballet shoes. Agh, those things are always going missing, even though I'm constantly yapping at them to put them away IN the dance bag and zip it up. Fracking ballet shoes.

So, they danced in tights, t-shirts and shorts, with my apologies to their teachers who have strict rules about what to wear to dance class. Ah, well. It happens.

Jack, who had been extremely grumpy after school, fell asleep on the way there, to my utmost relief. He snored through Sophia's Creative Movement class. Chloë had brought a book with her, so I took that opportunity, once again, to take a nap! Only, I didn't sleep at all. I was tired but too cold.

When Sophia came out and Chloë went in for Jazz, I was hoping for more peace and quiet. The first thing she did, as is typical for her, was to bug her brother and wake him up! I'd warned her to leave him alone the second beforehand, too, so I was really annoyed when he woke up screeching and complaining. For an almost-7yo, he really does behave more like the 2yo he appears to be outwardly, at least when he is tired!

I tried to get him to settle back to sleep, and I brought Sophia up to lay on top of me and be quiet. I got my daily warm fuzzies from the feeling of the weight of her body on mine, and her little blond ponytail tickling my nose. I held her for most of the hour, with Jack grumbling in the back seat, until it was obvious neither of them were going to snooze at all. That was fine, because I really couldn't, either.  Whatever, I had enjoyed my time snuggling with The Little Girl, as I like to call her.


After dance, we ran to Farm Fresh, since it was Double Dollar Wednesday. I didn't have stockpile-worthy coupons and didn't take a picture, but I did manage to get my $23.20 order down to $5.61, a savings of 77%. For that little bit of cash, I got another box of Wheat Thins, two boxes of Crackerfuls, a can of Ro*Tel tomatoes, two packages of 7-ct Hebrew National hot dogs, a 4-pack of Yoplait YoPlus yogurt, and two gallons of milk for the kiddies. Not too shabby.

The hot dogs came in handy at dinnertime, when the girls scarfed five (!!) of them after refusing the chicken casserole. Whenever they refuse to eat dinner, I like to have something like this or a PB&J sandwich or something available. I will not let them starve, but I'm not going to make them a whole 'nother time-consuming supper, either.

Jack never came down to eat. Tsk, tsk. I would have gladly given him a hot dog or twelve if he'd returned, but he fell asleep. Guess he needed some sleep more than food last night.


When we got home from dance and the store, two packages were waiting in the rain, on the porch. I don't understand it. The row of mailboxes are right across the street from our house, and at the end of the row are two large boxes, presumably for packages. When I lived in apartment complexes, and there were packages to be had, the mailman always left a key to one of those large boxes in our regular mailbox, so we could fetch the package out of it. Not once in seven years here has the mailman utilized those big boxes for our packages, instead of leaving them on the porch to be stolen or rained upon. I wonder why??

I didn't get a chance to open the packages - both from my MIL -  until after the kids went to bed, so they haven't oohed and ahhed over everything with me yet. I'm sure they will in an hour, when they're home (another half-day).

The first box contained crocheted goodies for CARE Package. MIL has been our most ardent supporter from Day One, a fact that pleases me greatly. Who else can you count on, if not the grandma? No one, that's for sure. I get an email at least every other week, from someone saying they want to make things for the charity, but after I email them back with details, I almost never hear from them again! Guess that's the way it goes. Here's what Grandma made:



This little boy's set is so soft! Very squishy, and yes, I did give it a few love-squeezes before putting it away. So cute!


I always have the hardest time deciding whether color schemes like this one are appropriate for being unisex, or are just for girls. I usually decide on the side of unisex, but my Assistant Manager, whose job seems to entirely consist of helping me make these decisions - as well as underwriting a large portion of the cost of running this enterprise - always decides they are just for girls. So, you help me decide - could a boy wear this? And is that not the most perfect pompom you have ever seen?!



This is definitely a boy's outfit, right?! ;) I kid. How cute are those little teddy bear buttons? I love them.


Another supersoft outfit, and I just LOVE the buttons MIL chose for this outfit. I'm turning into a button-lover lately. Sweet set, and thanks so much for all your hard work, Mom!!

The second box contained goodies for the other kiddos in the family:


A Hallmark T-shirt, which I assume is for me because it would float on Rob... although I'm getting to the point where it'd be too big on me, too! After my abdominoplasty, I'm hoping to be in mediums for everything. Yay!

Three Valentine's puzzles for the kiddos, which will be great for the newly-growing game stash (did I tell you that the kids destroyed all the games and puzzles we have? They're no longer able to have free access to them. Shame).  A Valentine's craft, which they love doing, and two books from Rob's childhood! How cool! Finally, another recorded book with Grandma's voice. They went absolutely fargin' NUTS over the one she recorded for Christmas, especially The Boy, so I know this will be a hit, too!

Thanks for all the goodies, Mom!


Welp, I was going to go take a shower before the kids got home, but Rob just did and surely used up all the hot water, so it'll have to wait. Instead, I'm off to finally watch The Hangover (we've had it at least two weeks from Netflix) and work on the long-ignored kimono. Maybe I'll finish it by the weekend. Hope so.