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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!


Sunday Stealing: Thursday Thunks On Sonntag

Summer Facebook Cover | Summer facebook cover photos, Summer cover ...

Hey there, Thieves! Welcome back! I couldn't get my post up at all late Saturday afternoon or in the evening because the plague that are migraine headaches, but better late than never, right?

Link up here to play along this week!


1 If you could be a Muppet, which would you be?

Disney Prepares to Use Its Marketing Magic to Bring Back the ...

I think Hubs and I jointly would be Statler and Waldorf, the two old guys who sit and make dumb jokes about everything around us, cracking ourselves up. I'd be whichever one was cuter!

2 Why is a chicken crossing the road in the first place??

The Southernmost Point: The "Gypsy Chickens" Of Key West

Well, as anyone who has ever kept chickens, as we have, can tell you, these are not the most brilliant animals on the planet. Also as anyone who has been to Key West even once - let alone multiple times - as I have, can tell you, they will go wherever they want to go, often in a hurry, including the middle of the road. So as for why? Clearly, the answer is: because.

3 What's your favorite muscle?

Well, that depends. In babies? I like the glutes. In a guy? I like arms - big biceps!

4 Cheerios or Rice Krispies?

Parenting - rice krispies - Funny Parenting Fails and WINs - crazy ...

I love Rice Krispies. I do not enjoy Cheerios; they smell like baby diarrhea to me. Blechhhh!

5 Is summer ever going to get here?

Global Warming—Really?

I mean, between intense climate change and the coronavirus, what are we really going to do with it? I think Earth deserves to take its time on this one.

6 Have you ever had a utility turned off by mistake or some other reason besides weather or nonpayment?

Oddly Specific - Album on Imgur

No, and like this fortune, that is oddly specific.

7 What was your "last day" of something?

03092020 Chloë L'Oreal Product Review

Hm, let's see. September 6th, 2019, was my last day of not being a parent to an adult child! (This one, that is - I never told Chloë she could grow up!)

8 If you had to be trapped in a TV show for a month, which one would you choose?

The Big Bang Theory No GIF by CBS - Find & Share on GIPHY

I'd love to be stuck on The Big Bang Theory! At least I'd feel like I was where I belonged.

9 Did you have any type of class trip, band trip, etc., in high school? Where did you go, what did you do?

Darien Lake Harvest Festival Weekends

I know there were others, but my favorite class trip was our 9th grade one to Darien Lake, in New York. We did a fundraiser, and I raised the second most, so I got a bonus from that, too!

10 Do your feet smell?

Rofl burGer on Twitter: "SMELLY FEET #meme #funny #lol #rofl http ...

No; they do not have a nose.

11 Do you know how to french braid?

Amazing Braids😍🙆👑 by Fiona Brunka - Musely

Yes, and I can both French-braid and Dutch-braid on my own hair, too. I really want to learn to do the fishtail braid, though!

12 Two guys are walking down the street. One drops his hat and reaches down to pick it up, the other kicks him in the ass. Do you laugh?

Kick Your Ass GIFs | Tenor

That depends; am I "the other"? If not, then hopefully involuntarily at least, but I'm sure I would snort!

13 You wake up one morning and dogs are meowing and cats are barking - what are fish, elephants and crocodiles doing?

Bucketlist » Raise one eyebrow without using a finger (Simon West)

Have we run out of "real" questions, then?

14 You are going to your high school reunion. What award are you going to win?


Hammiest family!

15 You find yourself stranded on a deserted island. Soon you find a laptop with a lifelong battery & internet connection, then you find a cave with an endless supply of food and a spring of fresh water. A cruise ship comes along to save you - do you get on it?

72 Best Desert island images | Desert island, Island, Cartoon

If I get to take that laptop with me and it's not during the days of COVID, then heck, yes!

16 How many shortcuts do you have on your desktop?

funny desktop wallpapers

Five. But in my defense, it's a new laptop.

17 I offer you a pie... the most delicious pie you have ever seen. You either have to eat the entire thing in one sitting or allow me to slam it into your face, which do you choose?

Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass (RYGB) | UI Health

I guess I'm getting a pie in the face, because I'm working with that gastric pouch on the right!

18 Are you a pen stealer?

Bright, Colorful Pens On A White Background Shot Overhead. Stock ...

Not usually! My pens are all the different colors of the rainbow. Everyone else? Blue or black. ::snooze::

19 A dude from China comes up and offers you German chocolate cake, French fries and a Boston cream pie... what color is your car?

2020 Honda Odyssey First Look | Kelley Blue Book

Black, and her name is Phoenix. But a little birdie told me I might be getting a new car this year, so... I'm game!

20 Sometimes you just have to tap your foot to your favorite song - which TV series season finale are you watching?

Modern Family' Finale Review: It Ends as It Began, Only Less ...

Modern Family is still in the DVR, waiting for me!


All right, y'all. I've got to get ready for the week ahead. Have a good one!


Sunday Stealing: Would You Rather?

A White Families' Guide For Talking About Racism - Education With ...

Hey there, y'all. Me again. I  hope you're doing well on this June Saturday evening.

I am troubled, but I am doing as well as can be expected.

You see, I am an extreme empath. I want to be an ally for everyone who is marginalized. And of course, this is the month generally allocated for Pride celebrations, and I have two LGBTQ+ daughters. And of course, we are seeing nationwide international protests and demonstrations to bring more light to the causes of white privilege and institutionalized racism. For my entire adult life and then some, I have been an ally for the Black Lives Matter movement even before it was named such a thing. I don't want to be "just" an ally anymore. Nor an accomplice. I want to be a co-conspirator.

And so that means, you might ask, why I am I doing this meme, right now, in this time, with this frame of mind? It is because, as I said, I am an extreme empath. I generally feel all the human emotions more strongly than not just the average human, but even more than the average empath. Sometimes all at once! And so I can tend to get overwhelmed and need a mental break.

This is that break.

If you are not already locked in to some part of this current movement, I ask that you find out how you can become involved. Learning about privilege and prejudice is important (if you are white, generally), and here is a good TEDx Talk to get started. But it's only a start. And I cannot promise there is an endpoint.

But for now, link up here to join in on Sunday Stealing, and I promise I will try not to make my post so heavy.


Would you rather work in a group or work alone?

Fun group projects :: The Writing Center :: 24/7 Homework Help

I would, by far, rather work alone. I care far too much about the grade to trust anyone else to do any parts of the assignment. I don't know what's worse: having them have to make some contribution and therefore, I can count on my grade to go down because of shoddy work, or doing all the work myself and getting an excellent grade that I then have to share with someone who did nothing.

Would you rather be stuck on an island alone or with someone who talks incessantly?

berkeleymews :: island :: stranded :: message :: bottle :: comics ...

I am the person who talks incessantly. (You can ask literally anyone who knows me.) If those are the only two choices, I'd rather be alone. Both would drive me crazy, but I think constantly being interrupted would edge out the other one!

Would you rather be too hot or too cold?

Thermoregulation | Biology for Majors II

I really can't answer that. Neither is good for me. Ever since my gastric bypass surgery in 2009, my internal thermostat is broken (common), and I cannot regulate it myself. If I get too hot, because I have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, I can quickly overheat and will pass out. If I get too cold, because I have Lyme arthritis and other joint issues, it becomes more painful to exist. But I don't know what that "perfect" temperature might be, and regardless, there are four other people in my house who will certainly be uncomfortable if I find it!

When you’re old, would you rather die before or after your spouse?

Bios Urn Will Turn You Into A Tree After You Die | Bored Panda

Seeing that "simultaneously" is not a choice, I'd rather go first. That man aggravates the absolute crap out of me, but I don't want to live a moment without him. And we want to turn into trees when we become old, with trunks intertwined and forever together.

Would you rather have a cook or a maid?

The Maid We Dont Have Tin Sign Wife Mom Mother Humor Home Comedy ...

I'd rather have a maid. I like to cook.

Would you rather be the youngest or the oldest sibling?

65 funny sibling memes for brothers and sisters to laugh at

I've never been anything but the youngest child, so I'm not sure. I think in any other family, it would have been great. In my case, it meant I was held captive the longest and received the most brutal treatment.

Would you rather get rich through hard work or through winning the lottery?

Heavily Discounted Gold: The Smart Way To Play The Rally ...

That's kind of a loaded question for me, because I have no real desire to be rich. On the other hand, I love a lot of things which, unfortunately, I need money to do and obtain. If I were get rich, I would prefer it to be through my own blood, sweat, and tears, and not through some way I did not really earn. And I would love to then become philanthropic. But money itself, and the accumulation of a lot of it, has never been an interest for me.

Would you rather have a 10-hour dinner with a headstrong politician from an opposing party, or attend a 10-hour concert for a music group you detest?

UNSAINTED - SLIPKNOT | •Rock• Amino Amino

I could not handle ten hours of dinner, an occasion I try to keep pleasurable and peaceful, with such a politician. Of course, I imagine Trump. Nope, no thanks. Not even if you paid me with all of his proclaimed wealth. But I think that there is always something I could find that I enjoy with most any music. I do not like heavy metal. I do not like death metal. But in October 2019, when I was driving my mostly-sleeping family home from camping at Craters of the Moon National Park, I accidentally found myself listening to the newish song "Unsainted" by Slipknot. I definitely despise their music, for the most part, but I made myself listen to it and found that this song, these lyrics, really struck a deep chord within me. So there's that.

Would you rather be an Olympic gold medalist or a Nobel Peace Prize winner?

File:Nobel Prize.png - Wikipedia

If I was born with any athleticism whatsoever, my answer might be different, but I  wasn't, so it's not: Nobel Peace Prize, please!

Would you rather have a desk job or an outdoor job?

Marine Biologist - Carnegie STEM Girls

Oh, I'd easily pick an outdoor job, 100 times out of 100. That's one of the reasons I eventually left my PhD program: I realized I'd be behind a desk working on papers, grants, etc. far more than I'd actually be out in the field. I'd rather be in the field.

Would you rather live at the top of a tall NYC apartment building or at the top of a mountain?

NYC Dream Downtown Hotel Offers Sneaker Concierge Who Can Deliver ...

Can I please have a penthouse in Manhattan?

Would you rather have Rambo or The Terminator on your side?

Terminator: Dark Fate's Linda Hamilton criticises "very ...

Neither. I'd rather have Linda Hamilton's Sarah Connor from Terminator.

Would you rather be proposed to in private or in front of family and friends?

Either way is fine, as long as I still end up with my guy! ♥

Would you rather have to sew all your clothes or grow your own food?

A DIY vertical garden brings privacy and produce to a confined ...

I've tried both and wasn't instantly great at either, so I kind of gave up. I think I'd be more motivated to grow my own food, though, and I'd love to start with a stunning vertical garden.

Would you rather hear the good news or the bad news first?

image] Good news, bad news, who can say? : GetMotivated

I'd rather get the bad news first, so I can quit fretting and worrying and get on with the good news.

Would you rather be your own boss or work for someone else?

Be Your Own Boss | Funny Meme on ME.ME

It would depend entirely upon what I'm doing. In either case.

Would you rather have nosy neighbors or noisy neighbors?

Nosy Neighbors

At this point, I'd rather have nosy neighbors. Our little dogs bark at anything that moves outside, and that gets to be too much, y'know?

Would you rather be on a survival reality show or dating game show?

Dating Fails - dating game - Dating FAILs & WINs | Funny Memes ...

Oh, the latter, I guess. I'd never survive the first one, although I'd prefer it in theory!

Would you rather be too busy or be bored?

28 Bored Meme That Make You Laugh All Time - My Blog

I'm never bored. I don't know how to be bored, and I prefer it that way.

Would you rather watch the big game at home or live at the stadium?

Miami Hurricanes at Florida State Seminoles: How to Watch ...

Live is so much more fun!

Would you rather spend the day with your favorite athlete or you favorite movie star?

Tom Hanks & Johnny Depp Are America's Favorite Movie Stars ...

I don't have a favorite athlete, so...

Would you rather live where it is constantly winter or where it is constantly summer?

I've done both and definitely prefer the "always summer" plan. Can I please go back to Miami now?!

Would you rather travel the US and see the sights in a motor home or by plane?

Best RVs on the market for under $150,000 - Business Insider

If this can be our RV, then I'm all-in!

Would you rather be a little late or way too early?

Your Early 20s vs. Your Late 20s (With images) | College humor ...

I despise being late. I'd rather be early every single time, please!

Would you rather have an unlimited gift certificate to a restaurant or a clothing store?

4 Smart Ways to Organize the Clothes in Your Closet - Closet and ...

I think I'd take the one for clothes. A restaurant typically has a limited menu, and I have a very limited, specific diet. On the other hand, fashion is constantly changing, and I could never get bored. (I'd prefer it be to a thrift store, though, so I'm not supporting the environmentally-irresponsible textiles and fashion industry so much.)

Would you rather date someone you met online or go on a blind date?

Well, I've done both, and the I'm in my 20th year of marriage to the last guy I met online... so I'd say it worked out!


Thanks for the diversion, Bev & gang! I'm going to try to swing back around later and visit y'all.

But for right now, I've got to prepare for the week ahead. Stay safe, stay well, stay abreast of current events and try to give a damn. Love y'all.


Saturday 9: A Few Of My Favorite Things

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

So this is fun.


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


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

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

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

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

Image result for ariana grande god is a woman

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

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

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

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

January BarkBox

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

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

Image result for funny alarm clock

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

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

Related image

When it's over.

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

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

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

Related image

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

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

Image result for three snowy owls

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


Sophia - Van Gogh Unit Starry Night

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

See you for Sunday Stealing!


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? 

Image result for road trip funny

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?

Image result for resolutions funny

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?

Image result for pregnancy funny

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?

11 123117

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? 

Image result for lucky peak reservoir idaho

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?

Image result for backyard chicken funny

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

No automatic alt text available.

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?

Image result for contentment

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? 

Image result for pussyhat march

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?

Image result for 1504 W Marilyn Circle, Boise

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?

Image result for oops I did it again gif

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

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Image result for arsenal of nerf guns

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

21. Describe how a relationship changed.

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

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

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

24. How have people around you changed?

Sophia and Bing

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

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

25. What have you learned throughout the year?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

The 9th Pneumonia: Shit Just Got Real

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

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

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

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

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

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

No X-rays.

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

I was stupid.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And he has.

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

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

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

I don't remember that trip at all.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So what was going on?

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

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


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

We'll get there.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In Which I Slept Through My Favorite Holiday Of The Year


Like it says, America's Independence Day is my favorite holiday. It always has been. The pomp and circumstance, the coming-together of folks for patriotism, and of course, the fireworks - I love it all.

But today, I missed a great deal of it.


First, I stayed up well past midnight to help Chloë make this ginormous berry tart for our dessert. I have always wanted to make a flag cake for the Fourth, but it has always seemed a bit too cliché to me. I needed something amazing to check off this Food Bucket List entry. And then I spotted this slab pie:


on the Pillsbury Recipes website, and I knew I had to make it.

Only, I didn't realize that my 13" x 9" lasagna pan  (A) still not be big enough for it, and (B) Chloë would also be wanting to make making lasagna the same night, so I couldn't use that. I have two other similarly-sized metal pans for baking, but those were still too small. So, we had to use this huge cake pan from my old cake-decorating business in Virginia Beach and shift the whole recipe to accommodate its huge size.


It turned out beautifully, and she did a stellar job! 

If you're wondering just how huge the pie/tart is, maybe this will help: I bought an entire quart each of blueberries and strawberries, and a pint each of blackberries and raspberries. Not one berry was left out of the pie. Plus a whole can of mixed berry pie filling, plus two 8-oz packages of Philadelphia cream cheese, and the rest of the ingredients the recipe named. And other than my assisting as her sous pastry chef (is that a thing?), Chloë did it all.


I loved it. Sophia gave it two thumbs up. Jack just ate a couple of strawberries out of it, but that's all he wanted at the beginning. Rob must have eaten two or three helpings. And Chloë, poor thing, was not a fan at all! I have to laugh, but I also feel badly because she really wants some berries right now that aren't part of the pie! Poor thing. ;)


By then, it was after 2 AM, maybe closer to 3 AM, and I fell asleep shortly after we ate. The puppies woke me up around 7 AM, and I lasted less than an hour before I succumbed to the cravings and ate more pie. Not much more, but it put me into a Carb Coma, and I fell asleep again. I was shocked when I woke up again and looked at the clock: 4:45 PM!! Oh, my gosh. The festivities at the Homestead Speedway started at 6 PM, so it was time for Team Odette to get ready. My favorite part of the year was about to come. How 'bout a little bit more pie? Yeah. I had some. Cue another Carb Coma. I woke up again, and it was almost 11 PM. WTF?! Rob tried to wake me up. I know he did. But I was OUT. At least the kids weren't too disappointed in me, and Daddy had taken them outside to do one pack of sparklers with them.



After I finally woke up again, we all went outside and first let the kids pop each of their boxes of Pop-Its in the parking lot. Sophia asked me to help her open the inner bag, and when I tried to accomplish this task, I dropped half her Pop-Its on the ground, setting them all off! Oops. (I suck at opening stuff; ask Rob.) Never-chagrined Sophia laughingly took the other half and happily went and popped them with her siblings.


Jack had the idea, after Rob lit a sparkler for each of them, to light all the Pop-Its one more time, to see if any were still live. Of course, there are always a few, and this idea caught fire. (Sorry.)


Dauntless Sophia has been bored out of her mind with her cast inhibiting half the activities she wants to do (mostly water-related), but when she's having fun, she forgets all about it!


Chloë tired of lighting Pop-Its, finally took her last sparkler from her dad and started writing in the air. I have fond, vivid memories of doing that with my own mom and dad as a very young child. The best times!

Happy Independence Day, 'Murica. Until next year.


Saturday 9: Sixteen Tons

I very nearly forgot it was Saturday! Link up here if you're playing along today!

Saturday 9: Sixteen Tons (1955)

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


1) 16 tons = 32,000 pounds, because there are 2,000 lbs. to a ton. Without looking it up, do you know how many ounces are in a pound?

Yes, sixteen. I do a lot of cooking, and it's hard not to absorb that fact almost without trying, therefore...

2) The singer describes himself as having "a mind that's weak and a back that's strong." Think about yourself. Which feels more powerful today, your body or your brain?

For once, my body. My brain is in pain, stupid migraine. I think I'm having caffeine withdrawal.

3) The poor chap in this song has money troubles. Are you good at sticking to your budget?

No. I'm admittedly horrible with money; I always have been. I keep trying my best, though!

4) Tennessee Ernie Ford snapped his fingers as he recorded this song. It's been said that while it's possible to snap your fingers of both hands, the noise is louder with your "dominant hand." (So if you're a rightie, the finger snap will be louder with your right hand.) Try it yourself. Did you find this to be true?

No. I'm ambidextrous, but I generally write better with my right hand (I write in mirror-image with my left hand). I can only snap with my left hand, though; my right hand does some weak impression of the act.

5) Mr. Ford appeared as "Cousin Ernie" in three episodes of I Love Lucy. What's your all-time favorite sitcom?

Hmm... Currently, it's The Big Bang Theory, but I think of all time? It's gotta be Three's Company. I was a huge fan of John Ritter.

6) Tennessee Ernie took the money he made from his performing career and invested in a California cattle ranch. Think back to the last beef your ate. How was it prepared?

I'd have to think back to August 1995. It's been that long since I committed to vegetarianism. It was probably a cheeseburger at the dorm cafeteria in college. My sister was upset when I went to visit her that summer. She made a lasagna, in which she always puts ground beef. I couldn't eat it. Sorry, Sis.

7) Mr. Ford passed away at age 72 in 1991. That year, Dr. Seuss also died. What's your favorite Dr. Seuss book?

My standard graduate gift: Oh, the Places You'll Go!

8) Gene Roddenberry also died that year. Mr. Roddenberry is best known as the creator of Star Trek. Who is your favorite Star Trek character?

I don't think I've ever sat down and watched any Star Trek, but I am a huge fan of George Takei as a real individual. Can I just say him? (Incidentally, if you're not following him and his husband, Brad, on Facebook, you're missing out.)

9) Random question: We're having smoothies. What's your favorite?

We live around the corner from Robeks, so my kids are always clamoring to walk over there and have a smoothie. We indulge about once a month. I always get a peanut butter and banana one, with an extra shot of whey protein and fake sugar. I have low-carb, high-protein dietary needs or else I'd be all about a strawberry banana like my son, Jack. (I do steal a sip of his usually, though!)


Thanks for the visit!



Saturday 9: Sorry

Hey Beliebers and non-Beliebers ! Link up here if you want to play along with this fun Q & A!


Saturday 9: Sorry (2015)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here

1) This song is a plea for a second chance. Are you good at forgiving/forgetting?

I feel like I just answered this here in this space recently. Since I'm kind of doped up on pain relieving medications at the moment (forgive any typos or inappropriate remarks, as it's taking all my effort to make this post sensible), I'm glad to not have to think too hard about my answer! YES, I do forgive and forget easily on one condition: the offender has to acknowledge the problem, take responsibility for her/his part, and genuinely apologize. Otherwise, NO.

And yes, the image I posted above is random, but it was so funny I wanted to keep it... ;)

2) Justin asks his girl to "forget this." What have you done/said recently that you wish could just be forgotten?

Oh, everything. Literally, everything I say or do. I'm a neurotic mess, and I know I am so annoying to people. Hubs loves me and accepts me the way I am, and that's a big part of why I married him. Other people, I feel, really just don't like me. And that's saying it nicely...

3) Mr. Bieber says he needs just 6 hours sleep every night. How about you? How much sleep do you require to feel sharp?

Part of being a night owl neurotic mess is that I'm also an insomniac. I honestly don't know how much sleep I require, because my sleep so erratically. I have no clue. It could be four or five hours, or it could be 10+!

4) Justin prefers D&G underwear, which can cost as much as $102/pair. Sam may be crazy, but there's no way she'd spend that much on underwear. What's something you're willing to splurge on?

also have OCD, so I'm SO complicated and fun (said no one ever), and one of the things that I'm OCD about is my skin. It has to be well-moisturized and extremely soft, clean, and well, perfect, or I can't function. Seriously, I just cannot even. So I splurge on my skincare products from JAFRA, using our Pro line as well as the (actual) gold-infused supplemental products. And my skin is... yeah. It's good.

5) He may be picky about underwear but not cuisine. He loves Big Macs. If we were going to McDonald's, what would you order?

I'd really rather not, but on the odd occasion where I haven't gotten groceries yet, and I'm super pressed for time and stuff, I'll swing through the McDs drive-thru lane and order a 20-piece McNuggets (maybe more) for the rest of Team Odette to pass around, large fries (I like the long, squishy ones; they can have the rest) for everyone, and probably a Coke for Rob.

6) When it comes to healthier fare, Bieber has told fans he enjoys snacking on bananas and grapes. What do you reach for between meals?

I'm definitely a grazer, so there is no in-between meals. I'll have a slightly hungry moment between sips of whatever I'm drinking at the moment (I have to constantly be drinking something or I'll dehydrate, thanks to my gastric bypass surgery) and wander into the kitchen for something. I'll eat a piece of cheese, or a banana, or hummus... Ooh, thanks for the reminder, I want to make some hummus up tonight!

7) Performing in Germany, Justin Bieber told a girl who approached the stage, "Ich liebe dich” ("I love you") and she fainted. Have you ever fainted?

The first time I fainted, that I know of, was in choir in 8th grade. We were all standing on risers, singing our little hearts out, and boom, from the second or third riser up, down I went onto the floor. Our choir director, with whom I'm now good friends with on Facebook, actually sort of sarcastically corrected me for not singing and standing up! I did not respond, so they got me up and rushed me to the nurse's office. I can't count how many times I have passed out since then.

8) As a kid, Justin was teased for being one of the shortest in his class. What do you recall being teased about in school?

In school, I was ridiculed for being smart. I was quite the nerd. Definitely not "popular." I was teased for years in the classes I had to take that were not Honors or AP classes. I'm not bitter about it, though; I think I'm over it. However, I'm still very self-conscious and self-aware when I'm in public situations. I'm paranoid that people are always laughing and talking about me. I hate it.

9) Random question: Will you be watching this weekend's Super Bowl?

LOL! If I do watch Super Bowl 50, it will probably just be for the commercials. I don't care about either team, and I couldn't really care less about professional American football. Meh.


Well that's it! Thanks for stopping by. And if you did, and you read this whole thing, then I want to tell you something. You've maybe been reading this blog for Saturday 9s for a while, and mabye Sunday Stealing, too. And you may know that I've been sick for months and have been really bad about replying back on your blog to your Sat9 and Sunday Stealing posts, though I've been promising to do just that. I have to apologize. I really am sorry. Truly. But I'm getting exponentially sicker, and I'm not taking things even day by day anymore.

Now it's hour by hour, and sometimes minute by minute. It's killing me. Literally, I honestly feel like I am going to die and they will figure out what's wrong with my autopsy. I have yet another doctor appointment on Monday, and I am trying to get in with an Infectious Diseases specialist here in Miami to get things figured out. I think it's mold, which I've been jokingly suggesting to Hubs since the beginning of this. Now I think it's forreal, folks. Gah. If you pray, please pray; if you don't, please think good thinks and said positive vibes, juju, or whatever our way. Thank you. Peace out.



January '16 Wrap-Up


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

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

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

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

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

Whew. Anyway!

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


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


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


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


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

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


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

January 2016

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


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


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



Sophia walking Buddy to get saddled up


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

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



It looks so freeing...


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


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



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


But, they're fixable.


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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


Kitchen Sink Mashed Potatoes

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


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

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Southwestern Chili Mac


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


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


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


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


Plátanos fritos

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


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


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

January 2016-001

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

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

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

Whew. Now I'm getting hungry!



Random January blooms in the neighborhood


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


Here, leezard, leezard... 

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

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

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

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


Seven Year Surgiversary!


Seven years ago today, while we were still in Virginia Beach, I made the decision to undergo Gastric Bypass (with a vertical band in addition) Surgery

Here I am now, still down over 200 lbs and only having gained back five pounds of the 206 lb I originally lost. Sure, I've gone up and down over the last five years of that, but I've come back down again every time.

I've had my share of health problems, some completely unrelated to surgery, some related but not serious, and some potentially life-threatening complications. But I'll be 40 this year, and I intend to have many more birthdays after that!

Ultimately, I'm glad I had "Drastic Bypass," as I always call it, because my quality of life at my max weight of 341.3 lbs was virtually non-existent. My health was exceedingly poor, and I was quite suicidal. It was just badness all the way around, and of course, I had tried various and sundry other "normal" ways to lose weight, unsuccessfully. It's NOT the easy way out, as those of you who have undergone similar operations realize.

The only time I was able to lose any quantifiable amount of weight was the first time I went on Weight Watchers. Sophia was a mere babe then, only about 4-8 months, and I was of course breastfeeding her. I lost quite a bit of weight, but I my milk also dried up as a result of my low caloric intake. I had to stop dieting so she could nurse. Don't poo-pooh that, either, because it was crucial for me to be able to bond with all of my babies in that way.

Of course, I exercised! I have always loved rollerblading and did plenty of that. I did yoga and Pilates. In fact, two weeks after I had Sophie, I was back to my hardcore Pilates workout and split open my c-section incision. Yeah, my floor was a disgusting mess, and I had to go back to the hospital... but I was gung-ho, man!

Anyway, all of this has a point: If you're considering bariatric surgery, take ALL the time you need to figure out whether and which one is the right choice for you. There are serious financial costs, and you're rewiring some pretty MAJOR organs. A ton of risks are involved. It hurts. It's depressing. There is a grieving process afterward. You need a lot of support. And so on... I recommend the website www.ObesityHelp.com for anyone at any stage of the process.

Thank you to the many, many of you who have supported me through this long process - especially Rob and the kiddos. Without you, I'd be lost.


Saturday 9: Black Is Black

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Saturday 9: Black Is Black (1966)

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


1) Black is this week's signature color because Friday, November 27th, was "Black Friday," when retailers cut their prices and consumers flock to the stores. Did you score any "Black Friday" bargains?


Well, I never do. But for the first time at Zero Dark-Thirty this morning, I took my daughter Chloë out to score a couple of things she wanted to get her dad for Christmas. We went to Kohl's, but the two things together were out of her budget, and she didn't want to get just one. I told her we could wait until Cyber Monday and try again. She did end up scoring a great deal on a laser toy for our four cats, though. Hee!

Oh! And then, I got a bug up my ass to start decorating for Christmas - which I insist on not doing until Thanksgiving is over - so I took my other daughter, Sophia, out to Michael's. I had seen that their Christmas décor was 50% off, and I had a 30% off coupon on top of that, so we got some garlands and a tree topper thingy to make a tree for our wall. We raced there at 0140, knowing they closed for the night at 0200, and got 'er done.

DSC_0001 (4)

Back at home, I got my girls and my son Jack together to help me construct a "tree" out of the garlands. I nailed it to the wall after setting the three of them to work making their first-ever popcorn and cranberry garlands, and then we unwrapped and hung some of our many ornaments. I think it's beautiful, and I love it! 

2) WalMart, Best Buy, Toys R Us and Target have all heavily advertised their "Black Friday" sales. If you could have a $50 gift card to one of those stores, which would choose? What would you spend the $50 on?

Definitely not Walmart or Best Buy. Ugh. Probably not Toys 'R' Us, since the toys my tween- and teen-aged kids want now are way over fifty bucks. I guess that leaves Tarjay. It's my favorite of the four stores anyway, though I prefer shopping at small businesses over the Big Box stores...
Hm. If I couldn't use coupons and had to shop for some Black Friday doorbuster, in the spirit of the question, I would use the $50 off $100 purchase I saw advertised for Target today and get Sophia the motorized scooter I saw advertised for $90, with a 20% Cartwheel, bringing this $250 item down to $72... and then I'd get $28 worth of Littlest Pet Shop toys for her to bring my total up to the requisite hundred bucks. In the end, after my gift card, I'd have paid nothing but a few dollars' tax. Now I wish I'd done that! Haha!
3) Star Wars items are predicted to be big sellers this Black Friday. Are you a big sci-fi fan? Are there any sci-fi fans on your holiday gift list? 
I am not. Not at all. But Chloë is enormously into Harry Potter right now (she's on book 6 of 7 but has not seen any of the movies yet), so I'm sure her Christmas presents will largely focus on that. ;)

4) Feasting and football are also popular Thanksgiving weekend pastimes. Do your Thursday-Sunday plans include pigging out or watching a game?
Having had gastric bypass surgery, there is no pigging out going on for me, ever again. I had intended to watch my alma mater (U Miami) play against Pitt today, but I napped through the whole thing! Ah, well. At least we won! #GoCanes #AllAboutTheU!

5) At Thanksgiving dinners, Crazy Sam's homemade gravy is always a hit. (Probably because she's so generous with the cognac, which gives the gravy a nutty taste.) Do you have a signature dish?
I didn't do any cooking or baking (my specialty) this year for Thanksgiving, sadly. I've been getting sicker and sicker since May, and now my energy is completely depleted while my pain is often unmanageable. Rob had to cook the whole dinner, which was great, but he does not bake. So, we didn't have any pie, because I refuse to have store-bought when it just doesn't meet our high gastronomic demands. I'm hoping I'll be doing great by Christmas, after a transfusion, and will shine then!
Also, that gravy sounds enviable! I want some!

6) What did you give thanks for on Thanksgiving 2015?
My family, of course. They accept me and support me no matter what. Without their love, I might not be here still.
7) Monday is Cyber Monday, when shoppers can save big online. Do you shop confidently over the Internet, or do you worry about security breaches and identity theft? 
I have actually been the victim of identity theft through Walmart's (surprise, surprise) website. I loathe that store anyway, so I just avoid shopping there online or at the brick-and-mortar stores at all costs. If I have to go, I pay cash.
Because of the repeated security breaches at Target, I don't shop online there, either. I get a little more skeered each time some news comes out about another incident, but for the most part, I don't worry too terribly much. I check my bank account incessantly, though!
8) This week's featured band, Los Bravos, was international. Their members came from both Germany and Spain. If you could travel to any foreign country in the world, which would you choose?
That's an easy one: Australia. I'd give anything. Even being sick, I'd go right now.

9) The band's name, Los Bravos, can be translated to mean, "The Brave." Do you consider yourself gutsy?
Not in any sense of the word. Because I'm still fighting after everything I've gone though, people constantly call me "strong." I disagree. I just feel like it's the only option I have, to maintain my integrity to continue. Is that gutsy? I really don't know. It's not for me to decide. :)

Sunday Stealing: Would You Rather Meme

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Cheers to all of us thieves!!!  

Would You Rather Meme

Stolen from: Would Your Rather


Would you rather be stuck on an island alone or with someone who talks incessantly?

I am that person, and I drive myself crazy. I would rather be alone if the other person talks as much as I do!


Would you rather be too hot or too cold? 

I'm rarely warm enough, thanks to my internal thermostat being broken after my Gastric Bypass Surgery in '09. I would SO much rather be too warm, but alas, I am always, always cold.


Would you rather have a cook or a maid? 

I love to cook, but I hate to clean. That maid is a no-brainer!


Would you rather be the youngest or the oldest sibling?

I don't know. I am the youngest of two, four, or five, depending on how you count the offspring from my childhood. I feel like I wish I was the oldest, because I have no backbone whatsoever, and I can be selfish and petty and spoiled like a baby. But, I am what I am, and it can't be changed other than to address it head-on! (Which I do try.)


Would you rather get rich through hard work or through winning the lottery? 

Gotta play to win it big, and I don't play.


Would you rather have a 10-hour dinner with a headstrong politician from an opposing party, or attend a 10-hour concert for a music group you detest?

What, like Donald Trump? Or Ben Carson? Or Marco Rubio? Or the league of other guys - and Carly Fiorina - vying to become POTUS? I couldn't handle a 2-hour dinner, let alone ten of them. No, I'd rather go to a country music concert or something else I detest. #DontGetMeStarted


Would you rather be an Olympic gold medalist or a Nobel Peace Prize winner?

I would obviously rather win the Nobel Peace Prize. I would have done something good for humanity. Being an Olympian - gold or otherwise - does not preclude that, but it doesn't guarantee it, either.


Would you rather have a desk job or an outdoor job?

I have had both. The desk job, for me, was a snooze-fest all day, every day, week in and week out. No, I need to be out in the field, communing with nature, breathing in fresh air... ahh. Yes.


Would you rather live at the top of a tall NYC apartment building or at the top of a mountain?

I must be a stay-home mom (I am), because my first thought was, "Either way, think of the groceries I'll have to lug up there!" Ha! Living in NYC for a year is on my Bucket List; living at the top of a mountain is not, so I'll go with the Big Apple.


Would you rather have Rambo or The Terminator on your side?

I don't really know enough about either one; not my genre. I can't comment on it. Sorreh!


Would you rather be proposed to in private or in front of family and friends? 

I was proposed to privately, and it was exactly the way it should have been - for me. And then we eloped and, to get married in front of family and friends and God, we had a small, calm, quiet wedding on the beach. I wore a $17 slip nightgown from Kmart and was barefoot; hubs wore his Navy dress blues. I had an inexpensive grocery store bouquet, and my friends sang and played guitar for the music. It was very tasteful, very small, and very us. I loved it. I would not have wanted it any other way.


Would you rather have to sew all your clothes or grow your own food?


 I'm a beginner at both, but I love both ideas. I could knit much of our clothes better than sew, and I'm not the best gardener, but I find both ideas very appealing. This photo shows what I just picked up yesterday from the farm that hosts our local CSA. We joined our first one this year, and I'm SO excited! I used a bit of the mizuna and some of the garlic chives to make homemade sauce last night, and it was outstanding!


 Would you rather hear the good news or the bad news first?

I would rather hear whichever one is the bottom line last, so that I can act appropriately.


Would you rather be your own boss or work for someone else?

Wouldn't everyone rather be their own boss? Actually, I don't mind working for someone else, as long as the job is right. It's a bit of a trade-off for me.


Would you rather have nosy neighbors or noisy neighbors? 

I would rather have noisy neighbors, which we do, over nosy ones, which we also do. Both are annoying, but at least the noisy ones leave us the hell alone! Gahhh, I can't wait until we move...


Would you rather be on a survival reality show or dating game show?

I don't know... I think I'd rather be on Survivor, because at least I will have gone somewhere really cool and not lived out my dating drama publicly.


Would you rather be too busy or be bored?

Only boring people get bored. I am never bored. I am often too busy, but I definitely prefer that over being bored. I can't remember the last time I wasn't actively - or even passively - doing something.


 Would you rather watch the big game at home or live at the stadium?


 I'd rather be there, where the action is! We went to our (U. Miami) homecoming game this year, and we won! That was epic. (Sorry, Country Dew...)


Would you rather spend the day with your favorite athlete or you favorite movie star?

You're offering me Matt Damon or...what again?? ::drool::


Would you rather live where it is constantly winter or where it is constantly summer?


I took this picture earlier this month. I have lived in Syracuse, New York, and I have lived in Miami in the past. I only went back to Miami. It's a no-brainer for me!

Thanks for stopping by!


Sunday Stealing: 25 Fun

Link up here if you're stealing today, thieves!
25 Fun Meme
Stolen from: My Random Randomness
1. If you were trapped in a room with the person who asked this for 24 hours, what would you do? 
 Since Kwizgiver and I both knit, I imagine we'd sit, knit, chat, knit some more, repeat. Or maybe read.
2. If you could learn any language instantly, what would it be?
Well, all of them! I would love to know every word of every language. Arabic, Japanese, and yes, French. But I'm selecting French for this question because though I can read a lot of it, I can't speak or understand spoken French. It just doesn't sound how I expect, from learning Spanish and bits of Italian. Not phonetic. (Yes, the Romance Languages are my favorite family.)

3. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be?
The dictionary!

4. Favorite song lyric?
Weird Al's song, "Melanie" is in my head now. Maybe because that's my name? So, "Me-eh-eh-elanie, why won't you go out with me?" But not really. I am just always hard-pressed to pick a favorite anything!

5. Favorite album?
Eric Clapton's Unplugged. Love it, love every song on it! (I don't know what happened with my formatting here. Ugh.)

6. Which time of day would you say is best for you work-wise?
About 8 PM. Total night owl, here!

7. Favorite city that you’ve visited?
I'm going to be an oddball and say Dubrovnik, Croatia. It was on our European cruise, and I was surprised to see Croatia on the itinerary. I had never heard of it. But it was beautiful, it was unexpected in so many ways, and I loved every second of every step within the old city. So thank you, Dubrovnik, for showing me many lovely surprises at every turn!

8. Favorite city that you haven’t visited?
How can I know the answer to this?

9. If you could donate $10,000 to charity, what charity would you pick?
I would give half to an environmentalist cause, like maybe Greenpeace, and half to, I think, Heifer International. I really like what they're doing.

10. What is one book you wish you could get all your friends to read?
Mine! ;) Come on, NaNoWriMo!
11. What is one movie you wish you could get all your friends to watch?
Well, Food Inc. for starters. We'll go from there.
12. What do you think people assume about you from first glance?
... the worst. I have a lot of paranoia about people talking and laughing about me. I don't like this question right now.
13. If you could play any musical instrument, what would it be?
Saxophone, definitely! And then, harp...

14. What is your favorite item of clothing?
 Welp, since I don't have an awesome dino hoodie, I'm going to have to go with the black cardigan I'm wearing right now. It doesn't button, just hangs open, and I keep it on the back of my desk chair when I'm not wearing it, day in and day out, until it can stand up on its own stank. Seriously, I gotta be the only person freezing like it's Antarctica out there, when we're still reaching temps over 80 degrees F at the end of October. #GastricBypassProblems
15. Who was your first follower on your blog? Do they still follow you?
Damn if I know.

16. If you could create one thing, what would it be?
If I could, I would create a United States that was all the best and none of the worst things that make up our 239-year history.

17. Favorite superhero?
Christopher Reeve. Oh, I mean, Superman. ;)

18. If you were to write an autobiography, what would you title it?
I don't know. Maybe: Shit Just Got Real, Y'all. 
19. If you were to have a band, what would you call it?
I think "Free Beer" sounds like a winner, personally! Except maybe let's make it "rum" or "vodka" instead of beer? I'm not much for suds.

20. What is your favorite card/board game?
Scrabble. I play Words With Friends on my phone, like, every day. I have about 27 games going right now. Might be obsessed?

21. What was the first IM service you used? Who was the first person you talked to on it?
mIRC, of course! When I was an undergrad at U-Miami, I started learning about online chat groups. I had a friend named Kevin from Kentucky or Kansas or something. He turned out to be a Nutter Butter.

22. If you could give a friendly hug to any one person, who would it be?
My Hubs' best friend, Larry, whom I've never met. We've become cronies over the Interwebs (aka Facebook Messenger), and it would be really cool to give him an actual hug.

23. Have you ever won any sort of contests? What kind?
Not a beauty contest, that's for sure. Since I'm taking my older daughter, Chloe, to her first major concert on Tuesday (Taylor Swift), I'm thinking back to when I won concert tickets to the Black-Eyed Peas. I also won tickets to take my husband to see Crosby, Stills and Nash, another year. Both were epic experiences.

24. Who was the last person you hugged? Cannot be your romantic/sexual partner if you have one.
Can it be my kids? Other than Hubs, it was probably my son Jack. He's the biggest hugger of my kids. First thing he does when he comes out of his room in the morning, and the last thing he does before he turns in for the night, is come give me a hug. 

25. If you could be skilled in any one activity, what would it be? Cannot be romantic or sexual.
First, it makes me giggle that sexual skills are disqualified. But, but...! ;) Second, I wish I was an amazing gymnast, especially on Floor. Bounding across a gymnasium, leaping, twisting, and turning? I mean, yeah, I'm knocking on 40's door, but that's always been a little secret fantasy of mine.
Welp, that's it for now. Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday Stealing: That Alphabet Thing Meme


Link up here if you're playing along today, too!

Cheers to all of us thieves!!!  

That Alphabet Thing Meme
Stolen from: Songs of innocence and of experience


A. Accent:


I have an Central New York accent until I get amped up. Then I am all New York City.

B. Breakfast:


I sometimes eat "breakfast" at 2200, and it may consist of an egg or two on a piece of toast. Or two. But I rarely eat breakfast at the proper time anymore.

C. Chore you hate:

Cleaning up dog shit is probably not my favorite chore. Listen, I had a passel of kids so I wouldn't have to do those things. You know?

D. Dad's name:


My dad is Robert Eric Simmons. He took off the "Jr." that was originally part of his name.

E. Essential everyday item:

Normally I might say my smartypants phone, my Samsung Galaxy S5. But last night, during the big UM vs. FSU game, it was either my voice, or the wine. We lost, but it was still an awesome game, because my boys FOUGHT those $%^&* 'Noles!

F. Flavor ice cream:


My favorite flavor is Peanut Butter Chocolate ice cream, but Mint Chip follows right along behind that.

G. Gold or silver:


So many precious metals, so little time... I choose copper! :P

H. Hometown:


Though we moved up to Baldwinsville when I was six, my hometown was originally Monroe, NY. Hence the accent answer, above.

I. Insomnia:


That's pretty much correct, right there. My sleeping cycle is AFU.

J. Job title:


I'm not sure if it's "Mom" or, now that we have teen/tween kids, it's "Moooooommmmmmmmm!"

K. Kids:


We have Chloë Raine, 14; Robert William, our forever baby and identical twin to Jack River, 12; and Sophia Lorelei, 10.

M. Mother's birthplace:

My mom was born in The Bronx, New York. (Dad is from Staten Island.)

N. Number of significant others:


Um... one at a TIME? Hubs and I are rapidly coming up on our 15th anniversary. I'm pretty stoked about that!

O. Overnight hospital stays:

I've had three C-sections, a hysterectomy, and gastric bypass surgery. And that's just the beginning of it. Glad you asked?

P. Phobia:

In this story, I am the one petrified of this scenario. Hubs is Buzz Lightyear, and he loves loves LOVES his mustard. Ugh.

Q. Quick at:


Actually, I love math, and I have used this ^^^ in real life! So pbbbtthhh!

R. Religious affiliation:


I was raised as a Christian Scientist. At 21, I read Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, and ever since, I'm a non-denominational Protestant. Trust me, I'm much happier this way.

S. Siblings:


That's me in the black, and my older sister Stacey with her arm around my back. We also have an older half-sister, Pamela, whom we've never met.

T. Time you wake up:

Most of the time, I wake up on my own. Sometimes, though... eh. Too complicated to go into it. We'd need some of that alphabetical math.

U. Unnatural hair colors:


My friend Erin once told me, in high school, that she and I had "hair-colored hair." It was kind of a mousy brown. In May 1995, my college roommate told me we should dye it reddish-brown. I have been doing so ever since. That's about it, color-wise, for me.

V. Vegetable you refuse to eat:


I have never eaten okra. We didn't have it growing up in New York, and I consider it a Deep South thing. Maybe that's why? But maybe not, since I have eaten grits. Meh.

W. Worst habit:


I don't smoke or do illegal drugs. Other than that... Hey, leave me alone. I'm a work in progress, m'kay?

 X. X-rays:

I think my first x-ray was when I was in graduate school, and I broke several toes on my left foot. Oh Em Gee, that hurt. But now, I probably would just walk around that way. Now I know what real pain is!

Y. Yummy:


I'm a semi-vegetarian, and I adore my hummus. HUMMUS FTW!

Z. Zodiac sign:

I am a true Virgo. I don't go into the whole horoscope nonsense, but hey, maybe there is some truth to that shit.

Wow, this post was like my autobiography, eh? Time to go bathe and then read some of y'all's posts. Thanks for stopping by!


Sunday Stealing: Swiped Meme


Link up here if you're swiping today!

Swiped Meme

Stolen from: Get It All Down

Do you need to write down things to remember them?


Abso-freaking-lutely! If it doesn't get written down, it doesn't get done.

Do you keep a diary/journal?

You're looking at it, Sweetheart!

Are you scared of thunderstorms?

Not since I was about six. Now, I love them. Unless the power goes out for six days. That, not a fan.

Do you have any unusual fears or phobias?


You're looking at my absolute worst nightmare. If mustard touches me, If freak out. If it were all over me, like this, ohhhh hell naw.

Whats your favourite Disney movie?


Finding Nemo, of course! And yes, I did just go to Kohl's and get a Dory stuffy for my bed, because like I recently mentioned, she is so me! And she shall be my squishy.

Have you ever painted a house?


The outside? No. But I had painted the interior walls of our Virginia Beach house every color of the rainbow. Except puce and chartreuse. It's driving me insane living in a box with white walls right now, y'all.

What's the tallest tree you've ever climbed?

I used to climb the tree in our front yard in Monroe, NY, until we moved when I was six. At the time, it seemed huge... now, I'm not so sure it was much bigger than a stick. Who knows?

Do you always wear identical socks?


Dudes. I can count on zero fingers the number of times I've worn socks at all in the past year. I live for being barefoot!

Do you live by any motto or philosophy?


My motto has long been: "If you want something done right the first time, you've got to do it yourself." 

Do you lick the yogurt or dessert lid?


Of course! Isn't that the best part?!

Do you lick the spoon clean after making something sweet?

Before children, of course. After children, I have to divvy up the spoon, the beater, and the bowl amongst the three of them!

Have you ever played the bongos?


On Halloween 2000, the night before we "met" online, Hubs went as a bongo-playing beatnik to a costume party. We still have those bongos. I, of course, have played them (however badly) on numerous occasions. They are now adorned with artwork from our youngest child, Sophia, who has came out of the womb wielding crayons...

Have you ever handled a snake?


When my sister was 16, she was emancipated, and she lived with her future husband - and Jade, a Florida King snake. I used to hold Jade and let her wriggle and writhe all over me. I was 15 and probably held her until I graduated at 17. I don't think I've held a snake since then...

Have you ever assembled furniture by yourself?

I have, even IKEA furniture. When Hubs was in the hospital one of the first times with his brain tumor, we had the kids up in Fort Lauderdale with friends for the extended visit. One night, I went all gung-ho and built the girls' dressers myself. It took ALL night, but I got it done. Woot!

When did you last go to the beach?

I was in Key West on Wednesday with the family. All Sophia (our artistic youngest child) wanted to do was wade in the water. We ate dinner - and yes, I had a rather large and delicious piña colada - shopped for towels since we hadn't brought any, and walked around endlessly to look for our cars after NOT wading in the water. I think she is still holding a grudge. We'll go back to Key West in the next week or two. Need anything? Gal??

When if ever did you last go to London?


The last time I was in London was in a previous life, I guess. It's still sitting on my bucket list. I'll get there. Ain't dead yet!

What do you do to cool down when it's hot?


Listen. I'm probably the only idiot in Miami who needs a heating pad. Too hot? You must be crazy. (My gastric bypass surgery took away my ability to regulate my body temperature. It's a curse my family must live with. MWAHAHAHA...)

What's the most unusual thing you've ever eaten?

Probably sea urchin sushi, which I highly do NOT recommend. I nearly barfed.

Do you have a favorite mug?


This is my mug, and I love it. Meh.

Do you know any self-defense or martial arts?

Image result for grab twist pull testicles

Not really. When we were in high school, we learned the bare minimum of self-defense, which consisted of "Grab, Twist and Pull" the testicles of any male attacker. That's pretty much all I got out of it, anyway. I've never used it...

Who's your favorite movie action hero?


Lately it's Iron Man. I'm not really an action movie type of girl, but let's face it: Robert Downey, Jr. is HOT.

Have you ever ridden a motorcycle?


I've ridden on the back of the bike with my uncle (scary on purpose) and my husband (scary NOT on purpose). I'm not a huge fan of either, but I'm too chicken to learn to drive one myself.

Do you collect anything?


I collect shot glasses. I just had to buy my third case. And yes, I have actually used a few of them, once or twice...

Is there anything you wish would come back into fashion?


I don't know or care much about fashion. I wear what I like.

Do you stick to conventional fashions or like to try and be original?


Like I just said... I wear what I like. Haters be damned. :P 

Have you ever given someone a handmade present?

I have. Sometimes you win some, sometimes you don't. Meh.

If you could have any feature from an animal what would you want?

Wings. I want freakin' wings. I want to fly. Someday... if it's the last thing I do...! ;)
Thanks for stopping by, y'all.

Saturday 9: Careless Whisper

Link up here if you're playing along today!

Saturday 9: Careless Whisper (1984)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here. (As an 80s girl, I love this song!!)

1) You can't miss George Michael's gold hoops in the photo above or in the "Careless Whisper" video. Are you wearing any jewelry right now?
I had to take my wedding and engagement rings off, as well as my two beloved Daisy & Cherry Blossom Pandora rings (I had to put them on my left hand to take the picture, but normally I wear them on righty), because I had an allergic reaction to something from Panera earlier, making my hands swell up. I still have my silver hoops and nose ring in, though.
(Yes, I really am that pale. No, I'm not albino.)
Pandora Silver CZ
And speaking of Pandora Daisy rings, I am so totally wanting to add this sparkly silver cubic zirconia one to my collection. Please, Mommy, can we keep it?

2) Though the label says this hit is performed by "Wham! featuring George Michael," George Michael is the only member of the pop duo who appears in the video. Do you remember the name of the other guy who was in Wham!?
Nope. I'd have to Google it, and I'm not really in the mood! I'm sure someone will, and I'll read it on your blog later. Thanks.

3) Much of the video was filmed on Watson Island, a man-made island near South Beach. Have you ever been to Miami? 
{Rats. I spent too dang long looking for this picture of me from recently - if October 2014 is recent - in front of our home, to "prove" I live in Miami, but you can't even see more than the trunk of the palm tree behind me. I misremembered it. Oh well, carry on, nothing to see here...}
You're teasing me now, aren't you Samantha? I live in Miami, and I love it! And yes, I have been to South Beach of course, but I have not yet made it to Watson Island. I ain't that cool.

4) Born Georgios Panayiotou, George Michael is of Greek descent, the son of the Greek restauranteur in East London. When you think of Greek cuisine, what comes to mind?
I think of the gyros that Hubs loves so much but which I've never had because I don't eat meat and surely won't, therefore, eat a wee little lambykins. I also think of the delicious kalamata olives, and feta, and hummus, and other yummy stuff we ate in Katakolon, Greece, when we went on our European cruise in 2008. I love Greek food. Oh! And how could I forget baklava? Mmmm....
(Ugh, I love that I documented that trip on this separate blog, but I hate looking at it because I was at my heaviest weight on that trip. Yuck.)

5) Today he lives in a tony suburb called Highgate, and his neighbors are Kate Moss and Sting. Tell us about one of your neighbors. 
Our neighbor, Francisco, left for his home in Madrid, Spain, today! He's really nice, and he brings us Cuban coffee:
... and he even gave Sophie a box of chocolates recently for her tenth birthday. However, every now and then, I used to sit out front and have a beer with Frank, but I had to stop because he developed quite a crush on me and has been trying to get me to give him a smooch ever since. No. Just... no.

6) George Michael fans can purchase officially licensed merchandise from his website, including an iPhone cover with his photo and signature. Tell us about your cell phone. Is it Apple or Android? Is it a smartphone?
It's an Android. I have a Samsung Galaxy S5 with a boring, gray Otterbox Defender case on it that I'll probably never change, because I would have destroyed that phone ages ago if the Otterbox wasn't, you know, defending it so well. I love my phone. I'm not wanting to change it for the Galaxy S6 at all. Nope, not a bit... ;)

7) George Michael sang Stevie Wonder's "You and I" for Prince William's wedding to Kate Middleton. What's your favorite love song?

It's a toss-up between Eric Clapton singing "Wonderful Tonight," which is the song Hubs and I danced to after our barefoot sunset wedding on St. Pete Beach in 2001, and this song that Hubs used to woo me with in 2000:

 Go ahead. Give The Barenaked Ladies a listen.

8) In 2014, George had a health scare. He was rushed to the hospital for tests and released the next day. Have you ever ridden in an ambulance?
Yeah, I have a few times as a patient and accompanying a patient. The time that sticks out in my mind the most is when our oldest baby, Chloë, was four months old and had a febrile seizure, and I freaked out when she threw her head back and her eyes rolled up... That was super scary.

9) Known for hard partying in his youth, George is now in his 50s and says he's quite happy to spend his evenings eating takeout and watching DVDs. Are you doing any socializing this weekend?
Hmmm. Given that Hubs just had (yet another) emergency surgery on Wednesday, and he may or may not be coming home from the hospital on Friday, I'm thinking probably not, other than with his home care nurse. I haven't even given a thought to what plans we may or may not have had!
Thanks for stopping by; have a great weekend!

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. 

Image result for laughing emoji


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"? 

Image result for red lips


"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!


Sunday Stealing: Why Do You Want To Know THAT Meme


Why Do You Want To Know That Meme?

Stolen from: My Random Randomness

1. What TV gameshow/reality show would you like to be on? 


I'd LOVE to be on Jeopardy!

2.  What was the first movie you bought in VHS or DVD? 

I have no idea, but I'm sure it was something Disney.

3. If you had one million dollars to spend only on yourself, what would you spend it on?

If I actually had to spend it, not save or invest it, I guess I would buy a house, a boat, a nicer vehicle (or two), a whole buncha yarn, and gosh... can I not buy my kids a college education or three? Sheesh.

4. One place you've visited, can't forget, and want to go back to? 


Definitely Venice, Italy... we didn't get to ride in a gondola as planned, because (a) We were short on time, (b) We were short on Euros, and (c) I was way too damn fat to get in!

5. Do you trust easily? 

I trust way too much, way too easily, way too many people who continue to let me down. :/

6. Do you generally think before you act, or act before you think? 


Historically, when it has really mattered, I'm a "Think first, worry later, apologize never" kind of person. I plan, and plan, and plan everything out, and then I just do whatever I was going to do anyway. I'm not saying I'm proud of it.

7. Is there anything that has made you unhappy these days? 

Yeah, Hubby pulled a 'sundowner' on me exactly one year to the day after his brain surgery, on Thursday, and I had to rush him back to the hospital. He got released this afternoon and is okay now, except for the broken ribs... Poor guy is in a world of pain. :(

8. Do you have a good body image? 

I wish I did, but no. I have horrible, horrible self-esteem.

9. What is your favorite fruit? 

Like my daughter, Sophia, it's the strawberry. However, unlike Sophia, strawberries are not my absolute most favorite thing on the planet...!

10. I’m always being asked…


Two things: (a) If getting my nose pierced hurt (Yes, yes it did - both times!), and (b) If I am so-and-so's identical twin. Apparently I have a lot of doppelgängers, because I get asked that all. the. time!!!

11. The last big belly laugh I had was…

Oh, this trio keeps me in hysterics every single day of my life. I'm telling you folks, they are FUNNY, funny people. Sophie in particular (the blondie on the left) is quite the amusing little lass!

12. What websites do you visit daily? 

Facebook, naturally, and Hip2Save, because I am a bit of a couponing fiend, y'all.

13. What have you been seriously addicted to lately? 

Well, I'll tell you what I'm not addicted to any longer: Lindt Peanut Butter Truffles. I used to love these things. I could only get them at a select few stores and on the Lindt website, so I usually search for them high and low whenever I go somewhere new. 

Fast-forward to last night, when we stopped in hospital gift shop to get flowers and schtuff for Hubs. We walked out, and I noticed they sold a bunch of Lindt truffles. Um, okay. That got my attention. Upon closer inspection, I counted TWELVE bags of peanut butter ones! Holy cow.

They are thankfully not cheap, or I'd have bought all dozen. The kids were squealing right along with me. I bought two bags. We went upstairs to see Daddy, and once we got all settled in, I opened a bag and distributed a couple each to their waiting hands. Rob wanted none of that. Smart man.

They must have changed their formula?! Because all four of us agreed that these were no better than Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. I haz the sads... until I realized that they make me fat, and then I had no more sads.

14. What kind of person do you think the person who tagged you is? 

No one tagged me in this-here meme, and I love that bay-bay!!

15. What's the last song that got stuck in your head? 

I'm loving "FourFiveSeconds" right now. LOVE. 

  16. Favorite clothing? 

I'm loving Superdry right now. Very cool gear.

17. Do you think Rice Krispies are yummy? 

Yeah, but I can't eat that anymore. I love a good ol'-fashioned bowl of cereal, but it's off-limits since my drastic bypass. Soup, too. Them's the breaks!

18. What would you do if you saw $100 lying on the ground? 

Of course, I'd keep that shiznat. Duh.

19. Items you couldn't go without during the day? 

My Samsung Galaxy S5. Take my phone, and I will hunt you down. M'kay?

20. What should you be doing right now?


Sleeping, der. It's 12:43 AM. And now that I'm finished with this post, I'm going to check the mail.

Have a lovely!


Sunday Stealing: The New Year Meme

Link up here if you're fabulous, darling!

The New Year's Eve Meme

 From the archives (and I'm going to spare you folks all the funny pictures today. I'm keepin' it real)!

In 2014, I gained:

all-new respect for my brain tumor-fighter of a husband.

I lost:

some excess baggage, in the form of "friends" who really weren't.

I stopped:

wondering when Hubs would recover.

I started:

wondering IF he would. :'(

I was hugely satisfied by:

my 20th high school reunion this past summer. I am so thrilled that I was able to go, and I had a fantastic time.

And frustrated by: 

our Chihuahua puppy Paco's inability to learn to pee and poop outside, rather than in the laundry.

I am so embarrassed that I: 

have such a messy house.

Once again, I:

suffered many migraines and was a frequent flyer at the local ER.

Once again, I did not:

find a suitable psychopharmacologist to help me manage my post-bariatric surgery bipolar medicine issues. :\

The biggest physical difference between me last December and this December is:

I've grown enough hair back to have had it cut several times! 

The biggest psychological difference between me last December and this December is: 

Oh, honey. I should write a book. Oh wait, I am.

I loved spending time:

with the people who loved spending time with me.

Why did I spend even two minutes: 

working on that ill-conceived fundraiser for those unfortunately-conceived, selfish people. Ugh. What a clusterf**k.

I should have spent more time: 

knitting for Stephanie's kiddo, Vinnie.

I regret buying: 

into the idea that if I weigh more, I'm worth less.

I will never regret buying... even though with that money I could have:

the girls each a bicycle with my Christmas gift card from my father-in-law, though I could have bought something for myself. I got what I really wanted, anyway.

I ...way too much.

complained about stupid sh*t

I didn’t... enough.


 ... drove me crazy.

My dad's ultra-Conservative and über-racist views...

The most relaxing place I went was:

into Hubs' arms. Especially when we were in Playa del Carmen, Mexico! Ahhhh...

Why did I go to...

so much trouble for those people, who crapped on me in return?

The best thing I did for someone else was:

for once, keep my mouth shut and simply apologize.

The best thing I did for myself was:

realize that my migraines were generated by nerve cord damage from my last c-section, nearly a decade ago.

The best thing someone did for me was:

think of me, when least I expected anything, at all, from that person.

The one thing I’d like to do again, but do it better, was:

express my sincere condolences for someone else's loss, while not mentioning my own feelings about it whatsoever. Publicly, anyway.

Happy New Year, folks! I hope 2015 is everything you want it to be.



Mayan Riviera Vacay


Kinda hard to see what that says, I know, but NO color seemed to want to work there... so I'll tell ya what it says: "Azul Fives, Play del Carmen, Mexico," which is where Hubs and I stayed from 12-16 November.


This grassy-looking "AZUL FIVES" blue mat greets newcomers outside the drop-off location in front of the lobby at the all-inclusive resort. We were there for a "Happiness Vacationar" (seminar/vacation, as it was christened by the travel agents who planned it), having received a crazily killer deal that we couldn't pass up. Not only was the rate for the resort at rock-bottom prices, but everything - everything! - we consumed while there was included for nothing extra. Suh-weet.


On Wednesday morning, after we checked in with Maykent at the Front "desk," which was more like a series of four podiums in the lobby, we were informed that we could go get breakfast. So, we did! Mimosas were offered, and of course we said, "Heck yeah!" to that. I drank two sips before I called it quits. I mean, our early-morning flight to Cancun and 42-minute drive to the resort still had us eating breakfast at something like 0830, so while mimosas sounded splendid in theory, in practice they were more... impractical.


Our room was not ready yet, and having gotten less than two hours' sleep after dropping the kids off the night before in Fort Lauderdale with our friends, come home and packed as lightly as possible so as not to have to check any luggage, and briefly crashed... I was exhausted. So when we walked outside the breakfast restaurant, Flavours, after eating, and spied the round, white loveseat on which Rob is perched up there... well. I quickly made like Goldilocks in Baby Bear's bed and fell promptly asleep. ZZZzzzzz....

Only, it was too hot, so then we went back into the air-conditioned lobby to wait for our room and let me doze some more. I slept so long and so hard, it was embarrassing.

Our room was finally ready around 12 or 1 PM, and we made our way there straightaway. I don't remember much after that, until I woke up the following morning around 0500 or so with the sun streaming through our balcony windows! Uh. Oops. So much for making the most of our first free day...


Naturally, the first thing I did was step out onto that balcony and take a morning picture of the view. I had wanted to catch a sunrise photo, but I was too late. Sunrise came and turned so quickly into full-on daytime, that you'll just have to imagine it was as early as 0600 or so here. 'Cause it was.


The view outside our Villa 14, from the atrium of the villa


There were many times I said to Rob, "Go stand over there and let me take your picture, Babe!" and of course, ever the indulgent husband, he did just that. This was on the walkway between our central villa and the nearby villas leading to the front of the resort.


Outside the breakfast/shopping/spa area of the resort, up front, Rob took a picture of me. Yes, I know I look like gelatinous goo with all my extra weight-loss skin showing, but ask me if I care?! (Of course I care, which is why I want to get it all snip-snipped in the Spring...)


The first morning, I had a bunch of pastries and fruit for breakfast. Be prepared for lots of food pictures in this post, because I swear to good gracious that half the time we were there was spent getting our collective grub on!

This morning, Thursday the 13th, I visited the omelet bar and piled up baby shrimp, chopped onions and tomatoes, bean sprouts, and loads of cheese before handing my plate over to the cook. It was delicious, yo. So good, I had pretty much the same omelet the next morning, too. I finished most of it, and the oatmeal-and-coconut muesli with tropical fruits I assembled on the northeast side of the plate. And that's not poopies on my plate; it's refried beans. Not really my typical breakfast fare, but I was craving it. I was not disappointed, and right now, I am wanting it all over again!

Playa Del Carmen


The iguanas, tropical birds, and coati plaques on the property promised that we would see each of these in the wild, and we did! Except coati, which I couldn't find but got reports of sightings from other guests.


After breakfast on that Thursday morning, I was once again overcome with exhaustion (I can't help it; ever since my gastric bypass surgery, I get tired just from eating). I excused myself from our table and told Rob I needed to go lie down in our villa room. On the way there, I took a different route and found this spider monkey sign. Thinking to myself, "Yeah, right, there is no way I'm going to see a spider monkey in the 'wild,' such as it is, so I may as well just take the picture for posterity's sake. I did so and continued on my way.

Playa Del Carmen-001


(click to embiggerate)

Well, of course, not five minutes later, I rounded a corner and there was a spider monkey, walking along the edge of a pool on the property. Really?! I brought up my Nikon to start taking pictures, and as soon as Mr. Monito heard my click-whirring noise, he turned and hid his face. So I waited, he returned to his stroll, and I snapped away again. And again he hid. This went on for several long moments until finally he high-tailed it (literally!) right on out of there. I thought it was going to be the highlight of my trip, because it was super cool.


After a brief respite in the room, we decided to head down toward the beach. On the way, we spotted this life-size checkerboard and chess board set. Pretty cool! I wanted to play, but Rob wasn't feeling it, so on we went. We never encountered that again on this visit.


At the beach, we came upon the infinity pool facing the Caribbean Sea, so of course I had to photograph that! I wanted to get right in, but first we needed to head down the stairs to the sandy beach to find some chairs on which to rest our belongings. But ah... isn't it lovely?


Down by the sea, we watched a couple of kayakers pass by the long stretch of pier before finding towels and chairs. It felt, right then, like we were in Paradise.


Shortly after we sat down, we grew hungry again (something about the heat and humidity - and probably not having to pay for anything - expanded our appetites throughout the week!) and headed over to the Oriola Beach Club Grill for lunch.

While there, we watched a server leave a basket of nachos on a ledge, walk away, and let some birds swoop in to steal a few chips. After, the server returned, having realized what had happened, and tossed the whole basket of food in the trash. Wasteful, but funny... and this was just the first of several times we saw such things.


After lunch, we encountered a trio of hammocks and decided to take a quick lie-down. Even Rob lay down with me, which I'm proud of him for, because he's not the most steady, balanced fella right now, and hammocks can be persnickety!


See? He got in there, without falling on his butt or busting his face. Yay!


One more gratuitous hammock shot, because this is one of the few shots of the two of us together in Mexico.


This black iguana and I have something in common: We're both cold-blooded creatures. Don't believe me? It's high-70s or 80s here most of the time in Miami, and I am always sitting on a heating pad and still freezing. ;)


"Hey, Rob, go stand over there by that gazebo and let me take your picture." We were I was totally playing tourist on this trip, and I didn't care who thought what of it!


Alberto, our personal concierge, was always so thrilled to help us when it came to our several requests. He made sure our room mini fridge was constantly stocked with Coca Dietas for me, made our dinner reservations, and gave us plenty of help and advice when trying to figure out what to do with ourselves in our free time. Great guy!


We meandered up to the little shopping area of the resort to collect some souvenirs for the children. These brightly-colored pottery pieces, including Dia de los Muertos skulls, were intriguing and lively, but alas, I knew they would break in our suitcases on the return flight. I opted for smaller, sturdier pieces, along with a couple of postcards for my collector pal, Erin.

Playa Del Carmen-003

Some of the fun souvenirs we brought back for our kids, as well as for Victoria to swap in an autobiographical box with her cross-country homeschool partner (more on that in the future).


Another respite, probably for me to order a Diet Coke and give Rob a walking break

Playa Del Carmen-002

Our room in Villa 14


That Thursday night, we were due to have a welcoming celebration dinner party with our Seminar group. On the way there, by the fountain, I grabbed some passersby and asked them to take our picture. They weren't accustomed to my camera, of course, so the one picture the guy deigned to take was while I was in the middle of asking if he was ready. Ha! Oh, well. It works.


The Zky Bar where our dinner party was held


Honestly, our party wasn't until 1930 that night, so we were starving by about 1800. We snuck down and had dinner before our dinner party, which enabled us to duck out early when we felt out of place at the party, not being hungry. I'm just not the world's best small-talking mingler, and I couldn't wait to go. Call me what you will, but sometimes having a husband who has had a brain tumor removed and generally feels like crap quite a lot of the time... can be rather convenient in social settings!


The next morning, we met in front of the lobby for our tour bus to take all of us seminar attendees 20 minute north, to El Dorado Royale, a sister resort of Azul Fives. There were plenty of waters and teas set out... but no Diet Cokes. Uh-oh! Rob spied someone who had one, though, so I made a beeline over to her to ask where she got it. She was someone in charge and said she'd special-ordered hers and would get me one, too. Sure enough, I had mine in hand several minutes later. Thumbs up!


Rob and the gang, milling about waiting for the seminar to begin


Here we are taking a rapid getaway taxi back to Azul Fives, having decided that the Happiness Seminar was most decidedly not designed with Team Odette in mind. We listened to one show-offy name-dropping speaker, whose Powerpoint presentation kept failing, with feigned interest. The second speaker, Michelle LastNameEscapesMe, was much more vibrant and applicable to our lives, but not sufficiently so that we didn't desperately want to leave. Humph. 

We ducked out during the break after Michelle, talked to the Dorado concierge about calling a taxi, and headed back to our home resort, claiming illness in Rob. On the way out, we spotted the Holy Grail of Diet Cokeness waiting in the lobby, which made Rob ask me if I wanted to change my mind about leaving, but I felt so supremely uncomfortable that not even that could get me to stay.


If you look carefully at the picture of Rob in the taxi, you'll see he's holding his prescription glasses on his lap. Somewhere between the cab and our villa, they disappeared and have never been heard from again.

So after that, he was relegated to wearing his Rx sunglasses everywhere we went, even at night (my man is blind, y'all), and combined with his constant cane use, he was elevated to Stevie Wonder status amongst the resort denizens. And I don't mean in the celebrity sense.


"Hey, Hon, stand over there by that vertical garden and let me snap your picture." Indulgent. He is.


Some of the lounge chairs seems to live in the pool, on a shallow ledge. The water was so freaking cold, though, that you didn't miss any swimming by not being there. I promise.


I know this is a horrible picture of a cat. Allow me to explain: My three wunderkinds are cat fanatics. We were walking to the beach in the pitch-blackness that night, when we heard some rather loud meowing. "That's a cat!" one of us exclaimed. I moved in for a closer look, and the cat, who Rob decided was a female in heat, just lay there mewling. I tried to take a decent picture, but there was absolutely zero light for my camera to use in focusing, and I'm not that talented a photographer. Long story short (i'm not good at that), I took this picture for my kids' sakes.



Dinner that night was the Japanese restaurant, Tsuki, at 1930. I prefer not to eat critters in general, but this trip was an exception to the rule, because (a) the seafood I still adore was so plentiful, and (b) I try to eat something novel (for me) every time I travel somewhere new. So for an appetizer at Tsuki, we ordered the Duckling Rolls. I had one of the four, and Rob polished off the rest. It's not without a little bit of guilt that I can say mine was absolutely scrumptious.


We debated on what to have for entrees, but when it comes down to it, the two of us are major sushi lovers who just can't resist over-ordering when the opportunity presents itself. And so we did. This was my platter; Rob's was identical. We brought a lot of it back to our room and noshed on it for a midnight snack. Mmmm, it was so good. Sushi for the win!


Of course, I can't keep sushi down, because I am unable to process rice, so I was feeling rather miserable after several quick runs to the ladies' room... I finally had to excuse mysef from our table and sit in the lobby to wait for Rob to finish. The walls were adorned with these three-dimensional metal flowers, which I found interesting, and so here they are for your viewing... pleasure?


Having mentioned I'd spent some time losing my lunch dinner in the restroom, I'll share that until that point, we didn't know there were nightly shows at the resort. I happened to find a newsletter in the ladies' room that listed the evening entertainment, and that night, Friday the 14th, was the Fire Show. Um, yes please! I am so easily entertained, and this sounded right up my alley.

That's Diego, one of the Entertainment Staff members at the resort. He was a cutie patootie who spoke both in Spanish and then in English, in a rapid-fire style in both languages that made him so difficult to understand in my native language, I had to translate from the Spanish to Rob on multiple occasions. But because he was so cute, I quickly forgave him.

Playa Del Carmen-005

(Click to embiggerate)

The Fire Show was the Bomb-dot-com. Aside from our culinary expedition through the week, this show was the highlight of the trip for me. I think. It was all pretty great!


The Gin Bar was still open late, as was the Zky Bar, but we didn't want to mess with the crowd, so we went to this one up at the front of the resort. It was our first of three trips over the remaining days of our trip.


The bar was cooly decorated in silvers and purples, and we found a spot in the corner. Oh, and everywhere we went to eat or drink something - even at breakfast in Flavours!!! - we were offered tequila. "Some tequila?" "More tequila?" Neither of us is very big on tequila, so no... but I finally ventured into one drink on this occasion:


I ordered a Caipirinha, which tasted like firewater. It was AWFUL. Rob ordered a pina colada; I brought up my belly burner of a beverage to the bartender and quickly requested a colada of my own. Whew. Thank goodness it was all included...


Saturday the 15th. Our ultimate day in Paradise. I ordered a whitefish ceviche for lunch, and of course because of my small pouch, I couldn't finish it. This happens all the time, and pretty much invariably, it upsets the server that I don't finish. They think I don't like the food; I just really can't eat more. But I would've if I could've, because this was Yum.


We really had no plans for that day, but it was raining, so there was either (a) go somewhere off-property with some resort umbrellas, (b) hang around in our room - boo, or (c) get electrocuted in the pool. We chose to hire a taxi to take us on the short drive to downtown Playa del Carmen. 

I took a picture of this Buddha for no real reason other than I just wanted to, and when I was showing the children the photos from our trip last night, I asked if they knew who this was. "BUBBA!" was Chloe's quick response. Um. No. But I died laughing just the same...


Downtown, we first stopped at the big Plaza La Fiesta, a kind of outlet store for Mexican souvenirs. I needed a few things, specifically something that screamed "JACK!" to us, and some little trinkets and chocolates to round out our meager welcome-home offerings. Lots of great deals to be had there; I wish I hadn't shopped at the resort store, because prices here were much more budget-friendly.


Rob spotted this totem-like statue, and asked me to take a picture. Here you go, honeybunny-boy!

Playa Del Carmen-009

We spotted these handmade name bracelets, and I told Rob that if they were a certain price or less, I'd get one for each of our daughters. Well, they were under the mark, so we sat and chatted - entirely in Spanish for me, as I did for most of the trip - while they wrapped out bracelets for Sophia and Chloe. I picked colors I knew the girls would like and tried to get the dots over Chlo's "e," but they weren't able to do it. No worry, though, because they loved them.

Jack, obviously, didn't get and wouldn't have wanted a name bracelet, so I gave him all the Mexican pesos I came home with, instead. That sufficed.


There. There was a Haagen-Dazs on the opposite corner, and we saw a Starbucks and all manner of 7-Elevens in between Playa del Carmen and Cancun. But no McDonald's. I was oddly relieved about that...


I could not go to Mexico without getting some authentic Mexican chocolate, could I? No. We went in Ah Cacao for a treat. The samples were very dark chocolate, a mixture of sweet and bitter, and were excellent. However, I prefer a milk chocolate, so I bought this bar for $5 or $6. Well, two bites in, and I declared it, I think, "yucky." We finished it together before heading back to find a taxi "home," though, because I hate nothing more than wasting money!


I inveigled the taxi driver into stopping at a gas station, so I could get a Coke. (Hello, my name is Melanie, and I am an addict.) Honestly, I could've waited, but I wanted the cool bottles. Diet Coke, aka "Coca-Cola Light" on the left, tasted much sweeter to me but boasted zero calories, so I drank that. The "Coca-Cola Life," above right, was a mixture of cane sugar and Splenda. I got it for Rob... but he didn't drink it, and ultimately we forgot it in our hotel mini-fridge.

Oh, but when I got up to the counter, the cashier told me it was 18.70 or something near that. "WHAT?!" I exclaimed. "Oh... dolares," she realized. $1.45 for two 20-oz bottles of Coke isn't bad at all, y'know? (Little things like this interest me. Apologies if I'm alone in this!)


It was still raining when we returned to our Villa. Rob was carrying his cane in on hand, and his bumbershoot in the other. As for me, I had the umbrella, my Nikon, my purse, my sunglasses, my phone, my camera bag on my shoulder... and a slippery sidewalk. So when I stopped at the pool bar outside our Villa for a couple of pina coladas to take upstairs and drink on our balcony, well, you know that is just complete dedication to libation, right?!


After our beverage du jour, we were hungry for sumpin' to eat, so we headed back toward the beach. "Hey, Rob, let me take your picture with your umbrella!" He indulged me, yet again.


My boy Rob, walkin' in the rain...


Infinity pools in the rain... even more beautious?


We went in to the Sea Olive for lunch. Or Lunner. Dunch?  Rob started off with an oddball Caesar salad of sorts, with tuna tartare and a poached egg. But he liked it, and that's what counts.


Another ceviche for me; this time it was shrimp, scallops, and I don't know what the other thing was. Some kind of mollusc, I think.


Rob's main course was a stuffed poblano-pepper seafood chili thingamabob. Not my tastes, but his were quite thrilled with it.


I had this salmon quiche, and I remember wishing it had significantly more cheese in it than it did. I found the best thing was that dark reddish sauce blob, and therefore I didn't eat too much of this dish.


This mascarpone custard was absolutely THE best thing I had to eat in Playa del Carmen. So much so that I'm eager to duplicate it at my earliest opportunity. Excuse me for a few minutes while I salivate over the memory of it...


There were several weddings going on during our stay at Azul Fives. I told Rob, when we deposited our umbrellas in the holder at the front of the restaurant before eating that there was NO WAY we were going to have umbrellas when we finished. I was right. This bride's wedding party swooped in, post-nuptials, and absconded with everyone else's umbrellas.

It wasn't really the end of the world, except that I didn't want my Nikon getting wet. Before heading to our room, I headed over to the towel boy's cabana to get some protection for my camera, which I wrapped and carried like a baby back to our villa. Hey, priorities.


The infinity pool was deserted, so the reflection was just perfect at that point. *snap, snap*


White roses discarded by the bridal party


I knelt down in the wet sand to capture this photo for you. No need to thank me. I did, however, climb into my bed with sandy shins, having forgotten that I had just done that. I think I still have sand on me. Oops.


Sundown on the pier


Back at our room, Rob decided to settle down for a long nap, while I read the magazines I'd brought, watched a little telly, and tried not to pace the floor. I was homesick for my babies to the point of tears, and I wanted to be home. Soon, but not soon enough. Then I became hungry (gee, surprised?) and decided to order up something for dinner. I found this chicken with mashed potatoes and seasonal veggies on the menu, and suddenly I wanted nothing more than some good ol' mashed taters. 

And they were. Good, that is. I ate every delicious bite.


Sunday, the 16th, we checked out around noon but were still free to use all the resort facilities until our shuttle pick-up time at 1620. We sat down for a slow, leisurely lunch back at the Sea Olive, because I wanted another stab at that Mascarpone Custard before we went home!


Remember Diego from the Fire Show? The emcee? Well, he popped up again to MC another event while we dined.


They'd brought in a mechanical bull for a contest amongst our fellow resort-goers, and good gosh, but that was entertaining as men, women, and kids of all ages took their turns. (No, I did not.)

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This woman was quickly thrown, as were most people. I think a tween kid won the contest in the end!


Back to lunch. I had an appetizer of "tomato tartare," which made no mention of the shrimp contained therein. Good thing I'm a huge fan of crustaceans!


Rob had some kind of Lebanese shish kebabs, and for the 2nd or 3rd time this trip, he exclaimed over how good was the chicken. Really? Chicken. Good for him.


I ordered a fresh mozzarella, eggplant, and hummus sammy, and it was just mediocre. Which was fine, because I didn't want to eat a whole lot anyway. I had mascarpone plans!


Rob ordered this chocolate banana cookie tart thing, and he liked it, but found it weird. But he did like it, so... okay.


This one, I ate ALL BY MYSELF. I don't normally partake much of desserts, because I just can't without becoming quite ill. But this... this was heaven on a plate. I was super-stuffed afterward, but the discomfort was worth it.


I needed to get vertical after that, to help gravity get the food moving out of my pouch. We went over to the infinity pool so I could snap a picture of the paint-your-own pottery available, but I didn't want to partake because of the aforementioned risk of luggage breakage.


Obligatory toes in the surf pose


We looked around in the distance ad realized we could see Cozumel from the coast. See the buildings there in the distance? They're there. I promise.


I had to lie down in a hammock after that, still exceedingly full from lunch. It's very painful and uncomfortable when this happens. Rob sat on a nearby branch while I did what I called "Hammaerobics" and "Hampilates" to get the gut moving. It worked. I was finally feeling better and could get on with my life.

Was the mascarpone really worth it?

Hell yes!


I was thrilled to find these notices that Azul Five recycles all over the property. If you know me well, you know I'm a major supporter of the environment. You can't see it in the ashtray sand on top, but all of these also had the AZUL logo in the sand. That is, at least, until a cigarette butt marred the scene.

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I've become quite enamored of photographing flowers in recent months. I did a lot of that on this trip, especially that last day, Sunday, while we waited for our transportation.

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Foliage, too, not just flowers, has captured my attention.


We finally headed back down to the swim-up infinity pool bar to get a couple of the resort's signature drink, Azul Sueno. Only, Santiago, our master bartender, was on his lunch break, so our Azules turned out to be quite... Verdes instead. Ah, well. They tasted great and did their job. I'm surprised I managed not to fall on my face even once!


The Black Iguana popped out to say good-bye to us as we made our way toward the lobby to check out. I tried to approach him, but he wasn't having it and crawled under his favorite rock.

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Then, guess what? Thirty minutes before our shuttle was due, this little spider monkey dude made an appearance about 10 feet from us. I sloooooowly approached him, taking pictures the whole time, while he monkeyed up and down the tree, alternatively posing for me and showing me his, um, derriere.

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And then, lo and behold, he came down and sat 18" away from me. I'd have offered him a banana, but I didn't have one, so I booked a quick photo session with him. I sat down on the ground a foot away from him and snapped away. It was so... exhilarating! I could've reached out and touched him, but Rob warned me I might get bitten, so I just shot the photos. We stayed there for about ten long minutes, just him and me, with onlookers exclaiming about me sitting there taking his picture. I loved every second of it!


And then, just like that, he was gone. I think he enjoyed our session. I'll send him a disk, so he can mail out his holiday cards with them. Yeah, that's the ticket.


Hours later, we were landing in Miami. And now our family is all together, home, safe and sound again. I couldn't be happier about that.

Thanks for stopping by!


Sunday Stealing: Let's Talk Travel


Link up here if you're playing along today!

Ok let’s talk travel, do you like to travel? 

I live to travel. It's my mission in life to see everything I can see before I leave.

Where have you been? 

I can't say I've been to all those places, but I've been around the Caribbean a bunch, and we went on our European cruise in 2008. That was amazing. I lived in Guam and wanted to go to Australia and all around Asia, but alas, we didn't get to stay very long. I've been to Hawai'i, but unless the inside of the Honolulu airport is representative of the whole, then I don't count that. ;)

Next place you want to go? 

In mid-November, we'll be here (assuming I get all our passport stuff in order before then, d'oh!) at the Azul Fives resort on the Mexican Riviera. I'm super stoked!

What is something you MUST take with you when you travel? 

I have GOT to bring my phone with me, everywhere, every time. I can not stand to be that disconnected, but more importantly, I need to be able to be reached if something happens with our kids. This may be the first trip since Europe when we don't bring the laptop with us, though!

How do you like to travel? (mode of transportation)

I don't care how I get there, as long as I go...

With someone, or alone? 

I've actually never traveled by myself, and that is one thing that is not on my bucket list (I have a long list). I prefer companionship, so I can immediately share my experiences with someone and then remember them together down the road.

Do you dance in your car when there are other people with you? 

Of course I do! I have specific car-dancing moves for specific songs, too. Hubs laughs at me... but I think he enjoys my silliness. ;)

If you're quiet what does it mean? 

I'm never quiet when I'm comfortable. So if I'm quiet, it means I'm not.

Favorite scent?

My favorite scents are fruity, especially citrus, but when I smell the sea, it means I am HOME.

Least favorite scents: florals and that God-awful ubiquitous vanilla aroma. *gag*

Favorite store? 

I love any artsy-craftsy store, but Pearl in South Miami is the Bomb dot com! When I took my very last undergrad class at U. Miami, it was Design and Drawing, and I went to Pearl to get my supplies. That was in 1997, and I still get excited when I drive by that store, all these years later.

Say you wanted coffee.. what kind is your favorite?  

Lately, I've been getting the Venti Java Chip Frappuccino Light at Starbucks... and drinking about a third before I pass the rest to Rob or the kidoodles. I can never finish it and always wonder why I don't just get the Tall.

Favorite kind of pizza? 

My favorite pizza was this two-tone cherry tomato and goat cheese rustic pizza I made several months ago, using Martha Stewart magazine's dough recipe. It's a killer recipe, fo'shizzle. However, when I go out for it, I love a good margherita pizza.

I'm a New Yorker, though, so of course the best pizza in the land comes from there and must be folded in half!

Do you get embarrassed easily? 

I blush easily and can't stand being the center of attention - even positive attention makes me nervous. I hate that about me.

Do you mind people asking you personal questions? 

Oh, come now. I am the Queen of TMI. I just don't want to be on center stage when I over-divulge!

You have a tank of gas, $50, and the day off… what do you do? 

I'd probably head for the Florida Keys. I can be in Key Largo in 20 minutes. What do you want to do?

Favorite tv show?


Well, we haven't had TV service in at least 10 years, but if we did it will still be Big Bang Theory. I miss TV!

Song you turn the volume up all the way to listen to? 

"Kiss" by Prince, and yes I sing and dance to it, too! ;)

Something you keep in your car? 

I try to keep Miranda (our new-to-us 2012 Kia Sedona) an oasis of clean, since our house is decidedly not, so not much. Sophia, my 9yo, keeps her baseball stuff in the back, and I would be lost if I didn't keep my car charger in there. Literally. I must have my GPS!

 Highlight of your day? 

When Hubs worked, I would say it was when he came home. Since he's now a disabled, retired vet, he's always home now. But when he laughs... it makes me smile. Best thing in the world.

 Something you do everyday that you wish you didn’t have to do? 

Since I proclaimed myself the Queen of TMI, I guess it's now time to live up to it: I have a crazy GI tract and have been living in the bathroom especially since I got my gastric bypass surgery nearly six years ago. And our toilet... well, you have to flush it like 20 times to get stuff to go down. I spend a lot of time there, you know what I'm sayin'? (I wish diarrhea upon the idiot who invented low-flow plumbing facilities. GAH!)

 Do you mind if people just show up at your house unannounced? 

When I was in college, and my dorm room was always clean, I loved that. Now that I live with all these people - and animals - who apparently are untrainable in the realm of cleaning up their own crap... I hate it. Please call first. No, text. I don't like to answer my phone, either. :P

What do you do when you disagree with someone? 

I'm always right. The End. (You know that saying, "Would you rather be right or be happy?"? I have to say that to myself a lot... 'cause of course I'd rather be happy!)

Do you enjoy rain? 

I love the rain. I do. Because without it, there would be no rainbows. (It goes without saying that I love the sun shining, too, right?)

Who’s your favorite person in the whole world… besides me?


I love my hubs more than anyone on the planet. He is everything that matters to me, or he helped me create it. Even though he's dain-bramaged now, and different, and stuff... without him, I would be nothing and no one. He's my gift, and I know I got the better end of the deal in this relationship. I'm keeping him forever. Love you, Babe!

Thanks for stopping by!




Travelogue: Reuniting In Upstate New York

So, I'm finally getting around to posting more fully about our trip to Syracuse and beyond. We left on 30 July, out of Miami International Airport. The kids haven't flown since January 2007 or so, when we came to, ironically, Ft. Lauderdale from Virginia Beach to see my late gran'pappy. They love flying, theoretically, and so they looked out the windows with eager anticipation.

 I wanted to bring a few souvenirs up to New York, so I stopped in the little tienda near our gate in the Delta terminal. I knew I needed some salt water taffy for my BFF, Dr. Lisa, but for my nieces? I had a feeling they might be amused by flamingo/gator/pelican poop, but I passed and settled for a picture. Too silly!


 The pilot on our flight to LaGuardia, in NYC, was wicked cool. (I couldn't say the same for one of the flight attendants, who took every opportunity to show us her inner malevolence, for no reason that we could discern.) We were allowed, Jack and I, into the cockpit. Jack should be something to do with planes as an adult; he adores them and is a little obsessed. The captain interacted with him on his level, showing up some of the switches and knobs, and generally lighting up this ordinarily-grumpy little boy's face. It was terribly fun.

We got into Syracuse Hancock Airport at 11:33 PM that Wednesday night. It was just in time to rush over, with Rob in his wheelchair, to the rental car counter to get our vehicle. There had been much concern on my part about that, but we made it! Our rental turned out to be a teensy-weensy Hundai Elantra, which barely seated five people. Half the car was trunk space. Weird. Anyway, we fit, and we rolled out to our nearby hotel to crash for a few hours before heading out early on the 31st.

* * * * *


We headed that Thursday to my sister's, way out west in Jamestown, by 0900. It was nearly four hours later when we arrived. My nieces, 12-year-old Hanna and 14-year-old Karen, greatly impressed me: they had put on a carnival of sorts, which included a variety of fair-type games, rides on the trampoline, obstacle courses, and more. Entries cost anywhere from tuppence to a dollar each, yet my kids were free. Several neighbor kids had come. The whole thing was put on for our benefit, but to raise money for an animal rehabber. I thought it was absolutely fantastic. What ingenuity they demonstrated!

And then we headed over to Stacey's salon to get our hairs done. All five of us were beneficiary's of Stace's 100%-off family discount. Thanks, sista from the same mista! ;) Jack went first, and he went from cute to simply adorable. For such a grumpy pants, he sure is yummy! ♥


Sophia went next. I had already chopped off her hair the night before we'd left Miami - at her request - but of course my sister needed to touch it up. Sophie also requested pink streaks, so Stacey put some washable ones in there for her. Can you see them? She (and I) loved it! We may do something a little more permanent next time.

Chloë just needed a trim, and I had some shaping done. I should have done a before-and-after of Rob, though, because he went from looking positively homeless to quite dapper under Stacey's careful handiwork.

I think this may be my sister's one and only selfie (ussie?), but I made her. Rarely do I get to be the one in charge, so it surprised me that she agreed, but here we are. You see? We look absolutely nothing alike.


That's my niece, Karen, in the fluorescent yellow kicks. We went over to the girls' soccer game after haircuts to watch them play in the summer recreational league. Jack and Sophie wanted no part of that, so they hung around the nearby playground while Rob, Chlo, my sister, her hubs Michael, and I watched. I took bunches of picture of that, but none up close. My dad keeps kvetching about that. Sorry, Pops! I put my camera away and forgot to take it out again. 


Chloë found a four-leaf clover on the soccer field, so natch we had to Instagram that. See her long fingers? She's tiny, so we had to switch from flute to piccolo last year, but I'm thinkin' now would be a good time for those lengthy phlanges to tickle the ivories instead!

Stacey made us a wonderful dinner before taking all of us out for ice cream at the local 50s-style diner. Jack stayed back with Uncle Michael; he doesn't eat much and had had his fill of tween/teen angst for that moment. There certainly was a fair share of that, but as you can tell from this photo, for the most part, these four girls got along swimmingly.

* * * * *

 Friday found me sleeping in 'til the crack of noon; I was exhausted after getting back around 0100 from Jamestown. I didn't do anything until it was time to leave for my 1800 "date" with my Baldwinsville C.W. Baker Class of 1994 cohorts. I met Dr. Lisa and her hubs, Faris, outside the meeting place at the appointed time, and my gosh, you'd think I was going in for a heart transplant, I was so nervous! I'd not brought any anxiety meds with me to New York, so by the time the three of us made our way downstairs to our destination, I was visibly shaking like a leaf. How embarrassing. Oh, and I lost my voice, too; I was, in short, a wreck!

Faris put a glass of wine in my hand, and I calmed almost immediately. The first glass caused me no buzz but settled my nerves greatly, so after an hour or so of chatting and mingling with old friends, I accepted another glass of wine from Faris. And then someone bought me a Cosmopolitan and then... well, by the end of the night I'd been given three more from various classmates.

I had had a blast reconnecting with my peers, and I was thoroughly enjoying my night. So when midnight came around, and my friend Judy removed the last Cosmo from my hand and informed me that I was cut off, I realized I could not possibly get myself back to the hotel. I sheepishly called Faris and Lisa, who'd gone home three hours earlier to relieve their babysitter, and begged a ride. Fortunately, Faris came right out to get me and seemed nonplussed about it. Whew! Good friends, I have.

* * * * *


On Saturday, we had our actual class reunion across from where we'd had our alumni gathering the previous night. This was a clambake for kids and spouses to join. Here, an "ussie" with Dr. Lisa and Esq. Dominic, another good high school chum.


Another "ussie" with my (obviously much taller) friends from school: Melissa on the left and Beth on the right. Both ladies have a child, a son for M and a daughter for B, and I was quite charmed by both children.


The clambake was a little complicated for me, because of needing to take care of the kids' and Rob's needs as well as visit my friends, so I didn't enjoy myself nearly as much as I had on Friday night. I'm glad I went, of course, but Friday was the better day for me (thanks to that social lubricant, mayhaps?).


Dr. Lisa's adorable daughter, Emilie, and mine, Sophia, showed off the face painter's talents. Pretty good! 


Sophia and Emilie really hit it off, as did Jack and Em's brother Jacob. Chloë was kind of odd man out on this occasion, but she didn't seem to mind too much. She was older than the vast majority of kids there; guess Rob and I got started early!

Straight away after the clambake, we headed out west again. This time, we landed in Rochester at the home of my other "bestie," Shana. She and husband Kevin have a lovely, sprawling home that they share there with son Connor and daughter Jaden. The kids played out in the backyard pool for a while, and then they moved inside to the hot tub. Nice, huh?!


After the kids dried up and shared an Indian dinner with Shana's family, a young man whose name escapes me came to watch the chirren while we adults went out to watch Kevin's band play at the bar Daisy Dukes. Here's an "ussie" with Kevin on the drums! Shana totally tried to inveigle me into riding the mechanical bull that night, but I was in a skirt, and there was just no freakin' way. I would have needed to imbibe a hell of a lot more than I did for that to happen! Maybe next time... ;)

* * * * *


I had mostly paid attention to phenomenally-cute Jaden on Saturday afternoon, but early on Sunday morning I chilled for a few hours with phenomenally-witty Connor. What a card! I'm huge fans of those kids now and considered absconding with them, but I had a feeling Shana and Kevin may not have continued the friendship after that.

Shana and Kevin prepared an awesome breakfast spread Sunday, and we all chowed down. Kevin was off to the races, so I didn't get to talk to him too much, but Shana was all about playing the part of the perfect hostess. I can learn a few things from her. Shana is way more chill and laid-back than I am; she's the B to my A. Love her.

After breakfast, the kids did some more time in the pool and hot tub before Shana got out a ton of artsy-craftsy stuff for the girls and turned on the Wii for the boys who had no interest in such stuff. We did that a while, ate some lunch, and then headed back out to see my sis again.


We ate dinner, dealt with more adolescent angst, and had a photo shoot before heading out east again to our hotel. I'm sure there was more in there, but for some reason I can't remember what it entailed. Maybe because I was running on empty by that point?

We got back to the hotel around 0130, once again, and crashed... 

* * * * *

Play Video

 Monday, our last full day in New York, we had breakfast with la Señora who taught me Spanish in high school. I hadn't seen her since then, and both of us had seen a lot of things change in our lives in the 20 years hence. She, too, put on quite a smorgasbord of deliciousness for us before leading the kids around the house to all her grandkids' toy hiding spots. And then, to my delight, Señora - who is now rightfully Doctora - gave me a plethora of Spanish-language books to further my own as well as the children's progress in that language. Score! I had a great time seeing her and introducing the Odettelettes to her loveliness.

That day was one full of gluttony and piggishness for us. After breakfast, we headed straight for Gino & Joe's, which is only the best pizza place in B'ville. We encountered a lot of bees by that point, so this is Sophia demonstrating out to keep them from going up your nose or in your ears. Hee. 

No one met us for lunch, but we missed a couple of people who showed up after we left. Boo... but to my surprise, Andy was still there. He was there when I was in middle school, junior high, high school, and 10 years ago, and he's still at G&J's, making pizzas! Now, that's longevity! (And he looked scarcely a day older, to boot. Tomatoes and mozz must agree with him.)

After lunch, we had some time to kill, so we went nearby to Byrne dairy for ice cream. Only, Rob and I had brought cannoli over from Gino's to enjoy while the kids ate their lunch-dessert. Yes, pigs we were. I must have gained 5 pounds that day alone.

From there, we drove down the road to my missing-in-action friends Stacey K's old house to see her mom. Her family, along with Shana's, had been my oases, my safe havens, during all the tough times growing up at home. Many a time, Mrs. K. picked me up and either brought me to their house or to work, or just came to get me and do whatever it took to get me out of the house. She was a Godsend. But she wasn't home, and I was saddened.

We moved on to my old house in Harbor Heights. I barely recognized the neighborhood! My friend Shannon had told me it was now full of "McMansions," and I could see what she meant. Someone once told me that living in Harbor Heights made us one of the "rich families," but now, for sure, it was definitely true.

We drove down to Shannon's house to see if she was home. Of course, it being a Monday afternoon, she was at work. I left her a present in the outside freezer: Chloë's cup of unfinished ice cream! I told her about it later, over dinner, and she laughed, but I have secretly worried ever since that she was mad. To be fair, I did try to find a garbage can, but I found none and didn't know what else to do with it other than refreeze it! Sorry, Shannon! :\



Eventually, we made our way back to downtown Baldwinsville, which is a much smaller place than it seemed to be 20-30 years ago, for dinner with friends at the Diner. If you ever find yourself there, you must have the gravy fries! I did... well, I had a half-dozen before Oscar, my pouch, called it quits on food for the day. Instead, I visited with pals Melanie S., above, Melissa and her son JV, Shannon, Faris, our fellow alum Kris, and Dr. Lisa's dad and stepmom. (Lisa was, coincidentally, in Orlando for a medical conference.)

What a great time we had. My kids were surprised because I let them each get their own desserts, which is a major eating-out rarity for us. I talked at length with Melissa, which was great, because we bonded more than we ever had two decades prior. And Lisa's 'rents gave me presents: Two soaps he'd made and a lip balm she'd made. I've been using these since then. They're heavenly, full of rich scents and great texture. The soap gives a good lather; you can check them out at Summer Bee Meadow for yourself!

After that, it was time for us to head reluctantly back to the hotel one last time to pack. I went out late and returned the car in a comedy of errors that took me over an hour to get back via shuttle, leaving me just three hours to get a little shut-eye and throw things last-minute into luggage before the long trip home. I don't think we forgot anything?!

* * * * *

The shuttle brought us to the airport no later than 0400 last Tuesday morning. Talk about tired - and yet, wired. It's hard not to be, even for sleepy times at a sleepier airport, with all the accompanying hustle and bustle. 

At the gate, it was hurry up and wait time, as our flight didn't leave until 0600. We made it uneventfully to JFK, and then some serious trouble with getting decent wheelchair service for Rob started. He was treated, from my perspective, like a second-class citizen. He felt like cargo. It was awful. Delta has since responded to this information with a small travel voucher which, I guess, is fine.

And then we were home. The kids were thrilled to be back; I was less so to pay the $114 parking bill at MIA! Eek. Next time, I'm giving a friend the job of dropping us off, whether they like it or not. :P

Hard to believe a week has passed since our return. I'm still feeling like it just happened, this trip, such being the magnitude of its impact on me. Good times, good friends, good memories. Ahhh... 


Random Snaps And Schtuff


I'm not terribly much of a flower person, historically, so it's weird to me that I find myself drawn to them since we have been living here in the County of Miami-Dade. I particularly love a huge hibiscus, and those are everywhere, but I also adore all the street - literally, they walk up and down the cars at intersections while the light is red - vendors selling bouquets of colorful roses for five bucks.

I don't get me. I'm the type of girl who finds it much more romantic for you to plant a tree for me than send flowers, but I love them here. They're just so... so... bright, and big, and colorful. And y'all should know I love color.


On Tuesday last week, I had a date with my "big brother" Marc for a mystery shop. Marc and I go back about 19 years, to my college days at the University of Miami. I was his night nurse (Marc has been a quadriplegic for longer than that, and my Chemical Oceanography TA, Beth, needed someone to take over Marc-caring duties while she was out on cruise for school), and we bonded closely in that time. Marc's a great guy, a terrific friend, and I love him dearly. It's wonderful to be so near to him and, now too, his wife and their twins.


I neglected to Instagram our shared appetizer of Ahi Carpaccio, for shame, but I grabbed this shot of Marc's Spicy Cashew Chicken before he dug in. I didn't Gala-gram my bitty crab bites, because though they were delicious, they just weren't photogenic.


Marc opted out of taking a piece of cheesecake home for later, but I bought a piece of Godiva Chocolate goodness for Rob and the kids. Um, yeah, I totally had about three bites of that rich confection before Oscar The Pouch revolted and said, "Slow down, yo." (He says it; I swear.) But holy cow, you guys. We normally get the strawberry regular variety, for Sophia's sake, but this one? Hands-down, my new favorite. I might be in trouble.


Sometime in the past week, I was on Happify doing my thang, and I was instructed to let my inner child out and do something silly and fun. I had intended to jump in the rain puddles, since the sky invariably opens up every summer day here, but wouldn't you know it? We had a sunny day. I grabbed my youngest babe and headed outside to roll around in the grass. She took this picture; not bad, eh?


Like I said a post or two ago, she's never one to shy away from lens, so of course I was inveigled into taking one of her grass-rolling, too.


I think it was that same day, we went the pool for a dip and then came home and found this scene at the row of apartments across from ours. Just glorious. I couldn't quite capture it justly, but I tried. I'm always so grateful for scenery like this; I've said it once, and I'll say it again: it makes it hard to be depressed, living here.

Enjoy your Hump Day!


Sunday Stealing: If You Could Meme


Link up here if you're playing along today!

From Sweet Memes, our friend CAT!:


Travel anywhere, where would it be? 

It's a Bucket List item to SCUBA dive on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia.

 Meet anyone, who would it be? 

I was going to say something silly, like my crushes Matt Damon or Ed Sheeran, but then I decided to go a little more cerebral since I'm not even remotely in a silly mood. I'm going with Einstein.

 Bring anyone dead back to life, who would it be? 

If I were being entirely selfish, I'd ask if I could pick two people who were taken far too early:  my beautiful mother, who lived just 33 years, and my darling son, who lived just 3 days. But I try not to be entirely selfish, and so I will pick my son. My reasons are multiple, but partly, I would choose Robby so that his identical twin brother, Jack, who survived their traumatic birth, would have his womb-mate and the kiddo who should be his best friend in life, his partner in crime, his other half. You're right, Jack; it's NOT fair.

(And if you, reader, try and tell me that "everything happens for a reason," I will hunt you down and kick you in bits that will make you cry the ugly cry. Because not everything does. Some things just freaking happen.)

 Be anyone for a day, who would it be? 

Well, or Queen of the Universe, or something. I'd globally mandate and/or outlaw a few things. Recycling, which should be a damn given in the year 2014, would be required for every possible thing that can be recycled. Smoking would be outlawed. Priorities would shift. Real things would matter. None of this "oh, let's not let two people who love each other get married when children are going hungry and global warming is happening" bullshit.

(Sorry, guys, I'm not in a fluffy kitten and rainbows and unicorns mood.)

 Get anything for free for the rest of your life what would it be? 

Yarn. I pick yarn. Okay, maybe there's still a little frivolity left in my spirit today, after all. But not just any old ugly, cheap yarn. Handspun, hand-painted, beautifully soft, natural yarns.

 Change one thing about your life what would it be? 

Hopefully this will be us in 2.5 years: sailing on the open ocean, to destinations varied and far, seeing the world, having amazing experiences, teaching the kids real-life stuff. Maybe it's a pipe dream, maybe it'll happen... time will tell.

 Have any superpower what would it be? 

I still dream all the time that I can fly. I would give anything - almost - to do it for real.

 Be any animal for a day which would you be? 

I'd be a beautiful parrotfish, colorful and interesting, buoyant and free... my favorite of reef fishes.

 Date anyone who would it be? 

I'd date this guy: my husband. But, I'd like him to be the guy before brain surgery, before the brain tumor, before Cyberknife made him a whole 'nother person. Can I have my husband back, please?!!

 Change one thing about the world what would it be? 

I would make it so that no one cared about what other people looked like on the outside; people would see past that - or never see it at all - to the beauty that lies within each and every one of us.

 Live in any fictional universe which would you choose? 

Not that I truly think heaven is "fictional," but I would go there. 

 Eliminate one of your human needs; which would you get rid of? 

Not to get too gross, because I have a million and one fun things I could say about it, but I would eliminate elimination.

 Change one thing about your physical appearance what would it be? 

Okay, that's beyond beyond, but I would get rid of all the extra skin from dropping 200 pounds in the blink of an eye. It's... yuckish.

 Change one of your personality traits which would you choose? 

I would turn my boundless insecurity into (merited) confidence.

 Be talented at anything instantly what would you choose? 

In my mind, I'm secretly an amazing gymnast. In reality, I'm the biggest klutz ever.

 Forget one event in your life which would you choose? 

I'd erase the the years from the time my mom died, when I was 7, until I graduated high school and went to college, when I was 17. Those ten years of my childhood, well, they really fucked me up.

 Erase an event from history (make it so it never happened) which would you choose? 

I'd erase the assassination of MLK, Jr., because I feel that he had a whole lot more to offer this country - no, this world.

 Have any hair/eye/skin color, which would you choose? 

I wouldn't change a thing.

 Be any weight/body type, which would you choose?

 I'd choose to be happy the way I am.

 Live in any country/city, where would you choose? 

I've always wanted to spend a year of my life living in New York City.

 Change one law in your country, which would you change? 

Come on, now.

 Be any height, which would you choose?  

I'm happy at 5'2".

Have any job in the world, which would you choose? 

I was going to join the Peace Corps before I started my Ph.D., but I couldn't go for various (financial and medical) reasons at the time. I'd still like to do that someday.

 Have anything appear in your pocket right now, what would it be? 

It's the end of the month, two days before payday, and we've just run out of milk for the kidoodles. A wad of cash showing up in my pocket would be nice right now.

 Have anyone beside you right now, who would it be?


I'm pretty fortunate, because I'd still choose Hubs, and guess what? There he is. ---->

Thanks for stopping by!