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Sundays In My City: Field Trip To Babby Farms

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

Field Trip: The Peregrine Fund At The World Center For Birds Of Prey

PeregrineFund Logo

Way back on March 20th, before Jack's 14th birthday, Team Odette was invited to visit The World Center for Birds of Prey in order to learn about the important work being done by The Peregrine Fund. I feel absolutely awful about not posting this up before then, but my health took a nosedive shortly after that, and my good days have been fewer and farther between than ever. By never mind that; no more whining. Onward!

[Full Disclosure: We received complimentary passes to the Center in exchange for this post. All opinions are, as always, my own. No other compensation was received.]


On our way to the Center, we already started spotting several species of raptors, but since I am no ornithologist, I hesitated to venture a guess as to what they were - other than beautiful, incredible creatures of the wild, of course.


I thought this one might have been an actual Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus), but I wasn't at all sure.


Since we had just moved to Boise, Idaho, ten days earlier, the soaring birds against the stark, still wintery backdrop, reminded us that we were in entirely different territory than the flamingos, sea gulls, and of course plenty of migratory birds that visited us in Miami.


At last we arrived at the World Center for Birds of Prey, which houses and supports the crucially-important work of The Peregrine Fund. Speaking of Peregrine Falcons, they were eventually taken off the endangered species list in 1999 after they started disappearing in the 1970s, thanks largely in part to the work of biologists at The Peregrine Fund, as well as other organizations and individual contributors. This news is important for humans as well, because scientists realized that DDT pollution was contaminating insect populations, which in turn led to the pesticide's effect on birds and species higher in the food chain - including us. With the EPA eventually banning DDT in 1972, and through important conservation work, not only did the Peregrine Falcon population make a comeback, but food for humans was positively impacted as well.

You can learn all about the Peregrine Falcon on their website here, and even watch a nesting pair on a downtown Boise Peregrine Falcon cam here!


The beautiful landscape as we made our way into the sanctuary


Aside from raptors, plenty of other birds make their homes in and around the World Center for Birds of Prey. Here, you can see the abundance of diversity in songbirds [click to embiggerate] present here in Boise.



After a volunteer started showing us around outside, we were treated to a viewing of the majestic United States symbol, Skye the Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus). (Forgive the blurriness, please.) It's not often I've seen one up close, and they are just as breathtaking as I expected. Amazing creatures, which you can learn more about here. Like the Peregrine Falcon, DDT and lead poisoning diminished the population of Bald Eagles, and they were placed on the endangered species list in 1973, finally being removed in 2007 after many efforts to protect them and their habitat.


We also visited with Fancy, an Ornate Hawk-Eagle (Spizaetus ornatus), but I just couldn't capture anywhere  near a good photo of it. You can learn all abut this species here.



Ah, Lucy the Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura), which we've seen plenty of in our former home of South Florida. Also affected by the use of DDT, largely in the 1950s and '60s, the Turkey Vulture population is now considered stable and moving northward in habitat. That may be due to global climate change, so please learn all you can about what you, personally, can do to effect positive environmental change where you live. In the meantime, you can learn more about Lucy and other Turkey Vultures on the Peregrine Fund's page, here.



The next bird we visited was Stoffel the Bateleur (Terathopius ecaudatus). Native to Africa, this species is currently "near threatened," but their numbers continue to be at risk due to habitat loss, poisoning by eating toxic carcasses from ranching practices, and accidental drownings. Learn more about this beautifully-colored creature here, and what The Peregrine Fund is doing to help.


As you can see, there is a lot we can learn about birds of prey and how human intervention can both harm and help their populations and diversity in nature.


Many contributors, including those listed on the rock here, help The Peregrine Fund continue its important work in bird conservation. If you feel like making a donation, too, you can help this 501(c)(3) nonprofit by contributing here - and thank you!



Finally, the last birds we were treated to viewing up close were the California Condors (Gymnogyps californianus). One of the largest birds in North America, males of the species are visibly indistinguishable from females. The largest threat to these giants is lead poisoning, making them critically endangered. The work that The Peregrine Fund is doing to restore wild populations of this amazing creature is fascinating, so take a look over here to learn all about them and this important work.


As the Center's volunteer took her leave of us, we were joined by Education Coordinator Curtis Evans. The depth and breadth of Curtis' knowledge about the important work being done by The Peregrine Fund was astounding, and we really enjoyed chatting with him to glean just a tidbit of information about birds of prey.

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The view as we headed inside to the education center


Cameras keeping track of all the inhabitants at the World Center for Birds of Prey





As you can see, there were plenty of exhibits to teach visitors all about the important work needed to be completed by The Peregrine Fund.


Meanwhile, I was delighted to see that my kids were getting involved in the exhibits, educating themselves without my having to "encourage" it. ;)











Sophia enjoying puzzling out matching the proper eggs with their corresponding nests in the Discovery Room


The size- and shape-comparison of eggs (the bottom left one being from an extinct Madagascar Elephant Bird, middle Ostrich, and bottom right Hummingbird) fascinated me.


Seriously, I loved all the exhibits. Maybe it's me just missing my pre-motherhood biologist days, but I felt they were really well thought out and executed. What a cool and simple way to make the point about egg shapes!






They may be tween/teenagers now, but clearly the Odettelettes are still young children at heart when it came to dressing up like the birds about which they were learning! The costumes smartly taught them a thing or two while providing fun at the same time.


Awesome work being done by The Peregrine Fund


Embryonic Development of the American Kestrel



Kinda like The Butterfly Effect, we must all think about the choices we're making for ourselves which also affect our local - and distant - wildlife.


Lastly, we trekked over to the Tom Cade Theatre, where Curtis was waiting for us with an American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) to demonstrate.


She was a beautiful bird, and we were glad to be able to see her up close.



While Curtis was feeding the American Kestrel some "mice krispies" (heh heh heh), she rewarded him - and the rest of us - with flights around the room. At one point, she perched up in the AV equipment cubby right above our heads and would not be coaxed out! Stubborn as a... kestrel?


As we were leaving, we stopped in the gift shop and peeped these stuffed owls. See what I did there? So cute! And I have an owl fan (Harry Potter-crazy Chloë) on my Christmas list.


Heading back to our vehicle, we spotted a bunbun up close! I don't know about you, but seeing rabbits (or hares, in this case? I don't rightly know) in the wild is always exciting. Or deer, or moo-cows on a farm, or... okay, so I just like all animals, all right?


And off we went. We give our many thanks to Curtis and the rest of the staff and volunteer team at The Peregrine Fund for hosting us (and for their patience in waiting for my post) - and more importantly, for all the work they do to ensure these beautiful birds are protected, conserved, and educated about so we can try and do the same.

Peregrine fund Logo

Again, if you want to make a donation, click the logo above. It will be greatly appreciated and definitely put to good use.

And thank you, as always, for stopping by my humble space on the 'Net.


Sunday Stealing: The Kathy Aay Meme

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


Sunday Stealing: The Kathy Aay Questions

1. What is the meaning of your blog’s name?
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That picture was found when I Google Image-searched for my blog's name. Too funny. Anyway, my nickname is Smellyann, but we've covered that a billion times, right? I had a blog over 10 years ago on MySpace, remember that site? Not well, no, so I closed it down and restarted here. And that was that.

2. Why did you start your blogging?

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Given that we had family all around the country and since we'd moved around the world and back, I figured blogging would be one good way to keep all that far-flung family and of course our friends in touch. For the most part, my audience consisted of my mama-in-law and... not much else. And now that my MIL has passed away recently, well, I have a few followers but... not much else! haha!

3. What’s your usual bedtime?

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If it's before midnight, I'm still up. Unless we're out of any form of caffeine. And then I may not wake up at all.

4. Are you lazy?

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5. Do you miss anyone right now?


I'm missing my son.

6. How would you describe your fashion sense?

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So pretty much, if I'm comfortable, I wear it. I should get a full-length mirror.

7. What are your nicknames?

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Ummm... Smellyann. Unless you count Mom. But that's pretty ubiquitous.

8. Are you a patient person?

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I'm lazy and impatient, generally. It's a weird, ungodly combination. My husband, on the other hand, has the patience and work ethic of a saint. I love the guy, and not just for those reasons.

9. Are you tight-fisted or frivolous?

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I'm a combination of both. Are we buying more hex wrenches or more yarn?

10. What magazines do you read?

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I literally get about 60 free subscriptions of all different kinds. The only kind I don't get is porn, basically.

11. Are you stubborn?

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Potentially. What is this, the Paint a Crappy Portrait of Melanie Meme? ;P

12. When is your birthday?


No, I am not kidding.

13. What book are you currently reading?

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I've been "reading" this book for several weeks. I haven't really gotten past the Introduction. I'm just feeling hopeful that maybe I'll find it this week, let alone continue reading past the Intro. I mean, we didn't even bring more than a carload with us to Idaho, and yet it's missing. How does this happen?!

14. What phone do you have?

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I have a Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge, and I hated it until I figured out how to turn the Edge function off. That was a pain in my anus. Oh, and I'm on the second one. Can you say, "fragile"?? Bad. Idea.

15. Do you have any pets?

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We aren't quite this pet-full, but we do have our menagerie.

16. Do you have siblings?

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Stacey, on this page, is my older sister - by 17 months. I also have an older half-sister, Pamela, whom I've never met. I used to have two older step-sisters, too. Which makes me the annoying baby of the family, yes. Hubs is also the baby of his family.

17. Any children or grandchildren?

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These are my kiddos about 8 or 10 years ago... missing is Jack's twin brother, our wee angel babe.

18. What do you order at Starbucks?

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We used to have a bit of a Starbucks habit, but that only lasted until they changed the way their rewards program is set up. Now I go maybe once or twice a year, but when I do, I order a grande or venti Java Chip Frappuccino for me, and a Mocha Frap for the hubs. Or even just a hot coffee for him. He doesn't like it all doctored up and fancy. Drinks it black many days, even. The weird, it's strong with that one.

19. What did you do for your last birthday?

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Having a surprise birthday party has been on my Bucket List before I knew what a Bucket List was. I turned 40 last September. We didn't do anything memorable. Boo, hiss.

20. What’s your occupation?

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I'm a stay-at-homeschooling mum of two teens and a tween. Before I became too ill to do so, I also mystery shopped for more than 10 years, but I'm thinking of picking it back up again. I do the odd job here and there, too, but mostly Mum is my gig.

21. Do you live in the country or the city?

We just moved from the 'burbs of Miami to the city of Boise, Idaho. It's been 16 days of joy, every last one of them. Even today, when we got home from church and Jack let the dogs out of their kennels, and Tapi immediately farted splattery poop all over him. Well, maybe not so joyous for Jack... ;)


Thanks for stopping by!


Art Project: Funky-Cool Self-Portraits


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

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

I have three styles of artists:

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


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


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


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

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


Jack River, aged 13½ years;



Chloë Raine, aged 15 years; and,



Sophia Lorelei, aged 11½ years.


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

Thanks for stopping by!


Art Projects: String Art


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Sophia was still tacking away...


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


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


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


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


Chloë's final work, pre-frame.


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


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

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


Thanks for stopping by!



Art Projects: Paper Polyhedra


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Thanks for stopping by!



Art Projects: 3D Hand


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


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


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


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

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

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

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


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


Sunday Stealing: How Are Ya Today?

Hey there, folks. Link up here if you're playing along today!

Cheers to all of us thieves!!! 

How Are Ya Today Meme

Stolen from: Love me some surveys


Okay, here we go. How are ya today?

This was me today: SLEEPY. I don't know why; it's been a very sleepy week for me since last weekend. Hoping to rev up tomorrow!

  1.  Have you ever been so happy you felt invincible? 


Actually, yes: The day Hubs and I eloped, nothing could stop us. That's the reason for this blahg's link byline: You and Me Against The World. Unfortunately, it only shows up as "...wo," and I can't change it, or I'd lose all my connecting link-ups!

  1. Would you ever refer to something as ‘bitter sweet’? 

Aside from these candy hearts? Actually, yes. I will be posting about this more next month, but giving birth to two beautiful, identical baby boys and then losing one twin was absolutely a bittersweet time for me. #Understatement

  1.  Is there a person in this world you don’t think you could ever figure out?

Probably, but it's not my job to try to figure people out. I either like them or I don't.

  1. When was the last time you were freaked out? 

The last time I was freaked out was a little embarrassing: We were at the horse farm where my daughter Sophia takes showjumping lessons. Her horse was lame, so she was walking him around the pasture to eat grass. I parked myself under a nearby tree for the time being. Right after I sat down, a black-and-white lizard came up out of the grass and bolted toward me, and then behind me, and then crawled up my right arm from the back! I was wiggling and screaming, and people were watching me! I couldn't help but laugh at myself after that!

  1.  Do you learn from ‘every’ mistake you make?

  1. I make a ton of mistakes. Sometimes, more than once, sometimes even bigger than the first time, and then I learn the lesson. So... maybe?
  3.  Do you sometimes think that you’re too nice?

Absolutely. At home, I'm not at all, but out in public, I can be a bit of a doormat. I get accused of this all the time. But when I feel I am wronged, then I speak out, in a BIG way.

  1.  Is there something you’re dying to tell someone?

Yes, but referring back to the previous question, I will never tell ______ that he is truly an asshole. I just may not mourn terribly when he dies.

  1. Do you think you have a unique name? 

Ha. Melanie? Not so much, but people seem to have a devil of a time either pronouncing it when they read it, or spelling it when they ask for it!

  1.  Do you usually try to find the good in people?

Absolutely. That is my whole MO, my quest in this life: Find the good - and BE the good - in everything. Sometimes I fail, but I try again. Always.

  1. Do you look back on embarrassing moments and laugh about them?

Generally, yes, unless there was something hurtful about it.

  1. Have you ever laughed just to save yourself from humiliation?

I do try, but as Hubs can attest, I dwell on those things for the next 20 years.

  1. What are you doing in 2 hours? 

Hopefully, by then, I'll have cooked an amazing vegetarian meal. And so, eating??

  1. What is the last thing you ate?

We received some more beautiful kohlrabi from our local organic farm, in our latest CSA share, so I bugged Hubs to make chips out of it. I ate them ALL. Every last one. In my belly.

  1.  Do you love your job?

2016-02-27 20.29.46

Mom to these three S'mores-munchin' knuckleheads? I LOVE it!

  1. When is the last time you showered?

I took a bath yesterday, so Friday, I guess. I'm due.

  1. Who is the last person you texted? 


Sophie's riding instructor at the farm, Dani, to let her know we'd be there yesterday. Oops, she was supposed to be there again today, but I forgot! :O

  1. When is the last time you were in a hospital?
  2. Last week, on Wednesday, I took a friend to the ER. She was deadly sick. Turns out, she has the flu. Now I'm trying to come down with it, or so it seems. Nooo... I don't have time for The Sick!
  4.  The last time you went out to eat, what did you order?

The last time we had food out, I ordered a bean burrito from Taco Bell. Does that count?

  1. Do you tend to have a lot of those moments where you forget something that you wanted to say?

ALL. THE. TIME. I am the queen of saying jacked-up things. Ask Hubs. It's a longstanding family joke.

  1.  How long have you known the last person you text messaged? 

Well, since that was the afore-mentioned fluishly sick friend, I guess about a year. She's still sick, poor thing.

  1. Will this week be a good one?

Definitely. I intend to make it so.

  1.  Anything happen to you within the past month that made you really happy?


It's been a slow news month, but the kids have been in the kitchen doing a serious amount of cooking and baking for the family. It brings me great joy that they are learning so much from their dad and me about not just academic subjects, but also how to take care of themselves at home and in the world around them.

  1.  Do you prefer to take showers at night or in the morning?

Whatever time I wake up, I prefer to shower. Except today. Today, I haven't.

  1. Have you been to New York City?

I was born near NYC, and my whole family is from NYC (both sides), so I have spent a great deal of time there, actually. Mostly Manhattan, the Bronx, and Staten Island. Less time in Brooklyn and Queens, but I've been there, too.


Thanks for stopping by!


Sunday Stealing: The 2015 Year-End Meme

Stealing today? Link up here to join the rest of us!


The 2015 Year End Meme

From the archives!


  1. What did you do in 2015 that you’d never done before? 
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In October, when we went up to Missouri to visit my in-laws, I took my son Jack and went to visit my father-in-law in his hotel room. For about two hours, we had a couple of beers together and talked, laughed, and really related for the first time in 15 years. It was pretty freaking great. I will cherish that time.

Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

My only resolution for 2015 that I can even remember (I usually make a few) was to look things up more. I have always historically delegated that task to Hubs, so much so that in years past I dubbed him "Look-it-up Boy." Except when I haven't been able to do it, like when I'm driving or something, I've actually kept this resolution pretty well and have been looking shit up all by my big grown-up self this year. I know. I'm so proud of myself.

I'm still chewing on what to make my main goal for 2016. I promise it'll be just as huge.

  1. Did anyone close to you give birth?
  2. My amazing friend Erin had her first baby, Alden, with her husband Brian in March. I'm still ecstatic for her. Alden is nine months old today, and he's just the most beautiful wee boy!

  3. Tell us a valuable lesson you learned in 2015?
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  5. I have no filter. I'm a blurter. I say whatever the hell comes into my brain, sometimes before I know it's there. I swear, my tongue has a mind of its own, with no connection to the actual brain up there. SO... sometimes this gets me in serious trouble, as you can imagine. After nearly four decades of living, I am finally starting to learn to shut the f*** up. It's VERY hard for me.

  6. What was your favorite new TV program?

I really don't take the time to just sit on the couch and watch television, except for my week-nightly date with Hubs to watch Jeopardy! and, on Thursday nights, The Big Bang Theory with Chloë. I have too much of nothing else to do. Ha!

  1. What would you like to have in 2016 that you lacked in 2015?


  1. Better control of our family finances. We've never been good at that.
    1. What dates from 2015 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
    2. DSC_0030
    3. Maybe this past Wednesday, December 23rd. We decided to bite the bullet and lease a horse for Sophia. She's taking English riding lessons and really seems to connect with Buddy. We'll be spending lots of time at the stables in 2016!

    4. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
    5. I really did not feel well for the better part of the year, and so my achievement list is woefully short. However, there were a few times when my family, my kids, really needed me to power through those tough times and be Super Mom. And I did. I managed to do what they needed me to do, despite feeling like utter crap. So I'll give myself a quick pat on the back for that.

    6. What was your biggest failure?

    I signed on to become a Master Knitter, about this time last year. Ohhh, that was one of my other 2015 Resolutions. Yeah, I accomplished exactly zero things toward that goal. Fecking health problems!

    1. What was the best thing you bought?
    2. 20150813_175851

    In August, my dad took a nosedive, and it scared me half to death. Our relationship has had a lot of problems, but he's my only living parent, and I love the old fartacus. He wasn't buying any food and therefore wasn't eating any. Nothing. We pretty much flew up to South Carolina, where I promptly bought half the food at ALDI (first-timer there) and cooked for days to stock up old-man-size portions in his freezer. He's been raving about the food ever since, and I am SO happy that he's eating at least!

    1. Whose behavior merited celebration?
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    3. I'm seriously proud of all my kids, but I'm going to give this one to 10-year-old Sophia Lorelei. As the baby of the family, she is not the one used to being in charge of anyone, or anything, else. And we have tried various athletic pursuits with her, because she is an active girl and needs an outlet, to no avail. So when I got this Groupon for the riding lessons, I could see something in her right from the start. There was a new determination, a new drive to succeed that I had not seen in her previously. She did not have the ability to control a horse when she started, of course, and these are very large, sometimes determinedly stubborn
    4. animals. Not only did Sophia learn the basics of how to ride a horse in the latter months of the year, but she found something within herself that showed her the way to be firm, speak up, and take charge of a situation new to her. Way to go, girl!

    5. Whose behavior made you appalled and disgusted?
    6. Oh Em Gee, Donald Trump. Seriously, people, this guy could be our next flippin' President?!! You all have got to be out of your ever-lovin' minds to support this mother-freaking jackhole.

    7. What song will always remind you of 2015?


    1. Probably "Wildest Dreams" by Taylor Swift. My 14-year-old, Chloë Raine, is a huge Swiftie. Last Christmas, we gifted her with tickets to T-Swizzles' Miami concert here at the end of October. When the night finally arrived, my girl was beside herself. Absolutely beside herself with excitement. That had to have been her Best Night Ever (at least of 2015), and I'm thrilled I was able to be there with her.

    2. What do you wish you’d done more of?

    Math with my homeschooled crew. Seriously. Math. With my being sick, structured schooling time was a little less... structured... and Math is what we got a little more behind in than I'm proud to admit. We will absolutely be doing more Math in 2016. Heads-up, chirren!

    1. What do you wish you’d done less of?
    2. IMG_20151221_084043

    Sitting in effing doctors' offices, being traded around from specialist to specialist, giving way too much of my precious blood to find out WTF is wrong with me, and getting no real answers. That sucked. SUCKED, I say!

    1. What was the best book you read?

    The best book, hands-down, was Preston and Child's Relic. I have the next four or five books in the Agent Pendergast series to read next, and I just haven't taken the time to dig into them. There, that's one Resolution for 2016 on the list.

    1. What one thing would have made your year measurably more satisfying?
    2. Seeing a new place I haven't seen before... I really want to go to Cuba or somewhere I have not been yet in the Caribbean, because it's nearby and way more economic for us. Dominican Republic, Haiti, Saba! Rob, honey, are ya with me on the next plane?

    3. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

    From Lean On by Major Lazer:

    "What will we do when we get old?
    Will we walk down the same road?
    Will you be there by my side?
    Standing strong as the waves roll over

    All we need is somebody to lean on
    All we need is somebody to lean on..."


    Rob is my somebody to lean on, and I'm lucky enough to have three more proven up-and-comers to help out when I really need help. Thank you, Family of Mine. Thank you.


    And thank you all, too, for coming by here and reading these posts of mine that go off into the ether after I hit "Publish." I know I'm not the best Visit-Back Blogger lately, but that will be another Resolution for my 2016 list. I'm gonna work on it.


Wordless Wednesday: Animal Shelter Donations


I had the children write a Summer Bucket List for this past break, and one of the items on their list was to visit the animal shelter and donate some food to the kitties and poochies. Well, we visited the SPCA in Aiken, SC, with my dad back in August as you can read here, but we didn't have any donations.

A couple of days ago, I picked up some Purina ProPlan dog food and all kinds of canned cat food for them to donate to our local Humane Society. Today, during our lunch break, we delivered the food to our nearest office, where it will be distributed to the surrounding areas most in need. And they were most grateful, which was really uplifting to realize.

Yay for crossing something great off our SBL!

Are you Wordless today? Link up here with 5 Minutes For Mom to join in the fun.

Thanks for stopping by!


Field Trip: Everglades Outpost


On Tuesday, we used a Living Social voucher to go visit the nearby Everglades Outpost Wildlife Refuge for a school field trip. We had the place nearly to ourselves, and Jenny was happy to give us an insider's tour to learn more about the animals and their backstories. Zulu, here, was the first critter to come up and say hello.


The mules and Chewy the camel followed along shortly behind Zulu. Chewy was rescued from a habitat in Central Florida where he was beaten up by other male camels, so his previous owners sent him to the Outpost.


Jenny brought out apples for the kids to feed Chewy. He was HUNGRY, and he munched down the snacks gratefully.






Zulu is ready for his close-up.


Afterward, we were given Alligator Nuggets (basically, meat held together with blood - yum!) to feed to the gators.


Our arrival inspired a feeding frenzy, during which it was revealed that far more rescued alligators were living in the Outpost than we could originally see. Holy schmokes!


Kenya the brown lemur was our next visit. His story, as you can see here on his sign, is rather sad. All of his teeth removed?! What the what!


The lack of teeth makes his tongue stick out all the time, and his dietary requirements changed, too. Poor Kenya.


The Scarlet Macaw and... uh, the other birdie-boo, made good pals. LOUD good pals.


I tried to get a better picture of the macaque, but my camera wasn't cooperating. Okay, it was operator error, but so what?


Sabal, the Florida Panther residing at the Outpost, was stunningly beautiful.


The birdie-bird on the left, the yellow guy, was new to the Outpost. They haven't determined his temperament yet, but they would like to pair him with the fella on the right soon.



In the reptile exhibit, we first encountered soft-shelled turtles.


The Burmese python was juuuust a little big. Just a bit.


Venomous rattlesnakes captured Chloë's attention for a bit...



A confiscated Gila Monster


This 'gator, Godzilla, doesn't play well with the rest of the gators, so he has his own habitat. We didn't get to feed him bloody meat nuggets. Darn. ;)


I liked the various paintings on trees in the Outpost quite a lot, so, here.


Next, Jenny led us to the alligator wrangling pit, so we could hold a baby specimen.


Jenny kept the baby alligator where... I would not dare to do so.




All of the kids got a chance to hold the baby. His mouth was taped, just in case...!



Our next visit was to the wolves. There were two habitats. Jenny had something exciting in store for us here!




All of us were given a chance to feed the wolves chicken pieces on the long campfire-like sticks. They, ah, wolfed them down quickly. See what I did there?


Jenny took us across from the wolves to meet the Siberian-Bengal mix tigers. They were monstrously huge! We had a few fun surprises in store here, too.




Jenny taught the kids to hold their hands flat against the cage, with nothing sticking inside, lest they - y'know - lose a finger or some such. Chloë got licked by the female tiger, and this was such a huge thrill to my cat-loving curly girl!




The "kitties" were still hungry after their little bit of meat that we gave them, but we moved along after being assured that they'd have plenty to eat quite soon. Walmart provides all of the food for the Outpost, which is rather great of this otherwise-eh corporation, right?


The Florida Brown Bear was quite dangerous, having taken a few fingers as souvenirs over the years, so we didn't get to feed him. He was interested in saying hello to us, though! Jenny told us he likes treats, like the occasional sprinkled doughnut, so we may stop over and bring him one this weekend.


Peaches was quite talkative and said hello to us approximately 39 times. Give or take.


After that, it was time to head home and talk about what we'd learned. The experience was great, and we were invited back anytime - particularly if we had carrots, apples, fresh meat, or anything of that ilk to share with the rescued critters. I heartily recommend a visit if you're in the area!


Not-So-Wordless Wednesday: Ernest Hemingway House

Link up here with 5 Minutes for Mom if you were any degree of wordless, uh, yesterday! ;) 



(Oops, I didn't get a chance to finish the post yesterday. Forgive me.)

Last week, we went on a field trip overnight to Key West, so that we could visit Ernest Hemingway's house there on Friday. 

{Full Disclosure: The staff gave my family of five courtesy passes to visit the property, in exchange for this post. No other compensation was provided. As always, all opinions in this post are solely my own.}

As a lover of literature in general, and big fan of Hemingway thanks to Old Man and the Sea, I was super excited to visit the property. As cat lovers, the three kiddos were delighted about all the six-toed Hemingway kitties roaming around everywhere there. Hubs was thrilled for both reasons and for the history lesson, to boot.

Anyway, I'll try to be less wordy here, and just post some snaps of the awesome sights and scenes we witnessed at the Hemingway House:




















This guy was very photogenic, and he LOVED having his picture taken!









The kids were enamored of all the six-toed kitty paw prints in the cement!









My favorite photo of the day








Hemingway's writing studio was the most wonderful vignette seen this day. Amazing!









We all had a great time visiting the Hemingway House - even Jack, who just did not want to smile anymore for the camera - and are truly grateful to the staff for providing us with the complimentary passes to visit it.

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you enjoyed the photos.


Saturday 9: Harper Valley PTA

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

Saturday 9: Harper Valley PTA (1968)

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

1) This week's featured artist uses her middle initial (C. for Carolyn) all the time. Do you use your middle initial very often? 
I used to, for a long time, but I stopped when a "friend" started teasing me endlessly about it. Just wasn't worth the hassle.

2) In this song, a mother tells off the local PTA. What's the most recent school event you attended - whether as a parent, a teacher or a student?
I'm a homeschooling mom, so pretty much every day is something school-related for us!

3) The lyrics reference the mom's miniskirts, which were trendy in the 1960s. The website Popsugar reports that gingham checks are trendy for 2015. Tell us about the most recent addition to your wardrobe.
I was at the local outlet store here {in Florida City}, and they had some crazy-awesome clearance deals. Combined with my military discount, I paid rock-bottom prices at G.H. Bass for two adorable denim skirts, a black crossbody purse (my Thirty-One satchel finally gave up the ghost), and a wallet to go IN that purse.
{I didn't have a wallet for ages, because my Thirty-One crossbodies are itty-bitty wee-tiny.} Anyway, that's my story, and I'm stickin' to it.

4) Thinking of moms, Access Hollywood named Carol Brady of The Brady Bunch TV's #1 mom. Who is your favorite TV mom?
Claire Huxtable!

5) Mother Winters always gave Sam peppermint tea to calm her stomach. Do you have any tried-and-true home remedies to share?
When I get my really bad migraines, they go all the way down my spine to my coccyx, and around my clavicle, and they hurt in my jaw and pretty much my entire skeleton. {I'm now thinking I have an auto-immune disorder, actually.} Anyway, when my Fioricet doesn't take away the migraine pain, I've found that a really hard knuckle massage from my oldest kiddo, Chloë, helps. She has to massage my ankles to my wrists and everything in between, and it wears her out, so I only ask beg her to do it when I'm desperate.
{P.S. to CountryDew: Yes, I have had acupuncture for depression, but not for pain. It helped marginally. I'm willing to give it a go for this, but I haven't sought out an acupuncturist here in Flah-riddah yet. Stay tuned, I guess!}

6) Sam's mother always tips 15% in restaurants. Sam has worked in food service and is more judgmental, tipping between 10% and 25%, depending on the quality of the service. What's your tipping policy? Are you more like Sam or her mother?
I'm more like good ol' Sam. However, I never tip less than $2.00 for anything, unless the service was so crap-tastic that I don't leave a tip at all. That rarely happens. When I mystery shop, I'm often specifically instructed to tip 15-18-20% regardless of the quality of service, and so I do what I am told. Left to my own devices, though, I let my tip do the talking.

7) When the tip of her shoelace becomes frayed, Sam's mother snips off the end and then paints the tip with clear nail polish. Good as new! Sam thinks that's crazy because you can just buy new laces for less than $2. Are you more frugal like mother or spendthrift like daughter?
It completely depends on the circumstances. I am mostly the frugal type, and I am a hard-core couponer (please don't call me "extreme," though; I'm just a smart shopper) from jump street. My mama taught me how to use coupons, and I am teaching my young'uns the same way. It absolutely kills me to pay full price for something that I know I can get for  nearly free or better-than-free, so I avoid it at all costs (pun not intended).
However, there are times when I'm extremely brand-loyal, such as my JAFRA skin care regimen, and I will not use anything else... because I'm worth putting only high-quality products on my skin, and I feel good about that! (Holy run-on sentence, Batman!)

8) Mother Winters loves how French vanilla smells and burns her Yankee Candles all year around. Do you use scented candles or air fresheners?
I absolutely adore fruity scents and will burn those whenever I can. We can't burn any candles right now, because Sophia's kitten, Sugarplum Yogurt (yes, that is her real name, and yes, Hubs and I have lots of creative nicknames we use instead of that one!), is in the "leap before you look" phase of exploratory development. Having her land in a burning candle would be no bueno, especially after her littermate Spike's recent untimely demise. :(
{P.S. I absolutely loathe French vanilla and cinnamon-y scents. They make me gag, truthfully! I'm mostly apathetic about pine-y and floral scents, but I lean towards "no, thanks" on those, also.}

9) Sam is celebrating Mother's Day with her mother's favorite, Hershey Bars. Would you prefer classic milk chocolate, dark chocolate or chocolate with almonds?
Chocolate with almonds sounds nice, please. As a motherless daughter from a young age, and also as a mother who has lost a son, I have mixed feelings about Mother's Day, myself. I celebrate it mostly for my living childrens' sakes, but I would not care if we did not.
On that note, thanks for stopping by today!

Friday Fragments: Episode 5.8.15

Half-Past Kissin' Time
♫ "Another day, another dollar, another war, another tower went up where the homeless had their homes..." ♫ 
Oh, hi, there! Sorry, I guess a little Jewel needed to bust out of me instead of what I meant to write. That ever happen to you?
Anyway, here we are at Friday again. TGIF! Though, when you are a stay-at-homeschooling mom of a retired husband, all the days kinda blend together, and it doesn't make a lick of difference much whether it's Tuesday or Saturday. At least some weeks. And this is one of those weeks.
(Oh, look, it would appear I'm in full-on babble mode today...awesome.)
Link up here with Mrs. 4444 if you're fragmented today, folks. If not, just leave a comment so I know you were here. I comments!
So, this sucks, and I haaaaate even writing about it, but I'm gonna anyway: Our van was towed away in the middle of the night yesterday. I am not sure where it is or why it got towed, but I suspect being behind on the payments by a couple of months is to blame. Heh. (It's not entirely my fault. Our bank account is messed up, like, permanently, and our online bill payment function is currently disabled. I tried to pay the bill, but I was unsuccessful.) Instead of staying on top of it, though, I put it in my "I'll get to that...later" file, and later never came. So I do take most of the blame. 
Either way, it completely sucks butt, and I am terribly disappointed right now. I'm going to get Miranda (the van) back, but it might be a couple of weeks. In the meantime, I tried to rent a car yesterday, and let's just say that was a big FAIL. I'm trying again today. Oh, and Enterprise? You are dead to me.
I can't get this post off italics, and it's driving me crazy. Try to ignore it.
While we were waiting for our new couch to arrive - our last one bit the dust utterly and completely - the girls broke out my old college Organic Chemistry model set and started building molecules. My oldest kid, Chloë (in the purple, on the left), actually said to me, "Mom, I wish you hadn't lost the book. I want to learn more!" About Orgo, people. 
I love that. LOVE. (And not just 'cause I have a minor in Chemistry...)
There was much cheering and joy happening in Casa de Odette when the couch of newness was delivered. We were sick of sitting on a mattress on the floor, y'all. I had three criteria: No leather (being pescetarian, it wouldn't do), easy to clean, and cheap-but-nice.
Welp, two out of three will have to do, because it's a leather blend. It was on sale, the price was right, and hey, we needed a damn couch. We aren't Moroccan, after all. Floor pillows are cool... for like, a day. After that, it just hurts your tushy.
(And yes, it's I-hate-it beige, but I figured that would be more easy to accessorize than the University of Miami-orange I very nearly chose instead of this one. I mean, we didn't *all* go to UM, after all. Sad to say.)
Remind me to tell you how "Turnt Up!" became my catchphrase for a night, last year. That's a post for another day. I'd get turnt up just talking about it, right now!
Anyway, I did a mystery shop this week at a national retailer's local outlet, and when I spotted this shot glass, I knew it would have to be what I made for my required purchase item. I have an extensive shot glass collection, I'm turnt up all the dang time, and here she is at home. What a beaut!
Pepper, our Maine Coon kitteh-kitteh-cat, has grown quite large of late. At 2.5 years old, he still has some growing to do (this breed is considered full-grown at about three years of age), but man! He is, as Jack says, "one large cat."
To remind you, this was Pepper when we found him wandering the middle of the road in October of 2012:
He'd just had a bath, obviously, because he was ravaged with fleas and nearly died from flea anemia. We thought he'd be sickly for life. Boy, were we wrong! He is quite healthy now, strong as an ox! I bet he's pushing 15 pounds. And still room to grow...? Oof!
In other kitty news, Sophie's kitten, Sugarplum, is adjusting to life without her littermate, Spike. Pepper has taken to her, and he bathes and snuggles with her. It's quite sweet.
This is my home pharmacy right now. Kind of ridiculous. What's even more so is that I have all these meds at my disposal, and I'm in pretty much near-constant pain. My entire skeleton throbs and aches, 24/7. It sucks. I'm resigned to the fact that yet another thing is wrong with me, and I'm pretty sure it's an autoimmune issue. Once Hubs is done with the daily in-home nursing care, and his surgery wound is all healed up, I'm going to make an appointment to get a referral to a rheumatologist. What's the opposite of thrilled? That's what I am.
To kind of have a chill evening, after the stress of Miranda being "stolen" from us, Chloë and I walked to Publix nearby and rented a couple of movies. The girls didn't last through the end of The Book of Life (which has an awesome soundtrack, by the by), and Jack was passed out there on the floor well before the end of The Boxtrolls. We opted to turn it off and finish watching it another time, when they're, y'know, awake and stuff.
I would be remiss if I let the month go by without mentioning that May is Brain Tumor Awareness Month. Since Hubs' cerebellar cavernous hemangioma and the subsequent craniotomy to remove it - and bits of surrounding, healthy brain tissue along with it - in February 2015 have set the tone for the past two years, I've made this my Facebook profile pic for the remainder of the month.
Go Gray for May! #BTAM
Back to the Roots - Product Specifications
So this week was not without some good - no, really, really great - news. A random post on a blog I read mentioned that this organic mushroom farm by the spectacular company Back to the Roots (which was new to me at the time) was on sale on Amazon. Since environmentalistm, local/organic/sustainable eating and living are big passions for me and somewhat for the rest of Team Odette, I did some poking around on their website.
Long story short, they were looking for Regional Brand Ambassadors for diferent parts of the country, with Florida as its own "region" on the list. They asked for résumés and cover letters from interested applicants. I bucked the trend and just shot them an email instead, with all of my reasons for why I'd be great as their Florida RBA.
Well, days went by. Then weeks. And then, almost a month later, this week, I received an email back, stating that I sounded absolutely PERFECT to represent Back to the Roots for Florida. I don't want to jump the gun and congratulate myself just yet, since they'll be talking to me more when they expand into Florida this summer, but I was crazy excited when I got that message! Woot woot!!!
And that,  my friends, is that for this week. Have a lovely!

Friday Fragments: Episode 5.1.15

Half-Past Kissin' Time

Look at me, fragmentin' three weeks in a row! Link up with Mrs. 4444 here if you have to brain-dump today, too.


Welp, Hubs has been hospitalized yet again, this time for surgery to remove an abscess that grew from nothing to absolutely enormous practically overnight. He's in horrendous pain and can't get comfortable, and I really feel for the guy. His retirement has completely sucked so far, these past two years. I hate that for him!

Nevertheless, as high as he was when I took this picture, he's still able to crack jokes and whoop my arse at Jeopardy! which pisses me off to no end. ;)

In addition to Rob having emergency surgery on Wednesday, this week has overall been a huge load of crap for our family. Instead of dwelling on that, though, I'm going to focus on cheerier, more pleasant things in this post. So here I am with just a few random thoughts.


I've been following Kathy B.'s Art Projects For Kids website and blog for years now, and we have done many of the projects she, an elementary school art teacher, puts forth on the site. This week, we chose to take it easy on school a little bit because of all the awfulness that's going on, so we opted to do this tropical fish watercolor painting assignment.


The top one is Sophia's, and this one is Chloë's. Not surprisingly, both girls jumped right in and got started. Chloë, true to herself, worked slowly and carefully, sticking close to the original form of the APFK assignment's detailing. On the other hand, as usual, Sophia went in her own direction and opted to do different species of fish of her own choosing and not exactly listen to my instructions. Haha! I love the flounder!

Scan_20150501 (2)

And here is Jack's. What impresses me the most about this is that, despite his constant proclaiming of "I hate Art!" (as you may remember from last week's entry) and all the tears he shed at the beginning of this assignment, he still did it anyway and turned out a not-too-shabby piece of work! He may be a cantankerous soul, but he is also a persistent one.


Speaking of websites and blogs I've followed for a long time, The Loopy Ewe is another one of them. I have been knitting ever since I was pregnant with the twins in Guam and found out I was going to be delivering the babies in the middle of winter in Virginia instead of near the equator. I thought I better learn the craft, to keep my three-babies-under-three warm myself, since there is absolutely no store selling warm clothes in Micronesia, y'all.

Anyway, back to The Loopy Ewe. Every week, Sheri (who I have actually had the pleasure to meet while shopping at her bricks-and-mortar yarn store, back when they were still based in St. Louis, Missouri, instead of Colorado) posts a store update with new yarns, on the blog. When I read it this week, I was instantly covetous of this orange Wollmeise, once one of the most highly sought-after yarns in the world. I actually scored a skein once, but we had, I think, eight (eight!) cats at that time, and sadly it didn't fare so well. Sigh. But I refrained from pulling out my debit card, because the knitting occasions happening around here lately have been few and far between. (It is soooo lovely, though.)


Please be sure and check out my post pinned at the top of this blahg, about Maria Bailey and her 5 Trades Away project. I still have this to swap - it's free, and I'll ship it to you! - and would love to trade it up for something for Maria to auction for the pregnant woman of Uganda. Thanks!

Oh, and I actually did have some good news this week. I've been seeing an OB/GYN for the past two months for these painful ovarian cysts that keep rupturing off my left ovary. I've had a hysterectomy, but they left me that so I wouldn't go into menopause at 31 years old. Anyway, they found a huge mass measuring about 9x5 cm, and he wasn't sure it was benign. My tests all came back Wednesday: every tumor marker was negative, and they didn't see the mass on my last ultrasound. It hurts like hell, but it must have been another cyst that finally ruptured. Hallelujah!

Well, that's it for me, this week, and for April. I'm looking forward to seeing what flowers May brings, because April sure had its share of showers for us.

Thanks for stopping by!


Friday Fragments: Episode 4.24.15

Half-Past Kissin' Time

I'm back again! What is this, two weeks in a row? Can you stand it? I know!

Link up here if you're fragmenting today!


Silly as it may seem, this might just be my favorite thing from our field trip to the Gold Coast Railroad Museum on Wednesday. If you missed it (and you know you did), you can read more about that here.

I hear it snowed all over parts north of here today. Well, yesterday. On April 23rd. Yes, I live south of Miami, Florida, but my attitude is more of dismay and sympathy than nanny-nanny-boo-boo. And seeing as I was raised in Central New York, I have experienced this phenomenon myself. It sucks. I know. So sorry, y'all.


For Earth Day, after the railroad museum, we made a couple of stops here and there. One stop was at local Disney Store to get our free Disneynature Monkey Kingdom reusable tote bags. I love a tote bag. Save the planet, and all, you know; that's me.


Anyway, that there is 12-year-old, itty-bitty Jack piggybacking on 10-year-old baby sister, Sophia. Nope, that's not a camera trick; he really is that small! And the Yoda hat? Totally works for him.


Miguel, the Castmember at the Disney Store, was all about the enthusiasm for my camera, when I asked him to pose with my freebie tote bag. I loved it. (Not a bad looking young man, either, huh?) And, he let me make two small purchases and get two bags. I loved that, also.



We also received our free milkshakes and fruitshakes from EVOS, which serves AirbakedTM food instead of deep-fried, much of it organic. I had not heard of it before Earth Day, so this was a great marketing ploy to get us in the door and come back for more. We didn't buy anything Wednesday, but we do plan to come back soon, probably on a Kids-Eat-Free Sunday. (I love a deal, y'know?) Since they're a lot closer to Homestead than our beloved Elevation Burger, we're anxious to try EVOS food and compare the two restaurants. Have you been to either one?

(Note: It's not McDonald's. You won't be paying Mickey D's prices.)

Color Me Mine - The Art Of Having Fun


We attempted to use our $60 Groupon for Color Me Mine, for "ceramics and sitting fees" for four people that day, but lo and behold, it doesn't actually cover all the costs, only some of the costs, and there is pretty much nothing ceramical that would have cost little enough so as not to have required me to fork out any additional money. Can you say, disappointment? We were all bummed. 

Except Jack. As Jack says, "I hate Art!"

So we'll go back sometime between payday and May 1st, when the Groupon expires... but I was pretty upset that we couldn't get our Arts and Crafts on that day. Stay tuned to see what ceramics everyone ends up picking out!


I had a mystery shop at a semi-local movie theater to do that night, so in honor of Earth Day yet again, we opted to go as a family to see Disneynature's Monkey Kingdom. I cannot say for sure whether I've seen any other Disneynature films before this, but maybe Oceans...? In any event, I absolutely loved Monkey Kingdom. It was fascinating to me as a Biologist, but heart-tugging to me as a mother. Definitely a show worth watching.

(And, I thought Tina Fey did an excellent job narrating it. What is she, some kind of professional?!)

Image result for two thumbs up


Two thumbs up, all the way around!

P.S. I adore that Disneynature films donates money to the programs and communities shown in the feature, in honor of each moviegoer who sees it opening week. Yay for Team Odette and the monkeys! Have you seen it yet?


After watching the Toque Macaques' antics for the last hour and a half, my monkeys were all amped up and silly-goosing around when let loose outside the theater. Good reminder how influential screen time can be, yo.

Welp, that's it for me this week. Thanks for stopping by!


Trips Afield: Gold Coast Railroad Museum


Wednesday, like every April 22nd for the past ... well, that's up for debate, but read this story if you want to know more ... was Earth Day. We had big earthy, environmentalist plans, but those fell through. Fortunately, we had backup plans! We visited Miami's Gold Coast Railroad Museum, next do the Zoo, instead. Wow, did this trip come along with lots of history lessons!

Disclosure: We were given free passes to visit the Gold Coast Railroad Museum in exchange for this blog post. All opinions are, as always, 100% my own.

I kinda wanted to steal the "NO SNORING" sign from the museum's gift shop wall. Cute and funny!


We all had to test out the Morse Code telegraph machine. It was loud and, yes, obnoxious. God bless the twin girls working in the shop, because they must have to put up with that nonsense a lot.


And with that, we were outta the gate and into an immense, old railroad yard with all manner of antique and old-fashioned trains to explore. What fun! This was definitely right up Jack's alley.




I sort of have a fetish for antique suitcases. I love them. They bespeak so many adventures, I think. I would love to collect them, but I never find them, so...


Chloë thought this old wheelchair was pretty cool. I don't know whether it was kosher for her to sit on it, but she already was and there was no "keep off" sign, so I snapped the pic. I could say that about a lot of these pictures...


When Rob rang this bell, it was so loud and unexpected, I wanted to ring his bell!




Maybe you can tell from Jack's stance, but he was freaked out by the wax figure of a porter up there ahead, on the left. So I did what I do: laughed and took a photo.


Have a seat!


Sophe pretending to wash hands in the sink on the train... a rare sight, since I still have to tell her to do it for real now!


Very cool.


We were told that if the train was open, we could go ahead and go in and explore. We found lots of open trains to visit! This one... wasn't.



Proof that I was actually there, experiencing this, too. I gotta remember to take more pictures of me. Y'know, for posterity.


I guess they use the trains for after-school programs. Pretty cool place to go, if you ask me.


Silly Sophie, pretending to eat at the table. I love that she still has such fun imagining at ten.






This is Sophia trying to get up into the luggage cart. No, she didn't, but if I had looked away... she'd have been up there in a New York minute! ;)


Jack was pretty much in seventh heaven out here.



NASA, the early days


Rob checkin' out the innards


Hey, you gotta go, you gotta go. The train bathrooms remind me of the ones on the Piedmont airplanes back in the 80s.


Again, we weren't invited on one of the beds in the sleepers, but we weren't chastised or warned off them, either...


Sophia looking so cute with her little bandanna.... love it!




The kids loved the idea of transcontinental train travel. We vowed to do it sometime before they're grown.


This does not look even remotely comfortable!


Well, hello, Rufus.



Yeah, that might not be good.



At this point, I was having a total Stand By Me moment.



Rob, being a sweety... but I made him leave them there. Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, after all.


Why, hello up there!








This is the part where Sophie pretends to be a hobo, hopping on and off cargo trains and going joy-riding!


Girl versus the machine?





Switch operator, Chloë


Speaking of Stand By Me...


Chugga-chugga-woo-woo! Hey, we're tweens and teens, but a train is a train, man.




Because Thomas.



Sophie in her babushka


The trainy equivalent of Air Force One. Pretty cool.




Hilariously, Sophie was pretending to be interrogated and pleading for her freedom. She cracks me up.


Jack was giggling because men used fancy China and drank tea. Silly boy!


The girls were terribly excited to find this very old, dusty book amongst the artifacts on one train. The books, we like them.





Now this one, I coveted. Badly.


America's Playground, Florida's East Coast, you say? I must go to there.


Yeah. I can't remember what she was doing here. Basking in the glory?



Uh, not a good angle for him!


Tiniest President ever.


My fellow Americans...!







Jack accidentally honked the horn, and it was LOUD. We all jumped. It was pretty hysterical. Eh, you had to be there.


What about wheelchairs?




We learned about blimps our first year of homeschooling, way back in 2010, so we kind of have an affinity for all things hydrofoil.




In honor of Daddy, the girls insisted I take their picture with the US Navy flag.


We totally confused the "We Can Do It" poster with "Rosie the Riveter" and talked all about the Normal Rockwell piece as if this was it. Uhhh.... ooops. Now we know better, though, and knowing is half the battle.

(RIP to the real "Rosie.)


True facts.


Yes, but do you know the way to San José?

We learned a lot of history on this field trip, and quite a lot about the history of race relations in this country. The kids all agreed by the end that racism pretty much sucks. Phew! I'm glad that was the attitude learned. 

Thanks to the GCRM for having us, and thank you for stopping by!


Sundays In My City: Chihuly At Fairchild, A Garden Of Glass

Unknown Mami

Link up with Unknown Mami HERE if you want to play along, and "share your city/town/suburb/you name it! Think of this as a photography carnival or photography meme (with or without words) that not only lets you share your part of the world, but lets you visit other parts of the world virtually. If you link up, please link back or post the Sundays In My City button either in your post or sidebar to let people know that other bloggers are sharing their communities too."


On Sunday night, from 6-9 PM, we went to Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden to visit the Dale Chihuly blown glass art exhibit. Disclosure: We were given complimentary passes to the Garden in exchange for this blog post. As always, all opinions on this post are 100% my own.


This was the first exhibit we encountered. That's all glass, floating in the water! How cool, no? You can read all about artist Chihuly here.


The sights and scenery were breathtakingly beautiful throughout the garden.


This exhibit brought new meaning to the term "party boat" for me.


We craned our necks to look at this bird. Heh. See what I did there?




I really thought the White Belugas looked more like the crane than the whale, but what do I know? They were still Teh Awesome.


I hadn't realized the scientific name of Coffee before, but it makes sense in both generic and specific form. To me, anyway, and I drink a lot of the stuff.


♫ "Walking along. Singing a song. At the bottom of a beautiful, blimey, shimmery, shiny, sea..." ♫






Chloë thought the central blue starry thingy was more like a porcupine, but I was team sea urchin all the way. What do you think?



Please, no jokes about blue balls. I wouldn't dream of making one myself, either.





My girls, especially, seem to have this odd fascination with lily pads. I don't know what it is, but personally, I think they're pretty cool, too.


Electric blue




To me, these flowers in Spanish moss look like baby birds in a nest. Do you see it?


Chloë had to visit the restroom, and we were next to the garden café at the time. I got in line after seeing they had handcrafted tropical fruit sodas. I saw myriad flavors and guessed that the children would probably want to share the mango flavor, since they all positively adore all things mango. I guessed correctly, they affirmed when returning from the bathroom. As for me, I can't stand mangoes or anything flavored thusly. Just not my thing...


I find that plenty of vignettes, such as this one, found in the garden were objets d'art in and of themselves.


The koi pond was a beautiful location for this installation.


I think the blue koi pond, combined with this Chihuly piece, was my favorite, favorite part of the whole showing.



I hope I get an invite!


(Psst: probably my least favorite of the Chihuly pieces. Hey. Everybody's got to have one.)



"Mmm. Chocolate." (...said like Homer Simpson and his donuts.)


That's just bananas!


The edible garden was quite cool. No, we didn't actually get to partake of any fruits.


Got any colada for that piña?



Aguacate! YUM.


The honeybees, they matter. Keep 'em around, you guys.


I swear my grandma had this much aloe on her window ledge in her New Jersey apartment. No lie. I remember, like, every summer, at least one of us (my sister or I) would get a bad sunburn at the Leonia municipal pool, and we would break off a piece of aloe to rub on the burn.


This reminds me: I miss our compost bin. It was usefully huge (for our sizable family) and hugely useful. We left it behind at the house in Virginia Beach. Wah.



Speaking of mangoes...!



I love these camo pants on Sophie. Just sayin'.


There are so many different species of palm trees, I swear! I should probably go look up how many. Hang on a sec...

☼ Intermission ☼

I'm back. Holy crap, according to this Palm Wiki, there are about 2600 different species. Whoa!


Just a spider doing important spider things...



That guy in the hat, admiring the Icicle Tower, was wearing a utilitarian kilt. The kids wanted to ask him about it, but they dared not, so I had to suck it up and ask for them. He got it in Washington State, it's a Utilikilt, and he's not entirely Scottish. He was, however, quite terse, and so that's all I learned. His wife was far more friendly, and she was wearing a pretty butterfly skirt.



I like the name "Buccaneer Palm" better, personally.


"Here, lee-zard, lee-zard!" We saw a rather lot of rather large lizards, including one iguana, at the garden last night.


*ahem* Phallic! *ahem*


That one on the bottom reminded Rob of Stevie Wonder in his beaded-hair days, but I was immediately thinking of Bob Marley, myself.


Love this pic of Sophie carrying her OLDER brother Jack on her back! Love it, love it, love it!


A statue of the great Marjorie Stoneman Douglas, speaker for the Everglades, holding Sophia's hand. Well, maybe vice-versa, but you know what I mean.



Oh say, can you see?


This raccoon was just ambling along, nose to the ground, with nary a care in the world that we were standing there watching him, exclaiming, taking pictures, and otherwise carrying on about his nonchalance.



The Bird of Paradise, one of few tropical plants I can properly identify. Gee, I wonder why?


Sophie tried to get in the fountain, as she is always attempting to do. She has, at times, succeeded. That's life with Sophia!





Team Odette, just being silly, pretending to land tush-first on a giant cactus



A lady, speaking to me mostly in Spanish, asked for "the one that looks like a Christmas tree." I don't know who told her that, but apparently someone did, about this one. I don't see it at all?


I love you THIIIIISSSSSS much!


Jack was pretending to be a statue on a bench, like the one of Marjorie S. Douglas, but to me he looks more like a zombie. Silly.







I joked that this large ball cactus was almost as big as Chloë's enormous head. She indignantly exclaimed, "Hey! No, it's not!" Ha. Hahaha.



"The Trash Heap has spoken!" Who remembers Fraggle Rock?

Gotta watch this, whether you do or whether you don't:


Right? D'ya see it??!



The "Apple Blossom" Amaryllis is a monocotyledon. I prefer monocots to dicots. I said so aloud. This brought on an instant Science lesson about the differences in leaf striation between the two, when other people started gathering around to listen, and I got embarrassed and started walking away. Which reminds me, we really need to do a big ol' Plants Unit soon. I've sort of been avoiding it like the plague.


This piece reminds me of a bonfire explosion. Or something. I'm not sure. But I like it.


Back to the back!



"Talent is a flame. Genius is a fire." - Bernard Williams


We interrupted an engagement party, at which all the guests wore white. It looked soooo lovely, and what a beautiful setting for the fête! I had to know what was in all the goody bags everyone had, so I stopped a woman on the way out. She hadn't even looked in hers yet, so she didn't know! Can you even?! I made her look. She giggled and went right ahead and looked. I know there was a book about Chihuly and some chocolates, but I forget what else. Either way, it was cool to be semi- a part of things. ;)


Chloë, ever the dramatic child...!


We didn't, but we did visit the gift shop. It was quite the coolness. I didn't get pictures, but they had blown glass cnidaria ("jellyfish") inside more glass of another color. I wanted one. I dared not ask how much.


We loved this scene spread before us near the entrance/exit, so of course we had to take the photographic opportunity. I tried to get the kids to sing the "Farewell" song from The Sound of Music, but since they've never even SEEN it, they didn't know the song. Yes. I have failed them that much, apparently, since it's among my five top favorite films. Sadness.

In case you don't know that heck about which I am speaking:


On that note, adieu! And merci for stopping by.

Thank you, again, to Director of the Garden, Dr. Carl E. Lewis, and to Brooke LeMaire and the Marketing team at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden for sending us the free passes to visit the garden. We had a wonderful time seeing the Chihuly exhibition and will definitely be back! As always, all opinions are completely mine in this post.


Sunday Stealing: Threes Meme


Link up here if you're playing along today!

Threes Meme

From Remember the Stars

1. Three things that scare me: 

a. Losing another one of my children

b. Being laughed at and rejected by people I care about

c. Being laughed at by complete strangers

 2. Three people who make me laugh: 

a. Larry David (he's totally my unaware boyfriend)

b. Hubs (hysterical!)

c. My children, every single day

3. Three things I love: 

a. hearing children laugh

b. not being able to control my own laughter

c. homeschooling my kids

4. Three things I hate: 


Aw, only three?! ;) Okay:

a. being behind a slow, bad driver

b. people who think my homeschooled kids must be awkward and weirdly unsocialized people (they're not... any more than awkward and weird public-school kids, anyway)

c. intentional litterbugs. (P.S. If you're a smoker and toss your finished butts on the ground, THAT'S TOTALLY LITTERING!!!)

5. Three things I don't understand: 

a. Republican values

b. people who have their head in the sand and don't understand global warming and global climate change are real and really happening. but let's not get me all worked up about it, shall we?

c. intolerance, racism, and pretty much all -isms of that ilk

6. Three things on my desk: 

Business cards

a. my beautious new bilingual business cards for JAFRA (they look better than the scan, heh)

b. a can of Diet Coke

c. my ubiquitous Samsung Galaxy S5

7. Three things I'm doing right now: 

a. this blahg post (duh)

b. moderating my auction page on Facebook

c. sneezing (this cold sucks butt)

8. Three things I want to do before I die: 

a. SCUBA dive Australia's Great Barrier Reef

b. gain forgiveness and compassion for the woman who broke my brain

c. quit drinkin' the damned Diet Coke!!!

9. Three things I can do: 

a. knit, and well

b. bake, and well

c. drive, and uh...

10. Three things I can't do: 

Image result for parking funny

a. park my car well, especially when parallel parking is involved. thankfully, I nailed it on my road test 20 years ago!

b. design my own knitting patterns that work

c. sit still and relax

11. Three things you should listen to: 

a. ME, when I talk about the important issues like those mentioned above (get yer heads out of the sand, already!!)

b. "Uptown Funk" by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars (and just try not to bounce around to it)

c. your conscience

12. Three things you should never listen to: 

a. people who tell you that you can't

b. people who tell you what to do when you know better and haven't asked for their advice

c. the metal band Cannibal Corpse - it's horrid

13. Three things I'd like to learn: 

a. how to relax and, in tandem with that,

b. how to be patient

c. how to design my own awesome knitwear!

14. Three favorite foods: 

NEW YORK-style all of the following:

a. pizza

b. cheesecake

c. Italian bread

15. Three beverages I drink regularly: 

a. Diet Coke (duh)

b. fruity, girly rum drinks (but usually only when I'm being paid to evaluate a bar or club)

d. a Cosmopolitan (when I'm evaluating a classier bar. Hee.)

16. Three shows I watched as a kid:


a. The Cosby Show (shame about Bill, isn't it?! Ugh)


b. Perfect Strangers (who didn't love Balky and his "dance of joy"?!!)

c. Full House (because Uncle Jesse, mmmm)

Thanks for stopping by!


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!


#Homeschooling: Minecraft Units by Educents.com & #GeekFamous


A week ago, I was given the opportunity to test out three different Minecraft-themed educational units from the curriculum website, Educents.

You can find those here: www.educents.com/minecraft-units.html for only $4.99 for all three!

When they heard I was chosen, they were so excited! All three of my kiddos LOVE playing Minecraft (pocket edition on their Kindle Fires , though we are hoping to get the XBOX 360 version soon), so they could not wait to see what these units were about.

There were three Minecraft-related units:


* Perimeter & Area, which I gave to 13-year-old Chloë to do,


* Angles, which I gave to 11-year-old Jack to work on, and


* Writing, which I gave to 9-year-old Sophia to complete.


Chloë has worked on perimeter and area before (well, they all have), so it was fun for her to apply this learning to the Minecraft world they all love so much.


Jack wasn't thrilled with his study on angles, until he got to the part where  he actually got to build and work on things in his world on the Kindle. Then he said, "Hey, this is actually kind of fun!"


This is the cubey world he built for the unit. He had to build something with 200 right angles, so we figured out that was 50 blocks. He also had to find obtuse and acute angles within his Minecraft world, and this was quite abit more challenging! Really made him think.


Sophia, who is quite the little story-teller anyway, found the stories she had to write a fun exercise, indeed. She got into it!

However, only Jack finished his unit on angles. Chloë and Sophia had to be poked and prodded along, and even though I told them that I would give them a Minecraft-related Christmas present when they finished, well... they just decided they wanted to finish them later. And they will, but not tonight.

And then, it was time to whip out the promised (kinda) Minecraft presents! I thought they were all pretty cool, so I let them play "musical gifts," and whatever present they ended up with when I stopped the music was the one they had to open. Trading, as always, was an option after that (but no one ever has, to my knowledge).


Jacky opened this big ol' Light-Up Wall Torch, which I bought from ThinkGeek.


Also from ThinkGeek, Sophie "won" this Minecraft Light-Up Redstone Ore, which means nothing to me, but she thought it was cool, so hey.


Here are the "liddy-liddy" and the "middy-liddy" with their lights.


Chloë scored the "big" Minecraft prize, a LEGO "The Cave" to build, which I bought on the LEGO website.

The other two were, um, dismayed about that until they saw their own. And little do they know, I might just have more such gifts hidden away somewhere! 


It took her a while, but she finally build a LEGO Minecraft Cave, with Steve eating a sammich, a spider, a creeper, and other stuff I wouldn't know if it kicked me in the nose!

Overall, I would recommend the Educents Minecraft learning units, but be ready to provide help and encouragement where it is needed.

(And big thumbs-up to the LEGO and ThinkGeek goodies!)

Thanks for stopping by.



Sunday Stealing: The "Are You?" Meme

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

The Are You Meme 

Stolen from: From My Random Randomness 

1) Are you psychic in any way?

I don't know what I believe about that sort of thing, but I will say this: I get deja vu a LOT. I dream inane, mundane conversations and things that end up really occurring the next day or soon thereafter, all the time. It's so odd.

2) Are you a good dancer?

I dance sillishly to be funny now, but I was a dancer in my kidhood, and I was apparently pretty good... That was ages ago.

3) Are you a good singer?

I am a good back-up, choir-type singer. Lead singer material, I am not, though I have always wanted to be. I had strep several times in sixth grade, and it ruined my vocal chords for good.

4) Are you a good cook?

People seem to like what I make, usually. That's good enough for me.

My brother-in-law is a chef at his own restaurant, Sycamore, in Columbia, MO. You should go; the food is excellent.

5) Are you a good artist?

Not in the fine art sense of the word, but I'm pretty good with artsy-craftsy stuff. I do believe, however, I could be a decent artist with some training.

6) Are you a good listener?


No, it's something I continually need to remind myself to do. I'm a good interrupter, a good chatterer, but listening is hard for me. #TheStruggleIsReal

7) Are you a good public speaker?

Uh, no, not at all. I do not like attention focused on me, whether it's positive or negative attention, and I have panic attacks. Crying, shaking, the whole nine. Not a good scene.

8) Are you a good babysitter?

I love babies! BAAAAABIEEEEEES!!! (I think so?)

9) Are you a good mechanic?

Not in any sense of the word!

10) Are you a good diplomat?

I try very hard to be diplomatic, fair, and tactful. Sometimes I fail, but it's important to me.

11) Are you a good employee?

I love Dilbert! ;)

I am a very good employee. My one failure is timing. I hate being late, but sometimes I am.

12) Are you a good dresser?

It's not something I really care about, so probably not.

13) Are you a good swimmer?

I'm decent, but not great. Grandma made sure that I could tread water indefinitely when I was four or five years old, though! My sister, Stacey, and I were always in the community pool when we visited her and Grandpa, and it was important to her that we could swim and tread water so we could be in the pool by ourselves if she wasn't feeling it. She watched like a hawk, though!

14) Are you a good skier?

I've never gone downhill skiing. I used to like cross-country in P.E. back in high school. We certainly had enough snow and hills in Central New York, but I didn't go out for downhill ski club. Too afraid, I think I was... 

15) Are you a good gift giver?

Yes, I am! But I do appreciate appreciation in return. I recently gave a gift, and the recipient said, "Why did I get this? I wanted that!" Really? I was disgusted. Thankfully, it wasn't my own child who said that.

16) Are you a good musician?

Not really. I try, but I am pretty horrible at sightreading music. It just doesn't come naturally to me. I envy my good friend Shana's skillz, because she is a natural.

17) Are you a good comedian?

I've been told I'm funny and should do stand-up, but alas, that is like comic public speaking and... NO. Never gonna happen without drastically altering my state of consciousness.

18) Are you a good cleaner?

I am an awesome cleaner. I don't half-ass it, I clean until it's clean. However, I have 3 slobby kids (and a slobby husband), and we homeschool (and he's retired), and I do not like to waste my effort! So please don't pop in unannounced! ;)

19) Are you a good actor?

I recognize good and bad acting when I see it, and I recognize in myself that I would probably not produce the good kind.

20) Are you a good writer?

I like to think that I am, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder, isn't it? 

I have a book or nine in me. I just can't seem to draw them out. I think I'm afraid of success more than I am of faillure. Time will tell.

Well, howdy doody, I'm at the end!



Sunday Stealing: Taking Stock Meme

Link up here if you´re playing along today!

Taking Stock Meme 

Stolen from: The Blake Collection



Plans for the current week


Nothing today; we picked up the kids after a long, arduous day, from Fort Lauderdale, and everyone has been munching and snacking on their own since then. Well, before they went to bed...


Drinking entirely too much caffeine today, but in this case, it's Diet Mt. Dew instead of coffee...


My approximately 1,000 emails delivered during our sojourn in Mexico, trying to prioritize what must be read and what can be trashed...


This anxiety to go away - the panic attacks exacerbated by the over-caffeination, I'm sure, but nevertheless, I'll not stop drinking it...


for crafts the kids and I can do before Thanksgiving next Thursday, to decorate the home and set the tone


time doing rather silly, mundane things instead of readying this house for company tomorrow, all week, and especially my neatnik dad next week. Eek!!


... for that elusive money tree...


The incessant chattering of Chloe, who is still up, helping me with a few chores... she's delightful!


... for the anxiety attack to wear off!



The photos of the spider monkey photo shoot I had yesterday in Playa del Carmen, Mexico


How big a turkey to buy tomorrow, given that I don't know how may people will be joining us yet..!



Taking advantage of the freedom to educate our kids at home, so that I can spend every precious moment possible with our brood <3


"Lonely No More" by Rob Thomas of MB20


sleepy time...but miles to go before I sleep tonight. If at all...



Paco's farts. They, um, reek.


I'm wearing a turquoise skirt and a teal top. I don't exactly match. I don't exactly care.


The Amanda Bynes story... I sympathize with her SO much, and I wish nothing but the best for her and her family. So sad.


that my clonazepam, aka Klonopin, is doing the trick.... helped by some slow and steady breathing. 


^^ Pretty much that ^^


... that I should sup on more than just a handful of Triscuits tonight. But I probably won't. We'll see.


Overwhelmed by everything I need to accomplish over the next 10 days or so! Trying to remember not to eat the whole elephant...


Numerous recipes from the November 2014 issue of Martha Stewart Living, wherein I have found numerous delicious-looking recipes I want to make this year!



all the souvenirs and trinkets I picked up for the Odette babies from Playa del Carmen last week, for show and tell. Fun times! Stay tuned for more on that trip!


When we arrived home from the airport yesterday, my son's cat, Muffin, had strung my yarn from top to bottom, front to back, over and under everything around the house. It was a wool-fiber obstacle course just to get IN. Thankfully it was the least important yarn in my stash, so I was able to laugh about it. Otherwise... she would have been up a creek without a paddle!!

Thanks for stopping by!



saturday 9: All About That Bass


Link up here if you played along this weekend!

First, let me say, I´m in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and the keyboard is completely different from what I´m used to... it´s slow-going and frustrating. Gah!! And I can´t seem to insert photos, so... we´ll just have to add that later. ;)

Let´s go!

Saturday 9: All About that Bass (2014)

(A special request from Smellyann) (which is weird because I don´t remember requesting it and now, knowing how hurtful this song is for my daughter, I never would!! LOL)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here

1) This song is body positive. In that spirit: What physical feature would you never change, no matter what?
Actually, it´s NOT body-positive at all. It´s a skinny-shaming little ditty. However, to answer the question, I would never change my face. I hope to return here to Mexico in the Spring of 2015 to have a full body lift, but leave my head alone, please!! It´s not perfect, not beautiful, but it´s cute enough.

2) The lyrics mention how often the media uses Photoshop to present a more ideal female form. Is Photoshop on your computer? If so, do you know how to use it?
I don´t have it. If I did, I would learn, but only to enhance photos I take to make them more beautious, never to damage. 

3) She also sings about Mattel's Barbie doll. According to Toys R Us, this year's best-selling doll is not Barbie but Disney's Elsa. Have you seen Frozen?
I have, and I love it. I´m not surprised the dolls are selling so well. Chloe, my eldest at 13, loves singing ¨Let It Go¨!
4) In the video, Meghan dances merrily around her twin bed with its pink head/footboard. Describe your bed to us.
I couldn´t. It´s covered in laundry right now, and I haven´t seen it for a couple of months. Haha! But my dad is coming for Thanksgiving week soon, so I absolutely must remedy that before then.

5) Ms. Trainor began writing songs when she was 11. Would you find it easier to write lyrics or music? 

Definitely lyrics. I actually wrote a song in junior high, where I did the lyrics and my friend Shana wrote the music. We were all supposed to sing on it in her dad´s recording studio... but I was grounded and couldn´t go. I still have the tape.

6) Meghan recently performed "All About that Bass" on the CMAs with country star Miranda Lambert. Who is your favorite country singer?

That´s just not in my wheelhouse. I hate country, so I can´t answer that question.

7) In September, Meghan had to cancel several concerts because of throat trouble. Are you battling a cold, cough or sore throat this morning? 

No, thankfully, or our Cancunian vacay would probably have been a lot less pleasant!

8) Meghan was born in Nantucket, MA. "Nantucket" is an Algonquian name that means, "faraway island." How did your town get its name/what does it mean?

I´ll answer for Miami, which got its name from the Miyami (sp?) Indians. We´re studying Native Americans this year in our homeschool, and we recently went to the ancient grounds of the Tequesta, in downtown Miami. It was supercool.

9) According to the National Weather Service, between rain and snow, winter brings Nantucket the most precipitation it sees all year. How is the weather where you are today?

It rained all day yesterday, but today is a balmy 81 degrees. Quite muggy, but I don´t think we´ll see rain. We´re going home today, and I expect Miami´s weather to be quite the same.

Thanks for stopping by!


Starting November With A Bang


So you may have noticed, we have a new student in Sweet Pea Academy. My pal Veronica asked me to school her 9-year-old daughter, Victoria, who was not having the greatest experience in public school. She has, perhaps, more faith in my abilities than I do. After a deep discussion with Rob, we decided to thumbs-up the idea and give it a go. Victoria joined us full-time this past Monday, November 3rd. We started with a pancake breakfast.

Usually, Rob makes the pancakes in Casa de Odette, but he's not feeling too well lately, so I took a turn. There is a reason I don't normally make them: I'm not the best at it. At all. And this time was no different. I burned half of them, and I don't make cool shapes like Mickey faces or their names or anything else. Nevertheless, everyone gamely ate pancakes aplenty, and then we started school.


The kids watching their daily Math-U-See lesson


On Tuesday, we visited the library for our weekly trip. The kids wanted nothing more than to read their selections when we returned home, so of course I let them before we got started on our next task.


Each of the kids is doing a swap with a homeschooling partner somewhere else in the country; this is our third month participating. Each month, a different theme is chosen. In our first month, only Sophia did a swap, and the theme was SPACE. The second month, all three of my kids swapped, and their theme was HABITAT. This month, the theme is BIOGRAPHY, and Victoria is joining us in that. All four kids, after a discussion about biography, chose to do their swaps autobiographically, so I took pictures of each of them to include in albums they are making about themselves.


Naturally, Chloe wanted to include a photo of her beloved Pepper in her autobiography album!


On Tuesday, before we got started with school, we had a Welcome party for Victoria. It was a surprise planned by Veronica and us after Sophia came up with the idea during our family meeting about her joining us. Victoria had no idea; she was completely shocked!

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Veronica brought a pineapple upside-down cake she baked, which I love but didn't eat because I'm trying soooo hard to be good about eating healthy calories. But man, I wanted some!

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Rob played along with Party Mode, wearing the hat and everything. He's such a trooper.

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The look on Victoria's 3-year-old sister, Belen, cracked me up. She was like, "Um, no. Just... no."

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Veronica is 37 weeks pregnant with baby #4, Melodie-Grace, due around Thanksgiving Day. We can't wait to meet her!

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In homage to Victoria's Mexican heritage, I decided to make some simple Cinco de Mayo pinatas filled with - what else for this time of year? - Halloween candy. When Belen and the rest of the kids pulled a string, out fell the candy. Fun! And, I just knew there was a reason I was saving all those toilet paper rolls!

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I made the pinatas; Chloe made the welcome banner you can kinda-sorta see in the first photo, and Sophia made the paper flowers that I apparently neglected to photograph. That's a shame, since they turned out so well.

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We, uh, got just a little silly with paper hats. I swear I did not spike the punch!

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Victoria insisted I get silly with them. I'm always happy to embarrass myself; why not?

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I forget what Sophie was pretending to be here. She's always imagining something new and interesting; I wish I could record every moment of the child's life!

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Before we sent Victoria's mom and sister home for the day so we could start our lessons, Belen got into the party hat fun, too. Yeah!

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On Thursday, after several days of talking about the Tequesta, Ais, and Jaegas Indians of South Florida, we did a lab to demonstrate to the kids some of the ways in which these people lived. I sent the kids out on a scavenger hunt for sticks of various sizes, while I managed to score this huge fallen palm branch. I learned from an old Physics professor that, sometimes, to start things off, you need to "WOW" them in. When I hauled that giant branch into the living room in front of the kids, it was definitely a WOW moment!

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I had gotten several sizes of sharks' teeth, as well as a variety of mollusk shells, over the past several weeks in preparation for this lab. My goal was to show the children that natives used these as tools to help create their dwellings, hunt for food, make clothing, and even make more tools.

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Sophia really got into the whittling of this branch with the largest shark tooth.

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Victoria started with a smaller shark tooth on a smaller branch.

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Chloe got to work with an oyster shell on the great big palm branch I found, and she shaved off the outer "skin," realizing it could be used as lashing to tie together sticks and other materials for building purposes. Brilliant!

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The shells could be used to carve out canoes, but obviously I didn't have a large enough piece of wood for that, so we practiced on tiny twigs.

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Jack really enjoyed this lab. Even though he moaned and groaned, as he is wont to do, when I said we were doing a lab (who knew what that meant at the time?!), he was the first one to complain when I told them we were finished and had to clean up our materials. It's always that way with him!

So all in all, it was a pretty great week for Sweet Pea Academy. I think Victoria was just what we needed for a breath of fresh air in our daily lessons. With all our lessons, field trips, fun, and yes, meals, I still managed to get a ton of knitting done, and we were able to go get our passports ordered and then picked up for our trip to Mexico next week. Who needs sleep?!

(This girl.)

Thanks for stopping by!