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Saturday 9: Ordinary People

John Legend | Artist | www.grammy.com

John Legend: "Ordinary People"

Hello, hello, y'all. I very nearly missed this week's questionnaire, but I pulled myself up to get it done. We've all been doing this for so long "together," and I don't want to lose that.

Awesome Happy Spring GIF - white spring flowers and glitter

Happy Spring, Northern Hemisphereans! I'm so delighted. #understatement

Not much really happened here this week that I can think of; that is a good thing! Two weeks ago, my lithium levels were way too low, and I was planning on jumping off the nearest tall building. Now that the doctor has raised my dosage, I feel so, so, so much better. It was almost overnight! And I'm so thankful, so grateful to still be here.

Let's get it done. (P.S. I was just about to post this, and then my Chrome died, closing all my windows and not returning all the content I had here. So I'm aggravated now. GAH!)


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

1) In this song, John Legend sings that both he and his girl have "room to grow." What about you? In what areas would you like to improve?

Lyme Warrior Poem | Perseverance, Lyme, You are strong

Well, hard to do being here in a small hotel room (for yet another two months! Ugh!), but when we move into our new home I really want to make it a point to get out of bed and at least circulate with the family downstairs, every day. I'm in bed so much, some days I don't see anyone but Hubs. And the dogs are getting entirely too used to cozying up with  me all day. Something's gotta change, and I want to make the effort. I do not want the pain and fatigue from Lyme dictate what I do for the rest of my days.

2) He sings that when he hangs up in anger, she calls him back. Are you quicker to anger, or quicker to forgive?

Both! And quick to apologize, too. If someone apologizes to me, it's done, it's over.

3) "Ordinary People" was John Legend's first big hit. He originally wrote it for The Black Eyed Peas, but -- happily for him -- recorded it himself. Have you ever purchased a gift for someone else but then decided to keep it yourself?

Black Eyed Peas | Members, Music, Songs, & Facts | Britannica

Really? I love the Peas but I can't see them doing this song justice. As for me, I don't think I've ever done that, but I for sure have wished I had enough  money at that moment for a second one. Several times!

4) Ordinary People is also the title of an acclaimed novel by Judith Guest and an Oscar-winning film. Are you familiar with either the movie or the book?

Barbra Streisand, tout sur la chanteuse

Of course, I definitely knew the movie - my mother was a huge fan of Barbra Streisand. I remember that just a couple of months before she died, she took 7-year-old me and 8-year-old  Stacey (my big sister) to the movies to see Yentl. It's one of my last memories with my mom, so I cherish and love Barbra for it, too. As for the book, I don't think I had heard of it, but now it's on my "want to read" list on Goodreads. Thanks!

5) John is married to Chrissy Teigen, who gained fame as a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model. When is the last time you dove in? Were you in a pool, lake, river or sea?

Lucky Peak Dam Photos – Hicken Design

 Atlantic Ocean in August and September when we first got here to Maryland from Idaho, but it was a while before that that I actually got in and swam. In the summer of 2017, I swam with the fam at the Boise reservoir. It was a good day, and we had fun, but then I came down with this horrid bacterial infection that left me wishing for death. I hadn't heard of that particular critter before; I guess it was a big enough deal for the county epidemiologist to call me up and interview me over the phone. Guess I lost my nerve after that!

6) John unexpectedly proposed to Chrissy on vacation, but he was afraid airport security would ruin the surprise when they went through his carry on very thoroughly. He worried she would see the ring box and he'd have to drop down to one knee right there at the airport! Tell us about one of your flights: your first, your most recent or your most memorable.

It was just really odd flying back here to the East Coast this past summer. The jets were sparsely populated instead of overcrowded, and there was no food or drink service, and we were all constantly reminded to pull up our masks here or that way or whatever. It was tense and scary on the one hand, but also just another adventure arrow to stick in our quivers, I guess.

7) John is currently a coach on The Voice. The other coaches are Nick Jonas, Kelly Clarkson and Blake Shelton. Of those four singers, which is your favorite? 

Kelly Clarkson opens up about suicidal thoughts in her early career

Gotta go with my girl Kelly! I was nursing my first newborn Chloë when Kelly competed on and won the first season of American Idol.

8) In 2005, when this song was popular, Johnny Carson died. After he retired from The Tonight Show in 1993, he traveled extensively and discovered he especially enjoyed photographic safaris in Africa. If time and money were no object, where would you go on vacation?

Pastel-colored Jupiter dazzles in gorgeous Hubble telescope photo | Space

I'd have all the money and the time, you say?! Well sure, I'd visit all the continents in turn, thoroughly and passionately. But I wouldn't stop there. I'd say hello to Moon and then head outward for a glimpse of Mars before I hovered out around my favorite planet, Jupiter. I'll end this story of mine there, though, since it's too far-fetched even for me.

9) Random question -- In your typical day, what's the longest you usually go without saying a word to another person: all day, a few hours, an hour, or five minutes?

03202021 Paco

Right now, maybe about an hour, possibly two hours. But I've always got this little guy and his chonky sister to talk to!

All right, phew, I made it and hopefully will save it in time in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1...

Enjoy your Spring beginning, y'all!


Saturday 9: My Funny Valentine

Hello, hello! Welcome back to the fray. Make sure you link up here to play along this week, and let's jump right into the fray!


Saturday 9: My Funny Valentine (1991)
Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) In this song, Ms. Kitt sings that her lover is her favorite work of art. Tell us about a piece of artwork you can see from where you're sitting now. (Yes, that crayon drawing created by your 5-year-old nephew counts.)
So, I normally write about the Britto, but I'll mention this one instead (which happens to be just to the left of the big Britto, currently.)  We bought this fish rack hook rack from an antiques shop shortly after we bought our house in Virginia Beach, VA, in 2003. I hang my keys an extra keychain or two on there; Hubs hangs a carabiner or seven with various and sundry things on them on his hook, and we then we hang the dog leashes on the third hook. We have a pretty fish-themed style going on, and I love this piece!

2) She asks him to not change his hair. When will you next find yourself in the stylist's chair?
I was supposed to go last week, but the care and upkeep of Chloë's long curls came to a head (heh heh) this month, costing so much I had to scrap my plans for a trim. I cut my own bangs and called it a day.

3) Ms. Kitt always wanted to be a performer and attended the New York School of Performing Arts (aka the "Fame" school). Think back to your high school self. In what ways would you be surprised by how your life turned out?
Ha, well, by this point I figured I'd be a world-renowned marine scientist with a Nobel prize (for what?! I don't know) under my belt. I actually thought that! I had no doubts. I certainly didn't think that at 41, I'd be looking at raising three teenagers. And I most definitely didn't plan on homeschooling them even after they came along! Life is so weird.

4) Ms. Kitt took over the role of Catwoman on TV's Batman. Name another Batman villain.

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The Penguin!
5) Ms. Kitt enjoyed tremendous success performing in Parisian nightclubs. Have you ever been to Paris? 
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Not yet! Chloë wants to get engaged there (currently there is no suitor, haha)! I have been to Nice, and Eze, in France... but not Paris. I'd love to go with Hubs sometimes and stroll the Champs-élysées and of course, smooch atop the Eiffel Tower. One day.
This is the last Saturday  9 before Valentine's Day and so this morning we shall focus on the upcoming holiday. 

6) The holiday is also known as The Feast of St. Valentine. Do you have a special meal planned for next Wednesday?
Image result for Valentine's Feast
I might have a little something up my sleeve (which I can't yet divulge, since certain family members read these posts), but definitely no feast. I'm not one to go all out - or expect anything - for Valentine's Day.

7) The phrase "wear your heart on your sleeve" began in medieval times. On Valentine's Day, men would celebrate the holiday by displaying their lady love's name on their sleeves. If you were going to adopt this custom, whose name would you wear?

Week 552
Well, I'm not a man, but I would wear Rob's name on my sleeve. He has a piece of my heart, for sure. Having just celebrated the fourth anniversary of his brain surgery, he has just received a cancer diagnosis (not of the brain). I'm trying not to just fall apart... I love him so.
8) Women buy and send more Valentines than men do. What's the last greeting card you received?
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The last ones we've received were for Christmas. I plan on giving out a few on Valentine's Day, myself.
9) Men buy and send more roses at Valentine's Day than women do. What's your favorite flower?
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Tiger lilies are absolutely my favorite flowers, so much so that we named our first German Shepherd Dog after them:
Image result for yellow roses
If they must be roses, however, then my favorites are yellow.
Fun questionnaire this week, Crazy Sam! Thanks for doing this!

Sunday Stealing: HodgePodge

Welcome back, party people. Link up here to play along this weekend. Let's get started!


  1. January was National Mentoring Month. Have you ever had a mentor? Been a mentor? How would you rate the experience?
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  3. I was a knitting/crocheting mentor for a while. I even have a pin to show for it. I've attempted to teach dozens of students. Some are still doing it and improving their skills; I'm proud of everyone who tries it!

    2. What current trend makes no sense to you?
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  5. A year into his atrocious and disastrous first (and hopefully last, if not foreshortened) term as PUSA, there are still Trump apologists. I don't understand these people; I just don't. I know some of them, and they just refuse to listen to reason. Some are educated, rather intelligent people, too. WTF?!!

    3. I saw a cartoon on Facebook highlighting a few 'weird' things that make you happy as an adult. The list included-writing with a nice pen, having plans cancelled, freshly cleaned sheets, eating the corner brownie, cleaning the dryer lint screen, and sipping coffee in that brief time before anyone else wakes up. Of the 'weird' things listed which one makes you happiest? What is one more 'weird' thing you'd add to the list?
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  7. I love writing with a nice pen that writes smoothly with no gaps or scratchy marks. I'm favoring BiC Gel-ocity pens at the moment - especially since they write in many colors. I love colorful pens and try not to use black at all unless there is no other choice. I don't like the corny brownie - I'd rather have the center one! Canceled plans usually irritate me; freshly clean sheets are nice but not a dealbreaker unless I'm in a hotel, and I rarely drink coffee. My caffeinated beverage of choice is still Diet Coke. The kids do the laundry, so I don't clean out the lint trap anymore. To add to the list, I'd have to explain that I have a ridiculously, enormously large bladder capacity, so taking a weewee takes up about five minutes for me. That's very satisfying. ;)

  8. 4. What's the last good thing you ate?
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  11. I don't eat a lot these days, but the last satifying thing I had was a tasty omelet from our own hens' organic eggs, with plenty of cheese and sautéed onions. Hubs makes them for me, and they're so good!

    5. Describe life in your 20's in one sentence.
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  13. In my naïve 20s, I eloped with my husband two months after we met, and we immediately started our family of four kids. 

    6. It's that time of year again...time for Lake Superior University to present a list of words (or phrases) they'd like to see banished (for over-use, mis-use, or general uselessness) in 2018. This year's top vote getters are -- unpack, dish (as in dish out the latest rumor), pre-owned, onboarding/offboarding, nothingburger, let that sink in, let me ask you this, impactful, Covfefe, drill down, fake news, hot water heater (hot water doesn't need to be heated), and gig economy

    Which of these words/phrases would you most like to see banished from everyday speech and why? Is there a word not on the list you'd like to add?
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  15. I would like to add "basic," as in, describing someone as basic if they do or don't do certain maybe unsophisticated things. I hate this usage.

    7. What's something you need to get rid of in the new year?
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  17. This yellow, flowered couch. I like it, even though it's not my normal style. And it's comfortable as hell. However, Tapioca (our half-rabid Chiweenie), has eaten large portions of it, so it's now an eyesore. I'd like to replace it ASAP, but first I have to buy Jack a new bed. He's been sleeping on the floor for nearly a year!

    8. Where do you feel stuck?
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I feel stuck physically. Healthwise, I am on my fourth TENS unit, having burned through my first three and having spent hundreds of dollars on those. I haven't tried the new one yet, but it's got good reviews on Amazon, so I'm crossing my fingers that it'll help all the leg and wrist pain I experience daily from my "Fibromyalgia" (it's really Chronic Lyme Disease). I tried to get a job, but I ended up with my 8th pneumonia within a year. Months later, I'm stuck inside much of the time, I use a wheelchair and handicap parking placard occasionally, and I take a shit ton of medications to manage my illnesses. I would really like to be freer physically. At 41 years old, I don't feel like I should have to live this way. :(

  1. 9. January is National Soup Month. When did you last have a bowl of soup? Was it made from scratch or from a can? Your favorite canned soup? Your favorite soup to make from scratch on a cold winter's day?
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  3. It's difficult for me to have soup, because with my gastric bypass surgery, I'm not supposed to have solids and liquids at the same time. I have to drink broth now, though, because I'm not getting enough sodium content and was recently in the hospital to boost my super-low sodium levels. And I try to eat as little chicken and seafoods as possible, but I consider myself pescetarian because my protein needs are so high, so... I usually, by myself, will eat cream of chicken soup out of the can when I need a protein and calorie boost. If Rob makes his famous chicken and dumplings soup, I'm all over that. It's so good.

    10. Tell us one thing you're looking forward to in 2018.

Image result for Impeachment 2018


Trump's impeachment. Need I say more?!


Thanks for stopping by, y'all! I hope to get to everyone's tonight or tomorrow!

Sunday Stealing: Friday Question Meme

Welcome back, strangers! Link up here if you wish to thieve along with the rest of us today.


  1. Have you ever tried to learn (or re-learn) a foreign language as an adult? Which one? What worked for you?
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  3. I tried to pick up French and Italian, but without formal training it was too difficult and I gave up. I would still love to learn, however!

    2. Do you donate blood? Do you know your blood type?
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  5. I'm O-negative, and yes, I've donated blood many times. I don't think I'm supposed to do it anymore, though, so I haven't in a while.

    3. Have you ever been in a play or musical?
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  7. In fifth grade, I played the Caterpillar in our school's production of Alice in Wonderland. I stole the show, too! After that, I didn't have the guts to audition anymore.

    4. Do you use certain text or ring tones for specific people? Who gets their own? Or do you just use the default on your phone?
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  9. I recently had to factory-reset my phone, which hurt like hell! I lost almost everything. I haven't set up everyone with their own ringtones and text tones yet, but Hubs has his own so far. Everyone else is on default.

    5. When did you get your first digital camera? Do you still shoot on actual film, or all digital now?
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  11. I have a Nikon DSLR, which everyone in the family knows is My Baby! For our 17th anniversary earlier this month, "Hubs" (okay I got it myself) bought me the new zoom lens I've been eyeballing. [I had a different Nikon with tons of lenses and things before, but the camera and most of the lenses were stolen out of my house.] Only, when I finally got the new zoom, it wasn't compatible with my camera! I was soooo disappointed. We returned it; guess we'll start over next month.

    6. What do you think someone else would say the most daring thing you’ve done is? 
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  13. I think that honor would go to eloping with Hubs exactly two months after we met online. Seventeen years later, I think it was the right decision. ;)

    7. Do you talk with your hands?
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  15. You'd think I was Italian, yeah...

    8. Do you have a lucky number? What is it, and what is the story behind it?
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  17. Ever since I was a very little kid, my favorite number has been 64. I have no idea why. I like to think it was the future math nerd in me that knew it was the perfect square of 8, the perfect cube of 4, four itself being the perfect square of 2, and 64 being four times the perfect square of 4: 16! (That made me sound incredibly lame, didn't it?)

    9. What kind of milk did you drink, growing up? And now?
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  19. I drank regular cow's milk, but I don't remember what fattiness percentage or anything like that. Nowadays, I'm extremely lactose intolerant, so I have to stay far, far away from la leche de vaca. I like Ripple, a milk made from pea protein. It's pretty good!

    10. What is your favorite kind of pie?
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  21. Apple pie! But truthfully, it's not regular apple pie. My favorite is Dutch apple cream pie, made with sour cream. Mm-mmm, so good!

    11. Are you a note taker?
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Oh yeah, I take a ton of notes. You know that Post-It Note® scene in A Beautiful Mind with Russell Crowe? That could so be me.

  1. 12. Do you have an eclectic mug collection, or is your stuff all matchy-matchy?
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  3. Mostly, our mugs are different hues of Fiestaware, but there is a mug for each of the kids that I made on Shutterfly for Christmas. (Hubs got an engraved silver flask instead, heh.)

    13. Do you have a junk drawer in your house/garage/at work/wherever?
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  5. Yup. It's in the kitchen, next to the refrigerator. Doesn't everyone?

    14. What is the longest amount of time you’ve worked at one job – and what was/is it?
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  7. I've been "Mom" forever and a day.

    15. How old were you when you took your first commercial flight? To where did you fly?

Image result for kid flying solo funny

Oh, I've been flying pretty much my whole life. I'm not sure where that first flight was to/from. I do remember my first solo flight, from Newark, New Jersey (visiting my grandparents) to Syracuse, New York (home). I've always loved flying!


Thanks for stopping by! I hope everyone has a great week. :D

Sundays In My City: Advent Days 1-9

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

2017 Birthday Season Continues...

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Birthdays, birthdays, everywhere! On Thursday, my darling firstborn child, Chloë Raine, turned 16 years old! I cannot believe it; I'm in stupendous shock. How can it be? And yet it is.

Sunday Sept 3 Present 1a

Though her birthday was on the 7th, we decided once again to go with "Birthday Season," as Rob's mom called it, and start on September 3rd. Her first present was from Rob, who couldn't wait to present it to her.

Sunday Sept 3 Present 1b

At first, Chloë was butt-hurt about the "For Dummies" part of the tiny book her dad gave her, until he reminded her there was a whole, huge series of the "Dummies" books. Since she is forever talking about her dreams, the dream-interpretation book seemed perfect for her!

Monday Sept 4 Present 2b

I love this picture!!! On September 4th, we decided to give Chloë her present from Sophia. Well, Sophie helped me pick it out for her, so consider it a joint gift. ;) Anyhow, "Ro" is one of Chloë's topmost favorite YouTubers, and Chlo wants literally everything in her new collaboration line with Wilton. Sophie told me to get her the logo cookie stamp, and my eldest just about flipped out when she saw it. Yay!

Tuesday Sept 5 Present 3a

Chloë partly helped me design this present, which I gave her on September 5th, by picking out the exact Harry Potter image she wanted represented thereon. The rest, namely the caption, came from me. She's been putting it together here and there ever since.

Tuesday Sept 5 Present 3b

Also on the 5th, we started to redeem goodies from our looong list of Birthday Freebies. The first one was a no-strings-attached free dessert from Chili's, so Sophie and I ran down there to pick up a slice of cheesecake for her sister. Chloë had no idea what we were doing, and she was delighted, having been hankering for some cheesecake for weeks now!

Tuesday Sept 5 Present 3c

You gotta forgive me. I've been having entirely too much fun playing with the new editing software I've got for my images. ;)

Tuesday Sept 5 Present 3d

During Birthday Season, we get so many freebies, sharing is key. Rob and Sophie helped dig in to the cheesecake, while Jack pouted in his room for God-knows-what. He's not really great at sharing these days ever. :\

Wednesday September 6 Present 4a

On Wednesday, September 6th, I gave Chloë not one, not two, but five gifts that all kinda went together. (Of course, I got hot deals on all these gifts, hence their being part of our celebration. Ha.) Chloë adores infinity scarves, so I snagged five for her recently and decided to give them to her for her birthday instead of Christmas. Why not? Here's the first one...

Wednesday September 6 Present 4b

The second one, which is really soft (actually, they all are), may be one of my favorites.

Wednesday September 6 Present 4c

Basic black is a necessity, am I right?!

Wednesday September 6 Present 4d

I think this patterned scarf looks amazing on her. I love it!

Wednesday September 6 Present 4e

And finally, I gave her a tomato red-orange scarf. I think it'll add some great POP! to whichever outfit she chooses for it!


That evening, Chloë and I decided to head over to Boise Mall to redeem some more birthday freebies. We stopped at the massage chairs, where I dropped a dollar in the slot for baby girl to have a 3-minute massage. I'm not entirely sure she even liked it! ha!


While at the mall, I noticed a Wetzel's Pretzels shop. We'd never eat one there before, because there were none near us in Miami, but I had a hunch. It proved to be accurate: I found and downloaded their app, and we got a free pretzel out of the deal as a "welcome" gift. Turns out, I received another one today for a birthday present! (P.S. Chloë believes they are even better than Auntie Anne's!)


I received a $5 Kohl's gift card in my email inbox a few days ago, so we stopped there while in the mall, too. Hm, what can I say? We're girls, and we wanted chocolate. And behold, it was good.


Chloë was emailed a BOGO Orange Julius coupon in her inbox, so we redeemed that for a couple of medium beverages. Oh, my. Sooo, so good. I filled up on half of mine and gave the rest to Chloë. Next time (which may be soon; I just got another one for my birthday), we'll go with Smalls!


After that, we stopped at Bath & Body Works. You know those awesome coupons for free goodies they mail you sometimes? If not, you gotta sign up for those! Anyway, Chloë walked out of there with a wallflowers plug-in, a refill packet for that, a small spaces thingamajig, a refill for that, a hand lotion pour moi, and maybe something else I'm forgetting... for less than 10 bucks. Not bad!


So next, we headed to Olive Garden near the mall, as we had both received text message coupons for a free dessert. It was kind of a Bucket List item for Chloë to try Tiramisu, despite my constant protests that I, personally, detested it. She didn't care, as we don't share the same tastes on lots and lots of things. But, lo and behold, she didn't like it either and gave up after a few bites. Wahhh!


But, not to worry, as I had a dessert, too! I ordered the Zeppoli, which turned out to be way more enormous than I had anticipated. We munched on a few of those before deciding we were full enough to get the heck out of Dodge!


Chloë was much happier with the Zeppoli selection, so that made this Mama quite happy to see!


Following our Olive Garden desserts, we had just enough time to race to the nearby Michael's store before it closed, wherein we wanted to use our birthday 50% off coupons. When Chloë spotted an endcap with more Rosanna Pansino baking goodies, I knew where her coupon was going! She chose these sugar Gems and has been nomming on them here and there ever since. Hopefully she can use her stamp and gems soon ... maybe even today?!


A brisk trip through Michael's, we ran to Panera to claim our freebie birthday pastries. The young lady was so nice and gave us extras of everything! We were given two cheese Danish and several chocolate croissants! YUM!


Driving back home, we decided to stop at Arby's to redeem another coupon for a free birthday shake with the purchase of any sandwich. Chloë had a yen for a chicken sammy, so we bought that and decided to gift the chocolate shake to Jack and Sophia upon our return home.


See? YUM!!


I had reward points to spend at Walgreens, and Chloë wanted a masquerade mask for giving out Halloween candies, so she chose this one. Personally, I think she looks beautiful with it on!

16th Birthday Diva

After midnight, I asked Chloë to model her "Birthday Diva" sash and outfit for me, and of course she obliged. Behold our newly-minted 16-year-old daughter!


TWe had a free order from Pizza Hut in my Yahoo! inbox, so I placed the order and had Rob go pick it up when it was ready. Delicious!


I could not wait to give Chloë her next present, which I knew she had been wanting for at least two years. I wrapped the box in paper from one of our pups' Barkboxes!


I had gotten a hot deal on a Fujifilm Instax Mini camera, and the joy on her face was not at all staged. She's been thanking me for it for the entire two-plus days since!


For a gift that kinda-sorta went with Chloë's new camera, I used more paper from yet another Barkbox. Hey, it's pretty!


I wish I had remembered to turn off that darn lamp! You can't see this too well, but it's a Dr. Seuss-themed "Oh, The Places You'll Go!" frame. Doesn't quite fit the pictures from the camera, but she doesn't seem to care.


Unfortunately for Chloë, the film I had ordered for her camera was coming under separate cover hadn't arrived yet, so she had to defer her total enjoyment of it for the time being.


It's not just Birthday Season for some of us - everyone benefits! (Especially when I can match a candy sale with a good coupon, heh.)

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Chloë did not want birthday cake this year; instead, she opted for lemon meringue pie! We picked it up at Albertsons after r
unning some errands, along with this adorable cake banner that seemed more fitting than 16 candles in pie.

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Instead, since I wanted cheesecake (I'm not much of a traditional cake person, myself), we used my cake for Chloë's candles. And then, since I wanted to eat said cheesecake, we used it again for mine that same night!

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Make a wish, sweetheart. I hope it comes true...

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We set the cake up for me; I had no designs on being able to blow them all out at once.

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And yet, somehow I managed!

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Check me out. I did it!! Hahaha!

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Pepper would not like to have his Golden Birthday on the 5th forgotten about, please.

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Zero calories in cake or pie on your birthday. Betcha didn't know that, didja?

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Friday's mail finally brought the film that goes with the camera received the day before. Phew! Not too long a wait.


Daddy and Paco were some of Chloë's first subject when her film finally arrived.

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For dinner on my birthday, I didn't feel like cooking, and Papa John's saved the day by adding points to my online account. I had enough for a free pizza, breadsticks, and cinnamon pull-aparts! Delish!


We had just enough time to slug down a quick dinner before heading off to Julia Davis park to meet our friend Becca for a free concert.


It was actually an Art in the Park festival, but Becca and I wanted to see the band, Red Light Challenge. Everyone else was just there because Mama told them so to join in the fun.


Sophia joined in the photo op when we found Becca, just as RLC were setting up and checking their sound equipment.


Had to grab a selfie with the Hubs while I was at it. Oh, and do you like my new new glasses? I ordered a pair last month, which Tapioca promptly ate. I'm hoping these will last a bit longer.


At last, Red Light Challenge began to play. I loved their music! Very upbeat and danceable. The boys in blue and red are brothers from Hawaii, and the rest of the band formed once the two moved here to Idaho.


Brothers Sean and Kyle played together while the rest of the band members took a break.


After a bit, Becca and I went off in search of cheesy fries. One of the artists was a metalworker, and I dug the peacock and guitarist combo posing here. I'm really into peacocks lately, FWIW.


I ate my share of curly, cheesy fries (Becca's were the garlic ones) before passing them off to Chloë and the rest of the crew. Jack bought himself a hot pretzel but then ended up not liking it (Why? Shizz was good!), so Rob and I were the beneficiaries of the remainder.


After the concert ended, Chloë and Sophia decided to go up, take a picture of Red Light Challenge with Chloë's Fujifilm camera, and then ask all the bandmembers to sign it. They happily obliged, and it was a really cool picture... but then we lost it. I was so bummed for them when I discovered that.


Becca had parked at the mall and ridden the shuttle over to the park, so we decided to drive her back to get her car after the concert/festival ended. While there, we redeemed for a free birthday Wetzel's Pretzels, and Becca bought Cinnabon minis. Yum! There are still freebies to redeem, of which we'll probably do few now that the occasions have passed.

All in all, our 2017 birthday season was pretty, pretty good.


Sundays In My City: Spirit Of Boise Balloon Classic

Sundays In My City
Hey, y'all! Make sure you link up with Claudya over on her blog today to show off your hometown, so we can travel the world together!
So, here in Boise, Idaho, there is an annual hot air balloon festival, called the Spirit of Boise Balloon Classic.
This year, the event lasted from August 30th (which happened to be Hubs' 45th birthday) through this morning, September 3rd.
On Friday, September 1st, we all woke up at the buttcrack of dawn for the morning balloon launch. Let me tell you what: Team Odette is not a morning family! The kids were all grumbling about being tired, moving poky through their morning-rush routine, barely wanting to go. Meanwhile I, who have an extreme adoration for hot air balloons, was chomping on the bit to just get there already!
When we arrived at 6:45 AM, before the sun was really sure about whether it was even going to be making an appearance that day, there was absolutely no parking to be found at Ann Morrison Park in downtown Boise. I was just about to say f*** it and park illegally somewhere when we finally happened upon a legit spot in Bumfecking Egypt. Let me tell you what else: because of my Lyme Arthritis, or whatever the hell you want to call it, my body does not like to walk that far. I told Rob he'd have to swing by and pick me up after it was all said and done, because I was a hurtin' puppy!
When we arrived at the balloon area of the surprisingly large park, plenty of people were already gathered. Many were standing, like we ended up doing, while others were sitting in chairs or on camp blankets. A family near us even brought a box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts and a gallon of milk! Apparently this was not their first rodeo, and they actually came prepared. Unlike ourselves.
After that first balloon was launched - which, to be honest, we didn't understand because we were so far from the announcer that all his words were a jumbled mess to our ears - we waited and waited a while before anything else fun happened. The kids were still grumbling about being bored and why did we have to get up early for this, and the whole nine. And then... the field around us started showing us billowing colorful fabric everywhere we looked.
Some of the tie-down ropes for the tops of the balloons had an interesting thing here and there, but this one balloon behind us had many countries' flags on there. We could only guess that maybe that was all the places where the balloon had been.
CapEd, a local credit union, was one of the major sponsors of the event. I guess they ran some contests for kids, but all of mine were too old to participate in them so I didn't do much research into those.
As the sun was rising and the balloons joined in, the kids' grumbling waned. They were just as enthralled by what was happening all around us as I was, methinks.
Pretty rapidly, the balloons started filling up with air and then, one by one, filling up the sky.
Behind Rob, there's that balloon with all the flags on it, getting ready for lift-off.
I don't know about you, but I have always been excited by hot air balloons. Looking up in the sky that Friday morning, I was as giddy as a kid in a candy store!
Sigh... They're so beautiful!
No more grumbling on the kids' part by this time. They were as enthralled by the spectacle as I was!
Chloë and her dad ran over to the nearest balloon to ask a few questions, but the basket was up in the air juuuuust before they arrived.
A few interesting characters made an appearance, too. Can you spot them?
It is absolutely on my Bucket List - since before I'd ever heard of a Bucket List - to ride in one of these doohickeys before I die. Maybe next year, we can make plans to do just that. It's a bit spendy, though: these ballooners pay tens of thousands of dollars for their lighter-than-air aircraft and have to pay that off somehow!
C'mon, Darth, get on up there with the rest of them!
My favorite was Yoda. Since I inadvertently speak backward like Yoda, as Hubs frequently points out to me, he's kind of my hero.
Chloë really liked the owl one, and I had to admit, it was pretty cool.
Up, up where the air is clear, up in the atmosphere...
Well, shucky duck, right back at you, Road Runner!
Everywhere you turned, there was beautiful eye candy. It was impossible to capture the whole event in one snap; the field was immense and bursting with color!
Fairly soon, almost all the balloons were up in the air. This one was the last holdout.
None of us could make heads nor tails of this crazy creature. For heaven's sake, who would pay that much for such a fugly thing? What even is that? It had a bloody finger in its "mouth"! Ew. Of course, ugly or no, it warranted a snap from my Nikon.
Chloë, Jack, and Sophia went to check out a gorgeous German Shepherd Dog nearby, but then here they came running back as fast as their little legs would carry them.
So that was our bit of fun on Friday. Jack and Rob went back again this morning, the last day of it, but apparently parking was absolute madness. I'm glad I opted out! It brought me absolute joy to go the one time we all did, and I'm thoroughly pleased we went. What a fun festival!
Well, I've shown you mine, now show us yours!

A Walk With My Curly Girly

Flower Walk

Today, I needed some caffeine and rustled up enough change to go get some kind of diet cola from someplace. Chloë decided to go with me, so we could have a little mommy-and-me time. It's harder to come by now that she's 15½, those moments are harder to come by. I brought my camera along for the walk, expecting to capture a few things of interest, starting with these pretty purple tulips and the lilac tree of a couple neighbors.

Parked Trailer

Found this unhitched green trailer inspiring on Virginia Ave, heading out of the 'hood.

Chloe Pallet Fence

On Victory Road, one neighbor had just ONE section of a pallet fence up, so I decided it would be a perfect backdrop for a Chloë shot. There is a lot of traffic on that road and no shoulder or sidewalk, so I had to take a car-free moment and grab a quick snap!

Chloe Bridge

This walk turned into a little mini-shoot for Chloë, as I found her my inspo most of the time! The neighbor next to single-pallet-fence house had this wee bridge over the tiny creek-let underneath it, so I had her hop on it and let me grab another quick shot.


Phlox and old mailboxes at the corner of Triumph and Victory. I dig it.

Flowery Home

A particularly flowery neighbors' house

Old Truck

Old truck. I like it.

Chloe RR Tracks

No train was coming from either direction, but Chloë was still a bit reluctant to stand next to the train tracks. If it were Sophia, she'd be doing cartwheels up and down the rails! But Chloë is more demure and dainty than her baby sister.

Chloes Curls

I know Chloë doesn't quite fully embrace her curls yet, but I am a bit obsessed with them. I can't get enough of them. They're so beautiful and springy. And yes, I am an annoying person who "boings" them when she's washing the dishes and can't stop me. Heh heh heh. So I snagged this pic while she was walking and didn't know the lens was on her.

Chloe Moutain view

Chloë with the mountains behind her... they had snowy peaks this morning, but by this time, they were definitely showing signs of Spring!

Chloe OverpassCrossing the overpass was a little scary for Chloë - and, I must admit, I was afraid, too - but I thought it looked cool criss-crossing with Federal Way and the shadows. I loved the interplay there.


Tumbleweed; we are a tiny bit TW-crazy!

Fabric Joanne's

We ended up getting a 1L of Diet Coke at Walgreens with my change and Balance Rewards points and then starting back home. Only, we were walking with the wind at our backs on the first leg of the trip. On the short leg from Walgreens to Joann's Fabric at the return, the wind was a wall of sheer opposing force in our faces and on our bodies.

Chloë and I could not here each other speak when we were inches apart, so we decided to have Rob pick us up instead of walking into that the whole way home! Weenies, yes we are. Also, Joanne's had a lovely variety of fabric and all-around crafty stuff, so we were not impatient in waiting for him to get us at all!

Rob Ride

And soon, there he was: our knight in shining armor, riding in his black coach to retrieve us and tease me about being a quitter. ;)

Chloe's CurlsOne more shot of Chloë... because those juicy curls just speak to me!

Thanks for stopping by!


Boise: Scenes From A Family Drive About Town


Today, Moday the First Day of SPRING! all five of us had reason to get in the car and drive around together. I'll get to the reason in a moment. I figured, since we were going to take a leisurely Sunday drive yesterday, which didn't come to pass, we could do a little bit of that today. And look! Not five minutes from our house, there is a Whole Paycheck Foods! YAY!


The sign made me giggle. So I snapped.


Rob likes this wall art and keeps wondering if someone has been caught trying to climb up the wall with it. Snap, snap.


I have nothing to say about this building on our left, other than I like how it's not just a box but rather different facades jutting out all over the place, thumbing its architectural nose at conforming.


We also live just minutes from the Boise Farmers Market! Yay yay yay! I love a good FM.


I don't know what this sculpture coming out of the sidewalk represents, but I thought it was pretty, pretty cool.


There are cool sculptures all over downtown Boise. I liked this leaf one, too.


World's Largest T-Rex Ever? Whaaat? Alive? I must investigate this.


There are ponds and rivers throughout Boise. One day we'll walk this one.


We'll be visiting this sometime soon too, I imagine. A pita filled with hummus, cucumbers, and sprouts? Yes please!


See that Idaho pizza sign? There are Idaho This and Idaho That signs everywhere. I don't know why I find this somewhat amusing.


Rob was all about the Car Wash with Free Vacuums. We gave our vacuum away in Miami, and or car could really use it right now! And our house. Think I could take it home?


Nothing to see here except... maybe... the mountains looming up in the distance!


See? Snow-covered peaks in the distance? Whee!


University of Idaho is here. Also Idaho State, and a handful of others. Wanna educate yourself? Boise seems to be the place in Idaho to go.


A Trader Joe's in town near us, too?! I've died and gone to grocery shopping heaven.


Today was free ice cream cone day at Dairy Queen, so of course we had to partake of that funness! Okay, so... this may or may not be the second DQ we hit up for ice cream. #IllNeverTell...


More mountains!


Chloe is wanting to do some volunteer work at a vet clinic soon, so maybe we can get here in here. It's just down the road from us.


That diner looks promising, no? For late night eats, maybe?


And food trucks! I love food trucks!


I didn't get a good shot, but that building is the Idaho Angler, the Fly Fishing Paradise or something. Rob will be there within the month, gawking and gazing, I gar-ohn-tee!


Don't look at the car dealership. Look beyond. See what it says?? "Brewer's Haven" and below that, "Cheese Making Supplies"

Say what, now? We had to go in and investigate.


And what's this I see on the sign's obverse? Oh yeah. Guess where we'll be on Wednesday evening? :D


All kinds of new and interesting beers were found in the cooler when we first entered. I was never a beer person until this last year or two. I've done a 180.


And BINGO! Cheese, Butter, & Yogurt Making? I must buy this book. And it's only $3.95!


Cheese making kits! I gotta get one eventually. These run about $25-30 and can be used for many different batches. Woot!


So here's where I should've been when I was making art with bottle caps. Duh. Why didn't I think of that?!


Even more beers in the cooler on the other side of the store. Whoa. Lots of sampling shall be done in future.


Bins upon bins upon bins of all the sorts of things a microbrewer might need.




Make Beer Not War. Yassss.


I'm all about Buying Local, y'all. So these will be the first we eventually sample. Mm-hmm.


Cute little bottle cozies. Frivolous, but ...cute.


And finally, heading home on Vista Ave, which is the area in which we live.

And finally, a couple of snaps from Miami of Sophia with her BFF, Helaina:


They traded necklaces and had their bittersweet goodbyes, but Sophia has called and Skyped with her friend a few times since we arrived in Boise. Hopefully she makes some good new friends soon.



Random Snaps


Sophia brought me this gigantic hibiscus flower from the bushes outside. I can never stop this child from bringing me flowers picked from the property. Eh. Anyway, it was so enormous, I needed a photo.


Chloë's hair has gotten so long, and she just has so much of it, it starts to become a tangled mess in her sleep if we don't braid it before bed. Even though she's 15, she looks so cute and wee when her hair is in plaited piggytails, doesn't it? I love it.


Jack and Rob were making mac & cheese and sausage in the kitchen when I came in with my camera. This expression, a frequent visitor to Jack's countenance, represents his reaction of surprise and distrust. "What are you doing? Why are you taking my picture?"


It was a pretty good weekend. Tomorrow, for MLK Day, we're going to play hooky from school and go visit the Florida Everglades National Park. After all, we've never really been in the official park, and I think we should go take the opportunity for a free park day while the Everglades are right down the road. Stay tuned for pictures of that!

Thanks for stopping by!


Jungle Island 2016

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Last year, I took the kids to Miami's Jungle Island near Miami Beach. Rob wasn't able to go, having had appointments at the VA all day. We bought annual passes for the five of us at the time, but due to various illnesses and scheduling conflicts, we had not been able to go since. On Saturday night, I found our passes and realized we only had ONE more day left to use them! Pneumonia or no, I wasn't going to waste the opportunity for another fun day at an amazing venue.

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Since we had all already been, I didn't take a ton of pictures of the critters. Instead, I tried to focus my lens on the fam and take interesting pictures of other stuff.

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This is a Florida gator, but have you heard the news that the Nile crocodile is here in our state? Not. Good. News.

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We didn't spot on an any actual "sausages" on the tree in front of us, but all of us found the idea of this tree trés amusing.

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Rob loved that the parrots and other birds were right up close and touchable in their environment here.

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We attempted to feed the large koi in the ponds, but they seemed not to be terribly hungry.

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Being a Miami Hurricane, I have a special place in my heart for our mascot, the ibis.

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The dorsal sides of my four favorite people in the world

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We crossed paths with quite a few large iguanas.

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Sophia loves birds and declares frequently that she wants to keep a parrot when she's older. My friend Cyndi has promised her an African Gray at some point!

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I could just watch my children all day. I suspect many mothers feel this way about their babies.

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Reptiles doing what reptiles will: basking in the sunlight

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The highlight of our last visit, certainly, was something few people will ever experience in their lives: hands-on action with rare Black and White, and Red-Ruffed, Lemurs from Madagascar. We had one more ticket for Robert to go into their habitat, which is why I felt it was imperative not to waste our season passes!

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Rob sitting, waiting for the lemurs to come out of their cage, reminded me of when we'd be sleeping and the Littles would wake up early in the morning. Especially on Christmas. Holy cow.

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Rob seemed to love the lemur experience as much as the rest of is did. Also, he kept talking about how he was scent-marked by one for the rest of the day.

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The rare, exotic jungle bunny

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A rare, exotic smile from Jack

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We also thoroughly enjoyed the bird show at Jungle Island, so we made sure to take Daddy to see that yesterday, also.

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This little guy was hoisting the American flag, to thunderous applause.

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A few of the birds who visited us at the show in the Parrot Bowl

Camera Uploads

My friend, here, came right up close to me in his cage and let me take about a dozen pictures, mere inches from his red head.

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Just like last time we visited, the 'roos were pretty hot and lethargic, doing not much more than lying around in the shade. I didn't blame them, as I was starting to overheat, myself.

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I was able to get a few close-ups with this kangaroo before we left, however, and I wish we'd had the opportunity to see some boxing. No one volunteered to be a target, surprisingly!

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Languid large leopard, and a liger

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As we exited the park, before I passed out from heat exhaustion, we were greeted by this beautiful flamingo-filled scene.

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If you're an animal lover like all of Team Odette are, Jungle Island in Miami is a must-see. It's an experience you won't soon forget.


Wordless Wednesday: Heritage Horse Show

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Day One

This past weekend, Sophia entered her first equestrian show in Plantation, Florida. We arrived around 0745 on Saturday for her first five classes in the Hunters division for Beginning Crossrails.

[Yeah, yeah, this entry is supposed to be "wordless," but rules were made to be broken.]

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The tent where Sophie's stable, Miami International Riding Club, was situated

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Sophie's instructor, Daniela, tying her back number around her show coat.

[She was #398.]

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Almost ready to start warming up

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After a few canters around the warm-up arena, Sophie was ready for her first Beginning Crossrails Flats class.

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Anne-Marie and Meghan letting Sophie and Buddy out of the warm-up arena

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Sophia and Buddy waiting with Meghan, Anne-Marie, Delfina, and Dani

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Waiting to be judged in Beginning Crossrails - Flats

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Next up, Sophie entered the Beginning Crossrails jumping portion of Hunters.

Heritage Horse Show

Sophia and Dani hugging it out after the Medals class

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Waiting with Anne-Marie to find out her standings in the five classes of Hunters she entered on Day One

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No matter what, Sophie was thrilled to have been at her first horse show!

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For Day One, Sophia received two 6ths and a 7th place!

~ ☼ ~ ☼ ~

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Day Two

Sophia watching while Anne-Marie tacks up Buddy

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Dani making sure the stirrup lengths are just right for Sophie

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Remember, Sophia: Heels Down!!

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Walking Buddy, flanked by Daniela and Anne-Marie, to warm up before her next five classes

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After a great warm-up in the practice arena, Sophia and Buddy were ready.

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Pats and smiles for Buddy

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I could tell Sophia was nervous for her second day, but she was all smiles just before entering the Hunters arena.

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She and Buddy took a 5th Place ribbon in the Flats portion of her morning.

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For enormous Buddy, Beginning Crossrails isn't much more than a step over the jump!

Sophia at Heritage Horse Show from Melanie Odette on Vimeo

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Look at that ginormous grin, greeting Dani for the first time after riding her Medals class! She knew that ride felt great.

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Anne-Marie giving Sophia a huge hug after Sophie learned she took 2nd place (Reserve Champion) in the medals class on Day Two. There were definitely tears for Sophia!

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Letting Buddy-Budster graze in the grass after an amazing morning

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Sophie rigged up her ribbon and medal after we arrived at home. [Missing: an 8th Place brown ribbon]

~ ☼ ~ ☼ ~

Feeling Wordless (or, well, not) today? Be sure and link up with 5 Minutes For Mom here to share your photos with the rest of us!

Thanks for stopping by!


Wordless Wednesday: Sophia's First Equestrian Show


So I'm not quite going to be "wordless" today, because I never am. You guys know.

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Our Sophia, 11, has been taking horse riding lessons at Miami International Riding Club for eight months. This weekend, she will be exhibiting her skills at her first equestrian show. The first things she needed were some bows! These were just the beginning; when I say that I got to work making bows, I got to work, y'all!

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Sophia takes English riding lessons, and she will be riding Hunters on Saturday and Sunday. We finally pulled her show clothes together, with some help from friends, and... ta-da!


Sophia and Anne-Marie, one of the showjumping instructors at Miami International Riding Club

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For the first time, Sophie riding Buddy in her show clothes:

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She's looking beautiful for her first show, no? Dani, her team instructor, Anne-Marie, and Celia at MIRC: We hope to make you proud, no matter the outcome!

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Rob and Sophie giving a little lovin' to Argentina on the way out of the stables Tuesday

Feeling a little wordless - or like me, eh, somewhat more verbose - today? Make sure you link up with Create With Joy this week! She's sharing a wonderful set of photos of her Maine Coon cat, Magellan, and a fun new habitat we might join her in making for our Maine Coon, Pepper, too! (Or Muffin, or Sugarplum, or Henry...)

See you 'round the Interwebs.


Wordless Wednesday: Pinto's Farm Visit

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This week, I'm going to be posting pictures from our trip to Pinto's Farm, here in Homestead, Florida, in the agricultural area known as the Redlands. We went for an Easter weekend about 10 days ago, and I've been sadly behind in blogging about it (and in general). There are a TON of photos, so feel free to skim as I plan on letting them (mostly) speak for themselves!

Feeling Wordless today, too? Link up HERE with 5 Minutes For Mom!

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Needless to say, we had quite a bit of fun! Thanks for stopping by!


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?

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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!


January '16 Wrap-Up


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

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

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

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

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

Whew. Anyway!

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


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


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


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


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

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


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

January 2016

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


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


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



Sophia walking Buddy to get saddled up


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

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



It looks so freeing...


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


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



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


But, they're fixable.


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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


Kitchen Sink Mashed Potatoes

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


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

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Southwestern Chili Mac


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


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


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


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


Plátanos fritos

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


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


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

January 2016-001

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

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

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

Whew. Now I'm getting hungry!



Random January blooms in the neighborhood


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


Here, leezard, leezard... 

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

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

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

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


If You're Going To Celebrate New Year's Eve on South Beach...

...Here Are Ten Things You Should Know:


  1. Arrive early. Parking is US$40 for the night pretty much everywhere on Miami's South Beach, but we got there before sundown, got pretty stellar parking around 13th Street and Washington Ave, and had that $40 spread over about seven hours. For SoBe, that's not too bad and takes the OUCH! out of it, when you do the per-hour breakdown. Also, as you can tell from this picture, I didn't prep properly. I had planned to take the kids to the beach there that afternoon, but I didn't plan for myself to go, too! Duh. So I got a million strange looks from the other beach-goers when I showed up dressed to the nines, but my whole "F-ck it!" attitude for the night - which is what I hope will carry into 2016 and beyond - got me through the would-be embarrassment. Whew.


2. Bring the kids. YES! Bring. The. Kids. (Or take them, whatever. I'm pretty freakin' awesome at obeying most English grammar rules, but the bring/take ones always mess with my ever-weakening braining skills.) Especially if you follow the first point noted above, your kids will have a blast at their SoBe NYE celebration. They can spend several daylight hours jumping in and out of warm winter waves, but when darkness rolls in, as you'll see below, there's plenty more fun for children to have, without interfering in responsible parents' amusements. If this is the one-and-only chance you have at celebrating this occasion at the world's #3 New Year's Eve destination, I vote hands-down for a "YES!" in the bring-them-or-leave them-home debate. (Of course, if I had left mine at home, the responsible parent in me might be writing a whole 'nother post, but maybe we'll save that for when they are older and don't declare partying with Mom and Dad their "Best Night EVER!" y'know?).


3. Take those damn selfies. I don't care whether you post them all over Instagram with the connect-thru to Facebook and Twitter, and later all over your own blahg, like I did, or if you are more of a Social Media Bah Humbug, but take them anyway. If you're an Interwebs Whore Lover like I am, your friends will at least pretend to enjoy seeing each others' festivities on such a hugely-shared date, as much as you (I don't pretend, so I won't write that) will enjoy seeing theirs for all 24 hours of the change! If you are more private about life (no, you cannot ever claim that I wasn't an open book!), you and your dear ones will definitely cherish these memories.


3. Wear whatever you want. Seriously, this is important. I selected three dresses from my closet and had Hubs pick the one I should wear. I had never worn any of them out in public, ever. I ended up rejecting Dress One, because the shoulder straps were all-satin and kept slipping all the way down, and you know what? My girls have nursed three children past their first birthdays and just need more support than that! I rejected Dress Two for that same reason - HELLO, clothing designer people, at least put a stopper on that strap-adjuster thingamajig! Dress Three was the one I truly wanted to wear anyway, and not just because it's bright red (it's kind of my signature color) and showcases the afore-mentioned 'girls' in a pretty fantastic way (and wasn't made in China...). I told Hubs I wanted the word to described how I looked to be "AMAZING" when I put it on. And it was! I rocked a size 5, sexy, kinda skimpy dress out in public for possibly my life's biggest audience, and the whole time until this morning (and by that I mean 5 PM on New Year's Day, y'all), I thought I was wearing a size 8. Hello, my head is for once bigger than my butt. 

After the dress fitting, I won't even go into how long it took me to choose the right undergarments, the perfect f***-me heels, the shades of make-up... it's exhausting, ladies, am I right? Rob just wore what he wanted, despite my nitpicking, and the kids did the same. In the end, I enjoyed wearing the dress, and nobody gave me an ugly glance about it, but I also would not have been completely out of place had I worn flip-flops and a tank with jeans. So. Don't over-stress. It's South Florida, after all, where the dress code is always "come as you are."


4. Don't forget your wallet. South Beach is not cheap on all the other days of the year, but when a humongously huge event hits the Oceanfront, expect to pay through the nose. I already told you about the quadruple jump in even the cheapest parking. Did you want to stay a while and maybe eat or drink? Expect to have at least a few Benjamins on hand that you don't mind parting with, or else stay home. I mean, you could always pack a picnic lunch and walk more than the three blocks we did to get to the main stage (Hubs is disabled), which would always be more economical when it's a possibility. But especially if you're bringing your offspring, there are bound to be unexpected expenses.

After parking and going to the beach, at 1820 (6:20 PM for you non-military 'Mericans) we went to a certain restaurant I won't name here that was just terrible throughout the visit, and this was during Happy Hour when all menu prices were supposed to be half-price. For a meal for five, including just water for the kids and my husband's constant habit of picking the least pricey thing on the menu (despite my also-constant urging him to eat what you want), they wanted us say adieu to US$200. After my calculations, I expected half of that. My grandma taught me to ALWAYS CHECK THE RECEIPT, everywhere I go, and I caught that not only did they charge us double without the supposed half-priced Happy Hour specials, they also charged us for TWO of Sophie's cheeseburgers when the first one they served her was burnt on the outside and raw on the inside! Are you kidding me?! Our bill was cut in half after the absentee server FINALLY came over and asked why I was shouting; I wondered why he didn't mentioned the colorful language I was also using?! Not only did the final US$103.xy check not eliminate some of the doubled charges, but this restaurant also had the enormous balls to charge us an automatic gratuity! For the first time in my life, I stiffed them on the check - but only by one-sixth of the $18 "tip" charges, and only because all I had were five $20 bills, didn't want to wait even longer for change, and did not want this bleeping restaurant to have our credit card information! (If you want the name of this particular restaurant, please let me know in the comments. I'm happy to share. ;P) )

After parking and the sucktastic dinner experience, we decided to make our way down Ocean Drive from the 1300 block to 5th Street. I don't think we shed any further weight in our wallets other than shakes and cheese fries at Johnny Rockets ($42 and infinitely better than the eyeroll-inducing, sarcasm-filled dinner experience) and hitting up a side-street market for prepackaged frozen treats (I sound like a marketing survey) and a four-pack of wine cooler-sized bottles of some decidedly brut champagne (again $42 total, which was fine since it would otherwise have cost us about $100 per glass to toast in a restaurant at midnight). Sure, there were lots of ways we could have scrimped even more to save our precious pennies, but there were also a ridiculous abundance of ways that we could have gone flat-out crazy in racking up expenditures. If you wanted flashy New Year's Eve-themed swag to embellish your stylin' look, for instance, the glow-in-the-dark sunglasses were $20 per pair. After I put my bugged-out eyes back in my head, I decided to pass. If there's a next time, we'll hit up Oriental Trading ahead of time!


5. Use your phone camera's FLASH-ON setting. I don't like to use a flash, because I prefer natural lighting, but obviously in a setting like this, there is very little of it. And if it's the difference between a bad photo and a halfway decent picture, then go for it! Even if it means people blinked and you have to take several snaps, use the flash. I wish I had remembered that last night.

SoBe NYE-001

6. Visit Lummus Park. You guys. Whether you're helicopter parents who can't bear to take their eyes off their progeny for one second, a staunch crusader in the usage of "child-free" vs. "childless," thank-you-very-much, or somewhere betwixt those options like me, seriously, you should go to this park. Adults should experience the carefree, childlike joy of swinging on the swings by seaside moonlight at least once in their lives, and this is a gorgeous place in which to do just that. I have glorious memories of swinging with my University of Miami BFF, Kristal, almost 20 years ago there, and I doubt those will ever grow cobwebs in my mind.

Children, on the other hand, will have so much fun exploring and discovering. I don't just mean the swings, the slides, or the cool exercise area... but specifically on this one night of the year, they will also experience so much more. I don't know how much the rest of America, particularly in the more remote areas, realize what a multicultural jackpot Miami is, but the rest of the world seems to know it if they do not. While hanging out for about two mostly uninterrupted hours on this giant tire swing, they made many friends. I recall Sophia and Chloë breathlessly telling me, running to and from the area, that they had met new folks from Australia, England, Italy, India, Brazil, and distant parts of the US. In two hours! (Jack was too busy playing there to visit Mom and Dad unless we signaled him over.) If only our phones weren't nearly dead and I hadn't brought the tiny clutch that certainly didn't hold pen or paper, they might have a novel set of pen pals.


7. Dismiss your expectations. Oh, my gosh, whoever said, "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas" might never have been to South Beach! You will see things you never imagined equally as often as you'll observe the more everyday stuff. Certainly if you have your kids with you, you'll want to know that we had a drug deal go down directly adjacent to us from where we were sitting on the brick wall separating Lummus Park from the extra-wide sidewalk, along with the tremendously skunky smell that permeated the air. Definitely if you're anti-smoking like I am, you'll think to yourself about 900 times throughout the evening, "How do THIS MANY people STILL smoke tobacco?!!" And of course, if you're more conservative-leaning and do not want your young folk to be exposed to things like open homosexuality ("Ralph, look at that! Tsk-tsk, they're holding hands!") and other walks of life being the norm, then maybe this isn't the place for you. (Psst: Don't go to Key West, either.)

On the other hand, if you are more progressive leaning, I promise you're in for the people-watching of a lifetime. And your kids will blossom in front of your eyes. Sure, their vocabularies might expand, but probably so will more of their other abilities. Take the chance and find out. For example, Sophia had never been exposed to one of these boxing heavy bags, to my knowledge. But when she started punching and kicking it, I was a little bit awed! For reals. I didn't know she could kick that high! I didn't know she had those muscles there! I didn't know she had that much stamina! The feeling, as a mother, was amazeballs. And that is just the beginning...


 8. Strike a pose. Oh, wait, I already gave you the "take selfies" advice, and this point may seem quite like that. But taking it was fun, and I look kind of hot for once in this photo with Chloë, and it was really meaningful to me to play like I felt good about myself in Model Mecca of the Universe. So really, this advice is more like I'm saying to you, let your inhibitions about yourself go - whether or not a drop of 50-proof alcohol is involved - and enjoy the moment. No, enjoy all the moments. Not just this one night in this one place, but every living minute you are alive. For my younger audience (I can say that, because this is the year I turn - gasp! - 40 years old), this may be my most important take-away message. What other people think about you doesn't matter. The ONLY people whose opinions of you matter are either the ones who drove, flew, or rowed with you to South Beach in the first place, or if you might have taken an Über ride, they might be the people you miss the most on Christmas, I dunno. Clearly, your own self-image matters the most. You know what? I have a billion what-if? messages that I send to myself the same number of times per day, but what if I had actually said and done things the "right" way? So what. I didn't. Shit happens. I'm letting it go and now, letting things flow. Because I am old enough to love myself enough to do, say, and freaking feel the way I do. And that, my friends, is what this picture represents to me.

(P.S. I totally got carded when I bought that champagne. Perhaps the dude was just humoring me, but he was also eyeing me and hitting on me, so I am still allowed to be flattered!)


9. Don't crop your photos in the editing room. If you're like me, as I suspect many women and a lot of men might be, you dwell on your negative aspects and completely miss out on the positives. I have been told time and time again, specifically by men, that I need to stop that! So do you. I spend so much time apologizing for my supposed flubs and flaws instead of having more meaningful things to say, or listening more, or sharing significant silences. I crop out so many of my pictures, if I haven't deleted them entirely, instead of realizing how beautiful some of them, or their parts, are. In the photo above, I did not crop out Chloë's bottom half, because in my mind she is physically perfect, as are all my children, don'tcha know - but my own. I don't like my legs. I don't like my belly. I don't like those flappy-fish arms of mine. But those legs have carried me around on so many important wifely and motherly - and yes, selfly - duties. And that belly carried and birthed four beautiful children in just 3½ years. And those arms carried those babies around until they could walk, and held their hands after they learned to go on their own two feet, and reached out to hug wherever hugs were necessary. So I need to cut myself some damn slack once in a while and show off those parts of me of which I should be more proud. Right?

For more on this subject, read this article I spotted while writing this post (ignoring the obvious complaints about that grabber of an opening picture, please).



10. Use the good camera, and take lots of pictures. No, I don't live my life behind the camera lens instead of experiencing it firsthand. As I hope you can tell from this post, I love both! I debated, not for the first but more like the hundredth time this month, whether or not to carry along my Nikon D5100 and accoutrement, which is basically just a starter dSLR. Even if it was just a small point-and-shoot camera (at least one of the newer ones), the pictures probably would have been a huge improvement over my awesome Samsung Galaxy S5's photos. lolz... Listen. I'm just an amateur when it comes to my photography skillz, but I learn more with every picture I take. Not just about lighting, magic hour, and angles, but certainly those, too. I also learn behind the lens about my kids' strengths I hadn't yet witnessed myself, I learn to take time and do things right instead of always being the first one to jump in or stop doing something I'm having trouble with or don't enjoy fully at first, and I learn to let go and let my kids handle the spendy camera once in a while to take pictures that may just stop my breath for a moment in time. Those are all good lessons for a parent to learn. So sling that camera bag strap over your shoulder and walk along, without stressing about sand or water. You'll thank me when your phone's battery drops to 5%.

What lessons learned from 2015 can you share with me? What lessons do you have yet to learn in 2016 or beyond? Drop me a comment and let me know!




Related articles:

Wordless Wednesday: Sophie's Sumi-e Ink Wash Painting
Saturday 9: Stop! In The Name Of Love
Sundays In My City: Random Snaps
Sunday Stealing: Let's Not Be Difficult Meme
saturday 9: Bubbly
Random Snaps And Schtuff
Sunday Stealing: The 17 Meme
Sunday Stealing: Reflections On New Year's Eve
Wordless Wednesday: Vacation Days
New Year's Eve flights from $30 round-trip with Frontier Airlines

Wordless Wedneday:


{Delicious food we ate at 15th St. Fisheries Restaurant in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for an early 15th-anniversary dinner recently. Scrumptious!}

Wordless today, too? Link up here with 5 Minutes For Mom for more photographic fun!


Sunday Stealing: Why Do You Want To Know That?!

Link up here if you're stealing along with the rest of us today!


List 5 things you want to do before the year ends:

  1. a. Bake Christmas cookies with my family,

b. Go to Christmas Eve candlelight services together,

c. Get our veritable mountain of laundry washed, dried, folded and put away for once,

d. Get everyone's Christmas presents wrapped, and

Buy more groceries and make sure we use up these ^^^ veggies & tilapia from the farm where we get our weekly CSA shares!

  1. What color are your pants?


They're a bit more red than in this picture, but cherry red not tomato red, on top, and black on the rest.

Favorite motivational quote:


I have this posted on my wall, here in my little office area of the living room. Whenever I'm feeling like poo, I look up at it and remind myself to BE the good, etc.

When was the last time you drank coffee?

  1.  Last night, Chloë and I made a run to Starbucks. She ordered a Java Chip Frappuccino, I ordered an Egg Nog Frapp "Light" with Coconut Milk (minimal dairy for me), and I brought home a Café Mocha for Rob. Technically, I don't think there was any coffee in mine, but I probably had some earlier in the day... maybe?

    What was the last thing you ate?
  2. I've been eating a lot of ice chips lately, so that was the last solid "food" I consumed. I'm not eating much else aside from the ice! It took me a few days to realize I probably have Pica from being extremely anemic. :\
  3. Favorite animal:

So, my favorite overall animal is of the sea: Shortfin Mako Shark.

  1. My favorite land animal is the African Elephant.

    1. And my favorite animal of flight is the soaring Bald Eagle.

      Favorite song:

  1. "Near You Always" by Jewel - though I adore that entire album!

    Last movie you watched?
  2. Well, I rented five movies (for FREE!) from the Redbox last night, but we only managed to get two watched (Paper Towns and Shaun The Sheep), but the one I'm really looking forward to watching today is the newer Vacation movie! Yes, I'm totally allowing my kids to watch it. C'mon, it'll be fun..! ;)

    Any turn-ons?

Nicole nailed it - in that order, too!

  1. Any turn-offs?
  2. Arrogance, lack of sense of humor, and stupidity are my major turn-offs.

    List 4 big words off of the top of your head.
  3. Okay... extraneous, superfluous, garrulous, expediency
  4. What are some meaningful movies?
  5. Jodie Foster in The Accused, and

Gabourey Sidibe in Precious really meant a lot to me.

  1. The two most important people in your life right now?
  1. 20151201_183107
  2. IMG_20151203_043657
  3. No. I cannot do just two. It's these four folks: Rob, Jack, Chloë, and Sophia. They are my life!

    What are 3 things you want for Christmas?
  4. I really, really want the Cards Against Humanity game!

  1. THIS new printer, which Rob already gave me, because I desperately needed it, and

  1. OF COURSE I want peace on Earth. Please, please, please, let there be peace.

    When was the last time you read a good book?
  2. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Book 1 The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto: A Novel Gulliver's Travels: A Signature Performance by David Hyde Pierce A Confederacy of Dunces Boo: A Novel
  3. These are the five books I just purchased from Audible. I hope I have time to listen to all of them in the next few months!

    What was the last thing you studied?
  4. I studied the ecological and functional morphology of the pharyngeal jaw apparatus of elasmobranch fishes, with this guy:

  1. Dr. Philip J. Motta, at the University of South Florida in Tampa.
    Do you have any nicknames?
  3. Aside from Smellyann? It's pretty much "Mom," or "Honey."

    Favorite kind of perfume?
  4. It changes. Right now, I'm really digging my JAFRA blends, which have some fruity elements, a little bit of floral, and a little bit of ... allure. I can mix and match which one(s) I use, depending on my mood. Love them!

    Do you have any international friends / friends who live out of state?

Yes, of course I have tons of friends (and family) from out-of-state, but I also have lots of international friends. Some of them, I have never even met. I'm hoping to meet Pammy, here, in the next few months. I have "known" her since 2004. She lives in Canada; I shall have to pack warm!

  1. 20. What is something unique that you do every single day?

I'm in a lot of pain these days, so I am trying to do gentle yoga as much as possible. Sometimes, it's a simple stretch or two. Other times, when I'm having a better day, I get more active. But I have a ways to go before I look this beautiful whilst doing it!

  1. If there was a movie based on your life, what would it be called?
  2. It would be called Does That Make Me Crazy?

  3. When was the last time you bought a gift for someone?
  5. I bought a drift fishing trip for Rob and Jack for Christmas, last. Shhh, don't tell Jack!

    Are you a shopaholic?
  6. In-store, not so much, but online... I have to be careful!

    What are some songs that always make you feel better?

The #1 song to get me in a good mood, up and dancing on my feet is "Kiss" by Prince. Guaranteed.


Thanks for stopping by!


Sunday Stealing: Would You Rather Meme

Are you stealing today, too? If you want to join in with us, the link is here!

Cheers to all of us thieves!!!  

Would You Rather Meme

Stolen from: Would Your Rather


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

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


Would you rather be too hot or too cold? 

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


Would you rather have a cook or a maid? 

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


Would you rather be the youngest or the oldest sibling?

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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


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


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

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


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

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


Would you rather have nosy neighbors or noisy neighbors? 

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


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

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


Would you rather be too busy or be bored?

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


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


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


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

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


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


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

Thanks for stopping by!


Wordless Wednesday: Jack's Morning Swim


We stayed at the Element hotel in Doral, Miami, last night. Jack was up early, so I took him to the pool for a swim. I played with my camera settings a lot during that outing, so here's what I got!


















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Sunday Stealing: Swiped Meme

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

Swiped Meme

Stolen from: Love Me Some Surveys


1. Did someone die in the last movie you watched?


Close, but no cigar. We rented Tomorrowland on DVD at the Redbox last night, and it was just as fantastic as it was during opening week at the theater. It's going on my short list of all-time favorites!

2. Are the trees pretty colors outside for you?

If you count green as a pretty color, which I do, then yes. Miami in the house!

3. Have you ever made a bad first impression on someone's parents?


Yeah. Mine.

Seriously, though, all the time! I'm bipolar and am a difficult patient to medicate, y'know? I try, though. I try, and I really do care.

4. When's the last time you video recorded something on TV?


Haaaaa, I know! I Video-recorded off the TV? What am I, [almost] 40? Oh wait, yes.

5. What is a career you wanted to have when you were younger, and still kind of want to have now? 

marine biology quotes | Not-so-funny-but-true Marine Biology "Humor":

A brief career history:

Kid: wanted to be a marine biologist

Teen: wanted to be a marine biologist

17-20 years: studied Marine Biology

20-24: was a marine biologist, working on Ph.D.

rest of life so far: quit pH.D. program, eloped, had a baby a few nanoseconds eight months later, then three more, Mom ever since, still miss being a marine biologist

6. What are your views on sunflowers?

We see them being sold - along with all kinds of other blooms - on the side of the road here all the time. I once got a bunch of bigguns for, like, three dollars = one of the awesomest things about living in South Florida.

7. What is your favorite incense or candle scent?

I like anything fruity, especially citrus and apples. I can't stand floral, pine, and vanilla scents. Seriously, they give me a migraine.

8. Caramel apples or candy apples?

Hey, thanks for this question. I've missed a lot of things since I had my gastric bypass and can't eat anything with too much fat or sugar ever since, but I never cared much for either of these. So there's that.

9.  Have you ever walked into a wall?


(Watch the guy behind Mr. Reporter, in the red shirt)

I have been a klutz my entire life. This is my specialty. It's an innate talent, don't be jealous. #HatersGonnaHate

10. Would you ever or do you make your dog wear a bandanna?




Of course. It was my furparental obligation, wasn't it?

11. Do you find dandelions when they're gone all-white pretty?


Yard work was the most frequent demand - and therefore the bane - of my childhood existence. I pulled more weeds than I have hairs on my head. And still, I forgot about this when I willingly made a wish and blew on the seed my 10yo daughter, Sophia, held out to me recently. And then I wanted to duck and hide after I remembered, in case someone was watching.

12. What makes you laugh?


Hubs. Rob makes me laugh day in and day out. He makes me angry, too, but then often while I'm pissed off, he does something hilarious to draw me out of that anger. I him so much for that!

13. The scariest moment of your life?


This is my "Twin B." When my identical sons were born in 2003, Robert William  - aka "Twin A" - suffered through four holes bursting out his lungs, countless medical interventions, and some heroic measures for which we had to give his neonatologists specific written permission. He finally succumbed to heart failure and lung collapse, caused by severe hydrops fetalis from acute Twin-Twin Transfusion Syndrome, on the third day after birth. It was a devastation unlike any other in my life.

A week or so later, I visited tiny 3-lb Jack River - aka Twin B, here - in the NICU. I was holding him and giving him a bottle of expressed breastmilk when suddenly he stopped breathing and turned several shades of blue. I screamed for help before gently (but truly) throwing him back into his incubator and bolting from the unit. He's 12 years old now, but he's still an itty bitty peanut. And every time he swallows wrong and splutters to fix it, for example, I feel that same terror well up in me. I can't lose him, too.

14. What’s the coolest thing you’ve bought lately?

I have enough trouble keeping milk in my kids' tummies after all the road trips we've taken lately, let alone buy cool things. But if I owned this celly case, I'd never get anything done, that's fo'shizzle.

15. What’s the worst you’ve had to do because of losing a bet? 

I never take a bet I know I won't win! I may be crazy, but I ain't stupid.

Thanks for stopping by!


Saturday 9: Beyond The Sea

Link up here if you're playing along today!

Saturday 9: Beyond the Sea (1959)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.
1) This song mentions golden sands. When do you think you'll next visit the beach?
We were there on Monday, at the little laguna beach near our home. The kids wanted to swim after we did a photo shoot for our 2015 Christmas cards, but the beach was closed. My kids dubbed the place, Homestead Bayfront Park, "Remora Beach" after our first visit, when a remora (aka "shark sucker") visited me for quite a while. Anyway, I don't know when we'll go again, but probably once or twice before the year ends.

2) Shortly after "Beyond the Sea" hit the charts, Bobby Darin met and married movie sweetheart Sandra Dee. Her squeaky-clean image is spoofed in the song, "Look at Me, I'm Sandra Dee," from Grease. Can you name another song from Grease?
Ermagerd, you're talking about one of my favorite films! I can name them all! My favorite one is when Olivia Newton-John sings "Hopelessly Devoted to You." I've sung that song after many a heartache!
3) Years earlier, Bobby had an ill-fated romance with singer Connie Francis. According to Ms. Francis, Darin wanted to marry her, but her father forbade it. Have you ever had a relationship that your parents disapproved of?
Pffft. All but the first one and the last one, really! I'm completely colorblind when I date, but my WASP father is most decidedly not. And vocal about it. Ugh. It damn near annoys the crap out of me that he "approves" of my marriage.

4) Bobby was a Renaissance man: Grammy-winning singer, Oscar-nominated actor, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and an excellent chess player. Are you good at chess?
It's on my Bucket List to learn, because I have never done so. I have to soon, though, because my 7-year-old nephew, Harrison, challenged me to a chess game the next time I'm in Missouri to see him!

5) A car buff, he drove a 1960 custom car that was so unique and spectacular, it's now in a Detroit museum. The bright red paint was mixed with ground diamonds to ensure that it sparkled in the sun. Each of the four bucket seats had its own AC/heat control and radio speaker. The steering wheel was slightly squared for easier handling. What features would your dream car have?
I'll take a red Mazda Miata convertible, please. Done.
6) Beyond the Sea is also the name of the 2004 screen biography in which Kevin Spacey played Bobby Darin. Who would you choose to play you in the story of your life?
Right now, I'd pick Jennifer Lawrence, at least for my younger adult years. She's stunningly beautiful (har har, like I am), and she emotes perfectly. I'm very emotive, y'all.

7) When he was just 8 years old, Bobby Darin was stricken with rheumatic fever, and the disease left him with a dangerously weakened heart. Did you spend much time in the hospital when you were a kid?
Not a day after my birth. I probably should have, but I was raised as a Christian Scientist. No doctors. 

8) In 1959, when "Beyond the Sea" was popular, Alaska became our 49th state. What comes to mind when you think of Alaska?
Cold. Beautiful scenery, with the icebergs charging out of crystal waters. Land of the Midnight Sun.
9) In 1959, Conair introduced the first hair dryer developed for home use. Is there a hair dryer in your bathroom right now?
There should be, but Sophia, my ten-year-old daughter who inspired our family phrase for those household occurrences which might otherwise seam inexplicable "Because Sophie," probably never put it back after using it for an art project...
And thus we close. Thanks for the visit!

Road Trippin': Miami To Missouri


Earlier this month, we spent about ten days on the road to Missouri and back. From here in Homestead, Florida, it's a two-day drive. Since I have been really unwell lately, I allotted 2½ days on either end, and it worked out perfectly that way. 

Rob's mother and brother live in Missouri still, and Rob's dad drove down from Michigan to see us, too. We and Mike (Hubs' bro) and all five of our joint kids spent a full Sunday together. Here is our Sophia, aged 10 (on the right), with Elizabeth, Mike's 9-year-old daughter. She looks a lot like her mom, but you can still definitely see the Odette in her!


This picture of 12-year-old Jack getting a good-bye hug from his nearly 8-year-old cousin, Harrison, just breaks my heart. Seriously. I could sob every time I look at it. My kids have wonderful relatives, but they are all far, far away.


Well, hello, locust bits..! cringe

Missouri Trip

Another day, Rob's mom took us to Kehde's Barbecue in Sedalia, where there was so much eye candy everywhere we looked. I had as much as the Littles, and of course even 14-year-old Chloë had to get on the mechanical horse. Truthfully, I tooted that whistle a time or two myself, so who's to talk? The food was wonderful, too. Great fun!


There was a lot of talking going on amongst the adults, but when Chloë told me to look over at where she and Jack were playing with the blocks from a game of Jenga, I was thrilled at what I saw. Genetics is one of my favorite parts of all Biology, so to find them making DNA was pretty dang cool for this homeschooling mom.


We headed out after our time was up in Missouri, tempted to visit Mike (and maybe the kids?) again in Columbia, MO, on our way out of the state. However, Mike is chef and part-owner of a wonderful restaurant there, Sycamore, and we didn't want to interfere with his many duties. I know we all would have liked one more hello, hug, and so long for now from Uncle Mike, but... Rob opted to just keep going.

So here are the girls shivering it up at a rest stop in Tennessee. We had bought all their non-Miami clothing at Osh Kosh here - the day we left town! - and I'm glad we did. They would have frozen to death if we had not. (Another plug for the gals, Vivian and Idalia at the OKBG outlet near here in Florida City, because their personalized customer service was outstanding!)

I'm so glad we were able to go!


In Which My Kids Are So Adorable, I Can't Stand It

I know. As the person who, you know, they inhabited for 7-8 months (36 weeks, 31 weeks, and 38½ weeks, respectively), I may just be a little bit biased. But I think that my children are adorbs and quite photogenic!

All of their visible clothes came from Osh Kosh B'gosh, which I love. We get great customer service from our local outlet center store reps, but I am simply a happy customer. This is not a sponsored post. Shout out to Vivian and Idalia from Florida City's store!)

Anyway, I got started on their Christmas/Holiday 2015 portraits a bit earlier than usual this year. Why? Because (a) I had a significant amount of OKB rewards to use up and didn't want to miss having access to the clothes represented here when I saw them a few weeks ago in the store, and (b) the codes for great deals on photo Christmas cards are coming out earlier than usual. So there is that.

Anyway, without further ado, here are some of their photos. I'm not a trained photographer, just a hobbyist, so be nice to me, please! ;)


Christmas 2015 Card Portraits


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Why yes, 14-year-old Chloë can be that sassy in her attitude at all times at home. And so it begins...

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Meanwhile, Sophia, who is only 10, wants to be a little kid and a teenager at the same time, sometimes within the same hour, so we are definitely IN for it with these kiddos! Haha!

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This is the lone picture of Jack I could get that day, because he does not like to be photographed. He just doesn't cooperate when he is DONE, and he was done before we got started. So, I knew we would need another outing of the Christmas outfits to get my trio together. Fast-forward two days to last night at Homestead Bayfront Park.

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The only thing worse for Jack than being photographed is being photographed having his sisters loving on him. Oh, my!

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See what I mean?! Still, this is one of my favorite photos. Silly boy.

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We moved to the water, to make use of the natural lighting and photography's "Magic Hour" at sunset. I did my best not to enhance the photos at all.


When I told the children they were nearly finished with our little photo shoot, they did not need any encouragement when asked to jump for joy! Heh.


This unexpected gem was Sophia's idea, who did that and called me as I was turning away, saying, "Mama! Mamaaaa, look!" I asked the other two kids to do the same thing, and I love how it turned out!

I hope you enjoyed the pictures. Which will I choose for our cards? HALP a mama out!

Thanks for stopping by!