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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 ā€“ 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 Chloƫ 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: Wagon Wheel

Wagon Wheel - Piano Vocal | Hal Leonard

Hey everyone. I'm in a low-key kind of mood today, so I don't have a lot of preliminary verbiage for you. I can say this: it has been a WEEK!!! Full of thingssss. So I'm glad today is a bit more restful, even if again it means I'm the last one to this party.

Today's S9 is going to be about "Wagon Wheel" and its performer, Darius Rucker...  yes, formerly known as Hootie from the Blowfish fame. He was a cutie then, he's a cutie now, and Hootie will always be a cutie. Link up here if you want to play along this week or visit the other entrants.

And away we go:


Saturday 9: Wagon Wheel (2013)

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

1) This week, Darius Rucker sings about hitching a ride to reach his lady love. Have you ever thumbed a ride?
I have not. But I have picked up people who have - twice, I think.
2) Along the way, he loses his money in a poker game. Successful poker players are good at bluffing, or misleading others about about their cards. Are you good at bluffing, whether at cards or in life?
I'm really not. I cry and/or giggle a lot. I'm a terrible liar. I can't look at your face if I know I'm going to lie, and there, there's my tell.
3) Darius began has career as the lead singer of 90s soft-rock band Hootie and the Blowfish. Today he's a country singer. Let's say you're stuck in traffic and only one radio station comes in clearly. Would you prefer it play soft rock or country?
No Country? No Kidding
Then I'll be picking soft rock all day long, please.
4) Darius Rucker will be on tour throughout 2023, playing dates all over the country and making a couple stops in Cancun. Have you ever visited Mexico? If so, where did you go?

Map of Mexico - GIS Geography
Yes, in Y2K, I went to Cancun with my grandfather and other family, and in 2014 I went to a resort near Oaxaca with my husband. So beautiful (where we were).
5) Darius has lent his talents to fundraising for The First Tee, a non-profit that teaches children "life lessons, self-confidence, and resilience through golf." Did you participate in organized sports as a youngster? If yes, what did you play?
Not really.  But I was a dancer, and a good one at that. I was given opportunities, and I took them. All up until I turned 15, when my stepmother informed me that I wasn't worth the cost of the lessons anymore and took me out.

6) A big sports fan, he has six TVs in his home so he can watch several games at once. His largest set is 70". When it comes to TV screens, do you believe bigger is better? Or are you just as comfortable watching from your laptop or phone?
I'd rather watch it on a big screen, too, so there's the chance I don't have to put my glasses on! (The weight of them gives me a headache.)
7) In 2013, when "Wagon Wheel" was popular, fans were flocking to the movie theater to see Catching Fire, the second in the Hunger Games series. Are you a Hunger Games fan?


YES!!! HUGE fan!
8) Also in 2013, the word "selfie" was added to the Oxford Dictionary. Do you take a lot of selfies?
03042023 Selfie
Yeah, probably an embarrassing amount, given my age!

9) Random question: If we paid you $5,000, would you get Saturday 9 tattooed on your right forearm?
Definitely would. That would put in the patio I want for the backyard!
Aww, now I'm yearning for a patio all over again. I hope we figure something out this summer, because I'm longing to get started on our whole vision for our oasis back there. Plus, it'll just be "nice." Heh. Anyway, you guys have a great weekend.

Saturday 9: Birthday

Katy Perry By Katy Perry GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Hello, cyber friends of mine! I'm glad I 'made it' this week, because I adore this song, "Birthday," by Katy Perry. In fact, it made the short list of songs I played as a soundtrack for Hubs' birthday in...  must have been 2019?

And I love Katy. What's not to love?

So if you're ready to join us this week, you'll find the link here. Wouldn't it be fun if li'l ol me brought someone new into the mix? Sure it would! Go 'head, c'mon, join us!



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

1) In this song, Katy Perry sings that she wants to give her lover something good to celebrate every day. What is making you happy this fine Saturday?

8tracks radio | Smile, Sun is shining (12 songs) | free and music playlist

Well, the sun is shining, so that makes it a great start! I live for sunshine. It rained much of the last fortnight.

2) The video is all about baking a birthday cake. When did you most recently enjoy something home baked? Were you the baker?

01022021 20th Anniversary Smith Island cake b (1)

I think it would have had to be the beginning of January, when one of the things I gifted Hubs for our 20th wedding anniversary was a local favorite here: Smith Island Cake. I didn't bake it, of course, since we have entered our 7th month of living in a hotel (GAH!), but it was a local baker who did, not some chain. If that counts.

3) Tell us a memory from one of your birthdays.

03052021 Chloƫ with HP Hallmark minifigs

Hmm, well, let's see. For some reason I don't know, I wanted to be 25 before I had my first child. And then Hubs and I discovered we were gonna have a wedding night baby, according to my OB and her charts and calculations. She was due October 2nd. But she didn't want to be an October baby. She wanted to damn-near-share with Mom for her birthday. And so ChloĆ« arrived by emergency C-section on September 7th - the day before I turned 25. Little stinker! I'd wanted to go swimming that day - and I asked during the C-section, but the surgeon just laughed and said I couldn't. Wah!

4) This week's song shares nothing but the title with a Beatles song. (Here's a video of Paul McCartney performing it live.) Can you think of another title that's been used by more than one song?

Kris Kross - Jump on Make a GIF

How about "Jump" by both van Halen and Kriss Kross?

5) Similarly, this week's featured artist was born Kathryn Hudson and called Katy Hudson until she changed her name to Katy Perry to avoid confusion with the actress Kate Hudson. Have you ever met anyone else with your same name?

Melanie Logo | Name Logo Generator - Smoothie, Summer, Birthday, Kiddo,  Colors Style


Just about, yes! Of course, I've run into my share of "Melanie"s over the years, but as a kid, one of my stepsisters had a friend (who is now also my friend), whose mother was Melanie Simons - exactly mine, minus a second "m" in the surname.

6) Katy and actor Orlando Bloom became parents to a baby girl in 2020. Bloom is best known for his work in the Lord of the Rings and Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Are you a fan of either of those film series?

Katy Perry Says Orlando Bloom Is Giving Her Space During Quarantine |  Glamour

They're so cute together. I hope they make it. But no, I haven't seen any of the movies in either of those franchises.

7) In 2014, the year this song was popular, Prince William toured the United States and attended his first NBA game (Nets vs. Cavaliers). What's the most recent sporting event that you watched?

Patrick Mahomes' typical workout and eating habits

That would have to be the Super Bowl match-up between the Chiefs (again! Woot!) and the Buccaneers. That damn Brady, y'know?

This all kinda makes me wonder: when was the last time a brand-new team sport was invented?

8) Also in 2014, Joan Rivers died. While best-known for making us laugh, she was a very successful entrepreneur, selling jewelry on QVC. Have you ever ordered anything from TV?

03062021 M earrings

Off the TV? No. But I did buy these earrings (just the ones in the lobes) from a website - which also hawks stuff on TV - as part of a mystery shop I did recently.

9) Random question -- Have you ever been told you talk too much?

02282021 Chloƫ pigtails

Ohhhh, yes. I am definitely the loquacious one! Garrulous. A chatterbox. And I have absolutely gotten in trouble for it. I remember being in 11th grade, in our AP Chemistry class, and our teacher gave us what basically amounted to busy work while he went to his office in a back room. He came out multiple times to shush us. And then he came out and demanded: "Miss Simmons, WHY is your voice the only one I ever hear???"

And that's not an isolated incident, by any means, just one I vividly remember.

Also, this little bambina, the same ChloĆ« mentioned in my answer to #3, has gotten the gift of gab from her mother. The two of us can talk back and forth so fast sometimes, the others don't aways know what we've said. And since I now have neuro deficits from Lyme disease, ChloĆ« now acts as my interpreter when I can't get my messages across! Love that kiddo. ā™„


And now, I think I need a nap. Wow, I got this posted by noon! Look at me go.


Christmas 2019: Part One - The Annual Card Photos

_DSC1117 bbb

Hey, everyone! I know, we're almost finished with the second week of 2020 already, and I'm just now getting around to posting fotos from Christmas 2019. Without getting too morose, let's be clear: I have a number of health problems which, when combined, are making the length of time I have left on Earth quite an uncertainty. So, it's more important to me than ever to actually edit and post the photos I take, for my husband's and kids' sakes, lest they be forgotten forever. 

With that sadness out of the way, let's move on. Since we've been married 19+ (!!) years, it has always been important to me to capture and share the happiness and love between Rob and me, and then baby ChloĆ« makes three, followed closely by her brother/s and baby sister. That has never changed. What has changed is the busyness of life! My mother-in-law used to email me if I missed a day without a blog post. Then, weeks before I got an email. And then a few months before she sent, "Are you still doing the blog?" 

I know when we lived in Miami, Chloƫ really enjoyed reading about herself and The Littles from earlier days, so here, hopefully, there will be more posts to come for those guys - and maybe their future families? - to enjoy.

12152019 Chloƫ flouncing & flaring collage (1)

This year, our first in Mountain Home, snow flew before Halloween! I was not thrilled with that, so much, but at least that gave me the ability to make my demands for Christmas pix come late November: I wanted us to be outside, with a backdrop of snow. If it were any other lifetime, I would have preferred us playing in the snow, but alas, that is not the case.

December 2019 Cards Jack

I had six objectives, as I usually do, for this photo shoot. After I chose the Richard Aguirre Park in MoHo, we headed out to accomplish them. I needed (1) individual shots of Jack, (2) individual shots of Chloƫ, (3) individual shots of Sophia, (4) shots of the three of them together, (5) shots of all five of us as a family, and (6) shots of just Rob and me. As usual, we decided to get Jack's solo shoots out of the way. With his Autism Spectrum Disorder and just his personality quirks, he never likes this process and is prone to getting grumpier as it proceeds. Nothing changed this time!

December 2019 Cards Sophia Collage

Sophia was also somewhat a challenge to photograph at first, because I wanted stills, but then I also put them on swings. This kid is in constant motion, so there was a lot of me yelling, "Stop swinging!!!" ... and her, not

December 2019 Christmas Cards Chloƫ Collage

Chloƫ, on the other hand, is always ready to pose from back in her acting and modeling days. The most I ever have to tell her is, "chin up a little!"

December 2019 Cards - Sisters 1

December 2019 Cards - Sisters 2
Because of Jack's self-imposed isolation, it wasn't too hard to get a couple of snaps of just his sisters. For the most part, these two really are quite close and get along famously. I love to see that.

December 2019 Cards Trio Collage 2

December 2019 Cards Trio Collage 4

Not that I wasn't able to get a few fun snaps of the three of them. I think these are quite adorable.

December 2019 Cards Trio Collage 3
This, of course, is another variation of the one posted at the top, here.

December 2019 Cards Outtake 1

And this here would be an outtake, made while I was readying the camera on its tripod. This amuses me because the girls are smiling and ready to go, but the men are serious and have their true "let's get on with it, already" faces on.

December 2019 Christmas Cards Family Pic

I used this as my Facebook cover photo for a while in December, but I really kind of hate it since I'm in front. With all my illnesses, I've regained quite a lot of the weight I lost from surgery, and it's having an extremely depressive effect on my mood. Not to mention, after having 4 kids in 3Ā½ years, it always bothers me to have my belly on full display. Really wish I'd been able to get a tummy tuck!

December 2019 Christmas Cards Family Pic 2

This, which we used in most of the seven (!!) different card styles I ended up selecting, was the family pose we opted to put on most of our cards.

December 2019 Cards Rob and Melanie Collage

After capturing just the two family shots, my camera battery died. I'd forgotten to charge it! And it was FREEZING by then, so everyone was dashing to the car to get warm and go home. And then it occurred to me: every single one of us has a late-model Samsung Galaxy phone, and they all have good cameras. Duh! Jack opted to stay in the car and try to get toasty, but the girls trekked back out into the snow to get these shots of Rob and me. I don't know who took which ones, but I love them!

December 2019 Cards Rob and Melanie

And finally, this is the top-left photo from that collage, which I doctored up for fun on the app PicsArt. I use it a lot to play around.

Hope y'all enjoyed the show! More to come.


Saturday 9: Shake It Off

Related image

Welcome back, y'all! Well, as you can see I didn't die from my excessively-busy weekend last week (although, as predicted, no comments on my late-entry Sunday Stealing, lol). It's been another busy week as I've kept up and pushed through for the sake of my newfound purpose: Activism. Giving a damn just feels good, you know? Not that I didn't before, of course, but now that I give a damn AND am learning more and better tools to do something about it, it feels really validating.

Anyhoo. My then-14yo daughter Chloƫ and I saw Taylor Swift perform "Shake It Off" at her 1989 concern in Miami, in October 2015, so this is an exciting one for me. I'd like to think this is a special present to me from Crazy Sam, therefore, but we all know better.

Let's get on with it then, shall we? Link up here if you're a wacky joiner, like we be.

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Shake It Off (2014)

Unfamiliar with this week's song. Hear it here.
1) This song makes Crazy Sam want to dance. What song inspires you to get on your feet?

Image result for lou bega mambo no 5 gif

So, so, so many songs. Back in grad school, it was Lou Bega doing Mambo No. 5. Love that song!

2) Paul McCartney met Taylor Swift at the SNL 40th Anniversary special and told her he really enjoys playing and singing this song. What's the last song you sang along with?

Related image

I've been playing Hamilton nonstop for the last several days. I haven't had my singing voice in 2+ years, much, but I still can't help it when it comes to Lin-Manuels words. The girls and I would DIE to be able to go see Hamilton in real life!

3) The lyrics tell us Swift "shakes off" nasty gossip and unfair criticism. What about you? Do you worry about what others think of you?

Image result for criticism funny

I've always been one to take to heart - forever and for all my days - the harsh words (and thoughts I imagine) that others have had for me. I turned 43 on 9/8, though, and I feel like this is finally starting to become my time to "shake it off." 

4) Her parents are big music fans, and were going to name their baby (boy or girl) "Taylor" after their favorite artist, James Taylor. Can you think of a singer that your mom and/or dad really enjoyed?

Image result for Ronnie McDowell

This is a painful question for me. When my mother died in 1984, she and my dad had three Ronnie McDowell tapes on pretty heavy rotation in the car. I knew (still know) all the songs. We even went to a Ronnie McDowell/Conway Twitty concert in Syracuse shortly before her death, which I remember pretty clearly for a 7yo.

When I was in college and "home" at my dad's for the first summer, I went snooping through his old pictures and things. I found those three Ronnie McDowell tapes and "liberated" them, šŸ˜ along with a gazillion pictures of my mother.

Then, coming up on one year ago, I happened to find some Ronnie McD songs on... YouTube? Amazon? I don't even know. I gave a listen to them and found myself disgusted by much of the overtly sexist, somewhat predatory lyrics on a song or three. I posted what I thought was a rather innocent update about that on the book of faces, and my dad lost his shit about it, basically about what a liberal treehugger I have become (have always been, hate to break the news to ya, Pops). I told him I was sorry he'd been so foolish to buy into Trump's lies, and he said the immortal words to me, "Just leave me alone."

I haven't spoken to him since. (P.S. No great loss. That narcissistic, abusive, sexist louse is a Trump wannabe through-and-through, and I'm better off not giving a damn what he thinks of me or what he thinks, period.) But intensive therapy ensues.

I5) She grew up on an 11-acre Christmas tree farm. Do you get a fresh tree every year, or do you have an artificial tree, or do you not put up a tree at all?

We usually do an artificial tree. It's just easier with all the dogs and cats and their excessive curiosity. At some point, I'd like to put up at least three in this house - but I don't think we'll have the budget for it just yet this year. This white flocked tree was last year's.

6) Taylor Swift is 5'10". According to the CDC, the average American woman is 5'4" while men are, on average, 5'9". Are you taller or shorter than average?

At 5'1Ā½", I'm shorter than average. But I've got 18-year-old ChloĆ« beat. Like her paternal grandmother, she is maxed out at 4'10".

7) She enjoys good, old fashioned mysteries, especially those by Agatha Christie. Are you currently reading a book for pleasure?

Image result for quotes from holding up the universe

I'm just getting into Holding Up the Universe, by Jennifer Niven.
8) Her brother Austin is a freelance photographer who took the official pictures for her 2008 concert tour. Who took the last photo of you?

20190922_145700 (1)

That would be Christine Vorobieff, one of the other equestrian moms from Sophie's Pony Club, last Sunday.

9) Random question: What's your go-to comfy outfit?

Image result for comfy clothes quotes

Sweats and a t-shirt, I guess. Now that illness rules the day, I dress for comfort; rarely for "cute."

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Thanks for the fun meme, Ms. Sam o' the Cray. Thanks for all you do for us!

Next steps in tackling the Climate Crisis involve this. Whatever you do, do something.


Sundays In My City: Justin Abel Tattoo & Piercing

Sundays In My City

Well, hello and good evening. It's 11:17 PM on Sunday night, which means I'm late AF but still on time. How can that be? #BecauseMe, that's why.

Welcome to another edition of Sundays in my City, brought to us by Claudya; link up here if you want to share with us about your corner of the world, too!

Justin Abel selfie

So this is Justin Abel. Here in Mountain Home, Idaho, Justin is doing it all at his academy: Super-high professional tattoos, piercings, hair removal, tattoo removal, CPR/First-Aid Training for the Red Cross, murals, oil and acrylic family portraits, and professional skin care, and micro-needling. I don't know how he's got time and energy for all that, but today he explained that it's mostly mania. As someone with Bipolar I, I get that for sure! But instead of tattooing, I stay up all night and bake everything in the house. 怀

Justin Abel Kelsey Grammar

This is a portrait of Kelsey Grammar that Justin did. I think he draws them by hand, and apparently he has done some for celebrities by commission. I heard that one did not like hers, because it was so perfect that it revealed her flaws, and she didn't want that!

Justin Abel Seth Meyers

And here's one of Seth Meyers that Justin did. Isn't that amazing? 

Chloe's Tattoo

A year ago, Justin threw an event for first-time customers where he gave everyone, I think, either $50 or $100 in tattoos, tattoo removal, or piercings. It was just before Chloƫ's 17th birthday then, and she opted to get this Harry Potter tattoo. She's HP-mad, if you didn't know!

Sophia Piercing

And Sophia got her helix double-pierced. I have mine done, too - for over 20 years - and both of us have had issues with getting those to heal! I also had my septum and my right tragus pierced the day Justin gave out free services last year.

Rob's Tattoo

My favorite thing was that Rob finally got to have his separation of service year, 2013, added to the 1993 tattoo (not visible here) he got when he entered Boot Camp.

So fast-forward to today:

08112019 Justin Abel Doughnut Party

On top of everything else Justin does, he threw a big party all day today for the community to raise awareness about a new project he's doing: he bought the place next door from his academy and plans to turn it into either a sliding-scale high-quality sushi restaurant, or as I learned today, a teens' arcade. Hmm. With three teens, and all of us loving sushi, I am soosoosososo torn on which way to vote here! My belleh wants the soosh, but there is literally nothing here for the kids to do, so... gotta go with my Mom Gut on this one, I guess.

08112019 Justin Abel Doughnut Party 2

When we got to the shindig, we found Justin and crew making tons of doughnuts, but they needed help. In short order, Sophia and ChloĆ« had gloved up and stepped in to lend a hand! They went full-tilt, and I can't really be out the in sun too long, so we left them there for a couple hours and went home! Ha. Oh, and the best part? Justin was raffling off $6,000 worth of his services and actual real cash in baskets. I don't know who won yet, but I've got a pair of crossed fingers! Rob wants a lot of tattoos, but that "2013" is the only one he's gotten during our marriage. Money's tight, y'know?

Anyway, I just wanted to give a shout-out to Justin Abel and his arts academy here in Mountain Home, where we now live. It's truly gratifying to see that there are decent people in the world, giving just for the sake of giving.


I showed you mine, now show me yours!

Share your city/town/suburb/you name it! Think of this as a photography hop that lets you share your part of the world and lets you travel virtually. If you link up, please link back or post the Sundays In My City button either in your post or sidebar to let people know that other bloggers are sharing their communities too. Happy trails!  

Letā€™s travel the world together!



Sundays In My City: Sunday Sundaes

Sundays In My CityBy Claudya
Hey, guys! Welcome to another edition of Claudya M's Sundays in my City, Smellyann-style. Be sure and link up here when you've posted yours for this week, too!
So currently, my daughter's girlfriend is spending two nights this weekend at our house, because her parents have gone of out town. I happened to know that Sydney loves ice cream, and I wanted to make sure she enjoys her stay, so I suggested we have sundaes on Sunday. Naturally, everyone jumped on that idea! We haven't done a sundae bar in yeaaaaaars.
My 16yo son Jack had the brilliant idea of putting a chocolate-dipped cone upside-down on his sundae, which everyone wanted to then copy. But brilliant move, Jack, because then there was only one cone left, and no way that was going to be joyfully split amongst five more of us! He relished it with gusto, too.
Here's my non-traditional banana split. Having worked at the sundae shop Larry's on St. Pete Beach, Florida, back in the day, I know full well that this ain't right. But it looked and sounded delicious, which is all that truly mattered to me! Being the glutton that I am, I put a small scoop of Talenti pistachio gelato on one end, chocolate ice cream in the middle, and a scoop of Talenti mint chip gelato on the other end, atop half a split banana. The chocolate was topped with peanut butter sauce, while the gelati were topped with chocolate sauce. A generous helping of juiced strawberries, more than enough whipped cream, and a smattering of chopped nuts finished the job, with the requisite cherry on the summit.
It was a diabetic's worst nightmare. Seriously: My blood sugar was already at 96 right before I dug in; we checked. One scoop of gelato (and associated toppings) in, and we checked again: 192! That didn't stop me, as I still knew that deliciousness awaited me. But I didn't get very much further before I started to feel awful. Just awful. We checked it again: 220!! I was full by then, so Rob agreed to take on the burden of eating mine, too, if someone would stick it in the freezer. I passed out shortly after that.
Lesson learned? I doubt it.
17yo ChloĆ« followed suit, sharing the other half of my split banana. She used three maraschino cherries on her alternative banana split. Maaaaaan. I should've done that. Mmm-mm. Who doesn't love those things?
I remember doing a mystery shop at a bar called... BJs or something? ... on Virginia Beach's Rudy's Inlet. A little locals' dive bar. This one bartendress made me a tequila sunrise with three cherries: one red, one orange, and one beautiful. That was years ago, and I still remember it as one of the best sunrises of my drinking career. Those cherries must've had some impact!
14yo Sophia continued the banana sundae trend, making this ... monstrosity. I don't know what to call it, but she enjoyed it - after mixing everything UP - so I guess that's all we care about. Mixing it up, though?! What the deuce? I want to be able to see all my ingredients.
Here's Sophie's adorable 15yo girlfriend, Sydney, who also had some kind of banana sundae. I'm such the trendsetter.
The girls met this past May. Both of my girls came out around December of 2017 or January of 2018, which didn't faze me in the least: Sophia as a lesbian, Chloƫ as bisexual. As you may know, we lived in Boise, Idaho, at the time, which is the most liberal of this very red state. Meaning, it's difficult to be gay for anyone in the state of Idaho, let alone a teenager. Last year, Pride 2018, was our first time attending this event. I was so excited to finally be able to go to Pride "legitimately," as an Ally, and feel somewhat like I belonged to this cool and unusual crowd. I hope my daughters felt the same way.
And then in May, I urged them to go to the Pride Prom. Sophia was going to wear a jumpsuit, but she ended up finding a dress she loved at the thrift store we frequent. Shocked the shit out of me! But she kept to her usual Sophie self by pairing it with a matching set of high-top Chuck Taylors:
Pride Prom Sophia's Dress c 0518219
Chloƫ looked beautious, too:
Pride Prom Chloƫ's Dress e 0518219
Anyway, so toward the end of the night at the prom, Sophia spotted this young girl standing alone, and went over to talk to her. I like that about my girls; inclusivity is the name of the game. And that, my friends, was the start of a beautiful relationship:
Do I digress much? Enough? I think so. I think so. But anyway....
So while Sundae Fun-day was great and all (before I passed out and then Rob and the teenagers played Guesstimation without me), I just did want to say that, yes, it's hard to be gay in Idaho. It's all well and good behind closed doors, safe in our loving and accepting home, but Sydney tells me that she gets bullied mercilessly at school about it. Now that Jack and Sophia are going into public high school, I'm afraid for Soph, too. And she's a brawler! Eek. 
I mean, in a state where - even in "liberal" Boise - I get my "COEXIST" and "Blue Girl in a Red State" stickers ripped off my car, I worry about my kids' sense of self in coming out to the world. About their safety, too. About being hurt physically and emotionally by people who call themselves Christian yet commit bad acts against them. It's a tough world. So I'm proud they've taken this step. As I say...:
Amen. So cheers to you, Sydney, and ChloĆ«, and Sophia, for being your authentic selves. Maybe someday instead of sundaes in Idaho, we'll be toasting with tequila sunrises in Virginia Beach!  šŸ¹šŸ¹
I showed you mine, now show me yours.

Share your city/town/suburb/you name it! Think of this as a photography hop that lets you share your part of the world and lets you travel virtually. If you link up, please link back or post the Sundays In My City button either in your post or sidebar to let people know that other bloggers are sharing their communities too. Happy trails!  

Letā€™s travel the world together!


By Claudya


Sunday Stealing: Rambling Survey

Hey there, hi there, ho there! Welcome back!

(Let me preface this post by saying I've been gone all day long and haven't had a chance even to see if I have comments - negative or otherwise - on my Sat9 post from yesterday, let alone read them. So I can't answer to those except to say that I'm nervous to read them & truly hope y'all don't hate me.)

So, then. Just gonna jump on into this SS post at the stroke of midnight on Sunday the 14th of July, 2019, and get back to that later. (I'll be gone all day Sunday, too, so I'm not ignoring y'all.) Link up here if you're playing along this weekend!


Questions from Sad Sleepy Survey Rambles

Have you ever been teased because of the things you like?
Image result for complex math funny
Sure, of course. Education was always my passion, and in the regular-ed, non-Honors/AP classes, I stood out and got stomped on in return. I'm a math nerd. I listen excessively to pop music (although, ahem, not only pop music, nor just current music, but also classic rock, folk music, some punk, lots of alternative, some big band - and I love JP Sousa - as well as gasp classical. As in, not even from last century, let alone this millenium. I don't only listen to "current" music. So, um, yeah... side eye ) I've been called a "such a grandma" for knitting. (Like that's an insult?!) and so on...
Do you hold grudges?
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I'm pretty forgiving if the person genuinely expresses remorse for any wrongs. Likewise, I'm quick to apologize when I realize I've committed some wrong(s).

Were there any classes you enjoyed because of the teacher?
Image result for high school physics class funny
Absolutely. Many of them, actually. In my senior year of high school, my AP Physics teacher was constantly making it entertaining, which was great for me because this particular field of science is most challenging for me. I just don't have a good understanding of spacial relationships, for one thing. And speaking of physics, my Physics II professor at university used to write "WAEFRTGDD" on the chalkboard/whiteboard during each lab and exam. Before starting, he'd point to each letter and remind us, "When All Else Fails, Read The __ __ Directions!" Cracked me up.

Was there a dress code at your school?
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No. Which reminds me, I have to find out if there's a dress code at the younger two kids' new high school.

Have you ever been a bad friend?
Image result for bad friend funny

Has a friend ever replaced you with somebody else?
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Yeah, but you know, you've gotta grow up and get past that stuff at some point.

Have you ever disliked something just because it was popular?
Image result for bellybutton piercing funny
Mm-hmm. For instance, I have a bunch of piercings but never did my bellybutton because everybody was piercing their navels for a while and just... I don't like to be trendy. Now that everyone and their brother has their nostril pierced, I'm glad I've got the septum done, too. What next?
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I much prefer belly necklaces, but I definitely don't have the body for that!

Have you ever watched a movie just because it starred an actor you liked?
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Probably, sure. I think I even saw The Rainmaker in the theater. #BecauseMattDamon

Are there actors/musicians you have met?
2008-02-02 18.51.41
Well, I mean, sure. I know some. My daughter Chloƫ is an actor and model and has starred in movies, TV shows, commercials, print ads, stock photos... And one of my best friends is a concert violinist. =) (I'm still so jealous she played first chair for Josh Groban!)

Do you ever judge people based on the music they listen to?
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Eh, not really, although I might judge the "music" itself - death metal?!

What about your top five music albums?
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Uh, what about it?

Do you remember the first album you ever owned?
Image result for Eric Clapton Unplugged gif
LOL... I can't promise it wasn't Milli Vanilli! But one of the first albums that I've owned that became an instant favorite and has remained so for 25+ years was Eric Clapton Unplugged. He's my boyfriend, but he doesn't know it. So is Larry David. (Neither of whom is my generation. Y'know?)

Do you still use an mp3 player, or just your phone?
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I actually forgot I ever even owned an MP3 player. How did you know?

Do you like Elton John?

Most of his music, I love, and I guess I like him okay as a human? But I wouldn't really miss a few of his songs, like Crocodile RockBennie & The Jets, and maybe Rocket Man? I don't know why; I just don't enjoy those ditties as much.
Have any celebrity deaths hit you hard? Which one(s)?
Image result for Princess Diana beautiful
A few, like Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Prince, etc. were really hard for me, Luke Perry I guess, but none hit me anywhere near as much as the death of Princess Diana in 1997. That still affects me to this day. #PTSD
And now, it seems I'm on an Elton John kick. What's next for me, Billy Joel?
I wish you all a good week. I know I ruffled a few feathers this weekend, and mine were tousled in return, but I do hope there's no bad blood among any of us.

Sunday Stealing: Aesthetics

Welcome back, kids of all ages! I slept well past noon today, thanks to everyone else being out at various things and not waking me up, and also thanks to my new Parkinson's medicine knocking me the F--- out as well. šŸ˜“šŸ˜“ I've only been up an hour, in fact, so my day (Saturday's) just beginning. I feel like, out of all of you and me... that makes one of us.


Link up here if you'd like to write a fun meme about aesthetics with the rest of us this week. Thanks, Bev, for sending it through the Interwebs!


Aesthetic themed list

When did you last sing to yourself?

Before Hubs and Sophia came home from her showjumping lesson a few minutes ago, I was belting out "The Schuyler Sisters" from the epic Broadway musical Hamilton. Work, work!

If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about anything, what would you want to know?

Image result for crystal ball funny

I guess I'd want to know if I'm ever going to recover from the conglomerate of 20+ autoimmune diseases I've been diagnosed with in the last 45 or so months.

What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?

ā™„ ā™„ ā™„ ā™„

My husband and kiddos - #18YearsStrong!

What is the first happy memory that comes to mind, recent or otherwise?

Eloping with Robert Allen Odette 18+ years ago was the most joyful thing I've ever done in my entire life, and to think about it, no matter how often I think about it, brings me a rush of pure joy all over again. The Law of Diminishing Returns definitely does not apply to this situation.

ā™„ ā™„ ā™„(If you're interested in any colourful lovey-dovey art by Romero Britto art, perhaps start here...)

If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living?

I'd worry even less about stuff, even more about making memories with my loved ones. Incidentally, these are part of the Valentines the kids made for each other and us parents. Still a work in progress, but I love the results thus far!

Do you feel you had a happy childhood?

Image result for children who won't have to recover from their childhoods

Absolutely, most definitely, NOT.

Would you ever have a deep conversation with a stranger and open up to them?


OMG yes, all the time! It's weird, since I'm such an introvert, but when someone gets me to talking, I get to talking!

What would you title the autobiography of your life so far?

Image result for A work in progress quotes

It's actually a book I'm writing, and it's a work in progress, so maybe for right now... A Work in Progress??

How do you feel about tattoos and piercings? Explain.

Well, since I've got multiple ear piercings including a trio in each lobe, the left cuff, the right tragus, my right nostril, my septum... and more being considered for down the road, I guess that explains how I feel about piercings. They don't bother me, although I would never do my tongue (too many infections! too much interference with singing and speaking!) or my eyebrow (mostly because OUCH!).

Elephant-Family-Tattoos-2 (1)

As for tattoos...

they're fine for other people who want them, I really don't care - in fact, we allowed our then-16-year-old Chloƫ get a Deathly Hallows tattoo (from the Harry Potter books, for the uninitiated among you) - but I've thought a good long time about whether to get one for myself. Still, the answer is no, but that's because it's permanent and that means it has to be PERFECT. I'd want it to represent my kids and also something very personal to me, like the ocean. So we'll see.

Do you wear a lot of makeup? Why or why not?

Sometimes I do, like here the other day, just because I have a lot of makeup - a lot of Jafra, mostly Young Living Savvy Minerals (which is everything that I've got on in this pic), but I'm starting to think about getting into the very $$$ BeautyCounter everything-free cosmetics... maybe? Have any of you used them and can recommend?

But most days, like here, I just wear mascara so my eyes stand out a little bit from the rest of my face. It's weird, but much of my lashes are blonde, so I need to give them a little colour.

The world is listening. Pick one sentence you would tell them.

Image result for the time is now for mother earth

If you are doing nothing to do your part for the planet, then you are doing literally nothing important.

Who in the world would you most like to receive a letter from and what would you want it to say?

Image result for Michelle Obama running

"Dear Melanie, It's Michelle Obama. I'm officially running for President, because I am guaranteed to defeat the current false "President" if he runs for a second term - and another other right-wing nutjob - and I want you to be part of my team! ā™„ MO"

(Hey, we have the same initials; it's kismet!) šŸ˜‚šŸ˜‚

Do you have a desk/workspace and how is it organised/not organised?

This is what it looks like right this second, but it's a constant, constant battle to get and keep things organized!

Whatā€™s your starbucks order, and who would you trust to order for you, if anyone?

Java chip

I trust Me, Myself, and I to order myself a Venti Java Chip Frappuccino with coconut milk, no whipped cream, and no chocolate or caramel drizzle. ā˜•ļøšŸ˜‹šŸ˜‰

What is the most important thing to you in your life right now?

Image result for dream house in idaho for family of 5

Well, first of all see #3 about "greatest accomplishments," but other than those guys, it would be buying a house. I'm beyond eager to start the process... which we have, but we're mostly keeping it under wraps. I hope, and pray, and yearn for it all to fall properly into place!


So that's that, for now. I hope y'all are having a splendid weekend that only gets more so as the hours progress. See y'all soon!


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 Chloƫ'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? 
Image result for champs-ƩlysƩes
Not yet! Chloƫ 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-ƩlysƩes 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!

Saturday 9: Boat Drink

Hey, guys! It's 7:30 PM here, which means it's still Saturday, and I'm not late. For once. Link up here if you're playing along today!


Saturday 9: Boat Drinks (1979)

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

1) Jimmy Buffett is singing about his bandmates watching hockey in a sports bar. Since it's Super Bowl weekend, our first question is: In cold weather, which sport to you watch most: football, hockey, or basketball?
Image result for University of Miami football
I watch my Hurricanes play football, when I can find it way out West here. Tonight on our mystery shop dinner date, I watched the Boise State Broncos play UNLV. They were winning, last I saw. I want to watch the Super Bowl tomorrow, but I'll probably forget.

2) Jimmy sings it's just 20Āŗ outside. How high will the mercury reach where you are today?
60ĀŗF on February 3rd! Yet Climate Change isn't real. Right.
3) "Boat drinks" are mixed drinks designed to enhance the enjoyment of a boat ride or time on the beach. Popular boat drinks include The Tequila Sunrise, Cuba Libre, and Mimosa. When did you last sip an alcoholic beverage? Was it a boat drink?
I had to go back really far in my Instagram account to December 1st, before I got sick with a severe case of pneumonia for two months (and counting), to discover that it was, again, at Texas Roadhouse: A sangria. I do remember that I initially ordered a Rum Runner, and the young bartender asked, "Rum Runner? What's that? What's in that?" #Dumbass.
Oh wait, I think I had a sip or two of some champagne for our 17th anniversary on January 2nd. No pictures as evidence, apparently!

4) Jimmy met his wife, Jane, in Key West at a bar called The Chart Room. Have you ever been to Key West?
Girl, you know I've been to Key West a billion times (give or take)! I first went when I was an undergrad at the University of Miami, circa 1996. I last went in October of 2016 with my family. I took a bunch of photographs, but this portrait of Sophia in the sunset at Southernmost Point was my favorite from that trip.

5) Have you ever met anyone worth knowing at a bar?
Image result for What happens in vegas
So this was Palm Beach, Florida, not Las Vegas, Nevada, but... let's just say Hubs and I met a very interested bartender at a resort one night. We had a good time with him. #NuffSaid

6) While Keith Richard and Paul McCartney have made cameo appearances in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, Jimmy Buffet has not. Producers have asked him, but he's always had to decline because of his touring schedule. Have you seen any of the Pirates/Jack Sparrow movies?
Image result for Jack Sparrow memes
I have not. It's been on, in my presence, but I didn't watch. Not my genre.

7) When Jimmy gave the commencement address at the University of Miami, he showed up in flip-flops. How many pairs of flip-flops do you own?
Image result for Jimmy buffett address at university of Miami
He did?! That's so cool. Wish I'd seen that! I own about at least half a dozen pairs of flip-flops, which now sit unused half the year. I wore my Crocs flippers year-round in Miami, though. Today, I had to wear tall black pleather boots for our date night. I couldn't zip up the sides when I first got them, because I have enormous calves anyway and had put on some way. After four hospital admissions between December and January, though, they now fit loosely.

8) Jimmy has his own station on Sirius Radio. Do you subscribe to Sirius?
Image result for Sirius radio meme
We actually don't. I prefer to listen to regular FM radio. We had one car with it, until the free trial expired. I didn't renew.

9) Random question: What trend or fad from your youth do you hope never makes a comeback?
Image result for 1980s high hair meme
The high hair with a full can of hairspray in it was pretty gross. I didn't go this extreme, but I got a little there. Ugh, what a pain!
That was fun, thanks Crazy Sam! Stay tuned for more from me: Sunday Stealing is coming up next!

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!

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 38Ā½ 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


Christmas 2015 Card Portraits-001

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

Christmas 2015 Card Portraits-002

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!

Christmas 2015 Card Portraits-003


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.

Christmas 2015 Card Portraits-004

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

Christmas 2015 Card Portraits-005


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

Christmas 2015 Card Portraits-006

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!


Sundays In My City: Random Snaps

Unknown Mami
Link up with the Unknown Mami here if you're going to show off bits and pieces about your hometown and surrounds today!
I took the chillies to see the movie Inside Out at the local theater with four free movie tickets a week or so ago. The three of them loved it; me, not so much. I give it a B- and am not looking forward to when it comes out on DVD. I'll inevitably buy it for the kids, and then, ugh. You parents know what comes next!
Jack and Sophia, the younger two kidlets, started martial arts classes last Thursday, after I purchased a killer steal of a Groupon online recently. Oh-em-gee, they love it. LOVE. Jack broke a board with a palm strike two days ago, and he has not stopped talking about it since then. (Sophie missed the class, not feeling well that evening). Now ChloĆ«, who was adamantly against signing up, wants to join the class, too. Hopefully they do family discounts, eh?
July 2015
Last Friday, Jack and ChloĆ« went in for five hours of growth hormone stimulation testing. They were super-tired, starving, and bored, so it wasn't long before a second bed was delivered to the room for Curls to, y'know, curl up next to Jack.  Everyone came in to admire the two of them snoozing next to each other; it was pretty darling.
As for the results, I got those on Thursday: Jack makes almost zero HGH even with artificial stimulation, and ChloĆ« makes normal amounts despite being enormously small. Next step for Jack is an MRI of the hypothalamus before presenting his shoo-in of a case to our insurance; ChloĆ«'s idiopathic short stature case gets presented immediately to them sans MRI. Keep your fingers crossed for her, please!
Rob's tattoo (bottom right, on his tummy) is his jokingly self-proclaimed self-portrait. Then we found this chartreuse look-alike on the Interwebs. What the heck? Art imitating life, or what?
Rob's late kitten, Spike, has been mourned so much for so long, and Rob has missed him greatly. He finally requested, when the time was right, a new kitty-baby to love. Enter Henry. I found him and adopted him from the Humane Society as a complete surprise to Hubs, who has strongly bonded with Hank already. And if you can't tell from those paws, I think this is going to be one large feline!
Just a wee egg shell Sophie and I discovered outside the abode a couple of days ago. The other half was nowhere to be found, prompting her to do an impression of the newly-hatched birdie walking around with its half-shell stuck to its rump and... well, you probably had to be there. (She's very amusing, that girl.)
I found an awesome deal on Converse kicks for Rob the other day on eBay, so I snagged a pair in his hard-to-find size. The same seller had equally-rockin' prices on these TOMS shoes, and since (a) I never owned any but wanted to, (b) I needed red shoes anywho, and (c) I love their #OneForOne business model, I snagged two pair. And you know what? I lurve them so.
Speaking of eBay, I snagged a 30-critter set of Littlest Pet Shop toys for Sophia, who does various and sundry creative things with these guys (when our Chihuahua, Paco, isn't busy chewing them up). I got the set cheaply, and she was screamy-excited when they arrived. I guess one was pretty rare, too, so double the screaminess happened. Happy to make my kiddo so overjoyed!
Speaking of Sophia, she wanted a photo shoot with big sister ChloĆ« on Wednesday, so I was altogether too happy to oblige. I just wish Jack would let me take more photos of him, to even things out a little bit. Alas and alack, he hates the lens being trained on him, so I need to sneak snaps whenever I can!
Rob (Hubs) needed a new daily-wear watch desperately, so I used all my many Shop Your Way rewards points from Sears and snagged him this $$$ Pulsar digital one - after getting his thumbs-up on the model - for exactly ZERO dollars out of pocket. Free is my favorite price, y'all. And, he thinks it's pretty great, so win-win!
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Y por fĆ­n, my wireless keyboard kicked the proverbial bucket today, so I let my kids and Luis, their BFF in the neighborhood, take a mini sledgehammer to it and utterly annihilate it. Keys went flying everywhere; I probably shoulda provided safety goggles, but I didn't think of it, so nope. But they had fun, no one got hurt, and they were able to cross off something on their Summer Bucket List. Hee!
Welp, thanks for stopping by. I'm sorry for being all over the map here, but I did promise randomness in the post title, right?!
Unknown Mami
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A June Morning In Key West With My Son


This past Friday morning, on our overnight in Key West, only Jack and I woke up early. I decided to take him around the other side of Roosevelt Blvd to the IHOP for breakfast.


He's a beautiful boy. I could admire my children all day long. Maybe I'm biased, just a little bit?


After we ate and went back to our hotel, we found the rest of Team Odette still deep in slumber, so we decided to venture across the street for a mini photo shoot. Jack is not a fan of the camera lens being focused on him, so for him to agree to such a thing was kind of epic. He's not a natural in front of the camera like his sisters, so my vague "do whatever you feel like doing" instructions were not well received. Nevertheless, we got a few nice snaps of this gorgeous child.


To get a genuine, natural smile out of Jack, I have to tease and poke fun of him. Telling him to imagine funny things doesn't really work, but being silly? Worked like a charm.




After about 5 photos, Jack asked how many I wanted to take. I said, "I don't know, a hundred?" This was his, "Nooooo.... can we GO?" face. Rats. Done, already?


Across the street, Jack found himself witness to a bi-plane taking off from the nearby Key West airport. This kid loves airplanes!


This child conned me into getting him a chocolate ice cream cone before 0900. Eh, why not? He could use a few extra calories!


Everybody was still asleep when we got back to our hotel room, so I asked Jack if he wanted to go over to the airport to look at the planes taking off and landing. Uh, yeah! So we parked and meandered around to do just that. Jack was in seventh heaven.




Jack thought the propellers in the shop were pretty cool.


"Look, Mom! Hey, get in closer so you can see what I'm pointing at!"


Yup. It was a plane. He decided the other day that he wants to be a pilot. We shall see...!


"Mom, get a picture of the control tower." He started to like this picture-taking thing, huh?


I can't remember what he was pointing at, but he wasn't impressed with it, whatever it was. Hee.



This was his resigned, "Guess we're not going to see too many planes today," face. And he was right. Ah well, we still had some good quality time together.


One more pose for Mama in front of the tile mural that adorns the front of the Key West airport.


Heading back to our car


That face! Ha! He smelled something that didn't agree with him, back at our hotel.



Investigating the trash chute on our hotel floor


Back in our room, everyone was still asleep, so Jack and I continued hanging out, watching a little TV, and talking about whatever came into his precious head. Mostly plane stuff, of course.


Paco was glad we had finally returned.



This cutie is endangering my Jack-centric photo shoot...


ChloĆ« finally decided to join us in the world of the awake, but it didn't last. She gave her 2Ā¢ and went right back to sleep.




Rob wasn't quite awake yet, but Paco found himself trapped in Daddy's arms. Back to Jack...



This boy, my darling son, and I had a fantastic morning together. I loved every minute of it.

Thanks for stopping by!


Friday Fragments, Version 10.17.13

Link up with Mrs. 4444 if you're fragmented today!
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I haven't played along in aaaaages, maybe once since the beginning of Summer, so I hope this isn't too terribly long for y'all. I'll try to be concise (even though that's not really in my nature).
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I bought the kids' Christmas outfits on super-duper clearance from Gymboree, and they came yesterday. Too cute! I took them outside to get pictures today, and some neighbors oohed and ahhed and said they looked so pretty/cute. I won't share all of them here, or just yet anyway, but here's one funny outtake that was enjoyed on Facebook:
A rare, genuine reaction from Jack! haha!
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Sophia's been having a bunch of breathing trouble lately, so we called 911 tonight to see if there was anything they could do for her. There wasn't, but it was suggested she might be allergic to her cats. If you have allergies, would you answer my Aloha Friday question here?
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I've had SO many blog-related freebies lately, I thought I'd give a rundown of a few of them real quick-like, for posterity's sake. There are some awesome perks to this blahgging gig!
I just posted about my Werthers Baking Caramels Bash for MommyParties here, yesterday I think. Check it out!
This International Delight Bzz Campaign from BzzAgent started this week, and I was chosen. I went out to Publix today and picked up these four varieties. I am just excited to find Sugar Free kinds (for me) as I was to get the Pumpkin Pie Spice and White Chocolate Raspberry choices for Rob! What's your favorite creamer flavor, if you're a coffee nut?
Soon, in the mail, I'll be getting the LancƓme DreamTone for Fair Skin, to review for SheSpeaks. I can't wait, because I've got some uneven skin tone since living in the land of the sun...!
This will be coming up on Ye Olde Fashioned Blahg soon, too! Are you interested in some amazing books for the kiddos in your life? Let me know!
Smiley360 chose me to review Orajel Single Dose Cold Sore Treatment, which I'm super glad to be getting in the mail soon. My girls are forever complaining of "mouth booboos" and asking for something to take away the pain. This will help!
House Party picked me as a Chatterbox to review new Gevalia Kaffe espresso drinks:
I made this Mocha Latte with a heart for Rob, but I haven't tried that myself yet. He liked it, and I loved the Caramel Macchiato variety. So easy to make in the Keurig, and so delicious and authentic! Have you tried it yet?

I'm supposed to be using Calorease for Moms Meet, too, but I just haven't been able to bring myself to try it yet. I'm hesitant because it's supposed to make you have to, um, GO, and I don't want to be stuck to my bathroom all day for ten days, you know? What would you do?
I'm waiting on my kit from MyBlogSpark for Old El Paso Frozen EntrƩes, because hello, YUM! Rob especially loves Mexican foods, so I know he'll be happy to see this package in the mail. We loved our last MyBlogSpark kit from Old El Paso, so I'm sure this will be another delicious foray into blahg reviewing for me!
I'm also doing a Green Giant frozen foods and a Raise-a-Giant campaign for MyBlogSpark, which reminds me, I better get on that!
Smiley360 also chose me to review GoGo-Squeez Applesauce on the Go with the kids, which is fantastic because they're nutritious and the kids love them. The Apple Apple variety didn't last long, and I don't even remember anyone but My Little Pony-crazy Sophie eating the Apple Mango kind:
And lastly, MomSelect opted to let me be a Chick-fil-A Mom, which is cool because hey, free food. My kids adore CFA, but I know some of you have issues with the company. Do you??
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I like to post Instagram photos when we make a yummy dinner - do you do that? I know I'm not the only one! Tonight's was homemade pizza, which I made with Bob's Red Mill gluten-free pizza dough mix, fresh mozzarella (the kinds that come in the gooey balls are better than the kind you get in the block to shred, if you ask me!), and sundried tomatoes. For Rob, I added green olives and pepperoni. I'm afraid the gluten-free did nothing for the kids' appetites; the two younger ones ended up eating oatmeal instead, and even Rob didn't finish his. Hey, I liked it, but maybe we won't try that again.
I eat a ton of hummus and wasn't happy with the last store-bought batch I got, so I decided to go back to making my own. I used to make it all the time, but I burned up our hand mixer and don't have the strength to mash my chickpeas by hand. Now I have a Ninja food processor that I got from a friend, and that did the job in seconds, with minimal effort on my part. I mixed everything (tahini, garlic, olive oil and fresh-squeezed lemons) up with the chickpeas in my KitchenAid, and voilĆ ! Deliciousness! I always let the flavors mingle for a day or two before I adjust the quantities too much, because it really changes after the first day.
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Well, that's it for me. You're probably relieved. I'll pop over and visit you now. Have a great weekend!
Full Disclosure: Everything I mentioned I'm reviewing was provided to me for free by the companies listed, but as always, the opinions expressed herein are my own.

Chloƫ Raine Turns The Big 1-0!


All right, so check it out: on Wednesday, my oldest baby in all the world, the one and only, Curls, aka Clorox, aka Chlo-Bo, aka Chloƫ Raine, turned TEN years old! This is her in the morning before we headed out to our Christian Military Homeschooling Co-op's "Not Back To School" Breakfast Pajama Party. Yes, even I wore my PJs, which were about eight sizes too big, but it was either that or the skimpy stuff, and well, you know, it wasn't that kind of party. (And no, I have never been to that kind of party.) Anyway. She was, as you can see, entirely too excited about turning ten years old. Well, "too" isn't the word. Omit that. Just plain excited is more like it. And who wouldn't be? Ten is HUGE, right??

There were myriad snafus at the party; it was just one big comedy of errors, all of which led to one giant omission: I didn't take a single picture of the occasion, even though I promised the absent-but-present-in-spirit leaders of said co-op that I would do exactly that. And we sang to Chloƫ and another birthday girl present at the party, and did cupcakes and the whole bit for it, and everything. Not one dang picture. Gah! But let's not dwell on that, because I took 94 pictures of the rest of her big day, and we shall focus on that. Not that I'm going to show you all 94 pictures, or this page would never load.


After the shindig ended around noon-thirty, we cleaned up our mess and headed right down to the Oceanfront to play miniature golf. My pal Ashley, for whom I have yet to assign a nickername (and I don't think she'd appreciate "Trashley,") had given me a Groupon for 4 people to play, plus two funnel cakes. What an awesome gift to start off our "Poor Man's Birthday Party," as I call our birthdays-full-of-freebies! Neither of the girls had ever played any kind of golf before, and I'm not sure if Jack has with the Cubs, but they all pretty much stunk. Know what, though? I stink at it, too. So, the four of us were fairly evenly matched, except that I had to teach them the rules of the game. The miniature game, that is. Don't ask me about the rules of an actual fairway, 'cause I haven't got a clue.


I did find it interesting that Sophia, a Southpaw, stood the same way as the rest of us Righties to hit the ball. I tried telling her she might want to try the other direction, but she wasn't interested. It's all good.


I couldn't convince Jack to (a) hold the club properly, (b) hit the ball gently when he was a foot away from the hole, (c) not stop the ball when it kept moving past where he thought it ought to be, or (d) not pick up the ball and put it back where he did think it should be. He kept saying, "oops, sorry!" every time I reminded him of any of those things, which was, like, every other five seconds. Since I was in Birthday Mood, I just laughed it off, or else the competitive spirit in me might have gotten fired up about it! Although I admit I might have said "freakin'" once or twice, as in, "Stop touching the freakin' ball, Jack!"


On this particular hole, my ball was the first (and second) to go into "the drink," as my gran'pappy would have called it - although I could have lied and said that never happened, as there is no photographic evidence of such events. But that wouldn't be "Honest and Fair," which is the part of the Girl Scout Law my Daisies and I are working on this week, so I'm telling y'all the truth. Chloƫ was second to have to fish her ball out of the drink. (Speaking of balls, I never tired of saying, "Stay off the green, and don't touch your balls!" whenever it was my turn to give my bright orange ball a whack and I couldn't watch the youngsters. "Don't touch your balls!" I'm so mature.) Chloƫ also had to fish her all out of the drink two times. Team Odette rocks at putt-putt, y'all.


Twice fishing for Jacky, too. Haha! We so suck at this game, but since all four of us sucked equally, it was fun for everyone. They had a total blast. I don't have pictures of Sophia's ball in the drink, which makes me think hers didn't go in - but She of the Amazing Strength kept whacking her ball so hard it would fly clear across three or four holes and into some other form of golf-related trouble. Once, we even had to replace it, because it was lost completely. She'd probably give Tiger Woods a run for his money!


I didn't let them win, but this is Chloƫ's reaction upon my adding up the scores and announcing that she won amongst the kidlets! Fair and square, the birthday girl did the best. This, even after discovering on the third or fourth hole that we were, in fact, aiming for the LOWEST score and not the highest. **Snort**


After our four balls (hee) plunked into the hole (hehe) at the end of Hole 18, the kids discovered a "pirate ship" playground, complete with a fireman's pole-type, uh, pole, which kept them occupied for about 72 days or 15 minutes or something. They really liked that thing. We'd probably still be there if it wasn't hotter'n blue blazes that day, and we were getting all sweaty. Oh, and if I hadn't conveniently remembered the matter of the free funnel cakes we still had coming to us. Heh heh. (Hey, I was bored. Maybe I shoulda gone down the fireman's pole, too.)


Here's Sophia oh-so-patiently awaiting the arrival of the funnel cakes. Not.


I discovered that the kids' hands and feet were all orange from the fireman's pole, so I sent them to wash up before the funnel cakes arrived. Jack came back first and dug right in. I admit, I didn't wait for Birthday Girl and had some before she returned, too. Mmm, mmm - good stuff!


But, it doesn't look like she minded much, does it? She got plenty and there was some to spare. Too bad Daddy wasn't with us or it would've all gotten eaten fo' sho'!


What kid doesn't love these things? I don't know, but mine go nuts for them. Nuts, I tell ye!


Love. They LOVE these fool things. (Btw, what is up with cornhole boards? Are they all the rage now or something? I seem them advertised everywhere. What's the deal?!)


I had a few extra quarters, so I let each of the kids get one of these piratey-themed bouncy balls, after confirming that's what they were and not, in fact, gum. Jack's the only one who can have gum (Sophia never throws hers away in the proper place, and Chloƫ can't have it with her dental appliance), so that wouldn't have been fair. In any case, all three are probably long lost by now!


Here's my eight-year-old boy saying goodbye - a few dozen times - to the super-cute girl behind the counter. Can you say "first crush"? Yeah. He's eight. Is it time for that stuff already?!


After we finally finished at the golf course, I called my homeschooling pal Jenny From the Block to have her and her kids - sickly though they were - meet us at the mall to ride the carousel. When you join their birthday club, you get to take 9 friends with you for free, not including parents, who are free anyway. Sweet deal, right? So Jenny FTB hopped in the shower, and we drove past the mall to pick up a Victoria's Secret gift card I'd snagged on Freecycle that morning while we waited for them to get ready. It was for ten bucks, and when we got to the mall, we found all kinds of perfumes on sale for - wait for it - ten bucks! So I let my tween birthday girl pick out her favorite scent (read: the bottle she found most appealing), and we didn't owe a dime. Sweet score! (And she made a point of telling me that - see those skimpy blue undies in the back? - that those wouldn't look good on me right now because of all my extra skin. Thanks, kid. LMAO)


I'd gotten a $5 birthday gift certificate in my email inbox for both Chloƫ and me, so I of course gave her mine, which made $10 in free money for her to spend at Build-a-Bear Workshop. We headed down the mall hall after Vicki's to spend it. She already knew she wanted a pair of rollerskates for her BAB kitty, and she kept praying out loud that they wouldn't be more than ten bucks. Lo and behold, they were only six bucks! She found these silky undies for her kitty - complete with a rose decoration that her hand is covering - for $3.50, so after tax, we owed mere pennies for these two otherwise free presents. Yep, that grin was genuine. She was having a grand day.


Team BB (Jenny from the Block and her two kids, G and M) texted me to let me know they'd arrived at the mall, so we scooted over to meet them at the carousel. There was no wait and no charge for the ride, so on we went. Sophia and Jack stayed on the lower level, while the rest of us headed to the upper tier. Here's my birthday girl on the horse she picked, looking cute as a button, no?


Whoops, I didn't realize M blinked during her photo op. Sorry, M!


My loverly friend, Jenny from the Block (who has nice teeth, I just noticed), and her adorable son, G


Sophia was already having a blast spinning her spinny thing downstairs, before the ride even started. Goofball.


As it turns out, so was Jack, in his. Goofball #2. The ride started immediately after this picture was taken, so I was stuck sitting nearby on a bench instead of on the horse next to my birthday kid like I'd planned. Ah, well. Can't win 'em all, right? No one showed up to ride - it was in the middle of a school day, after all - so I'm pretty sure they gave us an extra long turn on the ol' carousel for the birthday girl. Nice, right?


Another cool thing about the carousel birthday club thing is that each rider gets a free punching balloon - at least at our mall. Who doesn't love a punching balloon? That's like, high on my list of Favorite Things in the World. Punch, punch, punch. Chloƫ, notoriously immature for her age, suddenly acted the part of the growing-up tween in many ways, including this one: When M's balloon accidentally popped shortly after receiving it, almost immediately Chlo turned to her and said, "You can have mine!" and handed her the balloon. I was bursting with pride over that smooth move.


For my birthday, I got a BOGO Free coupon for Auntie Anne's pretzels, so the seven of us walked down there to get a couple cinnamon ones. Team BB shared theirs, while Chloƫ shared hers with her siblings. I neither got, nor wanted, nor should have had any, especially after eating the funnel cake earlier in the day. (Besides, I like the ones with crushed almonds, so there.)


When yummy snacks are involved, this oft-squabbling trio somehow manage to get along. Amazing.


I don't remember if M got any pretzel - I think she opted out - but G sure enjoyed his!


Oh, my Jenny FTB, you are so silly!

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Speaking of my silly Jenny, she later texted me this image of her in the new shirt I gave her. See, I had a $10 birthday gift certificate to Torrid (because I'm a Diva), and these Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles t-shirts on clearance for $9.98 were pretty much all that appealed to me in the "get it for free" price range. The shirt didn't fit me, but I figured I could use it for a comfy nightgown around the house, y'know? So when I showed it to Jenny FTB during our pretzel-engorging time, she was all raggin' on me because it wasn't my size. Turns out it would be her size, however, so after mucho back-and-forth, I convinced her to take it as my thank-you for coming out and sharing some of Chloƫ's birthday fun with us, despite not feeling so hot. Doesn't it look super cute on her?! I think so, too.


These rides were right next to the pretzel hut, and I still had quite a few quarters on me, so what the heck? I treated Sophia and M to this ride, and...


...Chloƫ, Jack and G squeezed in together on this one. Jenny FTB tried to give me her sole quarter, but I made that big spender keep her cash. LOL!


Then we headed over to Charlotte Russe, where I'd gotten a $5 Gift Certificate for my birthday, too. Jenny FTB immediately found a wallet in that price range that she loved, and since she rilly, rilly needed a new wallet, I was all, "Here, take the $5 GC." And you know what? Giving feels really good. I felt pleased, and she was happy, and the new wallet works for her, and yay yay!

And then we went over to the JC Penney Portrait Studio to use my coupon for a free sitting fee and free 8x10, thinking the seven of us could take a silly picture or eleven together. But you know what? Unlike Sears' coupon, the JCP sitting fee apparently only covers ONE person, which is lame. So JFTB and I looked at each other, scowled, and then decided to just let Chloƫ get HER pictures taken. I mean, it was her birthday, right? It only made sense. I can't copy any of the pictures off the site or I totally would, but hopefully you can see them here. If Slide 1 is of a close-up of her face with the balloons around it, that's the one I ordered for my free 8x10. Which would you have chosen?


After that, we were pretty much mall-tired, so we all trucked down to our closely-parked vehicles and hugged each other good-day a hundred bunches of times. I'm so glad they were able to come out; it was a blast hanging out with them, and I know Chloƫ would agree! (And yes, I was making them say, "Happy Birthday, Chloƫƫƫƫ!" for the picture, and yes, Jack was rolling his eyes about it. He was being a total punk that day!!)

We returned home, then, and woke up Daddy, so that he could come with us for the rest of Poor Man's Birthday Party. He changed out of his uniform lickety-split, and off we went again, for more fun!

First, we went to Sonic for our two free Wacky Pack kids' meals. I had a coupon for two, for my birthday and Chloƫ's. We let Sophia and Jack eat those. Happily, they both picked the apple slices as their sides, with no encouragement from the 'rents. Booya!

Then, we went to Ruby Tuesday for a free burger, fries and some other side (green beans?) that I got for my birthday but obviously wasn't going to eat, so that was Rob's dinner.


Silver Diner gave Chloƫ a free meal for her birthday, so she chose the mac-and-cheese entrƩe with a side of strawberries (again, no prompting!), and a strawberry shake. My kids LOVE eating at Silver Diner, but since only Chlo got a free meal, we took it to-go, like everyone else. Yep, I let them eat in car after just getting a car wash (for a mystery shop, natch). I'm a glutton for punishment. Guess I'll have to take another such shop soon!


Chick-Fil-A was right next to Silver Diner, and I happened to have a coupon for a free chicken sandwich from probably over a year ago, so I drove over and redeemed that without a hitch. I ate a third, and then Sophia ate a third, and I think the other third went into the round filing cabinet. I would've eaten it later, but whatev.


From there, we headed down to Chuck E. Cheese's to redeem Chloƫ's birthday coupon for 20 free tokens. Twenty isn't a lot, but they made it go pretty far and managed to spend about 40 minutes in the place, so it was worthwhile. I doled them out, giving six each to the Littles and eight to Chloƫ, with surprisingly no complaints. Now, looking at this picture, I'm wondering what was so fascinating on the side, there!

The three kids went off in three different directions, so I'm always thankful for their blacklight kid-numbering system when we go! Jack always heads for this shooty-thingy, so it wasn't too hard to track him down. In this picture, what I see, though, is how tiny he still is. (He still fits into some 6-month baby swim shorts, if that tells you much!)


Sophia was a little harder to track down, since she zipped right away from me and is good at finding hidey-holes. But find her I did, for once not riding the bike-helicopter ride that goes up and down. That's her favorite thing-a-ma-jig.


I pretty much followed Chloƫ around after that, waiting for good birthday photo ops. Found one!


Make that two! :) After this, I kicked her butt at air hockey. I play a mean game of air hockey, and by that, I mean, "against ten year old wimpy girls."


The kids all crowded around to watch Chloƫ play her last token, while Rob and I stood back and made jokes about honey pots.


One of the things the kids enjoy the most at CEC is feeding the ticket muncher machine. They fight over it! I'd get in the fray, too, if it wouldn't be juvenile, because that thing is F.U.N. With their 20 tokens - half spent on rides and not games - they managed to earn exactly 50 tickets. Not too shabby.


It's hard to divvy up 50 tickets amongst three children, so without my even asking, the ticket redemption counter guy said he would round it up to sixty, to make it even. Thank heaven for small favors. (Although, 50 doesn't really "round up" to 60, but I'm not complainin'!)


Sophia picked a 20-point pink rubber spider (hence the scary face). Chloƫ chose a sweet tarts a top, and Jack opted or sweet tarts and a sticker sheet. Hey. They were happy, and once again, you can't beat free!


We ran across the street after that, so I could redeem my birthday coupon for a free Homewrecker (well, that's what I chose, anyway) from Moe's. Welcome to Moe's! Love that place.  It took me three or four sittings to eat that thing, and I think I puked every time anyway. Le sigh.

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The fun wasn't over yet. We stopped at AC Moore so I could run in and redeem my free birthday coupons there, and I managed to get these Crayola markers and glue sticks for practically nothing - both hot commodities around here, so woot!


Our last stop of the night was at Chili's, to get our free birthday brownie sundae. It was mine, by rights, but I gave it to Chloƫ, who shared it with the rest of Team Odette. Except me. No thanks, can't do it! Here she is, eagerly awaiting the treat.


I had to take this picture fast. The brownie sundae disappeared in a flash. Oh, hi, iPhone.


That was the end of our freebie tour for the day. Chloƫ wanted to go home and, indeed, so did I! There were mini cupcakes leftover from the PJ party that morning (and I got some ribbing for bringing store-bought cupcakes when I'm supposed to be the baker!), and I wanted to do candles and sing to her, so we did that. Only Jack and Sophia had a cupcake, though Sophia probably had three when I wasn't looking...


She's either praying or thinking of a wish. Or both.


I hope ALL your wishes come true, Baby Doll!


It wasn't really intended as a birthday present, but since I'd gotten the flute at the co-op party that morning (to be paid for later, in installments - and I got a good deal to boot) from another homeschooling mom, I presented it to her as such. She's been wanting flute lessons. I'm going to try to find a tutor from one of the local colleges, for cheap lessons, though the same mom gave me a lesson book from which to learn, too.


All you musicians out there are cringing at this picture, eh? We have lots to learn. Lots. Although I did teach her how to put her mouth and lips, because this was killing me!

All in all, it was a splendid day, and she proclaimed it, as she does every single year, "The Best Birthday EVER!" but, "And this time I mean it!"

As for me, I spent my 35th birthday yesterday writhing in headache pain, lying down and letting the kids chill, until it was finally time for me to get up, shower, and prepare my plan for the Daisy meeting two hours later. Thankfully, Rob came home early, so Jack could stay home with him while we girls headed to Girl Scouts for the first meeting of the year. I thought it went really well, all things considered. I only have five girls (so far) this year, which is a much more manageable number than the eight and nine we had at various times last year! I do miss my "old" girls, but I love having my five familiar little ones back again, too.


The headache lasted throughout the evening and into the night, but I was cheered considerably by the sight and sounds of Sophia reading to Chloƫ, with minimal help from Big Sis. And when Big Sis did help, she was pleasant and considerate, not bossy or critical. It was absolutely a wonderful sight to behold, and I loved every minute of watching and listening to them. Sophia's reading has improved by leaps and bounds in the past month, and I know she is so proud of herself, as she should be!

And that, my friends, is the end of the birthdays for 2011. Thanks for reading and commenting as a birthday present to me! Hehe - see what I did there? ;)




I Think I Like It


If we're not friends on Facebook (and why not? I'll take ya), then you haven't seen this self-picture of me before. I was up late, sorting out all my make-up, since I have amassed large quantities of it with all the drugstore "deal shopping" I've done this year... and got to playing. I don't usually wear eye-liner, and if I do, I almost never wear it on the bottom lid. It smudges terribly on me, and creases and makes me look older. I want to BE older, but I don't want to LOOK older, know what I'm sayin'?

Anyway. Despite the Big Gulp and other crap in the background, and the funky bangs, I like it. I like the coloring in this picture - and I like the rarely-seen-on-me eye line-age. What say you? Do I look good for 34, or what? (Don't say 'or what,' my ego is fragile. Unless your 'what' is better than 'good,' in which case, by all means, have at it.)

Okay. On to a real post. I mean it this time. Pinky swear.


Picture Perfect

Weird, but this post about pictures isn't going to contain a single one!

Anyway, have you heard about Groupon? Look it up and see if they are participating in your area. It's an awesome site that offers a (usually) steep discount, once per day, to a local business. I've seen everything from restaurants to spa services to photography, and more.

The photography was the one I jumped on. I'd been wanting to get our family portraits taken professionally by someone other than our old standby, Sears, but it has been too cost-prohibitive for us. So when Groupon popped up with a deeply discounted offer from the folks at JL Keeney Photography, I hopped over to their website, decide their style would work for us, and snagged a great deal!

On Sunday evening, we met with Jeff & Lisa Keeney - a husband and wife photographer team - at a local park to have our pictures taken. They took us all over the place, by the duck pond, next to some trees, on a pier, to the playground, etc., and shot 7- or 800 pictures. The kids really showed off their personalities: ChloĆ« was "on" for the camera, posing away the whole time; Sophia was the fearless daredevil; and Jack was our little Nervous Nelly. We had a great time and enjoyed the shoot, and I couldn't wait to see the results.

Today, we met at the Keeneys' house/studio to look over the pictures. While I can't show them to you here, you can click on over here for a glimpse at one their shots, and hopefully soon the rest of the ones that we chose will be online for your viewing pleasure.

We have severely limited funds, so while I would have liked to purchase the entirety of the collection - or at least more than we did - we limited ourselves to the small package that the Groupon deal included, for a family picture, plus one of the thee kids and one of each of them individually. I am going to get the disk with all of our images, too, but that will take a while, as Jeff and Lisa generously offered to allow me to make payments on it.

I really have to say, we've been truly blessed by this whole experience. Not only did we get a great deal on some fabulous family portraiture, but we met a wonderful family in the process. The Keeneys are parents to three beautiful children, although we've only been fortunate enough to meet adorable, 3-month-old baby A so far. They are kind and, like I said, generous, and we have had a great rapport. They even read up about CARE Package and are wanting to add their professional skills to the cause, helping to photograph these beautiful angel babies before they are laid to rest. I'm going to contact the children's hospital where most of our donations go, to see what I need to do to get all that set up. I'm ecstatic; it's what I've been wanting and meaning to add since the beginning, and they are just the sort of people who should be involved with that.

After we selected our pictures and finished chatting, the Keeneys met us out front by our car and gave us some of their extra tomato plants. Jeff even ran into the garage and came back to hand Rob a bag of potting soil to get them transplanted at our house. How nice is that?! Just one example of the kindness of these former strangers.

So, if you're in Hampton Roads and looking to have a wonderful experience with getting your family's pictures taken, call JL Keeney. You won't be disappointed.



Saturday, What A Day

Not really.

But you know I'll still be able to find something to blog about!

It was a two-nap day for me yesterday. So that right there knocked out many precious hours of daylight, which will limit how much I can talk about. Breathe a big sigh of relief, folks!

Most of the rest of the time was spent doing laundry (me) or cleaning up (everyone else). The kids' "suite, as I think of the area of the back of the upstairs that includes their hallway, bathroom, and two bedrooms, is a disaster. It's always a disaster. They are forever having to clean it. Well, no more. After spending Friday and Saturday playing rather than cleaning, I am really getting on top of them today! I have my last load - of about 20!! - in the washer, so I will be back upstairs in a li'l ol' while to monitor their progress. We're taking it small chunks at a time, rather than try to eat the whole elephant at once. I know it's overwhelming for them.

After my first nap, I decided it was time to go take our Christmas picture for our cards. Vistaprint is running a 75% off special on all holiday items until Monday, making their 10-pack of photo cards only $1.99 - hello! I needed to jump on that.

I'd had my outfit picked out for weeks: red sweater, black pants, and I'd also long since decided that I wanted the girls each to wear one of the Christmas tutus still in my Etsy shop. So that made our wardrobe color options black, red, green, and white. It wasn't hard to find a sweater for Jack (I think the same one he wore last year; oh well) and black pants, and the girls found shirts to wear... but Rob had a dickens of a time coming up with something suitable. In the end, his shirt was burgundy, which made my eye twitch a little... but whatcha gonna do?

When everyone was dressed and we girls had our hair done, we headed down to the oceanfront with camera and tripod, to git 'er done.


I took a couple test shots to make sure the focus was right, the timer was working, etc. and then we only two took shots before we got one that we all liked! It was hard to tell on the small LCD screen, but when you see the final picture, you'll realize that Jack's goofy smile is back, like I did when we got home and I pulled it up on my computer. Eek! This picture, here, is just one I wanted to take for shits and giggles. So, giggle (or shit, but please, not on me).

It was FREEZING down there, so everyone was glad it only took a few minutes. Passers-by kept stopping and admiring our little family, smiling and pointing. That was kind of fun.

When we got home, I realized that I never put mascara on - my number one make-up "must." Oops. I asked Rob, jokingly, if we could go back and do it again... but I got The Look.

We went to church after that, and I'm really glad we did, because it was the start of a new series on analyzing Christmas carols. Last night, we - and I say "we" when really it was all Pastor Andy - talked about "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel." It's a song I really don't know all that well, but now I'll be listening for it and really paying attention to the words. The music team - not what they're really called, but I can't think of the word right now - sang a beautiful rendition of it, and it made me envious of their ability to perform on stage. I can sing okay, but I'm too shy to audition!

Oh! One more thing. I can't remember if I mentioned here that I lost my engagement ring several days ago, while I was doing the laundry. I knew for sure it was in there somewhere, but I hadn't discovered it yet, and I was getting really upset about it. Welp, last night while folding, it popped out of a child's shirt and done got found! Yippee!! Now, I either can't wear my rings or will have to wear my one-size-smaller anniversary ring over the wedding and engagement rings, so I won't lose them. Time to get them resized!



As in, quick. For me. We shall see...

I've jumped back into the grind at work.  The Z-pack has really kicked the pneumonia/sinusitis/pharyngitis/bronchitis' ass, and I'm feeling pretty good. Except for having to run to the bathroom every so often to hack up a lung, that is.

And three things have happened in the last two days at work that have me feeling pretty good about myself:

  1. A sweet old man, after telling me that he was doing "so-so," told me that if he was a "cute young chick" like me, he'd be doing fantastic. Did someone say "cute"?
  2. A much younger man, maybe five years older than Rob (so early 40s), told me today that I had a very nice smile.
  3. A much younger man, maybe my age, maybe younger, and sexy as hell, winked at me from three or four registers away. Take that as you will, but Rob's interpretation was, "Hey, you're a cute girl!"

So apparently, losing 140 pounds done wonders not only for my outward appearance but inner self-esteem. I'm liking things right now. I'm liking them very much.

When work is slow, and it often is, we are supposed to stand at the end of the check-out lane and wait for customers, to invite them in. Sometimes, 20 minutes will go by in the early mornings, with no takers. So I have lots of time to daydream. Thinking about my weight loss, and having talked to one of my managers about my surgery, I imagined a conversation wherein she asked me how I'd gotten so fat in the first place. And I'd give her the several reasons/excuses/explanations, not the least of which is that I really ate my way through my depression for the years following Robby's death. And that started me thinking about the depression and the suicide attempts. There were many. At least six, I think. And the kids remember the last one, although they do not know that that is what was going on. They bring it up from time to time, and it pains me. So then I was thinking about how, despite being broke as a joke, happy I am in my "new" body, how good I'm feeling (thanks in no small part to my bipolar diagnosis and nightly meds cocktail) mentally, and how awful, just how awful, it would have been if I had been successful.

How much I love those kids. How much they need me. How much I need them. How I would have completely devastated them, their lives, their futures...

So I'm grateful, very, very grateful, to have failed at that singular aim. I wanted so badly to take Robby's place. I was trying to die for the one I lost instead of living for the three I still had. I'm so thankful to have stepped out of that cloud and come back, if you will. I'm a lucky girl, in so many ways.

So much for this being a quick one.

So Rob is working nights now - did I mention that? He started last night - and it completely sucks. I was not cut out to be a single parent; I have said that before. I like sharing the duties, having someone to complain to and commiserate with about the hard parenting stuff, and you know, sharing the good, fun times, too. But mostly I miss having someone to split up the chauffering duties with!

Today, as soon as the kids got home from school, I had Chloƫ change out of her school clothes and into her dance leotard and pants. We headed back to HT (my work) to:

  1. Show my pre-surgery picture to my manager, C, whose jaw completely dropped,
  2. Buy the Pink Ribbon 99Ā¢ cookies (which had been discounted 75% and which were apparently pretty nasty) for the kids' after-school snack,
  3. Buy Tic-Tacs and get a dollar back, for Tooth Fairy duties tonight (yes, she struck again), and
  4. Talk to same manager, C, about changing my availability, now that Rob is working nights.

That was a quick in-and-out, during which each of the kids acquired a free helium balloon. Two of them, the younger pair, let theirs go as soon as we walked out of the store. Scoundrels!

We headed straight over to dance class then. Chloƫ went in to dance, and Jack came up front with me to do his homework. From his homework folder, I pulled out his School PIctures and had the horrified-yet-amused reaction to this awful pose:

School Pictures

Uh.Muh.Guh. Is that awful, or what? I showed it to Jack, and he burst out laughing! I was amused at his reaction, but geez.... it's terrible! (And look how yellow his teeth look! They really are not that yellow IRL). Since I never took his 6-year pictures at Sears, I was just going to let his end-of-kinder pix and beg-of-1st pix suffice, but, holy cow. I think I will keep some of these just because Jack thinks they're so hysterical, though!

Chloƫ's is much nicer:

School Pictures1

I like it, although Rob absolutely detests that dress, and her face looks much rounder here than IRL. I can see Robby in her when I look at this picture.

So. Homework progressed, and he did pretty well. He farted majorly stinky farts the whole time and kept cracking up at himself. Ugh. Such a boy!! He couldn't decide what he was prouder of, smelling like shit or that awful photograph!

He still does NOT know how to write the numbers from about 11+, so I am constantly making him write them and then tell me what they are. It's just not sinking in and is becoming very frustrating for both of us. I'll have to come up with a much funner way to do it.

Anyway, dance ended, and we went directly to IH*P for dinner, for a shop. That went pretty well, although they seat all parties with kids in the same section, and some of the rowdier kids in the bunch got mine going, which annoyed me. My kids KNOW how to behave in a restaurant, but when they are hyped up, it all goes to pot. Guess I know why they seat them all together in the back!

There was a very nice family seated right behind ours, and there was a lot of cross-chat between our two families. So it was with no hesitation half-way through our meal that I got up, tapped the other mother on the shoulder and whispered, "Can you please keep an eye on my kids? I have to go throw up!" yeah, I'm still doing a lot of that. She was more than willing to help, so I went off to do that, and when I came back, after questioning me about my okay-ness, she informed me that they basically shared their whole lives in five minutes. Mostly about school, phew! At least no one blew our cover.

Back at home, I suddenly remembered the massive day I have tomorrow. I'll tell you about it now, just because I'm doubtful I'll have time to blog much about it after the fact:

  1. To my PCP for my PAP, the first one since my hysterectomy, to make sure the bad guys haven't returned. (I think I will absolutely scream if anything comes back abnormal again. Cross your fingers! Or your labia!)
  2. To Newport News for my 9-month post-surgery check-up, which will take an hour or so each way to drive, 15-30 minutes in the waiting room, and 5 minutes, max, with the doctor
  3. To the bank to finally deposit the remaining Brownie troop dues
  4. To the post office to mail three tutus I just made tonight after Etsy orders came in and re-mail Jack's 2T wardrobe (which was returned because I used an alcohol box the first time, wasting $12. Bah!)
  5. Home to bake something, anything, for
  6. Collect the kids and take them to Troop Leader's house for Juliet Gordon Lowe's birthday party (and bring my entire XXXXXXXXXXL wardrobe to M to try on later)
  7. Leave early to go to Chloƫ's soccer practice (which we missed on Tuesday b/c I felt like utter doodyballs)
  8. Leave early to go to Sophie's soccer practice
  9. Leave early to go to Jack's den meeting (or is it a pack meeting? I forget now, it's almost 2 AM), where they are NOT to wear class-A uniforms but instead must come in costume and bring their pumpkins from the pumpkin patch visit a couple weekends ago.

So. After we got home from dinner, Chloƫ started her homework while Jack, Sophia and I carved their pumpkins. I made them rip out the innards - which they hated and bellyached about to no end - before I would carve them. They did a half-ass job, though, so I found myself arm-deep in gourd guts anyway. I am a crappy jack-o'-lantern maker. Observe:


It didn't matter, though, because they were both thrilled with the results and said they were exactly what they wanted. Great! Who could ask for anything more? (Sophia went to the Farmer's Market with her preschool class last week, and they all got a pumpkin there. Chloƫ doesn't have one yet.)

After the pumpkins, they had a quick dessert, and the littles went to bed. Chloƫ and I finished her homework and worked on getting the soccer gear ready for tomorrow's tour-de-Virgina Beach, and had a conversation that left me in tears. She was telling me about a classroom assignment today, wherein they had to choose a word to describe themselves, starting with each letter in their first names. She chose caring for the "C" and loving for the "L" and I forget what for the "E," not able to think of anything for the "H" or "O."

I said, "What about 'happy'?" To which she broke my heart by replying, "But I'm not happy. I'm mad. All the time."

Oh, my God. I knew she was stressed out, but I did not think she was NOT happy. I don't care if my kids are cute. I don't care if they're smart. I don't care about any of that, as long as they are happy. Above all, I want my kids to be happy kids. My heart broke when she said that, it really did.

She came over to me, and we had a very long conversation about it, a heart-to-heart. There were lots of details, but basically it seems that the crux of the matter is that she doesn't like Sophia, wants to be an only child, and wants her own room back. When she said she didn't like Sophia, I bawled. Why does that hurt so much? I know it's normal. I know it is. But I'm pretty darn fond of the kid, and I want her older sister to be, too. Pain.

I told her I'd talk to Daddy about putting her back in her own room, and we'd go from there. I hope that solves things. She really is stressed out. Mommy yelling, Daddy yelling, problems with friends, problems with school/schoolwork/tests/the gifted class, etc., don't seem to be the matter. I worry about Jack and Sophia sharing a room, but I care much more about Chloƫ's mental health than I do about more destruction of physical property.

Phew. Heavy stuff.

On a lighter note, no sooner did Chloƫ go up to bed than she came running back down to tell me, "Jack climbed up on the dresser and then peed a fountain out into the room!"

Good golly, where is my husband when I need him??!!!?!

S'late. I'm out.


Come See The Softer Side

Today, we had an appointment at Sears for Chloƫ's 7th birthday portraits. Normally, I go one day and get the package, and then go the next for wallets in additional poses and outfits. I haven't been doing that lately but changed my mind today when I found a coupon for a $4.99 package - best deal I've seen in a while. So, we'll go back again tomorrow.

Our appointment was at noon, and we got there just in time. Ellie, or normal photog, is at a different store right now, so I made the appointment with Angie, the store manager. I don't trust the other girls (or really even Angie) with my portraits; as far as I'm concerned, Ellie is our star. I can't wait for her to come back, but the other store is in a bad area, and I do not want to take the children there.

Well, it turns out if I have good reason to mistrust the other girls: whomever I spoke to did not record our appointment! We had to wait a full hour before we were seen. Highly annoying, especially since the kids were getting antsy and starting to act like wascally wabbits for the last of it. When I made my appointment for tomorrow, I made sure to double-check that it had been recorded!

Anyway, on with the show (keeping in mind these are the unedited photos):

ChloeSeven1 Her shoes were bothering her, so once again, we went with bare feet.

Chloeseven2 Not my favorite look. What's with the hunching over?

ChloeSeven3 Sweet. Perfect. I chose this one.

ChloeSeven4 Interesting, laying down the "7" like that, but I don't like the look overall.

ChloeSeven5 She is wearing one of the headbands I made; it just happened to be the exact same shade of lavendar as her dress.

ChloeSeven6  This look is weird to me. I don't like the odd angle.

ChloeSeven8 I thought this was cute and more grown-up looking, so when Angie offered me a free sheet of wallets in any pose to make up for the appointment mix-up, I chose this one.

More show tomorrow!


It's My Party and I'll Cry if I Want To

Ohhhh. It's been a long Tuesday.

I woke up a little late and had to rush Chloƫ to the bus stop without a lunch, handing her two bucks to buy instead. I always hate doing that, because I like to know exactly what the kids are eating - and what they're not. Especially in these days of puking. She had a serious cough again. This is the bug that will not go away!

When I got Jack up, who was still way sound asleep at the appointed time, he cried and said he didn't feel good and his head hurt and he didn't want to go to school. Again? Okay. So I went to my room and called the school to let them know he wasn't coming, and he pitched a major fit. Hysterics, the works. He changed his mind, he said, he wanted to go. I know what it was: he hated not to right on that school bus! So I pondered and thought and thunk about it, and I decided to take him to school. They could always call me to come get him back again, right? But he ended up staying the whole day.

Sophia and I ran home just long enough to get my shop folder, and then we ran out to Laskin to do an Office Depot shop. It went well but took the better part of an hour; much too long for such a boring shop, IMO. We came home and watched a little PBS Kids until Jack got off the bus. Then I finally got a much-needed shower. Feels so good, especially because it means scrubbing this dang all-over itchy rash that's driving me apeshit.

When Chloƫ came home, the kids had a quick snack, and then we took her to ballet class. We got lost on the way there, thanks to a utility work detour, and I drove around half of King's Grant. No clue where to go there. I finally called the studio and got directions. Should've just started with that.

Rob was home when we got back, and he fed the kids dinner while I did some work, and then he put Sophie and Jack down for naps. We had pictures in the evening, and we wanted to make sure they were well-rested this time so nobody would be cranky. (Ha!)

I took Chloƫ for an audition with Karen Whitlow, the local agent we really want to have instead of Sylvia Hutson, whose actions concern me, the more I think about it. Yeah, she got Chloƫ the print job for tomorrow, but she went about it all wrong.

Despite Chloƫ's bad cough and general malaise (wink to Rob), she did well enough that Karen wanted to represent her. Oh, shoot, I need to wing her an email with Chloƫ's head shots. Thanks for reminding me, self. So after the shoot tomorrow, I'll let Sylvia know that we're, uh, booting her. And stuff. Not looking forward to that!

We came home and got the kids ready in their Christmas outfits, and we headed back to Sears. They looked so adorable, all of them, individually and together. I proudly watched other people glance over and admire them as they walked through the store. Yep! Them's mah bebbies!

At home, I had been asking Sophia if we could go back to the store where we were last night, and take her pictures. She kept saying, "Yes, sure, sure!" So I thought we were golden. But no sooner did we enter the portrait studio than the waterworks began again in full force! Ahhh, it's just the age of it, I guess. Jack didn't like going there at two, either. We tried and tried, to no avail, to get her to stop crying and smile a little. We finally took some with just Jack and Chloƫ, and then we threw Sophie in for a few at the end, just to mark her presence in the family for our holiday cards. I wanted to make it all silly, like, "haha, our kid is crying for Christmas cards," and throw in a bunch of wacky props that had nothing to do with Christmas, but they weren't game. So this is what we ended up with (always hard to see on the computer, I know):

Christmas8 Christmas2 Christmas1_2

Christmas7 Christmas3Christmas4Christmas6 Christmas5   

I don't know why it leaves those big spaces between pictures sometimes. That's so annoying. And it cuts off the pictures, so you have to click on them if you want to see the whole thing. Bah.