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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!)

ORDINARY PEOPLE (2005)

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


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

Lyme Warrior Poem | Perseverance, Lyme, You are strong

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Barbra Streisand, tout sur la chanteuse

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

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

Lucky Peak Dam Photos – Hicken Design

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

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

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

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

Kelly Clarkson opens up about suicidal thoughts in her early career

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

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

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

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

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

03202021 Paco

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

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

Enjoy your Spring beginning, y'all!

Fin.


Saturday 9: The Candy Man

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

IWILLBESTRIKING

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

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

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THE CANDY MAN (1972)
Unfamiliar with this week's song? Hear it here.

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

2) In the movie, this song is sung by Bill, the candy store shopkeeper. Think about the last counter person you dealt with. We know that he or she likely didn't break into song, but did you two engage in conversation?
 
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Yeah. Well. Last night, Chloë and I attended the "Sweater Weather Get-Together" at The Twisted Ewe, a yarn shop up in Boise. I engaged with several of the shop staff, and especially introduced myself to the young woman who runs their social media stuff, because I engage with her frequently, and I'd never met her in person. I also signed up to be a test knitter.

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

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

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

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

Sunday Stealing: Compassion Meme

Hello, hello! I don't have a lot of pre-meme prattling for you today, so link up here if you're playing along this weekend, and then let's jump right into it!

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These are questions suggested by Compassion, Int'l

And BTW, Happy Birthday to Lori, whose birthday is the 9th!


    Happy birthday, Lori!!
    

What is the most fun thing you have ever done?

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I don't think there's been a more fun moment in my whole life than when Rob and I eloped. That moment, running hand in hand together to the courthouse, laughing, hearts pounding... it was absolutely exhilarating!

Are you left-handed or right-handed?

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Yes.

What is the nicest thing someone has ever done for you?

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Oh, various things. The specifics don't matter, such as the concept: each of us has, within us, the power and wherewithal to do good, to make this world a better place. Every day, every moment, every interaction is a choice to make that good happen, or not. And then those on the other end will hopefully go forth and do the same.

What is the biggest animal you’ve seen in the wild?

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Probably a bear, in the woods, driving through West Virginia on our way from Missouri to Virginia

What is the smallest animal you’ve seen in the wild?

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I mean, mosquitos are pretty tiny animals, right? I'll tell you one I wish I'd seen: The deer tick, Ixodes scapularis, that infected me with Lyme Disease. I believe that happened in the summer of 2014 in central New York. I didn't get diagnosed until January 2017. That was plenty of time to do substantial and permanent damage.

Do you ever have funny dreams at night?

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Yeah. I dream very vivid, realistic dreams that always confuse the shit out of me when I wake up, too. It always takes me forever to suss out what really happen and what was just a dream.

If you could make a law for your country, what would it be?

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Easy: I would ban single-use plastic. But that would just be the beginning.

What would you do if you were invisible for a day?

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If I were invisble for a day, I'd go around and cover up and bring warmth to the people who are homeless. I'd steal food if I had to, to feed the hungry. I'd find a way for the light to shine on those who are struggling to feel beautiful and loved. I'd use my day to find a way to let others know that even though their day-to-day lives are a constant struggle, they are not forgotten, and they matter.

If you could be someone else for a day, who would you be?

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I'd be Oprah and feel FABULOUS!

What would you like to change about yourself?

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I'd go deep inside and tinker with my soul, until whatever is inside me telling me I'm not worthy of love, of joy, of contentment, and that I deserve pain... is gone. I would change that.

What is your daily routine?

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I don't have one at the moment. It's kind of depressing!

What would your perfect day be like?

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This may sound inane, but I would accomplish everything on my to-do list, precisely the way I'd hoped. I'd get in some yoga and do some poses that I've been working toward. Whatever I'd do, I'd want to impress myself. I haven't impressed myself in a long time.

How old were you when you learned to read?

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I learned to read when I was three. I started reading out loud off the back of the cereal box during breakfast one morning, and that's when they realized I could read. Everyone took credit for it, but no one gave it to me. Story of my life.

What is the most interesting thing you know?

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Oh, gosh, I don't know. I know when a toddler has been eating and offers you a bite, it's not always of their food...

What makes you nervous?

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Uncertainty. And life's full of it! I'm an anxious person. But I don't shy away from it. I jump in with my eyes open quite a lot. 

What is your favourite flower?

yellow, purple and pink calla lilies 1

Bright, surprising bouquets of irises, lilies, and tulips are my favorites. I love the bulb flowers, the monocotyledons. Look at this "Dragonfly" bouquet from the Bouqs! 😍😍

Have you ever ridden on a horse or any other animal?

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Well, not like Sophia (my 14yo daughter, here)! But I've ridden on a horse, an elephant, and a camel. And a dog. And a human. 😂😂😂

What time do you go to bed?

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I don't even know. Goes along with that 'routine' thing we previously discussed.

What time do you get up?

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Whenever I can. As soon as I can. For as long as I can. #spoonielife

What is something that is always in your refrigerator?

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A package of tofu. I actually love tofu, really and truly. In fact, tomorrow for my birthday, I think I'm going to forgo any kind of cake and have tofu instead. Not even kidding.

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Great. Now I want tofu, and I don't think we actually have any right this second! I don't even know what we do have. I haven't been grocery shopping yet this month... #FeedMeSeymour

Have a great week, y'all!

Fin.


Saturday 9: No One's Here To Sleep

Image result for how to get away with a murderer

How ya doin', folks? Welcome back. Click here if you want to join the rest of the Saturday 9 gang this week!

But first, a few things:

First, Viola Davis, go on with yo' fine self.

Second, this is the first time I've been out of bed for any length of time since Sunday night, when I went out to dinner with Hubs. I have a dizzying amount of health issues, and just the simple act of having a birthday dinner (his) out has worn me out that much. I hate it.

Finally, do a Google search for The Wizard of Oz. Then click on the ruby red shoes. And then, click on the tornado. Then come back here. Fun, right?!

Now let's begin:

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Saturday 9: No One's Here to Sleep (2013)

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

1) This song is the theme of How to Get Away with Murder, the legal drama that premiered in 2014 and airs on Thursday nights. Are you a fan?

Image result for cast of how to get away with a murderer

I have never watched it. Yet. Should I?

2) The song's refrain says, "I'll never catch up with you." Behind the wheel, do you carefully observe the speed limit? Or do you have a lead foot, making it hard for anyone to catch up with you?

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I definitely have a lead foot - and I have the speeding tickets to prove it! There are a lot of 25 MPH roads here in Mountain Home, Idaho, which has made the transition from Boise (and before that, Miami) particularly difficult for me. It's impossible! So the first thing I do when I leave the house is turn on the cruise control, which fortunately starts at 25 MPH in our vehicle, so that I can't get any (more) tickets here. My current peeve is that the two-lane interstate from here to Boise, or anywhere else for that matter, allows 18-plus-wheelers to pass in the left lane, but they can only go 70 MPH. Except the speed limit is 80 MPH! So we're often stuck rolling our eyes, gnashing our teeth, and gripping the steering wheel in frustration behind those Macks.

3) How to Get Away with Murder is about Annalise Keating, a law professor at a top Philadelphia university. She has a reputation for being tough, demanding and able to turn her students into successful defense attorneys. Tell us about a teacher who helped prepare you for life after graduation.

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I had many great teachers and professors, so it's hard for me to single one out. But I will. At the University of Miami, I took Physics I and II from a gent who used to write "IAEFRTGDI" on the chalkboard before every exam. And then he'd read it aloud, pointing to each letter in turn: "If all else fails, read the g-- d--- instructions!" to remind us that, if we were stuck on a problem, to do exactly that. He'd just pause for the "G-D-" parts, giving us all a giggle. But that was 25 years ago, and I've obviously never forgotten his lesson!

4) The students she feels show the most promise - and are recruited to help her solve murders - are known as The Keating Four. Did you ever sense that you were your teacher's favorite?

Melanie Ann 6yo

It was always pretty rare for me not to be the teacher's pet.

5) Viola Davis was just nominated for an Emmy for playing Professor Keating. Ms. Davis was born on a farm in SC. Have you spent more of your life in a rural, suburban or urban setting?

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That's Chloë and me on South Beach (Miami) on New Year's Eve, 2015 - I had just started getting sick that year, and that night really took a lot out of me. But I digress. I'm a city girl, through-and-through. Now I live in land-locked Idaho. Or I'm dying here. Either way, I've asked Hubs to take me to the beach at least every couple of years or so. I miss it more than I could ever convey.

6) Next to Annalise Keating, Viola Davis is best known for her Oscar-nominated role as Aibileen in the movie, The Help. Have you seen it?

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I have, and while we (my daughters and I) loved it, I was a bit disappointed because it was historically inaccurate. They could have done a lot more to celebrate and elevate the true stories those black actresses portrayed.

7) In 2014, the year How to Get Away with Murder premiered, we lost two famous comedians: Robin Williams and Joan Rivers. Who was the last person to make you laugh out loud? (This means actually, literally laughing out loud, not just keystroking LOL.)

Image result for physics professor funny Image result for physics professor funny Image result for physics professor funny Related image Image result for physics professor funny Image result for physics professor funny

I mean, I'm a legit nerd and don't mind it, but yes, all of these (and more) individually and collectively made me laugh aloud. In fact, I wanted to keep looking and enjoying, but then I remembered I had unfinished business here with Sam. ;)

8) The 2014 Olympics were held in Sochi. Have you ever been to Russia? If not, is it a dream destination of yours?

Image result for Russia funny

I want to see the whole world, but the idea of going to Russia draws a great big "meh" out of me. Is it enough that my grandpa went there?

9) Random question: The sign on the railing says, "Wet Paint." Do you touch the railing to see if it's really wet?

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Probably. At least nine times out of 10 I would, anyway. In one of my Animal Behavior lectures, Prof told us of a study - probably by Konrad Lorenz - wherein four different species were suspended in a net that allowed the dangling of one or more legs. Initially, when a leg was dangled, it hit a surface that delivered a painful electric shock. (Ugh, I hate these studies.) Anyway, the animals studied included a cat, a pig, a dog, and a monkey. We students had to guess which animal then exhibited which behavior: one never, ever put down its leg again. Was it smart, having learnt its lesson? One waited awhile and then tried again. Another maybe waited longer? I forget. And the fourth continuously put down that leg, time and time again. Was it stupid, forgetting each time about the shock? Or was it just following its genetic predisposition to test a thing to see if something new and different would happen? I believe that last animal was the cat. (In the first case, I believe it was... the pig! Surprised?) Long story short, I am like the cat. I always need to test everything to see if it's true, or still true. The more data I can collect about Life, the more accurate I'll be, right?

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Y'all have a good weekend. And FFS, please stop confusing your Batesian and Müllerian mimicry, wouldja? So distasteful. ;)

Fin.


Sunday Stealing: Swap-Bot Questionnaire

Welcome, welcome, kids of all ages!

Thanks for all the well wishes about my eardrum rupturing Friday. It definitely wasn't fun, but I've had problems with that ear since we came up from 0' above sea level in Miami to ~2500' above sea level in Boise over two years ago. That ear just did not want to make the trip! The constant Val Salvo maneuver is my life now. When I do it now, the air screams out of that hole in my eardrum so loudly that Rob and the kids can hear, too. It's weird.

Anyway!

Link up here if you want to play along with the rest of us this weekend.

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Swap-Bot asked people to post questions they would like to answer.  Bev copied them all and put together this brief selection.

What do you enjoy about summer?

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I like the carefree, mostly-unscheduled nature of it, the freedom, the warmth, everything. It seems like the most "come as you are" season of the year.

Do you like snow? Why?

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haaaaate snow. I grew up in Syracuse, New York, the lake-effect snow capitol of the world. I've done my time! If that isn't 'nuff said, then also, it means I'll be c-c-c-cold, and being cold causes me intense pain nowadays. Then there's the blackish-brown crap that gets all over everything after the street cleaners come through the place. That's three reasons, but I could go on.

What do you think about dogs?

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I am a dog lover, through and through. (But then, I love all animals!)

Have you ever gotten lost?

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Oh, I'm the genius who perpetually gets lost outside her own driveway - especially if she tries to "wing it" and turns off Google Maps to get there. I have no sense of direction!!

What are your favorite type of socks?

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This is gonna sound like I'm joking, but I promise you I'm not: Most of my socks are hospital socks. I have texture issues, and the socks from the hospital don't bug those at all. In fact, my friend Gwyn sent me a boatload of her husband's old hospital socks upon hearing this, and I love her for it! I always keep my hospital socks when I've been there.

What is your favorite style of shoes?

Crocs.

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I used to wear these Crocs Cypress heels a lot, but I can't wear heels anymore now that falling is a constant risk for me.

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Now I wear almost exclusively Crocs, but it's more like these Patricia sandals, which I have in several colors. I had to give my Navy ones (above) to Sophia, though, because they stretch out over time and were no longer snug enough on my size 5½ feet.

What would you name your boat if you had one?

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It would be the Sweet Pea. Didn't even have to think about that one.

What common misconception do you hate to hear repeated as fact?

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I worked on the concept of "novice theory" for my graduate thesis, especially as it pertains to the Theory of Evolution. Note the caps on the latter presentation of the word, versus the former. And that's the crux of it: Most people don't understand the concept of Scientific Theory vs. the theories we bandy about day-to-day, in our normal, non-scientific lives, and suppose are correct. That of Evolution is well-founded in example after example, able to be observed by the human eye in a short time period, and is well-replicated inside and outside the lab. This is true whether it agrees with our own ideas of what religion should dictate or not. Sorry if you don't like it, Joe Schmo, but that's just the way it is.

What was the last shop you went into and what did you buy?

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I've been a couponer since birth. My mother taught me. After she died, my sister Stacey would cut all the coupons, and I would sort them into their respective categories. I continued doing that as I went to college, and on into adulthood. Now, things have gone high-tech, and I could teach Mom a thing or two! Chloë is a girl after my own heart: she loves to save a buck and cringes when she sees someone needlessly paying full price. I love to give away our haul to battered women's shelters, the families at the Ronald McDonald House, etc. So we thought we'd take $150 and see what we could get from Walgreens, Rite Aid, and CVS. I'm not sure which one was the last one we went into, but we ended up with well over $1,000 worth of merchandise.

What's your favourite thing to do to pass the time?

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Back in the day, I easily could've said "read." Now, I don't know... waste time online? When I was pregnant with Chloë, my aim was to spend the time, having hyperemesis gravidarum, catching up on the classics. Except, I stumbled across Sidney Sheldon works in the library and read all of those books instead. Quite a different thing! Since motherhood, I haven't exactly given myself permission to sit and read. I really need to re-learn how to allow myself that.

What is a way to die that scares you the most?

I would not like to suffocate or drown. The thought terrifies me.

Travel or homebody?

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Oh, I may be trapped in my body, but my body is not one to be trapped in Idaho. Plenty of World left for me to see!!

Have you ever gone to a Bingo hall?

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I have not.

What is the longest plane trip you have taken?

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Listen, you've never flown long-haul until you've moved from Panama City, Florida, to Guam whilst pregnant with twins, with a one-year-old child. And then flown back four months later... 🙄

Do you text more or call more? Why?

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I much prefer to text over calling. I have severe phone anxiety. So do several other members of my family. It's a thing. If you don't have have it, lucky you, but please don't let that diminish your capacity to understand that others do. (I'm a "yes" to all, btw.)

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Well, on that cheerful note, I'll say buh-bye! LOL Tonight, after all, is the Matador dinner with Hubs, finally, after I felt like shit all day Saturday. Tequila!

Fin.


Sunday Stealing: Friday Five Meme

Hidey-ho, neigbors! (Name that TV show.) I took a much-needed nap today to try to sleep off some severe migraine & fibro pain, and when I woke up I had no idea what day or time it was. That seems to be increasingly common for me; so confusing! I hate that. But, it's still Saturday night, which means, based on the numer of times I get distracted and go do other things temporarily... I still have time to post this on Sunday! 😂

Link up here if you want to join the fray today! And we're off...

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Questions from taken from Friday Five

Have you ever had a great conversation with a complete stranger?

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Sure! Once, Rob and I were on a high-end dinner mystery shop in downtown Miami, and when I came out of a stall in the ladies' room, the bathroom attendant and I struck up at least a 10-minute-long conversation that ended in hugs, laughter, and tears. We really connected, and it was so strange to try to write that up in my report without giving myself away.

Where did you go on the very first vacation of your life?

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My sperm donor has told me it was to North Carolina, but I definitely don't remember that.

Open the door of your refrigerator. What is the first thing you see?

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About half a dozen cartons of the fancy omega-3, pasture-raised, vegetarian-fed, etc. eggs - the only kind I can eat without having a severe allergic reaction.

What is your favorite place in your home?

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I don't know yet! It's so big, I feel like I haven't really had time in every place yet. I do love having a three-car garage, though. Maybe hitting that door-open and -close button, like a real grown-up, is my favorite thing!

If you had wings to fly about the universe, where is the first place you’d land?

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When I was a child, I had constant dreams about being able to fly away, escape, get to safety, etc. I also frequently dreamt I was heading to the moon. Those dreams were so vivid and realistic, I became convinced I actually could fly and had just forgotten how. So... the moon would be the first place I'd land.

What is the first thing you do when you get in your car?

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I have OCD, so the first thing my foot does is go on the brake pedal. And it remains there even when the car is turned off for long periods of time, like if I'm sitting in the car waiting for someone. I also jam the parking brake with my left foot, way down, and release it, and then repeat that several times.

What is special about the town you live in?

I posted this on Facebook about it today, actuallly:

Neighbors
What is the last thing you heard about your first love?

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He'd won a trip with his wife to Watkins Glen, New York's recent Nascar races, along with all kinds of racing accoutrement. I don't follow Nascar, but it looked like a great time for them to get away, so I was happy for 'em!

If you had created the world in seven days yourself, what would you have created on the First Day?

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I'd make empathy and compassion, and make it irrevocable in human beings.

How do you beat the summer heat?

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Swimming is my favorite!

Did you enjoy your Senior Year in high school?

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The home part, no, not at all; the school part, yes, absolutely!

Who is your favorite First Lady of all time?

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I've really liked a few, but in my lifetime, I think Michelle Obama takes the trophy.

Post a link to your first blog post.

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Well, this post is almost twelve years old, so it seems like ages in the lives of my kiddos! Wow, interesting for me to read - but probably boring for anyone else! (But my first blog post was actually well before that, on MySpace.)

When was the last time you needed First Aid?

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My physical therapist has gotten me using cupping as a means to quell my sore muscles from the constant muscle spasms I experience. I've gotten many a blister before, and/or worse, depending on your perspective of it. Really freaks out the kids... but I won't say too much. Don't wanna gross anyone out!

Can you explain what a first down is in football?

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Well, my understanding of it is very rudimentary, but without looking it up: The team who has the ball has four downs to make a touchdown. For each down, I think they need to make it ten yards closer to the goal line. I think if they do that, they get another set of four downs (if they haven't made a goal)? If the other team intercepts a pass, or the original team doesn't make their 40-yards over four downs, the ball passes to the other side. I think. Maybe?

~*~*~*~*~

Now I have to go look it up for real! ha! I feel silly even trying. I just know those UM fellas look pretty good in their new environmentally-friendly uniforms from Adidas!

I hope you all have a stellar week. Hoping to get around and read everyone's posts today. At least this week. Bear with me!

Cheers!

Fin.


Sunday Stealing: Not 5,000 Questions, Part The First

Welcome back. 🙋‍♀ I am stuffed! I just finished half a small plate of popcorn shrimp, which Chloë made, and shortly before that, a banana that I did not share with Paco (my 5-year-old Chihuahua), much to his chagrin. I had a tofu stir-fry that Rob made for dinner, and then Jack and I went out for more soy sauce (for the leftovers), some school clothes for him, and some other stuff. Upon our return, we ate ice cream cones (I had a chocolate-dipped cone with Talenti pistachio gelato - such an indulgence!). And I had two chocolate croissants from Walmart, which I bought on impulse when I saw them; they're just like smaller versions of the ones Panera used to sell before replacing them with some crappy new thing that I hate. Anyway, my point is, I feel like I have not stopped eating since I got up today.

Sunday Stealing time. Link up here if you're playing along today! So, full belly, dry diaper, here we go: 

~*~*~*~*~

Have you read anything by C.S. Lewis?

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Yes. For my college graduation gift, my BFF Lisa gave me his book Mere Christianity. When I read it, it was a complete 180º from where I was, still heavily stuck in the cult in which I was raised (Christian Science, which I now realize is completely evil). I had epiphany after epiphany whilst reading it, and it was an awakening for me. I think I shall read it again; once I unpack it and find it! And we listened to the audiobooks of the Narnia series when the children were younger and we took lots of road trips.

What is your favorite movie with Jack Nicholson?

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Oh, God. That's a tough one; has he had any roles I don't like?! I think As Good As It Gets, since that's one of my favorite movies of all time anyway.

What rhymes with 'orange'?

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⬆Welp, there you go!⬆

Have you ever swallowed an object by accident?

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I'm no Tarrare. I can't think of a single weird thing, save for the occasional piece of eggshell.


Is your eyesight 20/20?

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Nooooo way. It's about 20/200. I'm very near-sighted, like my mother was.

Have you ever had insomnia?

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I have chronic insomnia; I've been like this my entire life.

Does it bother you when people touch you?

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Oh yes. Currently, I suffer from at least numbers 2, 3, 4, and 6 above. Sucks!!

Is it better to get too much or too little sleep?

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I don't function well on too little sleep. I'd much rather have too much.

What gets your adrenaline pumping?

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Fear. You know, I grew up in constant terror, and now I don't know how to turn that off. I don't know how to relax. I honestly have no clue how one does it. So my heart rate is consistently at 100 beats per minute, or more.

Do you ever talk about yourself in the third person?

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I talk to myself in second and third person quite frequently. I personally think I'm hilarious, and I always tell my husband, when he's falling asleep and I'm still chattering away, that he's "missing all the gems."

What's your favorite radio station? What kind of music do they play?

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I don't even know. I listen to a variety of things, although I don't like talk radio and never listen to NPR. I listen to a lot of pop, some classic rock, Bob FM when I don't know what I want to hear, etc. I'm all over the map. I just want it to be something I can sing to; I'm not a huge fan of a lot of instrumentals.

Do you believe there is anyplace still undiscovered in all the world?

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I was actually thinking about this earlier today!! I was thinking that there must be some places where people can't get to, and I took joy in that until I realized that if we don't know about it, where it is, what it looks like, and its properties... how will we humans know how to save it when we wreck it?

Ever caught a fish?

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Yes. As a marine biologist, I've caught plenty. Once, when I was aboard one of the scientific vessels, a lot of the crew and my fellow scientists and students were fishing off the back of the ship, for dinner. Someone caught a large male dolphin (the fish, aka mahi mahi), which everyone but us vegans and vegetarians wanted to eat. They let this majestic creature flop around on deck, struggling to breathe, until they started stopping it in the brain to kill it and put it out of its misery. It was a horiffic scene - and so many of them were laughing about it still being alive! It is a terrible memory of mine. On one of our first dates, I told my husband that story. He hasn't eaten mahi mahi in my presence in the 18 years since!

Were you ever in the first row of a concert?

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No. But one of the closest experiences was being within Fergie at a Black Eyed Peas concert in Virginia about ten years ago. She was within reach of me and the two girls I'd taken with me after I won the tickets from a radio show. I was so pumped!

Do you have any autographs?

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Just... somewhere around here, I have an autograph on the Miami Herald column by Dave Barry. He came into the Publix in Coral Gables, at which I worked for a few years while in college. I was a huge fan, since my early childhood when he was published in the Syracuse Herald-Journal on Sundays. He was in the store with his wife Michelle. I saw him and ran and grabbed a Sunday paper, found his column, and started very timidly stalking him around the store, aisle by aisle. Finally, Michelle Barry noticed me and said to Dave, "I think this girl is trying to talk to you." He turned around and signed my paper. I was gushing effusively the entire time, like an idiot. He came in many times after that. One time, he bought about 20 Publix gift certificates for full turkey dinners at Thanksgiving time from me, for some of the junior staffers I'd guess.

~*~*~*~*~

That was fun. Lots of good memories. Except for the fish one. Hey, don't do that. Be a good person this week. Spread kindness!

Fin.


Saturday 9: Brand New Life

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Hey, hey! Welcome back. It's late here; 7:28 PM as I speak, but I've been in bed all day. I'm not feeling too well today. My doc is afraid I'm developing pneumonia, which has hounded me for the last four years or so. She wanted me to go straight to the hospital Thursday to get a chest x-ray and labs, but I have not listened to her because... well, I don't have time to be sick. I figure, if I don't go, they can't diagnose me, and they can't then stick me in a hospital bed. Sounds smart to me! ;)

This week's song is the theme from the 80s sitcom, Who's the Boss? I used to love that show, and the whole cast. I'm excited to see that one! Link up here if you want to play along with the rest of us this weekend.

~*~*~*~*~

Saturday 9: Brand New Life (The Theme from Who's the Boss) (1984)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.
 
1) Who's the Boss? is a sitcom that ran from 1984 to 1992. Were you a fan?

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Oh, yes. It was one of my favorite shows. I still love all of those actors, especially Alyssa Milano. I always thought she was so gorgeous, and I still do. And I admire her for her role in the Me Too movement.
 
2) This week's song was composed by the show's producers, two men not known as songwriters. Have you ever tried your hand at songwriting?

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Yes, I have. From 6th grade to the present, one of my best friends' father is a musician who has been famous in mostly the state of New York for decades (Todd Hobin), and he had a recording studio at their house. In our junior year of high school, Shana - a renowned musician in her own right, having shared the stage with Trans Siberian Orchestra, Josh Groban, Michael Bublé, Regina Carter, Jake Shimabakuro - wrote the music and I wrote the lyrics for a song for one of our group's good friends who was moving away. Mr. Hobin was going to let all of us girls record it in his studio. I ended up getting grounded for that entire year of school for a ridiculous reason, and couldn't go to the recording session, but I still remember how it goes!

3) The lyrics tell us that, as we go through life, it's not uncommon to "lose a dream or two." Do you agree? Have you ever had to give up on a dream?

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Sure. I'd always had the goal of being a famous marine biologist. I got my double-bachelor's degree in Biology and in Marine Science from the University of Miami, and then took a year off to study for my GRE (I'd graduated in three years, so I hadn't had time to prepare), do an internship at Mote Marine Lab in Sarasota, and figure out my options. During college, I'd solidified my plans and became a pioneer of the Elasmobranch Club on campus, having decided to study shark behavior. I decided I wanted to go to the University of South Florida for my Ph.D. (skipping the offers to work on my Master's or Ph.D. there at U.M.), so I could join the lab of the world-famous shark expert, Dr. Philip J. Motta. That's the only lab to which I applied (so like me!), and I got in! This was huge; my fellow marine biologist friends were excited for me. After, three semesters, though, I decided this wasn't the plan for me. I wanted to be married and have a family, and I knew that a high number of scientists who spent a half a year, every year, at sea got divorced; that was not something I wanted. At the same time I was once again weighing my options, I'd met my husband of over 18 years. We eloped two months later, and a few weeks later, I found out I was already pregnant with Chloë. I haven't been an active marine biologist ever since, although I admit I miss it tremendously.

4) Who's the Boss? was about a highly-paid executive who hires a housekeeper. In the 1980s, it was unusual because the exec was a woman and the housekeeper was a man. Do you believe a man can be as good at housework as a woman?

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I have no reason to believe otherwise. My husband, who is cooking a double stir-fry right now (tofu for my daughter's girlfriend and me, and chicken for everyone else), and the sicker I've become, the more he's helped around the house and helped guide the kids in their chores. All three - girls and boy - are expected to do the same chores, swapping on a monthly basis, so there is none of that "woman's place," "man's role" nonsense going on here!

5) Though the show's star, Tony Danza, graduated from University of Dubuque and was prepared to be a teacher, he got sidetracked. Back in New York, he boxed and tended bar and fell into acting. He finally did teach in 2010, taking over a 10th grade English class. How many different occupations have you held?

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Let's see. Babysitter. Cashier. Author. Alumni Relations Associate. Marine Biologist. Legal Secretary. Stay-Home Mom. Hoping to reclaim "author" again! (That photo is one one the proofs from my college yearbook!)

6) On the show, his daughter was played by Alyssa Milano. When she was a teenager, she rebelled against the show's producers by cutting off her long hair and wearing a pixie style. Were you a rebellious teen?

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Not even remotely. Maybe more so, now?
 
7) "The Boss" was Judith Light, who had been known to TV audiences from her work on One Life to Live. She met Robert Desiderio on the set of the soap opera and they have been married more than 34 years. Tell us where one of your romances got started.

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When I was in 10th grade, Shana got me to join her for the beginning of the ECOS club in our school, which met at the Junior High. It was there that I met Ben, who was also interested in all things environmental. We started dating November 15th of that year, 1991, and stayed together about a year and a half. We remain friends; that's him at his recent wedding, in the boutonnierre. He's still a Central New York guy.

8) The show -- rebroadcast with subtitles -- was a hit in Italy, where it was known as Casalingo Superpiù (Super Housekeeper). Say something to us in Italian.

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La torre pendente di Pisa è molto più corta di quanto mi aspettassi!

9) Random question -- Have you more recently watched the sun rise or set?

Defintely the sun setting, including last night. Here are a few recents; we've seen lots of rainbows lately!

~*~*~*~*~

All right. Tofu's ready. I mean, stir-fry. Off to family dinner! Ciao, bellas.

Fin.


Sunday Stealing: Book Of Questions

Hey, there! Wheeeewwwwww, I'm exhausted.

Rob, Chloë and I spent all day Saturday driving up to get Sophia from camp and then, upon returning to the Boise area, running a billion errands. On our way back to Mountain Home, we stopped and picked up Sophia's girlfriend, another S, who is spending the rest of the weekend with us. I took a nap as soon as we got home, ain't gonna lie, and woke up with an extreme migraine. At the ER, I got pumped full of meds and barely remember anything after that. It's going on 2 PM now; I just woke up. I hope all of you had a more relaxing day than did I on Saturday!

Let's jump in, m'kay? Link up here if you'd like to play along with the rest of us thieves!

~*~*~*~*~

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Questions from The Book of Questions

1. Do you think the world will be a better or worse place 100 years from now?
 
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That depends on your perspective. From a humanistic view, definitely worse, based on our actions today! But for the world as a whole? I think it'll just be different. Things are changing, some irrevocably, and things will once again evolve to a new stasis.

2. Would you accept $1,000,000 to leave the country and never set foot in it again?
 
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I'm the first guy. Yeah? You promise? I'm outta here!!

3. If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the body or the mind of a 30 year old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you want?
 
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Oh, geez. I don't like either choice. Must I pick one? (fine: mind)

4. What would constitute a “perfect” evening for you?
 
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I really don't know anymore. I'm sure a nap is involved. (Sometimes I take three naps in a day - and recently, I hit four! ME/CFS can bite my arse.)

5. Whom do you admire most?  In what way does that person inspire you?
 
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Rob, before tearing up at Chloë's graduation ceremony
 
This may sound really corny, but I think it's Hubs. He's been through entirely too much, both emotionally and physically, and yet he rarely complains. He just gets up, keeps going, keeps trying harder, keeps doing what needs to be done without bitching about it (mostly; I mean, he is human!). He's very much like my grandfather in that regard. With all that I've got going on health-wise these days, he serves as a good role model for how I want to be, at least on the few days my ^&*(() body will even let me. (See? There I go!)

6. Do you prefer being around men or women?  Do your closest friends tend to be men or women?
 
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At least when I was single, I hung around guys more than gals. Most of my friends were male. The scene above was similar to many I had around my college years. That being said, most of my best friends - then and now - are women.

7. If you could use a voodoo doll to hurt anyone you chose, would you?
 
Wait, could it be Trump?
 
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But seriously folks... no. Unless it could be used for kindess. Maybe not like the bridal version seen above, but what about one where I could stick a pin (or whatev) in the place(s) where the person hurts, and it takes away their pains? Yeah. I could get on board with that.

8. What is your most treasured memory?
 
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Well. I have dozens of treasured memories. One that I will treasure forever and ever happened after my son Robby died. I was absolutely devastated, completely heartbroken. There truly are no words to describe my level of despair. My mother-in-law came to visit and help us through it, make the arrangements, etc. I remember during that visit, I went up to take a shower and started sobbing under the water. Hubs told me she'd said to him, "I think your wife needs you right now." He came up and got in the shower with me, probably fully dressed, to hold me while we both cried... But that's not it. During that same visit, in a quiet moment, she gave me the "come here" finger wave and had me sit on the stairs next to her. She pulled out a small box. There was this necklace inside, with a sapphire baby girl represent Chloë, an angel representing Robby, and an aquamarine boy representing his identical twin, Jack (the boys were March babies). It's my most cherished possession; I could not possibly convey the feels I felt in that moment. I just looked at her, started crying, and we hugged. It was our warmest moment together, probably.
 
P.S. After Sophia was born, Mamacita (my MIL) said, "Well, I guess you better give me that necklace back!" And that's when my little diamond girl joined the team.

9. What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?  Is there anything you hope to do that is even better?  (Let’s exclude raising children, if you have them)
 
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Hmm, I don't know. There have been a lot, but I worked really hard to get into ^^ this ^^ pretty exclusive lab, and I made it in after much hard work on my part.
 
Even better? I don't know, I have learned that things aren't always "better" or "worse" but more like, just, different. You know? I'd been watinging since my pregnancy and first year with Chloë - who will turn 18 in September - to go to law school when my kids were all grown, but with my brain injury, I don't think that will be possible now. So, author it shall be. eek Fingers crossed!! 🤞🤞🤞
 
10. If you went to a dinner party and were offered a dish you had never tried, would you want to taste it, even if it sounded strange and not very appealing?
 
It totally depends. Three things I would NOT eat, no matter what:
 
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Monkey brains - actual
 
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Balut
 
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... and haggis
 
Three things I have eaten in my non-veg days:
 
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frog legs - on a cruise
 
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escargot - on another cruise, or maybe the same?
 
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sea urchin sushi - in Virginia Beach Town Center
 
By the way, Rob and I ate that sushi on a date for our anniversary one year, and we both agreed it was among the most DISGUSTING things we'd ever eaten!!! Have y'all had it? 
 
11. Do your close friends tend to be older or younger than you?
 
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They're usually the same age or older. I can think of few friends of mine who are younger.
 
12. How do you feel when people sing Happy Birthday to you in a restaurant?
 
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It's not my favorite thing in the world, now that I'm no longer eight years old (!!), but if dessert's involved I'm game. I'd rather it be a plate of fruits or even an extravagant fruta loca, though:
 
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13. When you tell a story, do you often exaggerate or embellish it?  If so, why?
 
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Yes. I do "edit" my tales sometimes. In short, I say, "I do it for the LOLs." For the longer version of that, I'll borrow from a 2014 article I just found on HuffPost:

"Some people are born storytellers. Other people struggle to hold your attention.

"The difference between a boring story and an interesting one usually boils down to three things: emotions, embellishment, and authenticity.

"Boring stories go in a linear fashion. Poor storytellers repeat every fact and detail with no particular emphasis on one element or the other. They tend to focus on getting every single inane detail exactly right.

"The 'one boring fact after another' technique is a favorite of literalists, who typically tell less than stellar stories.

"Great storytellers, on the other hand, provide interpretation. They help you understand what the story means by drawing your attention to the most interesting parts, which sometimes requires a bit of exaggeration.

"Mark Twain once said, 'Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.'

"[I] not only tell stories, [I] embellish them."

14. If a friend were almost always late, would you resent it or simply allow for it? Can you be allowed to be on time?
 
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I grew up needing to be excessively punctual. When I got to college in Miami, I learned what it meant to be "on Cuban time" or various other Caribbean cultures' time. That meant: late. Always, always late, so I became very forgiving of them in a hurry!
 
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As for me, I don't prefer it, but being part of this family necessitates my understanding that, almost always, I will be late!

15. If you could have free, unlimited service for five years from an extremely good cook, chauffeur, housekeeper, or personal secretary, which would you choose?
 
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Rob is an extremely good cook, and I'm not bad. The kids are learning to hold their own (Jack is the best). Neither Rob nor I mind driving; in fact, we generally like it (although it'd be nice if even one of the kids got their license, finally). I enjoy being the personal secretary of the fam. This one was an absolute, hands-down, no-brainer: Housekeeper. I'm really good at cleaning and alla that, but my body no longer permits it. Rob and the kids share the tasks now, but I'm never super thrilled with the job!
 
~*~*~*~*~
 
Welp, it's after 1530 now, meaning I've gotta get to some of that "secretarial" work! I do hope y'all will have a lovely week.
 
Fin.

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?
 
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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?
 
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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?
 
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Yeah...

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?
 
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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?
 
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Chloë
Well, I mean, sure. I know some. My daughter Chloë 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?
 
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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)?
 
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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.
 
Fin.

Saturday 9: The Perfect Fan

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So this week's song chosen by Crazy Sam is more in my era: "The Perfect Fan," by the Backstreet Boys. However, I still don't know this song! 😂😂😂 Oh well. Once in a while one comes across my interwebs that I know, and that, my friends, is what we call excitement. Hee.

Make sure you link up here if you want to play along today!

~*~*~*~*~

THE PERFECT FAN (1999)
 
Unfamiliar with this week's song? Hear it here.
 
***

1) In this song, a son thanks his mother for helping him grow up strong and confident. Who is the last person you thanked? What did they do for you?
 
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My 17yo daughter, Chloë, surprised me with a ton of early gifts for Mother's Day last night, after running all over creation with her daddy. I had no idea what they were up to, so I was totally shocked - and she's got more coming! I can't believe it; I don't feel worthy of such things, such love, such delight. I'm still overwhelmed with gratitude.
  
2) Who was the last person to thank you for something?
 
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Ohh, I don't know. 14yo Sophia is thankful for her horse lessons every time she rides, and she's regularly expressing grateful for that.
 
3) This is from the Backstreet Boys' album Millennium, recorded and released in 1999. Do you remember where you were and what you were doing when 1999 turned into 2000?

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That was when I was phasing out of working on my PhD in the elasmobranch (sharks, skates, and rays) research lab in the Biology Department at the University of South Florida, and into working on my Master's in Science Education in the ed department. It was interesting, but... far less cerebral.
 
4) This song was written by Backstreet Boy Brian Littrell. Brian voiced himself on an episode of PBS' Arthur. Arthur has been described as an "animated anthropomorphic aardvark" -- which can be difficult to say. Do you easily get tongue tied?
 
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Yes, very easily! I'm especially prone to Spoonerisms, which are so common for me I feel they should be named after me. I do it all.the.time! It can be amusing, but also annoying (for me)!
  
5) The French word for "mother" is "mère." What other French words do you know?
 
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A lot, judging by how much I should be saying, "Excuse my French"!! 😂😂

6) Mother's Day is a big holiday for card shops. So are birthdays, weddings, and St. Patrick's Day. Hallmark sells greetings for everything from "Congratulations on Your New Job" to "Happy Retirement." Who received the most recent card you bought? 
 
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That would be my good friend since middle school, Erin, who has a postcard collection. Do postcards count? I send her a random postcard now and then. One just went out, on Thursday.
  
7) Have you put away your winter clothes yet?
 
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Nope. One moment it's 85ºF outside, the next it's 35ºF. I never know what to wear!
  
8) Mother Winters used to scold Sam for leaving her dirty dishes in the sink. Sam admits it: as a grown up, she's still a bit of a slob. Do lean toward "neat" or "messy?"
 
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I'm more like... "organised messy." I can't do a lot of cleaning or even picking up around the house very often, because of my massive health issues, and no one in my family seems to see or care about the messes. It's aggravating. I mostly hang out at my desk or in bed, and I have tons of papers all over my desk. It's a little crazy, but I do know where my stuff is!
  
9) To celebrate Mother's Day, Sam is giving away her mother's favorite: Hershey Bars. Would you prefer classic milk chocolate, dark chocolate or milk chocolate with almonds?

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Definitely the latter. Lately I'm ridiculously hooked on Green & Black's Organic Milk Chocolate with Almonds bars. So good. Anything Hersheys is now so inferior, it doesn't deserve to be called "chocolate"!  G&B are so yum. 

~*~*~*~*~

Welp, this is going to be up way early: It's 3:30 AM on Friday! I kinda wish Sunday Stealing would be posted as early as Sam posts Saturday 9, because I tend not to participate if it's not up early. I'm tryin', though!

Y'all have a great weekend.

Fin.


Sunday Stealing + Bonus: Provoking Thoughts, Part The Second

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Hey guys and dolls! I didn't participate in Saturday 9 yesterday because I've had another bit of health issues going on, but that's okay because I'mma jump into it right now. Here's the link if you want(ed) to join, but my little April Fools' trick is to pull out an S9 before I get into SS. 'Kay?

~*~*~*~*~

Saturday 9: The Fool on the Hill (1968)

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

Chosen because Monday is April Fool's Day. 

1) As an April Fool's prank, Taco Bell once announced they had purchased The Liberty Bell and renamed it The Taco Liberty Bell. Describe your perfect taco.

Chloë Taco Bell 03302019

Well, first of all, since Chloë jumped ship from Subway to Taco Bell a couple weeks ago, she's my favorite little bean burrito right here! 😉 Honestly, though, I don't like tacos. The crunch, the falling apart, everything all over the plate or your lap... no. Too messy for me. I do like a bean burrito, though. That 69¢ bit of wonder from Taco Bell is really what I need.

2) Similarly, as an April Fool's prank, the Ford Motor Co. was supposed to wipe out the national deficit by purchasing the naming rites to a beloved monument, renaming it the Ford Lincoln Mercury Memorial. What model car do you drive? 

Georgia Rest Stop March 2017

Here's our little workhouse 2012 Dodge Journey two years ago, on our voyage from Miami to Boise.

2019 Dodge Journey Collage

And here it is now, with all the stickers and magnets and stuff. Yup. So us. If you notice nothing else, see the "Blue Girl, Red State" sticker (me); the "PERSIST" sticker (my girls and me); and the Pride sticker on the side (my girls - and their parents, as Allies). Very us. 😉

3) In 1998, Burger King got in on the April Fool's Day fun by promoting a special "Left-Handed Whopper," designed to be easier for a leftie to hold. Describe your perfect burger.

I think I remember that. That's hilarious. Here's mine:

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The veggie burger at Elevation Burger is the BOMB. If you don't have an Elevation Burger near you (we don't, but we did in Miami), you're missing out. According to Hubs and the kids, the "regular" beef burgers are epic, too. But those veggie burgers... man. Making my mouth water right now!

4) In 1962, when color TV was still new, a Swedish station pranked viewers by telling them they could convert their black/white sets to color by cutting up a nylon stocking and stretching it across the screen. Of course, in 1962, more women wore nylons and screens were smaller. How big is your TV? Are there any nylon stockings in your home?

Samsung - 43" Class - LED - NU6900 Series - 2160p - Smart - 4K UHD TV with HDR - Front_Zoom. 1 of 6 Images & Videos. Swipe left for next.

I recently bought a new TV from Best Buy (ugh, like my least favorite store in the world), but I had to go back and look at the specs. It's a 43" Samsung Smart TV. It's really nice. It's got probably way more functionality that I don't know how to use yet, but I'm still learning. 

As for nylons, I've been getting rid of tights and stockings and stuff little by little now. I used to wear them a lot in Miami, but I don't know why. Many of us, including Chloë and me, have sensory issues with nylon. So they're exiting the building.

5) In 1957, the BBC ran an April Fool's story about how the Swiss were enjoying a "bumper spaghetti crop," with spaghetti literally growing on trees. Viewers who called the station, asking how to grow a spaghetti tree of their own, were told to place a sprig of spaghetti in a can of tomato sauce and hope for the best. Have you ever fallen for an April Fool's prank?

Also hilarious. I love it.

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Yes, I have. When I was in high school in Syracuse, New York, the main station I listened to was 93Q. They started announcing, months before April 1st, that they were switching over to a smooth music, kind of classical vibe. Everybody was talking about it; we were crushed. On April Fools' Day, they started playing "Feelings" over and over and over. By the 10th time or so, I finally figured it out. What a huge joke! The next day, they were back to normal. I felt so duped!

6) When Crazy Sam was growing up, her mother would surprise her on April Fool's Day by slipping a rubber worm or plastic spider in her lunch box. When you were in school, did you more frequently brown bag it or buy your lunch in the cafeteria line?

I love that, Sam. I missed out on that.

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I really don't know how to answer this one, honestly. I did make myself a bagged lunch to bring every day, but I really wasn't allowed to put anything in there that I wanted to eat. A lot of the time it was a big slab of greasy ham from the previous night (or several nights prior) dinner... and I have never not hated ham. So that got thrown away. I'd eat a little of the apple, maybe, and throw that away. I don't remember being allowed to have a drink. Or money. I started mooching food off my friends' trays or paper bags, which I'm sure they sort of hated and resented, until I got a job at 15. Then I could go up and buy myself a damn chocolate milk or something, if I got thirsty. That whole situation kind of sucked.

7) This week's song was an international hit for Sergio Mendes and Brasil 66. Because of the song's bossa nova arrangement, everyone assumed the lead singer, Lani Hall, was Brazilian. She was a folk singer from Chicago. Sergio Mendes discovered her at a charity benefit. Can you think of a time when doing good really paid off for you?

CAREPKG Layette

Sure. After my son died after three days in NICU, I began a 501(c)(3) nonprofit called CARE Package. I wanted to make layettes, such as this one, for other babies who didn't survive, as well as give out information in those same packages for the parents. I needed to give them ideas for things they could do with their their baby before giving him/her over to the people to prepare for the next stage. We didn't get to do any of that, because we were rushed, and nobody thought to tell us, "Hey, you can bathe him." "Hey, you can change his diaper and dress him." And the kicker for me, "You can get his twin brother in here and get a picture of them together." That still really stabs me in the heart. But the good thing is, I have gotten tons of letters and emails from parents and hospital staff who had received all those CARE Packages. And one day, I went in and was part of a panel at that hospital - Naval Medical Center Portsmouth - to sit with doctors and surgeons and nurses and other support staff and really, truly get to the heart of telling them how to take care of bereaved parents. Those initial steps in the bereavement process are so crucial, and NMCP did it all wrong. To have the floor in front of these people, and have them really listen to me about how to fix that problem, meant a lot for me. More importantly, I hope it was fixed for those to come after me experiencing similar things.

8) In 1968, when this record was popular, Pierre Trudeau became Prime Minister of Canada. Today his son holds that office. When did you most recently visit our neighbor to the north?

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I've been to Canada several times, but not since I was a kid. Under the age of 10 or so, we visited Ottawa last. We were walking back to our hotel from a fancy dinner, and then a street fight broke out in front of us. One guy pushed another into a store front, and they broke through the glass, which shattered everywhere. I was terrified.

9) Random question: Name three websites you visit every day.

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I like to take and edit photos, so I'm always on BeFunky - it's my favorite editing site.

2. Image result for excel logo

I do my grocery lists, our budget, my current medications and specialists, etc., all on Excel. So that's always open.

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And Homeschool Planet, our planner/calendar/organizer, is always open. Since we homeschool, our schedule is not a Monday-Friday 8-3 type deal. We school whenever, wherever, so I've always got to have it ready to go.

~*~*~*~*~

So that was fun! Thanks, Sam! Let's skip on into Sunday Stealing with Bev now. Link up here if you want to play along!

~*~*~*~*~

If you had to teach something, what would you teach?

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I'm not usually big on these word map thingies, but this really kind of sums it up for me. I would teach about the Environment and being responsible for the ecology where one is, locally, and also nationally and globally - and we're just not doing that as a whole.

2. What would you regret not fully doing, being or having in your life?

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Doing: I would love to get an advanced degree in something. I was thinking Law, but I'm not sure anymore. Being: I would love to be at peace with myself and feel like I am valuable. Having: I would love to have memories full of joy, new experiences, and laughter, far more than anything else.

3. Are you holding onto something that you need to let go of?

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Yes. Constant fear and terror. I have literally lived in constant terror for my entire life. Every minute. I have to learn to accept that if I relax, everything will be okay.

4. When you are 80-years-old, what will matter to you the most?

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I want to have multiple generations of our family love to come "home" to us and hang with us, and just be full of joy together.

5. When is it time to stop calculating risk and rewards and just do what you know is right?

I'm not sure I'm fully capable of answering this question - pass!

6. How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?

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Probably between 80 or 90 years old. With all the meds I take, and all my chronic physical and mental health conditions... I definitely feel way older than I am right now.

7. Would you break the law to save a loved one?

ABSOLUTELY.

8. What makes you smile?

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Seeing all of my kids getting along and having a good time makes me smile!

9. When it’s all said and done, will you have said more than you’ve done?

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I want to learn to say "no" more. It's hard for me. I always want to take on way too much.

10. If you had the opportunity to get a message across to a large group of people, what would your message be?

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It's important to me for people to realize that the global climate change we are facing is largely man-made, and it will be catastrophic. However, I also want people to know there are small steps each and every one of us can do to rein it in and bring things back more into alignment with the way things should be. I would give them those steps and teach them where to find the how-tos. We owe it to ourselves and our children, and their children.

11. If the average human lifespan was 40 years, how would you live your life differently?

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I'd be tempted to seize the day a whole lot more, which tells me that I should be seizing the day a whole lot more!

12. What do we all have in common besides our genes that makes us human?

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I think a lot of it has to do with what we care about, and how we feel about those things. And also, that we care how others perceive us. But it's so complex; a pat answer won't do.

13. If you could choose one book as a mandatory read for all high school students, which book would you choose?

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First, I'd ask each student to read the short story "The Lottery," by Shirley Jackson. It would invite a lot of really interesting discussions among students and teachers.

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And then, it may seem cliché, but I think To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee should be required reading for every American student. There is still such a long way to go with race relations in this country, so every conversation we can have about it can help.

14. Would you rather have less work or more work you actually enjoy doing?

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I'm not going to ask for more work, but regardless, I'd want to enjoy doing it!

15. What is important enough to go to war over?

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Call me naïve or maybe even sexist, but I feel like most men are far too eager to fight over things than to sit down and have a conversation - or 20 - to come to a point of understanding and compromise. I honestly can't think of many things worth an actual war.

16. Which is worse, failing or never trying?

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Never trying is much sadder than trying and failing. I've got to remind myself of this often. I don't have a fear of failure. I have a fear of succeeding.

17. When was the last time you listened to the sound of your own breathing?

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Today, actually. My asthma is pretty out-of-control lately, and I'm wary of another bout of pneumonia (it's been over a year since I had it, y'all! WOOT!), so I listen for wheezing whenever I'm lying down quietly.

18. What’s something you know you do differently than most people?

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I think differently. I mean, I know everyone thinks differently - supposedly - but when I was in graduate school and we would have discussions on 30-page reports of scientific studies and experiments, my contributions were always so different than everyone else's. I became afraid to contribute to the class, but then when I finally did speak up, everyone was like, "ohhh, I never thought of that." It's weird and cool and scary all at once.

19. What does ‘The American Dream’ mean to you?

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I think this graph really sums up well how I feel about it. It's not about wealth or acquiring stuff. It's about freedom and opportunity.

20. Would you rather be a worried genius or a joyful simpleton?

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I don't know. I've never been a simpleton... but I sure would like to be joyful more often!

~*~*~*~*~

So it's almost 5 AM here on Sunday now (I had a long overnight snooze in the middle of this). Better late than never eh?

Thanks for stopping by!

Fin.


Sunday Stealing: Thoughts Provoked, Part The First

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Aloha and welcome back! I just woke up from a much-needed nap, so maybe my post won't ramble all over the place as is my usual custom! 

Here's some news: as of late Friday afternoon, Team Odette is (are?) officially under contract to buy a house! It's big, beautiful and really sprawling. Plenty of room for us and our abundance of freakin' STUFF. Wanna see a couple quick previews? 'Kay:

Kimberly House Exterior 5

This is part of the outside of lovely house-to-be in Kimberly, Idaho, just outside of Twin Falls.

Kimberly House Kitchen 88

Here is one view of the kitchen about which I am supremely ecstatic.

Kimberly House Fireplace No 2 89

And that's the opposite view of the kitchen and dining room, with a glimpse at one of THREE fireplaces in the home. Squeeeee!!

Did I mention I'm excited?!!

Okay. I'll stop there and move along to Sunday Stealing. Sorry! Link up here if you'd like to join us today!

~*~*~*~*~

These are from a site called Thought Provoking Questions..

1. When was the last time you tried something new?

03162019 Momo Nepalese Takeout

Well, the other day we used a Groupon for a new restaurant, Mount Everest Momo Café. They serve Himalayan, Nepali, Tibetan, and Indian cuisine. Rob went and picked out what we ate: the Momo special, which had two momo (dumpling-like foods) each of vegetarian, chicken, pork, and yak. I ate the first four listed, and he ate the yak and pork. We also got a side order of naan, which was out of this world! Fortunately, I have another Groupon for the same place, so we'll get something a little different next time. I can't wait!

2. Who do you sometimes compare yourself to?

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Well, I do find I compare myself to both my late mother and to my teenage daughters the most, although I am a competitive person and compare myself to pretty much everyone. I've always put my mother on a pedestal since she died early in my childhood, but only now through therapy am I realizing that she was perfectly human, and therefore perfectly imperfect, and I can stop judging myself for not living up to the standard I've felt she set for me.

As for my daughters, they are vastly different in personality, like night and day. Chloë and I feel each others' feels so completely, and we have a very deep bond. Sophia and I, as well as Jack and I, also have that bond, but it's different for each kid. So I kind of compare the relationships more than myself with each kid. Does that make sense, or was it a whole lot of mumbo-jumbo? 😂

3. What’s the most sensible thing you’ve ever heard someone say?

Well, this one amuses me:

"Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way, you'll be a mile from them, and you'll have their shoes." - Jack Handey

But I'm also tickled by this one (and many others):

“If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then quit. No use being a damn fool about it.” - W C Fields

4. What gets you excited about life?

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When my five natural senses are titillated, I find myself thoroughly exhilarated. Like this gorgeous black and white calla lily display, for instance, or for that matter any bouquet from The Bouqs. I'd buy flowers from them weekly if I could afford it! (Have you heard of them? I won a $50 bouquet from them once, and it was stunning. I'm thinking of starting a once-a-month flower subscription to The Bouqs when we get settled into the new house!)

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... or the smell I love the most, citrus fruits! ♥ Mmm, so fantastic and fresh!

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... or what about beautiful and classical, or fun and lively, or any other kind of music that moves us? Sometimes music can be so electrifying, amirite?!

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... Furthermore, what about all of the gustatorial pleasures of the earth? For instance, I pulled a few pictures of some of the decadent food and drink we had on our European cruise (which you can read about here), and it gives me a bit of a thrill, even now that it's more than a decade later, to imagine the tastes of these again. I had the sangria in Barcelona, Spain; the "Sprite" was from Nàfplio, Greece; the pizza was eaten in Dubrovnik, Croatia; and the pistachio-spiked cannoli were eaten at a restaurant on the top of Mt. Etna in Sicily!

Wisp collage

...And as for the sense of touch, I could say something like the physical connection with my husband or hugging my kids, of course, but I feel like that's a gimme. Instead, this one of our five sense invokes the sensuous experience of knitting with the fine cashmere yarn produced by Iris Schreier of Artyarns, a luxurious fiber art company and probably among the top of my faves! I used their #3 cashmere in the fuschia colorway for the "Wisp" scarf, above, that I made myself just over 11 years ago. So soft and delicious! When the kids and I drove up from Virginia Beach to Jamestown, New York, the following winter to visit my sister and her family, Stacey was gushing about how much she loved it when she saw it (and felt it!) on me. So I took it right off and gave it to her. Now that I'm writing about it again, I'm feeling the itch to make myself another one! That idea certainly gets my juices flowing. 😉

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The Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy

I could name a plethora of other things that make life worth living for me, so maybe I'll just list a few but without the graphics: falling in love; traveling and seeing ancient architecture like Rome's fountains and the Colosseum; standing in holy places like Vatican City (even if it doesn't align with my own spiritual journey); meeting people from all over the world and getting a wide-eyed view of the United States from them as well as direct insight into their cultures; skipping and laughing with one or more of my children...

Oh. Apparently I could go on and on about this question! And that is a good thing, really - at least for me if not for you - so I can refer to this when I'm sinking down into the deep depressive states of my bipolar disorder. I'll just have to pull up this post and remember all the things, such as these, that bring me joy. ♥

5. What life lesson did you learn the hard way?

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It's only recently that I've realized my usual "fight or flight" response is flight, and so I end up running away from my problems all over again. Thinking back, I've been doing this since at least the age of 15 or 16. Thankfully, I'm working on my life history in intense therapy with a highly-qualified therapist, so I'm aiming for the heart of the beast now. Finally.

Also, this is a good lesson to learn:

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6. What do you wish you spent more time doing five years ago?

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Laughing!! We were smack-dab in the middle of when Hubs was going through his brain tumor & surgery stuff, and that was definitely not a fun time.

7. Do you ask enough questions or do you settle for what you know?

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Enough questions? Are we discounting the idea of too many questions? I've been told by several teachers and professors that I was going into the right line of work, as a scientist, because I have the natural inquisitiveness of a child. I'm always asking questions. I laugh and say, "Sorry, I'm just nosy," when I feel like I'm doing it too much, but honestly I just really like finding things out. People, things, events, facts... they interest me!

8. Whom do you love and what are you doing about it?

Christmas Collage

In addition to a mighty bunch of great friends, I love these kiddos of mine (gratuitous photo of them as much younger kiddos below) - 

Christmas 2008

  • I love these kids!! And...

Bobby collage

...and, I'm pretty much cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs for this silly man!

What I'm doing about it is working on improving myself more and more, physically, mentally, and emotionally, so that I can be the best mom, wife, and friend I can be!

9. What’s a belief that you hold with which many people disagree?

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I'm not touching that with a 10' pole! No way.

10. What can you do today that you were not capable of a year ago?

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I can see and understand a lot more things about myself that I just couldn't see this time last year - or maybe ever?

11. Do you think crying is a sign of weakness or strength?

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Neither; it's a sign of being human. Of being alive. Of being a sentient creature.

12. What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you?

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I'd express my sillier, goofier side more in public.

13. Do you celebrate the things you do have?

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Oh, most definitely! I've talked about many of my rich blessings already on this post. Plus I have loads of delicious yarns with which to knit, and occasionally crochet. I do try to keep the positive perspective!

14. What is the difference between living and existing?

I seem to be a bit of a Meme Queen, so that's how I'll sum up my feelings on the matter:

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15. If not now, then when?

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Now. Definitely, now.

16. Have you done anything lately worth remembering?

03232019 Jack's Cake made by Chloë

Well, we celebrated our twin boys' 16th birthday two days ago, the same day our offer was accepted on a new house, so yeah! I guess so!

17. What does your joy look like today?

Puppies!!

01272019 Pepper a

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Pretty calm, quiet day. My body let me sleep in today, well past noon. We're all sitting around, relaxing, binge-watching NCIS: Los Angeles, and canoodling with our various pets. Paco and Tapi (our puppies, above) are going back and forth between Sophia and me. Chloë is petting her gorgeous cat, Pepper (also above). And Jack is cuddling with his Rex rabbit, Mocha, who is crazy-soft. He feels like velvet!

18. Is it possible to lie without saying a word?

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Of course it is.

19. If you had a friend who spoke to you in the same way that you sometimes speak to yourself, how long would you allow this person to be your friend?

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Hopefully not very long. I'm very hard on myself, all the time. Cruel, even. I'm working on that.

20. Which activities make you lose track of time?

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Many things, but most of all, communing with nature. If I didn't have to live in a house, I wouldn't. I guess technically, I could do without a house, but none of the rest of Team Odette would go along with that!

~*~*~*~*~

That was fun. But long! Phew! I'm glad y'all stopped by. I actually wrote it down on my "To-Do" list to come around and visit all of you, but it may take me the full week. I hope I accomplish it, because I miss doing that!

Fin.


Saturday 9: Young And Beautiful

First of all, I have not heard of this song before, and I'm kind of out of the loop as far as entertainment news goes, so I had no idea Lana Del Ray was on the soundtrack for The Great Gatsby!! Very cool. It had already piqued my interest, so I think I'll definitely have to read, and then see, it now. Woot!

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{The formatting is so weird for Typepad sometimes. Apologies in advance for anything confusing to read!}

Link up here if you want to play along today. Seems like it should be a fun one!

~*~*~*~*~

Saturday 9: Young and Beautiful (2013)
 
Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

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1) Lana Del Rey wrote this song for the soundtrack of The Great Gatsby. She wanted it to reflect the feelings of Daisy Buchanan. Have you read The Great Gatsby?

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Admittedly, I have not. It's on my must-read list, though. I don't know why I haven't gotten around to it. Maybe because raising three kids has left me too busy to even read a magazine? But one day I will.

2) In the 1970s, Robert Redford portrayed Jay Gatsby. In the 2013 version, Leonardo di Caprio played the part. In real life, both "Gatsbys" have helped raise funds for the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). Are you careful about recycling and conserving water/electricity?

#MoveTheDate
Oh, goodness, yes! Very much so. I'm teaching the kids more about the environment and ecology this year in our homeschool, and of course, there are always intersections with each topic and the concepts of conservation, preservation, the five Rs:

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Although the "R"s do vary considerably from site to site. Most say  "Refuse - Reduce - Reuse - Recycle - Rot," but you probably get the point. I am an absolute stickler for reducing waste and for recycling like a maniac. If I find a recyclable item thrown away in the garbage can, I go a little berserk about it. But it's extremely important to me that the kids learn to be the guardians and shepherds of the world they are inheriting, not its destroyers. I think they are learning well. We play a fish game every few months that dramatically explores and explains the concept of conservation. It's really interesting; let me know if you want the (free) link to it!

3) Lana admits that she dropped out of college because she simply could not get the required math credits. When confronted with basic addition, subtraction, multiplication or division, do you do it in your head? Reach for pencil and paper? Or do you take advantage of the calculator that's on your desktop or phone?

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I can most certainly do that all in my head, but sometimes I write down the multiplication or division when it gets out to several place values - but only if I'm too tired to guestimate by rounding. Occasionally I'll use the calculator, but that's very rare and usually only when I am in a hurry and MUST have the exact right answer. Short answer? It depends.

4) She enjoys Kurt Cobain, Eminem, Elvis and Sinatra. Which of those four gentlemen did you listen to most recently?

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Oh, gosh. I've honestly listened to all four of them recently, but I do think that Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was the very last song of one of these fellas that I heard on the radio. Aaaaand... now I'm gonna have that in my head all day!

5) Speaking of Sinatras, she has described her high maintenance look -- big hair, long nails, elaborate eye makeup, full lips -- as "Gangster Nancy Sinatra." How long does it take you, on an average day, to prepare to face the world?

Well, again, that depends. I used to mandate (to myself) that I had to take a shower, do my hair, do my makeup, and generally have matching (and hopefully cute) clothing on before I left the house. Nowadays, NONE of that applies!  I'm lucky to get 3 or 4 showers or baths a week (because of my myriad illnesses), and then I usually just comb out my hair and let it air-dry. If I put on makeup, it's minimal; usually just mascara will suffice for me these days:

Melanie 2

However, the other night 13-year-old Sophia wanted to play with my (expensive, fancy, high-quality) make-up, so I let her. But she wanted to give ME a makeover. Needless to say, I did not leave the house after this one:

Sophia did my makeup
I think I'm pretty much guaranteed not to be America's Next Top Model!


6) She's a big soccer fan, and her favorite team is Liverpool FC. Here in the US, college basketball fans are currently obsessed with March Madness. What's the last sporting event that you watched?

Karen Joyce Collage

I don't really watch sports, per se, but when my Hurricanes are playing (particularly football, basketball, and sometimes baseball), I try to stop and at least pay attention to the scores. I don't have a whole lot of interest in most mainstream team sports; my family and I are not particularly athletic! On the other hand, my beautiful niece Karen, above, is a superstar when it comes to soccer and track! She's now in her freshman year playing on the team at SUNY Fredonia; I don't know if she continues with track, however. She's smart and beautiful, to boot! Her younger sister, Hanna, is just the same. 

7) Her younger sister, Caroline, studied photography and is responsible for some of Lana's publicity pictures. Have you ever gotten a job because of a relative?

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Nope; I got all of my jobs based on my own merits. Unless you count a babysitting job here and there because an older sister wasn't available; I don't.

8) In 2013, when this song came out, Pope Francis became the first pope from a Latin American country. Latin America generally includes Mexico, most of Central and South America, and in the Caribbean, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico. What's the farthest south that you've ever traveled?

This was a tough one for me; I actually had to check the latitude of two places in particular:

Guam 13ºN
When we lived on Guam, part of Micronesia and close to the countries of the Philippines, Japan, Korea, Australia, etc., from October 2002-February 2003, we were about 13ºN of the equator. A lot of the tiny island is beautiful, with its clear blue lagoons (the picture above is where we first stayed before getting into base housing, in Tumon Bay near the capital), waterfalls, and lush green foliage everywhere. Some wasn't, but mostly I feel like I would have had a much more delightful time if I wasn't enormously pregnant with a high-risk twin pregnancy! Hot, damp, huge... not a good combination! 😏

Boys' 16th Birthday Collage

[By the way, shout out to those aforementioned twins: yesterday was Jack and Robby's 16th birthday!]

Holland America Panama Canal 9ºN
However, even closer to the equator, at around 9ºN of the equator, I was on a Princess Cruise with some of my family as we went through the Panama Canal! That was a special memory, definitely. 

I have yet to make it south of the equator. What the hell; I guess I'd better live at least another 42 years so I can do all this traveling that's happening in my mind!

9) Random question -- What button would you prefer your life to have: rewind, fast forward or a pause?

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So that's, like, a completely impossible question for me to answer honestly! I'm in a three-way deadlock with those choices; 33.3333% of the time (mostly my childhood) I would gladly have taken the fast-forward button. Another 33.3333% of the time, I would hit rewind so I could go back and have my babies be actual babies again and not these big-ass teenagers I can't get used to just yet! (My youngest may be turning 14 next month, but I still sit and oooh and ahh in the baby clothing and shoe departments at various stores!) And now that I have so many chronic illnesses which contribute to a massive amount of brain fog, I'd hit that pause button constantly to give myself a chance to pick my words carefully while others don't try to supply them for me. It's so hard to form a cohesive thought sometimes, so I'd need that for the final third of the time!

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Phew! That took me a lot longer than I anticipated! Not Sam's or anyone's fault, really. Between birthday "doings" with Jack last night, my computer giving me the blue screen of death not once but twice in the middle of it, and finding myself getting busy with 1700 other things, it's a wonder I finished at all! But that's not to say I didn't enjoy it - I always do! Crazy Sam, you write some great questions. Sometimes I ponder whether I'd ever be good at this duty if you were to step down, and I always come to the same conclusion: Nope. I could not measure up.

Hope y'all have a great weekend, and I'm delighted to finally be able to wish you all a very happy SPRING!

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Fin. 


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. 😴😴 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.

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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!

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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?

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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?

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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.

♥ ♥ ♥(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?

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Absolutely, most definitely, NOT.

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

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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?

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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!).

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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 Chloë 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.

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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?

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"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! ♥ MO"

(Hey, we have the same initials; it's kismet!) 😂😂

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!

What’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. ☕️😋😉

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

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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!

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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!

Fin.


Saturday 9: Valentine

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Hey there, hi there, ho there! Happy day after day after Valentine's Day, y'all! What better way to celebrate than to, y'know, fill out a questionnaire by Crazy Sam and hang out with my InterBuds?

Link up here if you'd like to play along today.

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Saturday 9: Valentine (1993)
 
Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

This song was specially chosen for the Saturday 9 closest to Valentine's Day.

1) This is a love song written by Willie Nelson for his young son. Have you sent any Valentines this year to someone you love who isn't a romantic partner?

Guitar Pick Keyring

Well, not this year, but I've often given Valentines to my kiddos in previous years; does that count? Sure it does, if it counts for Willie! As for this picture, it's still a work in progress, but it's part of a Valentine my 13yo Sophia made for 15yo Jack. He just bought himself this electric guitar kit, so she made him a handmade guitar pick and guitar keyring to go along with it. There's more, but I think this alone is pretty cool!

2) Today that little boy, Lukas, is a singer/songwriter who wrote eight of the songs for the 2018 A Star Is Born soundtrack. Have you seen the Bradley Cooper/Lady Gaga big screen romance?

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Not yet! I'm waiting for next Tuesday, the 19th, when it comes out on Netflix. Can't wait!!! Right now, I'm watching Bohemian Rhapsody, another movie I've been truly looking forward to watching.

3) On Valentine's Day in 1876, Alexander Graham Bell patented the first telephone. Whom did you most recently speak to on the phone?

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I spoke to the receptionist at a dermatologist's office. Got a few spots on my back that are concerning.

4) Penicillin was also introduced on Valentine's Day (in 1929). When you get a shot, do you look away when the needle touches your skin?

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I sure do! I'm as chickenshit as they come.

5) According to legend, a gift of red roses signifies love and romance. When did you last purchase flowers or plants? Did you buy them for yourself, or someone else?

Succulents A 2019-02-07

So we're having the kids learn about gardening as part of a study of plants this year in our homeschool, Sweet Pea Academy, so Hubs and I just bought them some succulents from Trader Joe's to start off their little personal gardens. Some are taking better care of them than others!

I want to get them this collection of succulents eventually, and a bunch of cute pots like maybe a few of these:

OR  

OR maybe even these cuties:

... but when we can afford it. 😏

6) This week's artist, Willie Nelson, can trace his family tree back to the Revolutionary War. Captain John Nelson served with the Minutemen back in 1776. If you could go back in time to witness any great moment in American history, which would you choose?

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I wish I'd borne witness to Abraham Lincoln delivering the Gettysburg Address.

7) Before he became a musical success, Willie was a door-to-door salesman, peddling first Bibles, then vacuum cleaners. INC magazine tells us that the traits of successful salespeople include resilience and good listening skills. Do you think you'd make a good sales person?

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No way in hell. I've tried, and I'm terrible at it!

8) In 1993, when this song came out, Saved by the Bell aired its series finale. Crazy Sam likes to tease her brother because he once admitted to her that he has seen all 86 episodes of this teen sitcom. Is there a show that you believe you've seen every episode?

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I'm pretty sure I've seen all of The Big Bang Theory, but that doesn't stop me from watching the syndicated reruns on 

9) Random question - We're having milkshakes! What's your favorite flavor?

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No milk for me. Lately we've been drinking a lot of different vegan smoothies, so experimentation is the name of the game. I haven't gotten around to making any milkshakes with plant-based milks yet, although we've got all kinds of those milks (cashew, almond, soy, pea - unflavored, flavored, etc.) in the fridge right now!

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So I'm still in the middle of my big Queen moment, watching the movie, adoring Freddie Mercury, and constantly listening to "Don't Stop Me Now" and others on my Beats.

Beats

Love Queen! Such a damn shame... 😭🎤🎧🎹

Anyway, y'all, have a lovely weekend! 

Fin.


7th Gen Wipes

Recently, the fine folks at Seventh Generation, the makers of all kinds of eco-friendly household goods like cleansers, disinfectant sprays, dish liquid and oodles more good stuff, sent me these three freebie sample packets of their Free & Clear baby wipes. Now, as you might know, my "babies" are all now teenagers (sob 😭), but I did give birth to four of them not all that long ago, so I know a thing or two about such things as diapers (Seventh Generation also makes these) and wipes. I swear.

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Now, if you can read the package for yourself, you don't need me telling you this, but just in case my site graphics are too much for your device (which is entirely possible if you tend to keep as many screens and apps open at any given time as I do!), I'll reiterate for you.

Seventh Generation Free & Clear Wipes:

  • are safe for baby, hands and faces
  • {Side note: I don't have a baby tush to clean, but I did use the wipes to wash the makeup off my face, and they were soooo perfect for that! I also washed my dirty feet from walking around outside barefoot - yes, in the winter, because I'm stupid and/or stubborn - with the wipes, and they did a stellar job}
  • are fragrance free

{Side note: I can vouch for this! Definitely no icky artificial scents here!}

  • Contain NO alcohol
  • Contain NO Parabens
  • Contain NO Phenoxyethanol
  • {This is a now commonly-used paraben-alternative used as a preservative in many cosmetic items, the Environmental Working Group states this can be a lung, eye, or skin allergen, can cause harm to immune systems, and can cause non-reproductive organ toxicity. Since I have several immunodeficiencies and autoimmune disorders, I really don't want to encounter much of that!}

This, altogether, means that these wipes are great for sensitive skin which, not surprisingly, I have - and I did not have any kind of irritation or reaction after using them. WIN!

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Now there is a LOT of information on the back (click the picture to embiggerate if you can, so you can read it more easily) of the wipes package, so I'm just going to highlight some of the goodness here.

The Seventh Generation Free & Clear Wipes:

  • are made from plant-based materials, which as a newly-bornagain vegan, y'all know I adore!
  • are not tested on animals which, duh, big ++++ there!
  • are safe and highly effective (I can vouch for this!)

Now, the ingredient list is on the package, but you can also shoot me a comment and I'll write those down for you, as well.

If you want to contact Seventh Generation on social media, you can find them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest! Check out their website, too, for all the great environmentally-friendly products Seventh Generation makes.

"Join us in nurturing the health of the next seven generations."

Full Disclosure: Seventh Generation provided these three packets of Free & Clear baby wipes for me to sample and also share with my friends. I received no payment or any other compensation. In this post, as with all my product reviews, all opinions are and will always be my own honest thoughts on the product.

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Speaking of plant-based goods, have you signed up for Veganuary yet? Run over here and sign up to take the pledge and give it a try! It's not too late - it's never too late!

Black Bean and Refried Bean Burritos 01122019

Also, if you want some recipe inspo, be sure and follow my Instagram account for what we're cookin' up now that we're all vegans. Something super tasty is coming up later today!

Fin.


Sunday Stealing: Conversation Starters

Howdy ho, y'all! The girls and I are re-watching old episodes of The Big Bang Theory, so I guess since I've seen all these before, it's a good time to answer some fun questions. So let's giddy-up!

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What are some small things that make your day better?

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Silliness and happiness of my kiddos! I love it when my crew are happy!

What shows are you into?

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Well, in addition to TBBT, mentioned in my intro, we of course also love Young Sheldon. We also watch BlackishA Million Little Things, and obviously Jeopardy! Rob and I have had a nightly Jeopardy! date since we first got married 18 years ago. I think funny and definitely smart men are way sexier than anyone else. 😍

What TV channel doesn’t exist but really should?

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An LGBTQ+ network dedicated to the needs, issues faced, and public awareness for this community. We'd watch!

Who has impressed you most with what they’ve accomplished?

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Oh, maybe my 15-year-old son Jack. He's been working at a nearby McDonald's for about 9 months now, and he's just informed me, as of Thursday, that he's gotten a second raise and has been promoted to Crew Trainer! I was shrieking on the phone when he called me up and delivered this news. All of this is so exciting to me because he's on the Autism Spectrum and has learning disabilities. Go, Jack!!

What age do you wish you could permanently be?

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Let's see... maybe about 36, like I was here. I was at my thinnest, and because I was raised to believe that my worth (and therefore my self-worth) were inversely proportional to my weight, my happiest. I would love to get down to that size again, but meanwhile, I'm working on learning to accept and love who I am, whatever size I may be. (And age!)

What TV show or movie do you refuse to watch?

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Real Housewives of Anything

What is something that is considered a luxury, but you don’t think you could live without?

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My phone! I looooove my Samsung Galaxy S9... and I've loved my Galaxy since the S2! Or was my first one the S3? Hmm, I forget. Like it matters! 😂

What’s your claim to fame?

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I'm the only stay-at-home mom marine biologist I know! 😉

What’s something you like to do the old-fashioned way?

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I love to bake homemade bread! Which reminds me, I need to feed the sourdough starter!

What’s your favorite genre of book or movie?

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For movies, I confess, I love a good romcom. I like a lot of different movies genres, though, so that's not all I like. As for books, I love a good novel that really makes me think and feel. I like a book that makes me laugh and makes me sob. That's the best.

How often do you people watch?

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If I'm in public, I'm definitely people-watching!

What have you only recently formed an opinion about?

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I've become more and more strongly convicted about my (family's) decision to go vegan. I hadn't, however, considered the yarn with which I knit. So I've just decided if I'm going to talk the talk, I need to walk the walk: I'll finish whatever projects I've already begun, and then I need to cull the fibers that aren't vegan. Most animal fibers are gained in a much crueler fashion than many people know. So I'll sell the animal fibers and use that money purchase cruelty-free yarns!

What are you interested in that most people haven’t heard of?

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Elasmobranch ecomorphology, I'm guessing...

What’s the farthest you’ve ever been from home?

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I don't really have a distinct, specified "home," per se... I would say "home" is wherever Hubs is, wherever my family is. My home is his heart.

What is the most heartwarming thing you’ve ever seen?

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♥ An old couple in love ♥

What is the most annoying question that people ask you?

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I'm 42 years old, and I still get asked, on the phone, "Can I please speak to your mother?" Bitch, please, I am the mother!  I can't get mad, I mean, I do have a high-pitched baby voice, but it does get annoying. Especially when Rob himself called me up and, thinking I was Chloë, said, "Let me speak to your mother." 😂

What could you give a 40-minute presentation on with absolutely no preparation?

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Parent bereavement and/or Infant Loss

If you were dictator of a small island nation, what crazy dictator stuff would you do?

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I would ban tobacco/nicotine use of any kind, make recycling mandatory, and... all food would be plant-based. 

What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?

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Go scuba diving! It's beautiful down there!

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Well, that was delightful. Thanks, Bev!

Have a great week, y'all.

Fin.


Saturday 9: A Few Of My Favorite Things

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

So this is fun.

🙄

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

January BarkBox

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

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

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

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

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When it's over.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Sophia - Van Gogh Unit Starry Night

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

See you for Sunday Stealing!

Fin.


Sunday Stealing: The Ask Game

Hey, everyone. I missed Saturday 9, because I was weak and tired and in bed all day, but maybe I'll add it to the end of this post just to add in the fun. ;) It's 2:57 AM on Sunday now, so we'll have to see if the little bit of energy I have holds out 'til then. I hope y'all are well!

Let's begin:

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Do you have a passion project? What is it?

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Well, we've kind of stepped back from our candle business a slight bit, now that the holiday season rush is over, but I guess kinda-sorta still that. When my newborn son died in 2003 - Robby, who was the identical twin of our Twin-Twin Transfusion Syndrome survivor, Jack - I started a nonprofit to knit and crochet layettes (blankets, booties, hats, and a gown or sweater) to give to other bereaved parents experiencing infant loss. Our charity, CARE Package, Inc., received handmade donations from all over the US, and sometimes international donations came in, too. After about 7 years, I wound down the charity to concentrate on other things; namely, homeschooling Chloë, Jack, and Sophia. We're still doing that; I'd love to be knitting all the time still, but my body is rebelling, and I just can't.

How many languages can you speak? 

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I speak Spanish, although I'm not quite fluent, and I'm learning Latin with my girls this year. I speak bits and pieces of several other languages, including French, Italian, German, Portuguese, Russian, Japanese... and I'm forgetting some.

What was the last book you read?

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I'm still into Recipes for Repair, which promises to help those who have Lyme Disease. I'm not far into it yet, so I'm hoping it will do what it says it will!

Where in the world would you most like to visit?

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Hands down, I want to visit the Great Barrier Reef the most. I just hope it's not too late, by the time I can get there!

Top 5 fictional characters?

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Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark, Caesar Flickerman, Effie Trinket, and Haymitch Abernathy - all right, I admit I have a bit of a love for The Hunger Games series!

Something you miss from your childhood?

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I miss my grandparents something awful! They were among the very few good things about my childhood - no, they were the best!

(P.S. It's 6:25 AM now, and I just woke up. Again. So much for my energy holding out!)

What skill do you wish you had?

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I wish I could really belt it out when I sing. I mean, I can sing well, carry a tune, and all that, but I don't have a lot of power behind my voice. Maybe from being sick a lot as a kid, but I just don't have a voice that can carry to the back of an auditorium without a microphone, y'know? Beyond that, I wish I were an incredible gymnast!

Tell us an interesting fact.

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I don't know if you meant about me or not, but my head immediately goes to sharks - still! Like many animals (Hubs likes doing it to our dogs and cats), sharks - even Great Whites! - will go into a state called "tonic immobility" if you turn them upside down. They are vulnerable and helpless in this state. As they age and grow, they move up to the top of the food chain, just below Orcas and the greatest enemy of all animals: mankind. Some Orcas have developed an ability to put these adult Great Whites into tonic immobility, so that they can feast on only their highly-nutritious livers.

What was your favorite subject in school?

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All sciences, of course, but since I am a biologist, it's gotta be Biology. But I loved school. All school. Even Social Studies... although, I did not and do not like learning about war.

Favorite planet?

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Big, beautiful Jupiter, with it's giant red spot and dozens of moons...

Which historical figure fascinates you and why?

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Mahatma Gandhi, because with his peaceful protests and non-violent resistance, he was on the forefront of changing prejudicial and unjust laws without military might. I admire that.

Favorite mythical creature?

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I love mermaids. In fact, I even admitted in my article on LinkedIn that I think I was one in a past life! ;)

Do you believe in any conspiracy theories?

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No.

What is your favorite word?

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That one. Oh, I thought for some reason you said favorite curse word. hahaha! I really did. Well, maybe for me it's the same? Even though I have an extensive vocabulary, I do find the word f*ck so very useful.

Do you have any obsessions right now?

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Yeah. I'm obsessed with Bob's Burgers, and I've got it on my DVR so I can catch up on as many past episodes as possible. If you're not watching, and you like to laugh, you should totally start.

Do you play any instruments?

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I play a mean harmonica! I took lessons playing the organ my mom played and can do a little keyboarding/piano still, but not much. I'm just horrible at sight-reading music; it doesn't come naturally to me.

What’s your worst habit?

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I stay up long past the state of exhaustion and then can't bring myself to bed. When I eventually do get to bed, I'm so tired I can't get up when it's time. I completely collapse. This habit started in college, where I quickly learned that you either got great grades - or you slept. Now that I have this capricious illness that lets my body either slightly function or not function at all, I take those functional days and don't want to let them goooooo!

Do you have a collection of anything?

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I have a pretty big shot glass collection from all over. I also collect magnets. I have part of my grandmother's spoon collection and part of my mother-in-law's spoon collection, which I love. I used to collect interesting keychains from my travels, too, but I've stopped now that I see how useless they were to me. Just heavy!

What’s your biggest ‘what if’?

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That would probably be "what if" I hadn't abruptly quit my Ph.D. program at the University of South Florida and, instead of taking a little time off to think about my goals in life, eloped with a guy I'd just met off the Interwebs and then quickly found myself pregnant with our first little girl... What if that hadn't all transpired? But it doesn't matter to me to think about these things, because there is nothing I would change about what I did do!

What is your favorite fairy tale?

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Is it any wonder that The Little Mermaid is my favorite fairy tale - Disney-fied or not?!

Have you ever dyed your hair? Is there a color you’d like to dye it?

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I have dyed my hair black (once), and I have died it various shades of auburn for years and years... but right now it's undyed. Now I'm seeing all kinds of gray - no, actually, they're pretty shiny silver - but I call them "extra blonde" hairs, even in my eyebrows and lashes!, and I am not really loving it. I'm trying to decide whether and what to dye it next. This, in the foto, is my younger daughter, Sophia. She has just died her naturally-blonde hair this interesting shade of blue. I love it! She has also dyed it turquoise and fuschia in the past. I wish I had her guts!

If you could learn one language overnight, which would you choose?

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Italian. In a heartbeat. So I could go live there and eat my way through the country. You know, in a vegan way, so... cucina povera-style.

What’s the most useless thing you know how to do?

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I can think of a lot of things I can do, but I can't think of any I would term 'useless'! Even cooking meat- and dairy-based dishes is useful to me now, in vegan cooking, because I can take what I have learned and transform my favorite recipes (and new ones!) into something vegan. So... I don't know?

What’s the most important change that should be made to your country’s education system?

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(First of all, look at this graph. It makes me proud of my origin state, New York, because they know what's up! It does make me sad for many of the other states. I have lived around the country enough to know that spending dollars = higher achievement for students. So c'mon, United States! Get with the damn program, already!) Anyway, the most important change I think the US needs to make for the educational system is to PAY EDUCATORS MORE! I think there is fear that if we grant educators a higher salary, we'll be stuck paying higher wages to the same (and I'm absolutely not saying that all current educators are) mediocre teachers. I know the exact opposite will happen. The good teachers, the ones who care and bring knowledge of how to reach our kids, are getting burnt-out and leaving the profession for, often, something that pays more. Mediocrity is what gets left behind. A higher wage will attract better teachers who are able to provide our students with a more robust education. It will. There is no doubt. It just needs to happen. (And we need to get rid of the idiotic Betsy DeVos!)

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That was interesting. And long for me. Hopefully it made sense, since my pain and fatigue levels are off the charts! Ugh.

Have a great week, y'all.

Fin.


So Long 2018, Welcome 2018: Saturday 9 & Sunday Stealing

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Howdy, folks! I missed the super amazing fun times this past weekend because I'm having a bunch of anaphylactic episodes due to what my immunologist termed a "full-blown autoimmune assault." So that's fun. I did an undercover assignment for several hours with my younger daughter, Sophia, and reacted there. And everywhere, pretty much. It's not awesome - especially because I missed you guys!

Fruit Salad

So I'm trying to get these two in under the radar. While eating delicious fruit salad. And watching a marathon of Bob's Burgers with Sophie, Jack, and Hubs. Funny stuff. Do you watch it? Why not?!!

Here goes Saturday 9:

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Saturday 9: Winter Wonderland (1968)

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

Welcome to the last Saturday 9 of 2018! Thanks for a great year, everyone.
 
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1) This is an unconventional take on an old familiar song. Over the holidays, do you prefer traditional carols? Or do you like to mix it up with with more contemporary fare?
 
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I like to mix it up. Along with old favorites, I love the song "Santa Tell Me" by Ariana Grande along with pretty much everything by the Pentatonix.

2) Now that Christmas is behind us, are you enjoying a relaxing week? Or do you have socializing/celebrating/chores to do?
 
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I think most of the socializing and celebrating is behind us, other than having fun times tonight with the family. I did want us to go downtown here in Boise, where instead of a ball - I shit you not - they drop a potato. A damn potato! But we're all sick, so I think we may end up just staying home and watching it on the local NBC affiliate tonight. Bummer. Also tomorrow, I wanted us to go up to Bogus Basin, where the ski resort is near us, for all kinds of New Year's Day festivities, but the two older kids have to work, which would be no fun.

3) Winter is a time for cocooning. What book or movie did you enjoy in 2018 that you would recommend to your fellow Saturday 9-ers?
 
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I really enjoyed the movie Dumplin' with Danielle MacDonald. We've been watching a lot of movies on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video lately, but I think that may have been my favourite.

4) Looking back on the past year, what was one of your happiest moments?
 
Week 21 of 52 -Catching Light
Two things: On April 16th, Hubs had surgery for prostate cancer. His recovery was fraught, and I hated every minute of it for him. He ended up having another major surgery and more hospital stays. As for myself, I had surgery on May 22nd, and it was supposed to be far more major than it ended up being. I was honestly scared for my life and, if that ended up being not in jeopardy, then I was scared of being in even more pain than the endless amount I've been suffering for more than 3½ years. In the end, my surgeon decided to close me up early and save the rest of the surgery for another day. So I can honestly say, in 2018, my happiest moment was waking up alive and well, and being still here to torment the rest of Team Odette!

5) What was the smartest thing you did all this past year?
 
Week 27 of 52 - Leading Lines
I persevered! It's worth it.
 
6) As 2018 comes to a close, what are you most grateful for?
 
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♥ Smiles, joy and happiness from my loved ones ♥

7) This week's featured artist is Herb Alpert. Because of the style he popularized and the name of his band, people assume he's Hispanic. Yet his parents were Jewish immigrants from Romania. What's something we'd be surprised to learn about you?
 
🤦‍♀️ I dunno anymore; everyone knows everything about me! 🤦‍♀️
 
Vegan collage
Maybe that I've been varying levels of vegan/vegetarian since August 1995, and as of about a week ago, all five members are now onboard with giving veganism a good go! Why? Get on Netflix or some other streaming service and watch What The Health? and Cowspiracy, and that'll explain a great deal.
  
8) He performed an instrumental version of "The Star Spangled Banner" at Super Bowl XXII. How did your favorite sports teams do in 2018?
 
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Oh, God. My Miami 'Canes were a disaster! They were up against Wisconsin in a rematch from last year at the Pinstripe Bowl four days ago, and we got totally trounced 35-3. What an embarrassment! Hopefully new head coach Manny Diaz can turn things around for the 2019 program.
 
9) Random question: When did you last check your social media feed?
 
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I just checked my Instagram notifications a few minutes ago. I'm on it now more than Facebook, although I suppose now that they're both owned by the same people, it doesn't much matter? No, really, I like the quick-speed format of Insta much more, I think.
 
~*~*~*~*~
 
That was fun. Thanks, Crazy Sam! I'm going to go right into yesterday's Sunday Stealing now, so go take a quick walk around your house or the block or something as an intermission. Then link up here if you want to play along with me and the rest of the thieves, albeit belatedly! ;)
 
 
 
 1. Are flowers a nice gift to give someone?
 
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They are if they're a bouquet from Bouqs, like these beautiful calla lilies! I love Bouqs.

2. Do you wear any jewelry?
Yeah, and I like to change it around frequently. I really love Pandora rings (That's why I bought a bunch of inexpensive costume jewelry on eBay recently. I just got this new ring today, and I love it! Except it's scratchy...

3. Have you ever lain in a field of flowers?
 
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I have, but it's been ages, so here's a photo from our April 2015 visit to the Chihuly exhibit at the Fairchild Garden in Miami.

4. Do you like tea?
 
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I like bubble tea. Other tea is okay, as long as it's both caffeinated and flavored. Absolutely no iced tea for me, though!

5. What would you do with a million dollars?
 
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a. Get a good financial advisor and invest wisely, living off the interest as much as possible. b. Buy us a beautiful, elaborate, multi-roomed house like the ones I've been dreaming about my whole life. c. Set up a grantor's trust, so that the kids don't have to struggle any more than we already have and any more than what's necessary for them not to lose their work ethics. and d. Take Hubs on a whirlwind tour of the world, retracing our steps for the last 18 years (our anniversary is on Wednesday!), including here to La Calle Ramblas (with lots of beautiful architecture by Joan Miró) in gorgeous Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. e. And the whole time, I'd have The Barenaked Ladies serenade us with one of our courtship songs, "If I Had a Million Dollars"!

6. What word do you have trouble saying?
 
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Many, many things, but since this is one of Hubs' favorite drinks, I have to attempt to say it a lot: Arnold Palmer. I fail each and every time.

7. Favorite fairytale?
 
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Maybe Little Red Riding Hood, since I have fond memories of my sister and I planning out our skit of it, making props, and then acting it out in front of our grandparents and some of their friends and neighbors.

8. Do you sleep with stuffed animals?
 
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Yes, I sleep with the huge teddy bear Hubs gave me when he gave me my engagement ring.

9. Do you prefer the city or the country?
 
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I am definitely a big city girl at heart!

10. Are you a big fan of makeup?
 
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I used to be, but nowadays I usually keep it simple and just wear mascara and maybe some lip gloss.

11. Favorite drink?
 
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Hands-down, it's Diet Coke! (And for my grandpa, it was "Coke on the rocks!"

12. What’s the longest amount of time you’ve stayed awake?
 
Newborn Chloë
Several days in a row, once Chloë was out of the NICU. Even when she'd sleep, I had awful insomnia. Man, those were some miserable days for me! (Aside from the beautiful new baby girl, natch.)

13. Have you ever traveled outside of your country?
 
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Beautiful Talofofo Falls on Guam
 
Yes, many times, but the one I'm most yearning to return to at this point in time isn't even technically outside the United States.
 
14. Do you like Spring?
 
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I love Spring! It's my second favorite season after Summer. Especially when all the tulips come in around Idaho.

15. Lipstick or lip gloss?
 
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I'll wear lipstick (like my Young Living ones) on the odd occasion, lip gloss (like the lighted mirror-containing one at the back of the picture above) slightly more frequently, but mostly lip balm.
 
 
I really like this minty one on Grove Collaborative.
 
16. Favorite color?
 
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All the blues in the sea...

17. Do you like to decorate?
 
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I do! My tastes run eclectic and colorful as hell, like here, which is certainly not for everybody!

18. Do you ever go barefoot when you’re outside?
 
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I love being barefoot! Especially when we're at the beach... nothing like it!

19. Are aliens real?
 
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How the hell should I know?!

20. Does your zodiac sign fit your personality?
 
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I don't really buy into astrology as anything more than entertainment. I find bits of myself in all 12 signs of the zodiac - and some of all the Chinese ones, too. But I do often see a lot of myself in the Virgo horoscope, like above.

21.Favorite sea animal?
 
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I think right now, at this moment in time, it's the Tasselled Wobbegong, Eucrossorhinus dasypogon. Cool looking, right?

22. Are you a nice person?
 
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I try very, very hard to be. I don't always succeed, but I keep trying!

23. Favorite word?
 
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FUCK! (hee.)

24. Night or day?
 
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Oh, I am a total night owl. Also, science has found that we night owls are: more creative; more intelligent; more productive; and, more successful. However, we are also more likely to be single and die early.

25. What would make you happy right now?
 
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It would thrill the shite out of me if I stopped having allergic reactions to every single thing. I mean it: everything. Every food I eat. Being too hot. Being too cold. Medications. And things are moving quickly in the wrong direction. So yeah, for 2019, which in this time zone (MST) starts in 04:12, I would really like for at least that aspect of my poor health to turn around. I just can't do it anymore!!!
 
~*~*~*~*~
 
So it's almost 8 PM, and I guess I better figure out the plan for New Year's Eve! Kinda late for that, but meh! Not feeling it this year.
 
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So, Happy New Year 2019, y'all!!!
 
Fin.
 

Sunday Stealing: It's The End Of 2018 As We Know It

Welcome back, homeslices! 🤣 I woke up sick as a DAWG today 😞😭🤧😷, so I'm not feeling the (self) love. I know just being "here" with all of y'all will cheer me up, though, so let's bring it! 😍🤩💗💖 Link up here if you'd like to play along with us this weekend, or want to check out all the other amazing thieves among us!

~*~*~*~*~

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

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Boise Pride Festival 2018 020

Well, since two of my kiddos came out late last year as gay or bisexual, the three of us attended the Boise Pride Festival this past summer. It was SO fun, so loving, so joyous, and so inclusive. I loved every moment of it, and I am so proud of my girls for having the strength and courage to embrace their true selves.

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

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I'm sure I set some, but I don't remember what they were! I'll probably set more for next year, but I haven't done so yet. I'll keep ya posted! 🙃

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

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My good friend Stephanie, who first was my kids' babysitter in Virginia Beach, when they were itty bitty, is pregnant with her fourth son!

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And my high school pal, Lora, gave birth to her second son this year. Her kiddos are so cute! It's the year of boys! (I'm sure there are plenty more, but I'm forgetful.)

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

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Gosh, I can't think of anyone who died - I hope I'm not forgetting! Aside from myself, Hubs was diagnosed with prostate cancer earlier this year and had surgery to remove the prostate. The recovery was heinous for him, and he had another surgery after that to repair the perforated bladder and fix the internal bleeding happening after the first surgery and on and on... it was just terrible for him. 😢

Rob Breast Cancer pin

Also, someone on his side of the family is in a serious breast cancer battle right now, and we are thinking of her all the time, wishing her well.

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What places have you visited?

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Well, the hospital for one - a LOT! heh heh

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We visited the Boise Ronald McDonald House on multiple occasions to make donations and take tours. This is a cause that's near and dear to our hearts (Dammit, Gal, I left it off your annual charity round-up post! DUHHHHHHHH!!) because we stayed in one while Chloë was in the NICU in Pensacola for 10 days. It's an amazing place. Visit one and I guarantee your heart will melt.

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We drove out to Wasatch Sport Horses in Eagle, Idaho, many, many times for Sophia's riding lessons. Our new second home!

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We went to many lessons at Chloë's fencing club, until she decided not to continue at the end of the season.

Listen, y'all, I could go on and on. And on!

Any new pets? Lost a pet?

Yes; critters we've lost this year:

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We lost Rob's gentle giant, Henry, to a suspected sudden asthma attack. It was very sad.

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We lost both of Chloë's beloved guinea pigs, Alexander Sirius and James Theodore, on the same day to unknown causes. She feels devastated and blames herself. 😢

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Jack's old gerbil, Lucy, who lived a good, long, loved life with him, passed away peacefully. She is missed.

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And finally, we lost all but one of our 2017 chickens, our White Silkie Athena, to a predator massacre. I was so crushed!

Critters we've gained this year:

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We got 21 new rare-breed chicks in September. There's Athena keeping watch over the new babies. Two of them have since died, so we're at a 2018 flock of 20 chickens, currently.

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Jack adopted this bunny-buns, Fudge, for his 4-H project this year. He's ridiculously soft!

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And very shortly after that, Jack - an extremely conscientious pet owner - adopted Rocky so that Fudge could have a playmate. The two are still in separate cages, though, awaiting their neutering so they don't fight. Rocky's such a love!

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What would you like to have next year that you lacked this year (doesn't have to be a physical thing i.e. love, job security, peace of mind...)? 

Wishful Thinking House

Well, aside from improved health, obviously, I would love to buy and move into a house of our own once again - like this one!. I yearn for it!

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

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April 16th, 2018 - that's the date of Hubs' prostatectomy that sucked big ass. He's still recovering.

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What was your biggest achievement last year?

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I try to keep it lighter in my SS posts, but that's not always possible for me. So to answer this question: I realized and acknowledged that I was raised in a cult. I was an unwilling member for almost 21 years. And I went back to therapy, where I am finally in "intensive care" to undo the effects of the trauma, abuse, and brainwashing I've endured.

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Did you get sick or injured?

Walker

Well, yeah! I have a lot of new diagnoses from this year. Mast Cell Activation Disorder, ME/CFS, and (possible, waiting to be genetically tested) Ehlers Danlos Syndrome among them... and since I'm now stumbly-bumbly all the time, lots of injuries from falling. I rely on my walker or wheelchair most of the time when I'm out of the house now.

What was the best thing you bought?

Pf changs

Well, I don't know! Lots of things, I guess, and I'm sure I'll get this wrong. I won, this week, a photography contest, wherein I was stacked up against several professional photogs, and for the prize I could get a $50 gift card to anywhere. I opted for P.F. Chang's, which we never get. I don't know why. But I snuck a slice of cheesecake in there, and WOW! That shizz was the bomb! And this is coming from a New Yawka who knows her cheesecake. Two thumbs up!

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Oh! And I signed up for Grove Collaborative to get all kinds of good-for-us and good-for-the-earth stuff, and I'm really happy with our membership thus far. Their customer service is outstanding, and the products and prices are great! I'm a huge fan. If you want to sign up here, you'll even get a free 5-piece gift set. I loved mine!

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

Barkbox Dogs

You say that as though there is any disposable income! 😂😂😂 Have you never tried to raise three hungry teenagers, 20 chickens, two dogs, three cats, and two bunny rabbits - not to mention the four score and seven prescription medications I take daily - on an enlisted veteran sailor's pension? BWAHAHAHA! But if so, we tend to spoil the pets. Especially the doggos. I mean, I love to get the chickens toys and chubby mealworms and stuff, watch the cats go insane on new catnip toys, etc., but the dogs! Nothing makes me happier than watching two butt-wiggling pooches get their BarkBoxes in the mail!! And oh, they know that that box is theirs, long before it gets opened. They just know. (I highly recommend it!)

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What song will always remind you of last year?

"Girls Like You" by Maroon 5, featuring Cardi B (Gal, can we please, please, pleeeeeaaase do this song on Sat9 sometime?) is a song my 13yo daughter Sophia and I have played on the radio, YouTube, or whatever umpteen million times over and over. We sing along to every word and then, when Cardi B's part comes on, we blast it even louder and rap along to every word. I don't care how white we are, we rock that $h!t!

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What do you wish you would have done more of?

Clamps1a

My husband! 🤪😂😈

What do you wish you would have done less of?

Tears in Heaven

Crying in pain (this photo is from Friday night, just hours ago, but represents many nights)

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

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Well, I've finally really gotten into Bob's Burgers this year, and it's a good thing I did, because that $h!t is fookin' hilarious! I like to pretend I'm just like Linda, which I am, and I do both Linda's and Bob's and sometimes Tina's voices. If you're not watching it yet, why not?! You oughtta be. I DVR every episode. We all love it. Yeah. So.

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Also, I recommend Ellen De Generes' new stand-up special, Relatable, on Netflix. I love her talk show, so I finally queued it up and am watching it right now. She swears, y'all! That's relatable!

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

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I'm reading Recipes for Repair right now, which I just started but bought about two years ago, to see if it will help any of my autoimmune disorders. It's hard. I'm having allergic reactions - sometimes anaphylaxis - to every single thing I eat lately, so I've just gotta do something! Plus, my therapist recommended I read something along these lines. I don't think I've read any other books this year! Shocking!

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

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Well, first of all, I turned 42, and Chloë made me these birthday cupcakes. She baked Hubs' chocolate bundt cake - his favorite - too, and was really excited about doing both. Only, I was looking at these photos recently, and I just don't remember these cupcakes. I mean, I know I was there and must have taken the pictures and blown them out, but I cannot recollect them for the life of me. This is very distressing. My short-term memory has been stolen from me since I became ill in 2015, and I hate it!

091218 FREE Pedicure from Reginald
Also, Hubs gave me a pedicure, which he often did during my pregnancies when I couldn't reach and now often does again since my joints are so stiff and painful. Yeah, he's a keeper. (Also, pssst! Robert! I'm due for another one!)

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Chloë's birthday (9/7) is the day before mine (9/8), so we usually celebrate together by running around collecting all the billions of birthday freebies out there. Here are some from this year:

Birthday Freebies Collage

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I'd list them out for you, but as you can see, um, it's kind of a lot.

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What political or social issue stirred you the most?

Image result for environmentalism

I will always, first and foremost, be an environmental activist. Now, more than ever, it is crucial for denizens of Planet Earth to become acutely aware of what we as people are doing to harm the planet and what we as humans can do to remedy that.

Image result for Global Citizen

Additionally, I am a Global Citizen, and I am dedicated to working for the causes of education for all; those that promote equality for women and girls; ending world hunger; and, bettering the health and sanitation practices around the world. I even get points for sharing the information I learn, and I've used those points to enter contests. This year alone, I've won two concerts: Amy Lee (of Evanescence) and Lindsey Sterling, which I'd entered for Chloë's sake - but I ended up winning the one in Phoenix, Arizona, and we could of course not make it there. The other concert was just recently, here in Boise: Metallica, which I sent Rob and our 15yo son Jack to. They had a blast!

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Who was the most interesting new person you met?

Image result for Dr. Alejandro Homaechevarria

Hmm. I don't know; I've met a lot of interesting folks. I'll say my new orthopedist, Dr. Alex Homaecheverria. Not only is this doctor smoking hot (I'm married, but I mean, c'mon! I'm not dead!), but he's relatable. Great bedside manner. And he genuinely seems interested in truly helping me improve.

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What changed at your job?

Pear Flambé Pint Single $22.50 A

Well. For one, Chloë, Sophie, and I started a specialty candle company called Every Wick Way on November 1st! I'm so excited about this! Most of our items are listed in our Etsy shop, but I'm still working on the website for Every Wick Way. Check it out! ;)

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What changed in your home?

Coop Life 25 Sept 2018 (2)

Well, we got those 21 baby chickies from the hatchery, so they would need a place to live, right? After forever and a day (seriously; we're talking over a year), Hubs and another military vet friend got together and built it basically in a day. It's not perfect, but it's pretty great, and so far we've avoided another slaughter. Whew!

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Describe how a relationship changed.

Image result for growing up in an abusive household

Well, I'm like this ^^^ so it's completely surreal for me to read things like this. Anyway, I've been distancing myself emotionally from my father more than I ever have in my life. It's been hard. He's noticed, too, and wrote a note to me about it in our Christmas card. Such tomfuckery. I'll not have it!

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

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No. Of course not. At the end of every year I hope I have grown and learned so much during that year that I am a completely new and more enlightened person by the end.

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Summarize the year in three words or less. Bonus points for doing it in one word. Explain.

Image result for the word interesting

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How have people around you changed?

December 2018 Selfie Collage

Well, I don't know about everyone's internal dialogue or whatnot, but I feel like this year, as I've become even more self-aware and adulty than ever, I feel that people are changing the way they respond to and interact with me. I feel it every day. It seems like some people actually like me, which I never really thought could be true. It's delightful.

*

What have you learned throughout the year?

T Rex Cmas Tree

Well, I've definitely learned that I do, in fact, have limitations. And also that getting older sucks, and I do not care for being forty-freakin'-two!

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What was your favorite outfit for warm weather? Cooler weather?

Warm weather:

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Something cool, comfortable, and hopefully, cute!

Cool Weather:

Profile Pic Ground Control
Anything remotely warm, comfortable, and hopefully cute! ;)

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

EWW Etsy Collage

Oh yes, of course! For Every Wick Way, the girls and I jointly learned how to make soy and beeswax candles and melts, and we're taking very explicit notes so that we can duplicate everything that turns out great. And most things do, because we're just amazing like that. ;) I'm always learning something new in the craft world. Every year, I've got a new thing going. I embrace change. Love it. Adore it!

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

Well... Before:

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And now:

Week 48 of 52 Selfie

So let's see... Since the top picture was taken a couple of years ago, I've gained a little (read: not a little) weight, my eyes are getting greener as I get older, I've at least temporarily stopped coloring my hair auburn (which I've been doing since my freshman year of college!), I started growing out my bangs for the first time ever in my live (but just got sick of it and trimmed them back to 'normal' this week, heh), pierced my septum, and pierced my tragus. Dang, when I read it back, it sounds like kind of a lot, no?

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What are your hopes and dreams for the new year?

Well, I'd love to say I wanna buy a house (but I said that already) and that I want to lose weight (but when don't I?); however, instead, I hope to bring awareness about and then somewhat defeat the health struggles constantly plaguing me:

Image result for autoimmune disease

I have multiple Autoimmune Diseases, including: Raynaud's Syndrome, Mast Cell Activation Disorder, Chronic Spontaneous Urticaria, and Anticardiolipin/Antiphospolipid-Antibody Syndrome, for starters - but now I'm blessed with a medical expert in Asthma, Allergies, and Immunology who is doing the right tests and looking at the right things.

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I struggle with Fibromyalgia, but now I'm blessed with a medical expert who brings me in and gives me Trigger Point Injections whenever I call up and say I need them.

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I have Bipolar I with Psychosis, but now I am blessed with an expert psychiatrist who listens to me and knows what to tweak when I tell her what I am experiencing, as well as an incredible therapist who is helping me navigate the intense, childhood-long traumas that (I believe) led to the bipolar, along with severe PTSD, OCPD, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder.

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I have Chronic Lyme Disease and am daily trying to manage the extreme pain in my bones and joints from that, while trying to explain to every medical professional under that sun that just because I was treated with antibiotics for two weeks after I tested CDC-positive for Lyme, that I am not "cured." Some listen. Much, much more education is needed on this subject, and it is intentionally being squelched. Very frustrating!

Image result for ehlers danlos syndrome

I probably have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, but I'm waiting for genetic testing to rule it in or out, which takes up to a year for the appointment in these parts. I have hypermobility and am constantly having dislocations and subluxations, along with just about every other symptom up there - but fortunately, I am now blessed with a knowledgeable physical therapist and a stellar (and hot - see above) orthopedist who have many tricks up their respective sleeves to try and help a girl out.

Image result for myalgic encephalomyelitis

And now, I also have Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, but I'm now blessed with an ME/CFS specialist in Salt Lake City, whom I now see every other month or so, who has made it her life's work to care about those of us with this devastating illness. 

And that's not even my whole list. So when someone (I believe from here, but I'm certainly not going to name names) tells me to "snap out of it," or when I get letters from my fng father telling me not to be a drain on society and make something of myself... well, it kinda breaks me. That is so soul-crushing. So, you guys, just don't do that to chronically ill people, okay? That is just not cool!

~*~*~*~*~*~

Whew! That took me hours upon hours to do! Well, okay, I watched the Ellen DeGeneres Netflix special Relatable. And then the whole family sat down with me to watch the Netflix documentary What The Health? which everyone should totally watch, and they all - even JACK!!! - decided pretty much on the spot that we're all gonna be vegans now. I'm so excited about that. Okay, and then Chloë and I stayed up all night watching Titanic, and finally the girls and I just wrapped up Crazy Rich Asians, both on Amazon Prime Video. So I was a little distracted... Hee.

See y'all after the happy merry!

Fin.


Saturday 9: We Need A Little Christmas

What's up, bunny rabbits? (Don't ask, I won't know either.) I've been a little manic this week, which is great. Also, it's not so great. I ate some things last night, knowing I'm highly allergic to them already, but I was f-ing HANGRY. So I wolfed it down quickly and had an immediate anaphylaxis. Rob got me in the car, shot me with the Epi-pen® while en route to the hospital, and stuck me in the ER for meds and observation. Two and a half hour later, we were discharged, but... on the way out I had a second phase of anaphylaxis. I wanted to go HOME, though, so I did not, uh... mention this to any medical professionals. Also, later on that evening, I ate even more of the offending food.

Listen, I may be brilliant AF, but I am also stupidly stubborn!

So that happened.

Let's go, y'all! Link up here if you'd like to play along with us this weekend; we don't bite! (Well, that's a complete lie. I totally bite someone daily. Not even exaggerating.)

~*~*~*~*~

Saturday 9: We Need a Little Christmas (2006)

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

1) At the beginning of this recording, Daffy says he hopes all his friends remember his size, style and favorite color. What piece of clothing would you like to add to your wardrobe?

I've always wanted a Burberry trench coat. I'm kind of digging this long black, cashmere one. It's only $3,790. Totally in the budget!

2) His friends are late for Daffy's holiday soirée. Think about the last get-together you attended. Were you early, late or right on time?

I was fashionably late to Sophia's most recent Pony Club meeting at a local pizza joint. I despise being late, so by that I mean fewer than five minutes.

3) It hasn't a snowed a single flurry where Daffy is. Have you had to shovel yet?

I did plenty of snow shoveling growing up in Syracuse, New York! Snow capitol of the world, I swear. I am now physically unable to snow, though I bet I could do it in an emergency, with the right amount of adrenaline. That being said, Boise is actually a desert, so we don't get too much snow.

4) Daffy sings that he's looking forward to fruitcake. How about you? Are you a fruitcake fan?

I could take it or leave it. I think it gets a bad rap. I don't really care for the red and green candied bits, but the rest isn't awful IMO.

5) Daffy is an American Black Duck. Their usual diet doesn't generally include fruitcake (he he he!!!). These ducks more commonly dine on seeds, foliage and bugs. What was your most recent meal?

Related image  Image result for lindt truffles

My most recent meal consisted of Ahi Tartare from The Cheesecake Factory, and then I snacked on three Lindt Lindor Milk Chocolate Truffles for dessert. I'm kind of addicted to those little balls. (Heh.)

6) The only Christmas card Sam has received so far this year is from her insurance agent. She never sees her agent socially. In fact, she doesn't think she's seen him at all in 2018. Have you received many cards this year? If so, were they from people you feel close to?

So far, I've sent out about 95 Christmas/Holiday (because a number of our family & friends & associates are Jewish or Atheist) cards. It's my favourite Christmas tradition, and I don't care who responds in kind! I've gotten exactly one back from a neighbor, today, along with a plate of homemade cookies. (Yay!) We've also gotten three or four from business, and another from former President Jimmy Carter. That one may be my favourite? I still have plenty more; would you like one? If so, drop me your address info: smellyann at gmail dot com

7) When do you start holiday shopping: Christmas Eve (haha!), Thanksgiving/Black Friday, Halloween?

I've never, ever done the crazy Black Friday gift grab thing, and believe you me, it is definitely not on my Bucket List. I usually shop starting in September or October and put things away here and there. I follow Hip2Save closely, especially during this season, and snag what I can when there's a stellar deal.

8) Sam was recently driven crazy by kids running through store aisles wearing elf hats with bells. Do you have any apparel that makes noise? 

Rose gold jewelry profile pink

Only dangly earrings. I have three (well, technically four, but I rarely use the fourth) piercings in each ear, plus my right tragus, along with my right nostril and septum. When I wear multiple earrings in each ear and swish my head, it can be a bit noisy. But clothing? I don't think so. [Photo is a selfie from 08 December 2018.]

9) This time of year is big for charitable fundraising. Here's your chance to plug a cause or organization that's near and dear to you.

Well, am I making a huge faux pas if I name more than one? Right now I have several that are critically important to me:

Image result for Heifer international

I've mentioned Heifer International in multiple years past. You can read about it here. It's a fantastic organization, and I've fully vetted it; it's legit. This year, we gave a flock of chicks, though I was torn among that, a flock of ducks, or a flock of geese. BTW, when we buy a house, if there's sufficient acreage, I want to add ducklings to our menagerie. ;) (I have not informed Rob of this plan. Heh.)

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Image result for environmental defense fund

Secondly, there are obviously a number of environmentally-conscious projects dedicated to, well, "saving the earth." That may sound like crazy hippie tree-hugger talk, but I absolutely do not care. This should be important to all of us. Those running our country (USA, for those of you who are not American) are hell-bent on destroying this gd planet, and where will that leave future generations?! I have three living kids. Some of them do want to have kids of their own. I aim to make this possible for them, so I support projects like the Environmental Defense Fund, and others.

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The Blue Ribbon Foundation

The third charity I'd like to mention is The Blue Ribbon Foundation. Because I have been diagnosed with ME/CFS by Dr. Lucinda Bateman of The Bateman Horne Center in Salt Lake City, which I visit monthly or so, a horribly misunderstood (especially my the medical community) and under-funded disease, I would love for more awareness to be brought to this cause. I mean, I'm 42 years old and take about 90 medications daily just to function, and I rely heavily on the use of my walker and my wheelchair. I sleep far more hours per day than I care to admit, and I'm still exhausted. My ability to drive is now severely limited, and I'm usually in bed each night, crying out in pain and begging my husband and kids to amputate my arms and legs. In short, it's no picnic!

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Diabetes Research Institute Foundation

And finally, I'd like to call attention to the Diabetes Research Institute. Diabetes research has long been an important cause of mine, ever since my mama died very suddenly and unexpectedly at the age of 33 from untreated diabetes. (In my opinion, she was murdered by my father and the Christian Science Church, but that's a story for another day.) I was seven years old and suddenly motherless, and I've been a bereft daughter ever since. During all my pregnancies (and, of course, when not pregnant as well), I've been extremely vigilant about that particular aspect of my health. I am adamantly not going to leave my children motherless, the way I was! No way in hell. So far so good, but my doctor did put me on Metformin just to be on the safe side. I'm fine with that.

~*~*~*~*~

Well, I enjoyed that! Thanks, Crazy Sam for another excellent meme and for the chance to dedicate our posts to those things that are important to each of us. I really appreciate that!

Have a great Saturday, y'all.

Fin.


Sunday Stealing: What IS Normal, Anyway?

Hey, pals! So did I tell you my girls and I have started a new premium, eco-conscious candle company?

EWW MacIntosh Apple Pints Smaller

Well, here's a sneak preview of some of our offerings, but like I think I mentioned in Saturday 9 yesterday. we are so not yet ready to launch. The girls and I are sitting around now, assembling wicks, containers, carefully measuring wax and taking its temperature, etc. Mostly the girls are doing that part while I supervise, make the labels, source bee-friendly, wildflower seed-impregnated, plantable paper for the business cards we intend to order, and trying to figure out how to set up our various platforms. We have a Facebook page, our own website, and an Etsy shop, but so far I just haven't made a lot of progress on those. Lots more to do!

Therefore, I feel fully justified in taking a break to do Sunday Stealing right now. Ha! So link up here if you'd like to join us this week!

~*~*~*~*~

1. What is your favorite animal?
 
Image result for mako shark
 
Look. So I'm a biologist. And therefore, I reserve the right to have a favorite animal for land, sea and air. I will save the reasons for each for another time, so as not to bore you. Anyway, my favorite sea animal is the shortfin mako shark (Isurus oxyrinchus).
 
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My favorite land animal is the majestic African bush elephant (Loxodonta africana). OMG, they're so beautiful I could cry.
 
 
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And, my favorite air animal is the endangered Mexican Long-Nosed Bat (Leptonycteris nivalis). They have a special place in my heart. ♥

2. Your dream vacation?
 
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So. This was a dream vacation I'd actually planned in my mind back in 2002, when newly-ish-wed Rob and I, and 13-month-old Chloë moved to Guam: Once I'd given birth to the twins I was carrying, we'd all fly "space-A" (space available, as in, if there's a seat on a military flight you get to go; if there's not, you don't) to Australia, dive the Great Barrier Reef, and wander around saying and eating weird shit. We'd fly space-A to South Korea, to Japan, to Thailand... everywhere. Then the twin pregnancy became too dangerous for us to continue living on Guam, and then Supertyphoon Pong'sona hit Guam, and ... none of that ever happened. We moved back to CONUS early in 2003. Fifteen-plus years later, I'm finally at a place where I'd honestly really like to go back and try again. Maybe.

3. Last person's house you were in?
 
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Last night, we were at the house of Celia, the leader of Chloë's knitting and sewing 4-H club.

4. Worst injury you've ever had?
 
Image result for burns from a grease fire
 
In August 1984, just four months after my mother died, about a month into my dad's new relationship with the woman I was already being forced to call "Mom" - although I call her "the bitch from hell" now - I was not quite eight years old. My dad and tbfh decided it would be a good idea if we all (including 7yo me, 9yo sister, 10yo soon-stepsister, and 12yo soon-stepsister) watched the movie Porky's II on either HBO or Cinemax. Great parenting all around, you see. Anyway, we all wanted pizza except my dad, so tbfh agreed to make him some fried chicken. Only, they got distracted by the soft-core porn we were watching and forgot to watch the stove, so a grease fire started in the kitchen. My numbnuts father decided, since we didn't have baking soda, to throw flour on the fire. That made it explode. He picked up the frying pan and carried it out to the garage to get it out of the house.
 
Only, his red mint condition 1971 Dodge Challenger convertible was out there, and it was too precious to risk getting damaged, so he turned around and came BACK into the house. Sister and younger stepsister had managed to get out of the way by that point, but older stepsister and I did not. The frying pan handle became too hot for my dad to continue to carry, and he dropped it, splashing burning hot grease all over both of us. Stepsister got attention for her burns because she was not a Christian Scientist, but since father, sister and I were in that f-ing cult, I did not get any attention for the burns scalding both of my legs. Rather, I was screamed at to be quiet and go outside. Stepsis was rushed to the emergency room, while I had to sit in the back of the car and muffle my crying. I still have the scars... Life was like that from then on, until I escaped to college.
 
5. Last play you saw?
 
Image result for the jungle book children's theater
 
Last year we went to a children's theater production of The Jungle Book. It was cute, but my kids have kind of grown up too much for that genre now. <sniff, sniff>

6. Ever go to camp?
 
 Image result for camp skimino
 
As a kid, I was sent for two weeks to the Christian Science camp, Crystal Lake Camp, in Pennsylvania, that same summer after my mom died. That's also not a great story. But more fun was Camp Skimino, the Girl Scout camp in Virginia where my girls and I went camping. Much better memories there!

7. Were you an honor roll student in school?
Image result for national honor societyImage result for who's who among american high school students 1993-1994Image result for advanced placementImage result for RSMAS logoImage result for SAT logoRelated imageRelated image Image result for beta beta beta biological honor society Image result for rho rho rho marine science honor societyImage result for GRE logo  Image result for Mensa logo
 
Yes, I was on the High Honor roll all through school and was inducted into the National Honor Society in high school, where I graduated 3rd in my class and appeared in the 1993-1994 Who's Who Among American High School Students book. I took five AP courses in high school (Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Spanish, and Calculus), so I entered college dual-enrolled as both a sophomore and a doctoral student at the Rosenstiel School For Marine & Atmospheric Science, having fairly well aced the SAT. I made both the Dean's List and the President's List at the University of Miami. In college, I was inducted into Golden Key [Inter]National Honor Society, Beta Beta Beta National Biology Honor Society, and UM's Rho Rho Rho Marine Science Honor Society. I then aced the GRE and went directly into the Ph.D. program of my dreams. There, while at the University of South Florida in Tampa, I was accepted into Mensa, which I felt I needed to do to prove my own intelligence to myself, because for the first time in my life I was really being challenged and didn't feel all that intelligent at all. Anyway, all this is not to brag but rather to say, this is why I get so pissed off when medical doctors and other such types diminish the fact that though I am now "just a mom," I, too, possess a freaking brain. Gah.

8. What do you want to know about the future?
 
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I want to know if I'm ever going to get to see my mother and my son again.

9. Are you wearing any perfume or cologne?
 
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No, not really, but I am wearing some lemon essential oil in my diffuser necklace. Only mine says "Melanie" instead of "Olivia."

10. Are you due sometime this year for a doctor's visit?
 
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Only about eleventy billion!

11. Where is your best friend?
 
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Absolutely, for sure, tonight on this 18th anniversary of the night Rob came down 11+ hours on a Greyhound bus to get down on one knee and ask me to marry him, just 16 days after meeting online, I can say unequivocally that it's this little hot shot ninja sailor man who is sitting right next to me. I love you, Rob!!! ♥

12. Do you have a tan?
 
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Ha! Well, only if you connect all the many, many freckle dots that cover the outer portions of me.

13. What are you listening to right now?
 
 
Well, right now it's "Give Me One Reason" by Tracy Chapman. Before that it was "Wonderful Tonight" by, of course, Eric Clapton, and prior to that it was "If I Had a Million Dollars" by Barenaked Ladies. Now up is "Come Sail Away" by Styx, and after that will be "American Girl" by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. It's an anniversary night, and 18 years seems like a super long time to both of us, so we're playing the songs of our brief two-month courtship. I love him so.

14. Do you collect anything?
 
Fishy
ell, for one, since Rob spent 20 years in the US Navy, and I am a marine biologist, we have a lot of different fish artifacts both big and small all around the house.

15. Who is the biggest gossiper you know?
 
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Well, if I told you, wouldn't that make me one?

16. Last time you got stopped by a cop or pulled over?
 
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I've had a few run-ins lately! In June, I got a speeding ticket. In July, at almost the exact same spot, I got a ticket for following too closely. In October, we were rear-ended in the rain, while I was stopped at a red light, and someone must have called the police because that became this big, whole "thing." And just tonight, Rob was pulled over for improper lane change. Sheesh. We need to quit.

17. What does your last text message say?
 
 
Scintillating conversation with my daughter, I know.

18. Do you like hot sauce?
 
Image result for funny hot sauce names
 
No, I do not. My husband does. And our son Jack does. I don't think the girls do. Funnily, our Chihuahua and Chi-mix both like jalapeños.

19. Do you need to do laundry?
 
Image result for funny vicious cycle
 
Duh.

20. What is your heritage?
 
Image result for Island of saba
 
I'm mostly German, English, and Hungarian. Lots of the family on my dad's side came to the U.S. via the small Caribbean Netherlands-owned island of Saba, which is where my paternal grandfather was born. We were all considered Pennsylvania Dutch. My children have some Bohemian (which is now considered Czech) from their paternal grandmother, and some Basque from their paternal grandfather. Basically we're a bunch of Caucasian mutts.
 
~*~*~*~*~
 
See ya soon!
 
Fin.

Saturday 9: The Middle

Hey, folks! Welcome back! I feel like my blogging weeks run from Saturday 9 to Saturday 9 anymore, with very little time enjoyed in between on blogging. I hate that, but life with three teenagers going off in 17 different directions at once is a little more crazy than I think I bargained for! It's fun, though. I hope you all have had a great week.

So let's get started. Link up here if you'd like to join in with Crazy Sam's questions and the rest of us!

~*~*~*~*~

Saturday 9: The Middle (2018)

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

1) This song is about compromise. When did you recently give in a little and meet someone halfway?

You know, my mind is coming up completely blank on this one! I've racked my brain, but I can't answer. I know I have, but it's not coming to me. Is that horrible?

2) She sings that the floors are wet. Are there any floors in your home that could use a good scrub today? If you answered "yes," will those floors get cleaned this weekend?

Week 3 of 52 - Hope

Our two dogs, Paco the 5-lb Chihuahua and Tapioca the Chiweenie, have grown up puppy pad-trained. Nothing we have done has worked to train them to go outside - their bladders and their brains are just too little. ;) So we have pads down everywhere, but there is carpeting in our bedroom, and they often miss. We have bought all kinds of cleaners and desiccants and deodorizers and whatnot, but it's not going well. The last urine cleaner I bought, my son did not read the instructions and completely saturated the rug. Now it will never dry, and it's disgusting to walk on. We should get a rug doctor or something. I don't know. I'm running out of ideas... Help!

3) She also sings that the cabinets are bare. What's currently on your shopping list?

Image result for Thanksgiving dinner gif

November is a weird month for us, because so much of our grocery budget is allocated toward Thanksgiving foods, so there's not a lot of "extras" for the remainder of the month! My kids have been struggling, because I have bought plenty of milk for them, but no cereal. They're at a loss, lol. Don't get me wrong - they could cook some eggs, or have oatmeal, or yogurt, or something, but they're acting as though the cupboards are completely bare. Oh, woe is me.

4) You may be familiar with this song from Target's TV commercials. Do you often shop at Target?

I love Target, but my Tarjay shopping has kind of dropped down to a very minimal level. I can't even remember where there was a Target in Virginia Beach; in Miami, it was a good 30-40 minute drive away from us, and here it's not much closer. Most of my Target shopping is done online when I need something I can only get there, and I usually have it shipped to me. It's just too dangerous for me to go into the store unmonitored. I want one of everything!

5) The lead vocal is handled by Maren Morris, a Grammy winner for "My Church," which is all about singing with the car radio. What's the last song you sang along with?

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My daughter Sophia and I are obsessed with both the song and the star-studded video for "Girls Like You," by Maroon 5 & featuring Cardi B. We love to blast it in the radio and sing every word, including the Cardi rap, as loud as we can. Hehe. It's an amazing video, if you haven't seen it yet. Ooh, can we do this song sometime, Gal?

6) This past April, Maren married singer-songwriter Ryan Hurd and they have performed onstage together. Who is the last person you sang along with? 

Sophia Summer 2018

I sing along with Sophia in the car all the time, including last night. But sometimes when the radio is turned up loud and she doesn't feel as self-conscious about singing aloud, I stop my own singing just to listen to her. She has a beautiful voice and doesn't know it. (Though I've told her.)

7) This song was composed by brothers Kyle and Michael Trewartha. With their bleached hair and sunglasses, they look like a pair of surfer dudes -- which they are, having grown up in Huntington Beach, CA. Is there a body of water near your hometown?

Image result for lucky peak reservoir

We're fortunate to have a number of beautiful waterways both in and around Boise. This year we are committed to doing a nature study at Lucky Peak State Park, and its reservoir, and have discovered many beautiful vistas - as well as some that were supposed to be but instead were showing evidence of being ravaged by fires. There are also a lot of hot springs and waterfalls around Idaho, but my health has prevented us from exploring those just yet. Hopefully soon, because I am yearning to go see!

8) January 2018, when this song debuted, we had a total lunar eclipse. When things like that happen in the sky, do you go out of your way to watch?

Image result for 2017 solar eclipse boise

Definitely. In Summer 2017, when the path of the solar eclipse passed right through Boise, Jack and I were at an appointment with his endocrinologist to check on his growth hormones. When the time came, everyone in the office passed out the protective glasses, and we all ran outside to watch. It was beautiful. (The stores were full of - and all sold out of - those glasses!) When things happen in the middle of the night, the kids and I all set alarms on our phone and go out to observe. We're really into it!

9) Random question -- They say we're all young at heart. In what way can you be childlike?

I'm a scientist by training, right? So I've heard my professors and advisors say a million times that the best scientists are the ones who are childlike and ask a billion questions. Why does it do that? How does it accomplish it? What is the mechanism for it? Etc. I am always asking questions of everything I see and feel and hear and learn. I want to know everything!

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Fun questions, Crazy Sam. Thanks for doing it! ♥

P.S. Sam: It's gotten cold here. Take me to Key West with you this winter! Please??!

P.P.S. All: What's your favorite candle scent(s)? Inquiring minds want to know. ;)

Fin.


Doing Our Part To #MoveTheDate: Part The First

Hey, peeps! I've always been an avid tree-hugger, and right now is really a time in my life where I want to focus on actions that are good for me, good for my family, and good for our planet. I thought I'd tell you about some of those things.

Eco Post #1 - Amazon Straws

So for our scientific exploration this year at Sweet Pea Academy, we're focusing on Ecology and the Environment. One of our objectives for this class is to take one of the #MoveTheDate pledges from this website each month and, individually and as a family, make it a top priority to implement that pledge in our daily lives. Then we evaluate how we've done at the end of each month. The first month we pledged to #GoVeggie, and although we didn't 100% meet our goal, we definitely made some significant progress.

Also, as a mom, educator, and concerned citizen of the planet, I'm taking every additional step I can think of to contribute and set an example. Reducing packaging and waste is a big push for me. So recently, we ordered this set of 12+2 Cleaner Pieces Reusable Stainless Steel Metal Straws, in four colors: Gold, Silver, Rose Gold & Black - 20 oz & 30 oz Tumblers Straws (Bent). This whole plastic straw mess - as well as all the plastic garbage clogging up our waterways - is killing me! So the straw thing is going well with this set, and 12 seems to be enough for our family of five so far. I recommend them!

Multi-Colored Napkins

I have lots of other eco-friendly goodies on my family wish list, of course, including this colorful 12-pack of cloth napkins for $16.99. At 20x20", they're big enough to cover any number of messes that this team of sometimes-sloppy people can make! Of course, we already have some cloth napkins, but they're always in the laundry, it seems like, so there are never enough. And I have more toned-down neutral colors on that wish list as well, so you can be sure there are plenty of options.

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MyChelle Dermaceuticals Ultra Hyaluronic Eye Gel

So you probably don't know, but for nearly 20 years from age 22 or so until 41, I was a die-hard Jafra skincare fanatic. I mean, Royal Jelly was where it was at, as far as I was concerned, and Jafra could do no wrong. Now, don't get me wrong; the products are great, the benefits are amazing - and they work. But after getting involved with Young Living in 2016 thanks to my great friend Shana, and becoming even more in touch with my hippie flower child Bohemian side, I started thinking long and hard about my connections with Jafra. The ingredients just aren't always the kind I want to smear all over my face and body every day, and not just that, but the business side of things was not something I wanted to be a part of anymore, either. So I unceremoniously ended my longtime relationship with Jafra, cemented it with Young Living, and opened the door for more opportunities to live more wholly wholesome.


MyChelle Dermaceuticals Ultra Hyaluronic Eye Gel 2

Recently, I read about MyChelle Dermaceuticals on a post by Nadia over at Body Unburdened: Healthy Living Made Simple.

Personally, it has always been important to me to use a good eye cream - well, ever since I was introduced to good quality skin care at Jafra, that is. And now that I'm in my early 40s, a well-made eye-plumping product is one of the most important items in my skincare arsenal. I can always, always tell when someone is either not using an eye care product - gasp!! - or isn't using a very good one. I don't want anyone to ever think that about me! So I decided to try the Ultra Hyaluronic Eye Gel Nourish & Moisturize Eye Care from MyChelle Dermaceuticals first.

MyChelle Dermaceuticals Ultra Hyaluronic Eye Gel 3

I love the way the cooling gel feels on my tired ol' eyes in the morning and then again by the end of the night. This gel helps decrease the appearance of fine lines and dark circles - which is key for moi!

About MyChelle Dermaceuticals:

Founded in 2000, MyChelle was the natural industry’s first to use anti-aging peptides, plant stem cells, and clinically proven dermatological ingredients. Their 360º approach to beauty provides clean, conscious, and comprehensive products that are bioactive and ethically sourced. Sounds good to me!

MyChelle Clean Beauty VIP

What's really sweet in addition to the great products at MyChelle, you can use this code to get 30% off your first order total: MYCHELLEBEAUTY2018  - and, what's more, shipping is free, and returns are free on all orders. They have the BEST customer service. I swear.

On top of that, you can earn points toward meaningful discounts for completing simple actions. For instance, I earned 500 points (= $5 off an order!) just for subscribing to their newsletter. I earned 50 points each for sharing my eye gel purchase on both Facebook and Twitter. Subsequently, I earned 100 points each for following the brand on Twitter and liking them on Facebook, and so on and so forth. I was was delightfully surprised when I received this Clean Beauty VIP award in my email inbox, which afforded me extra benefits like bonus points and a free product:

MyChelle Sun Protection SPF 50 Stick

For achieving VIP level, which was exceedingly easy to do, I was given a free MyChelle Sun Protection Sun Shield Clear Stick SPF 50 - worth $12 - absolutely free! I didn't pay one red cent for the product or, of course, shipping. I haven't gotten it yet, but it should be here early next week.

MyChelle Lip Hints Nude

What's more, I was able to redeem $10 in those reward points for a big discount on a $12.50 MyChelle Lip Hints Conditioning Lip Balm in the Nude shade. Counting free shipping, nothing extra for tax, I only paid $2.50 out of pocket. I can't wait to try it, since I am addicted to lippies! Any member of Team Odette will happily verify that for you - I have multiple stashes of lip balms in every conceivable location I encounter in my daily life: my bathroom drawers, my purse, my desk, my car dashboard... everywhere. So I have high hopes for this one!

So maybe give natural beauty products a try and start with MyChelle Dermaceuticals. They work really hard to develop quality products that are safe for you and the environment, and they work even harder to keep your business. I'm quickly becoming a big fan!

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Grove Collaboative 001

And finally, the last new-to-me company I want to fangirl over to y'all is Grove Collaborative. Have you guys heard about them yet? If not, you need to head on over here and get yourself a totally FREE Mrs. Meyer's Cleaning Kit with five full-size products!

Here's what you'll need to do:

Head on over here in order to use my referral code and receive your free gift. You'll need place at least $20 worth of items from Grove Collaborative into your cart, but that's super-easy to do with all the amazing down-to-Earth, good-for-the-Earth products they offer. You can choose from baby and kiddo products, household cleaning items, personal care, and even their own Grove brand of items to help you get even more value from your first delivery.

Grove Collaboative 011

As for me, we needed laundry detergent, and I'd been wanting to try Molly's Suds Laundry Powder forever and a day. So that was $13.99 right off the bat (though valued at $16.99), leaving me only $6.01 worth of goodies I still needed to add to my cart.

Grove Collaboative 003

I liked the Zarbee's Naturals brand already, and we were having some sore throats going around Chez Odette, so I splurged on a $6.99 package of 14 throat lozenges.

Grove Collaboative 008

In return for my $20.98 buy-in with nothing additional for tax or shipping, I received a 12½-ounce bottle of Mrs. Meyer's Honeysuckle hand soap valued at $5.30 for free,

Grove Collaboative 005

a 16-ounce bottle of Mrs. Meyer's Honeysuckle dish liquid valued at $5.30 for free,

Grove Collaboative 010

a 16-ounce bottle of Mrs. Meyer's Lemon Verbena Multi-Surface Everyday Cleaner valued at $5.30 for free,

Grove Collaboative 007

a 12-ounce bottle of Method Sweet Water dish liquid valued at $5.40 for free,

Grove Collaboative 004

a lovely Grove Collaborative red-and-white 100% cotton dish towel valued at $5.95 for free, and finally, a set of two Grove Collaborative walnut scrubber sponge valued at 3.95 for free!

Grove Collaboative 012
As if this offer couldn't get any sweeter, I do have to say that I'm a sucker for nice, careful, and thoughtful packaging - and Grove Collaborative definitely did not disappoint. The dispensers were carefully taped to prevent leakage during shipment. The note inside was handwritten. And the packing job inside the box was clearly planned and not just thrown together like so many other packages we've all received, I'm sure. 

You'll love what you get - in product, in service, and in peace of mind - from Grove Collaborative, and if you don't, that's okay, too. Their 100% Happiness Guarantee means you can return anything at any time, and they'll even send you a prepaid shipping label. There's literally no risk - but plenty of risk if y'all keep using those heavy industrial-level commercial cleansers around the kids, pets, and yourselves, y'know?

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So what kind of eco-conscious changes have you and your clan made lately, or are thinking about making? I'd love to hear about 'em!

Fin.